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At length by the most skilful manæuvring, and with infinite tact, Macauley brought the beauty of the new tables on the tapis ; every one admired them, and felt grateful to them for having so lately supported the rich dinner of their host.
They are of the finest mahogany I ever saw,' said Major Briscoe. ' They are perfect. I never saw any so well proportioned in my life; I must have some made like them,' said a dinner-giving old civilian with half a liver.
• They are rather too high,' chimed in Charles Macauley, with affected indifference; 'just a leetle too high don't you think so, Gordon ??
On the contrary,' replied the host ; 'if anything, I consider them a shade too low.'
• You are mistaken, my dear fellow ; I have an excellent eye, and I am sure I am right; no table should exceed two feet six, and these are at least one inch higher.'
" You are in error ; they are not more than two feet and a half.'
• Don't bet, James, don't bet, for I am sure of the fact : I tell you I cannot be deceived, —my eye is always correct.'
Not bet !--if it were not that the tables are my own, and, consequently, I should bet on a certainty, I'd lay you a lac of rupees they are not more than thirty inches in height.
Oh! if you are willing, I'll make the bet; but remember, gentlemen, I tell you beforehand, I am certain of the fact ; I say these tables are at least thirty-one inches from the ground.'
• Done! for a lac of rupees !' cried Gordon. Done!' re-echoed Charley.
Their betting-books were brought out, and the wager duly regis tered. A servant was ordered to bring in a yard measure, when Macauley turned round with an air of triumph,
* You may save yourselves the trouble of measuring,-ha! ha!' and he chuckled with delight. “I warned you fairly I bet on a certainty, so you can't be off, James.' 'I stand to my bet,' said Gordon.
Well, then, pay me my money. I measured the tables this morning while you were shaving, and here is a memorandum of their height, thirty-one inches exactly!' and the Colonel burst into a roaring fit of laughter as he produced his pocket-book.
I know you did,' said James ; “I saw you do so in my lookingglass.' The Colonel started. So as soon as you had gone away, knowing well your intentions, I had an inch sawed off every leg ; so for once, my knowing friend, the tables are turned !
Charles Macauley left Calcutta next day 10,0001. poorer than the day he had arrived ; and, what is still worse, the very youngest ensigns quiz him about the story to this very day.
A FIFTH AT WHIST. We had been playing all the evening at whist. Our stake had been gold mohur points, and twenty on the rubber. Maxey, who is always lucky, had won five consecutive bumpers, which lent a selfsatisfied smile to his countenance, and made us, the losers, look anything but pleased, when he suddenly changed countenance, and hesitated to play: this the more surprised us, since he was one who sel.
dom pondered, being so perfectly master of the game, that he deemed long consideration superfluous.
* Play away, Maxey ; what are you about ?' impatiently demanded Churchill
, one of the most impetuous youths that ever wore the uni. form of the body-guard.
Hush !' responded Maxey, in a tone which thrilled through us, at the same time turning deadly pale.
' Are you unwell ?' said another, about to start up, for he believed our friend had suddenly been taken ill.
* For the love of God sit quiet ! rejoined the other, in a tone denoting extreme fear or pain, and he laid down his cards. If you value my life, move not.
" What can he mean ?-has he taken leave of his senses?' de. manded Churchill, appealing to myself.
* Don't start !—don't move, I tell you l'in a sort of whisper I never can forget, uttered Maxey. •If you make any sudden motion I am a dead man !'
We exchanged looks. He continued,
* Remain quiet, and all may yet be well. I have a Cobra Capella round my leg.'
Our first impulse was to draw back our chairs; but an appealing look from the victim induced us to remain, although we were aware that should the reptile transfer but one fold, and attach himself to any other of the party, that individual might already be counted as a dead man, so fatal is the bite of that dreaded monster.
Poor Maxey was dressed as many old residents still dress in India, -namely, in breeches and silk stockings ; he therefore the more plainly felt every movement of the snake. His countenanee assumed a livid hue; the words seemed to leave his mouth without that feature altering its position, so rigid was his look, so fearful was he lest the slightest muscular movement should alarm the serpent, and hasten his fatal bite. We were in agony little less than his own during the scene.
He is coiling round !' murmured Maxey; 'I feel him cold-cold to my limb; and now he tightens !--for the love of Heaven call for some milk !- dare not speak loud : let it be placed on the ground near me ; let some be spilt on the floor.'
Churchill cautiously gave the order, and a servant slipped out of the room.
* Don't stir :-Northcote, you moved your head. By everything sacred I conjure you do not do so again! It cannot be long ere my fate is decided. I have a wife and two children in Europe ; tell them I died blessing them--that my last prayers were for them ;-the snake is winding itself round my calf ;-) leave them all I possessm I can almost fancy I feel his breath : Great God ! to die in such a manner !'
The milk was brought, and carefully put down; a few drops were sprinkled on the floor, and the affrighted servants drew back. Again Maxey spoke :
'No-no! it has no effect! on the contrary, he has clasped himself tighter-he has uncurled his upper fold ! I dare not look down, but I am sure he is about to draw back and give the bite of death with more fatal precision. Receive me, O Lord ! and pardon me; my last hour is come!-Again he pauses.' I die firm; but this is past endur
ance; ah! no—he has undone another fold, and loosens himself. Can he be going to some one else ?' We involuntarily started. 'For the love of Heaven, stir not !-I am a dead man; but bear with me! He still loosens ;-he is about to dart !-Move not, but beware! Churchill, he falls off that way. Oh! this agony is too hard to bear! -Another pressure, and I am dead. No!-he relaxes! At that moment poor Maxey ventured to look down; the snake had unwound himself; the last coil had fallen, and the reptile was making for the milk.
'I am saved !-saved !' and Maxey bounded from his chair, and fell senseless into the arms of one of his servants. In another instant, need it be added, we were all dispersed : the snake was killed, and our poor friend carried more dead than alive to his room.
That scene I can never forget : it rells on my memory still, strengthened by the fate of poor Maxey, who from that hour pined in hopeless imbecility, and sank into an early grave.
THE MUSSULAH BOAT. Just as our vessel was about to anchor, two catamarans suddenly appeared on deck, to the great horror of those who had never seen such beings before, and the great delight of the old Madraseses, who expected to receive letters by them. The two men before us were stark naked, with the exception of a very small rag, and a little cap, made of dried palm leaves, for the carriage of their despatches. They had paddled out at least six miles from the shore, seated on a small log of wood, propelling themselves, each with a single oar, with which they kept time to a sort of chant, which they sang as they struck their paddles in the waves, and made their way through the terrific surf, which extends about two miles out from the shore of Madras. No wonder that the first ship which ever saw these strange creatures took them for demons, and entered in their log. book the following quaint notice :-'At one o'clock P. M. came in sight of the principal town on the Coromandel coast. Saw two devils playing at single-stick on the surface of the water. God grant it foretell no evil!' No wonder they could scarcely believe that human beings should thus float out on such a frail support, and encounter the waves which in this part of the globe run mountains high, and the deadly sharks which here abound, without defence or assistance. Often and often are they washed off, and as often regain their piece of timber, with a hardihood which seems to paralyse the monsters of the deep; for seldom or ever is a catamaran carried off by these ravenous animals, who, however, greedily devour the European who dares to encounter them.
The catamaran, pulling off his little leaf cap, delivered his letters; and having informed us that our arrival had been signalled at the fort, and, consequently, that a couple of mussulah boats were already on their way to carry over our passengers, plunged again into the water, seemingly delighted to get rid of our rude stare, and return to his quasi-natural element. Our clothes for immediate wear were soon packed up, and before the boats touched the sides of the vessel, we were already on the quarter-deck watching their approach.
These peculiarly constructed boats, are the only ones that could live through such a sea : formed of bark, they float on the very tip of each wave, and bend as it strikes their sides, which are at least
eight feet high, with banks running across the top, on which some dozen or fourteen native rowers are perched. The European, together with his luggage, is coolly stowed at the bottom of the vessel, with a strict caution to be
In this leviathan canoe we seated ourselves, and started for Madras.
When we reached the first line of surf, no words can describe the terror we felt. Thrown in an instant to a dizzy height, then suddenly plunged down with a rapidity which for an instant checked the breath, while we looked up, and saw the towering waves ready to burst over our heads, occasionally dotted with a catamaran; each boat being attended by several of these worthies, who in case of accident instantly pick up the passengers, and for which they always receive a silver medal. The noise of the angry surf, which seemed intent on our destruction, completely paralysed the majority of us. Not so, however, a young and beautiful girl, who was about to join her parents in India. She seemed to exult in the dan. ger which surrounded us. She appeared to court the awe-inspiring scene, and smiled with joy as we shrank appalled at the raging foam. A young officer, to whom she was betrothed, seemed delighted with these fresh proofs of her courage, and assisted her to mount the bench of the rowers, much against the advice of the natives, and was about to spring up after her in order to hold her, when a sudden lurch of the boat threw him to the bottom of the ves. sel, and the object of his love into the boiling waves. A general scream burst from all. No assistance could be given ; no help afford. ed. We were in the very midst of the most dangerous line. Young Osborne sprang up. He looked around; but no sign of the poor girl could be seen; nothing could be perceived but the hissing, raging sea. A second glance to guide him equally futile,-an appealing look towards Heaven, and Osborne leaped into the waves. The stoical Indians still pulled on: they did not waver in their stroke, but continued in their steady exertions; and they were right in so doing ; for 1 afterwards learnt that a single pause, even for an instant, and all would have been lost.
To describe the grief of the poor mother of Louisa Marchmont, would require an abler pen than mine, nor, had I the power, would I wish to harrow up the feelings of my reader by a sketch of her dreadful agony,-her torture, as she vainly attempted to clamber up to the fatal bank, from which she was forcibly held down. At length we felt a shock as if of an earthquake; the Indians jumped out, and in two minutes more we stood safely on the strand, enjoying the delight of the mother as she clasped her almost senseless daughter to her breast, crying with agonizing joy. A catamaran, already decorated with six silver medals, had caught her as she fell, and gained a seventh honour by bearing her safely to shore.
As Louisa recovered, and unlocked herself from her mother's em. brace, she looked around, fondly expecting the congratulations of another loved being. But, alas! Osborne was not there. Again she gazed ; and at length gained strength to ask for him. None answered. Again she repeated the question; the averted looks of all told the tale of woe.
Another catamaran now landed, and approached the group. Unaware of the situation of the parties, he slowly pronounced in excellent English, “The young man has become the prey of sharks.'
One harrowing screech-a shudder from all-closed this dreadful scene. Poor Louisa is now a religious, good, but melancholy woman.
On presenting a young Lady with a locket of his hair interlaced with her own at a time when fate seemed to make it impossible for him to meet her again.
The love thou gavest with my own is wreathed;
And as these locks though severed from the head
And still shall live e'en when this heart is dead !
The raven tresses of my queen, and sleep
Upon her bosom pillowed; see ye steep.
Magnetic influence from your mazes flies;
J. C. BENTLEY.
SPECIMENS OF MODERN GERMAN POETS.
TRANSLATED BY MARY HOWITT.
We sate by the fisher's dwelling,
And looked upon the sea;
And rising up silently.
Streamed softly light by light,
A ship hove into sight.
Of seamen, and how they lay
"Twixt joy and fear each day.
We took a world-wide range,
And manners new and strange.
Where giant trees uptower,
Kneel to the lotus flower.
Flat-headed, wide-mouthed, we spake :
And shriek o'er the fish they bake.
At length no more was said ;
And night over all was spread.