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The room we were assembled in, was one
of the huge warehouse-looking places I have
already described. There were acres of glass
in the walls. You could see all that was
going on in the supper-room, everything in
the garden, and not a little in the bed-rooms.
In front of these fields of windows, were long
rows of seats nearly all occupied by Dutch
and Portuguese ladies of every age. They
presented a strange contrast to the merry
parties I had beheld in the day-time. All
the fun and jollity were gone. It was not
etiquette to laugh or to speak aloud before
the dancing began, and so all sat stiff and
silent, like so many mummies. Had our
assembling been for a funeral, or for reading
a will, the solemnity of the company could
scarcely have been greater. It was painful.
Our host, however, possessed good-humour
enough for half the party; he was all smiles,
from the heel of his shoe to the tips of his
grey hair. More than once, I caught him
rushing out into the garden to have a laugh
all to himself. The wife was quite another
sort of person: happy enough, no doubt, if
she could but have felt quite sure about
the supper: but I could see the cares of fifty
years of mullagatawny written on her brow.
Half a century of obstinate appos, bad cooks,
and impertinent ayahs, to say nothing of two
generations of hooping-cough, small-pox, and
measles, is surely trial enough for any ordinary
woman. It had had its effects upon
Mrs. Kugper.

The young men grouped themselves about
as we see soldiers on parade-ground: some
were forming into squares, a few into single
line: others, again, were leading off in columns.
A few of the knowing shots were thrown out in
advance as sharp-shooters, and made attacks
on the female forces, entrenched on the sofas
and ottomans; but without any visible effect.

The monotony of this curious scene was at
length broken by the entrance of a swarm of
fierce-looking domestics, swathed and
turbaned in rich profusion, bearing before them
little square standsa sort of card-tables in
reduced circumstanceswhich they placed
with all due solemnity before the dumb
ladies on the sofas.

Other gay-looking servants followed, with
What would the reader imagine? Nectar or
sherbet? No; with huge tureens of reeking
hot soup! The gentlemen proceeded to pour
out libations of mullagatawny into divers
soup-plates on the little card-tables. It was
curious to see how animated the ladies became,
and how very kindly they took to the smoking
beverage; evidently as hot as capsicums and a
good fire could make it. I could but wonder
of what material their throats were
constructed; and, when I perceived that the
soup was followed by hecatombs of cake and
goblets of hot-spiced wine, I felt as if on fire.
The thermometer in the large open verandah,
outside, stood at somewhere about ninety
degrees; yet these scalding potations were
swallowed as though freezing from an ice-house.
The honest, warm-hearted burghers, feeling, no
doubt, the soothing influence of the feast,
prepared to add to their enjoyments by a dance.

The squeaking notes of an old violin,
accompanied by a brace of tom-toms, diffused
activity into the hitherto dull assembly. The
dance was led off byI perspire freely as I
think of itthe hostess and myself. It was
none of your sleepy, walking affairs, such as
may be met with in English society, but a
regular hard-working quadrille, such a one
as you might fancy Laplanders would enjoy
during one of their severe winters. I need
not relate my sufferings during that time of
trial. Suffice it to say, that when I staggered
out into the cool shrubbery, I found myself in
a condition which could scarcely have been
worse if I had spent a morning with the Fire-
king, in one of his favourite ovens.

Dancing was followed by some very
indifferent native theatricals, performed on the
lawn behind the house; of which dancing
girls, snakes, and a concert of tom-toms,
formed a portion, much to the enjoyment of
the guests, who seemed not difficult to please.
And what a good thing that is!

I felt no inclination for more dancing, or
to partake of the enormous supper which I
perceived to be in course of preparation, and,
accordingly, left unperceived, flung myself
into my palanquin carriage, and bade the
driver go home. The night was then
magnificent. A bright and lovely moon flung many
a new charm among the gorgeous foliage that
waved and lightly danced in , the cool sea-
breeze. The vast Indian Ocean broke peacefully
in phosphorescent curling waves along a
pebbly shore. The air was soft and still,
broken only by fitful echoes from some
merry-making party in the distance.

My drive took me by the sea-shore, and, as
I lay gazing out upon the far ocean, I noticed
a little black shadow on the horizon, like a
ship, or like the shadow of some monstrous
winged thing. I was tired of looking, and
sleepy withal; so, I lay back and dozed. I
looked out again, and started to find how
dark it had become. The horse-keeper, too,
was urging the animal to its utmost speed.
The little black speck on the horizon had
swollen to a mighty, hideous mass of thunder-
cloud. Already half the heavens were
shrouded in pitchy darkness. I opened my
carriage windows and looked out. The storm was
coming up with giant strides; some distance
out at sea, a wall of smoking, hissing,
bubbling rain joined the clouds and waters, and
shut out all beyond. I could hear that
mighty cataract of tempest fall with a roaring
sound, nearer and nearer. Before me, all
was dark and stormy: behind, the many
groves of waving palms still slept in moonlit
beauty. The distant hills were clear and
bold, and seemed so near as though my voice
could reach them.

It was in vain my horse was urged onward:

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