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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter VI: Famine In The Garrison

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[The Major's description of this meeting, which lasted at the very most not ten seconds, occupies thirteen pages of writing. We have been compelled to dock off twelve-and-a-half; for the whole passage, though highly creditable to his feelings, might possibly be tedious to the reader.]

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As I said, the ladies and gentlemen were inclined to sneer, and were giggling audibly. I led the dear girl to a chair, and, scowling round with a tremendous fierceness, which those who know me know I can sometimes put on, I shouted out, "Hark ye! men and women--I am this lady's truest knight--her husband I hope one day to be. I am commander, too, in this fort--the enemy is without it; another word of mockery--another glance of scorn--and, by Heaven, I will hurl every man and woman from the battlements, a prey to the ruffianly Holkar!" This quieted them. I am a man of my word, and none of them stirred or looked disrespectfully from that moment.

It was now my turn to make them look foolish. Mrs. Vandegobbleschroy (whose unfailing appetite is pretty well known to every person who has been in India) cried, "Well, Captain Gahagan, your ball has been so pleasant, and the supper was despatched so long ago, that myself and the ladies would be very glad of a little breakfast." And Mrs. Van giggled as if she had made a very witty and reasonable speech. "Oh! breakfast, breakfast, by all means," said the rest; "we really are dying for a warm cup of tea."

"Is it bohay tay or souchong tay that you'd like, ladies?" says I.

"Nonsense, you silly man; any tea you like," said fat Mrs. Van.

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"What do you say, then, to some prime GUNPOWDER?" Of course they said it was the very thing.

"And do you like hot rowls or cowld--muffins or crumpets--fresh butter or salt? And you, gentlemen, what do you say to some ilegant divvled-kidneys for yourselves, and just a trifle of grilled turkeys, and a couple of hundthred new-laid eggs for the ladies?"

"Pooh, pooh! be it as you will, my dear fellow," answered they all.

"But stop," says I. "O ladies, O ladies! O gentlemen, gentlemen! that you should ever have come to the quarters of Goliah Gahagan, and he been without--"

"What?" said they, in a breath.

"Alas! alas! I have not got a single stick of chocolate in the whole house."

"Well, well, we can do without it."

"Or a single pound of coffee."

"Never mind; let that pass too." (Mrs. Van and the rest were beginning to look alarmed.)

"And about the kidneys--now I remember, the black divvles outside the fort have seized upon all the sheep; and how are we to have kidneys without them?" (Here there was a slight o-o-o!)

"And with regard to the milk and crame, it may be remarked that the cows are likewise in pawn, and not a single drop can be had for money or love: but we can beat up eggs, you know, in the tay, which will be just as good."

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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