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Letters written to ber Sister
THE UPPER PROVINCES OF INDIA
THE HON. EMILY EDEN
AUTHORESS OF THE SEMI-DETACHED HOUSE' AND 'THE SEMI-ATTACHED COUPLE'
Camp, Umritzir, Dec. 10, 1838. It has just occurred to me in dating this letter, that we are very near the end of '38, and in '39 we may begin to say, the year after next, we shall go home.' I never know exactly where we are in our story, for I keep so many anniversaries it puts me out. So many people have married, and died, and gone home, that it is really incredible that we should have been here so long, and yet are kept here still. Something must be done about it, because it is a very good joke; but life is passing away, and we are in the wrong place. It has now come to that pass that we are in a foreign country from India, and that crossing the Sutlej is to be called going home again. You see how it is! Our first principles are wrong, and G. says, with a placid smile, If
Shere Singh does not dine with us to-day, would it not be advisable to ask Hindû Rao?' Hindû Rao, being a Mahratta chief, a dependent on our Government, who has attached himself to our camp—not quite an idiot, but something like it, and in appearance like a plump featherbed, with pillows for his head and legs—covered all over with chain armour and cuirasses, and red and yellow shawls; and he sits behind G. at table, expecting to have topics found and interpreted to him. Shere Singh has a great deal of fun; but natives at table are always a great gêne. I had only time to tell you of our arrival at Umritzir on Wednesday, and not of the show, which was really surprising. F. and I came on in the carriage earlier than the others, which was a great advantage; for the dust of fifty or sixty elephants does not subside in a hurry, and they spoil the whole spectacle. We met the old man going to fetch G. That is one of the ceremonies, naturally tiresome, to which we have become quite used, and which, in fact, I shall expect from you, when we go home. If the Maharajah asks G. to any sight, or even to a common visit, G. cannot stir from his tent, if he starves there, till an “istackball,' or embassy, comes to fetch
him. So this morning we were all dressed by candle-light, and half the tents were pulled down and all the chairs but two gone, while G. was waiting for Kurruck Singh to come seven miles to fetch him, and Kurruck Singh was waiting till the Governor-General's agent came to fetch him, and then the Maharajah was waiting till they were half-way, that he might fetch them all. Then, the instant they meet, G. nimbly steps into Runjeet's howdah, and they embrace French fashion, and then the whole procession mingles, and all this takes place every day now. If the invitation comes from our side, B. and the aides-de-camp act Kurruck Singh, and have to go backwards and forwards fifteen miles on their elephants. So now, if ever we are living in St. John's Wood, and you ask me to dinner in Grosvenor Place, I shall first send Giles down to your house to say I am ready; and you must send R., as your istackball, to fetch me, and I shall expect to meet you yourself, somewhere near Connaught Place, and then we will embrace and drive on, and go hand-in-hand in to dinner, and sit next to each other. If I have anything to say (which is very doubtful, for I have grown rather like Hindû Rao), I will mention it to Giles, who