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After a conflict of a few moments, during which time both parties contrived to break their shins against an anchor, and to tumble several times over some ropes, the combatants managed to scuffle off the forecastle, and by a miracle slid down on their legs. This descent had the effect of extricating them from each other's grasp, and the sailor, seizing the opportunity, sprung forward, and by a nimble effort succeeded in getting the Mussulmaun's head under his left arm, or, in the language of the ring, into Chancery. Then began the poor fellow's punishment, and desperately he was punished, but the punishment that awaited his enemy was more desperate still.
Peregrine Pultuney, as we have said in the last chapter, after having plighted his troth to Julia Poggleton, was just looking fore and aft to see whether he could ratify the contract with a kiss, without any body being witness to the ceremony, when he saw, by the light which streamed from the gally, his old and faithful domestic in imminent peril of annihilation from the brutal sailor. One glance was sufficient to convince him; for most fortunately he was not a young gentleman who was long in making up his mind—that glance too showed him Peer Khan's bloody face sliding out from beneath the arm of his victimizer, and just as Peregrine Pultuney reached the scene of action, the two combatants were separated. The sailor's back was to the main hatchway, and his footing was not very firm on the deck, so that the one two of our hero was quite irresistible, and Jack toppled over the side of the hatchway and fell heavily on the lower deck.
No bones were broken, but there were contusions in abundance, and Peer-Khan quite recovered from the injuries he received some time before his brutal assailant
It was a fine bright morning in September when the Leander sailed into the Madras roads. Peregrine and Julia were on the deck together, looking over the gangway at the white houses on the beach, the whiter surf, the country vessels rocking at anchor, the catamarans and the massoolah boats. Julia had touched at Madras on her way out to Calcutta, so that she was able to point out to Peregrine which was the Supreme Court, and which was the Custom-house, which was Messrs. Arbuthnot and Co.'s, which was Fort St. George, and which was the Black Town. There was very little shipping in the roads, scarcely any thing but native coasting vessels, called dhoonies, which looked very much as though they were on the point of going to pieces at every roll, but there were a great quantity of catamarans and fishing-boats, which to Peregrine, who had never been to Madras, had all the interest of novelty. He admired, as every body does, the extreme adroitness of the native gentlemen with their conical caps and scanty dhoties, who one at one end and another at another end of
two or three small planks of wood, surmounted in safety the highest surfs, which looked as though they would swallow up catamaran and all, or toss it up high out of the water, every time that the little logs went over the great swells, and he watched, with the greatest interest, through a telescope, the landing of a massoolah boat or two, the waiting for the receding surf, the bump against the beach, and then the hurry and scramble of hauling the boat high and dry. Then he watched some gentlemen going to office in their buggies (or bandies as they are called at Madras ) and tried to be very interested in every thing that he saw, though neither he nor Julia could really think of any thing else but the misery of their approaching separation.
At last the ship cast anchor, and as a necessary consequence, it was speedily surrounded with catamarans—one bringing fruit for sale, and another fish, and a third letters from shore. Mr. Poggleton had found his way upon deck and his lady, looking very smart indeed, with (as sailors say) her shoregoing toggery on, was making inquiries as to whether anybody had brought a letter for her husband or for herself, and was highly delighted when the captain gave her one which had just been taken out of the water-proof cap of a catamaran-jack.
"Well, Poggleton-only think," she said, “ here it is-a letter from Mr. Havasall-I thought he would write-that I did-only think, an invitation -I'm sure it's an invitation shall I read it to you,
anybody and was high had just
ed to you in gleton, “Insive me
my dear-only think, and where's Julia-looking at the houses with Peregrine-well, it is something to be sure to see a house after so long shall I read you the letter, my dear?"
“ If you would just hold your clack and give me the letter,” whined Mr. Poggleton, “I should be very much obliged to you indeed.”
“Dear me,I thought I should save you the trouble,” urged Mrs. Poggleton, meekly.
“ You are always thinking some absurdity or other" growled Mr. Poggleton, opening the letter, " — well, well-short and sweet~I think he might have written a little more-My weak state of health, vastly considerate indeed - he thinks he'll have to bury me, does he?-well, we shall see. Now, Mrs. Poggleton, I wish you wouldn't stand staring in that way, instead of thinking about getting a boat to take me to Mr. Havasall's.”
" Why, dear me," said Mrs. Poggleton, “ you have not told me a single word about it all yet.”
“ I think you might have known then, without telling, that we can't walk to shore, Mrs. Poggleton," observed the amiable invalid.
“ But, my dear, you never told me any thing about going on shore at all."
" What a woman !- why God bless my soul, Mrs. Poggleton, do you think that I am going to stick here, to drink bilge-water and eat black bread, and be suffocated in a closet of a cabin, when I can go on shore and get at all events cool drink, though
there is no ice* in this miserable Madras. I wish you would not stand staring at me--I want you to order a boat, or to tell Jacob, or that lazy vagabond of a servant of Peregrine's to get us a boat as quickly as possible. What a wretched place this Madras is to be sure-one can't land at a ghaut (quay).”
Before these last words had been fairly spoken, Mrs. Poggleton had flitted up to Peregrine and begged him to do something for Poggleton. " He is so irritable,” she said, “ that I declare it wears me almost out of my life-dear me! and so unconscionable. I really don't know how I am ever to get a boat-do you know, Peregrine, how I am to do it? We can't go on shore on one of those thiugs," (pointing to a catamaran), “ we should get wet through and splashed all over and tumble into the sea. I really don't know what to do—unless the captain will lend us one of his boats. Here he comes; I'll go and ask him—he has got three, he can't want them all.”
“We couldn't land in one of them," urged Julia. “ Don't go, mamma, we must wait for a native boat -I see one putting off from shore.”
“ What that with the awning ?-dear me! I should like a boat with an awning, indeed;" continued Mrs. Poggleton, “ I don't see how it would be possible to go on shore without an awning. Well, I wish it would come a little faster-can't you call to the people, Peregrine, to row a little faster?"
* A luxury now abundantly supplied.