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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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"Tortures, madam?" answered I, coolly. "Fiddlesticks! You will neither betray me, nor will I be put to the torture: on the contrary, you will give me your best jewels and facilitate my escape to the fort. Don't grind your teeth and swear at me. Listen, madam: you know this dress and these arms;--they are the arms of your husband, Bobbachy Bahawder--MY PRISONER. He now lies in yonder fort, and if I do not return before daylight, at sunrise he dies: and then, when they send his corpse back to Holkar, what will you, his WIDOW, do?

"Oh!" said she, shuddering, "spare me, spare me!"

"I'll tell you what you will do. You will have the pleasure of dying along with him--of BEING ROASTED, madam: an agonising death, from which your father cannot save you, to which he will be the first man to condemn and conduct you. Ha! I see we understand each other, and you will give me over the cash-box and jewels." And so saying I threw myself back with the calmest air imaginable, flinging the pistols over to her. "Light me a pipe, my love," said I, "and then go and hand me over the dollars: do you hear?" You see I had her in my power--up a tree, as the Americans say, and she very humbly lighted my pipe for me, and then departed for the goods I spoke about.

What a thing is luck! If Loll Mahommed had not been made to take that ride round the camp, I should infallibly have been lost.

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My supper, my quarrel with the princess, and my pipe afterwards, had occupied a couple of hours of my time. The princess returned from her quest, and brought with her the box, containing valuables to the amount of about three millions sterling. (I was cheated of them afterwards, but have the box still, a plain deal one.) I was just about to take my departure, when a tremendous knocking, shouting, and screaming was heard at the entrance of the tent. It was Holkar himself, accompanied by that cursed Loll Mahommed, who, after his punishment, found his master restored to good-humour, and had communicated to him his firm conviction that I was an impostor.

"Ho, Begum!" shouted he, in the ante-room (for he and his people could not enter the women's apartments), "speak, O my daughter! is your husband returned?"

"Speak, madam," said I, "or REMEMBER THE ROASTING."

"He is, Papa," said the Begum.

"Are you sure? Ho! ho! ho!" (the old ruffian was laughing outside)--"are you sure it is?--Ha! aha!--he-e-e!"

"Indeed it is he, and no other. I pray you, father, to go, and to pass no more such shameless jests on your daughter. Have I ever seen the face of any other man?" And hereat she began to weep as if her heart would break--the deceitful minx!

Holkar's laugh was instantly turned to fury. "Oh, you liar and eternal thief!" said he, turning round (as I presume, for I could only hear) to Loll Mahommed, "to make your prince eat such monstrous dirt as this! Furoshes, seize this man. I dismiss him from my service, I degrade him from his rank, I appropriate to myself all his property: and hark ye, furoshes, GIVE HIM A HUNDRED DOZEN MORE!"

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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