Page images

ought to say, worthy of a commissary of ordnance, he had got together a quantity of gunpowder, because he knew that there was saltpetre in it, and tried to harden the jelly with that. The experiment, however, proved a failure, and Peregrine was obliged to drink his jelly instead of eating it; but we doubt not but that it did him quite as much good, as if it had been frozen to the solidity of mahogany.

As the Seeva had the wind against her, and moreover was compelled to put into Chittagong for some government treasure, which the captain was ordered to convey to Calcutta, Peregrine Pultuney was condemned to endure the miseries of a tediously protracted passage of very nearly four weeks, during which he had plenty of time to contrive something in the way of a relapse, a calamity, which befel him in the Chittagong river, which all who have seen its dark waters, and its muddy, jungle-skirted banks, must know to be admirably adapted to the purpose of restoring lost fevers and instituting new ones on its own account.

However, the Seeva did reach Calcutta at last, and when Peregrine found himself once again opposite Chandpaul Ghaut, he was about as far advanced along the road of convalescence, as he had been when he embarked at Arracan—the Chittagong river, with a view of establishing what is called the " balance of power,” having taken especial care to counteract any beneficial influence which the sea air

in the bay of Bengal, may have had upon the suffering youth. Peregrine had written a few lines to his cousin, the best that he could write, announcing his sickness and his intended departure for Calcutta ; but the Seeva, for it was during the time of the south-west monsoon, had made such an extraordinarily rapid passage up the river, that there was no chance of the Poggletons having heard in sufficient time of the arrival of the ship, to send a carriage to meet Peregrine at the ghaut; so that young gentleman, who was in too great a hurry to wait for an answer to a chit, landed as rapidly as he could, and bundled himself into a palankin, Peer Khan, who had previously locked the cabin door, and tied up the key in his cumber-bund,* accompanying his master as a matter of course.

Peregrine's heart beat with more than its wonted rapidity, as the bearers carried him round the corner of the street, which led to his uncle's abode,-in a minute or two more his arm would be round his cousin's waist, his lips pressed to her soft cheekguess then what were his astonishment and mortification, when he slid out of his palanquin and rushed into the hall, to find that an auction, with all its noise, bustle and confusion, was going on in the dear old house.

• Shawl tied round the waist.


In which Peregrine Pultuney makes divers very important


At first Peregrine thought he had made a mistake and found his way into the wrong house, but when he looked around him and recognised not only the shape of the hall, the turn of the staircase and the general aspect of the whole place, but the very marble slab on which he had so often left his hat, and the very round clock, over the slab, at whose dial he had so often glanced, on his way up and down stairs, there was no room whatever left for doubting the identity of the house he had entered ; nor was it possible, when he saw the concourse of people, European and native, who blocked up the doors and passed up and down the staircase, and lounged about the rooms, looking curiously at the different articles of furniture, every man with a catalogue in his hand, and every article of furniture with a ticket on it, to doubt for one moment that a public auction was going on in Mr. Poggleton's house.

[blocks in formation]

With the assistance of a large stick and the ballusters, for he was still deplorably weak, Peregrine managed to creep up stairs and to arrive in the drawing-room just as the auctioneer was descanting, in very eloquent language, on the beauties of the "fashionable circular table, made by Messrs. Sherwood and Co., of the best picked materials, with its beautiful white marble slab and solid mahogany pedestal, altogether a most elegant piece of furniture, and as good, indeed better than new." Peregrine looked at it; it was the table, the very identical table, beneath which he had so often held Julia's dear little hand, and over which he had so often kissed Julia's dear little mouth-the very, very white marble slab, on which Julia's tears had fallen, so heavily, when Peregrine announced to her that the precise hour of his departure for Arracan was fixed. And this, to him so sacredso suggestive of hallowed reminiscences, was to be sold by public auction! Two hundred rupees had been already bid; Peregrine added "fifty,” though if any body had asked him what he was going to do with a marble table he could not have given a more precise answer than a Yorkshire clod, if the same question had been put him regarding a Spanish guitar. But, nevertheless, Peregrine bade for the table, and after a sharp conflict with a gentleman owning a black moustache, the table was knocked down to him for thirty rupees above its original cost, and two hundred and thirty rupees above the entire sum of money that Peregrine had in his possession.

Having given his card to the auctioneer, Peregrine looked at the gentleman with the moustache, who had been bidding against him, out of a sort of vague curiosity to know what sort of an animal his competitor was, and to his great astonishment recognised the white teeth, the black whiskers, the long legs, and the patent-leather boots of Cornet Drawlincourt.

Peregrine was at that time leaning against the wall, for he was well-nigh exhausted even with the little exertion he had made. The noise and the bustle around him, and the excitement occasioned by witnessing a scene so utterly unexpected in his uncle's house, added to the effects of a tolerably strong dose of quinine which he had taken that morning, had created such a whirl in his head, and such a singing in his ears that the room seemed to be going round-he tottered forward to say something to the long cornet, but was obliged to grasp an arm of the sofa on which Drawlincourt had flung himself, and sink down beside that gentleman to save himself from falling on the floor.

But in a little time, having somewhat recovered, he turned round to the cornet and asked him how he did; but whether it was that the cavalry officer had not a very long-reached memory, or that he was mortified at being thwarted again by his old enemy; or whether Peregrine was so altered by his

« PreviousContinue »