The Nabob eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 527 pages of information about The Nabob.
hand in hand, sprang—­a living garland—­round the carriage doors.  The choral societies, breathless with singing as they ran, but singing all the same, dragged on their standard-bearers, the banners now hanging over their shoulders; and the good, fat priests, red and panting, shoving their vast overworked bellies before them, still found strength to shout into the very ear of the mules, in an unctuous, effusive voice, “Long live our noble Bey!” The rain on all this, the rain falling in buckets, discolouring the pink coaches, precipitating the disorder, giving the appearance of a rout to this triumphal return, but a comic rout, mingled with songs and laughs, mad embraces, and infernal oaths.  It was something like the return of a religious procession flying before a storm, cassocks turned up, surplices over heads, and the Blessed Sacrament put back in all haste, under a porch.

The dull roll of the wheels over the wooden bridge told the poor Nabob, motionless and silent in a corner of his carriage, that they were almost there.  “At last!” he said, looking through the clouded windows at the foaming waters of the Rhone, whose tempestuous rush seemed calm after what he had just suffered.  But at the end of the bridge, when the first carriage reached the great triumphal arch, rockets went off, drums beat, saluting the monarch as he entered the estates of his faithful subject.  To crown the irony, in the gathering darkness a gigantic flare of gas suddenly illuminated the roof of the castle, and in spite of the wind and the rain, these fiery letters could still be seen very plainly, “Long liv’ th’ B’Y ’HMED!”

“That—­that is the wind-up,” said the poor Nabob, who could not help laughing, though it was a very piteous and bitter laugh.  But no, he was mistaken.  The end was the bouquet waiting at the castle door.  Amy Ferat came to present it, leaving the group of country maidens under the veranda, where they were trying to shelter the shining silks of their skirts and the embroidered velvets of their caps as they waited for the first carriage.  Her bunch of flowers in her hand, modest, her eyes downcast, but showing a roguish leg, the pretty actress sprang forward to the door in a low courtesy, almost on her knees, a pose she had worked at for a week.  Instead of the Bey, Jansoulet got out, stiff and troubled, and passed without even seeing her.  And as she stayed there, bouquet in hand, with the silly look of a stage fairy who has missed her cue, Cardailhac said to her with the ready chaff of the Parisian who is never at a loss:  “Take away your flowers, my dear.  The Bey is not coming.  He had forgotten his handkerchief, and as it is only with that he speaks to ladies, you understand—­”

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The Nabob from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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