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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter IV: The Indian Camp--The Sortie From The Fort

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There was but one way for it. "Sir," said I, addressing Holkar, "go out to-night, and you go to certain death. Loll Mahommed has not seen the fort as I have. Pass the gate if you please, and for what? to fall before the fire of a hundred pieces of artillery; to storm another gate, and then another, and then to be blown up, with Gahagan's garrison in the citadel. Who talks of courage? Were I not in your august presence, O star of the faithful, I would crop Loll Mahommed's nose from his face, and wear his ears as an ornament in my own pugree! Who is there here that knows not the difference between yonder yellow-skinned coward and Gahagan Khan Guj--I mean Bobbachy Bahawder? I am ready to fight one, two, three, or twenty of them, at broad-sword, small-sword, single-stick, with fists if you please. By the holy piper, fighting is like mate and dthrink to Ga---to Bobbachy, I mane--whoop! come on, you divvle, and I'll bate the skin off your ugly bones."

This speech had very nearly proved fatal to me, for, when I am agitated, I involuntarily adopt some of the phraseology peculiar to my own country; which is so un-eastern, that, had there been any suspicion as to my real character, detection must indubitably have ensued. As it was, Holkar perceived nothing, but instantaneously stopped the dispute. Loll Mahommed, however, evidently suspected something; for, as Holkar, with a voice of thunder, shouted out; "Tomasha (silence)," Loll sprang forward and gasped out -

"My lord! my lord! this is not Bob--"

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But he could say no more. "Gag the slave!" screamed out Holkar, stamping with fury; and a turban was instantly twisted round the poor devil's jaws. "Ho, furoshes! carry out Loll Mahommed Khan, give him a hundred dozen on the soles of his feet, set him upon a white donkey, and carry him round the camp, with an inscription before him: 'This is the way that Holkar rewards the talkative.'"

I breathed again; and ever as I heard each whack of the bamboo falling on Loll Mahommed's feet, I felt peace returning to my mind, and thanked my stars that I was delivered of this danger.

"Vizier," said Holkar, who enjoyed Loll's roars amazingly, "I owe you a reparation for your nose: kiss the hand of your prince, O Saadut Alee Beg Bimbukchee! be from this day forth Zoheir u Dowlut!"

The good old man's eyes filled with tears. "I can bear thy severity, O Prince," said he; "I cannot bear thy love. Was it not an honour that your Highness did me just now when you condescended to pass over the bridge of your slave's nose?"

The phrase was by all voices pronounced to be very poetical. The Vizier retired, crowned with his new honours, to bed. Holkar was in high good-humour.

"Bobbachy," said he, "thou, too, must pardon me. A propos, I have news for thee. Your wife, the incomparable Puttee Rooge" (white and red rose), "has arrived in camp."

"My WIFE, my lord!" said I, aghast.

"Our daughter, the light of thine eyes! Go, my son; I see thou art wild with joy. The Princess's tents are set up close by mine, and I know thou longest to join her."

My wife? Here was a complication truly!

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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