« ZurückWeiter »
had evidently been the scene of some recent turmoil of no ordinary kind, for female clothes lay scattered in every direction, besides some articles which more properly belong to a dressing-room. We had not been here above a minute, when we heard our advent announced by the servant in an adjoining apartment to Mrs Smiles herself and some of her young ladies. A flood of obloquy was instantly opened upon the girl by one of her young mistresses — Miss Eliza, we thought--for having given admission to anybody at this late hour, especially when she knew that they were to be up early next morning to commence their journey, and had still a great many of their things to pack. 'And such a room you have shewn them into, you goose !' said the enraged Miss. The girl was questioned as to our appearance, for she had neglected to ask our name; and then we heard one young lady say: • It must be these Balderstones. What can have set them a-gadding to-night? I suppose we must ask them to stay to supper, for they'll have come for nothing else. Mary, you are in best trim; will you go in and speak to them till we get ourselves ready? The cold meat will do, with a few eggs. I'm sure they could not have come at a worse time. Miss Mary, accordingly, came hastily in after a few minutes, and received us with a thousand protestations of welcome. Her mother would be so truly delighted to see us, for she had fairly given up all hope of our ever visiting her again. She was just getting ready, and would be here immediately. In the meantime, Mrs Balderstone, you will lay by your cloak and bonnet. Let me assist you,' &c. We had had enough, however, of the Smileses. We saw we had dropped into the midst of a scene of easy dishabille, and surprised it with unexpected ceremony. It would have been cruel to the Smileses to put them to trouble at such a time, and ten times more cruel to ourselves to sit in friendly intercourse with a family who had treated us in such a manner behind our backs.
• These Balderstones!' My wife, therefore, represented that we had only called upon our return from a walk, and without intending to stay. As Mrs Smiles was out of order, we would not disturb her that evening, but call on some other occasion. Of course, the more that we declaimed about the impossibility of remaining, the more earnestly did Miss Smiles entreat us to remain. It would be such a disappointment to her mother, and still more to Eliza and the rest of them. She was obliged, however, with well-affected reluctance, to give way to our impetuous desire of escaping.
Having once more stepped forth into the cold blast of November, we began to feel that supper was becoming a thing which we could not much longer, with comfort, trust to the contingency of general invitations. We therefore sent home our thoughts to the excellent cold duck and cheese which lay in our larder, and, picturing to ourselves the comfort of our parlour fireside, resolved no more to wander abroad in search of happiness, unless there should be something like a certainty of good fare and a hearty welcome elsewhere.
Thus it is always with general invitations. People give them without reflecting that they cannot be at all times ready to entertain visitors ; cannot be so much as at home to have the chance of doing so. Others accept and act upon them, at the risk of either troubling their hosts very much, or receiving a very sorry entertainment. The sudden arrival of an unexpected guest, who has come on the faith of one of these delusive, roving invitations, often disorganises the economy of a whole household. Nothing tries a housewife so much. The state of her larder or cupboard instantaneously flashes on her mind; and if she do not happen to be an unusually wise virgin, fortified with scores of those invaluable articles which can be made ready at any time, she can scarcely fail to be reduced to the most awkward dilemma. Or you may chance to arrive at a death or a marriage, a period of mourning or rejoicing, when the sympathies of the family are all engaged with matters of their own, and when, of course, your visit will be productive of the greatest inconvenience.
If people will have their friends beside them, let them, for the sake of all that is comfortable, give à definite invitation at once : a general invitation is much worse than no invitation at ail; for it is as much as to say that the person is not worth inviting in a regular manner. On the other hand, I would advise all my friends to turn a deaf ear, if they be wise, to general invitations: they are nets spread out to ensnare their comfort. Rather let them be content with the maxim, which somebody has inscribed over a doorway in one of the ancient streets of Edinburgh, TECUM HABITA-Keep at Home. R. C.
VOYAGE OF AN ELEPHANT FROM INDIA.
In one of my voyages, it was my good-fortune to have as a shipmate one of the great ones of the East—a personage of vast weight in his own country, and still more run after and admired on his arrival in this. Though he came on board with but one attendant, and with no luggage but a single trunk, he trod the deck with as firm a step and as lordly a mien as if he had been one of the magnates of the ship, as well as of the land. The captain himself was fain to keep at a respectful distance from his passenger. He was silent and reserved in his demeanour; and the only person whom he honoured with exclusive friendship and attention, was a little whey-faced, under-sized, dirty fellow, who acted as butcher on board. Be not surprised at this singular preference, gentle reader; the passenger with a single trunk was the same elephant which now exhibits its lordly form in the Regent Park Zoological Gardens; and it was but natural that he should feel particularly attached to the man whose constant care it was to administer to his wants, and to study to gratify his peculiar tastes.
It was in July 1830, that preparations were made on board the Honourable Company's ship - for the reception of our unwieldy passenger. In all large East India ships there is a space between the booms, and before
the bow of the long-boat, in which is a large open-barred pen, fitted up as a cow-house. In the present case, the roof of this was raised a few feet, the cow transferred to other quarters, and the place made as commodious as possible for its new tenant. Quantities of plantain stems, pumpkins, hay, joggry (a kind of coarse sugar), and other elephant luxuries, were sent on board, and an anxious look-out was kept for a favourable opportunity for the animal's embarkation—a matter of no trifling difficulty, as all those know who have crossed the Madras surf, and all those may know, who will read Captain Basil Hall's account of it. At length, the wished-for opportunity presented itself, and the elephant was marched down to the beach—the day was fine, and the surf uncommonly low. Many years had elapsed since an exhibition of the kind had taken place; and as great curiosity was excited on shore, a crowd assembled to witness the interesting spectacle. A large cargo-raft, or catamaran, was brought close to the water-mark on the beach, on each side of which barricade of spars had been raised, with a vacant space between them in the centre. The elephant, with his keeper on his neck, was made to walk on to the raft, where he stood quietly between the barricades, while his fore and hind feet were secured with ropes to the spars below, and under his belly a stout piece of wood was passed, the ends of which rested on the barricades, so as partially to support the weight of his body. A wellmanned massoolah boat lay outside the first line of surf, with a tow-line attached to the raft on shore. When all was ready, the catamaran was launched into the surf by a strong party of coolies, while the men in the massoolah boat plied their oars, and kept a tight strain upon the towline, and in a few moments the watery barrier was passed. It was a beautiful sight to see the noble animal standing apparently firm and unmoved when the surf dashed over the catamaran, and broke in white foam around him. It was an interesting proof of his confidence in man, that, though danger presented itself in such a novel and startling aspect, he braved it without flinching while he knew that his keeper was with him. The outer line of surf was easily passed, for on the day in question it was scarcely perceptible; and the novel spectacle presented itself, of a man riding over the sea upon an elephant. Meantime, everything was in readiness on board the ship for his reception. A pair of immense slings had been prepared, such as are used for hoisting horses on board, only of larger dimensions, and much stronger materials; he had been regularly measured for them some days before. I will attempt to describe them for the benefit of the uninitiated. They were made of strong canvas, bound, as the ladies would say, with small rope, formed into a long broad belt to pass under his belly, with a smaller one to pass behind like a breechin, and another similar one to go over his breast, to prevent his slipping out ; each end of the large belt or belly-band was strongly secured over a stout round bar of wood, to the extremities of which were fastened the ends of a short strong rope, with an iron thimble in the bight, or centre. The mainyard was topped up and well secured ; and as soon as the raft came alongside, the hands were called out, and every soul in the ship sent up to the tackle-fall. As soon as the slings were properly adjusted, the elephant's legs were released, and the keeper came on board. One of the men on the raft seeing the elephant raise one of his immense paws, thought he was in a dangerous neighbourhood, and jumped into the water, preferring the chance of being nibbled at by the sharks to the apparent certainty of being crushed by an elephant. When the man swam to the raft again, and was laughed at for his alarm, he said he thought "a kick from such a foot as that would be no joke.' At length, all was ready-the tackle was hooked_haul taut on deck,' was the cry—'tweet, tweet, sounded the boatswain's call. Now, my lads, for a steady walk,' said the chief mate ; 'hoist away!' The fife struck up a merry tune, but was scarcely heard, for the men gave a cheer, and ran away with their unwonted burden; and in a moment the giant animal was dangling thirty feet above the water's edge, as helpless as if he had been