« PreviousContinue »
nise the name of a single one of his fellowvoyagers, so abominably were they all spelt; and there they read an announcement which made them roar with laughter-" Cornet Drawlincourt, left at the Cape.”
“I hope he enjoys his sojourn at the colony," observed Julian Jenks, in a tone of voice that was not intended to express any hopes of the kind.
“ Poor fellow-poor fellow!" said Peregrine, “I pity him, I do indeed; he has paid dearly for his absurdity."
“ Sarved him right, as the Irish juryman said," returned Julian Jenks, laughing, “but here's a buggy—perhaps it's for us—so where shall we go first ?"
"The town-major's, of course," said Peregrine, "business first, pleasure afterwards, you know;" and having uttered this very sage maxim with the air of a Socrates or a Solon, he snatched up his hat, and the two friends were soon whirling across the plain towards the fort.
Having inquired from a European sentry at one of the gates, the way to the town-major's, the two young soldiers got out at the office, made their way up stairs, sent in their cards, declared their business, entered their names and calling in a book, and delivered over to the proper authority two ugly pieces of parchment, for which they had cach of them been compelled to disburse a couple of guincas at the India House. These pieces of parchment are called " orders for embarkation,” and are doubtless very valuable documents to the individuals who get the money for the same, though we have never yet heard of any purchaser who was able to discover the use of them.
Having settled this part of the business without the occurrence of any incident worth speaking of, Peregrine Pultuney determined to use his own words—that he would “ go and beat up his old aunt," whose domicile he had previously ascertained to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of Chowringhee. With this intent, he applied the whip to the flanks of the horse, and was dashing under one of those archways, which afford the only ingress and egress from the fort that we know of, when & sentry came down to the charge-bayonet, and effectually prevented the further progress of the two young gentlemen in the buggy.
“Hallo! you, sir,” shouted Peregrine; “d-n you-what do you mean? Shoulder arms—right about face. Confound it all! I'm an officer."
“ Can't help that,” replied the sentry; "you mustn't pass out here."
“Why not? I insist upon passing. D-n it, sir, I came in here,”
" And that's, sir, the very reason you may not pass out here," said the sentry, advancing his bayonet. “You must go through another gate; it's the garrison order, and I can't help it."
“Curse the garrison order!" rejoined Peregrine, backing his horse somewhat discomfited, “ a pretty place this is to be sure, where a man may not go out at the same gate that he came in by, without running the risk of being stuck by a bayonet.”
"A confounded hole," returned Julian Jenks; “ I always thought I should find it so."
Comforting themselves with these and sundry other expressions of discontent and annoyance, the two young gentlemen, after driving round a square or two, made their way out of another gate, which happened to take them a nearer way to Chow. ringhee by three-quarters of a mile, than the gate at which they were repulsed; but as they were red hot griffins, fresh out of the ship, it is not to be expected that they should have been much better acquainted than they were with the geography of Calcutta and Fort William. And as to the gates, a much wiser person than Peregrine Pultuney or Julian Jenks may be twenty years at the Presidency and make a mistake about them in the twenty-first, without forfeiting his claims to sagacity or being suspected of affectation in the least.
So Chowringhee was reached, for it would be a difficult thing to miss one's way to Chowringhee, but here another obstacle presented itself, almost as bad as the sentry's bayonet, and that obstacle was none other than the immense number and variety of the houses in the said Chowringhee. How was he ever to find his respectable aunt, Mrs. Poggleton, in such a Babylon as this? There were plenty of
people to ask, but as he did not exactly know how to ask them, and they did not much look as though they knew, he thought that they would not help him much, and the syces did not know, or pretended not to know, or something; for when Peregrine said “ Poggleton hai," in his own very choice Hindustani, the man put his palms together deprecatingly, and said " nuheen sahib-poggle nuheenkhrab bath," which Peregrine took for an assertion that he knew nothing about the matter, and was very sorry for his ignorance; so not knowing what to do, the young gentlemen drove on a little farther and then stopped again, and then looked about them, and at last Peregrine took courage, and upon the old understanding that “nothing is to be lost by asking," he hailed a very respectable looking stout old Baboo, and asked him in unquestionable English, if he knew which was Mr. Poggleton's.
. The Baboo did not know, but he asked a chuprassey, who said he did know, and immediately volunteered to point out to Peregrine the place where the gentleman lived. It was only five houses in advance, which was very fortunate indeed, for had the man's directions been more complicated, the chances are that the griffins would have lost their way again without the least chance of recovering it.
But only five doors off-how fortunate. They drew up-no bell, no knocker, and gates shut. But Peregrino had learnt to call “ qui-hai," so call he did, right manfully.
The durwan came_" Sahib at home?” said Peregrine" what the deuce do they call missus ?”
“Durwazah bund, khoodawut," said the durwan.
“ Ah! very good—yes, exactly”-returned Peregrine—“bohoot achaa—I understand," and just as he said this, the gates were shut in his horse's face, and, like Lord Ullin in the song, he was “ left lamenting" outside.
“Well,” said Peregrine, " these people have certainly most agreeable manners — first one man threatens to stick me, and then another slams the door in my face. Hallo, sir, Poggleton sahib hai— I've got it there, haven't I, Julian?-open-what's that in Hindustani?”
" I don't know what it is in Hindustani,” returned Julian, “ but I know what it is in English,” and saying this, he dismounted from his buggy, and began smiting the gate most vigorously with the butt-end of the whip.
The durwan opened the door again-" Poggleton sahib— hem — hem— what the deuce is a house?-ah, ghur~ I remember that in the selections, Poggleton sahib ghur?"
“Neh sahib," returned the durwan—" E-Smit sahib,” and again the gate was shut in the face of the inquirer.
“ Smith sahib—very much like Poggleton certainly,” observed Julian, as he reascended the buggy -" very much indeed like Poggleton.”. So the young gentlemen were adrift again, but