On to the Rescue: A tale of the Indian Mutiny/Book III
- 1 BOOK III.
- 1.1 Chapter I. THE ANNIVERSARY OF ALMA.
- 1.2 Chapter II. HAVELOCK AND NEILL.
- 1.3 Chapter III. THE FOE FOUGHT LIKE FIENDS.
- 1.4 Chapter IV. OUR DEFEAT AT CHINHUT JACK'S BRAVE DEED - DEATH OF LAWRENCE.
- 1.5 Chapter V. THE AWFUL SIEGE WHAT LILY TOLD THE AUTHOR.
- 1.6 Chapter VI. LILY CONTINUES HER NARRATIVE THE HIGHLANDER'S SLOGAN.
- 1.7 Chapter VII. YOUNG HODSON'S If IDE BRAVE DEEDS AT DELHI.
- 1.8 Chapter VIII. IN FRONT OF LUCKNOWWHA T BOLD KA VANAGH DID.
- 1.9 Chapter IX. CAWNPORE IS AVENGED.
- 1.10 Chapter X. "THE EYES OF BOJ& WERE DIMMED WITH TEARS."
- 1.11 Chapter XI. DEATH OF HAVELOCK EN-ROUTE FOR CAWNPORE.
- 1.12 Chapter XII. THE SHIP SAILED SOUTHWARDS AND AWAY.
Chapter I. THE ANNIVERSARY OF ALMA.
had spread her crimson mantle over the hills and braes' around Glen Tulloch. The heather had been in bloom for weeks, but at early morning and all day long the soun.d of the sportsman's gun was still to be heard on the hills, though the grouse were now getting wild, the glorious twelfth being long since past.
Colonel Lindsay, albeit he was " slightly lame in one leg" it was in this way he himself would sometimes allude to his sad loss, and laugh as he did so was most enthusiastic where gunning was concerned. He was never tired of tramping over the moors or over the mountains, the two lairds, Morrison and Saunders, being sometimes his companions. Sometimes only, however; they had less leisure than the good old soldier, and had led less of a life in the wilds,
232 On to the Rescue.
But one day the trio were coming homewards over the hills, and had just reached a spot whence far beneath them the honnie glen spread out in all its sylvan beauty, the stream winding down through the green maze of meadows in its midst like a curling silver thread.
They had made good bags to-day, and in the good old fashion they carried them too. Never a ghillie nor keeper had they. They loaded their own guns and followed their dogs. For such an innovation as beating would have been considered something akin to sacrilege among these grand old hills.
"Well, Lindsay," said Morrison, sitting down on a green bank, a kind of oasis in the midst of the blooming heather, " I don't know what you may be, but I 'm tired. Getting old, I suppose."
"Nonsense," said Laird Saunders, "neither of us is very old yet, and it seems to me that Lindsay here will never get old. Why how he does walk, to be sure ! "
Colonel Lindsay laughed, and threw himself on the grass beside his bulky bag.
" Well, friends, I have been tired in my tune. This is the 20th of September you know. And it was on the 20th of September the glorious battle of Alma was fought. That was the finest day's shooting ever I can remember."
" You were tired that day ? " said Saunders.
" I was tired after the fun was all over. There were a good many more men there who were more tired than I, and there were some headaches next morning, I can assure you, especially on the Russian side. Ah ! war is a fearful thing. We talk of honour and glory. Well,
The Anniversary of Alma. 233
when a younger man, I believed in such things. Neither honour nor glory, however, is very tangible. I don't think, on looking back to my career in the army, that I would exchange such a day as we have just spent for even the glorious 20th itself. Look at that sunset, men, is it not beautiful beyond compare ? "
It was indeed beautiful, though only one-half the setting sun was visible ; but this was glaring red through a rift in a bank of grey-blue clouds, that lay along the western horizon like a most fantastic pile of rock-work. This bank of cloud was fringed, as to its upper edge, with gold. Above it, in a sea-green sky, inclining to saffron, floated little streaks of crimson cirrhus. Then higher still another rolling cloud-bank all purple and bronze ; and above all, the clear pale-blue sky, in which by-and-by the stars would shine.
"Yes," said Saunders, speaking slowly and thoughtfully, " it is a bonnie, bonnie sky, but "
" Now let me finish the sentence for you," said Lindsay, interrupting him. " ' But,' you were going to say, ' I should like to know what my poor boy is doing at this present moment.' "
"And I was thinking of my dear lad too," said Morrison. " Surely it is time I was hearing from him once again. His last letter was such a delightful one. He was journeying on to Delhi, borne along by faithful Lascars, as he called them, with faithful Sepoys riding by his side ; the scenery all around him, more beautiful, he says, than any dream. But, oh, Lindsay, Lindsay, since then Delhi has been drenched with British blood and "
234 On to the Re sate.
"And you fear your boy is among the slain. That's it, isn't it ? "
" You read me like a book."
" Well, let me tell you, Morrison, and you too, Saunders, that I am not going to listen to any Jeremiads not on the anniversary of Alma, anyhow ! All is well that ends well"
- Heigho ! " sighed Morrison, " but the end hasn't come
" Xo, the end hasn't come yet ; but the end will come soon and sudden to thousands of those murdering mutineers. I'm no seer, like your friend Fey Eraser; but I feel confident that both your boys are safe, and I think I can almost tell what they are doing at this moment."
"Tell us, Lindsay ! tell us !"
Colonel Lindsay lay back on the grass and shut his eyes. He was silent for a short time, then spoke.
" Your boy, Saunders, is marching up country with his regiment. There is nothing can stand against those brave kilted warriors. I can see your "Willie charging the Sepoys in line, with stern, set face and flashing eya More than one fall before him. But the battle is won, and he is waving his Highland bonnet above a great gun he has just helped to capture. "Willie is safe and sound."
" And what about my lad Jack ? "
" Why, Laird Morrison, from a civilian your Jack has changed to a soldier. He is in command of a company, and right bravely do they fight wherever mutineers dare show face,"
The Colonel half rose now.
The Anniversary of Alma. 235
"You think I'm talking nonsense, don't you? Well, call it so if you like, but I believe my words will come true. There is nothing we can do to help our boys for they are mine, my friends, as well as yours ; that is how I feel but I was going to say there is nothing we can do to help our boys but pray for them. Men, I have never yet prayed earnestly for anything in this world without receiving an answer in peace."
" You give us hope and comfort," said Saunders.
" I 'm glad I do. We three are all as one, you know, though, my dear Saunders, I greatly rue the sad mis- understanding that sent your poor boy a-soldiering."
" What was to be would be," said Saunders sadly.
"But we," said Lindsay, "must not question it. It doubtless is all for the best; and if poor Annie, my daughter, but lives all may yet be well"
The Colonel's words bore reference to an illness that Annie Lindsay had gone though, if indeed she could be considered even yet out of danger. The doctor had recommended foreign travel, and she and her father had spent the winter, the spring, and a considerable portion of the summer, in wandering from place to place on the Continent.
Then she had expressed a wish to come home. Annie said she was coming home to die, but, contrary to all expections, the girl had greatly improved in health since she returned to the glen.
I may mention here that there was the most perfect understanding between Annie and her father, and she kept no secrets from him any more than she did from her mother.
236 On to the Rescue.
Did a long letter she had received from Jack Morrison, I wonder, have anything to do with her partial restoration to "health"?
I think it did, for in this letter Jack had told Annie all he had told Willie in his letter to him, and a good deal more too. If Annie had read that letter over once she had read it over a dozen tunes.
But she was now in daily expectation of receiving a letter from Willie himself.
It had almost broken the girl's heart to think she had driven him from home, and that he had gone away with hard and unkindly thoughts of her.
And now hope had arisen in Annie's heart.
Well, hope tells many a flattering tale, but, never- theless, in a case like Annie Lindsay's, hope is a far more effective medicine than any that a doctor can prescribe or administer.
In cases like poor Annie's then Shakespeare was quite right to say :
" Throw physic to the dogs ; 1 ll none of it."
Of course the dogs would have none of it either, so it would have to lie there.
But when Macbeth says to the doctor :
" Can'st thou not minister to a mind diseased, Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, Kaze out the written troubles of the brain ? "
and so on, and so forth, and the doctor replies :
" Therein the patient Must minister to himself,"
The Anniversary of Alma. 237
he makes a far wiser reply than if he had said, " Oh, yes, certainly I can ; a little cod liver oil and a seidlitz powder will just meet the requirements of the case."
There was what the Colonel called a quiet little dinner-party at the Lodge that evening, to celebrate the anniversary of that ever -to -be -remembered battle of the Gael Alma.
The Colonel himself was in the best of spirits, and talked so hopefully, and was apparently so full of happiness, that everyone around the table, including the mothers of Jack and Willie, were constrained to be happy also; and Annie herself was almost gay.
"As we are all by ourselves to-night," he said, "quite entre nous, I insist upon you ladies staying to talk with us over the walnuts and the wine, in the good old fashion."
"I am willing," said Mrs. Saunders, with a pleasant smile.
" And I too," said Mrs. Morrison.
"Well," continued the Colonel, laughing, "I'll see that my wife and Annie don't get away. Consider yourselves all under martial law to-night, ladies.
" And now I have a toast to propose, which even my little girl will not refuse to respond to, if it should only be in water. On this day of days I propose the health and happiness of the hero who led the clans to victory on the heights of Alma the brave old Colin Campbell
"Yes, Mrs. Saunders, I am glad to see that bright
238 On to the Rescue.
sparkle in your eye. We all love Colin. He was my general. He is by this time your son's."
" Poor, brave fellow," said Mrs. Saunders, and I think that the sparkle in her eye was the sparkle of a tear; "but don't you - think, General Lindsay "
"Oh, bravo!" cried Lindsay, interrupting her, "I've got promotion. General Lindsay sounds delightful."
" I meant to say ' Colonel,' I assure you, sir ; but I was thinking so much about Sir Colin. Don't you think, my dear Colonel, that he is a little too old for the terrible work he will have out in India ? "
" Oh, bless you, no, madam ! The brave are never old. Don't judge by me, you know, because I have already got one foot in the grave."
"Ah, true," said Morrison, "but judging from your exploits to-day in the hills, Lindsay, you know how to hold on with the other one."
"Dear old Sir Colin," Saunders put in. "Farewell to his hopes of settling down as a country gentleman, planting kail and keeping pigeons. I wonder if it be true that when the Queen herself asked him to go out to India he burst into tears, and said, ' I 'd carry a musket for a lady like you ' ? "
"I daresay it is true. Sir Colin was nothing if not gallant. But, like that of every real Scotsman, his love and loyalty for Queen Victoria are sincere. Well, as you say, Saunders, it will be a year or two yet before the hero of the Alma can settle down, and plant kail and keep pigeons. But he's coming back safe and sound, and, Saunders, he is going to bring our poor soldier-boy with him."
The Anniversary of Alma. 239
Though very cheerful, Annie Lindsay had spoken little, but this last sentence of her father's appeared to get straight away to her heart. She gave one ap- pealing glance to her mother, and hurriedly left the table. Annie had gone no farther than the drawing- room, and Mrs. Lindsay found her on the sofa in a paroxysm of tears.
"Hush! darling; hush!" said her mother, patting and soothing her as if she had been a baby. "Don't cry, Annie; don't cry."
"Just a little, mother; just a little," the girl sobbed "because they are tears of hope and joy."
But when, some time after this, the gentlemen joined the ladies in the drawing-room they found Annie seated at the piano as if she never had been crying at all.
And a very pleasant and happy evening was spent.
When Annie knelt beside her bed that night, with hands clasped and tearful eyes upturned to heaven, very sincere, very heartfelt, was her prayer that God, who rules on earth and sea, would send Sir Colin safely home, and quickly give our arms the victory.
Did she pray for anyone else ? Not by name, but Heaven can read hearts, and in thoughts we can pray quite as earnestly as in words.
Chapter II. HAVELOCK AND NEILL.
IT was the 30th of June before Havelock reached Allahabad, though he certainly had made no delay on the road. A glance at the map, reader mine, will show you the position of this important town. It stood on the Doab and near to the junction of the Jumna with the Ganges. Its great fort was a strong one, and one well-stored with the munitions of war, but nevertheless at the commencement of the Mutiny, like many other important places in India, it was not garrisoned by a single European soldier, and as it contained a large number of English residents, it is little wonder that they felt uneasy, not knowing what a day or an hour might bring forth.
There was one regiment of Sepoys here, however, that was much beloved by its officers and greatly trusted by all, namely the 6th Native Infantry. And indeed so demonstrative in their loyalty were they that they had volunteered to be led against Delhi.
There was no trust however to be put in Sepoys by civilians, and nothing that the officers of the 6th could do was sufficient to allay the fears of the English, or rather British, residents at Allahabad.
But the festival of the Eed had passed over and still there was no mutiny.
The time flew by and it was now the 4th of June. On that day came news of the insurrection at Benares and of the immortal Neill's doings there, and this news, it was reported to the officers of the 6th, had greatly excited the men. Their loyalty was apparently at an end ; their obedience seemed merging into mutiny.
Not only were the civilians, men and women, beginning to get afraid, but those in authority as well. The magistrate himself appeared to think it highly probable that the mutineers driven from Benares by the brave and dashing Scotsman Neill, would make a rush for Allahabad he had begged Colonel Simpson of the 6th to send a detachment of men and guns to defend the bridge, by which the rebels would have to cross the Ganges if they marched upon the town.
Simpson not only did so, but sent cavalry also to defend the cantonments.
Now listen and judge for yourself whether these Sepoys, who desired but a short time before to be led to Delhi were greatly to be trusted.
It was considered that the guns would be of more service if taken to the fort, and Lieutenant Harward had received an order to convey them there, and proceeded to do his duty. To his astonishment the men of the 6th refused to obey orders. They would take them to the cantonments, but not a gun, they swore, should enter the fort. Harward acted as promptly as any soldier could, and immediately sent orders to Lieutenant Alexander to dash on from the cantonments with his cavalry, intercept the mutineers and seize the guns.
Alexander drew his sword the moment he heard the news, and dashing in front of his company called to them to follow him. Three, did so, three only, and the rest at once joined the enemy !
A few minutes after this brave officer fell from his horse shot by the very men he had so recently commanded !
The work of the mutineers had commenced in earnest. On they rushed now, both cavalry and infantry, towards the lines. The officers had gone to mess, but quickly turned out when they heard the yelling and the shouts. They believed even now that they could trust their men, and could quickly bring them back to reason.
Their voices could not be heard. Their gestures were in vain, and as they rushed towards the men they were received by a volley, and five went down.
Having slain their officers, the murderers, fired with a desire for further slaughter, swarmed off towards the city, and there the work of death was re-commenced.
It was now night, and such a night! The darkness was everywhere lit up by the plundered and burning houses of the Christian population; cries and screams of agony rent the air as the Europeans were dragged into the streets, to be foully murdered in a more brutal way than a mob slays mad dogs at home in London. Even women and helpless children were murdered or tossed half dead back again into the flaming ruins of what had been but a few hours before their happy homes. Only the few white men and women who had found refuge in the fort were saved. But here even in the fort itself was danger, for not only were Sepoys of the 6th regiment in charge of the guns, but Sikhs as well
It was a critical moment; one angry word, a frown even from a British officer, would have caused these men to turn, and then not a European would have been left alive in the fort.
Luckily there was a hero here who took in the situation at a glance. This was the gallant Captain Brayser, of the Sikhs. He called to his men to follow him, and luckily they obeyed. He caused the English artillerymen, a mere handful, to stand to their guns, which were levelled at the Sepoys, and to fire at once if the Sepoys did not pile arms at the word of command.
A few minutes after this these Sepoys, leaving their muskets behind them, were marched out of the fort, and safety was, for the time being, secured.
But there was no sleep for anyone during all this terrible night the yelling of the budmashes and Sepoys as they plundered the town effectually prevented that and no one knew what might happen next, or what the dawning of day might not have in store for this beleaguered garrison.
Would Neill come to the relief? That was the question Neill, or the mutineers from Benares ?
Benares was a city of Hindoos or Brahmins, a Holy City indeed. Holy from their point of view; very beautiful from that of anyone who has ever visited it.
Trace it out on the map, reader, and you will see it lies farther down the Ganges than Allahabad, and on the other bank of the river.
In coming up stream, Holmes tells us "the steamer after shooting past a little promontory, entered a broad, crescent-shaped reach, which, sparkling in the sunshine, washed the curved shore like a miniature bay. For two miles along the left bank a succession of broad flights of steps descended into the water, and upon them swarmed multitudes of preachers, pilgrims, worshippers, loungers, and bathers, clad in dresses of many colours, while the mellow music of a hundred bells resounded above the hum of human voices.
" From the steps rose tier above tier, pagodas, mosques, round towers, and arches, covered with fantastic decora- tions; long-pillared arcades; balustraded terraces; noble mansions with carved balconies and gardens, rich with the dark green foliage of tamarinth and banian trees; and high above the highest roofs soared the two stately minarets of the Mosque of Aurungzebe?'
It is strange, but true, that religion, true religion and trust in God, seem ever to exalt the bravery of heroes. The career of Havelock is one proof of this fact, and crowds of others might easily be adduced.
Colonel Neill, of the 1st Madras Fusiliers, was pro- bably as brave a man as ever faced a foe. At the time of the outbreak of the great mutiny he had seen about thirty years' service, and had proved, in many a well- fought field, that he was not only a man in the truest sense of the word, but a leader of men.
He was also, Holmes tells us, " tender and loving to those dear to him, merciful to the weak, and ever ready to sacrifice his own comfort for the well-being of his soldiers ; a staunch friend but a terrible enemy. No re- sponsibility could awe him. No obstacle could stop him."
But above all, reader, he was a Christian in the truest sense of the word. Some might say that there was something of the superstition of the old Covenanters in NeilTs character. Men like Neill believe that God Him- self calls them to do special work. When therefore this brave Scot was summoned to Calcutta with his splendid regiment, he believed he was commissioned by heaven itself.
We have a proof of the straightforwardness and daring of Neill in an incident that occurred at the rail- way station at Calcutta. He had arrived before the main body of his men, and the station master hurrying up told him that he must make haste and get aboard, as the train was already late.
"But," said Neill, "this is impossible, my men have not yet arrived."
"That is nothing to me," said this Jack-in-office, "I must send on the train."
"This to me, fellow !" cried NeilL
Then turning quickly round to a sergeant, " Put that man immediately under arrest," he said, "and not only he but the stoker and engineer as well."
Then Neill coolly and quietly waited, and not until every man had arrived, and was safely on board, did he permit the train to start.
It was the 3rd of June when Neill arrived at Benares. He soon showed here also what manner of man he was.
Brigadier Ponsonby consulted him as to the expediency of disarming the 37th regiment of Sepoys.
" Certainly," was NeilTs reply.
"Well," said the Brigadier, "I'll have it done to- morrow."
" Ah ! Brigadier," replied Neill, " in such a matter as this there is nothing like taking time by the forelock. It must be done at once ! "
Spottiswoode, of the 37th, then called out his men, and ordered them to pile arms.
They proceeded to obey ; but just at that moment our European troops were seen filing on to the parade ground, and a panic seized the Sepoys. They were to be shot in cold blood, they thought, or even a worse fate might befall them.
In a few minutes, nay, in less tune, a furious battle was raging, and even the Sikhs, by some mistake or another, joined against the Europeans. Ponsonby lost his head he nearly lost his life; but Neill marched up to him, and saluting, said boldly, " General, I assume command ! "
Only the quick action of Neill on that day secured the victory to the Europeans, quelled the rising, and secured Benares even from the revenge of the now irritated Sikhs.
On this anxious and terrible night the Christians had been taken for safety to the roof of the Mint, and there at last they fell asleep,
Next day batch after batch of mutineers were hanged.
But the Mutiny had spread to Jaunpore, and to country districts all around.
Meanwhile that little force in the fort of Allahabad was in sore distress; while all around them in the city anarchy reigned supreme, and rapine and murder were installed as her handmaidens.
But the hero came at last. With the first detachment of his troops, a mere handful of fifty determined fellows, Neill marched into Allahabad on the llth.
He had rough work before him, however; for, sad to say, not only the Sikhs at the fort, but the volunteers as well, had given themselves up to drink, and the whole place was a pandemonium.
By the 18th Neill had subdued not only the town, but all the country adjoining, though some terrible acts of cruelty and injustice were doubtless committed by volunteers and Sikhs by way of retribution. It is even said that these men sallied out of the fort into the streets, slaughtering every native that they came across.
The valour and energy of Neill at this trying time can hardly be overestimated. We can understand a man being courageous when in good health, but poor Neill had been struck down with sickness or physical infirmity. He felt almost at death's door through sheer exhaustion ; but still he kept up his heart, and even, when unable to walk, had himself carried on to the ramparts of the fort, so that he might personally superintend every operation that was carried on.
Cholera, however, unfortunately broke out on the 18th, and "there was no means," says Holmes, "of mitigating its horrors. Punkahs and medicines were almost entirely wanting. Eight men were buried before midnight. Twenty more were buried next day."
It must have been cholera in its rdost awful form too, for we learn from one authority that so fearful and appalling were the shrieks of the sufferers, that two ladies in a room over the hospital died of fright.
So far Neill had done noble work.
But Lucknow was now in the hands of the mutineers, and this brave soldier considered that his work was only just begun. Moreover, he determined to try to succour Cawnpore.
On the 25th of June Havelock left Calcutta, and in five days' time he reached Allahabad, to find that, not- withstanding the terrible fact that Neill's troops were more than decimated by the ravages of the cholera, he was preparing to send on a force to succour Cawnpore.
Neill had to work against fearful odds therefore, but when Havelock reached Allahabad he found that Major Eenaud was just under arms with a column, and that evening he marched forth.
On July 3rd a further force of one hundred men of the Fusiliers were sent up the river in a steamer to co-operate with Renaud, and to cover his flank.
This contingent was under the command of Captain Spurgin.
Meanwhile Havelock was getting ready for his cam- paign with all haste, and personally superintending even the most minute details, so that nothing might be wanting to secure victory.
This brave and clever general had even inaugurated a well-paid intelligence department. In other words, reader, a corps of native spies. With such a squad as this there is only one way of dealing. You must hold out towards them both hands. The right hand is filled with gold, the left grasps a greasy rope that may already have choked the life out of more than one foe. The gold is to be the reward of faithfulness, the rope the guerdon of treachery or deceit.
Havelock marched from Allahabad at last with his whole force.
Not a large one certainly, but, nevertheless, it was indeed a band of heroes.
Chapter III. THE FOE FOUGHT LIKE FIENDS.
BAND of heroes ? Yes, undoubtedly. What was the strength, think you, reader, of the little array with which Havelock marched from Allahabad through the mud, the slush, and the drenching rain ? Why barely over a thousand British troops, composed of men of the 78th Highlanders, the 84th and 64th, about 140 Sikhs, under Brasyer, and some volunteer cavalry with six guns.
This does not reckon Kenaud's column, which had gone on before. But with, this small force Havelock was going on to Cawnpore, on against fearful odds, on to encounter dangers unknown, on to victory or to death.
Gloomy indeed were the first few days of their march,
" Toilsome was the road to trace, The guide abating oft his pace."
But in their heavy coats for Havelock had been unable to procure any light or summer outfit for his men the 250
The Foe Fought like Fiends. 251
men struggled forward. In front and all around them, we are told, they saw but "a vast and dreary waste of country, dotted here and there with the charred ruins of forsaken villages."
No living beings in those villages, but proof enough that Eenaud had been here, for the dead swung by the neck to almost every available post, and swine and dogs ran hither and thither in the deserted streets, feeding off the half -putrid corpses.
After a few days of tiresome marching they neared the village of Futtehpore, and Colonel Tytler was sent forward with the cavalry to find the enemy. He did find them, and that too in great force. And as the men sat cooking the morning meal Tytler's dragoons dashed rapidly in, pursued by the white-coated horsemen of the foe.
Merrily sounds the bugle. The men pitch pots and pans to one side, and fly to their arms. Warm indeed was the welcome the mutineers received. They had made sure of victory, thinking they had only Eenaud's little band to deal with, and before they had recovered from their surprise Havelock's Enfield rifles and his guns were playing havoc in their ranks.
The position occupied by the rebels was a strong one, but it was gallantly, nay I might almost say gaily, captured by the British, the lads in trousers emulating and rivalling the lads in kilts in deeds of valour. The enemy was chased into and through the town, their guns captured, and their rout completed with much slaughter.
Our fellows were permitted to loot and plunder Futtehpore as an act of just retribution.
On the 15th day of July, that terrible day of the massacre at Beebeeghur in Cawnpore, was fought and won the battle of Aong, a strongly entrenched village.
But our victory cost us dear, for while boldly leading on his men poor Eenaud, the gallant and true, was slain.
Then came the fight of Pandoonuddee. This was a remarkable one in several ways. Beaten back from Aong after a hard fight of five hours, on the morning of the 15th the enemy made a stand six miles off. Here they were greatly enforced by troops from Cawnpore.
Havelock's men were worn out with their morning's fight with thirst and heat, but the brave general knew he could trust them to fight that day again, and so after a few kindly words he gave the order " Fall in." The men had scarcely commenced breakfast, but there was not a moment's hesitation.
Haste indeed was imperative, for the enemy was making preparations to blow up the bridge across the Ganges, and if they succeeded in this they might not only delay the general's advance, but spoil all his plans.
After a two hours' march through groves of mango trees they sighted the bridge, and were received by cannon shots that tore through their midst, wounding many men. This hot reception however but served to stimulate our brave fellows. On dashed Maude with his artillery, and unlimbering near the river directed his fire towards the enemy's guns, while the Enfields in skirmish- ing order made short work of the gunners.
Some time after this with a wild shout, bayonets to the front, our Highlanders charged over the bridge. The enemy reeled and fled before them, their guns were captured, and victory merged into a rout. But our poor fellows were now utterly worn out, and threw themselves on the ground to sleep or to die, they seemed to care not which. Food but few of them could have eaten, had it been ever so appetising. Nor can we wonder at their seemingly hopeless conditions. Two battles in one day under the broiling heat of an Indian sun. Think of it you may, reader, though to realise it ia impossible !
But next day harder fighting still was before them, and fiercer heat to bear.
To make matters worse they had passed but a weary, restless night, and there was little to eat, the meat having gone bad.
Fain would Havelock have permitted his men to entrench themselves, and remain though but for a day, to recover from the toils of the battle and the march. But Cawnpore was now only twenty miles distant. On they must push therefore, in the hopes they might yet be in time to save British lives, for they knew nothing then of the sad and fearful massacres.
Sixteen miles under a broiling sun, heavily clothed and armed and with little food, is it any wonder that man after man dropped fainting out of the ranks or went down with sunstroke? Then spies came in with the intelligence that the Nana Sahib with five thousand men had left Cawnpore, and was drawn up in battle array some miles ahead.
This tune the Nana seemed determined to do or dia Well his force was certainly a strong one compared to ours five to one. He had disposed them skilfully too.
For calculating that Havelock would deliver a front attack, his army was drawn up like a crescent, with its wings resting on fortified villages.
Havelock however was not to be fooled in this fashion. Supposing that he had advanced straight on, he would have found himself opposed by the bulk of the Nana's army, including his artillery, and while striking hard at this the enemy's right and left wings would have out- flanked him, and attacked him in the rear. The whole British force might thus have been annihilated.
Our Havelock sent forward a body of cavalry, under pretence of attacking the Nana in front, while he and the bulk of his little army advanced under cover, and threw themselves upon his left flank. It was a bold measure, and prettily executed; but the enemy en- deavoured now to change front, and his artillery was making sad gaps in Havelock's forces. Something must be done to silence these, for our little guns were power- less to do so.
"Bring on the tartan." That was the command, if not the exact words. "Bring up the Highlanders!"
The tartan did come, and that too with a will and a vengeance. There were hundreds of the mutineers who had never heard such a wild, ringing slogan as that before. There were scores who would never hear it again.
The Highlanders charged with fixed bayonets, and after a brief and bloody struggle the gunners were slaughtered at their guns, the village was in our hands, and the left wing of the foe a disorganised rabble fleeing for their lives.
Some of the fugitives rallied on the centre, but again rose the Highlanders' slogan, again Havelock led them on. The 64th were now side by side with the lads in the kilts, and by their united efforts the Nana's centre was reduced to disorder and chaos. The little band of volunteer cavalry completed the rout and discomfiture, and the battle seemed already gained.
A village in which the enemy's right lay was pluckily seized by the Highlanders and the 64th, who vied with each other which should enter first and which should do the greatest deeds of valour.
But the worst was yet to come.
The Nana and his army, though apparently routed, and racing for dear life's sake back towards that blood- stained city, for some reason resolved to make another stand, and even to assume the offensive. In this they were all but successful, for our fellows had gone on too far, leaving the artillery behind, and were lying on the ground to rest, when Nana, with a reserve gun, turned at bay.
Havelock saw that the crisis had now come. Now it must be death or victory. Never perhaps not even at Alma itself was a bolder charge made by British men. The foe fought like fiends. But our men would not be denied, and although the ground was littered with dead and dying men they kept steadily on, and finally, with deafening " hurrahs ! " captured the gun and drove the enemy in one confused, disorderly mass back into the city.
The Nana did not stop here, but rode on to Bithoor, and the natives too, dreading, as well they might, the vengeance of our troops, fled into the country and hid themselves in every thicket and jungle.
No wonder that after this great battle Havelock gathered his little army around him, and congratulated and thanked them heartily.
"Soldiers," Marshman makes him say, "your General is satisfied, and more than satisfied with you. He has never seen steadier or more devoted troops, but your labours are only beginning. Nevertheless between the 7th and 16th you have, under the Indian sun of July, marched a hundred and twenty-six miles and fought four actions. But your comrades in Lucknow are in peril, Agra is besieged, Delhi is still the focus of mutiny and rebellion. Three cities have to be saved and two strong places to be de-blockaded. Your General is confident he can effect all these things, and restore this part of India to tranquillity, if you will only second him with your efforts, and if your discipline is equal io your valour."
On the 17th of July, just as Havelock and his brave fellows were about to march into the city, news of the last of the massacres reached him.
There may be men still alive who can remember that sad and melancholy march into Cawnpore.
Can we wonder that when they came to the Beebee- ghur, and silently and fearfully entered the rooms in little groups of twos and threes; when they saw the blood lying ankle deep in clots upon the matted floor; the shreds of clothing, the long locks of hair, the pillars and walls all scored with sword-cuts, the children's blood-stained broken toys, and that awful well with its mass of human remains, they lifted up their voices and wept aloud.
Nothing but sadness and gloom prevailed that day and night ; the men hardly spoke save in hushed and awesome voices, and nothing was heard but the wailing of the bagpipes playing laments for the dead that were being buried.
Even Havelock himself was oppressed by the general gloom. His heart was sad indeed, but his heart must not fail in this hour of need, and he even tried to smile as, turning to his son at table, he said, "If the worst comes to the worst, Henry, we shall die like men, with our swords in our hands."
Meanwhile how fared it at Lucknow ?
Chapter IV. OUR DEFEAT AT CHINHUT JACK'S BRAVE DEED - DEATH OF LAWRENCE.
IT was on the 30th day of May that the Mutiny broke out at Lucknow.
Lawrence had not been without warning that it would take place that night after the firing of the nine o'clock guru lie was dining in the evening at the Canton- ment Residency of Mariaon,* and hardly had the boom of the gun shaken the jalousies ere the sound of musketry firing was heard coming from the lines.
But brave Lawrence had all his wits about him. , With the utmost coolness he rose from the table, and with all his guests went out. At the door was drawn up the native guard, whom at the first sound of firing their native captain had turned out.
This officer asked Wilson if the men should load. This was a supreme moment; but both officers were equal to the occasion. Had they shown the slightest symptoms, even by a quaver of the voice of nervousness or fear, both would have been dead men next moment.
Wilson coolly referred the question to Lawrence.
" Certainly ! " was the bold reply.
And then, while the rifles of this Sepoy guard were pointed directly at him, and the men were putting on the caps, he boldly addressed them as follows :
" I am going," he cried, " to drive those blackguards out of the cantonments; take care, during my absence, that you all remain at your posts. Permit no one to do any damage here or to enter my house. If you fail in your duty, then on my return I will hang you ! "
And the men obeyed, and this Eesidency was, we are told, the only house in cantonments that was not burned or plundered during this night of terror and destruction.
Lawrence now directed his efforts to preventing any- thing like collusion betwixt the mutineers and the citizens, and for this purpose he sent a party to guard the road that led into the city.
In this he was successful The mutineers, it is true, shot their Brigadier as he was endeavouring to restore order. They burned the mess place, but were disap- pointed in their hopes of finding their officers within.
The mutineers belonged entirely to the 71st Infantry, and early next morning they retired towards the race- course. Thither went Lawrence to punish them, and over sixty prisoners were captured, but as the mutineers were now joined by the 7th Cavalry it was deemed injudicious to pursue them farther.
Inside the city oil that same day, however, a rising was attempted, the standard of the prophet was raised, and for a time matters looked very serious indeed.
Thus was the second mutiny at Lucknow quelled.
Meanwhile other country districts of Oude, that had till now remained quiet, rose in rebellion.
The Sepoys, at Seetapore, murdered their Commissioner, civilians and officers, women and children.
Sad indeed was the story of one of the parties who escaped. " This consisted," says Holmes, " of Sir Mount- stuart Jackson, his sister Madeline, Lieutenant Burnes, Surgeon-Major Morton, and Sophy Christian, a dear little child only three years of age."
These poor fugitives made their way to a fort belonging to a rajah, Lonee Singh, and begged him to take pity on them. They were worn out with fatigue, their clothes were in rags, and their bare feet lacerated with the thorns of the jungle through which they had passed.
Well, this Rajah's pity was certainly of a questionable sort. He kept them all night in a cowshed, and next day started them off to a small unfurnished house in another quarter of his estate.
Here they found a Captain Orr with his wife and child, who had made their escape from the mutineers at Aurungabad. But next day the rajah drove the Orrs into the jungle. Here they had to burn fires at night to scare away the wolves. But wolves even were better companions than the roving bands of mutineers, who were scouring the country in search of all fugitives. On the 12th of July they were allowed to creep back, wretched and forlorn, to join the others, and here they lay and suffered miseries untold until the 6th of August, when the whole party was once more driven into the jungle, and this deceitful rajah row put a party of mutineers on their track, but though they hunted for them for hours they failed to find them.
"But," says our informant, "the fugitives had little cause to rejoice over their escape. The rays of the sun beat fiercely on their heads, and the thorny brushwood of the jungle was so low that they could find no shade. Torrents of rain poured down upon them at times. Wild beasts howled around them. Then intermittent fever attacked them, and deprived them of the power to bear up against their other sorrows."
On August 26th Orr somehow got a letter which he read to his companions, and once more hope revived in their hearts, for it promised early deliverance. But that deliverance never came.
Lonee Singh, the wretched rajah, would have delivered them up to the British, had he thought they would be successful, but when he believed that their rule in India was at an end, then on October the 20th he sent a band of his fellows to capture the poor hounded fugitives, and their sufferings were now increased tenfold.
They were hunted down, ruthlessly seized and packed together in a cart which went jolting on to a village where the rajah's vakeel a man who it is said owed his advancement in life to Captain Orr placed iron fetters upon the legs of the male prisoners, and when Mrs. Orr fell on her knees and beseeched him to spare them this indignity his only answer was a fiendish laugh.
Was it any wonder that at the sight of the fetters poor Dr. Morton fell into a convulsive fit, or that Lieutenant Burnes went raving mad.
Then came the awful journey to Lucknow, during which they received hut once a day a scanty dole of the coarsest food and hardly a drop of water. Arrived at Lucknow, which was now in possession of the rebels, they were jeered and laughed at by mobs of savage roughs, then thrown into prison only one room. The poor women were crazed for water, and shrieked aloud for it. It was brought at last, but in a vessel so foul that they could not touch it. How did all this end ? I hardly like to tell you, so saddening and awful is it. "Week after week of horror went past.
Then, one day in November, brutal Sepoys entered the room, and barely granting the men time to say farewell to the ladies, pinioned them and dragged them away. Probably none of the four could have endured their terrible sufferings much longer, so weak, worn, and emaciated were they. And the rattle of musketry that followed told the weeping women the sad tale of their relief.
Poor Sophy was gone long before this, and it was not till March 19th that the two ladies and the unhappy child were restored to their friends.
Such a fearful experience as this it happily falls to the lot of few in this world to undergo.
After the Mutiny of the 30th of May, Gubbins tried hard to get Lawrence to disband the Sepoys, one and all.
Lawrence refused; he still had faith in them; besides, there were 600 Sepoys who could be trusted. A com- promise was therefore made, and instead of being dis- banded, all the native troops save these few hundreds were granted leave of absence until November.
The fortifying and provisioning of the Eesidency (vide plan) now went on apace; Lawrence, who had been ill, wanted to strengthen and defend the fort of Muchee Bhowun, but Gubbins would not hear of this, and Lawrence, a man of less strength of will, had to give in.
He gave in to Gubbins on another point also, and this it was that caused the real siege of Lucknow.
The Sepoys had been collecting in large numbers in the neighbourhood, and Gubbins strongly urged that the British force, instead of lying idle in Lucknow, should be led out against them.
A force numbering about 700 men, one half British, was therefore got ready for action, and marched out next day to the village of Chinhut.
Among the officers were Jack Morrison and Frank Wood. Frank was already a soldier by profession, but Jack had in a manner drifted into the army. He had shown himself exceedingly active in every way since his appearance at Lucknow, and showed too that he had many of the sterling qualities that help to make the perfect soldier. Jack had courage and activity. He knew also the meaning of the words "duty" and " obedience."
He was proud indeed therefore to find himself in command of a company of cavalry that he had raised and broken in from very indifferent material indeed. Jack's soldiers were little else than a drove at first, but they were in fairly good form on the morning of the 30th of June, when the little army marched forth to fight the rebels.
Chinhut was ten miles to the north and east of Luck- now, but when the troops reached a rivulet called Kokrail, a march of four miles, and no enemy was in sight, Law- rence determined to return, for his troops were already tired and war-worn and hungry.
All might have been well had not an officer brought word to Lawrence that the enemy was not far off. The orders to return were accordingly countermanded, and the little army went wearily on once more.
It was a pity indeed for Jack Morrison that in this his first real fight the British should have been defeated. Indeed, it was worse than a defeat, this affair of Chinhut. It really ended in a rout; while the enemy's horse artillery, riding along the flanks of the British, poured in a constant discharge of grape-shot.
Some of the 32nd were so tired before the bridge over the Korkail was again reached, that they threw them- selves upon the ground to die. What had made matters worse was the fact that many of Lawrence's native cavalry had deserted.
But now here was the bridge. Could they cross it ? This seemed impossible, and would have been, but for the courage and determination of Jack's little squadron of volunteers, for the enemy's cavalry disputed possession of the bridge,
Jack on horseback was at his best. Now he waved his sword and pointed to the bridge. On they dashed, he and his brave little troop; and so fierce and determined was their onslaught, that the enemy's cavalry went down before it, were hurled back, and thrown into confusion. In this bright little meUe Jack himself took a very active part indeed. As his sabre flashed right and left in the sunlight, the great steed on which he rode seemed actually to ride over his foes. They went down before him man and horse, and soon the bridge was gained.
But danger was not over. The bheestie-wallahs, or water-carriers, had fled, and many of our poor fellows would have sunk to rise no more had not some native women taken pity on them, and given them " wherewithal to slake their thirst."
Lawrence and some of his staff had ridden on before to warn our people at the Eesidency. But from the windows of the stronghold they had seen, even before the arrival of the Chief Commissioner, that the day was lost.
And soon commenced a scene of agony and confusion that it is impossible to describe. Hurled along in front of overwhelming numbers of the rebels, our poor fellows came swaying and staggering up to the verandah, and were quickly admitted. The women too, shrieking in terror, ran for their lives to hide themselves and children in the rooms.
The siege had begun.
The whole force of Sepoys had by nightfall surrounded the place, and all night long their watch-fires could be seen and their wild shouts heard, while ever and anon their artillery belched forth fire and shot that came crashing through the windows or even the walls of the Besideney.
A word here about the Muchee Bhowun. Lawrence had troops there, a large quantity of ammunition and stores of every sort, and it was, like the Eesidency itself, exposed to the fire of the enemy. It must be relieved at all hazards; so on July 1st, the second day of the investment, a kind of rude semaphore was invented, and by this means Lawrence managed to communicate with the fort.
While, then, that night the enemy were busy looting and plundering the town, Colonel Palmer of the fort, after spiking his guns and laying a train, silently left the place with his men, and succeeded in getting safely inside the Eesidency. Almost immediately after a terrific explosion shook the city to its foundation, and the magazine was no more.
Everything was now confusion inside the fort, for the siege had commenced ere Lawrence was quite prepared for it. Even the bastions were unfinished, and it was found almost impossible to get natives to work at them under fire of the enemies' guns.
A sad picture is given by one authority of the deser- tion of native servants after the wounding of the Commissariat-General. We can hardly marvel at this, for the men knew not where to apply for rations. Then the artillery bullocks, having no one to attend to them, wandered about helplessly moaning for food or water, and in many cases tumbled into the wells. The horses, too, for the same reason went mad with thirst, and tore and kicked each other in their agony.
The end of my present chapter must be saddened with a brief account of the death of poor Lawrence himself.
He was in bed, tired and weary, and almost ill, when a shell burst into his room, a huge mass of masonry fell, and after that for a time all was still.
Wilson and the doctor were soon on the spot, and bore the wounded Commissioner to another room, but a glance told the surgeon that the wound was mortal.
Lawrence lingered until the morning of the 4th, when he passed away. For many hours before this he was insensible. This was merciful, for a far from peaceful death-bed was his, the roar of the guns going on all day and all night long, and shot and shell thudding and bursting against the walls.
But Lawrence had obtained peace nevertheless the peace that passeth all understanding. He died a soldier's death ; he filled a soldier's grave ; for they laid him side by side with some of his own brave privates who, like himself, had fallen in their country's cause, and the thunder of the enemy's guns was the only salute that was paid them.
Chapter V. THE AWFUL SIEGE WHAT LILY TOLD THE AUTHOR.
JACK MORRISON began now to realise something of the horrors of war.
He had never laid himself out to be a soldier, but, nevertheless, he could not help, while leading that brilliant charge at the bridge of Kokrail, experiencing something of
" The stern joy that warriors feel
In foemen worthy of their steel"
Now, however, he was to see warfare under quite a different aspect, deprived of all its pomp and its panoply, with nothing around him except scenes of hopelessness, death in its ugliest forms, misery, want, and woe.
Brigadier Inglis had succeeded poor Lawrence in the command of the Residency. He is described as " a plain and honourable Christian gentleman ... a staunch friend, a lover of all that was high and noble, a soldier of unsurpassable gallantry, and just the man to defend a weak position obstinately to the very last, and thus to obey the dying commands of Lawrence ' Never surrender ! ' "
And weak indeed was the position he had now to defend, against most fearful odds. Just think of this, reader, the assailants of that frail palace fort were over 6000, and were being constantly reinforced, while those inside the walls numbered but 1690 men, many of them natives, many of them infirm and old.
Never surrender ! No, there was little chance of that. They had heard of Cawnpore, and they knew the fearful fate that awaited them as soon as they fell into the hands of the ferocious and fiendish foe.
Never surrender! No; the walls of the Eesidency might tumble down and bury those heroes, but in defence of their helpless women and hapless children they would fight to the bitter end.
So weak, however, was the Residency, that it is said not a room in it was safe. The wounded were often killed in their beds, and women sometimes found that during the night even their pillows had been pierced with bullets.
The fire of the besiegers was terrible and incessant.
The 20th of July was a day that will never be forgotten by those who are still alive as I write, and can remember their personal experience thereof. For tired at last of bombardment the enemy ceased firing.
The dread silence that followed was for a time more fearful to those especially the women inside the Residency than even the thunder of cannon and rattle of musketry, for well they know that the enemy was- about to attempt carrying the place by storm.
The besieged garrison was not held long in ignorance as regards the plans and intentions of the enemy.
Early in the forenoon a mine was sprung, and scarcely had the dust and debris fallen to the ground and the smoke cleared away before the cannonade was renewed with increased activity, and under cover of this the rebels rushed on to the assault.
Great credit has been given to them by many writers for the vigour and the valour displayed in this attack. Again and again they essayed to cross the ditch, they even made daring efforts to place their scaling-ladders against the walls, but so terrible was the fire of our troops, both British and native, and so well-planted was every shot that the enemy, failing to face so deadly a hail, fell back at last defeated and disheartened.
Their loss was enormous, while ours was in comparison only very small
The bombardment was now renewed with greater activity than ever. New batteries were being built, and it was only too evident that the enemy was resorting to mining as a last expedient.
Mining, however, is a game that two can play at, and Captain Fulton of the engineers, one of the chief heroes of Lucknow, knew his work, and did it well There were in the 32nd several old Cornish miners, and these he chose as his assistants.
Eeriesome and dangerous work this at the dead of night, listening with ears on the ground between the intervals of gun-firing for the muffled sound of miners pickaxes and spades underground, and sinking counter- mines right down in front of them.
Fulton, we are told, would sometimes descend these shafts himself with revolver and lantern, and waiting until the enemy's miners got through shoot them dead as they came crouching along.
But again and again during this sad and terrible siege mines were sprung and efforts made to carry the Residency by storm. Yet they all failed, although once a breach was made ten yards long, and on another occasion the besiegers were all but successful, for the explosion of a mine not only blew up a part of the wall, but a small house also, hurling several of our officers and men into the air. Strangely enough, however, these soldiers fell inside, and were almost unhurt. Even with this success the Sepoys hesitated to storm, though their officers leapt into the breach and endeavoured to get them to follow. It goes without saying that these officers paid with their lives the penalty of their daring.
The deed of Inglis in recapturing this house and expelling the enemy at the point of the bayonet was one of very great daring. Though Captain Fulton himself told him that to retake the house was impossible he thought he would try. He erected a barricade of planks and boxes, and from this a gun enfiladed the breach. Before sundown he made his grand charge, and cleared out the enemy at the point of the bayonet.
By the courage and cleverness of a man called Ungud, who succeeded in reaching Havelock's camp, the besiegers received a letter from that brave general. This was near the end of August. The letter gave them hopes of rescue in about a month's time, no sooner. "For twice," said Havelock, "in trying to reach you have I been obliged to fall back upon Cawnpore before the foe. Rather, however, perish sword in hand than even dream of negotiating with the wily foe."
Jack Morrison was not only a most resolute and daring young fellow, and just the sort of man one would have chosen to lead a forlorn hope, but he held the opinion that nothing was either menial or derogatory that bore the impress of duty. Hence we find him on many occasions during the siege fighting like a private soldier at the batteries, Enfield in hand, for he was a splendid shot ; we find him among the foremost men in that brave little bayonet charge with Inglis when the house was retaken from the enemy; but we find him also doing work right cheerfully at many parts of the Kesidency that, on ordinary occasions, is expected only of the lowest order of Indian servants.
Jack Morrison was never ashamed to cast off his jacket, roll up his sleeves, and go right heartily to work at anything his hands might find to do if it was for the good of the beleaguered garrison.
Above all he was pleasant and cheerful. He was therefore a great favourite with the ladies and with the poor children, and many a kind office he performed for both.
But his good services ended not even here. It must be remembered that sickness was very rife during the siege, and wounds of the most terrible kinds of every day's occurrence. Jack thought, therefore, that in his spare moments he might help the doctors.
"I'll make a capital nurse," he said, laughing. "My mother taught me, you know."
And his services were most gratefully accepted.
Well, Jack was himself an assistant, and Jack also had an assistant.
Who was it ? Why Lily Wood, Frank's sister.
Poor girl, she was here, there, and everywhere, often exposing herself almost recklessly on behalf of those she was trying to aid and succour.
I am not at all sure, mind you, reader, that Jack was not in love with Lily. He did not make love to her. How could he in such a place? Besides, it would have been taking an unmanly advantage of her. But I must say that he was never better pleased than when near her, and doing something to make life a little easier for her.
Lily Wood, it will do you no harm to know, reader, is still alive, and what follows in this chapter and in the next was taken down from her own lips one day, not many weeks before I began to write this ower-true tale.
" I think," said Lily, " that I soon made myself a favourite with most of the women and children in the Kesidency. You see, I had nothing to do, and only my dear brother Frank to think about. And Jack did you say? Well, yes, and Jack. But I knew that both of them were well able to take care of themselves, and somehow I never lost faith in God. I prayed con- stantly, not only night and morning. Indeed, during all the time I was working and most of us ladies did work too I seemed to be holding communion with God and with Jesus. He seemed always near to me, and I knew that eventually we should be saved, or rather what remained of us.
"One of my chief and best friends was the buxy's wife. A buxy, you must know, is just a pet name for a paymaster. She was the first friend that I had at cantonments too, for when Jack and Frank and I arrived at Lucknow, and I told her that I wasn't a boy at all, but only, a poor girl in disguise, and in a terrible plight, with my hair all cut off, and feeling dirty and dreadful all over, she laughed, and said she would soon make that all right, with the exception of the hair. I sighed, because, woman-like, I really had felt parting with my hair very much.
" ' Is your brother, the jemadar, a girl too ? ' she said, glancing at Frank.
" ' Oh no/ I said, ' he is a real boy, and so is Jack*
" She smiled, because Jack was more than six feet high, and didn't look a bit like a girl not one little bit.
" When I reached Lucknow the ladies had already been sent to the Residency for safety, but were allowed to spend the day in cantonments with their husbands.
"They had heard the dreadful news from Delhi and from Meerut, and even before the outbreak of the Mutiny at Lucknow they had all lived a very anxious life. Mrs. Buxy told me that the way the Sepoys used to look and scowl at her terrified her so much that she used to start from her sleep at night in wild terror, and be glad to find it was only a dream.
"We had had a sad time of it during our flight to Lucknow, though of course if Providence had not so ordained, it might have been much worse. The Sepoys that came with us, I am glad to tell you at once, remained faithful to the British flag all throughout the siege, but, alas ! only five of them lived through it, the others fell by the guns of the besiegers or by cholera,
"Mrs. Buxy, as I may call her, had a very beautiful house in the cantonments, and treated me with such kindness as I never could forget. I shall ever remember that delightful bath and my first meal afterwards. It was only a small chop and sweet potatoes. I only hope I did not eat like a savage.
" Well I went on to the Residency, and then came the night of the terrible 30th of May. Although we all felt sure enough that mutiny was to come, somehow nobody had expected it so soon, and even Sir Henry Lawrence himself was not prepared.
" So you may judge of our anxiety as we stood that sad night on the roof of the Residency watching the smoke and flames of the burning houses, and listening to the firing.
" Mrs. Buxy's husband was absent at Futtehpore with eight officers and a detachment, so he was safe from the danger of this night. But the wives of the officers passed a terrible time; some almost went mad with anxiety.
" At one o'clock in the morning an orderly arrived at the Eesidency with the comforting assurance that this mutiny had been quelled, but with the news also of the
sad death of Brigadier H , who was murdered almost
as soon as he had reached the parade ground. The brigadier was a great friend of the Buxies, and poor Mrs. Buxy was now in great grief.
276 On to tJie Rescue.
"Next day brought her further sorrow, namely, the news that her beautiful bungalow, where she had spent so many happy days, and which was endeared to her by so many tender memories, was a heap of smouldering ruins. Some of her property was brought into the Residency, and she wept womanly tears over its charred remains, and especially over the plate, which was just recognisable, but so knocked and battered about as to be quite useless.
"After the 15th of June it was considered unsafe for anyone to remain longer at cantonments, so everybody was ordered into the Residency.
" Things continued quiet until the 30th of June, and although we had to endure the discomfort of overcrowding, and were deprived of the pleasures of exercise, still we had our servants, we had food, we had fruit, and, greatest luxury of all, we had ice.
" Almost every other day fugitives from Oude came in, and the sad news they brought us of towns and villages that had been burned and plundered by the enemy, kept us in a continual state of anxiety regarding -our own ultimate fate.
"Then came news of another massacre. Poor Mrs.
W 's mother and sister and brother were among the
victims, though how they died or what cruelties they suffered before death we never knew.
" We had not told Mrs. H of her poor husband's
death on the parade ground. She had left him at Lahore and believed he was safe, and nobody had the heart to undeceive her.
" It was as well we did not, as things turned out, for,
What Lily told the Author. 277
oh ! dear me, she was attacked by cholera on the 29th of June. I shall never forget that deathbed nor the agonies she endured.
"But in the intervals of pain she managed to ask me to take charge of her child, dear wee innocent Katie, then she breathed her last. Yes, it was a happy release, and her sufferings had been soon over. But it was heart - breaking to hear her leaving loving messages for her husband, not knowing that he had gone on before.
"It was next morning that I fetched Katie to my room. That was a never-to-be-forgotten day. Lawrence with his little army was just starting forth to march to Chinhut to fight the rebels. I was told that through some mismanagement the troops had been made to fall in without having a chance to finish breakfast, and very woebegone and tired they all looked.
"No, not all, Jack Morrison on his tall black charger looked to me like some ancient warrior king. Perhaps I should have told you before that Jack had become a volunteer-soldier, and that by his own exertions he had raised and drilled a troop. I heard the general himself say that but for his prowess and bravery the whole of the little army would have been annihilated at the bridge of Kokrail, while they were in full retreat back towards the city.
"Never while I live shall I forget the terror, the confusion, and the dismay that reigned as our poor soldiers came pouring in, many of them dangerously wounded, all of them weary, exhausted, and faint.
" Happily our supply of ice had come in that day, and
278 On to tJie Rescue.
with Jack by my side for the great fellow was as good a nurse and surgeon as he was a soldier I administered drops of iced water to many a stricken man, and only those who have felt the effects of a scorching summer's sun in India can really appreciate the luxury and relief afforded by a morsel of ice. How fervently, though faintly, many a poor fellow blessed me and Jack for our services on that sad day !
"But soon the firing of guns and musketry grew terrific and alarming. The round shot taking effect on those parts of the walls of the Kesidency that had been con- sidered most safe, struck terror to the hearts of every one.
" Even as I was stooping down at my box a round shot came in through the window and dashed another box containing a bonnet Mrs. Buxy had given me all to pieces. It buried itself in the opposite wall, and filled the room with dust and debris.
" On the very day that the troops marched forth to the
fatal field of Chinhut poor Mrs. W 's only child was
seized with cholera. In a very few hours it was dead. The husband was then at his post in the city.
"But think of her bereavement mother, sister, and brother cruelly murdered, and now her only child lying there a sadly-distorted corpse. No wonder that the poor mother was frantic with grief.
" Sir Henry now found that it would be impossible to garrison Muchee Bowhun. The fort occupied a position in the very heart of the city, and from its appearance and commanding site was called by the natives the Nose of Lucknow.
What Lily told the Author. 279
"It was therefore evacuated at midnight, and its gallant defenders came in without losing a man.
"Mrs. Buxy and her five children, with dear little Katie and myself, were now in one small room by our- selves, the Eesidency proper being found so unsafe that nearly all the ladies had left it.
" The blowing up of Muchee Bowhun caused us very great alarm, it shook every building, smothered us all with dust, and extinguished every light. I could not tell what was up. The world seemed coming to an end. I seized Katie in my arms, and rushed to the staircasa There stood Sir Henry shaking hands with those who had just come from the fort, and he assured me that there was no cause for alarm.
" Poor Mr. "W was there, and heard now for the first
time the sad news of the death of his child, whom he had left but the day before the picture of health and beauty.
"Next morning many married ladies were sent to a low building called the Brigade Mess, and formerly the King's Hospital. It was a large and lofty room, pillared down the centre, and loop-holed. But there was but little room for each bed. The husbands when off duty slept on the floor.
" The firing was now fearful.
"Poor Sir Henry Lawrence was himself dangerously wounded in his own room by the bursting of an 8-inch shell He was gently lifted, carried out, and laid tenderly on a bed in Dr. F 's own house.
" No sadder scene, they told me, than that around his death-bed could be conceived, as, knowing that he soon
280 On to tJie Rescue.
must depart, he gave his dying orders to his staff. He preached a little sermon that none could viver forget. But even on his death-bed, with weeping friends around him, he could not forget his duty. He particularly warned them to be careful in the expenditure of ammunition, and over and over again said, ' Save the ladies !' How this was to be done none could tell, but perhaps poor Sir Henry was raving. Up till now we had owed our safety to his forethought and judgment, and we should never look upon his like again.
" I never before or since met a man who so commanded esteem and respect, and when at prayers in the Eesidency I could with difficulty withdraw my gaze from him, for a kind of heavenly radiance seemed to settle upon his calm but careworn face that it would be impossible to describe in words.
" Poor Sir Henry !"
Chapter VI. LILY CONTINUES HER NARRATIVE THE HIGHLANDER'S SLOGAN.
I HE married ladies," said Lily, "had indeed but little comfort or privacy in their large barrack-like room. For apart from the fact that it was loop-holed, their husbands being with them, they could make but little change in their attire night or day. Besides, General Inglis and his staff used to come into the apartment at all hours of the night if any alarm had been given, or the muffled sounds of mining were heard.
"But some of these ladies managed to screen off a portion of the room, and thus enjoy the greatest luxury imaginable in a hot climate ; namely, a bath.
"We passed a weary, anxious time at the best. Perhaps the best was when we were engaged making jackets or skirts for ourselves, or doing some sewing and mending for the officers. My best time, if there was any best in it, was when I was attending to the sick and wounded ju. company with Jack. I think I see his honest red face even now as he bent kindly over some poor sick soul, or gently raised his head and shoulders that he might partake of a little nourishment or his medicine.
" Lights were all extinguished soon after dusk, at which time we retired to bed, but on moonlight nights we sat up to talk of home. It was now the end of July. Should we ever, ever be rescued ?
"Then glorious news reached us. Havelock had been communicated with, and was hastening to our aid. But as day went by, and no Havelock appeared, our hearts grew sick with the hope that was deferred, and sometimes we were silent and dumb with despair.
"It was terribly hot now. Our room was sometimes BO stifling at night that sleep was impossible, and oh, it was weary, weary for us to lie and think of the homes in England, and the friends we never more might see. Besides, there was the constant roar of the great guns, and the sharp rattling of musketry ; and there were the thoughts too, that at any time a mine might be sprung right under the very room where we lived.
"Many mines were exploded close to the outer walls, and after this immediately after indeed we could hear the raging of a terrible battle. Nor did we know who might be conquerors, or how soon the dark and vengeful faces of the foe might be seen as they rushed into our rooms to drag us out to death.
"A terrible sufferer was a poor little boy, Charlie
M , but God took him at last. He had been a great
favourite of mine ; for though often in grievous bodily pain, he had borne it like a little hero. The tears fell from my eyes thick and fast as I helped to wrap up his poor attenuated little frame for burial.
" The enemy had erected fresh batteries, and when one clay a round shot came roaring and crashing in through the Brigade Mess it was deemed no longer safe, and the married ladies were moved, and distributed among the other houses.
"I had many dear friends among the garrison. We all suffered together, but I think by death the children suffered most. I have known as many as five of these to be buried in one night.
" There were times during the siege when flies became a terrible plague, and one could not help thinking of the Egyptians, when we saw our food and even the very spoons we were conveying to our mouths darkened with these terrible pests.
" Then there were mosquitoes, but these were not so numerous, and we were acclimatised to their venom.
" The heat was at times hard to bear, and used to make us languid, weary, and sick, and there was not enough water to quench our thirst.
" I spent much of my time with Jack in the hospital, or helping my lady friends who had young children, or working or sewing for the men.
" Officers as well as men did what they called ' sentry go/ and that too calmly and heroically if not cheer- fully.
"No one can wonder if the men sometimes seemed to have lost all heart and hope, and even exhibited fits of bad temper towards those in authority over them.
284 On to the Rescue.
Or they would expose themselves recklessly to the fira of the enemy, replying when cautioned that it mattered but little, the relief would never come, and the sooner they were stretched dead the better.
" I sometimes wonder now how we were able to bear all our fearful sufferings so well as we did. But God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, and I believe our troubles had created a kind of apathy in our minds, that helped the weary, hopeless time to pass more quickly by.
"Oh, the deathbeds that kind-hearted Jack and I witnessed during those long and terrible months of siege! I would not harrow anyone's feelings by describing them.
"Poor Mrs. B 's husband died of fever, and so
terrible was his delirium for some hours before he became exhausted that his wife was not allowed to see him.
"Mrs. B received the news afterwards with the
calmness of a grief that knew not tears.
" My dear friend Mrs. Mary M soon after lost her
sole remaining boy, Henry. His sufferings were so acute before he wore away that I for one was glad when his eyes were at last closed in death.
"And now my dear wee Katie fell ill from the confinement and the want of pure air, for the whole atmosphere was by this time tainted with fearful odours, which added greatly to the sufferings of every one of us.
"Food too grew scarce now, and rations were reduced to about half.
"Pounds would sometimes be paid for a single ham,
Lily Continues her Narrative. 285
fourteen pence for a pound of coarse flour, while fifteen shillings was frequently given for a bottle of beer.
"The last time a mine was exploded was, I think, on the 5th of September, and immediately afterwards the enemy made a most determined attempt to storm. They were repulsed, however, with but little loss to our side, though theirs must have suffered severely, for at eventide Jack told me cart-loads of the wounded and the dead were seen crossing the bridge towards cantonments.
"Dear though every kind of food was, I managed to secure just one bottle of wine for my darling Katie. Would she live, I wondered ?
"I wondered; but at times so hopeless was I that I seemed almost to think 'twere best if the end should come. Ah ! better surely she should lie sleeping in her little grave than fall into the hands of the savages, to meet the fate we all might meet, the same fearful sufferings as those that our friends at Cawnpore had gone through.
" The 24th of September was a sad day to me. My Katie died in my arms. She seemed to fall asleep at last. Better, I thought as I kissed her brow, that she should be cradled in our loving Saviour's arms, than live to endure the trials and temptations of this world without a mother's care.
"Mrs. E , the wife of one of the soldiers, made
her a little shroud, and poor Jack Morrison brought her a makeshift coffin. How sweet and lovely she looked !
"Jack talked gently to me, and laid his hand upon
286 On to the Rescue.
my shoulder. But somehow this only made me cry the more.
" Then they took my Katie away.
"I got another little pet after this, but none like Katie. For one night, when the firing was wilder and
more terrible than ever, dear Mrs. H. "W 's baby was
"Our native troops began now to desert, and it has been rightly said that those who remained were becoming so despondent, that it needed all the arguments and soothing assurances of the British officers to strengthen their loyalty. And no wonder, for more than a third of the European soldiers had perished during this long and terrible siege, and the survivors were fearfully depressed and hopeless. Since the beginning hardly ever a day passed that there was not a funeral. The Brigadier himself had not slept with his clothes off since the middle of May, and so worn was he with anxiety and toil, that many of us feared he would soon break down entirely.
"And, despite all our care, the wounded were in a sad plight. Their sores festered dreadfully, and the blue-bottle flies could be scooped up from off a wounded limb in handfuls. Jack, who assisted the doctors, told me that in every case where a leg or arm had to be amputated, death from exhaustion was almost sure to take place.
"The odour from the makeshift hospitals was so fearful, that we wondered anyone could live therein.
"Then, while many were down with low fever, some died with cholera, and some with small-pox, while several
Lily Continues her Narrative. 287
patients in their delirium escaped from the hospitals, and went wandering round, till taken and led, or even forced, back to their wards and their beds.
" Oh, it was a terrible, terrible time !
" Could we hold out till reinforcements should arrive ? This was a question that soon came to be freely discussed among the men as well as the officers, and the general opinion was that it was exceedingly doubtful.
"I read somewhere afterwards, and I quite believe it is true, that 'many of our men had been heard to declare that they would shoot their wives with their own hands, sooner than suffer them to fall into the power of the enemy.'
"My new pet, the baby, was rather a wakeful and restless young lady. Well, about 12 o'clock one night I was trying to rock her to sleep in my arms, and singing low to her, when I thought I could discern an unusual commotion in the next room, which was occupied by General Inglis and his staff.
" To listen at or to look through chinks in that doorway was surely excusable to ladies in a plight like ours, so my conscience did not check me for what I now did. I laid baby gently down upon the bed, then I went and peeped and listened also.
" The spy Ungud had just returned, and the news he was telling the general and his officers was wildly exciting.
"Havelock was coming! Havelock would soon be here ! He was within but a few days' march ; a battle would be fought, and then, oh, joy ! we should be relieved-
" I rushed from bed to bed to awaken the others and
288 On to the Rescue.
tell them the glad tidings. But I was weeping almost hysterically, and for a time they must have thought the tidings were far other than joyful. But they understood me at last, then with small compunction every one of them by turns went to peep or to listen.
"Need I tell you what a day of gladness that 25th of September was, when from the roof of the ramparts we could hear the shouts of our advancing friends, hear the wild skirl of the bagpipes, and the Highlanders' slogan ?
" Then that meeting, when our hero Havelock, looking sadly war-worn and weary, stood at last in the midst of us with his brave fellows clustering round him.
" No ; I will not attempt to describe the state of our feelings, the handshakings with dusty, thirsty warriors, the half -spoken enquiries after husbands, brothers, mothers, or friends, that were answered almost before they were uttered, the embracing as brother met sister, or husband wife, the loud laughing, the weeping for joy, and the glad exclamations and ringing cheers in which even the sick crept out of their beds to join.
" Teddy C , who came in with the relief, told us of
the escape of Mrs. Mary M 's sister, with her husband
and family from Futtehpore, and he gave us a graphic account too of the advance upon the city, and their march through it under a tremendous fire a fire that none but heroes could have faced or stood under ; for even Havelock himself said, that during all his career, and in the thirty- seven battles in which during his lifetime he had taken
The Highlander s Slogan. 289
part, he had never before been under so awful a hail of shot and bullets.
" But it was do or die ; it was death or victory.
" This was the first relief of Lucknow.
"But Sir Colin Campbell had yet to come, and the forts had to be taken before we could be finally relieved and taken south, and away from all these dreadful scenes.
" All sadness was not yet gone, however, and Jack and I during the next two months had still to soothe many a dying pillow, and to close many an eye that ne'er should open more.
"One death-bed I shall ever remember. It was that
of poor T . Somewhat self-opinionated I had always
considered him, and somewhat hasty in temper, but I knew him to be warm-hearted, good, and kind and brave even to a fault
"He it was then who volunteered to bring the 'doolies' containing the sick and wounded by a safe pass into the Eesidency.
"Through some mistake, however, he took a wrong turning, and soon found himself in a square in the city, that placed his party directly under a heavy fire from the enemy.
"And the gallant fellow, in trying to rectify his error, was shot through the arm, and soon after severely wounded in the temple.
"The doctors amputated the arm, but they told Jack that from the very first they had entertained no hopes of his case.
"He and I had not always been the best of friends,
but nevertheless in his last moments he sent for me. T
2 go On to the Rescue.
He himself had not given up all hopes of living, even if the surgeons had.
" I went at once.
"Jack Morrison was sitting on a box by his bedside facing the dying man. There were more in that room wounded to the death, and low moans of pain came from many a bed, while here and there I noticed the scanty coverlet drawn up over a soldier's head, and knew that all his griefs and pains were over. That hospital had once been the banqueting-room of the Residency, and barely six months before this, it had been the scene of a very different assembly from that which filled it now. For then, I was told, a bright and gay throng had been assembled to do honour to General Anson. Many who that evening had sparkled with smiles and laughter had suffered and passed away.
"The saddest thing, to my mind, connected with poor
T 's death was his evident anxiety to live. He put
his one hand, and drew me closer to him as he whispered, ' Pray for me. O pray for me, that I may recover ! '
" I could only press his hand in reply.
"Had I attempted to speak the tears would have choked my utterance."
Chapter VII. YOUNG HODSON'S If IDE BRAVE DEEDS AT DELHI.
ANSON", whose name was men- tioned in last chapter, was Commander-in- Chief of the British forces in India before Sir Colin Campbell. He had laboured hard at Umballah to disabuse the mind of his native troops of the impression that the British Government had determined to break their caste by the issue of cartridges greased with the fat of pigs or cows. They listened respectfully enough to all he had to say, but the native officers told him plainly, that although personally they themselves harboured no such belief, the general fears of the army continued the same. We know now that they only spoke the truth.
But even at this time, authorities tell us, Anson was so little impressed with the symptons of mutiny, that he did not think it worth while to make a single represen- tation to the home authorities about them.
It was no wonder then that the Governor - General, who knew little of India, should have failed to perceive 291
292 On to the Kescue.
that the great Mutiny was at hand. But Anson after- wards ordered the trial by court-martial of the mutineers of Meerut. After the capture of Delhi by the rebels, although difficulties of all kinds surrounded him, it is clear he did not do all he might have done, and there is a probability that some of the terrible miseries and massacres that followed were due in some measure to the dilatoriness of General Anson and his subordinates.
Canning had ordered Anson to take Delhi with a part of his force, and to detach another portion of it to overawe the districts 'twixt Delhi and Cawnpore.
YOUNG HODSON'S HIDE.
Ever hear of this plucky and fearless ride, reader? It was one of the most brilliant things ever accomplished in the North -West of India in these troublous times and only shows what a bold and fearless Englishman can do in the hour of need.
Anson then, although tortured by anxiety and worn out by sickness, was making preparations to obey Lord Canning's orders, and to march upon Delhi, although in his own mind he doubted his ability. Before, however, he could start it was necessary that he should open up communications with General Hewitt at Meerut ; but this seemed a sheer impossibility. It did so seem until brave young William Hodson, a lieutenant of the Com- pany's 1st Fusiliers, volunteered for the task. And fraught with danger and difficulty it was.
I give you here a mere outline of this daring ride, if, reader, you are possessed of any imagination you may fill in the details for yourself. The distance then from
Young Hods on s Ride. 293
Kurnaul, whence he rode, to Meerut, is one hundred and fifty miles, and all this was through an enemy's country, every bush in which might have been supposed to conceal a foe. He accomplished the feat in seventy-two hours, delivered his message, and rode back to Kurnaul, and in four hours more, hurrying on in the mail-cart, he pre- sented himself before his chief.
That chief now began to think in earnest of his march on Delhi
It was well for India, perhaps, that a few days after this poor Alison was lying dead of cholera at KurnauL
"Well, then," said Lord Panmure to Sir Colin Campbell, when that brave general accepted the chief command in India, vice Anson dead, "Well, then, when will you be ready to start ? "
"Oh, to-morrow, I suppose," was the little -expected reply.
And on the morrow July 12th, 1857 he duly started.
When asked about his outfit his reply was quite characteristic of the gallant Scot.
"Oh, bother the outfit," he said. "I can easily get all I want in Calcutta,"
When Willie Saunders, corporal of the dashing 93rd, and his stalwart companions listened to what all con- sidered Sir Colin's last farewell at Portsmouth, little did they think that he would meet them once again in India,
294 @ n t th& Rescue.
and once again wave his sword at the head of his kilted warriors, and lead them on to victory. But such was to be the case.
Sir Colin arrived in India in August, and at once took command of the army.
And what a terrible state the country was then in the reader already partly knows. The regular native troops of Bengal were all mutineers. And those in Bhopal, Indore, and Gwalior had joined the terrible movement.
That Gwalior contingent was probably the strongest anywhere, and was supposed to be invincible. It amounted to no less than seven rp.gimp.nts of infantry, two regiments of cavalry, five companies of artillery, besides a magazine and siege train. And it numbered among its generals such men as the accursed Nana Sahib and Tantia Topee.
The army investing Lucknow was supposed to be then from one to two hundred thousand strong. Lower Bengal, Bombay, and Madras were quiet, but we had lost Bundelakand, which Burns describes as " a roadless country of forts and fastnesses filled with a turbulent population, the name Bundela having to the Lowland Hindoo much the same significance as a cateran in Scotland, or a moss trooper on the border." Oude was at this time in the clutches of the mutineers, and the whole of the country lying between the Ganges and the Doab was a seething mass of disorder and insurrection.
At this time Sir James Outram, just returned from the Persian Wars, was appointed to the chief command of Cawnpore and Dinapore. He had gone to the front
Brave Deeds at Delhi. 295
with Colonel Napier (Lord Napier), then of the Bengal Engineers, and, as we have seen, brave Havelock was pushing on towards Lucknow, while Brigadier Neill lay in his rear.
Sir Colin Campbell's task was therefore a gigantic and even Herculean one.
But he was not the man to fear it. In a war like this not only the general in command, and every officer and man under him, must count his own life as nothing he must do his best, his whole best, and nothing but his best.
Day after day now fresh troops were arriving at Calcutta, and sailors too, and as they came Campbell sent them on to the front. On the 20th of August, for instance, Captain Peel of the Shannon came in. Five hundred of his brave blue-jackets with ten eight-inch guns were at once started for Allahabad.
The little army that was besieging Delhi under General Wilson, was about this time reinforced by the brave Brigadier Nicholson with 2500 troops, both native and European, from the Punjaub.
Then the siege of Delhi was begun in earnest, batteries were thrown up and completed with all haste, and the ground was cleared for breaching. Supplies of men and guns too kept pouring in, and at daybreak on the 14th of September the assault commenced.
In a former chapter I gave an account of the fall of this important city, and the terrible massacres that followed. But an attempt was now to be made to re- conquer the town and re-establish British authority therein. If this should fail, then indeed our rule in
296 On to the Rescue.
India might be considered all but lost. But in the soldier's lexicon there is no such word as fail.
We have seen how in their attempts to storm the ^Residency the Sepoys feared to face our Englishmen, but fell back in disorderly flight, stumbling over the heaps of their own dead and wounded. We must now briefly glance at the storming of Delhi, and see how our men can fight in a breach. I take my account from various authorities, but chiefly from Burne's Clyde and Strafh- nairn.
After the completion of the British batteries, then, the cannonade commenced. This was on the llth of September, and from that day until the assault we poured an incessant storm of shot and shell upon the city walls, until near the Kashmir and Water Bastions two practicable breaches had been effected.
Then came the awful tug of war.
" The attack," says Burne, " was made by four columns with a fifth in reserve. The first, commanded by Nicholson, consisted of H.M.'s 75th, the first Bengal Fusileers, and 2nd Punjaub Infantry. The second included H.M.'s 8th and 61st regiments and the 4th Sikh Infantry. The third consisted of H.M.'s 52nd, the 2nd Bengal Fusileers, and 1st Punjaub Infantry. The fourth was made up of detachments of European regi- ments, the Sirmoor battalion of Gurkhas, the Guides Infantry, and the Kashmirian levies. The reserve was composed of the 60th Rifles, the Kumaon battalion of Gurkhas, and the 4th Punjaub Infantry.
" The fourth column advanced first, and was intended as a diversion in favour of the real attacks. It was not
Brave Deeds at Delhi. 297
very successful. But the other three columns, under cover of the guns of our batteries, made a most determined charge on the Kashmir Bastion, the Water Bastion, and Kashmir Gate.
" With a fierce and exultant shout the first and second dashed onwards and scrambled into the ditch, applied their ladders to the scarp of the wall and swarmed up into the breach under a murderous fire of musketry.
"The blowing open of the Kashmir Gate was the most perilous exploit of the day."
Lieutenants Home and Salkeld commanded the explosion party, which really was a forlorn hope, and consisted of two sergeants, Smith and Carmichael, Corporal Burgess, Bugler Harnthorne, and twenty-four Native Engineers.
In spite of a terrible fire of musketry, the bags were attached to the gates, and Sergeant Carmichael proceeded to lay the train. He was shot dead. Salkeld rushed up to complete the work. He was shot likewise, and fell into the ditch, but he handed the match to Burgess. Burgess fired the train, and then fell, mortally wounded.
And now the bugle rings out the charge, and with a ringing British cheer on and on comes the column. Nothing can withstand them. They dash in, leaping over the bodies of the slain Sepoys. They have barely time to see evidence of fearful sacrifices of Europeans that have taken place but recently, nor a poor English Lady, naked, covered with wounds, chained to a stake by the bastion, and jabbering mad !
If they do see these things, it but nerves their heart for the slaughter, and turns their wrists into triple steeL
298 On to the Rescue.
That night St. George's banner, broad and gay, waves over the Kashmir Gate.
Poor Nicholson was shot !
In a few days after this gallant assault the whole city was in possession of the British. The king's grey head was respected, but his sons were shot.
So fell Delhi!
On the 16th of September General Outram reached Cawnpore, but he generously left the actual relief of Lucknow Eesidency to Havelock. "I shall accompany you," he wrote, "only in my civil capacity of Com- missioner. To you belongs the glory of relieving the city, for which you have already struggled so much ; but my military service is at your command, and I shall serve under you as a volunteer."
No wonder Sir Colin admired this great statesman- soldier, or that he told his friends that he considered Outram's behaviour most chivalrous and handsome.
Outram and Havelock, when they entered Lucknow and relieved the Eesidency, had intended to remove the garrison, with its women and children, to a place of safety. But this was found impossible in the face of such fearful odds.
They must remain therefore until Sir Colin Campbell could come to their relief, and, as Burne says, share with the original garrison all the perils and hardships of an investment.
Chapter VIII. IN FRONT OF LUCKNOWWHA T BOLD KA VANAGH DID.
gallant 93rd regiment, in which our hero Willie Saunders was already acting- sergeant in the Grenadier Company, was pushed up country but a few days after its arrival
Willie was delighted at the prospect of seeing active service. He was delighted also at his pro- motion, which his friend Me Kinnon assured him would soon be confirmed. Besides it gave him the right to mess with the other sergeants, and this in itself was a step in the right direction.
Very cheery was then the letter he wrote home to his mother.
" But," he continued in this epistle after giving her all the news of the voyage, and telling her all his adventures as well as sending her a copy of Jack's letter, " I am not sorry that all this has happened, I am not sorry that I have become a soldier, for these, dear mother, are stirring times, and if I live who knows but that I may yet win
30O On to the Rescue.
a commission. I know I have your prayers and dear father's for my success, and though I am going with my regiment to fight against terrible odds, those prayers will ever comfort me in the darkest hour that may come. And it is something within me that speaks, mother, when I say that living I will never disgrace my country nor my colours, and if I am killed I shall not be found with my back to the foe.
" All our fellows are terribly excited over the massacre of Cawnpore, and are determined to have revenge. And God knows, mother, we may have much more than this to avenge before we reach Lucknow, for I am told that the garrison there and the poor women and children are in dire straits, that Havelock has been beaten back, and that everything is in hopeless confusion.
" I shall know more soon. We are not going to let the grass grow over our boots I can assure you, mother, before we reach Lucknow.
"We are all very cheery and hopeful too. Sergeant McKinnon has been such a dear good friend to me. I am sure that but for him I should not now be acting- sergeant.
" Peter McKay says he doesn't want any promotion, nor any responsibility. He can fire a gun, and he can wave a claymore, or drive a dirk through a 3-inch deal board, but he wouldn't be a sergeant for all the world.
"You remember, mother, how he and I used to work away at sword exercise. Well Peter was always better than I with the sticks, and now he has developed into the best swordsman in the Grenadier Company, if not in the whole regiment.
In Front of Lucknow. 301
" Poor Jack Morrison ! I have already told you of the dream I had about him. I cannot help believing, mother, that he is in a terrible position. Oh, how I misjudged him! If I do not see him again alive and well, the sorrow will darken my whole life.
"As to Annie Lindsay well, you may remember me kindly to her. I must tell you, mother, that I fear I love her just as much as ever ; but I am going to try harder and harder than ever to forget her. I have plenty of pride, that will help me and I have my sword, that is going to be my bride."
On November the tenth we find that the gallant 93rd was encamped along with the rest of the force intended for the final relief of Lucknow about five miles from the Alum Bagh. (Vide plan of Lucknow, p. 316.) It was indeed a brave and splendid regiment, and the only really complete one there, numbering, it is said, over one thousand men in the very prime of manhood, seven hundred of whom had the Crimean medals on their breasts.
Next the army was divided into brigades.
"Then the whole force was formed up into a line of columns," says Forbes Mitchell, " to be inspected by Sir Colin Campbell himself.
"The 93rd formed the extreme left of the line in quarter distance column, in full Highland costume, with feather bonnets and dark waving plumes, a solid mass of brawny-limbed men.
- '* The old chief," says the same writer, " rode along the
302 On to the Rescue.
line, commencing from the right, halting and addressing a short speech to each corps as he came along.
"The eyes of the 93rd were eagerly turned towards Sir Colin and his staff as he advanced, the men remarking among themselves that none of the other corps had given him a single cheer, but had taken whatever he had said to them in solemn silence.
" We were now formed into close column, so that every man might hear what was said. When Sir Colin rode up he appeared to have a worn and haggard expression on his face; but he was received with a cheer, or rather shout of welcome, that made the echoes ring from the Alum Bagh and surrounding woods.
"His wrinkled brow at once became smooth, and his wearied-looking features broke into a smile.
" ' Ninety-third,' he cried, ' when I took leave of you at Portsmouth I never thought I should see you again. I expected the bugle, or maybe the bagpipes, to sound a call for me to go somewhere else long before you would be likely to return to our dearly-loved home. But another commander has decreed it otherwise, and here I am prepared to lead you through another campaign. And I must tell you, my lads, there is work of difficulty and danger before us harder work and greater dangers than any we encountered together in the Crimea. But the eyes of the people at home I may say the eyes of Europe and of the whole of Christendom are upon us, and we must relieve our countrymen, women, and children now shut up in the Eesidency of Lucknow. Soldiers might cut themselves out, or die sword in hand. We have to rescue helpless women and children from a fate far
In Front of Lucknow. 303
worse than death. When you meet the enemy you must remember that he is well armed, and that he can play at long bowls as well as you can, especially from behind loopholed walls. So when we make an attack you must come to close quarters as quickly as possible. Keep well together in threes, and use the bayonet. Eemember that the cowardly Sepoys, who are so eager to murder women and children, cannot look a European in the face, when that look is accompanied by a touch of the cold steel.
" ' Ninety-third, you are my own lads. I rely on you to do the work ! '
"'That ye may, Sir Colin,' shouted Peter McKay, unable to restrain himself. 'We'll bring the women and bairns out, or we 'll die wi' you in the attempt.'
"And now another ringing cheer arose, and this was taken up all along the lines."
The route finally determined upon by Sir Colin was through Dilkoosha Park and along the Goomtee river, attacking the Dilkoosha palace and Park, the fort of the 32nd mess-house, the Secundra Bagh, the Shah Nujeef, and the Moti MunziL
Hard words to remember, reader, I grant you.
After the mud fort of Jellalabad had been gallantly taken and destroyed on the 13th of November, the force returned and camped all night under arms before the Alum Bagh.
Next day fighting begun in earnest.
That day for the first tune in his life Willie Saunders knew what an engagement meant. But right bravely did he do his duty. Men fell dead or wounded around him, he had no time for pity or for thought. He must dash on
304 On to the Rescue.
with his company, for a masked battery had opened upon the attacking force from behind the palace of Dilkoosha.
Lieutenant Eoberts now Major- General Eoberts went down with his horse almost at the first volley and it was thought he was killed. His horse never rose again, but he did, and was soon as active as ever. The artillery now came up, and very soon had taken that masked battery in flank, and the Sepoys were runnmg for their lives to the Martiniere fort.
But on the 15th Peel's brave bluejackets came up in the afternoon, and with the 93rd gallantly carried the Martiniere, and this was held by the Highlanders during that night.
Next day three days' rations were served out, and Sir Colin Campbell once more briefly addressed the lads of the 93rd.
" He loves us best of all, you see," said Willie Saunders, his youthful enthusiasm getting the better of him for once.
" Ah, Willie," replied Sergeant McKinnon, " Sir Colin loves every man that can fight, whether they wear breeks or the kilt. But I must allow his heart warms to the pipes and tartan."
THE STOEY OF KAVANAGH.
Some days before the attack on the Secundra Bagh, that I shall presently describe, a kind of forlorn hope was undertaken and carried out by one of the imprisoned garrison of Lucknow, which for coolness and daring is probably unexampled in the history of the Indian Mutiny.
Although from the date of the entrance into the Residency of Outram and Havelock, communication between them and Sir Colin Campbell was constantly kept up by means of well-paid native spies, who really carried their lives in their hands as soon as they started on their dangerous missions, still, in order that the success of the commander-in-chief s enterprise might be secured, it was almost necessary that he should be made acquainted with the topography of the city and its surroundings by someone who had lived therein, and who could act as guide that man to be if possible an European.
Sir Colin had maps it is true, and Outram had given him, by means of his spies, his own ideas of the route that should be followed.
Yet the risk was extreme. The little army was about to march against such terrible odds as probably had never before been faced. Even should they be victorious at the outset, how would it end if they had a long march to make through narrow and tortuous streets, in which perhaps barricades would be thrown up every here and there, while every house on each side was loopholed for musketry ? In such a case indeed a wrong turning might mean the total annihilation of the whole force.
When Outram and Havelock received Sir Colin's message they were for a time completely nonplussed. How could they possibly ask any man to undertake a task fraught with such terrible danger? For if caught, it did not mean death only to the unhappy man, but death with cruelties and torture so refined that one shudders even to think of them.
But the right man came forward in the nick of time, u
306 On to the Rescue.
He came too all unbidden. He was an Englishman, or at least a Briton, and his name was Kavanagh. He is known till this day as Lueknow Kavanagh. No, not a soldier, but simply a Government clerk, but a man that knew Lueknow well, and every street and lane in it.
There were many in the garrison that heartily wished it had been someone else, for, entre nous, reader, Kavanagh was no great favourite with anybody. Holmes, who by the way does not mention the fact that he was not well liked, tells us that Kavanagh was "a man of great physical strength and of iron nerve," and that "the prominent features of his character were a vanity and self-import- ance so preposterous as almost to amount to insanity."
This seems ungenerous, even if it be not unjust. How- ever Kavanagh felt, or something appeared to tell him, that he alone was cut out to lead this forlorn hope. So after persuading a native spy, whose name was Kanonjee Lall, to be his companion, he went direct to Outram, and told him that he and Lall were prepared to make the hazardous attempt. Outram and Havelock at first could hardly believe, that the brave fellow realised the fearful danger of failure in the enterprise and its awful consequences. But being at last per- suaded that he did, their hearts went out to him, and they gladly accepted his offer.
It was not till now that Kavanagh began to reflect on what he had undertaken. To his credit be it said, how- ever, it was not for himself he cared, but for "the ruin that should befall his wife and children if he should fail."
"I vainly struggled," he himself writes, "to convince
What Bold Kavanagh Did. 307
myself that it must be done, till the convulsions of my heart were relieved by tears."
But he never had a single thought of retreating from the undertaking.
By half-past eight that same night he was ready. He had disguised himself as a budmash, for he could talk the language like a native.
In his belt, but concealed by his clothes, he had placed a revolver, and with this, should he be discovered, he determined to commit suicide rather than to fall into the hands of the Sepoys, to be tortured to death by knives, by hooks, and fire.
Though disliked by many, there was not a person in the garrison whose heart did not warm to him for undertaking what was considered something akin to self-immolation. And many a kindly wish and hearty " God protect you, Kavanagh," went with him as he and his companion said " good night " and passed out through the British lines into the night and the darkness.
They crossed the river- by a ford silently, fearfully.
Onwards now they journeyed up the left bank of the river until they came to a bridge of stone, and by this they boldly re-crossed the river and found themselves in one of the principal streets of Lucknow. And now indeed they required all their courage and nonchalance. But it did not desert them. They even kept talking and laughing, that they might not excite suspicion. One or more natives addressed them.
Some eyed them so narrowly that Kavanagh thought his time had come, and his hand wandered mechanically to his belt.
308 On to the Rescue.
But they got clear through the city, and soon found themselves in the open country.
Their real danger was only now commencing, for here they were in Dilkoosha Park, and this was still in the possession of the enemy.
And now they lost their way.
Fearfully, and with beating hearts, they wandered about for what seemed hours, now stopping to listen to sounds in the distant city, or sounds near at hand, and sometimes hiding under the bushes, but dreading capture every moment.
They came at last to a hut, and then Kavanagh did a bold thing. It is but death anyhow, he thought, and coolly he entered the hut and awoke the occupants, and told them he was going with a friend to visit some re- lations in a distant village, and that he had lost his way. He chatted for a little time quite pleasantly with the people in the hut, who kindly ah ! little did they know what they were doing told him how to regain his way.
But once more into the darkness they went.
But they now pursued their way with somewhat better heart.
It was by this time just three o'clock in the morning, and presently they could hear right ahead of them the tramp of soldiers coming towards them.
What should they do?
Flight would only precipitate matters; but so frightened was Kanonjee Lall that he threw away a dispatch he was carrying to Sir Colin.
Kavanagh's coolness did not desert him. Instead of seeming in the slightest degree uneasy he marched boldly up to the Sepoys.
What Bold Kavanagh Did. 309
" Glad to meet friends," he said. Then he told them the same story he had told the occupants of the hut, and asked these Sepoys the best and safest way to the distant village.
Completely taken off their guard they directed him, and unsuspected Kavanagh continued his perilous journey.
For two long hours they wandered on. It would soon be morning ; but Kavanagh by this time felt so exhausted and weary that he recklessly insisted on lying down to sleep.
They could see nothing, but the slight noise they made alarmed a native sentry.
" Who goes there ? " was the challenge that rang out.
Once more Kavanagh fingered his pistol.
"Was the challenger a friend or a foe ?
He started up and went boldly forward, and, lo! he was in the British camp. A few minutes after this he found himself in the presence of Sir Colin Campbell himself.
No man appreciated bravery and deeds of derring-do more than the Commander-in-Chief, so it goes without saying that Kavanagh and Kanonjee Lall received their due meed of praise and a right heartfelt hand-shake.
Probably Kavanagh never slept sounder than he did for an hour or two after this.
He had won the Victoria Cross, and certainly no man ever won it better.
When daylight came the signal that was to announce Kavanagh's safe arrival was hoisted on the Alum Bagh, and great was the rejoicing in the beleaguered garrison.
Chapter IX. CAWNPORE IS AVENGED.
IT was the evening before the battle, and our little army was encamped near the fort of Martiniere. No tents to-night ; they must sleep on the bare ground, arms by their sides, knapsacks for pillows. Nor did the Commander-in-Chief himself fare one whit better. For Sir Colin was a true soldier, and when on the war-path would drink his tea from a private's canteen, and be content with the humblest fare.
The night before the battle ! Yes, and who could tell, who could even guess, what the morrow had in store for him or for his brave companions? No one could say further than that he meant to do his best, that he meant to do or to die. Figuratively speaking, from the Nimblest private to the generalissimo himself, they would come back with or on their shields. But there must be no back about it. Their way led onwards. Onwards to the cannon's mouth ; onwards against a hail of musketry ; onwards through breach and battlement; onwards until they could reach through fire and smoke to relieve the women and children and soldiers, who were starving behind the ruined Eesidency walls. To fail in their enterprise meant annihilation for every man in this little army, and every man knew it ; and it meant also destruction to every living creature within the beleaguered garrison. But even success itself would be dearly bought, and many a brave Englishman and stalwart Scot, now so full of hope, now so light of limb, would be lying stark and stiff before another sun should set.
By nine o'clock to-night silence reigned throughout the Highlanders' camp, though it was broken, ever and anon, by the thunderous booming of the guns still plying their deadly rain upon the Eesidency. Among the trees and bushes the fire-flies danced, and great bats went wheeling hither and thither in the starlight. Many of the men were already asleep, others lay with their heads resting on their palms, thinking of their far-off British homes.
But one little group deserves special notice. Five in all they were, and Willie Saunders was the central figure. Peter McKay was there, it is almost need- less to say. The others were two corporals and another private]
Willie had been reciting to them, quietly it is true, but most effectively. He had gone over the whole of that wonderful production of Burns's genius, "Tarn O' Shanter," and an encore had been demanded and acceded to.
When a tall Herculean figure in tartan kilt and plumes glided silently up to the little group, Willie was just repeating some portions of Campbell's spirited lines to the memory of Burns
" And see the Scottish exile, tann'd
By many a far and foreign clime,
Bend o'er his home-born verse, and weep
In memory of his native land,
With love that scorns the lapse of time,
And ties that stretch beyond the deep.
" Encamp'd by Indian rivers wild
The soldier resting on his arms,
In Burns's carol sweet recalls
The scenes that bless'd him when a child,
And glows and gladdens at the charms
Of Scotia's woods and waterfalls.
" And thou, young hero, when thy pall
Is cross'd with mournful sword and plume "
It was at this very moment that McKinnon himself, bending down, placed his hand on Willie's shoulder.
"Tarn o' Shanter, if you like," said McKinnon, sitting down on the ground ; " but let us have nothing about coffins and palls."
"I'm glad to see ye, sairgent," said Peter McKay, "or raither to hear ye speak, for I canna weel see your face."
" Are you there, Peter ? "
" Ay, sairgent, and far (where) else would I be but wi' my foster-brither on a nicht like this ? "
"True, true," said the sergeant. "We may not be all together this time to-morrow night ! "
Cawnpore is Avenged. 313
"Ha!" cried Peter almost fiercely, "there'll be sore heads among the Sepoys lang ere nine o'clock the morn's nicht. Man ! sairgent, though, a lump comes to my throat when I think o' the murdered bairnies and their lady mithers a' flung higgledy-piggledy into the awfu* well o' Cawnpore ! My bluid rises to the boilin' point, and seems to sing aloud for revenge. Sairgent, I 'm goin' to fight wi' a will the morn ! "
The words seemed spoken by everyone in the group.
" Bravo, boys ! " said McKiunon. " We 'll fight ; we all shall fight And to-morrow when we rush on to the breach, while slogan rings, while bagpipes skirl, one word will be our battle-cry."
" Cawnpore ! "
It was a muffled shout, and a simultaneous one, that even those not far away who were asleep heard, and repeated it in their dreams.
There was a momentary silence. Then Willie's voice rose in bold and steady monotone.
" Tho' our perishing ranks should be strew'd in their gore, Like ocean weeds heap'd on the surf-beaten shore, Each soldier, untainted by flight or by chains While the kindling of life in his bosom remains, Shall victor exult or in death be laid low, "With his back to the field and his feet to the foe ; And, leaving in battle no blot on his name, Look proudly to heaven from the death-bed of fame."
The conversation changed now from the heroic to the homely. It was commenced by Peter McKay himself.
" I 'm nae sure," he said, " that I winna fall mysel' the morn in the tulzie. If I dae, Willie, you 'll no forget to tell my auld mither, when ye gang harne to the glen, that her laddie was killed crackin' croons (breaking heads) to avenge Cawnpore ! "
" Hush, lad, hush ! " said McKinnon in a half whisper. " We mustn't f orbode. But, Willie," he continued, " if I had my wish now, can you guess where I 'd be ? "
" I think I can," said Willie. " You wouldn't be far from Dover, nor far from the Albyn Inn and bonnie Ellen Grey."
" You 're right. Dear girl ! I 'll never forget that day in the little inn. Willie, I hardly knew the lassie loved me till then."
"Well, Fergus, she is, maybe, thinking of you even now."
"She is, maybe, praying for us all," said Sergeant McKinnon; "for I'm sure she isn't the girl to pray for one of us and not the other."
"Well," said Peter, "I've a bit lassie that is mebbe prayin' too. I'd like to be back for an 'oor or twa the nicht in the dear auld glen; but, sairgent, dye ken fat (what)?"
" Well ? " said the sergeant.
"I wadna want to gang hame, even to see Jeannie, unless I was sure o' gettin' back to crack croons in the mornin.' "
Follow the line (in the plan of Lucknow), reader, from the Alum Bagh to Dilkoosha park and house, thence
Cawnpore is Avenged. 315
leftwards to the Martiniere, and so on to the city, and it will give you an idea of the route taken by Sir Colia in his advance.
By means of semaphores on the Martiniere and Eesidency the army of relief and the beleaguered garrison could communicate, so that Outram and Havelock were perfectly aware of what Sir Colin's movements would be.
The route from the Martiniere took them across the canal.
It was still night, and the stars shining, when the forces under the guidance of brave Kavanagh and the spy Kanonjee Lall arrived at a small village on the east side of the Secundra Bagh. Here a halt was made that the heavy guns might come up.
But at daybreak the enemy was driven through the village in fine style.
Indeed, the defenders had evidently been deceived a& to Sir Colin's route, for he had made a reconnaisance, and they had gone to meet him in another direction.
When half-way through this village, Forbes Mitchell tells us something transpired that did not tend to mitigate the feelings of hatred our fellows bore to the Sepoys. " Here," says that author, " we saw a naked wretch of a strong muscular build, with his head closely shaven except for a tuft on his crown, and his face all streaked in a hideous manner with white and red paint, his body smeared with ashes.
"One of the Highlanders wanted to drive a dirk through him, saying he looked like a murderer, when Captain A. 0. Mayne not Jack Morrison's Mr. Mayne inter- ceded for him, saying he was harmless.
Route of Generals Havelock and Outram, September 25th, 1857. Route of 78th Highlanders, September 25th, 1857. fioute of Sir Colin Campbell'i army, November 14th to 17th, 1859.
Cawnpore is Avenged. 317
"Hardly had the young officer finished speaking ere the painted scoundrel pulled out a blunderbuss and shot him dead. It goes without saying that the murderer was bayoneted next minute."
Shortly after this the Highlanders, with whom we have most to do, came right in front of the loopholed fort, >Secundra Bagh.
It was a two-storied building in the centre of a garden, which had a wall around it. Major Blunt's artillery, and Travers with his eighteen pounders, did glorious service. The gallant bluejackets helped to man the guns as coolly as if they had been on board their ship. The thunder of war had begun in earnest, the Highlanders meanwhile being ordered to lie down for shelter under a mud wall.
The fire from the fort was of a murderous and terrible character, and had the weapons been well aimed, it would have been impossible for our force to have stood against it.
As it was, our artillerymen were falling fast, and the 93rd, in their burning anxiety, could scarcely be kept quiet behind their shelter, albeit Sir Colin cried, more than once, "lie down, 93rd, lie down. Your lives are not your own to-day, and every man is worth his weight in gold to his country."
But at every loophole the 93rd kept firing, and every protruding musket drew a shot. The only fault of the men was that their eagerness to fight caused them to expose their heads and shoulders too often.
At long last and what an interminable time it had seemed a kind of breach was made. It was a mere hole indeed, but the 4th Punjaubees went manfully and
318 On to the Rescue.
gallantly at it, shouting as they did so their shrill battle cry.
Colonel Ewart was in command of the seven companies of the 93rd who were supporting Peel's guns, Colonel Andrew Leith Hay having been detached with the other three companies to clear the old 32nd Barracks.
The 93rd were burning to follow the Punjaubees.
They soon had a chance.
For the two European officers who led them fell, and seeing this they wavered and halted. It was a moment of extreme anxiety for Sir Colin, but he quickly turned to Ewart.
"Colonel Ewart," he shouted, "bring on the tartan. Let my own lads at them. Forward, men, forward !"
"Before," says Mitchell, "the command could be repeated by the colonel, or the buglers had time to sound the advance, the whole seven companies like one man leapt over the wall with such a yell of pent-up rage as I had never heard before.
" It was not a cheer, but a concentrated yell of rage and ferocity that made the echoes ring again, and it must have struck terror into the defenders' hearts, for they actually ceased firing, and we could see them through the breach rushing from the outside wall to take shelter in the two-storied building in the centre of the garden, the gate and doors of which they firmly barred."
Of this glorious fight I cannot give many details. Is it not historical ?
But let me mention that high above the charging cheer rose the wild skirl of the great Highland bagpipe, the pipe-major and his seven pipers playing the brave old
Cawnpore is Avenged. 319
tune the "Haughs o' Cromdale." It is said that when after the fight Sir Colin complimented him for the manner in which he and his men had played, John McLeod, the pipe-major, answered naively
""Weel, sir, I just thocht the boys would fecht a' the better wi' a bit Scots lilt to help them on."
I have said that the breach was but a hole. This is true, and so small was it that hardly could three get in abreast, though pushed by those behind.
A Sikh officer was the first through, but killed of course, so says Holmes. But gallant Forbes Mitchell tells us that "it has always been a disputed point who got through the hole first. I believe the first man inside was Lance-Corporal Donelly of the 93rd, who was killed inside, then Subadar Gokul Sing, followed by Sergeant- Major Murray of the 93rd, also killed, and fourth Captain Burroughs, severely wounded. It was about this time," says this author modestly enough, "that I got through myself, pushed up by Colonel Ewart, who immediately followed."
Colonel Ewart was almost immediately after engaged in a fierce fight with five or six Sepoys, and he shot them down right and left.
The Sepoys fought that day as devils may be supposed to fight.
Sergeant McKinnon, Willie Saunders, and Peter McKay found themselves fighting side by side, the sergeant in the centre. Peter's bayonet did fearful execution, so too did the claymores of his companions.
Soon after getting in, however, Peter somehow found himself possessed of a claymore also. I have already
320 On to the Rescue.
said that he was a splendid swordsman. But Peter had an adventure on this same day, that I shall presently tell you of, and in which he all but met his match.
Meanwhile the fighting inside the Secundra Bagh was of a fearful description. No quarter was given. How could the enemy expect it after all their massacres and inhuman acts of cruelty?
"The air," says Holmes, "was rent by the screams of the rebels for help, the loud commands of the officers to go in among them and destroy them with the bayonet, and the wild yells and curses of the British soldiers as, in answer to despairing appeals for mercy, they bade their victims remember Cawnpore.
"In the midst of this awful scene a fire suddenly burst forth, and many of the rebels, who sought an easier death by flinging themselves on the bayonets of their opponents, were remorselessly hurled back into the flames. Those who had not yet perished retreated into the towers at the angles of the building. One of these was so obstinately defended that it was found necessary to bring up artillery, and for a time the fierce shouts of the victors and the sullen utterances of the vanquished were drowned in the deep thunder of the guns, and the crash of masses of stone falling from the wrecked tower.
"Still from the topmost rooms there poured an in- cessant musketry fire, but the stormers forced their way up the stairs with fixed bayonets, and though the caged rebels smote them wildly from above with their tulwars they could not escape, they could not repel the rising tide.
Cawnpore is Avenged. 321
"The corpses of the slain, pitched down from the windows above, fell with a dull thud on the ground, and when towards sunset the horrid din was hushed, two thousand dead, but not one living rebel, remained in the Secundra Bagh."
Some authorities give the number as nearer to three thousand, counting not only the fighting men, but the budmashes, for none were spared.
It seems horrible, but it is none the less true, that in their agony of terror many of the poor wretches tried to hide themselves under the heaps of slain.
But night was coming on, and before darkness fell Sir Colin determined to capture a mosque called the Shah Nujeef, which had been turned into a fort.
The place was in a garden about one hundred and fifty yards from the Secundra Bagh, and was surrounded by a strong high wall, with bush or jungle and mud cottages outside.
It was near to the bush where Peter McKay met the turbaned old Hindoo who was so nearly doing him to death. Peter carried his gun and bayonet, but he had managed to keep the claymore also. The man who attacked him was tall and powerfully built, though his beard was white as the snow on Ben Einnes. He seemed to have been running amuck, and while his eyes glared in fury he waved aloft a blood-dripping tulwar.
Peter was not afraid, yet as the fanatic attacked him he dropped his gun and bayonet, and though with his sword he kept defending himself against blows that fell like wintry rain, he kept retreating hastily till he had enticed his enemy into a comparatively quiet place.
322 On to the Rescue.
It was then that Peter drew himself up to his full height, and forthwith assumed the offensive, while some of his comrades, Willie Saunders among the rest, stood by astonished.
" Noo, my birkie," Peter cried, " here we have it a* to our twa bonnie selves, and I 'll just gie ye a taste o' the good claymore. Hooch! here's at ye!"
The old man fought well and skilfully, and he fought in silence.
But Peter's Aberdeen tongue never ceased to wag any more than did his sword.
Clash, clash, whish, whish, went the claymore, with sparks at every stroke. No two men could have been better matched.
" Man !" cried Peter, " ye play richt weel. Wheet ! Losh ! ye nearly drove my harns (brains) out that time." Clash, clash, " Missed again, Borlam Dick. Now what do ye say to this ? This is Lonach fashion, hooray !" And Peter grasping his claymore with two hands made so sudden an onslaught on his antagonist as to break down his guard, slice a piece off his turban, and roll him on his back.
A less practised swordsman would now have ended the combat at a single blow.
Not so Peter. As he afterwards told Willie this duel was the only bit of real recreation he had enjoyed that day. So he merely leaned on his sword for a moment, and looked quietly down at his prostrate enemy.
" Tak' your breath, Borlam," he said. " Faith ! ye 'll need it a' before Peter is done wi' ye. Oh, ye needna gnash your teeth and glower like a cock eatin' leeks, I
Cawnpore is Avenged. 323
never struck a man yet when he was doon, so you 're safe eneuch."
A moment after, the combat was renewed with treble ferocity on the part of Peter's enemy.
" Noo," said Peter, " wi' a due respect " clish, clash " to your " whish, whash " capital swordmanship, I maun even " cling, clang " bring this scrimmage to a " whing, whang " conclusion " clish, clash. " Did ever ye hear tell o' the auld seventh cut" whing whang " Far are ye noo, Borlam Dick ?"
Where, indeed? Borlam Dick, as Peter called him, was stretched lifeless on the ground.
" Cawnpore," said Peter, and went back to pick up his gun and bayonet.
Chapter X. "THE EYES OF BOJ& WERE DIMMED WITH TEARS."
BUT harder fighting still was in store for the brave little army of relief that evening, before they could think of rest. Alas ! the rest which many of them would obtain would be the sleep that knows not breaking. For a long time in vain did Peel's heavy guns thunder against the walls of the Shah Nujeef. The walls of the fort replied with a force and fury there was no'-subduing. And night was coming on.
Sir Colin's men too were falling in dozens around him. The crisis of battle had indeed come at last.
The time had come for such decisive action as can only be taken by a hero, that hero himself a genius. The time had come, and the man was there. That man was the white-haired general on his white horse, he with the grim, war-worn, but kindly face, whose every glance gave hope and confidence to the men who knew and so dearly loved him. They were his own lads, as he loved to call them, the men who had fought by his side on the red fields of Balaklava and Alma. He gathered these around him now, and once more proceeded to address them, though the words he spoke were few and simple.
But by this time, Mitchell tells us, "the sun was getting very low, a heavy cloud of smoke hung over the field, and every flash of the guns and rifles could be clearly seen. The enemy in hundreds were visible on the ramparts, yelling like demons, brandishing their swords in one hand and burning torches in the other, while they shouted to us to come on. But little im- pression had been made on the solid walls of masonry. Brigadier Hope and his aide-de-camp were rolling on the ground together, the horses of both shot dead, and the same shell that had done this mischief had exploded one of our ammunition waggons, killing and wounding several men.
"Altogether the position looked black and critical, when Major Barnston and his battalion of detachments were ordered to storm. This, although a made-up battalion, advanced bravely to the breach, and, I think, their leader, Major Barnston, was killed, and the command devolved on Captain Wolseley. He made a most determined attempt to get into the place, but there were no scaling ladders, and the wall was still almost twenty feet high.
"During the heavy cannonade the masonry had fallen down in flakes, but still leaving an inner wall standing almost perpendicular, and in attempting to climb up this, the men were raked with a perfect hell of missiles grenades and round shot . . . arrows and brickbats, burning torches of rags and cotton saturated with oil, and even boiling water was dashed upon them. In the midst of the smoke the breach would have made a very good representation of Pandemonium."
The stormers were therefore driven back, and it was then that Sir Colin called upon the gallant 93rd to make one last, one desperate attempt to capture the place.
" My brave fellows ! " he shouted, his voice having a touch of almost pleading agony in it, "it was not my intention to have called upon you to-day for further great effort, or to storm positions ; that building in front must be carried, and the 93rd must do it. Remember, lads, the lives at stake inside the Residency are those of women and children, and they must be saved ! I myself will lead you ! "
" No, no ! " cried a hoarse Scotch voice ; " your life is far too precious to risk, Sir Colin ! Stay behind, General ; we will lead ourselves ! "
It is a question, however, whether even the Highlanders could have been successful against the breach from which the battalion of detachments had been beaten back, had not Sergeant Paton of the 93rd discovered a breach in the north-east corner of the rampart adjoining the river Goomtee.
To reach this the Highlanders had to rush down a ravine.
This they quickly did, Paton himself leading the way to show them where he had discovered the breach, which indeed was little more than a cleft.
Meanwhile a feint was made at the former breach, but when the enemy saw that the other gap was discovered, and that the furious 93rd were storming there, they gave up heart, and part fled in terror through the back gate and away towards the river, and the rest made for the Motee Munzil or Pearl Mosque.
Scores of the enemy, however, were slaughtered before they could escape.
Poor Sir Colin ! It had been an anxious time for him, but now as he listened he heard the wild shout of the Highlanders rising and swelling high over the din of the battle, and he knew the day was ours.
It was but a war-worn kind of sleep our heroes had that night ; for in their dreams, even the men seemed to be fighting their battles over again, and once more slaying the slain.
That night some of the soldiers, who were not dead beaten, had to remove about five thousand pounds of loose gunpowder from the tomb of the Shah Nujeef, which gave this extemporised fort its name ; and hardly had they finished ere from across the Goomtee came the roar of guns and shells, and red-hot shot fell thick and fast upon the place.
Men so war-worn and weary, however, as were the 93rd can sleep under any circumstances, and so, though often muttering aloud, and even shouting, " Cawnpore ! Cawnpore!" in their dreams, the gallant fellows slum- bered on.
LITTLE DRUMMER ROSS.
The story of the Shah Nujeef would scarcely be complete did I not tell you of this boy's exploit. Little drummer-boys if brave are usually great favourites in a regiment, and sometimes they are possessed of a splendid audacity which one might almost call " cheek."
Without doubt this little drummer Eoss had complete possession of all his faculties, and was quite as agile as any powder monkey that ever trode the decks of a man- o'-war in the days of Drake or Nelson.
At daybreak, then, an order was given to communicate with the beleaguered garrison the results of yesterday's fighting, or at least to let them know by signals that we were in possession of the place. A rough but strong rope ladder was therefore got together and fixed to the roof of the dome, and up this a lieutenant and sergeant with the little boy Eoss swarmed to make the necessary signals. These were the waving of the regimental colours and a feather bonnet; while at the same time boy Eoss was to sound the regimental call on the bugle.
It was a bold adventure, and one of very great danger, for soon they were noticed by the enemy, and round shot came hurtling towards and over them.
After they had descended it suddenly occurred to that irrepressible young monkey Eoss that he for one hadn't had enough of it. So up he went again, hand over hand, waved his Highland bonnet, and once more sounded the call. What cared he that he drew more shot from the foe. He crowed like a cock at them in insolent defiance, and when his officer ordered him below at once he still lingered, says Forbes-Mitchell, "until he had tootled forth two verses of Yankee Doodle."
When he did come down, and was called to account by Lieutenant McBean for gross disobedience of orders, he looked up in the officer's face with a comical smile, and begged forgiveness. " But ye maun ken, sir," he said, " that I was born when the regiment was in Canada, and when my mither was on a visit to an aunt in the States, and as sure as death, sir, I couldna come doon till I had sang Yankee Doodle just to mak' my American cousins envious when they hear o' a' the braw things done by the 93rd, and that their littlest and wee-est drummer laddie sang Yankee Doodle under fire on the highest mosque in Lucknow."
This lad was in reality only a child, being but twelve years old, and small for his years.
What could Lieutenant McBean do, therefore, but bite his lip to hide a smile, and order the little rascal about his business.
Well, I never heard that little drummer -boy Eoss received the Victoria Cross, but there are probably men to-day wearing it who are not half so brave as he.
There was much to be done yet before the Residency could be relieved, more daring engagements, more taking of forts, and much more hard fighting. But on the 17th of November the very day after the wild tulzie at Secundra Bagh and the Shah Najeef amidst a storm of bullets, the generals, Havelock and Outram, with Napier, Eyre, and young Henry Havelock, rushed across
33O On to the Rescue.
a piece of vacant ground and entered the fort of Motee Mainzil safely. Here the first to meet them was Hope Grant. With him Havelock shook hands, and then advanced towards the men, who were cheering wildly.
Havelock was moved to tears, and could say but little. The little speech he did make, however, was received with a hurst of enthusiasm, and soon after this he and General Outram joined Sir Colin Campbell himself.
I need hardly say that as soon as the soldiers in the garrison had seen that Sir Colin Campbell had silenced the Secundra Bagh, they did all they could to lessen the distance he would have to traverse before he reached the Residency. They stormed two buildings after mining them, and drove the enemy pell-mell to other parts of the city.
The withdrawal of the garrison in safety, with all the women and children, was an enterprise of very great difficulty, but it was successfully accomplished at last. Then Sir Colin retired to the Dilkoosha Park once more.
He had effected his object, but though he was earnestly entreated to take complete possession of the city he stedfastly refused. He had all along, he said, regarded the Residency as a false position, and one not worthy any longer to be held. And he added he would need all his little army to completely re-conquer India.
I may add here that although the British garrison at Lucknow, that had undergone such terrible sufferings, was thus relieved, the city now fell into the hands of the mutineers, who restored its forts and rendered it what they considered impregnable. But in the following March Sir Colin laid siege to it once more in right good earnest, and I need hardly add that he captured it. For an account of this memorable siege I cannot do better than refer you to Kaye, Gubbins, or Holmes.
It was not until the evening of the 22nd that after their long estrangement Willie Saunders and his dear friend, honest Jack Morrison, met upon the heights of Dilkoosha.
Willie, indeed, had no idea that Jack was in Lucknow He often thought of him, often prayed for him, and he never forgot that dream, though as often as not he thought of him as one who was dead and gone.
But on this particular evening, while Willie sat beneath a tree, quietly talking to his friend, stalwart McKinnon, who, with the exception of a shin-wound from a tulwar, had gone through the fighting without a scratch, and while both were watching the sun sinking red and low over the city, a private came up.
" A gentleman wants to see you, Sergeant Saunders."
Willie sprang up in a moment.
A tall figure in officer's uniform, but somewhat ragged and worn, was approaching. His back being to the rosy sunset for a few seconds Willie did not know him.
The officer rapidly advanced, his two brown hands out- stretched.
Not another word could either say for fully half a minute. Their hearts were far too full. And will it be believed the eyes of both were dimmed with tears.
Chapter XI. DEATH OF HAVELOCK EN-ROUTE FOR CAWNPORE.
HAT a deal they had to say, however! What a deal they had to talk about and tell each other, when at last they could speak !
The sun went down; the stars came out; bats flew about, and fire-flies danced round every bush, and still they sat and talked. At last Willie jumped up.
" You will not go yet, Jack," he said. " I will be back in a few minutes. I must see poor Peter McKay."
" Oh, I 'll come with you, Willie. I had forgotten to
ask about him. Is he ."
" Yes, I fear he is fatally wounded. His left hand was shattered with a shot, and has been removed, but Dr. Munro gives me but small hopes of him."
They met one of the surgeons and eagerly enquired about Peter.
" Doing well, sergeant," was the reply, " and was asking about you."
Death of Havelock. 333
" Peter McKay," said Willie, quietly approaching the place where his foster-brother lay. "Peter, I am glad you are a little better. See. Who do you think I have brought to see you ? "
Willie let the light of a lantern shine on Jack's honest, good-natured, but somewhat worn face as he spoke.
"What," cried Peter, half raising himself from his pallet of grass, " is it possible ? Oh, this is a joyful nicht !"
He extended his one hand as he spoke.
" Man !" he added, " I was preparin' to tak' leave o' this sublunary sphere, but not a hair o' me will dee [die] yet. Sit doon, sir, sit. Mr. Jack, sit doon."
It was twelve o'clock before Willie and Jack parted that night, and they might have sat together for hours longer, and still not told each other all they had to say.
" Good-night, Willie."
" Good-night, dear Jack. Isn't it just like old times ?"
"Just like old times."
THE DEATH OF HAVELOCK.
Poor Havelock !
The brave, the good, the true !
He lay dying in his tent. Dying on a doolie, his son Harry, the boy soldier, although wounded in one arm, seated on the ground beside him, attending with his other hand to his father's wants. It was known even on the
334 O H t the Rescue.
23rd that it could be but a question of time, known by his doctors, known by the great hero himself. Nor did he repine. " I die happy and contented," he said. " For forty years I have so ruled my life, that when death came I might face it without fear."
On the very evening before his death Outram himself had a most touching interview with him. " His tender- ness," writes this general, "was that of a brother. He told me he was dying, and spoke from the fulness of his heart of the feelings which he bore towards me, and of the satisfaction with which he looked back to our past intercourse and service together, which had never been on a single occasion marred by a disagreement of any kind, nor embittered by one angry word."
Next day the hero quietly, painlessly, breathed his last.
They carried him to the Alum Bagh in the very doolie in which he had died, and there they buried him under the shade of a mango tree.
A simple monument enough. And they tell me that the letter p^ which some kindly hand carved in the bark is still faintly visible.
" On the low plain by the Alum Bagh," writes one of Sir Colin's officers, "they made his humble grave, and Campbell and Outram and Inglis, and many a stout soldier who had followed him in all his headlong march, and through the long and fatal street, were gathered there to perform the last rites to one of England's noblest dead.
" But," he adds, " as long as the memory of great deeds and high courage and spotless self-devotion is cherished among his countrymen, so long will Havelock's lonely tomb in the grove beneath the scorching Eastern sky, hard by the vast city the scene alike of his toil, his triumph, and his death be regarded as one of the most holy spots where her patriot soldiers lie."
The requiem for the dead was the volleys they fired over his grave, and the tears shed by even strong, stalwart men of the Eoss-shire Buffs, told how dearly he had been beloved.
So they left him alone in his glory.
" 'T is a soldier lies there but his voice now is gone,
And lowly the hero is lying ; No sound meets the ear save the crocodile's moan,
And the breeze 'mid the palm trees sighing. But lone though he rests where the camel is seen
Through the wilderness heavily pacing, His grave in our bosoms shall ever be green,
And his monument ne'er know defacing."
On the morning of the 27th of November all was bustle and stir, for Campbell was leaving with his great and precious convoy, and an army of about three thousand men.
" Good-bye," he said to Outram. " Nay," he added, " I will not say good-bye, but au revoir. You will be able to hold your own for a month or two here at the Alum
Bagh. Then I will return and wipe those rascally
Sepoys out of Lucknow."
This was a morning of sad partings, as well as of bustle and stir; for Willie and Jack had to say good-bye once again. The former was going with McKinnon and his
336 On to the Rescue.
company. And Frank Wood was going with his sister home to England vid Calcutta, if ever they should reach it alive.
Poor Peter McKay was among those who were borne along in doolies. He would never fight again.
" But when I go home," he told Jack and Willie, " 1 ll tell them all about you, and I'm sure they will a' be richt glaid to see me. I 'll get a wooden left han' ; and losh ! I 'll be able to dae a bit o' work among the kye and cattle, just as in the dear auld times."
There were tears in Lily's eyes as honest, brown-faced Jack bade her good-bye.
There was moisture in Jack's too, and a tremor in his voice that told the tale of how dear this sister of Frank's had become to him.
Before going any further let Lily herself say a few words about the march from Lucknow, because this gives us the story, with a few of its details, from a woman's or girl's point of view.
LILY SPEAKS AGAIN.
"Never while I live shall I forget that day of our deliverance from Lucknow, with all its danger and its din and its anxiety ! It was about four o'clock on the 19th of November when I with three other ladies, after packing our few belongings into as small a compass as possible, were ready to leave the Eesidency.
" Our carriage had once been a very comfortable kind of buggy, no doubt ; but now it was a mere skeleton no cushions, and it had been riddled with shot. Our two horses were so miserably ill and starved, that but for the
Lily Speaks Again. 337
assistance of big, sturdy Jack and my brother Frank I do not think they could have dragged it along at all. Many parts of the road were still exposed to the fire of the enemy, and exceedingly dangerous. One more particularly so ; and here we had to leave our rattle-trap conveyance, and crawl along a trench dug for us by the Highlanders.
"The whole town seemed a wilderness or desert of ruins, and the fearful din and uproar and terror were distracting in the extreme.
" It was a terrible experience, altogether. One of my friends, however, recognised the ruins of her old home, and she was homeless now indeed, without husband, brother, or children.
" We reached the Secundra Bagh at last, and the brave soldiers came crowding round us our deliverers they were to shake our hands, many of them offering us tea out of their own canteens.
"The air all around the Secundra Bagh was still tainted with the blood of the slain. It seemed like a huge charnel- house or butcher's abattoir, though the dead had already been buried.
"The Dilkoosha had been one of the king's palaces, and was situated in beautiful gardens, or rather gardens that had been beautiful. And these gardens had been the scene of many a pleasant party and merry picnic in the days for ever gone. We left the Secundra Bagh after a few hours' halt, and were borne along to the Dilkoosha in doolies, with all the children and also the wounded.
"Arrived at the Dilkoosha we found that the officers were all ready to receive us, had thrown open their mess tents, and spread a cold collation for us. And, oh, how sweet it tasted after all the privations we had so long undergone ! We slept on the ground that night in make- shift beds, but we had the sweet satisfaction of feeling that we were safe. Indeed, when I awoke next morning, for a time I could scarcely believe it was not all a happy dream.
" Soon after poor Havelock breathed his last I and my friends were all packed into a kind of hackery, but it was hours of weary waiting before we started. I fear, from an incident that occurred, that we ladies grumbled a little, for an elderly gentleman walked up to us, and, raising his cap, said
" ' May I ask you, ladies, if there is anything wrong, or any cause for complaint ? I have some little authority at headquarters, and might possibly be able to assist you.'
"You may easily guess how ashamed we all were. But little did we know at that moment who the gentle- man was.
" It was late that evening before we reached the Alum Bagh, and terribly tired and almost ill we were with the heat and the dust and .the jolting.
" I have thought of that jolting journey in the hackery many times since, and thought at the same time of the far more terrible journey our poor doomed and wretched countrywomen had to make, back to Cawnpore from the blood-stained ghaut of massacre to the fearful prison which they would never leave alive. What a contrast! And yet we were peevish, and cried and grumbled like sick children.
" Once more, then, we were on the road en route for Cawnpore.
" Our moving camp in column was nine miles in length, and all day long we were pushed on not rapidly, that would have been a treat; but slowly, so slowly and only permitted the briefest of halts now and then. It was late and dark before we reached our bivouac, and but for my brother Frank would not have found out the place appropriated to us. It took him an hour to find it, so great was the bustle and confusion. Meanwhile we had been moved some distance, so that when the poor fellow came back he found us gone, and had quite a long and weary hunt for us.
"For two hours more we waited in a ploughed field, till our tent came and was pitched ; but no camels had yet come up with our baggage, so we had to do the best we could. Our lodging was on the cold, cold ground as the song says, only luckily we had canvas above us to shield us from the dew.
"About daybreak the messman came to say we could have coffee and tea and food. What a treat ! We called to him to hurry, and we were just comfortably settled down on some boxes the camels had brought up, and having a nice warm breakfast, when in the grey dawn we noticed a figure approaching, and heard a voice exclaim
" ' Why, whose nice tent is this ? Ladies ? Oh, certainly they must be seen to, and have their tea and their coffee They must be' attended to first. My poor wounded soldiers lying out in the open, are of not the slightest consequence.' "
" And away he went grumbling.
" It is needless to say that we abused the old man most heartily among ourselves, and even called him a bear and worse. It was the same gentleman who had come to our hackery at Dilkoosha. It was Sir Colin himself. But when some one told him the opinion we entertained of him he laughed right pleasantly nevertheless.
" We were soon en route for Cawnpore once again ; but this was to be our last day's journey. We had to halt, however, on the banks of the river, and then heavy firing was heard, and to our dismay we were told that the city had once more fallen into the hands of the rebel foe."
Chapter XII. THE SHIP SAILED SOUTHWARDS AND AWAY.
IE Colin Campbell's reasons for leaving Lucknow so hastily and hurrying on to Cawnpore were, that he had heard no word for days from Windharn, who was holding the city, and was naturally anxious to get to his assistance. And as it turned out greatly indeed was that assistance needed; for with his small force it would be impossible to render the place defensible for any length of time.
Tantia Topee, too, had taken the opportunity afforded him by the absence of the Commander-in-Chief to gather a huge army together in order to march against it. These included the forces that had been under Nana Sahib, and altogether made up a force of about twenty-five thousand men.
Feeling certain of victory Tantia Topee crossed the river Jumna on the 10th of November, after detaching a strong force to keep a grip on Calpee, and commenced his march upon Cawnpore.
34 2 On to the Rescue.
Windham waited, but waited in vain, for the appear- ance of Sir Colin's vanguard, nor could he get any news of him, and he naturally concluded that he had been unsuccessful at Lucknow, and was probably besieged there in some of the forts. Although a very brave man, "Windham lacked the capabilities of a great general. He could not remain inactive, however, and therefore he marched forth to meet Tantia, and defeated him. He did not follow up his victory, but fell back on Cawn- pore.
Now Tantia was as long-headed a general as any in the rebel army, if not indeed the cleverest. He naturally asked himself the question, Why had Windham fallen back on the city instead of pursuing his conquest ? The answer came quickly enough Cawnpore was not defensible. He at once resolved therefore to attack it, and of his intentions Windham, from lack of spies, was kept for a time in ignorance.
Not long though, for while reconnoitring about twelve o'clock he heard the roar of Tantia's artillery, and hastily proceeded to do his best to repel the attack.
This was on the 27th of November, and on that day began the second battle of Cawnpore. Things went badly from the first. His dispositions were far from wise, and one of Windham's officers actually retreated without even a show of resistance, from a village he ought to have held at all hazards. Then the drivers deserted, and ammunition failed, till at last he was obliged to fall back upon a position on some brick-kilns.
Luckily just as the enemy was commencing to attack the entrenchments in full force, reinforcements came up
The Ship Sailed Southward. 343
from Futtehpore. By means of these he managed to repel the foe.
Carthew, the Brigadier who had received orders to fall back, had now contra orders to return. But on the whole the day ended sadly, and knowing well that next morning the enemy would again attack him with all his force and all his fury, Windham spent an anxious and harassed night. ;
Next day's fighting was terrible, and on the whole Colonel Carthew was the hero. But Sir Colin had arrived and taken charge, though his forces had not yet come up.
"The night," says Holmes, "passed quietly. But looking out at daybreak, Tantia saw that the plain beyond the farther bank of the Ganges was white with the tents of another British army. Knowing that that army would soon be upon him unless he could prevent it from crossing the river, he caused his artillery to open fire upon the bridge. Peel's heavy guns and all the British field batteries swiftly replied, and for some time the banks of the river were over-clouded with smoke, but the rebels were gradually overpowered and obliged to abandon their attempt. Then the advanced guard of Sir Colin's army moved on to the bridge, and followed by the women and children, the sick and wounded, the long train of baggage carts and the rear guard crossed the canal, and encamped on the plain hard by the entrenchment, from which, five months before, another procession had issued forth to die."
The position of the rebels, however, was still a very strong one, and there was no chance of dislodging and
344 On to the Rescue.
punishing them, until he could despatch his convoy of women and children with the sick and wounded to Allahabad.
Lily Wood tells me that though before reaching the bridge terrible firing was heard, the real truth that a great battle was raging, being carefully concealed from them.
They got settled at last in the artillery barracks, while the moon shone brilliant down on a sad scene of deso- lation everywhere around them.
Lily and one of her friends left Cawnpore travelling in a palkee. This was comfortable enough, but still there were no tents for the convoy except what they managed to erect with boxes and shawls, thus securing enough privacy to enable them to enjoy the luxury of ablution and even a bath.
At long, long last, however, the refugees from the sad siege of Lucknow were safe in Allahabad, from which in due time they were despatched to Calcutta.
A few weeks after this Frank and his sister were safely on board ship and setting sail for England. There were also very many invalids and wounded men, and among these was our honest friend Peter McKay.
Lily offered her services as nurse, and these were gladly accepted by the surgeons, so that she and Peter became great friends.
"If ever there was an angel on earth," Peter McKay told the junior surgeon, " or if ever an angel stepped in shoe leather, Miss Lily Wood is one."
The doctor laughed a little, for the idea of angels wearing shoes was somewhat new to him.
The Ship Sailed Southward. 345
But what perfect peace now reigns on board that ship, as she goes sailing south and away towards the Cape, the glad sunshine sparkling in every rippling wave, the breeze that fills each sail fanning the cheeks of those that lounge languidly on chairs on deck, bringing back the glad glow of health to their cheeks, and to their hearts the hope and joy to which they had so long been strangers !
Is it any wonder that they look back with horror to the days they spent in the murder-tainted air of Luck- now, or that they converse in whispers of the dread and awful massacres of Delhi and Cawnpore? Not a soul there surely that morn, noon, and night, does not rise in thankfulness to the God who saw fit to shield them from danger and death, and restore them to peace and to safety.
And yet amidst all their joy many a tear is shed, when they think of those dear friends they never, never can see again.
FATE OF THE ARCH-REBEL TANTIA FINAL BATTLE OF LUC KNOW.
DID not make my last chapter a long one, because I was unwilling to darken its close by the relation of further fighting. Let that ship sail southwards and away with her precious freight of rescued women and children, and the uncomplaining sick and wounded, to their peaceful homes in England, but we have still to linger a little while longer on India's burning plains.
It is but right the reader should know something of the fate of the fiend Tantia Topee. His master, the Nana Sahib, was never captured. All that we can say of him is that he fell into the hands of God.
I have said then that the rebels held a strong position at Cawnpore.
But Sir Colin was now free to act, and though his army was but a small one consisting of only 5000 infantry, in four brigades, six hundred cavalry, and 346
Fate of the Arch-Rebel Tantia. 347
thirty-five guns every heart therein was brave and true, and every man longed to strike a blow at the monster Tantia, and once more avenge the foul massacres of Cawnpore.
Sir Colin determined to attack with all his strength the camp of the vaunted and so-called invincible Gwalior Contingent. If he secured the Calpee Eoad he could cut off their retreat.
The third battle of Cawnpore, therefore, was com- menced on the morning of the 6th December, by Wind- ham, who, with guns and mortars, poured a terrible fire into the centre and left of the enemy.
The fire was so hot and incessant, and so many of Tantia's men fell before it, that, considering this was the main attack, he drew forces from his right which stretched down behind the canal towards the Calpee road, in order to repel it.
Greathead's men next closed quickly on to the line of the canal, and engaged the centre with musketry fire ; and farther to the left Walpole's brigade crossed the canal, and sweeping past the town, kept back by sheer pluck and determination the Sepoys that tried to come out. From the extreme left onwards next dashed the cavalry and horse artillery, while other two brigades of infantry those of Hope and Inglis rapidly crossed the plain in two lines. The fire of the enemy, who were massed behind the brick-kilns, though hot and well directed, could not repel them; but they quickly fell back upon the bridge that spanned the canal. This was the point that, seeing its importance, they deter- mined to keep, and for a moment it seemed as if they
348 On to the Rescue.
would succeed. So terrible was their fire, that for a time the attacking brigades were staggered and faltered. This was the critical moment.
But hark ! There is the deep rumbling of heavy guns heard and the shouts of Peel's sailors. Up and on they dash, those brave bluejackets. It is a deed well worthy of being recorded, for they dash not only at the bridge but on to it, and there they plant a gun. Hurrah! How those guns roar out. And, hurrah ! how the pre- viously disconcerted brigades of Hope and Inglis shout and rush onwards. The bridge is theirs. They are on it, they are over it, many dashing through the canal itself. Nothing can withstand that wild charge. The enemy is scattered like chaff before the wind, and our brave fellows race on to the camp of the Gwalior con- tingent. The surprise of the enemy is complete, and their rout also. Sir Colin himself presses on in pursuit, and soon he is joined by his artillery. What a scene it is ! Says Holmes, " Passing cartloads of ammunition strewn along the road, spiking numbers of abandoned guns, and, dealing death without remorse, they urged on their panting horses mile after mile, and never paused until the hunted rebels, throwing away their arms in despair, fled from the roar to hide themselves in the, jungle, or disperse over the country in every direction."
It was midnight before the victorious cavalry re- turned.
Tantia's army was smashed, and but for the dilatori- ness of Mansfield, Tantia himself might have been a prisoner in our hands.
Fate of the Arch- Rebel Tantia, 349
But he escaped.
Only for a time, however. His doom was impending, and I must now tell you briefly how this fiend in human form managed to elude us for a time, and what happened to him eventually.
For want of transport, then, Sir Colin Campbell was obliged to lie for a time inactive at Cawnpore, and was therefore unable to follow up his victory. Well, he had smashed this army of Tantia, but he had not yet smashed the power of the rebel general himself.
Accordingly we find Tantia, in the middle of the following March, laying siege to the fort of Chirkaree, and the dominions of a loyal chief of that name.
We find him fighting bravely at the battle of Betwa, and bravely too at Koonch. We find him at Gwalior in conjunction with the Kane'e of Jhansi, which city a bold stroke indeed they seize. The Sindia had marched out to meet them, but his whole army was captured, or rather went over bodily to our enemy Tantia, the Sindia himself fleeing to Gwalior.
Tantia and the Jhansi had Sir Hugh Eoss to deal with, however, and after desperate fighting that brave general with his handful of an army retook the city, which had been called the Gibraltar of India, and Tantia Topee, leaving guns and everything else behind, now fled.
The whole story of the flight and pursuit of this fiend is too long to tell. It is a matter of history, but a history that when well told reads like a romance.
At long last we find Tantia Topee hiding in a dismal
350 On to the Rescue.
jungle, hemmed in on every side, hunted like the wild beast he really was.
This jungle belonged by rights to Maun Singh, though he had been deprived of his estates for participation in the rebellion. One day Tantia met Maun Singh himself in hiding in the forest, and it really was by establishing communication with the latter and offering him a heavy bribe that Tantia was eventually captured. This ending certainly dispels a portion of the romance of the strange story, but in no way else could Tantia have been taken.
They seized him in his lair at the dark hour of mid- night, and bore him in triumph, if there was any triumph about it, away to the fort of Sepree.
lie was tried by court-martial, and although he made some show of defence he was condemned to death.
And no man deserved hanging more richly.
For three days Tantia lay in his cell fettered and pinioned, impatiently waiting his doom. That came at last, for on the 18th of March, at five o'clock in the afternoon, he was led forth to die. It was a grim spectacle that execution!
The troops of the station were all drawn up in the form of a hollow square, in the centre of which stood the scaffold.
Then, with head erected, but looking a ghastly image of despair, his manacles still upon him, Tantia was marched forth from the fort, surrounded by a company of British soldiers.
Every place whence a peep could be obtained of the notorious rebel was crowded with sightseers, and they had a good opportunity of gratifying their curiosity, for
Fate of the Arch- Rebel Tantia. 351
delay of twenty minutes occurred before Major Meadc was ready to read the charge, the finding of the court, and the dread sentence.
As he waited thus for death did Tantia think, I cannot help wondering, of any of the terrible deeds of his life, or of that awful scene of massacre that he superintended at the ghaut on the Ganges by Cawnpore, where men were shot, women sabred, and their helpless babies torn limb from limb by his brutal and infuriated soldiery ?
But here comes Meade, and now the end will soon follow. He calmly, even sternly reads the sentence, and no sooner has he concluded than the fetters are taken off the condemned man. Had he exhibited any fear ? None, I think, but the twitchings of his face showed both nervousness and impatience, while the reading had pro- ceeded. Now, however, as if anxious that all should be speedily over, he mounts the steps firmly and quickly, and stands beneath the rope. When pinioned, of his own accord he puts his head into the noose, and next moment the bolt is drawn, and he is ushered into eternity to appear before a greater tribunal than man's.
So died Tantia Topee.
And this was really the last act of much import in the tragedy of the great rebellion.
- * * # *
But in following the fortunes and misfortunes of this arch rebel, we have for a time lost sight of our heroes, Willie and Jack.
352 On to the Rescue.
They parted then at Lucknow, Jack Morrison remaining behind at the Alum Bagh, Willie Saunders and his friend Sergeant McKinnon going on to Cawnpore with Sir Colin Campbell.
Force of circumstances had caused Jack to become a soldier, and, as we have already seen, a right good one he proved to be. But, nevertheless, he had not forgotten that he was still the civil servant and secretary to Mr. Mayne, the magistrate at Agra.
Whether, however, the Maynes were alive or dead, for the present time Jack had no means at all of knowing. All he could do was to mention them in his prayers, and often and often he thought of poor little Teddie and his innocent wee sister Jessie.
Would he ever see them again, he wondered. Would gentle peace ever return, and enable him to go back to Agra and take up his duties under that kindest of masters, Mr. Mayne. More than once he had dreamt of that beautiful bungalow, and that he was riding Teddie and the mongoose, cockertieeoosie,* with Jessie running by their side laughing and shrieking with delight.
But from such dreams he awoke to the stern realities of warfare.
Jack Morrison proved himself as useful under General Outram in the camp and fort of Alum Bagh, as he had done at the Residency during the first terrible siege of that place by the rebels, and the general had given him command of a company.
Cockertiecoose, Scottish "On his shoulders.'
Fate of the Arch-Rebel Tantia. 353
Even before Sir Colin Campbell had left for Cawnpore, Alum Bagh was much strengthened by earthworks. On the whole the position which was by no means a small one was well fortified, and capable of great resistance, having trenches, batteries, and abattis, besides a fort that protected its right flank. But seeing that the Alum Bagh itself and this fort had to be well garrisoned, Outrara had not much more than two thousand men to spare for action in the field.
Now just think of the mighty force of rebels that was opposed to this little European army. They were said to be more than thirty to one, and to number altogether about one hundred thousand men.
It was some time, however, before they managed to pluck up courage enough to attack Outram, for Sir Colin Campbell had given them a lesson they were not likely to forget in a hurry.
Outram, I wish you to remember, reader, had managed to keep up communications with Cawnpore, and these communications the enemy determined to sever. At all events they tried to do so; but Outram was ready for them, and defeated them with such fearful slaughter that for three whole weeks they did not resume the offensive. But on the 12th and again on the 16th of January they renewed their attack, and were once more discomfited and obliged to retreat.
Now Ahmed Oollah was the leader of the rebels, and a very excellent general he was ; and he knew two things, and the exact value to put on them also. First, he was well aware that Sir Colin was in possession of Cawnpore,
and that he was all this time not only strengthening the z
354 On to the Rescue.
place against that "invincible" Gwalior contingent, but gathering together a great army to attack Lucknow, and, secondly, he knew that if he could completely smash and annihilate General Outram, he, Ahmed Oollah, would be free to sweep down on Cawnpore, cut off Sir Colin's communications, and ravage the country far and near with fire and sword. For those three months then General Outram's position was indeed a perilous one, and the service he was doing his country was a very noble one.
Though separated in person many a letter passed between Willie and Jack.
" What think you, Jack ? " said one of Willie's letters. " I 've had an interview with Sir Colin himself, and such an interview ! It was just after a brush we had with the enemy, in which everybody said I behaved with gallantry, and saved the life of my Colonel. I suppose, Jack, I did save his life, though for the life of me I don't know till this day quite how it occurred. But there was the poor Colonel in an ugly position, and wounded, in a ditch, and three huge, hulking mutineers making straight for him to end the business. Two fell beneath my revolver fire, and one I cut down with my claymore. But more were coming, so I had to run, Jack. Oh, no, I wasn't going to go without the Colonel, so I just caught him up and swung him well over my shoulder, and ran. Just as I got into shelter a bullet struck me on the buckle of my sporran belt, and down I went. No, not even scratched.
"And, Jack, Sir Colin has made an officer of me. I believe I am a lieutenant, and he says he will get me the Victoria Cross.
Final Battle of Lucknow. 355
"'But, Sir Colin Campbell,' I ventured to say, 'I really don't deserve it.'
" ' Why, my lad, why ? ' he said.
" ' Well,' I replied, ' it isn't usual, is it, Sir Colin, to get the Victoria Cross for running away, and that is precisely what I did, General ? '
" The dear old man laughed right heartily, and bade me be off like a good boy, and not bother him.
" Oh, Jack, isn't this glorious news ! What will mother
say ? and what will Annie . Oh, but I forgot ; I
must never, never, never think of her ! "
I do not mean to describe at any great length the last siege of Lucknow.
But Sir Colin captured the Dilkoosha once more on the 3rd of March, and so smartly did the guns open fire on the rebels beyond the canal that they were soon obliged to retire.
And now it was all one long fight until the 14th of March, when the third line of the enemy's works were turned.
" Then," says Holmes, " the bonds of discipline, already strained by the tumultous joy of an unexpected triumph, were burst by the mad lust for plunder. British soldiers and Sikhs ran hither and thither through the spacious courts within the citadel, firing at the windows; while others, bent upon seizing the treasures that were stored in the rooms, surged around the doors, and dashed their muskets against the panels, or fired at the fastenings.
356 On to the Rescue.
" By the fountains, and among the orange-groves of the courts, the bodies of dead and dying Sepoys were scattered, while a British soldier, unnoticed by his heed- less companions, was leaning against a statue, gasping out his life, and at every gasp deluging the white plaster with his blood.
" The groans of the dying were drowned by the yells of the combatants, the frequent reports of fire-arms, the crash of shivered window-panes, and the roar of a fire that the plunderers had wantonly kindled in the middle of the court. Ever and anon soldiers came streaming out of the rooms through the shattered doorways laden with plunder, and, laughing at the threats and entreaties of their helpless officers, flung all they could not carry away pictures and furniture and china vases into the fire."
Majendie tells us that when the last of the rebels were driven from the city, about the 21st of March, the appearance of the city was sadly different from what it had been nine months before.
" The gilded domes, the minarets, and the long faqades were battered and riddled with shot ; swollen and distorted corpses were floating down the river, and foul birds of prey were hovering over them. The once gorgeous rooms of the palace were strewn with shattered mirrors, battered furniture, broken statues, and putrid corpses; artillery horses were picketed in the gardens; soldiers in their shirt sleeves were smoking and drinking in the corridors. The bazaars were deserted ; and in the squalid streets in the meaner portion of the town no living thing was to be seen, save here and there a pariah dog, a decrepit beggar,
Final Battle of Lucknow. 357
or a lurking budmash; for the bulk of the peaceable inhabitants had fled in terror ; and the Sepoys and rebels had gone to join the implacable talookdars, who still bade defiance to the British power."
Strangely enough Willie and Jack, the former accom- panied by brave Sergeant McKinnon, met in the deserted town at the very spot where, in the hour of victory, the gallant Scot ISTeill had fallen in that terrible rush to the Residency Havelock's first relief of Lucknow. He had been shot through the head, and fell dead from his horse. Truly a soldier's death !
Under the shadow of an archway then, that spanned the street and hid a portion of it from the blinding glare of the sunlight, the two friends met once again.
Jack was alone, and so bright was the sun's glare, that when he heard footsteps under the bridge he could see no one ; so his hand mechanically sought his sword-hilt.
" Jack, my boy, we meet again. And here is my trusty friend the sergeant."
Then hands joined hands.
"I tell you what it is Jack," said Willie, again referring to McKinnon, "my friend here bears a charmed life. He is ever in the thickest of the fighting, but he never receives even a scratch.
"And," added Willie, "it isn't once that my friend here has done a deed that deserves the Victoria Cross, but a dozen times."
Jack extended his hand, which stalwart McKinnon took modestly enough.
" I am truly glad," said Jack, " to shake hands with a brave man."
35 8 On to the Rescue.
" Toot, toot, lads ! " replied McKinnon, blushing like a schoolboy. " We 've all done our duty ; but, alas ! many and many a man has earned the Cross who will never wear it, because they lie cold in death."
" Ay," said Jack, " that is true. And poor Hodson, of Hodson's Horse, is among the number, and McDonald."
" I saw them both fall, sir/' said the sergeant.
" McDonald," he added, " was killed first. I think he had a presentiment that day he was going to die, for before the fight he pulled a rose, and gave it to that bravest of surgeons, Dr. Munro. ' Good-bye, dear friend,' he said, 'keep this for my sake.' Though he was a captain, you know, sir, he was only a boy. He was wounded first by a splinter from a shell, but refused to go to the rear. He led his company bravely through the breach, and was killed inside while waving his sword above his head.* "Wood then led the charge, and with us went Hodson as a volunteer, so fond of fighting was he. When we got out of the ditch around the Begum's palace the fight raged for two hours, and poor Hodson fell in a doorway, sabre in hand. He just got out the three words, ' Oh, my wife ! ' when blood choked his utterance, and down he dropped."
" Ah ! " sighed Willie Saunders, " after all, war is a terrible thing. Just look at the gloom and desolation all around us now ! "
"It is too terrible to think of. Come, I am going to the tree-shaded Dilkoosha. It will be far more pleasant to talk of home than of war. Come, men, come."
WILLIE'S LETTER TO HIS MOTHER.
HE heather was once more a-bloom on the moors, and high above the Lodge of Balaklava it covered all the hills and braes with purple and crimson. Glorious times for sportsmen, but sad for the grouse, for dogs, ghillies, and guns were skirmishing here, there, and everywhere, and the sharp ring of fowling-pieces singly, doubly, and sometimes even in little volleys, could be heard sounding afar on the crisp, clear mountain air.
The two lairds, Saunders and Morrison, were as usual out together, and about two o'clock they had thrown themselves down beside a turf-wall, to enjoy their luncheon along with their faithful dogs.
While they sat there, laughing and talking together, the sharp excited barking of a collie could be heard. It was Bruce himself Willie's friend and behind him came running a bareheaded kilted urchin of a boy.
At first Saunders thought that something must be
360 On to the Rescue.
wrong at the Baven's Nest, but the glad look on the lad's face I might almost say on Bruce's too quickly banished this idea.
" Well, Bobbie," said the laird, " what is it, lad ?"
" Oh, gin [if] ye please, sir, the mistress says ye maun a' three come hame to the Baven's Nest to dine the nicht."
"What!" cried Laird Saunders, "has your young master returned?"
" Na, na," said Bobbie, " nae sic luck. But the mistress has gotten a letter, and oh, sir, it maun be good news, 'cause she was greetin ower 't [crying over it], but smilin' through her tears a' the same. So ye 'll nae forget."
" Not likely, Bobbie. But there, sit down and have a bite and share the snack with Bruce."
So down sat Bobbie and Bruce, and I don't know which of the two looked the happier.
Yes it was a gladsome letter Mrs. Saunders had received, and it was from Willie.
Was Willie well ?
The answer to this question is that he had had the usual luck of a soldier. He had fallen in battle, severely wounded. But in a month's time he was so far recovered that he was able to stand the journey to Calcutta, whence he was to be sent home with many more invalids, not only from his own regiment, but from others.
That was a very happy dinner-party at the Baven's Nest, for, not content with inviting Colonel Lindsay and Laird Morrison from the hills, Mrs. Saunders had sent word to Balaldava Lodge for Mrs. Lindsay and Annie also to drive over, So here they all were in the cosy
Willie's Letter to his Mother. 361
drawing-room after dinner. A bright fire burned in the grate, for in August the Highland winds are keen, and all sat round it, while Mrs. Saunders read that letter with the Calcutta postmark on it, and the strange and foreign- looking stamps.
I am of opinion that that collie dog Bruce knew his master was coming home, for all the time Mrs. Saunders was reading he sat by her side with his chin resting on her knee, and his bonnie brown eyes fixed lovingly on her face.
" Dearest Mother," the letter began, " I have so much that is strange, and, alas ! so much that is sad to tell you, that I hardly know where to begin. You must have been very much frightened when you heard that I was dangerously wounded. Well, there might have been some danger, because Dr. Munro said so, and he is the bravest surgeon ever I knew. He was always in the front, and as often under fire on the field of battle as any of us. They say, mother, that I shall receive the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery in the presence of the foe, but I am sure I do not deserve it half as much as Munro. Well, I have one or two regrets, and one is that I was not wounded in a great battle instead of in a mere skirmish. And I regret also that I was wounded at all, because I should have liked to have stuck to my company and seen the very, very last of this terrible rebellion. You must know too that it was honest Fergus MacKinnon who saved my life. He bandaged up my wound on the field of fight, and after- wards helped to carry me to the rear with his own hands arid his own crimson sash. Ah! mother, that was a
362 On to the Rescue.
bonnie sash once, but it is now only a dark blood-stained ragged rope.
"I am writing this letter on board the ship that is going to take us all home. I and another invalid officer have got a cabin all to our two selves, and Jack Morrison is sitting by my side as I write. When I finish it he will go on shore and post it.
" Fancy dear old Jack coming home with me, mother. I was lying in bed in hospital thinking how little I should enjoy the long voyage home, having no one to talk to, when I heard a voice just outside the door that I knew at once belonged to no one but just Jack, and next minute the honest, brown-faced fellow was bending over me."
"That's my boy," interrupted Laird Morrison with pardonable pride. "My own lad, God bless him, and send the boys safely home."
"Well, mother, I have been getting better every day since Jack took charge of me.
" But I am not the only one that Jack has in charge, mother, and hereby lies a sad and sorrowful tale. There have been so many terrible things happening every day in India that I do not wish to grieve you by a relation of half what I know, so I must be very brief. Besides, mother, it is Jack's story, and he will, I hope, before many weeks are over, tell it to you by word of mouth at our own fireside.
" Well, you know, Jack had a very happy and comfort- able home at Agra. He dearly loved the children, Jessie and Teddie, and his chief Mr. Mayne also ; and Mrs. Mayne, he says, was just like a mother to him.
Willie e Letter to his Mother. 363
"And during all those dreadful months in Lucknow and at the fort of Alma Bagh he never ceased thinking and praying for their safety. But somehow, he says, he had some forebodings that all was not welL
" The misery began as far back as June 5th, 1857, and not at Jack's home in Agra, but in Jhansi. Some time before this Mr. Mayne had business of very great im- portance that took him to Gwalior, and curiously enough his wife insisted upon going with him and taking the children too. It was a strange resolve, but resolve it was. Well, they were there when the mutiny broke out at Jhansi. Jack tells me he knew the Ranee personally. She was the Queen, you must know, and a tall, beautiful, and splendid woman she was, but a bitter foe to British rule. Perhaps she had cause to be, for we Britons had annexed Jhansi, and the Ranee, a widow of the late Rajah, was meagrely pensioned off. Moreover the English had insulted her religion by slaughtering cows in the city, and she was burning for revenge. Her time came soon after the first awful outbreak of the mutiny at Meerut, and on the 5th of June the Sepoys seized some forts outside the city.
"On the afternoon of the 6th the mutiny became general, for on that dreadful day the Sepoys rose in force, and murdered all their officers with one exception. Then gaols were broken open, and the convicts, joining the townspeople, marched upon the forts where the Europeans had taken refuge.
"It was a hopeless defence our people made. They had neither ammunition nor supplies to stand a siege, and there was no hope of help coming from anywhere.
364 On to the Rescue.
So on the morning of the 7th three messengers left the garrison to visit the Eanee and beg for mercy. Her answer was, ' I have nothing to say to these English swine. Away with them to the death they so richly deserve.'
"In a few minutes more those poor fellows were murdered.
" The Eanee after this sent to the garrison to say that all she required was possession of the forts, and that if the Europeans would lay down their arms they, with their wives and little ones, might march forth, and would be safely escorted to another part of the country.
"It was death in either way. But oh, mother, what follows will hardly bear repetition. For instead of keeping her promise the wicked Eanee gave orders for a wholesale massacre, and neither man, woman, nor helpless babe was left alive.
" It was shortly after this that the mutiny at Gwalior broke out.
" And here the Maynes were at the time.
" It is sad to think that but for the utter folly of the Brigadier, many a precious life might have been saved.
" I must not tell you, mother, of this massacre further than it concerned the Maynes. It broke out like many others with the firing of the nine o'clock gun. At that moment, as though it were a death-knell, the Sepoys rushed into their huts and seized their guns and sallied forth.
"A minute or two after the rattling of musketry fell upon the ears of Jack's unhappy friends, accompanied
Willie's Letter to his Mother. 365
by the yells of the murdering Sepoys, and many a piercing scream and piteous appeal for mercy.
" There was not a moment to lose, but where could the Maynes fly to ? Mrs. Mayne, however, caught Jessie in her arms, and her husband took Teddie, and together they rushed forth to hide in the bushes in the garden of the bungalow where they had been living. To have gone farther would have been but to court earlier death, for the darkness was everywhere illumined by the blaze of burning dwellings.
"They lay concealed here for hours, expecting every minute to be discovered and put to death. They saw the bungalow stripped and looted, and then set on fire, while the demon mutineers danced and yelled and fought for the loot but a few yards from them.
"Two hours after this the din of fire-raising and murder sounded farther off, and the darkness had once more settled down around them. Worn out with fear and fatigue, poor little Jessie and Teddie had sunk to sleep, while their wretched parents sat beside them, dumb with a grief too deep for tears. Well they knew that with the daylight discovery would come and then
. But in the moonlight that followed soon after
twelve they saw through the bushes where they lay concealed the flutter of white garments, and immediately after heard the voices of their own two faithful Sepoys who had come from Agra with them, and that also of the ayah.
"Cramped and miserable though he was, Mayne crept out from his concealment, and presented himself before them. He could not be sure even that they
366 On to the Rescue.
would be faithful. But they were, and Jack tells me that this was by no means a solitary instance of native servants remaining faithful and true to their European masters.
"They were taken to a hut not far of, and there concealed, Jessie and Teddie still asleep.
"What a terrible awakening they had, poor little things. For at daybreak they were discovered by some Sepoys, and, oh, mother! Mr. Mayne was killed there before the very eyes of his wife and children.
" Is it any wonder that the poor lady was dead to the world from that hour ?
"Jessie's gentle ayah told Jack all the pitiful story when he went at last to Agra. How the two Sepoys and the ayah herself managed, during the darkness of the next night, to take the lady and children out and away into the jungle, and how they then all began their terrible march to Agra, hiding all day in the jungles like wild beasts, and only coming out at night to resume their journey. How they suffered from hunger and from thirst, how their shoes were lost and their feet cut, and how their clothes were torn from their backs with the thorns, and how poor wee Jessie and Teddie cried with fear and dread to hear the wild beasts roar around them, as they hurried on through the darkness towards the distant city of Agra.
" No ; Mrs. Mayne never recovered her reason, and it was probably best, mother.
" But they reached the city and fort at last, and then the lady sank and died.
" This is not a tenth part of the terrible story, mother,
Willie's Letter to his Mother. 367
but it is all I now can tell you. Jack himself will do the rest.
"And what do you think Jack has done? Why he has constituted himself, or been constituted, guardian of these helpless infants, and they and their faithful ayah are coming home with us in the same ship.
"The children are not poor, mother; but Jack says that if they had not a penny in the world they should live with him, and he should be a father to them."
There was much more in Willie's letter to his mother, with which I need not trouble the reader.
But when she had finished there was a few moments of silence; then Laird Morrison held out his hand to Saunders.
Neither spoke. They simply shook hands.
But that hand-clasp spoke volumes.
And perhaps, as hand met hand, a prayer went up from each a prayer which breathed thankfulness to God who had given to each a son, for whom he never yet had cause to blush.
TWO YEARS AFTER THE MUTINY.
HE Royal Lady who has ruled so long over tliis great country has a soft side towards "puir auld Scotland."
Nor need the English be at all jealous of this, for she dearly loves her people one and all. But it was, it will be remembered, at Balmoral, under the shadow of the grand old hills, that she spent her younger and her happiest days, when her children were bairnies all, and when the Prince Consort himself, like Byron in bygone times,
" Rov'd a young Highlander o'er the dark heath."
It was the proudest day in Willie Saunders's life then, when, with her own fair fingers, Her Majesty pinned the decoration of the Victoria Cross upon his manly breast. Naturally enough our hero's head was all in a whirl, and he could hardly afterwards remember what it was the Queen had actually said to him; but the words were somewhat as follows:
Two Years after the Mutiny. 369
"It is brave men like you, who make and uphold empires."
For a whole year after this Willie held his commission in his regiment, but there was no prospect of war, and garrison duty became terribly monotonous to him after a time. Besides his father the good laird was not getting very much younger. People don't as a rule. So, every- thing being taken into consideration, Willie determined to retire from what, under the circumstances, could hardly be called active service.
He had only been once home at the dear old Glen since his return to England, and that only for a week. He had taken good care, too, to choose a time when he knew that Annie Lindsay and her parents were in London. Willie believed he had quite gotten over his passion for Miss Lindsay by this time, and that he could come back to Eaven's Nest, and even visit at Balaklava Lodge with perfect impunity.
How little we know our own hearts !
So Willie Saunders doffed his uniform at last, and back to the Glen, and at once began to settle down to his old life and his old ways. To see him now as he rode down the strath, or up to pay a forenoon or evening visit to his friend Jack Morrison, at the Firs, as Jack's new house was called, anyone would have taken him for a handsome and well-to-do young farmer ; but few, indeed, could have guessed that he had come through so much in so short a time entered the army and risen from the ranks through attention to duty ; fought and bled in his 2 A
37O On to the Rescue.
country's cause; been gazetted and won the Victoria Cross; all in the space of four brief years.
Many who knew him thought and said that his career had been all too brief, but they prophesied that if ever his service were needed again he would once more draw the sword he now had sheathed, and once again lead his company to battle and to victory.
But there never would be any more war. So preached the young minister from the pulpit on the very first Sunday -after Willie's return. "The time was fast ap- proaching," cried this juvenile enthusiast, bringing his white hand down with a convincing bang upon the pulpit cushion, "nay, the time was already here, when peace had spread her white wings on the balmy breeze, and war flown far away.
" The beam that shines from Sion hill
Shall lighten every land, The King who reigns in Salem's tower Shall all the world command.
" No strife shall rage, nor hostile feuds
Disturb these peaceful years, To ploughshares men shall beat their swords, To pruning-hooks their spears.
" No longer hosts encountering hosts
Shall crowds of slain deplore ; They hang the trumpet in the hall, And study war no more."
The minister who droned from the pulpit is older and wiser now, and knows that men's hearts and the souls of emperors and kings cannot be changed by one brief war.
Two Years after the Mutiny. 371
But let us follow Willie to The Firs. The Firs is a new house entirely, and prettily do its grey gables look, peeping up through the greenery of the woods on the brae yonder on this beautiful day in early summer.
Jack himself meets Willie at the gate. The same blue-eyed, brown-faced Jack we knew before, only he seems altered just a trifle. He is rounder in the face, and has lost the weary, haggard glare he had in Lucknow.
" Come in, Willie. Come in. We were expecting you. Of course you'll stop to dinner. Yes, we are all at home my wife, and Teddie, Jessie, and all."
It is soon evident enough that Jessie and Teddie were, for they come in with a rush through the casement window that opens on to the lawn, followed by a pet lamb that has almost grown into a sheep, and a huge deerhound dog.
The children run to welcome " Uncle Willie," as they call our hero, and Teddie insists on scrambling up on his knee.
Bruce, Willie's favourite collie, thinks it rather strange for a sheep to be admitted into the drawing-room, but Oscar, the great deerhound, explains, and Bruce is content.
Then the curtain is drawn back, and Lily Wood herself enters the room.
Ah, but Lily Wood is Mrs. Morrison now, and has been so for some time.
The conversation now becomes general, and is proceed- ing quietly and easily enough, when two more visitors are announced.
372 On to the Rescue.
Colonel Lindsay and Miss Lindsay.
It is the first time that Willie has seen Annie since they parted years and years ago, though he has frequently met the Colonel
How very beautiful Annie is !
Willie can't get up to shake hands with her, because Teddie is on one knee, and Jessie on the other; but as Annie comes quietly and smiling towards him, all the blood in his body seems suddenly to get up into hia head and face. It is soon over, however. The dreaded meeting is past, but Willie Saunders has made one dis- covery he loves Annie Lindsay still.
I wonder who it was who first proposed that picnic to distant Glen-Orla ? I have had the impression all along that Lily, that is, Mrs. Morrison, had something if not everything to do with it, and some day I mean to ask her. Well, everybody who went to it was very happy. It was a very beautiful day, and the sunset was a wonderful one, so was the moonrise.
I do not know how it fell out, but Willie lost his way in taking a cross-cut through a birchen wood, in order to rejoin the party and prepare for the return. Somehow he did not seem to mind it very much, for Annie was by his side. Had he been very grieved about the matter he could have easily referred it all to Bruce the collie, and he would have put them on the right track in a very brief time indeed.
But they found their party at last. The moon was pretty high by this time, and casting a flood of silvery light over hill and dell.
" Jack," whispered Lily to her husband as the truant
Two Years after the Mutiny. 373
pair came slowly back, " Jack, isn't it delightful ? they are walking hand in hand."
Yes, that is true, reader, they were hand in hand, Bruce walking close behind, and looking very knowing and very pleased indeed.
And hand in hand for the future they would walk through the vale of life.
"Peter," said Willie Saunders one day about seven weeks after the picnic, " we can't be so near to dear old Dover without calling at the Albyn."
" Oh no, sir ; we must go and see the sairgent."
So the beautiful yacht on which "Willie arid Annie were afloat on their bridal tour quietly entered the harbour.
Two hours after this Captain William Saunders and his one-handed valet, Peter McKay, walked right straight into the cosy little parlour of the Albyn Inn.
And in with a rush and run came Ellen herself, and smilingly stood before them, both hands extended, and the bonniest blush on her face that ever you saw.
But hand-shaking over, she ran into the passage once more.
" Oh, Fergus," she cried to her husband, now landlord of the Albyn, "come quickly, the two soldier lads are here."
What a pleasant hour that was the three old friends spent together !
" I 'm just as happy as happy can be," said Sergeant McKinnon, "and you've no idea what a dear little woman of a wife Ellen makes me."
"I have an idea," said Willie, "because I've just got married myself, and Fergus, dear old friend, before you are a day older you have got to come and see us, and bring Mrs. McKinnon with you."
And so he did.
And so ends my story.