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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter II: Allyghur And Laswaree

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Montholon. "Coquin de Major, va!"

Napoleon. "Montholon! tais-toi. When Lord Lake, with his great bull-headed English obstinacy, saw the facheuse position into which he had brought his troops, he was for dying on the spot, and would infallibly have done so--and the loss of his army would have been the ruin of the East India Company--and the ruin of the English East India Company would have established my Empire (bah! it was a republic then!) in the East--but that the man before us, Lieutenant Goliah Gahagan, was riding at the side of General Lake."

Montholon (with an accent of despair and fury). "Gredin! cent mille tonnerres de Dieu!"

Napoleon (benignantly). "Calme-toi, mon fidele ami. What will you? It was fate. Gahagan, at the critical period of the battle, or rather slaughter (for the English had not slain a man of the enemy), advised a retreat."

Montholon. "Le lache! Un Francais meurt, mais il ne recule jamais."

Napoleon. "Stupide! Don't you see why the retreat was ordered?-- don't you know that it was a feint on the part of Gahagan to draw Holkar from his impregnable entrenchments? Don't you know that the ignorant Indian fell into the snare, and issuing from behind the cover of his guns, came down with his cavalry on the plains in pursuit of Lake and his dragoons? Then it was that the Englishmen turned upon him; the hardy children of the North swept down his feeble horsemen, bore them back to their guns, which were useless, entered Holkar's entrenchments along with his troops, sabred the artillerymen at their pieces, and won the battle of Delhi!"

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As the Emperor spoke, his pale cheek glowed red, his eye flashed fire, his deep clear voice rung as of old when he pointed out the enemy from beneath the shadow of the Pyramids, or rallied his regiments to the charge upon the death-strewn plain of Wagram. I have had many a proud moment in my life, but never such a proud one as this; and I would readily pardon the word "coward," as applied to me by Montholon, in consideration of the testimony which his master bore in my favour.

"Major," said the Emperor to me in conclusion, "why had I not such a man as you in my service? I would have made you a Prince and a Marshal!" and here he fell into a reverie, of which I knew and respected the purport. He was thinking, doubtless, that I might have retrieved his fortunes; and indeed I have very little doubt that I might.

Very soon after, coffee was brought by Monsieur Marchand, Napoleon's valet-de-chambre, and after partaking of that beverage, and talking upon the politics of the day, the Emperor withdrew, leaving me deeply impressed by the condescension he had shown in this remarkable interview.

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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