In the Wrong Paradise eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 209 pages of information about In the Wrong Paradise.

She was a dear good girl, Doto, in spite of her heathen training. {74}

Strangely enough, as I thought at the time, she burst out weeping when I took my leave of her, and seemed almost as if she had some secret to impart to me.  This, at least, showed an interest in me, and I walked to my home with high presumptuous thoughts.

As I passed a certain group of rocks, in a lonely uncultivated district, while the grey of evening was falling, I heard a low whistle.  The place had a bad reputation, being thought to be haunted.  Perhaps I had unconsciously imbibed some of the superstitions of the natives, for I started in alarm.

Then I heard an unmistakably British voice cry, in a suppressed tone, “Hi!”

The underwood rustled, and I beheld, to my astonishment, the form, the crawling and abject form, of William Bludger!

Since the day of his landing we had never once met, William having been sent off to a distant part of the island.

“Hi!” he said again, and when I exclaimed, naturally, “Hullo!” he put his finger on his lips, and beckoned to me to join him.  This I did, and found that he was lurking in a cavern under the group of grey weather-worn stones.

When I entered the cave, Bludger fell a-trembling so violently that he could not speak.  He seemed in the utmost alarm, his face quite ashen with terror.

“What is the matter, William Bludger?” I asked; “have you had a Call, or why do you thrust yourself on me?”

“Have you sich a thing as a chaw about ye?” he asked in tremulous accents.  “I’m that done; never a drop has passed my lips for three days, strike me dead; and I’d give anything for a chaw o’ tobacco.  A sup of drink you have not got, Capt’n Hymn-book, axing your pardon for the liberty?”

“William,” I said, “even in this benighted island, you set a pitiful example.  You have been drinking, sir; you are reaping what you have sown; and only temperance, strict, undeviating total abstinence rather, can restore your health.”

“So help me!” cried the wretched man, “except a drop of Pramneian {76} I took, the morning I cut and run,—­and that was three days ago,—­nothing stronger than castor-oil berries have crossed my lips.  It ain’t that, sir; it ain’t the drink.  It’s—­it’s the Thargeelyah.  Next week, sir, they are going to roast us—­you and me—­flog us first, and roast us after.  Oh Lord!  Oh Lord!”


“Flog us first, and roast us afterwards.”  I repeated mechanically the words of William Bludger.  “Why, you must be mad; they are more likely to fall down and worship us,—­me at any rate.”

“No, Capt’n,” replied William; “that’s your mistake.  They say we’re both Catharmata; that’s what they call us; and you’re no better than me.”

“And what are Catharmata?” I inquired, remembering that this word, or something like it, had been constantly used by the natives in my hearing.

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In the Wrong Paradise from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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