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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter I

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I could not, however, go forth satisfied to the campaign until I learned from Julia my fate. I watched twenty opportunities to see her alone, and wandered about the Colonel's bungalow as an informer does about a public-house, marking the incomings and the outgoings of the family, and longing to seize the moment when Miss Jowler, unbiassed by her mother or her papa, might listen, perhaps, to my eloquence, and melt at the tale of my love.

But it would not do--old Jowler seemed to have taken all of a sudden to such a fit of domesticity, that there was no finding him out of doors, and his rhubarb-coloured wife (I believe that her skin gave the first idea of our regimental breeches), who before had been gadding ceaselessly abroad, and poking her broad nose into every menage in the cantonment, stopped faithfully at home with her spouse. My only chance was to beard the old couple in their den, and ask them at once for their cub.

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So I called one day at tiffin:- old Jowler was always happy to have my company at this meal; it amused him, he said, to see me drink Hodgson's pale ale (I drank two hundred and thirty-four dozen the first year I was in Bengal)--and it was no small piece of fun, certainly, to see old Mrs. Jowler attack the currie-bhaut;--she was exactly the colour of it, as I have had already the honour to remark, and she swallowed the mixture with a gusto which was never equalled, except by my poor friend Dando a propos d'huitres. She consumed the first three platefuls with a fork and spoon, like a Christian; but as she warmed to her work, the old hag would throw away her silver implements, and dragging the dishes towards her, go to work with her hands, flip the rice into her mouth with her fingers, and stow away a quantity of eatables sufficient for a sepoy company. But why do I diverge from the main point of my story?

Julia, then, Jowler, and Mrs. J., were at luncheon; the dear girl was in the act to sabler a glass of Hodgson as I entered. "How do you do, Mr. Gagin?" said the old hag, leeringly. "Eat a bit o' currie-bhaut,"--and she thrust the dish towards me, securing a heap as it passed. "What! Gagy my boy, how do, how do?" said the fat Colonel. "What! run through the body?--got well again--have some Hodgson--run through your body too!"--and at this, I may say, coarse joke (alluding to the fact that in these hot climates the ale oozes out as it were from the pores of the skin) old Jowler laughed: a host of swarthy chobdars, kitmatgars, sices, consomahs, and bobbychies laughed too, as they provided me, unasked, with the grateful fluid. Swallowing six tumblers of it, I paused nervously for a moment, and then said -

"Bobbachy, consomah, ballybaloo hoga."

The black ruffians took the hint, and retired.

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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