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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter IX: Surprise Of Futtyghur

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The venerable. Grand Vizier turned away; I saw a tear trickling down his cheeks.

"What a constancy!" said he. "Oh, that such beauty and such bravery should be doomed so soon to quit the earth!"

His tall companion only sneered and said, "AND BELINDA--?"

"Ha!" said I, "ruffian, be still!--Heaven will protect her spotless innocence. Holkar, I know thee, and thou knowest me too! Who, with his single sword, destroyed thy armies? Who, with his pistol, cleft in twain thy nose-ring? Who slew thy generals? Who slew thy elephants? Three hundred mighty beasts went forth to battle: of these I slew one hundred and thirty-five! Dog, coward, ruffian, tyrant, unbeliever! Gahagan hates thee, spurns thee, spits on thee!"

Holkar, as I made these uncomplimentary remarks, gave a scream of rage, and, drawing his scimitar, rushed on to despatch me at once (it was the very thing I wished for), when the third person sprang forward and, seizing his arm, cried -

"Papa! oh, save him!" It was Puttee Rooge! "Remember," continued she, "his misfortunes--remember, oh, remember my--love!"--and here she blushed, and putting one finger into her mouth, and hanging down her head, looked the very picture of modest affection.

Holkar sulkily sheathed his scimitar, and muttered, "'Tis better as it is; had I killed him now, I had spared him the torture. None of this shameless fooling, Puttee Rooge," continued the tyrant, dragging her away. "Captain Gahagan dies three hours from hence." Puttee Rooge gave one scream and fainted--her father and the Vizier carried her off between them; nor was I loth to part with her, for, with all her love, she was as ugly as the deuce.

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They were gone--my fate was decided. I had but three hours more of life: so I flung myself again on the sofa, and fell profoundly asleep. As it may happen to any of my readers to be in the same situation, and to be hanged themselves, let me earnestly entreat them to adopt this plan of going to sleep, which I for my part have repeatedly found to be successful. It saves unnecessary annoyance, it passes away a great deal of unpleasant time, and it prepares one to meet like a man the coming catastrophe.

* * *

Three o'clock came: the sun was at this time making his appearance in the heavens, and with it came the guards, who were appointed to conduct me to the torture. I woke, rose, was carried out, and was set on the very white donkey on which Loll Mahommed was conducted through the camp after he was bastinadoed. Bobbachy Bahawder rode behind me, restored to his rank and state; troops of cavalry hemmed us in on all sides; my ass was conducted by the common executioner: a crier went forward, shouting out, "Make way for the destroyer of the faithful--he goes to bear the punishment of his crimes." We came to the fatal plain: it was the very spot whence I had borne away the elephant, and in full sight of the fort. I looked towards it. Thank Heaven! King George's banner waved on it still--a crowd were gathered on the walls--the men, the dastards who had deserted me--and women, too. Among the latter I thought I distinguished ONE who--O gods! the thought turned me sick--I trembled and looked pale for the first time.

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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