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The Twins A Domestic Novel   By: (1810-1889)

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BURLEIGH SINGLETON is a pleasant little watering place on the southern coast of England, entirely suitable for those who have small incomes and good consciences. The latter, to residents especially, are at least as indispensable as the former: seeing that, however just the reputation of their growing little town for superior cheapness in matters of meat and drink, its character in things regarding men and manners is quite as undeniable for preëminent dullness.

Not but that it has its varieties of scene, and more or less of circumstances too: there are, on one flank, the breezy Heights, with flag staff and panorama; on the other, broad and level water meadows, skirted by the dark flowing Mullet, running to the sea between its tortuous banks: for neighbourhood, Pacton Park is one great attraction the pretty market town of Eyemouth another the everlasting, never tiring sea a third; and, at high summer, when the Devonshire lanes are not knee deep in mire, the nevertheless immeasurably filthy, though picturesque, mud built village of Oxton.

Then again (and really as I enumerate these multitudinous advantages, I begin to relent for having called it dull), you may pick up curious agate pebbles on the beach, as well as corallines and scarce sea weeds, good for gumming on front parlour windows; you may fish for whitings in the bay, and occasionally catch them; you may wade in huge caoutchouc boots among the muddy shallows of the Mullet, and shoot at cormorants and curlews; you may walk to satiety between high banked and rather dirty cross roads; and, if you will scramble up the hedge row, may get now and then peeps of undulated country landscape.

Moreover, you have free liberty to drop in any where to "tiffin" Burleigh being very Indianized, and a guest always welcome; indeed, so Indianized is it, so populous in jaundiced cheek and ailing livers, that you may openly assert, without fear of being misunderstood (if you wish to vary your common phrase of loyalty), that Victoria sits upon the "musnud" of Great Britain; you may order curry in the smallest pot house, and still be sure to get the rice well cooked; you may call your house maid "ayah," without risk of warning for impertinence; you may vent your wrath against indolent waiters in eloquence of "jaa, soostee;" and, finally, you may go to the library, and besides the advantage of the day before yesterday's Times, you may behold in bilious presence an affable, but authoritative, old gentleman, who introduces himself, "Sir, you see in me the hero of Puttymuddyfudgepoor."

You may even now see such an one, I say, and hear him too, if you will but go to Burleigh; seeing he has by this time over lived the year or so whereof our tale discourses. He has, by dint of service, attained to the dignity of General H.E.I.C.S., and which he was still longer coming to the wisdom of being a communicative creature; though possibly, by a natural rëaction, at present he carries anti secresy a little too far, and verges on the gossiping extreme. But, at the time to which we must look back to commence this right instructive story, General Tracy was still drinking "Hodgson's Pale" in India, was so taciturn as to be considered almost dumb, and had not yet lifted up his yellow visage upon Albion's white cliffs, nor taken up head quarters in his final rest of Burleigh Singleton.

Nevertheless, with reference to quartering at Burleigh, a certain long neglected wife of his, Mrs. Tracy, had; and that for the period of at least the twenty one years preceding: how and wherefore I proceed to tell.

A common case and common fate was that of Mrs. Tracy. She had married, both early and hastily, a gallant lieutenant, John George Julian Tracy, to wit, the military germ of our future general; their courtship and acquaintance previous to matrimony extended over the not inconsiderable space of three whole weeks commencing with a country ball; and after marriage, honey moon inclusive, they lived the life of cooing doves for three whole months... Continue reading book >>

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