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“We will call Peter," said the admiral, ringing a small handbell, “ he may perhaps be able to give us some information respecting Christopher's sudden movement."
The bell had scarcely ceased ringing when the door opened, and the old sailor appeared ; just over his shoulder might also have been seen the wrinkled face of an old maid-servant, whose hair was fastened up in the Genoese fashion at the top of her head by a large copper pin. “Come in, Peter; come in," cried the old admiral sharply; “what did Christopher say to you when he gave you that letter?”
“Nothing, admiral,” replied the sailor, uncovering his bald head, on which were scattered a few white hairs.
“ Nothing! why did he not mention his intention of coming home?”
“Yes, admiral, but not when he gave me the letter."
“What does it matter when he told you, if he said it at all? Now tell me all about it at once.”
“ Now, sir, this is what happened,” said Peter, making a strong emphasis on his words, as if he were about to relate the tragical tale of a naval combat ; "you know, perhaps, that I went to Pavia, mounted on the mare Minetta, who has the roughest trot I ever felt! I would rather a thousand times go from Spain to Portugal in the worst little boat than go back to Pavia on Minetta's back. Well, to go back to my story: the wind being fair, I embarked-at least, I got the beast off in a trot.-When I got to Pavia, I was in an uncomfortable state enough, owing to the creature's rough motion; for you know, sir, that-beg your pardon, sir, that-in short I have often been to sea, but I have never been in this condition before."
Repressing a smile, Dominique said, “ A truce to your reflections, , Peter, and go on with your account."
Beg pardon, sir,” replied the sailor, “ but it is my log-book ; I must not forget anything, and I must speak the truth.”
“I could take half the ports in Spain, Peter," interrupted the admiral, “ while you are talking.”
Well, well, sir, I will proceed to my arrival at the college. "Good morning, Peter,' said master Christopher, when I entered the playground, where there were about two thousand children-what am I saying? five or six hundred I mean, who were making such a noise. "How are they all at home,' he inquired. They are all well,' I replied, except that your uncle the admiral has the gout in his remaining foot; your father has his usual headaches ; little Bartholomew has the indigestion, from eating too many chestnuts ; the dog Jeremy is dead, poor creature.---but every one has his turn, to-day it is him, to-morrow me, perhaps; and the day after, perhaps, you—who knows?'”
“What an old fool you are!" muttered the old maid-servant in Peter's ear.
“Much obliged, Mrs. Margaret,” replied Peter ; " I told Master Christopher that you would not suffer any more from your mouth, as, fortunately for you and us, you had lost your last remaining tooth since he left home for Pavia."
“What amount of patience do you think we possess ?" interrupted Dominique ; “reply once for all to my question ; did Christopher tell you he was going to leave college?”'
“Yes, sir, that was exactly what I was about to tell you and the admiral. One of the first things my young master said was, Peter, will
you take me back to the castle with you ?'” “ And pray why did you not bring him ?” asked Dominique, quickly.
“Yes! why did not you bring him, you old fool ?" whispered Miss Margaret in his ear. Peter gave her a look of thunder; then, bowing with the most profound respect before Signor Dominique, he replied, “Because I had received no orders to do so, sir.”
“Right," said the admiral.
Christopher's father, however, paid no attention to this remark, and only said anxiously, “ I know my son ; he told you he would come alone.”
“ He did, sir,” replied Peter, composedly; " but my orders were to take the mare, to get on her, and go to Pavia to take the packet to Christopher, and to return immediately; these orders I executed to the letter.”
“But one could not foresee that the child would want to come home with you."
“ With all due respect to Signor Dominique,” said the old sailor, “I think this proves the advantage the sea has over the land, for at sea one provides for all emergencies."
No answer was made to this observation of the old sailor's, for at this moment cries of joy were heard in the court-yard.
“There is Christopher! there is Christopher !” cried Bartholomew's happy voice, and at the same moment in rushed a young boy, tall, thin, of a bright complexion, red hair, and with clothes covered with dust.
“ How do you do, uncle ?" said he, kissing the admiral's hand;
“how do you do, father ?” added he, throwing himself into his father's arms. “Well, Peter, is Minetta rested? Are you quite well, Margaret ?”
“Good morning, sir; how are you? Why did you leave school ?"
“Ah, it was not Minetta that was the most tired, I can assure you, Master Christopher."
All these replies to his salutations, were uttered at once. "Have you read my letter, papa?" was Christopher's next question.
“The beginning I have, but as for the end of it, it was impossible, my dear.”
“Very likely, for my pen was so old, that it had only one nib left. But I hope, dear father, you are not angry with me.”
“Ah, Christopher, you take advantage of my affection for you,” said Signor Dominique, while the admiral, drawing his little nephew close to him, said in a tone which was evidently one of pleasure, notwithstanding all his endeavours to make it serious
“Well, little fellow, so you want to be an admiral ?”
“ And why should not I be one?” replied Christopher, naïvely; “you are one."
“ Dear Christopher,” said the little Bartholomew, standing on tiptoe to whisper into his brother's ear, “when you are an admiral you will make me something, won't you ?”
“What! do you want to be a sailor, too?" said the admiral, giving a friendly tap to Bartholomew's round ruddy cheeks.
“I will be whatever my brother is," said the child, in a determined tone.
“ And you are right, young gentlemen !” cried the old sailor Peter, not being able to contain his enthusiasm any longer. “The sea, you see, is the finest of all the elements; when she is calm, she is fine; when she is rough, she is fine; and when there is a storm, ah, it is magnificent then! .. No, the land is not to be compared to the sea-is it, admiral ?"
“Uncle, when we are alone, I have a question to ask you," whispered Christopher to his uncle.
Why not say it at once?" replied he.
“No,” said Christopher, “it is too serious to be said before everybody; besides, other people would laugh at me, perhaps, but you"
A sign of intelligence passed between the uncle and the nephew, and, the sound of the great bell announcing dinner, all conversation ceased.
It appears not very improbable that at no remote period the whole of India, beyond the Ganges, will come under British rule. Independently, therefore, of the value which a knowledge of the different countries of the earth's surface always possesses, we have a special obligation to form some acquaintance with those which lie in the south-eastern corner of the Asiatic continent. Anam, or Cochin-China, is that one to which we propose to direct the reader's attention at the present time.
The kingdom of Anam is bounded on the west by Siam and Kamboja ; on the north by China, and on the south and east by the sea. It is a long and narrow tract of country, whose area has been estimated at ninety-eight thousand square miles. Its length is computed at nearly one thousand, and its breadth at from sixty to one hundred and eighty miles. Its northern and southern extremities are chiefly low alluvial tracts, but its centre is principally mountainous. Chains of islands lie along the coast. The climate appears to be a healthy one, and even the low alluvial districts are said to be far from being insalubrious. Anam Proper does not contain many mines, but Tonquin abounds in iron, silver, and gold. Rice is the chief article of diet, and is grown in vast quantities. Maize and cocoa-nuts are also extensively grown. Sugar, cinnamon, aniseed, pepper, cardamums, rice, salt, tea, silk, and cotton, are amongst the articles exported. Stick-lac, of the best quality, is one of the products of the country, to which we may add silk, tea, and eaglewood, and there are, doubtless, many others.
The elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, horse, buffalo, hog, cat, and several kinds of deer, are Anamese quadrupeds. The flesh of elephants and dogs are both articles of food ; the latter is commonly eaten, and the former is regarded as a dainty, The horses are small, and are only used for riding : the soil is principally tilled by the buffalo. Poultry and wild fowl are both abundant.
The Anamese are very low in stature, but are well formed and hardy. The dress of both sexes is very similar. Loose trousers, held at the waist by a sash, two or more loose frocks reaching down to the knee, or below it, and turbans, may give the reader a general idea of their costume. The sleeves of the outer garment are worn considerably longer than the arms by those not compelled to labour. A gentleman in full dress has a loose silk gown over the frocks, reaching down to his ankles. The poorer classes are usually clad in cotton, which is generally dyed brown; but not unfrequently they wear native silk. Silk, flowered gauze, and crape, are worn by the higher ranks. Varnished straw hats, tied under the chin, and nearly two feet in diameter, are worn out of doors by both sexes. These hats are sometimes in the form of an inverted basin, and at others in that of a sugar-loaf. The turban is always either black or blue, and its form points out the rank of the wearer. Both men and women wear long hair, and put it up in a knot at the back of the head. A pair of silken bags strung together, and usually thrown over the shoulders or carried in the hand, are made use of by all ranks except women of the labouring class. In them they put betel, tobacco, money, and other articles. The lower, and some of the other ranks, generally go barefooted ; the higher classes wear slippers without heels.
The common peop e are excessively filthy. Their bair, their skin, and their long-nailed hands, are said to be disgusting, and their body-clothes appear never to be washed; whether their outer garments are more cleanly or not, we are unable to say. Even