Page:Court Royal.djvu/239

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opened his hand and showed the bullets that had been innocuously discharged at him. His liver would, so to speak, open its hand and scoffingly roll back the podophyllin pills shot at it. But before calomel its powers would quail, it would shake in its shoes and beat a retreat. Still podophyllin might answer for Dulcina, whose liver was not as enlarged as his own. He would consult a doctor.

So he swung his stick and marched into Plymouth. ‘Good Heavens!’ he muttered. ‘The rascal about to take my daughter for her money and then cast her aside, treat her with indifference and insult! I won’t have it.’

When he came to the bridge leading to Plymouth, and halted to change a sovereign to pay the halfpenny toll, he was confronted by a gentleman in a light grey suit, with a white hat.

‘Bless my soul!’ exclaimed the gentleman, ‘Rigsby! you here? Let me lend you a halfpenny for old lang syne.’

Rigsby stared. ‘What, Captain Ottley! Never! Very glad to see you.’

‘A little louder, I am deaf of an ear, this confounded relaxing climate. The bands always find a difficulty with their drums, the parchment becomes limp in the Devonshire damp; it is ditto with the drums of my ears. You must thump to be heard.’

‘Come on the Hoe,’ said Mr. Rigsby, ‘It is a pleasure to meet an old Indian. So well preserved, too! You look as young as ever.’

‘Spirits does it,’ answered Captain Ottley. ‘I mean natural spirits. I have a cheerful disposition, which even the vapour-bath atmosphere of Devon don’t damp. Take my arm, old boy. Lord bless me! time flies! It seems only the other day we met, and it must be five years ago. Brown and tanned you are with Oriental suns. Never mind, look at me. Autumn roses come blooming in my cheeks. This Devonshire climate is like a bath in Jordan. You go in sunburnt with all the blazes of India, and your flesh comes out as the flesh of a little child.’

‘What are you doing here?’ asked Mr. Rigsby.

‘Doing! doing nothing. Nobody ever does anything but talk in this enervating Devonshire climate. It relaxes everything, the moral stamina and the tongue. I eat lotus. I have come like Ulysses to the land of the lotus-eaters, where, according to the Laureate, it always seems afternoon. I lounge about