Opis

Ronald Makivor and Jack Bangles decided to find the „peacock throne” of Shah Jehan, who, as they say, Nadir Shah took away from Delhi. Their adventures begin with fleeing wide legs from the rebellious sepoys. Over time, they enter the service of the Afghan prince – a model of knightly honor – who must have been very unlike his compatriots, unless they are greatly offended by the general message. In his company, they go through amazing experience and see that they are fighting enough to satisfy the most warlike taste.

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Liczba stron: 368

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Contents

PREFACE

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

CHAPTER XXIII

CHAPTER XXIV

CHAPTER XXV

CHAPTER XXVI

CHAPTER XXVII

CHAPTER XXVIII

CHAPTER XXIX

CHAPTER XXX

CHAPTER XXXI

CHAPTER XXXII

CHAPTER XXXIII

CHAPTER XXXIV

CHAPTER XXXV

CHAPTER XXXVI

CHAPTER XXXVII

EPILOGUE

PREFACE

This is the story of two brave yet not extraordinary young men, who took a strange notion into their heads, as most fellows do at times, and went out to the world of India in search of adventures–and riches, of course, for we all would like that termination to our efforts, as far as earthly endeavours are concerned at least.

One of the youths had heard, and the other had read, about that seventh wonder of the world, the gem-covered “Peacock Throne,” which the Great Mogul of Delhi, Shah Jehan, had made for him at a cost of nearly six millions of pounds sterling, which took the Court jewellers seven years to make, and which the Persian conqueror, Nadir Shah, carried away, after one day of fearful and wholesale slaughter of the subjects who had helped to pay for this very expensive ornament.

The framework of this throne was made of pure gold encrusted with precious stones, and overshadowed by a golden canopy decorated with pearls. Two peacocks formed the back of the throne, with their tails expanded, the radiant colouring being produced entirely by rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds and pearls of the purest water. So lavishly used were these rare stones, that an ignoramus might have taken them for bits of coloured glass and paste.

Now, the notion that these young men took into their extravagant brains was to go and seek for that Peacock Throne, which had been carried away and completely lost sight of for so many years. They reasoned that such an expensive piece of furniture must be somewhere hidden, and that Persia, the home of Nadir Shah, was most likely to be the locality; also, with that unbounded confidence and faith which only youth is capable of feeling to the miracle-working instinct, they considered that they were the heroes to find it.

Where they went, what they passed through, and how they eventually did discover this wonderful piece of art-work, you will also find out if you go along with them in their journeyings; how they were fortunate enough to meet with a native prince who had all the qualities of the heroes they had read about in ancient stories of chivalry, and who entranced them with his old-world nobility and heroism, as I fondly trust every true man and woman may be also with this daring real knight of the nineteenth century, and become the better for reading about his gallant actions and troubles.

And with this hope, I leave my story to unfold its own length, and beg to remain each reader’s

Humble and sincere Servant,

THE AUTHOR.

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCING JACK BANGLES AND RONALD MACIVOR

The extraordinary adventures of my two heroes might cause some people to doubt their authenticity, were it not already well known that the chronicler is a man of the strictest veracity.

One of my heroes was, alas! a very common youth, that is, he had no sort of correct bringing up at all, but picked most of his education from about the streets, which not being edifying, gained for him the title of a bad boy unmistakably, and what was worse, he never had any aspirations to become better, in spite of all that the chaplain and some of the benevolent ladies of the mission tried to do for him.

Benares was the city where, like Topsy, he “growed.” Benares, that beautiful and holy city on the river Ganges, where the pilgrims came to wash away their many sins. Perhaps the pilgrims left a number of their sins, along with their loose hairs, on the banks of this sacred river, and which may partly account for this foolish young fellow picking up so much that was objectionable to respectable and orderly people.

His name was Jack; now, I fancy that Jack is the most appropriate name for a reckless and untrained young man. At least, all the bad boys are generally known as Jack, while the staid and good ones are called John.

Jack Bangles was the name he went by, although he had been christened John Adolphus D’Arcy, and his surname was Norman and ancient like the family his scapegrace father belonged to; however, the soldiers of Benares had dropped the Adolphus D’Arcy, and given him Bangles as a friendly nickname, as they are generally so fond of doing with their favourites, so as Bangles we must know him through this story.

His father, at one time a captain in the army, had deserted his wife and company very early in Jack’s career, leaving mother and son destitute in this holy city; and as for that mother, there is not much to say about her, for she was a very ordinary if hard-working and honest little woman. She had been a pretty but fifth-rate actress before her marriage, but her beauty had soon faded in India, while she was forced to utilise her poor abilities at concerts and music-halls, in order to keep herself and little Jack from starvation; painting her face up and decorating herself with the cheap ornaments of the East, and with all the other stage devices, only making at the best of times starvation wages, so that they had both to go to bed very often hungry, until Jack grew big enough to cater for himself, after which things didn’t go so badly with them.

Ronald MacIvor was the name of my other hero, the son of an English officer who had been about a twelvemonth located in the land, and who, a fine frank fellow himself, trusted his son out of sight without any conditions, satisfied that he had the blood of the MacIvors in his veins, and that this lofty strain was quite sufficient to help his boy in the only path which a perfect knight and gentleman can possibly walk.

The two boys had met by accident one day. Ronald MacIvor, passing aimlessly along the streets on this hot day, had seen Jack Bangles trying to defend himself against a crowd of cowardly Eurasians; and Ronald, like his father, being a creature of impulse and chivalry, without much consideration for caste, rushed to the rescue, helped to scatter the assailants, and only then turned to examine the side which he had taken, to find himself being thanked by a fearfully tanned and tatterdemalion boy of his own age, yet who appeared more like a stage prince in disguise than a bona fide pariah beggar of Benares.

A boy of about thirteen, slender and straight as a dart, with limbs beautifully proportioned, and complexion, although almost as dark as a native’s with the fierce sunshine beating so constantly upon it, yet showing unmistakably European; for there can be no mistaking the sickly olive of the native for the sun-tan on the skin of a brunette Englishman. Jack Bangles looked English to the back-bone in spite of his rags, and, what was more, he looked like what the pure-bred aristocrat of long descent is supposed to appear.

Classical and strongly-marked features, flashing brown eyes, with the whites as they should be, snow-white teeth behind those ripe-red lips–the gnawing of old bones and dry crusts had polished those ivories as no dentifrice could have done–small shell-like ears, small yet strong and well-shaped hands, and finely arched and pointed feet. With his wavy and tangled shock of dark hair and general pose of grace, resolution, fearlessness and innate strength, Ronald MacIvor did not take long to sum up this ragged prince, or decide about offering him his friendship.

“You are a mem-sahib boy, are you not–a mother’s darling, ain’t you?” observed this youthful cynic a little scornfully, as he looked over the other’s neat clothes, while he contrasted his own rags, with the feeling that gratitude might exist, but friendship never, with such inequality.

“I have no mother,” replied Ronald, a little sadly.

“But you own a father, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Then he’d never allow you to take up with the likes of me.”

“Yes, he would; you come and see him.”

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