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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter V: The Issue Of My Interview With My Wife

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The male attendants had of course quitted the apartment, as they heard the well-known sound of her voice. It would have been death to them to have remained and looked in her face. The females ranged themselves round their mistress, as she squatted down opposite to me.

"And is this," said she, "a welcome, O Khan! after six months' absence, for the most unfortunate and loving wife in all the world? Is this lamb, O glutton! half so tender as thy spouse? Is this wine, O sot! half so sweet as her looks?"

I saw the storm was brewing--her slaves, to whom she turned, kept up a kind of chorus:-

"Oh, the faithless one!" cried they. "Oh, the rascal, the false one, who has no eye for beauty, and no heart for love, like the Khanum's!"

"A lamb is not so sweet as love," said I gravely; "but a lamb has a good temper: a wine-cup is not so intoxicating as a woman--but a wine-cup has NO TONGUE, O Khanum Gee!" and again I dipped my nose in the soul-refreshing jar.

The sweet Puttee Rooge was not, however, to be put off by my repartees; she and her maidens recommenced their chorus, and chattered and stormed until I lost all patience.

"Retire, friends," said I, "and leave me in peace."

"Stir, on your peril!" cried the Khanum.

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So, seeing there was no help for it but violence, I drew out my pistols, cocked them, and said, "O houris! these pistols contain each two balls: the daughter of Holkar bears a sacred life for me- -but for you!--by all the saints of Hindustan, four of ye shall die if ye stay a moment longer in my presence!" This was enough; the ladies gave a shriek, and skurried out of the apartment like a covey of partridges on the wing.

Now, then, was the time for action. My wife, or rather Bobbachy's wife, sat still, a little flurried by the unusual ferocity which her lord had displayed in her presence. I seized her hand and, gripping it close, whispered in her ear, to which I put the other pistol:- "O Khanum, listen and scream not; the moment you scream, you die!" She was completely beaten: she turned as pale as a woman could in her situation, and said, "Speak, Bobbachy Bahawder, I am dumb."

"Woman," said I, taking off my helmet, and removing the chain cape which had covered almost the whole of my face--"I AM NOT THY HUSBAND--I am the slayer of elephants, the world-renowned GAHAGAN!"

As I said this, and as the long ringlets of red hair fell over my shoulders (contrasting strangely with my dyed face and beard), I formed one of the finest pictures that can possibly be conceived, and I recommend it as a subject to Mr. Heath, for the next "Book of Beauty."

"Wretch!" said she, "what wouldst thou?"

"You black-faced fiend," said I, "raise but your voice, and you are dead!"

"And afterwards," said she, "do you suppose that YOU can escape? The torments of hell are not so terrible as the tortures that Holkar will invent for thee."

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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