Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/15

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

with high, narrow, Aryan shoulders, a contracted chest, and a stoop. He almost invariably inherits the straight black hair, soft dark eye, flat cheek-bones, and full curved lips of his Indian forebears, with varying shades of complexion, from what is distinguished with difficulty from the sahib's to what might easily pass for the pure native's. Occasionally, with one parent or even both of dark color, one sees the anomaly of a little fair-haired, blue-eyed child, a whimsical legacy from a bygone generation. Here the "tar-brush" is more painfully in evidence. There is a dinginess about the yellow curls and a dullness in the blue eyes, a smudginess in the general effect, as if Nature had finished her work with a dirty palette. And the brothers and sisters of the pitiful little freak may be as brown as shisham-wood.

It will be seen that it would be easy, if desirable, to convict Mrs. De Souza of her mixed origin in a variety of ways, however "fair" her comely visage. But there remains her East-Indian voice and "accent." It is so marked that if we met Mrs. De Souza in London or New York, more elaborately costumed perhaps than she appears from my window, it would throw about her speech the halo of amused interest which a foreigner's always evokes. We would guess at her nationality; though, unless we were retired Anglo-Indians, we would never hit it. To the rest of us she might have been originally French, or Spanish, or almost anything. It would be only the old "Qui hai" who could detect and pounce upon the dulcet "chi-chi," the language of Eurasia. It is English, of course—soft, rapid, nervous English. It is so quick, that the words seem to click against one another as they come; but they never run together; on the contrary they are extraordinarily distinct. There is little disagreeable twang, but there is a great deal of unlooked-for inflection; a rising and falling of tone where we would go monotonously on, which gives almost a picturesque effect to the words, until one tires of it. The sentences are apt to terminate with a certain abruptness; there is absolutely no drawl at the end of them. An odd importance, which is yet not emphasis, is given to the final syllables we tend to slur, and there is an almost invariable tendency to double final consonants. "Kindlee step thiss way," says the young woman behind the counter. "Thiss is verree prittee—and chip too onlee one rupee ae yard." The baboo speaks English in exactly the same way, and it is the common fear of the "countrybred," the pure European born and brought up in India among the hills, to acquire it. It is fatally easy to imitate, though extremely difficult to transfer to print, and makes one reason the more why Anglo-Indian children should be early sent home to be educated. Pleasant enough while it is novel, it soon becomes objectionable to European ears, doubtless as a matter of asso-