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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter IX: Surprise Of Futtyghur

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"Interpret, O riddler!" said I; "Gahagan Khan is no reader of puzzles--no prating mollah. Gujputi loves not words, but swords."

"Listen then, O Gujputi: you are in Holkar's power."

"I know it."

"You will die by the most horrible tortures to-morrow morning."

"I dare say."

"They will tear your teeth from your jaws, your nails from your fingers, and your eyes from your head."

"Very possibly."

"They will flay you alive, and then burn you."

"Well; they can't do any more."

"They will seize upon every man and woman in yonder fort"--it was not then taken!--"and repeat upon them the same tortures."

"Ha! Belinda! Speak--how can all this be avoided?"

"Listen. Gahagan loves the moon-face called Belinda."

"He does, Vizier, to distraction."

"Of what rank is he in the Koompani's army?"

"A captain."

"A miserable captain--oh, shame! Of what creed is he?"

"I am an Irishman, and a Catholic."

"But he has not been very particular about his religious duties?"

"Alas, no!"

"He has not been to his mosque for these twelve years?"

"'Tis too true."

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"Hearken now, Gahagan Khan. His Highness Prince Holkar has sent me to thee. You shall have the moon-face for your wife--your second wife, that is;--the first shall be the incomparable Puttee Rooge, who loves you to madness;--with Puttee Rooge, who is the wife, you shall have the wealth and rank of Bobbachy Bahawder, of whom his Highness intends to get rid. You shall be second in command of his Highness's forces. Look, here is his commission signed with the celestial seal, and attested by the sacred names of the forty-nine Imaums. You have but to renounce your religion and your service, and all these rewards are yours."

He produced a parchment, signed as he said, and gave it to me (it was beautifully written in Indian ink: I had it for fourteen years, but a rascally valet, seeing it very dirty, washed it, forsooth, and washed off every bit of the writing). I took it calmly, and said, "This is a tempting offer. O Vizier, how long wilt thou give me to consider of it?"

After a long parley, he allowed me six hours, when I promised to give him an answer. My mind, however, was made up--as soon as he was gone, I threw myself on the sofa and fell asleep.

* * *

At the end of the six hours the Vizier came back: two people were with him; one, by his martial appearance, I knew to be Holkar, the other I did not recognise. It was about midnight.

"Have you considered?" said the Vizier, as he came to my couch.

"I have," said I, sitting up,--I could not stand, for my legs were tied, and my arms fixed in a neat pair of steel handcuffs. "I have," said I, "unbelieving dogs! I have. Do you think to pervert a Christian gentleman from his faith and honour? Ruffian blackamoors! do your worst; heap tortures on this body, they cannot last long. Tear me to pieces: after you have torn me into a certain number of pieces, I shall not feel it; and if I did, if each torture could last a life, if each limb were to feel the agonies of a whole body, what then? I would bear all--all--all-- all--all--ALL!" My breast heaved--my form dilated--my eye flashed as I spoke these words. "Tyrants!" said I, "dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." Having thus clinched the argument, I was silent.

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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