Letters from India Volume I/To Blank 5

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Letters from India, Volume I  (1872)  by Emily Eden
To ——
TO ——

Calcutta, Tuesday, July 24.

Miss Fane came alone to dine with us, and we had the young band to play at dinner—a set of little boys, all under fourteen, who are learning music, and are to replace the old band as it wears out. It is surprising how well they played, and I had them here to-night that they might have the treat of the juggler, which quite answered to all parties. He is better the second time than the first.

Wednesday, July 25.

It is odd that whenever George and I are alone we invariably find ourselves talking hard English politics—admiration of the prosperity of the country—of His Majesty’s ministers, &c. Indian politics are clearly not half so amusing.

Thursday, July 27.

An immense levee again; but we had sent away all our tables and introduced more chairs, and it did better than last Thursday. I had a long consultation afterwards with the chief justice, who is a great hand at private theatricals, and George wanted to have some charades or a farce got up to vary our Tuesday’s parties. The chief justice would take the part of manager, and is dying to act. There are heaps of actors who have volunteered, but an actress cannot be found. There is a company of French actors coming from the Mauritius, and I think we might have them occasionally at Government House; but then again very few of the society speak French. The chief justice and one or two others are so set upon arranging a farce that perhaps they may make it out, but I cannot see how.

And so we came up to Barrackpore, and Miss Fane came with us.

Barrackpore, Friday, July 28.

I never saw this place looking prettier. The river comes nearly up to the house at this time of the year, and makes that poor little snivelling Thames look like a miserable dirty drop of a thing.

George and I went out riding in the afternoon by ourselves and went and listened to the band, which plays in the park every Friday, and did a bit of politeness to the Barrackporeans who assembled to hear it. We have been rather remiss about them lately.

We were all playing at cards and billiards when an immense packet of letters came in, and the cards and counters, and balls and maces were all tossed anywhere and the packet torn open, and we all began screaming, ‘That’s ——’s hand,’ and ‘There’s Robert’s,’ and ‘This is from Maria to me,’ and then came ‘What’s the date?’ ‘Is it the May overland packet?’ and then we all looked, and there was ‘November, 1835,’ at the top of each letter, and Captain Champneys began reading his, which was an elaborate excuse from a man at the Calcutta Custom House, saying that by some odd mistake these letters had been lying there four months, and had only just been discovered. They were answers to our Madeira letters; the second set you all sent off for us, which we have always given up as lost at sea—which we were starving for—which would have been worth their weight in gold at the time—and which, as it is, I have read all through with considerable interest, though I said out of spite that I would not. But it is provoking, is it not?

Monday, August 1.

We came back early to Calcutta. No letters. Sir H. Fane has been very ill to-day. George and I rode, and went to his house to ask after him, and thought his doctor very fidgetty about him.

Tuesday, August 2.

Sir H. Fane is much better. People here get into danger and out of danger in such a rapid manner, that it keeps one constantly on the alert.