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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter I

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"Colonel and Mrs. Jowler," said I solemnly, "we are alone; and you, Miss Jowler, you are alone too; that is--I mean--I take this opportunity to--(another glass of ale, if you please)--to express, once for all, before departing on a dangerous campaign"--(Julia turned pale)--"before entering, I say, upon a war which may stretch in the dust my high-raised hopes and me, to express my hopes while life still remains to me, and to declare in the face of heaven, earth, and Colonel Jowler, that I love you, Julia!" The Colonel, astonished, let fall a steel fork, which stuck quivering for some minutes in the calf of my leg; but I heeded not the paltry interruption. "Yes, by yon bright heaven," continued I, "I love you, Julia! I respect my commander, I esteem your excellent and beauteous mother: tell me, before I leave you, if I may hope for a return of my affection. Say that you love me, and I will do such deeds in this coming war, as shall make you proud of the name of your Gahagan."

The old woman, as I delivered these touching words, stared, snapped, and ground her teeth, like an enraged monkey. Julia was now red, now white; the Colonel stretched forward, took the fork out of the calf of my leg, wiped it, and then seized a bundle of letters which I had remarked by his side.

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"A cornet!" said he, in a voice choking with emotion; "a pitiful beggarly Irish cornet aspire to the hand of Julia Jowler! Gag-- Gahagan, are you mad, or laughing at us? Look at these letters, young man--at these letters, I say--one hundred and twenty-four epistles from every part of India (not including one from the Governor-General, and six from his brother, Colonel Wellesley)--one hundred and twenty-four proposals for the hand of Miss Jowler! Cornet Gahagan," he continued, "I wish to think well of you: you are the bravest, the most modest, and, perhaps, the handsomest man in our corps; but you have not got a single rupee. You ask me for Julia, and you do not possess even an anna!"--(Here the old rogue grinned, as if he had made a capital pun.)--"No, no," said he, waxing good-natured; "Gagy my boy, it is nonsense! Julia love, retire with your mamma; this silly young gentleman will remain and smoke a pipe with me."

I took one: it was the bitterest chillum I ever smoked in my life.

* * *

I am not going to give here an account of my military services; they will appear in my great national autobiography, in forty volumes, which I am now preparing for the press. I was with my regiment in all Wellesley's brilliant campaigns; then taking dawk, I travelled across the country north-eastward, and had the honour of fighting by the side of Lord Lake at Laswaree, Degg, Furruckabad, Futtyghur, and Bhurtpore: but I will not boast of my actions--the military man knows them, MY SOVEREIGN appreciates them. If asked who was the bravest man of the Indian army, there is not an officer belonging to it who would not cry at once, GAHAGAN. The fact is, I was desperate: I cared not for life, deprived of Julia Jowler.

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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