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" What regiment — what regiment?” almost gasped the major. “What regiment did you
“Let me see, where is it, I have lost the place," returned Peregrine Pultuney in a calm, slow voice, as he passed his finger down the page. “Ah! here it is, 82nd native infantry, died at Neemuch, aged fifty-three."
"Bless my soul!" cried the major, in great agitation. “ That promotes me—and in my own regiment, too-how lucky show me the paperlet me see it with my own eyes."
“Take it by all means,” cried Peregrine, and as he said this he held out the paper in such a manner, that it caught the full strength of the south-west monsoon—he felt it fluttering in his hand, let it go purposely—and in less than a minute he had the pleasure of seeing it floating tranquilly down the Hooghly.
“ Damnation !" cried the major; “it's gone."
“ How provoking,” said Peregrine Pultuney; "I thought you had got hold of it, major" -and as that gentleman turned away thoroughly mortified, Peregrine poked his friend Julian Jenks in the ribs, and said to him in a low voice,“ I had him there, hadn't I, Jenks? He won't sell me a bargain again in a hurry. The idea of thinking that I was such a fool as to believe that Runjeet Singh was chief justice of Bengal.
“ Did you read that in the paper?" asked Julian.
“Not a word of it," returned our hero; “but I had been turning over the Army List in the morning; and I knew that Colonel Marmaduke Maidaun was just before Lackywell, in the regiment—so I stuck it into him as strong as I could, and then sent the paper a-drift.”
“ Bravo! my fine fellow," cried Julian Jenks, giving force to his expressions of admiration by slapping Peregrine with considerable energy, upon the back.
Mr. Pultuney after this triumph over the major, (for which indeed he was indebted more to accident, than to his own sagacity; for it so happened that Lackywell was the senior regimental major in the line) read a few more paragraphs in another paper, laid it down again, lit a fresh cigar, looked about him for a few seconds, and perceiving Mr. Doleton standing by himself, and gazing over the sides of the vessel with a vacant expression of countenance, rose up from his seat on the hencoop, and walked towards the nervous youth, with the benevolent intention of leading him into conversation.
“Well, Doleton,” said our hero to the poor boy, who looked as miserable as he possibly could be, but whether from the effects of the cigar or of any mental causes of inquietude Peregrine Pultuney, at that time did not know. "Well, Doleton, how goes it with you?-I suppose you are as happy as you can be." Peregrine Pultuney did not suppose any thing
of the kind, but he thought that this modus operandi was more likely that any other to assist him in probing the wound that was tormenting the poor fellow, and without this probing he knew very well that there was no hope of accomplishing a cure or even of affording him the least alleviation; so he must be forgiven if the figure of speech he employed was not strictly in accordance with the genuine truth.
"I suppose you are as happy as you can be,” observed Peregrine— the happiest of the whole
“Oh! yes—very," returned Doleton, lifting up his pale face as he spoke"I am happy-of course I am happy-why should I not be happy, Pultuney?"
" Why, indeed ?" asked that gentleman.
“Why, indeed?" repeated Cadet Doleton"why, indeed ? and am I not happy-do I not look happy, Pultuney?"
" Why, I can't say exactly that you do,” said Peregrine Pultuney, with a smile upon his face.
“No!" exclaimed the poor youth, in most mournful accents, which effectually belied all attempts upon his part to appear any thing but most wretched. “ Well then, I suppose I don't—but you know that appearances are deceitful sometimes—I may be happy and yet not look so.”
“ Scarcely that,” remarked Peregrine Pultuney.
“ Well then," continued Doleton, " perhaps I am not-not quite—not altogether happy-I am not very fond of change I have been happy on board ship, at least ever since that Draw-ever since, I mean, we left the Cape, and then I have friends on board, dear friends, whom I shall be sorry to leave, very sorry, there is you, Pultuney, and Jenks-and, and"
“ Lucretia Gowanspec," suggested Peregrine Pultuney.
“ No, no," faltered Doleton, blushing deep as crimson; “no, no, I didn't say her, she's a sweet girl, though, Pultuney-a very sweet girl, indeed; and those kisses too-I think of them all day-I dream of them all night; but do you know, Pultuney, I do not quite think that she loves me, as she used to do; ever since that unfortunate night, I have fallen sadly in her good opinion.”
“No, no," said Peregrine Pultuney; " no, no not that—but young girls, you know, in her situation, must dissemble sometimes—do not think of her, though, my good fellow, think of your father and mother."
"Ah! yes,” sighed the poor youth, " I do think of them very often; but there is something so strange, Pultuney, so vague, so awful, indeed, in the thought of meeting, at my age, my own parents, my very own parents-perhaps, they might not love--might not even like me--I have heard say that my father is all in all a soldier-brave as a lion -and hot-headed too—perhaps, you see—perhaps, he may not be kind to me-perhaps he will-bitter, bitter "
Doleton would have added, “ despise me," but conscious as he was of his infirmity, and well as he knew that Peregrine Pultuney was fully as well acquainted with it as himself, there were seasons when the bitterness of his shame checked the avowals that were making their way to his lips. Peregrine was deeply affected; he almost loved the unfortunate youth on account of his very weakness, and fain would he always have thrown the mantle of his protection over him. On the present occasion, he scarcely knew what to say; he looked about him for a hint, and, as good luck would have it, one presented itself, in the shape of a large boat, which was tacking down upon them from the larboard side, filled with natives, who were making a considerable noise, jabbering and shouting, and sending forth certain utterly indescribable sounds, which doubtless assisted them very much in the strenuous exertions they were making to pull alongside of the Hastings.
Peregrine had just directed the attention of poor Doleton towards the boat and the natives in it, when Julian Jenks and Major Lackywell joined our hero, each with a telescope in his hand, and both of them apparently very much interested in the progress of the boat that was bearing down upon them, though nothing could have been more different than the nature of the interest it excited.
“ Look,” said Peregrine, “ look at that boat-a jolly fat crew, isn't it?”
“ Yes, yes," returned Doleton, nervously; " what