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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter I

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The contest did not last an instant. With my first blow I cut off his sword-arm at the wrist; my second I levelled at his head. I said that he wore a steel cap, with a gilt iron spike of six inches, and a hood of chain mail. I rose in my stirrups and delivered "St. George;" my sword caught the spike exactly on the point, split it sheer in two, cut crashing through the steel cap and hood, and was only stopped by a ruby which he wore in his backplate. His head, cut clean in two between the eyebrows and nostrils, even between the two front teeth, fell one side on each shoulder, and he galloped on till his horse was stopped by my men, who were not a little amused at the feat.

As I had expected, the remaining ruffians fled on seeing their leader's fate. I took home his helmet by way of curiosity, and we made a single prisoner, who was instantly carried before old Jowler.

We asked the prisoner the name of the leader of the troop: he said it was Chowder Loll.

"Chowder Loll!" shrieked Colonel Jowler. "O Fate! thy hand is here!" He rushed wildly into his tent--the next day applied for leave of absence. Gutch took the command of the regiment, and I saw him no more for some time.

* * *

As I had distinguished myself not a little during the war, General Lake sent me up with despatches to Calcutta, where Lord Wellesley received me with the greatest distinction. Fancy my surprise, on going to a ball at Government House, to meet my old friend Jowler; my trembling, blushing, thrilling delight, when I saw Julia by his side!

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Jowler seemed to blush too when he beheld me. I thought of my former passages with his daughter. "Gagy my boy," says he, shaking hands, "glad to see you. Old friend, Julia--come to tiffin-- Hodgson's pale--brave fellow Gagy." Julia did not speak, but she turned ashy pale, and fixed upon me her awful eyes! I fainted almost, and uttered some incoherent words. Julia took my hand, gazed at me still, and said, "Come!" Need I say I went?

I will not go over the pale ale and currie-bhaut again! but this I know, that in half-an-hour I was as much in love as I ever had been: and that in three weeks I--yes, I--was the accepted lover of Julia! I did not pause to ask where were the one hundred and twenty-four offers? why I, refused before, should be accepted now? I only felt that I loved her, and was happy!

* * *

One night, one memorable night, I could not sleep, and, with a lover's pardonable passion, wandered solitary through the City of Palaces until I came to the house which contained my Julia. I peeped into the compound--all was still; I looked into the verandah--all was dark, except a light--yes, one light--and it was in Julia's chamber! My heart throbbed almost to stifling. I would--I WOULD advance, if but to gaze upon her for a moment, and to bless her as she slept. I DID look, I DID advance; and, O Heaven! I saw a lamp burning, Mrs. Jow. in a night-dress, with a very dark baby in her arms, and Julia looking tenderly at an ayah, who was nursing another.

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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