THE GREAT TAMASHA COOKBOOK AND FAMILY
The Mystery Resolved
From the unfinished MS., circa 1899: Our India Days
Chapter 12: Farewell To Darjeeling
The Cautionary Tale of the Holy Man
Once upon a time in India there was a holy man who used to sit by the roadside in meditation, for which he was greatly admired by all the local villagers, and fed regularly with rice and a little excellent cooked vegetable by the devout village wives. After a very long time living by the roadside the saddhoo felt that he deserved a boon, well fed though he was, so he prayed for some sweetmeats, which were the one thing that the village women never brought him. Later that day he was aroused from his meditations by a loud shout of: “Get up, you! You’ll do!” It was a company of soldiers looking for an assistant cook. The holy man was hauled off and put to work preparing sweets. Many blistering hours passed, stirring the great pots of milk and syrup, chopping and pounding hundreds of nuts and grinding up spices. “Little did I know,” he thought, “that this was how my prayer would be answered!”
So you have told Antoinette and the little ones the cautionary tale of the greedy saddhoo, Ponsonby sahib! It is certainly a lesson in being content with one’s lot! Er—we could give you a receet another day, Antoinette, dear. Yes, many Indian sweetmeats do require boiling great pots of milk for hours, Tessa. –What was that, Malcolm? Er, well, no doubt they were a rajah’s soldiers, dear boy. Mm, a large sugar ration. No, no more stories this morning, children, it is a beautiful fine day and you must run and play while the weather holds. Hush! The gazebo may as well be a fort as an elephant, why not? ...Gil baba, do you not wish to play in Matt’s fort? An elephant story?—Ponsonby sahib, the story of Ganesh entails the H,E,A,D, had you forgot? Makes it better at that age, you say? Mayhap it does! Gil baba, run and play now and you shall have another elephant story later, for here are Miss Madeleine and Mr Thomas come to hear the end of a story of grown-up people.
|"The egregious Chas. Hatton, looking doe-eyes at Lady Anna L."|
Sketch, pencil, from John Widdop's journal, circa 1829.
From the Widdop family papers
The horse-faced but wellborn Lady Anna Lovatt was, according to Mr Sebastian Whyte, “blowing hot and cold” upon Hatton. Certainly over the weeks which Miss Lucas and Collector Widdop spent in each other’s company she had been seen offering him encouragement—excessive encouragement, according to some—at a picknick, ignoring him at a card party, ignoring him again at a dance, offering him considerable encouragement at a dinner, ignoring him at another picknick in favour of Lord Alfred Lacey—the which, as he was a son of the Duke of Munn, was entirely understandable and according to some, only to have been expected—ignoring him at a dinner in favour of the charming Commander Voight, encouraging both Commander Voight and Lord Alfred at a dance, encouraging Hatton by allowing him to tool her around the town in a hired tikka-gharry, and ignoring him whilst encouraging Major Mason, Commander Voight and Lord Alfred simultaneously at a picknick.
However, by the time Miss Lucas had seen poor Mr Robbins safely restored to the bosom of his little family Lord Alfred was discerned to be leading the race by a length—his family connections no doubt having been the deciding factor, for he was a large, amiable, somewhat vague-mannered fellow of no particular intelligence and no particular looks, certainly nothing to rival the charm and looks of either Charles Hatton or Commander Voight—and the gentlemen were offering substantial odds that he would carry off the Lovatt Trophy. –The very phrase, alas, having been heard amongst the cigar smoke at times when chota pegs were being enjoyed. Mlle Dupont was driven to say grimly to her charming hostess: “If the intent was for Lady Anna Lovatt to fascinate young Hatton, I confess I do not see how her current comportment is to achieve that aim.” Mrs Allardyce, of course, merely replying with that light laugh.
—We do not think that Madeleine and Mr Thomas will wish to hear the faithful syce’s version of what was said at an interview between Lady Anna Lovatt and Master Charles Hatton at a large picknick expedition got up by General Hay’s sister—very well, then, on your heads be it! One’s servants, you understand, are not deaf, as persons such as the aforesaid lady seem to assume. The man was our Papa’s syce originally, but had transferred his loyalties to Ponsonby sahib. His understanding of English was very good, especially for a man who could not write even his name, in any script. Oh—and perhaps it should just be mentioned that by this time Ponsonby sahib had abandoned the vain attempt to persuade Papa’s servants not to address him as “zemindar“—“great landowner”.
The End of the Story of Mrs Allardyce’s Mysterious Seductress
(Reconstructed from Ponsonby sahib’s letters to Lord Sleyven in 1829 & from Madeleine Thomas’s letters to her sister Adelaide in the mid-1860s;
with some additions from the original MS by A.J.T.)
The Report of the Faithful Syce (Groom) to the Great Landowner
“This humble syce carried out the orders of the great zemindar to the best of his poor ability, oh defender of the poor, great zemindar, huzzoor, and begs to offer his humble report. The burra-mem with the face like that of the roan pony had got down from the tikka-gharry of the young sahib with the hair as yellow as saag flowers in full bloom and this humble syce hurried to take their basket as the great zemindar had ordered. Ah, what a heavy basket, with the billayatee picka-nickee of the sahib-log—though this humble syce made nothing of it: to him it was not a burden at all. ‘Shall we be going under pleasant tree?’ says the burra-mem with the face like that of the roan pony. ‘Syce!’ the young sahib orders: ‘pick up that dammee basket, jooldee, jooldee!’ Pleasant tree has many bushes near it and much grass is growing there, with some flowers also. No mali to take care of this picka-nickee place, oh defender of the poor, such as looks to the garden of the great zemindar to the best of his poor ability. Soon the mem is picking the flowers and goes behind the large bushes with the young sahib to find special good flowers. These large bushes are not very, very thick, oh defender of the poor, great zemindar, huzzoor. Shocking to relate, the young sahib kisses the mem on her face like that of the roan pony, if the huzzoor will forgive this humble servant for mentioning such a shocking thing. –Many humble thanks, the huzzoor is my father and my mother. This humble syce will go on.
“‘You are being very naughty boy!’ says the mem. ‘This cannot going on. I am almost promising to marry the great rajah Alfredee Lacey, he is being old person like self. Young sahib must marry pure young girl, pure as our beloved Tiddy baba, like the eternal snows on the high Hima—’ No, indeed, great zemindar, huzzoor! Not in those words!
“The young sahib with the hair as yellow as saag flowers in full bloom says: ‘The great rajah Alfredee Lacey is peeffling sort of man who has nothing but his family, for he is son of great rajah, very famous and rich in Billayat. But very much too old for the mem with the face like the roan pony!’—which is not true. That mem is old bid—Many thousand pardons, great zemindar, huzzoor! Old widow. But it is well known that that old widow took the young sahib with the hair as yellow as saag flowers to the bungalow of Wilson sahib. –Yes, get on with it, of course, great zemindar! A thousand pardons, huzzoor.
“The mem says that the wife of the great rajah Alfredee Lacey will be a most happy woman with a burra bungalow that his honoured father the rajah will give him, and an old woman—this is her very word, huzzoor—should be most happy with that. The young sahib is very cross and says that he can give her much more and he has also a burra bungalow in Billayat with a huge zemindaree—I dare swear it was a big lie, huzzoor, and in any case his little landholding is as nothing to the great zemindaree of the great zemindar, huzzoor.—And why is the mem wasting times with peeffling sort of man? To which the mem replies with a big laugh: ‘But darlingest Charlie baba, you have not being offering mores!’
“This humble syce then just happens to be looking under a bush for a small article that he dropped and lo! he sees the young sahib with the hair as yellow as saag flowers take off his hat and kneel at the unworthy feet of that old widow. Unfortunately a bad snake does not fall out of the pleasant tall tree onto the yellow hair of the young sahib. ‘Oh, most beautiful old widow,’ says the young sahib, ‘please be marrying this humble petitioner and not old peeffling man. For I am young handsome man and can giving you all things, like you are knowing. Malum?’ If the humble syce may express his most humble opinion, that mem did understand, very well, because she laughed loudly and said something about the Wilson bungalow that this humble syce begs to report he did not fully grasp, because of his very poor English, huzzoor. –A thousand thanks, huzzoor! You are my father and my mother!
“The young sahib speaks more but it is all the same, huzzoor. Then the mem says: ‘My honoured father is knowing the great rajah who is the father of peeffling Alfredee man and this would be a most excellent match. But I am old widow mem and can do what I want. I have much money.’—Humblest thanks, huzzoor, that mem did mean a dowry, undoubtedly. A huge dowry in a great box with a big lock on it in her very own burra bungalow that she got from her unfortunate husband who died.—‘My honoured father will not be pleased but I will marry you with gold ring.’ The young sahib is very happy, huzzoor, and he kisses the mem again, shocking though it is to relate, upon her face which is like that of the roan pony. Though it is a good pony, a fair mount and very gentle for our young mems to ride. This humble syce is thinking maybe he should go back to the picka-nickee basket, but then he happens to overhear the young sahib say something else which perhaps may be of interest to the defender of the poor.
“The young sahib speaks thus: ‘Oh, my honoured father, Major Hatton sahib, will be most pleased to hear of this marriage. I will write him a chitty, with your permission, memsahib.’ –Ah-hah! Said I not it would interest the great zemindar? Good God, yes, sahib! Those were his very words! –Oh, yes, sahib, he must be very sure of the woman—indeed.
“After that they sat down under the pleasant tree and ate the picka-nickee from the picka-nickee basket, huzzoor. All feringhee food, the huzzoor would not have enjoyed it. But unfortunately a bad snake did not fall out of that big tree onto either of them.”
At the time, of course, Darjeeling as yet knew nothing of this. One might have supposed that nothing more would have been heard of the engagement for some time—it takes time for a letter to get all the way from the hills to Calcutta—and the assumption of course would be that the thing would not be mentioned until the young man’s parents had replied to his letter. Meanwhile, Lady Anna Lovatt did not behave with the restraint that might have been hoped for in an engaged woman. One, moreover, who was on the other side of the world from a Papa who she knew would disapprove of the engagement. It was, in fact, but two days after Lady Cartwright’s picknick that she appeared on the Allardyce verandah for tiffin in company with the Grecian Mrs Mollison, the pair escorted by Lord Alfred Lacey and Commander Voight. Lady Anna did not give the impression of an engaged woman—no. Rather, she gave the very strong impression of a woman who was extremely interested in Lord Alfred, and he gave the impression of a gentleman who very much reciprocated. Charlie Hatton turned up about a half hour later and after some time of trying vainly to attract her attention retired to the far end of the verandah in a very evident sulk.
Very shortly after that, however, Lady Anna arrived at the Allardyce House again, this time unescorted, and proceeded to, as she put it, with much rolling of the eyes, unburden her soul, in the middle of Mrs Allardyce’s downstairs salon in the presence not only of that lady herself, but of all three Lucas girls, Violet Allardyce, and Mlle Dupont. Tess, Tonie and Violet of course knew nothing of Mrs Allardyce’s plot and so responded with genuine astonishment, if the last-named did not quite manage to hide her horror at such an elderly person’s having captured such a personable young man. Mademoiselle possibly hid her huge relief, as also her knowledge of the full ramifications of Mrs Allardyce’s scheme, from the fair visitor, though it was certainly apparent to Tiddy baba. And Tiddy herself, alas, was all wide-eyed astonishment and naïve wonder.
|"Lady Anna L., or, The coup de gräce"|
Sketch, pencil, from John Widdop's journal, circa 1829.
From the Widdop family papers
“I know you will keep it absolutely confidential, my dears,” cooed Lady Anna in conclusion—almost conclusion, the tea-tray had just been brought in. “For of course I have not as yet breathed a word to another soul. Well, Mrs Turner apart: she was so very kind, when I foolishly had a little weep—tears of joy, you know—on her side verandah.”
Mademoiselle was here seen to gulp. Tess, Tonie and Violet, alas, were reduced to merely goggling, at the thought—joint thoughts—of (a) the horse-faced Lady Anna Lovatt’s having a little weep on anyone’s side verandah and (b) anyone’s confiding anything at all in Mrs Turner, very possibly the greatest gossip not only in Darjeeling, but in all of Anglo-India! Mrs Allardyce, of course, preserved her countenance wonderfully. As did Tiddy.
“Well?” murmured Mrs Allardyce, after, so to speak, the dust had cleared and all younger persons had been sent upstairs to rest before dinner. Only two of them then creeping down the back stairs and round to the verandah outside the French doors.
“It will certainly be all over Darjeeling!” replied Mademoiselle in shaken tones.
Mrs Allardyce’s low laugh was heard. “Oh, quite!”
After a moment poor Mlle Dupont admitted: “Tiddy did not seem affected., did you think, madame?”
“Well, no. In fact, I had the impression that she might have heard the news already.”
Outside on the verandah poor Violet looked at Tiddy in amazed indignation, but that young person merely closed one eye very slowly at her.
“In that case,” said Mademoiselle on a note of exasperation, “we shall never know if she cares or not!”
The charming Mrs Allardyce to this replied with a discernible smile in her voice: “Possibly not, but can it signify? For the object of the exercise is, surely, achieved. Hatton has shewn himself in his true colours, has he not?”
For once even Mlle Dupont was reduced to silence.
As the two maidens crept round to the back door again the meek Violet might have been heard to hiss crossly: “Did you know?”
“Of course. You should get up earlier. Your mamma’s Kamala Ayah and I had it from Mrs Turner’s cook at the fruit stall this morning.”
“Tiddy, you have not been dressing up as a native again, have you?” hissed poor Violet.
To which Tiddy merely returned calmly: “You ate the mangoes.”
“You will be in dreadful trouble if they catch you,” the poor girl said weakly.
“Rubbish! They will conclude merely that I am not so grown up as they assumed Darjeeling had encouraged me to be.”
“You will be punished,” she warned.
Tiddy laughed, and took her arm. “Stop worrying! What can the worst punishment be? To be forbidden to attend any more Darjeeling parties and dinners for the foreseeable future?”
Their eyes met and, sad to relate, they both collapsed in giggles.
Extract from a letter from Ponsonby to Lord Sleyven, from Darjeeling.
As I writ you earlier, the whole thing appears to have been a plot between the Allardyce woman and this Lady Anna L. So I was prepared—well, in the wake of my syce’s report prepared for anything, frankly, Jarvis—and that is pretty much what we got. The tale of the engagement was soon all over Darjeeling—one gathers, though this may possibly be a mere piece of embroidery, that the fair Lovatt sobbed it out all over Ma Turner’s side verandah. Certainly a guaranteed method of spreading the tidings, so perhaps it ain’t apocryphal, after all! However, in public the lady who resembles our roan pony continued to offer outrageous encouragement to such eager males as Lord Alfred Lacey—he, of course, being much too dunderheaded to realise she was in no wise serious—and Tom Mason, who has the nous to see she ain’t serious but not sufficient to wish to discourage her. Hatton appeared sulkier every time one laid eyes on him and on one glorious occasion was seen to be berating the fair Lady A. in a kala jugga not sufficiently screened from view off the exclusive Mrs Voight’s drawing-room.
Where to start? Frankly, there is too much of it! Mrs Hatton departed from Calcutta post-haste. At least, what passes for it here: in a carriage and four with outriders and enough baksheesh to ensure continuous changes of horses the entire way to the hills, should any such changes have been available. Well, she got them at the first few dak-bungalows, one gathers, but arrived in Darjeeling covered in dust (i.e. the carriage; tho’ her person, veiled though it was, also suffered), pulled by a team of mules. A nine days’ wonder in itself—quite. But I am galloping ahead of myself.
The day before Mrs H. turned up, the great Darjeeling Scandal broke. Well, no, not the tale of the roan pony and he of the saag-flower hair at the Wilson bungalow, everyone had already heard that and most of them had decided to believe it but, absolute proof being lacking, to keep up a public pretence that it had never happened. No, well, Darjeeling is not unused to such minor scandals. This next was the juicier in that Hay had condescended to offer another ball and it was at it.
Lady Anna started the evening with a bunch of pink flowers at the bosom—the effect being rather as if the bodice of the gown was a bunch of pink flowers, perhaps it need not be said—and during the course of the ball these flowers began mysteriously to appear in various gentlemen’s buttonholes. Cmmdr. Voight being especially favoured, one is not absolutely sure why. Hatton had a flower, true, but had had only one dance with her all evening and when the supper dance struck up he was seen to walk up to her and remind her very loudly—Hay’s liquid refreshment lacks almost everything in quality, but not in quantity—that she had promised him the dance. Lady Anna, almost as loud, thinks she has promised it to Lord Alfred, and the dunderhead thinks so, too—on the broad grin, of course, manifestly not bright though he is.
|"Ready to Press His Suit - Lord A. L. at Hay's Ball"|
Sketch, pencil & watercolour, from John Widdop's journal, circa 1829
From the Widdop family papers
Oops, just at this moment Tom Mason comes up and assures them that she promised it him, and he has the gage to prove it (indicating the pink flower in the—quite). Lord Alfred then points out that he also has a gage (deliberately needling young Hatton, yes) and Lady Anna says with a melting look which consorts ill with the roan pony thing: “Then perhaps I should split the dance between you, dear sirs?”
Instead of giving in with a good grace and laughing, Hatton loses it—well, the youth and the drink together would probably have done it, without the additional measure of frustration which, reading not very far between the lines, the fair Anna had also been offering him in the wake of the Wilson bungalow episode. Well, yes, dear man: how else would she have led him on to propose? Though the position in society and the fortune were, no-one would deny it, significant factors.
“You will not dance it with either of them, ma’am, and allow me to remind you,” he shouts, “that you are affianced to me!”
Dead silence in the Hay ballroom, as you might imagine, apart from the scrapings of the Darjeeling string trio (the quartet temporarily minus its violist).
Then Lord Alfred gives a silly laugh and says: “Well, one had heard a rumour to that effect, Hatton, but what’s a rumour in Darjeeling, hey?”
And Tom Mason immediately chimes in with: “As I heard it, it had gone as far as a definite promise and the parties was writing to their respective papas, but was gages actually exchanged?” –Looking pointedly at Lord Alfred’s lapel.
Lord Alfred, the gaby, gasps: “No! No gages at all!” and goes into a spluttering fit, and young Hatton takes a swing at him! He connects with his jaw, and Lord A. staggers back, Tom Mason helpfully catching him.
After which, of course, half a dozen aides rush up and attempt to get Hatton out of it. He is shouting: “Tell them you are engaged to marry me, madam!” and Lady Anna gives a laugh—whinnying, goes with the face—and cries: “I think you are mistaken, dear boy! Why should I ever engage myself to you?” Which ain’t sufficient warning—or perhaps is sufficient provocation—because he starts in to give us all chapter and verse. At which Hay’s aides forcibly drag him out before our chaste ears can be further sullied.
Sketch, pencil & watercolour, from John Widdop's journal, circa 1829.
From the Widdop family papers
Lady Anna, it may console you to know, is not the least whit abashed and merely says—loudly enough for the entire audience to hear her, especially as the trio has stopped: “Silly boy. They do let their imaginations run away with them at that age, do they not? The Indian heat does not help, one must suppose. Lord Alfred, are you quite all right?” He is, and as Brigadier Polkinghorne has the nous to tell the trio to d— well start playing again, the dance strikes up again and everyone is politely enabled to pretend nothing happened. Until we all sit down to discuss the supper along with the rest, naturally.
That was sufficient to make young Hatton’s name Mud in Darjeeling, nay, in Anglo-India. Never let anyone tell you, dear man, that the female is not deadlier than the male: for let us not forget the whole thing was a plot between Lady A. and poor Allardyce’s widow. Once could almost feel sorry for Charlie Hatton, were it not that the thing has successfully shewn him up for the venal, fortune-hunting little rat that he is.
But the thrills were not yet over, for lo! Next day Mrs Hatton rolls up—dustily, yes—to the best hotel in Darjeeling, just in time to encounter her son in the lobby. I can give you this verbatim, as I was sitting quietly in a corner reading an out-of-date English paper and waiting for tiffin time. Along with a dozen other interested onlookers—quite. Normally she is a woman well in control of herself, as you may recall. But Master Charlie bursts out: “Do not say anything, Mamma!”
The robust Minerva replies in her usual clarion tones: “Say anything? Charlie, the woman is years your elder and reputed to be as hard as nails, what are you about? Your father will never countenance such an engagement!”
To which Master Hatton returns at the top of his lungs: “He don’t need to, for it is all off and she is the b— to end all b—s and has led me on shamelessly!” Forthwith rushing out of the hotel—and, I sincerely hope, out of all our lives—before his unfortunate mother can utter.
After this, needless to state, his name ain’t merely Mud, he is a laughingstock as well, and any sympathies that had begun to veer away from the brazenly unshakeable Lady A. in his direction are now all firmly with her.
As to whether the thing has given Tiddy the disgust of him that Mlle Dupont’s determinedly optimistic character declares it must have— I cannot tell, frankly, but she does seem completely undisturbed—mixture of mild scorn and mild entertainment, as far as my poor powers can discern. Though I think it is a hopeful sign that little Violet Allardyce, whom one might have expected to be in sympathetic floods of shocked tears over the thing, appears merely to share the mild scorn and mild entertainment.
The season here is mercifully drawing to a close, and we shall soon head home to Ma Maison. I do not think that Calcutta society may expect to be favoured with Master Charles Hatton’s presence, in the near future.
Our India Days, Chapter 12: Farewell To Darjeeling [concluded]
There, said we not he would wriggle? Yes, they are laughing, Gil baba, but never mind, Ponsonby sahib will tell you another story—if you are not tired, dear sir? Oh, well, that is splendid. –Or do you wish to run and play, Gil? –No! Gil baba, not big Gil, you are over-setting us again! Very well, Gil baba, sit nicely on your grandfather’s knee.
The Old Story of the Stork Who Made a Meal of Little Fishes
and the Crab Who Brought Him His Just Desserts,
as Told by Ponsonby Sahib
Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there was a stork who was very fond of eating fish. A stork is a great white bird, with a big beak and long legs, who usually lives by a river or a pond.
This stork had a favourite pond where he usually caught his fishes in his big beak—snap, snap! But the stork was growing old and not so strong and he found it very hard to catch the quick little fishes. What could he do?
One day, as he was drooping sadly by the pond, a big lady crab asked him what the matter was. The cunning stork said that he had heard that people were going to fill the pond with earth and grow crops over it, and so all the little fishes in there would die. The fishes all heard him and were very worried, and asked the stork to help them.
So the stork offered to take them all to a much bigger pond where they would be quite safe. But he warned them that he would need to rest between trips, and was only strong enough to carry a few fishes at a time. The unwary fishes and the crab all thought this was a great plan, and so the stork took a beakful of little fishes on his first trip. He flew away to a big rock and had a good meal of fish, snap, snap, snap! When he was hungry again, he took a second trip, and so on, whenever he felt hungry.
The big crab also wanted to be saved and so she asked the stork to take her, too.
Why not? thought the cunning stork. Crab would make a nice change from fish.
When the stork flew up into the air with her, the crab looked down to see what her new home would be like. But there was no pond: all she could see was dry land! She asked the stork: “Where’s the new pond?” The stork laughed wickedly and said: “See that rock down there?” The crab saw to her horror that the rock was covered in fish bones and realized that she was going to be the bad stork’s next meal!
So the crab dug her great big claws into the stork’s neck and held him until he fell to the ground. Then she cut off the stork’s head with her big pincers—snap, snap! Yes! And took it home to show it to all the fishes and tell the story of how she defeated the deceitful stork who was accustomed to make a meal of little fishes.
Yes, Gil baba, a bad old stork! Yes, run and tell it to the other children, by all means. A big white bird, yes, dear. ...Really, Ponsonby sahib! We have never heard the story told in quite that way! Was there any need to draw the moral so—so pointedly? Little fishes, indeed! And a lady crab? Was there ever a story about a lady crab in the whole of India?
No, no, Mr Thomas, there is no need to apologise for laughing. The story itself is quite genuine, as a matter of fact: a very old Indian story.* Though as we say, it is not generally told in precisely that way! And it is true that Charlie Hatton was the sort who specialised in gaining the affections of silly little fishes for whom he did not, au fond, give the snap of his fingers— No, Gil, that was a genuine slip of the tongue! Yes, as Tess says, with considerably less justification than the old stork, who merely had to eat, as all creatures do. Why, there were at least a dozen innocent maidens in Calcutta that year who were at his feet—nigh swooning with mixed ecstasy and triumph, indeed, if the vain fellow merely condescended to speak to them, let alone favouring them with a dance! –Did he in fact ask them to dance? Well, not very often, alas, Madeleine, not the innocent little Misses who thought the sun shone out of Master Charlie’s ears, no. Only the very pretty ones or those who were both pretty and possessed of either an independence or impeccable social connections. Or, as Tonie says, both.
* One of the stories from the Panchatantra. -Julie Darling.
(Cassie claims to have read a version in a recipe book. –K.W.)
As it would turn out, that was not to be the last we Lucases heard of Charlie Hatton. And at one stage, some of us were driven to wonder if perhaps Mrs Allardyce’s well-intentioned stratagem had had the opposite effect to what was intended. No, well, Antoinette, certainly it showed him up for what he was in front of Tiddy—but then, perhaps she did not need showing. It is our experience that older persons very frequently impute a complete lack of perspicacity to the young, in which they are correct only some of the time, and not as often as they fancy. After all, Tiddy baba had known Charles Hatton all of her life, had she not?
Yes, of course he was sent to school in England, Mr Thomas, but by that age a boy’s character, at least in its more salient points, is often fixed, is it not? Think of the young men you know who in their youth were, let us say, either convinced cowards or bold daredevils. How much have they changed, fundamentally? –Indeed.
You are correct, Madeleine, the sly and the vain do not change, either, though sometimes they learn to hide it better. Er—Collector Widdop must have been a dear little boy? Well, yes, dear, so we think. Wish you could have known him when he was a young man? No, well, it is senseless to repine over things which could never have been, dear child, but David, Tess’s eldest grandson, is very like him, and you have met—Oh. No, of course, you were away at the seaside that year, and then last summer he did not come to us either, his friends in Devon were so eager to have him. Well, you will meet him soon: he is down from the university now, and very keen to join his Uncle Henry in India—and, indeed, his Uncle Bob. Henry is Tiddy’s son, of course, not strictly speaking an uncle, but all that generation call him Uncle Henry—but as we say, very keen to go out there to join the firm, but has promised to come to us this autumn. And then he will go up to London to learn a little of the business from this end, you see, before going out to India next spring. Er—David’s Uncle Bob? He is Tessa’s father, Madeleine. Yes, a Navy man, Mr Thomas, that’s right. Posted to the Indies, yes. He is a commander now, and doing quite well for himself, but it means that the children see very little of him, of course...
Ah, tea! Lovely! –Nonsense, Ponsonby sahib, no-one was in the least danger of falling into a melancholy. But the tea will certainly ensure that no-one does!
...Where were we? Oh, yes. The consequences of Hatton’s flight from Darjeeling. Oh, dear. –No, no, we are not in the least t[ired.]
[Here the manuscript ends.]
(A little something to take with tea, to end the day)
Make a syrup from 1/2 lb. [225 g] sugar and 1 cup water. The syrup is ready when a drop forms a ball on the edge of a cold dish. Add 280 g* full-cream milk powder with the seeds of 8 crushed white elaychee [cardamom] pods. Mix well and turn onto a greased platter. Score into diamond shapes & top with crushed cardamom seeds, chopped nuts or silver cashoos. Cut up when cooled. If liked, flavour the syrup with rosewater.
* The Tamasha papers recipe instructs: “First, boil your fresh milk until well thickened.” This takes a very long time. The milk powder is a modern adaptation but the rest of the recipe is in the original wording. -C.B.