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That Peregrine Pultuney looked upon the low, barren land upon either side of the muddy river, with such gloomy anticipations as those which we have set down in this last paragraph, we do not very confidently state; but that he, in common with every other griffin in the ship, was grievously disappointed is most undeniably true. It was in the month of August, and it rained as it always does in August, with a perseverance that would be highly praiseworthy in any thing or any person less objectionable. The river was swollen and brown; the sky black and lowering; and the country on either side looked for all the world like the flower garden of the gaunt Fever King.
It is a pleasant thing to be very young-young in heart we mean, for there are alas! too many, who grow old in their very teens; but Peregrine Pultuney was not one of these. Suffering and he had never shaken hands, and so joyous was his disposition, that neither the rains of August, nor the low jungles of the strange country he was entering, nor the dirty river, nor the wet deck, nor his leaky cabin could chase the smile from his rosy lips, the sunshine from his gladsome heart. It would be worth while being a griff again if only to recover the rosy lips and the gladsome heart, for the year and the day, which are said to mark the period of griffinage.
Beneath a good stout awning, on the poop of the Hastings, stood Peregrine Pultuney and Julian
Jenks each with a cigar in his mouth, and each wrapped up in a blue camlet cloak. They were too much engaged with their thoughts or their cheroots to be very communicative the one to the other. It was just one of those days which makes the man who is no smoker covet a cheroot, and the man who is a smoker have one between his lips from the time he gets up in the morning till the time that he goes to bed. And so every body was smoking on the poop of the Hastings, the pilot was smoking, and the chief officer was smoking, and old Colonel Coteloll was smoking, and Major Lackywell, the ex A. D. C., and even Doleton had got a cigar, though it was evidently making him feel very uncomfortable, and was causing him to expectorate more than was good for his lungs.
“Well,” said Julian Jenks, at last, being the first to break the silence, " what do you think of this: a confounded hole, isn't it? Looks like, I don't know what — and this is what they call India.”
“ I'm afraid it is,” said Peregrine Pultuney.
“Well, now," continued his friend, “it's my candid opinion, that without one exception this is the most uninteresting looking place I ever saw in my life, the fens of Lincolnshire are nothing to it."
“Nothing," echoed Peregrine Pultuney.
“It hasn't a saving point about it. I'm blest if it don't beat Addiscombe-beat the ship-beat every thing I've ever seen a confounded hole, Pere
grine, without a single redeeming quality-not a d-d one of any sort or description," and having given vent to his feelings in these words, Julian Jenks came to anchor on a hencoop, and took up a Calcutta paper that was lying thereon with a telescope stretching across it to keep it from fluttering overboard or making an excursion into the rigging.
“ What's that you've got there?” asked Peregrine.
" The Bengal Hurk_" returned Jenks— Hurk -Hurk-Hurkaru. What's the meaning of Hurkaru, major?”
The gentleman thus addressed was Major Lackywell, a person of some consequence in his own estimation, with a sovereign contempt for a griff. This state of feeling, however, did not arise from any natural pride or uncharitableness, but from the extraordinary importance he attached in his mind to a knowledge of Indian affairs. He was from head to foot a thorough Orientalist-mixed up Hindustani words in his every day conversation, was always talking about the “Upper Provinces" and the “ Mofussil," and prided himself upon a knowledge of Eastern manners and customs, such as no one had ever possessed before him.
He had been, much against his own inclinations, necessitated to pay a visit to Europe, on account of a severe liver-complaint; and now, though very far from recovered—though indeed he was going to
his grave, and he knew it-he was in uncommonly good spirits at the prospect of being about so soon to tread the shores of India once again and to return to his old pursuits. It was on this account that his contempt for a griffin manifested itself on the present occasion, in a facetious attempt to hoax Julian Jenks and, if he could, Peregrine Pultuney. What a glorious opportunity was here of showing off his own superior knowledge, and having a joke at the expense of the griffs. He was quite kush, as he would have said, at the thought of it.
“What's the meaning of Hurkaru, major ?" asked Julian Jenks.
“ The Sun, to be sure," replied Major Lackywell.
“ The Bengal Sun-thank you, major," said the griff. “ I shall learn these things in time, I sup
Julian Jenks went on reading, and Peregrine Pultuney having nothing better to do, sat down to follow his example. He took up another number of the Bengal Hurkaru, and there he read a number of very important items of intelligence, and commented upon them as he went on, just as people do when they take up a paper out of sheer idleness and nothing else.
“ The commander-in-chief is going home," said Peregrine "d-n it all—that's just like my luck; I don't know what he was not to have done for me made me his aide-de-camp or something. I have got at least a score of letters for him, and, moreover, he has promised to help me. Confound it allquarrelled with the governor. I wish the governor was at the devil-can't be helped—what next? Supreme Court, nothing in my way there — Messrs. Tulloch and Co. will sell by auction the following equipages and horses:-A nearly new half-panelled Steward's buggy,' very good—' a beautiful grey Arab'—better still — a fashionable Dykes's barouche, with spring-cushions' — wait 'till I'm married. Theatre Chowringhee-Rob Roy-shall make a point of going there certainly. General Orders---look to them presently-Runjeet Singh's dead—very good-pray, major, who is Runjeet Singh ?”
“Chief justice of Bengal,” replied the major, with an ill-suppressed smile upon his face.
“ Thank you, major, thank you,” replied Peregrine; “ We live and learn, don't we, major?Well, what next? Domestic Occurrences—died at Neemuch on the 3rd inst., Lieutenant-Colonel Marmaduke Maidaun, 82d regiment native Infantry.”
“What's that-what's that?"_interrupted the major, eagerly; " what's that?--Lieutenant-Colonel Maidaun ?"
“Yes,” said Peregrine, with the utmost calmness, and a countenance expressive of no inward emotion_“Yes; Major-Colonel Marmaduke Maidaun."