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firting al fresco, then Dum-Dum was a “confounded hole;" —and yet, in spite of these little nuisances, and there were many more ejusdem generis, Julian Jenks, as well as Peregrine Pultuney, was happy, nay happier than the days were long, for they are not very long in the cold weather, and all the happier, because there was something for him to grumble at, and a place to be called " a confounded hole."
But the cold weather passed away, as it always does, a great deal too soon to be pleasant; and then came March-warm certainly—and April, May, June, grilling with their usual accompaniments of prickly-heat, mangoes, mangoe-fish, and clean linen. Throughout these months no one ever does more than exist, and few contrive to do quite as much, with the mercury in the thermometer standing at fever-heat, and the blood in one's veins a few degrees higher. All this is bad enough in reality, with plenty of money to purchase what the rising generation very classically call thermantedotesplenty of punkah-pullers and tatty-wetters, and that prime luxury ice; but a subaltern on a hundred and fifty rupees a month, knows little or nothing of such deliciæ as these, and has to get through the hot weather as best he can, by exuding plentifully, drinking cold tea, smoking cheroots, and swearing.
Then came the rains, of which Peregrine Pultuney had already had a slight foretaste-Dum-Dum was under water, and fevers became popular, and a dry pair of shoes or boots an unknown luxury in Bengal. Julian Jenks got a slight attack of fever, and Peregrine Pultuney nursed him; and the green damps stood on the walls of “ Stangy Hall,” as they do in a vault or a charnel-house.
But even the wet months, disagreeable as they were, passed away rapidly enough; and Peregrine, who had not been deterred by the heat, was still less deterred by the rain, from paying an occasional visit to Chowringhee; and when the cold weather came round again, as come it did, and come it will, if we only wait patiently for it, his expeditions became so frequent, that Julian Jenks began to complain, that he might just as well not have a chum at all, for that he seldom saw any thing of his, except at coffee time and on guard-days. Julia Poggleton, we need not say, was still a spinster; and people began to hint that she would remain so. Whether she loved Peregrine Pultuney we cannot state just at present, but a circumstance occurred which we shall keep for our next chapter that elicited the fatal truth, even before Peregrine expected it, and gave a colour to his whole future life. What this circumstance was, our readers will learn by following us to the third book of our history.
In which Peregrine discovers that a Soldier cannot always do
precisely what he pleases. “PLEASANT this, certainly,” remarked Peregrine Pultuney, as he threw a chit upon the table in a manner, which to an intelligent observer would have suggested a very considerable doubt of the sincerity with which the words were spoken.
The young gentleman who had thus given vent to his feelings, was sitting one March morning, just after he had finished his breakfast, with a cup of cold tea before him, a cheroot in his mouth, and a history of the Mahratta war in his hand. Peregrine had almost given up smoking, which is the same thing as to say that he was very deeply in love-but we have already said this so often, that it would be of little use to say it again, and we only mention the fact of his indulging on the present occasion, that our readers may be quite sure that on the day we are now referring to, Peregrine Pultuney had not the least intention of going into Calcutta. Our hero every now and then spent a whole day at Dum-Dum, but in order to reward himself for his self-denial, he always took care to receive a pretty lengthy chit (note), perhaps two, from Julia Poggleton on these fast days.
Let not our readers think, however, that the chit, which Peregrine Pultuney threw down upon the table, with an ironical remark upon the pleasantries it contained, was written by Julia Poggleton. It came from a very different quarter, and contained intelligence of that which the poor girl would have given all she possessed to avert.
Julia Jenks was lying upon a toon-wood couch, with one leg thrown over the back of it, and the other dangling to the ground, in the full enjoyment of an excellent Manilla and Mr. Hook's last novel. He had just been abusing Peregrine for having become such desperately bad company of late, and had been declaring that he was heartily tired of living with such an unsociable creature, as the lovesick young gentleman had become. Not, however, that Peregrine had become unsociable, nor that Julian Jenks thought so in the least, but that the latter was much in want of something to grumble at, and was moreover seldom so happy as when laughing at Peregrine's tender passion, and talking about the “ fair Julia.”
“ Pleasant this, certainly,” remarked Peregrine Pultuney;“ very pleasant indeed.”
" What's the matter now?" asked Julian Jenks; 6 the fair Julia going to be married ?"
"Always thinking of the fair Julia," returned Peregrine—“ but this is still better news for you ; you want to get rid of me; and are likely to do so sooner than you expect."
- You don't mean that?” exclaimed Julian Jenks, with real concern depicted on his face.
“ Indeed, I do though," replied Peregrine. “ Have you ever heard of Khy-Khy—what the deuce do they call it? Khy-ook-Phy-00?"
“ Never,” said Julian Jenks.
“It's a place in Arracan then," continued Peregrine" a place somewhere in Arracan. Now Arracan may be a very nice place in other respects, for all I know to the contrary—but I believe that it has the reputation of being the Sierra Leonethe white man's grave' of India - vastly pleasant -vastly pleasant, indeed."
“ You don't really mean, do you?" asked Julian, starting up from his recumbent position and throwing away his cheroot, " that they are going to send you to such a confounded hole ?"
“No mistake about it,” returned Peregrine. ". Here is the assistant-adjutant-general's note, and he ought to be well-informed on the subject. I am to go down there as soon as a passage can be found me, to command the detachment there. It's a very eligible appointment, I dare say, but I would just as soon that they had not conferred it on me."