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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter III: A Peep Into Spain--Account Of The Origin And Services Of The Ahmednuggar Irregulars

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"'Captain Gahagan,' sobbed she, 'Go-Go-Goggle-iah!'

"'My soul's adored!' replied I.

"'Swear to me one thing.'

"'I swear.'

"'That if--that if--the nasty, horrid, odious black Mah-ra-a-a-attahs take the fort, you will put me out of their power.'

"I clasped the dear girl to my heart, and swore upon my sword that, rather than she should incur the risk of dishonour, she should perish by my own hand. This comforted her; and her mother, Mrs. Major-General Bulcher, and her elder sister, who had not until now known a word of our attachment, (indeed, but for these extraordinary circumstances, it is probable that we ourselves should never have discovered it), were under these painful circumstances made aware of my beloved Belinda's partiality for me. Having communicated thus her wish of self-destruction, I thought her example a touching and excellent one, and proposed to all the ladies that they should follow it, and that at the entry of the enemy into the fort, and at a signal given by me, they should one and all make away with themselves. Fancy my disgust when, after making this proposition, not one of the ladies chose to accede to it, and received it with the same chilling denial that my former proposal to the garrison had met with.

"In the midst of this hurry and confusion, as if purposely to add to it, a trumpet was heard at the gate of the fort, and one of the sentinels came running to me, saying that a Mahratta soldier was before the gate with a flag of truce!

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"I went down, rightly conjecturing, as it turned out, that the party, whoever they might be, had no artillery; and received at the point of my sword a scroll of which the following is a translation.

"'To Goliah Gahagan Gujputi.

"'LORD OF ELEPHANTS, SIR,--I have the honour to inform you that I arrived before this place at eight o'clock p.m. with ten thousand cavalry under my orders. I have burned, since my arrival, seventeen bungalows in Furruckabad and Futtyghur, and have likewise been under the painful necessity of putting to death three clergymen (mollahs) and seven English officers, whom I found in the village; the women have been transferred to safe keeping in the harems of my officers and myself.

"'As I know your courage and talents, I shall be very happy if you will surrender the fortress, and take service as a major-general (hookahbadar) in my army. Should my proposal not meet with your assent, I beg leave to state that to-morrow I shall storm the fort, and on taking it, shall put to death every male in the garrison, and every female above twenty years of age. For yourself I shall reserve a punishment, which for novelty and exquisite torture has, I flatter myself, hardly ever been exceeded. Awaiting the favour of a reply, I am, Sir,

"'Your very obedient servant,

"'CAMP BEFORE FUTTYGHUR: September 1, 1804.
"'R. S. V. P.'

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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