Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: The Tiger of Mysore - A Story of the War with Tippoo Saib
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Tiger of Mysore - A Story of the War with Tippoo Saib" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



THE TIGER OF MYSORE:

A Story of the War with Tippoo Saib

by

G. A. HENTY.

Illustrated by W. H. Margetson

1895



            Preface.
Chapter  1: A Lost Father.
Chapter  2: A Brush With Privateers.
Chapter  3: The Rajah.
Chapter  4: First Impressions.
Chapter  5: War Declared.
Chapter  6: A Perilous Adventure.
Chapter  7: Besieged.
Chapter  8: The Invasion Of Mysore.
Chapter  9: News Of The Captive.
Chapter 10: In Disguise.
Chapter 11: A Useful Friend.
Chapter 12: A Tiger In A Zenana.
Chapter 13: Officers Of The Palace.
Chapter 14: A Surprise.
Chapter 15: Escape.
Chapter 16: The Journey.
Chapter 17: Back At Tripataly.
Chapter 18: A Narrow Escape.
Chapter 19: Found At Last.
Chapter 20: The Escape.
Chapter 21: Home.



Preface.


While some of our wars in India are open to the charge that they were
undertaken on slight provocation, and were forced on by us in order
that we might have an excuse for annexation, our struggle with Tippoo
Saib was, on the other hand, marked by a long endurance of wrong, and
a toleration of abominable cruelties perpetrated upon Englishmen and
our native allies. Hyder Ali was a conqueror of the true Eastern type.
He was ambitious in the extreme. He dreamed of becoming the Lord of
the whole of Southern India. He was an able leader, and, though
ruthless where it was his policy to strike terror, he was not cruel
from choice.

His son, Tippoo, on the contrary, revelled in acts of the most
abominable cruelty. It would seem that he massacred for the very
pleasure of massacring, and hundreds of British captives were killed
by famine, poison, or torture, simply to gratify his lust for murder.
Patience was shown towards this monster until patience became a fault,
and our inaction was naturally ascribed by him to fear. Had firmness
been shown by Lord Cornwallis, when Seringapatam was practically in
his power, the second war would have been avoided and thousands of
lives spared. The blunder was a costly one to us, for the work had to
be done all over again, and the fault of Lord Cornwallis retrieved by
the energy and firmness of the Marquis of Wellesley.

The story of the campaign is taken from various sources, and the
details of the treatment of the prisoners from the published
narratives of two officers who effected their escape from prisons.

G. A. Henty.



Chapter 1: A Lost Father.


"There is no saying, lad, no saying at all. All I know is that your
father, the captain, was washed ashore at the same time as I was. As
you have heard me say, I owed my life to him. I was pretty nigh gone
when I caught sight of him, holding on to a spar. Spent as I was, I
managed to give a shout loud enough to catch his ear. He looked round.
I waved my hand and shouted, 'Goodbye, Captain!' Then I sank lower and
lower, and felt that it was all over, when, half in a dream, I heard
your father's voice shout, 'Hold on, Ben!' I gave one more struggle,
and then I felt him catch me by the arm. I don't remember what
happened, until I found myself lashed to the spar beside him.

"'That is right, Ben,' he said cheerily, as I held up my head; 'you
will do now. I had a sharp tussle to get you here, but it is all
right. We are setting inshore fast. Pull yourself together, for we
shall have a rough time of it in the surf. Anyhow, we will stick
together, come what may.'

"As the waves lifted us up, I saw the coast, with its groves of
coconuts almost down to the water's edge, and white sheets of surf
running up high on the sandy beach. It was not more than a hundred
yards away, and the captain sang out,

"'Hurrah! There are some natives coming down. They will give us a
hand.'

"Next time we came up on a wave, he said, 'When we get close, Ben, we
must cut ourselves adrift from this spar, or it will crush the life
out of us; but before we do that, I will tie the two of us together.'

"He cut a bit of rope from the raffle hanging from the spar, and tied
one end round my waist and the other round his own, leaving about five
fathoms loose between us.

"'There,' he shouted in my ear. 'If either of us gets chucked well up,
and the natives get a hold of him, the other must come up, too. Now
mind, Ben, keep broadside on to the wave if you can, and let it roll
you up as far as it will take you. Then, when you feel that its force
is spent, stick your fingers and toes into the sand, and hold on like
grim death.'

"Well, we drifted nearer and nearer until, just as we got to the point
where the great waves tumbled over, the captain cut the lashings and
swam a little away, so as to be clear of the spar. Then a big wave
came towering up. I was carried along like a straw in a whirlpool.
Then there was a crash that pretty nigh knocked the senses out of me.
I do not know what happened afterwards. It was a confusion of white
water rushing past and over me. Then for a moment I stopped, and at
once made a clutch at the ground that I had been rolling over. There
was a big strain, and I was hauled backwards as if a team of wild
horses were pulling at me. Then there was a jerk, and I knew nothing
more, till I woke up and found myself on the sands, out of reach of
the surf.

"Your father did not come to for half an hour. He had been hurt a bit
worse than I had, but at last he came round.

"Well, we were kept three months in a sort of castle place; and then
one day a party of chaps, with guns and swords, came into the yard
where we were sitting. The man, who seemed the head of the fellows who
had been keeping us prisoners, walked up with one who was evidently an
officer over the chaps as had just arrived. He looked at us both, and
then laid his hand on the captain. Then the others came up.

"The captain had just time to say, 'We are going to be parted, Ben.
God bless you! If ever you get back, give my love to my wife, and tell
her what has happened to me, and that she must keep up her heart, for
I shall make a bolt of it the first time I get a chance.'

"The next day, I was taken off to a place they call Calicut. There I
stopped a year, and then the rajah of the place joined the English
against Tippoo, who was lord of all the country, and I was released. I
had got, by that time, to talk their lingo pretty well, though I have
forgotten it all now, and I had found out that the chaps who had taken
your father away were a party sent down by Tippoo, who, having heard
that two Englishmen had been cast on shore, had insisted upon one of
them being handed over to him.

"It is known that a great many of the prisoners in Tippoo's hands have
been murdered in their dungeons. He has sworn, over and over again,
that he has no European prisoners, but every one knows that he has
numbers of them in his hands. Whether the captain is one of those who
have been murdered, or whether he is still in one of Tippoo's
dungeons, is more than I or any one else can say."

"Well, as I have told you, Ben, that is what we mean to find out."

"I know that is what your mother has often said, lad, but it seems to
me that you have more chance of finding the man in the moon than you
have of learning whether your father is alive, or not."

"Well, we are going to try, anyhow, Ben. I know it's a difficult job,
but Mother and I have talked it over, ever since you came home with
the news, three years ago; so I have made up my mind, and nothing can
change me. You see, I have more chances than most people would have.
Being a boy is all in my favour; and then, you know, I talk the
language just as well as English."

"Yes, of course that is a pull, and a big one; but it is a desperate
undertaking, lad, and I can't say as I see how it is to be done."

"I don't see either, Ben, and I don't expect to see until we get out
there; but, desperate or not, Mother and I are going to try."

Dick Holland, the speaker, was a lad of some fifteen years of age. His
father, who was captain of a fine East Indiaman, had sailed from
London when he was nine, and had never returned. No news had been
received of the ship after she touched at the Cape, and it was
supposed that she had gone down with all hands; until, nearly three
years later, her boatswain, Ben Birket, had entered the East India
Company's office, and reported that he himself, and the captain, had
been cast ashore on the territories of the Rajah of Coorg; the sole
survivors, as far as he knew, of the Hooghley.

After an interview with the Directors, he had gone straight to the
house at Shadwell inhabited by Mrs. Holland. She had left there, but
had removed to a smaller one a short distance away, where she lived
upon the interest of the sum that her husband had invested from his
savings, and from a small pension granted to her by the Company.

Mrs. Holland was a half caste, the daughter of an English woman who
had married a young rajah. Her mother's life had been a happy one; but
when her daughter had reached the age of sixteen, she died, obtaining
on her deathbed the rajah's consent that the girl should be sent to
England to be educated, while her son, who was three years younger,
should remain with his father.

Over him she had exercised but little influence. He had been brought
up like the sons of other native princes, and, save for his somewhat
light complexion, the English blood in his veins would never have been
suspected.

Margaret, on the other hand, had been under her mother's care, and as
the latter had always hoped that the girl would, at any rate for a
time, go to her family in England, she had always conversed with her
in that language, and had, until her decreasing strength rendered it
no longer possible, given her an English education.

In complexion and appearance, she took far more after her English
mother than the boy had done; and, save for her soft, dark eyes, and
glossy, jet-black hair, might have passed as of pure English blood.
When she sailed, it was with the intention of returning to India, in
the course of a few years; but this arrangement was overthrown by the
fact that on the voyage, John Holland, the handsome young first mate
of the Indiaman, completely won her heart, and they were married a
fortnight after the vessel came up the Thames.

The matter would not have been so hurried had not a letter she posted
on landing, to her mother's sister, who had promised her a home,
received an answer written in a strain which determined her to yield,
at once, to John Holland's pressing entreaties that they should be
married without delay. Her aunt had replied that she had consented to
overlook the conduct of her mother, in uniting herself to a native,
and to receive her for a year at the rectory; but that her behaviour,
in so precipitately engaging herself to a rough sailor, rendered it
impossible to countenance her. As she stated that she had come over
with a sum sufficient to pay her expenses, while in England, she
advised her to ask the captain--who, by the way, must have grossly
neglected his duties by allowing an intimacy between her and his
mate--to place her in some school, where she would be well looked
after until her return to India.

The Indian blood in Margaret's veins boiled fiercely, and she wrote
her aunt a letter which caused that lady to congratulate herself on
the good fortune that had prevented her from having to receive, under
her roof, a girl of so objectionable and violent a character.

Although the language that John Holland used concerning this letter
was strong, indeed, he was well satisfied, as he had foreseen that it
was not probable Margaret's friends would have allowed her to marry
him, without communicating with her father; and that the rajah might
have projects of his own for her disposal. He laid the case before the
captain, who placed her in charge of his wife, until the marriage took
place.

Except for the long absences of her husband, Margaret's life had been
a very happy one, and she was looking forward to the time when, after
another voyage, he would be able to give up his profession and settle
down upon his savings.

When months passed by, and no news came of the Hooghley having reached
port, Mrs. Holland at once gave up her house and moved into a smaller
one; for, although her income would have been sufficient to enable her
to remain where she was, she determined to save every penny she was
able, for the sake of her boy. She was possessed of strong common
sense and firmness of character, and when Ben Birket returned with his
tale, he was surprised at the composure with which she received it.

"I have always," she said, "had a conviction that John was still
alive, and have not allowed Dick to think of his father as dead; and
now I believe, as firmly as before, that someday John will be restored
to me. I myself can do nothing towards aiding him. A woman can do
little, here. She can do nothing in India, save among her own people.
I shall wait patiently, for a time. It may be that this war will
result in his release. But in the meantime, I shall continue to
prepare Dick to take up the search for him, as soon as he is old
enough.

"I hear, once a year, from my brother, who is now rajah; and he will
be able to aid my boy, in many ways. However, for a time I must be
patient and wait. I have learnt to wait, during my husband's long
absences; and besides, I think that the women of India are a patient
race. I trust that John will yet come home to me, but if not, when it
is time, we will try to rescue him."

Ben said nothing, at the time, to damp her courage; but he shook his
head, as he left the cottage.

"Poor creature," he said. "I would not say anything to discourage her,
but for a woman and boy to try to get a captive out of the claws of
the Tiger of Mysore is just madness."

Each time he returned from a voyage, Ben called upon Mrs. Holland. He
himself had given up every vestige of hope, when it was known that the
name of her husband was not among the list of those whom Tippoo had
been forced to release. Margaret Holland, however, still clung to
hope. Her face was paler, and there was a set, pathetic expression in
it; so, when she spoke of her husband as being still alive, Ben would
sooner have cut out his tongue than allow the slightest word,
indicative of his own feeling of certainty as to the captain's fate,
to escape him; and he always made a pretence of entering warmly into
her plans.

The training, as she considered it, of her son went on steadily. She
always conversed with him in her father's language, and he was able to
speak it as well as English. She was ever impressing upon him that he
must be strong and active. When he was twelve, she engaged an old
soldier, who had set up a sort of academy, to instruct him in the use
of the sword; and in such exercises as were calculated to strengthen
his muscles, and to give him strength and agility.

Unlike most mothers, she had no word of reproach when he returned home
from school with a puffed face, or cut lips; the signs of battle.

"I do not want you to be quarrelsome," she often said to him, "but I
have heard your father say that a man who can use his fists well is
sure to be cool and quick, in any emergency. You know what is before
you, and these qualities are of far more importance, in your case,
than any book learning. Therefore, Dick, I say, never quarrel on your
own account, but whenever you see a boy bullying a smaller one, take
the opportunity of giving him a lesson while learning one yourself. In
the days of old, you know, the first duty of a true knight was to
succour the oppressed, and I want you to be a true knight. You will
get thrashed sometimes, no doubt, but don't mind that. Perhaps, next
time, you will turn the tables."

Dick acted upon this advice and, by the time he was fifteen, had
established a reputation among, not only the boys of his own school,
but of the district. In addition to his strength and quickness, he had
a fund of dogged endurance, and imperturbable good temper, that did
not fail him; even on the rare occasions when, in combats with boys
much older than himself, he was forced to admit himself defeated.

The fact that he fought, not because he was angry, but as if it were a
matter of business, gave him a great advantage; and his readiness to
take up the cause of any boy ill-treated by another was so notorious,
that "I will tell Dick Holland" became a threat that saved many a boy
from being burned.

Ten days before his conversation with Ben, his mother had said:

"Dick, I can stand this no longer. I have tried to be patient, for six
years, but I can be patient no longer. I feel that another year of
suspense would kill me. Therefore, I have made up my mind to sail at
once. The voyage will take us five months, and perhaps you may have to
remain some little time, at my brother's, before you can start.

"Now that the time is come, I think that perhaps I am about to do
wrong, and that it may cost you your life. But I cannot help it, Dick.
I dream of your father almost every night, and I wake up thinking that
I hear him calling upon me to help him. I feel that I should go mad,
if this were to last much longer."

"I am ready, Mother," the boy said, earnestly. "I have been hoping,
for some time, that you would say you would start soon; and though I
have not, of course, the strength of a man, I think that will be more
than made up by the advantage I should have, as a boy, in looking for
my father; and at any rate, from what you tell me, I should think that
I am quite as strong as an average native of your country.

"Anyhow, Mother, I am sure that it will be best for us to go now. It
must have been awful for you, waiting all this time; and though you
have never said anything about it, I have noticed for a long time that
you were looking ill, and was sure that you were worrying terribly.
What would be the use of staying any longer? I should not be very much
stronger in another year than I am now, and a year would seem an age,
to Father."

And so it was settled, and Mrs. Holland at once began to make
preparations for their departure. She had already, without saying
anything to Dick, given notice that she should give up the house. She
had, during the six years, saved a sum of money amply sufficient for
the expenses of the journey and outfit, and she had now only to order
clothes for herself and Dick, and to part with her furniture.

Ben, on his return, had heard with grave apprehension that she was
about to carry out her intention; but, as he saw that any remonstrance
on his part would be worse than useless, he abstained from offering
any, and warmly entered into her plans. After an hour's talk, he had
proposed to Dick to go out for a stroll with him.

"I am glad to have a talk with you, Ben," Dick said. "Of course, I
have heard, from Mother, what you told her when you came home; but I
shall be glad to hear it from you, so as to know exactly how it all
was. You know she feels sure that Father is still alive. I should like
to know what your opinion really is about it. Of course, it will make
no difference, as I should never say anything to her; but I should
like to know whether you think there is any possibility of his being
alive."

To this Ben had replied as already related. He was silent when Dick
asserted that, desperate or not, he intended to carry out his mother's
plan.

"I would not say as I think it altogether desperate, as far as you are
concerned," he said thoughtfully. "It don't seem to me as there is
much chance of your ever getting news of your father, lad; and as to
getting him out of prison, if you do come to hear of him; why, honest,
I would not give a quid of 'baccy for your chance; but I don't say as
I think that it is an altogether desperate job, as far as you are
concerned, yourself. Talking their lingo as you do, it's just possible
as you might be able to travel about, in disguise, without anyone
finding you out; especially as the Rajah, your uncle, ought to be able
to help you a bit, and put you in the way of things, and perhaps send
some trusty chap along with you. There is no doubt you are strong for
your age, and being thin, and nothing but muscle, you would pass
better as a native than if you had been thick and chunky. My old woman
tells me as you have a regular name as a fighter, and that you have
given a lesson to many a bully in the neighbourhood. Altogether, there
is a lot in your favour, and I don't see why you should not pull
through all right; at any rate, even should the worst come to the
worst, and you do get news, somehow, that your poor father has gone
down, I am sure it will be better for your mother than going on as she
has done for the last six years, just wearing herself out with
anxiety."

"I am sure it will, Ben. I can tell you that it is as much as I can
do, sometimes, not to burst out crying when I see her sitting, by the
hour, with her eyes open, but not seeing anything, or moving as much
as a finger--just thinking, and thinking, and thinking.

"I wish we were going out in your ship, Ben."

"I wish you was, lad; but it will be five or six weeks before we are
off again. Anyhow, the ship you are going in--the Madras--is a fine
craft, and the captain bears as high a character as anyone in the
Company's fleet.

"Well, lad, I hope that it will all turn out well. If I could have
talked the lingo like a native, I would have been glad to have gone
with you, and taken my chances. The captain saved my life in that
wreck, and it would only have been right that I should risk mine for
him, if there was but a shadow of chance of its being of use. But I
know that, in a job of this sort, I could be of no good whatsomever,
and should be getting you into trouble before we had gone a mile
together."

"I am sure that you would help, if you could, Ben; but, of course, you
could be of no use."

"And when do you think of being home again, lad?"

"There is no saying, Ben--it may be years. But, however long it takes,
I sha'n't give it up until I find out, for certain, what has become of
my father."

"And ain't there a chance of hearing how you are getting on, Dick? I
shall think of you and your mother, often and often, when I am on deck
keeping my watch at night; and it will seem hard that I mayn't be able
to hear, for years, as to what you are doing."

"The only thing that I can do, Ben, will be to write if I get a chance
of sending a messenger, or for my mother to write to you, to the
office."

"That is it. You send a letter to Ben Birket, boatswain of the
Madeira, care of East India Company, Leadenhall Street; and I shall
get it, sooner or later. Of course, I shall not expect a long yarn,
but just two or three words to tell me how you are getting on, and
whether you have got any news of your father. And if you come back to
England, leave your address at the Company's office for me; for it
ain't an easy matter to find anyone out, in London, unless you have
got their bearings right."

Ten days later, Mrs. Holland and Dick embarked on the Madras. Dick had
been warned, by his mother, to say nothing to anyone on board as to
the object of their voyage.

"I shall mention," she said, "that I am going out to make some
inquiries respecting the truth of a report that has reached me, that
some of those on board the Hooghley, of which my husband was captain,
survived the wreck, and were taken up the country. That will be quite
sufficient. Say nothing about my having been born in India, or that my
father was a native rajah. Some of these officials--and still more,
their wives--are very prejudiced, and consider themselves to be quite
different beings to the natives of the country. I found it so on my
voyage to England.

"At any rate, we don't want our affairs talked about. It will be quite
sufficient for people to know that we are, as I said, going out to
make some inquiries about the truth of this rumour."

"All right, Mother. At any rate, the captain has told you that he will
look after you, and make things comfortable for you, so we need not
care about anything else."

"We certainly need not care, Dick; but it is much more agreeable to
get on nicely with everyone. I was very pleased when Captain Barstow
called yesterday and said that, having heard at the office that the
Mrs. Holland on the passenger list was the widow of his old shipmate,
John Holland, he had come round to see if there was anything that he
could do for her, and he promised to do all in his power to make us
comfortable. Of course, I told him that I did not regard myself as
Captain Holland's widow--that all we knew was that he had got safely
ashore, and had been taken up to Mysore; and, as I had a strong
conviction he was still alive, I was going out to endeavour to
ascertain, from native sources, whether he was still living.

"'Well, ma'am, I hope that you will succeed,' he said. 'All this is
new to me. I thought he was drowned, when the Hooghley went ashore.
Anyhow, Mrs. Holland, I honour you for making this journey, just on
the off chance of hearing something of your husband, and you may be
sure I will do all I can to make the voyage a pleasant one for you.'

"So you see, we shall start favourably, Dick; for the captain can do a
great deal towards adding to the comfort of a passenger. When it is
known, by the purser and steward, that a lady is under the special
care of the captain, it ensures her a larger share of civility, and
special attentions, than she might otherwise obtain."

As soon as they went on board, indeed, the captain came up to them.

"Good morning, Mrs. Holland," he said. "You have done quite right to
come on board early. It gives you a chance of being attended to,
before the stewards are being called for by twenty people at once."

He beckoned to a midshipman.

"Mr. Hart, please tell the purser I wish to speak to him.

"So this is your son, Mrs. Holland? A fine, straight-looking young
fellow. Are you going to put him in the Service? You have a strong
claim, you know, which I am sure the Board would acknowledge."

"Do you know, Captain, it is a matter that I have hardly thought
of--in fact, I have, for years, been so determined to go out and try
and obtain some news of my husband, as soon as Dick was old enough to
journey about as my protector, that I have not thought, as I ought to
have done, what profession he should follow. However, he is only
fifteen yet, and there will be time enough when he gets back."

"If he is to go into the service, the sooner the better, ma'am--one
can hardly begin too young. However, I don't say there are not plenty
of good sailors, afloat, who did not enter until a couple of years
older than he is--there is no strict rule as to age.

"Only fifteen, is he? I should have taken him for at least a year
older. However, if you like, Mrs. Holland, I will put him in the way
of learning a good deal, during the voyage. He might as well be doing
that as loafing about the deck all day."

"Much better, Captain. I am very much obliged to you, and I am sure
that he will be, too."

"I should like it immensely, Captain," Dick exclaimed.

At this moment, the purser came up.

"Mr. Stevenson," the captain said, "this is Mrs. Holland. She is the
wife of my old friend, John Holland--we were midshipmen together on
board the Ganges. He commanded the Hooghley, which was lost, you know,
five or six years ago, somewhere near Calicut. There were two or three
survivors, and he was one of them, and it seems that he was taken up
the country; so Mrs. Holland is going out to endeavour to ascertain
whether he may not be still alive, though perhaps detained by one of
those native princes.

"Please do everything you can to make her comfortable, and tell the
head steward that it is my particular wish she shall be well attended
to. Who is she berthed with?"

The purser took the passenger list from his pocket.

"She is with Mrs. Colonel Williamson, and the wife of Commissioner
Larkins."

The captain gave a grunt of dissatisfaction. The purser went on.

"There is a small cabin vacant, Captain. Two ladies who were to have
it--a mother and daughter--have, I hear this morning, been
unexpectedly detained, owing to the sudden illness of one of them.
Their heavy baggage is all in the hold, and must go on, and they will
follow in the next ship. Shall I put Mrs. Holland in there?"

"Certainly. This is most fortunate.

"I don't think that you would have been comfortable, with the other
two, Mrs. Holland. I don't know the colonel's wife, but Mrs. Larkins
has travelled with us before, and I had quite enough of her on that
voyage."

"Thank you very much, Captain. It will indeed be a comfort to have a
cabin to myself."

Dick found that he was berthed with two young cadets, whose names, he
learned from the cards fastened over the bunks, were Latham and
Fellows.

Half an hour after the arrival of the Hollands on board, the
passengers began to pour in rapidly, and the deck of the Madras was
soon crowded with them, their friends, and their luggage. Below, all
was bustle and confusion. Men shouted angrily to stewards; women,
laden with parcels, blocked the gangway, and appealed helplessly to
every one for information and aid; sailors carried down trunks and
portmanteaus; and Mrs. Holland, when she emerged from her cabin,
having stowed away her belongings and made things tidy, congratulated
herself on having been the first on board, and so had not only avoided
all this confusion, but obtained a separate cabin, which she might not
otherwise have been able to do, as the captain would have been too
busy to devote any special attention to her.

After having handed her over to the care of the purser, Captain
Barstow had spoken to the second officer, who happened to be passing.

"Mr. Rawlinson," he said, "this is the son of my old friend, Captain
Holland. He is going out with his mother. I wish you would keep your
eye upon him, and let him join the midshipmen in their studies with
you, in the morning. Possibly he may enter the Service, and it will be
a great advantage to him to have got up navigation, a bit, before he
does so. At any rate, it will occupy his mind and keep him out of
mischief. A lad of his age would be like a fish out of water, among
the passengers on the quarterdeck."

"Ay, ay, sir. I will do what I can for him."

And he hurried away.

Dick saw that, for the present, there was nothing to be done but to
look on, and it was not until the next morning, when the Madras was
making her way south, outside the Goodwins, that the second officer
spoke to him.

"Ah, there you are, lad! I have been too busy to think of you, and it
will be another day or two before we settle down to regular work.
However, I will introduce you to one or two of the midshipmen, and
they will make you free of the ship."

Dick was, indeed, already beginning to feel at home. The long table,
full from end to end, had presented such a contrast to his quiet
dinner with his mother, that, as he sat down beside her and looked
round, he thought he should never get to speak to anyone throughout
the voyage. However, he had scarcely settled himself when a gentleman
in a naval uniform, next to him, made the remark:

"Well, youngster, what do you think of all this? I suppose it is all
new to you?"

"It is, sir. It seems very strange, at first, but I suppose I shall
get accustomed to it."

"Oh, yes. You will find it pleasant enough, by and bye. I am the
ship's doctor. The purser has been telling me about you and your
mother.

"I made one voyage with your father. It was my first, and a kinder
captain I never sailed with. I heard, from the purser, that there
seems to be a chance of his being still alive, and that your mother is
going out to try and find out something about him. I hope, most
sincerely, that she may succeed in doing so; but he has been missing a
long time now. Still, that is no reason why she should not find him.
There have been instances where men have been kept for years by some
of these rascally natives--why, goodness only knows, except, I
suppose, because they fear and hate us; and think that, some time or
other, an English prisoner may be useful to them.

"Your mother looks far from strong," he went on, as he glanced across
Dick to Mrs. Holland, who was talking to a lady on the other side of
her. "Has she been ill?"

"No, sir. I have never known her ill, yet. She has been worrying
herself a great deal. She has waited so long, because she did not like
to go out until she could take me with her. She has no friends in
England with whom she could leave me. She looks a good deal better,
now, than she did a month ago. I think, directly she settled to come
out, and had something to do, she became better."

"That is quite natural," the doctor said. "There is nothing so trying
as inactivity. I have no doubt that the sea air will quite set her up
again. It performs almost miracles on the homeward-bound passengers.
They come on board looking pale, and listless, and washed out; at the
end of a month at sea, they are different creatures altogether."

The purser had taken pains to seat Mrs. Holland, at table, next to a
person who would be a pleasant companion for her; and the lady she was
now talking to was the wife of a chaplain in the army. She had, a year
before, returned from India in the Madras, and he knew her to be a
kind and pleasant woman.

Dick did not care for his cabin mates. They were young fellows of
about eighteen years of age. One was a nephew of a Director of the
Company, the other the son of a high Indian official. They paid but
little attention to him, generally ignoring him altogether, and
conversing about things and people in India, in the tone of men to
whom such matters were quite familiar.

In three or four days, Dick became on good terms with the six
midshipmen the Madras carried. Two of them were younger than himself,
two somewhat older, while the others were nearly out of their time,
and hoped that this would be their last trip in the midshipmen's
berth. The four younger lads studied, two hours every morning, under
the second officer's instruction; and Dick took his place at the table
regularly with them.

Mathematics had been the only subject in which he had at all
distinguished himself at school, and he found himself able to give
satisfaction to Mr. Rawlinson, in his studies of navigation. After
this work was over, they had an hour's practical instruction by the
boatswain's mate, in knotting and splicing ropes, and in other similar
matters.

In a fortnight, he had learned the names and uses of what had, at
first, seemed to him the innumerable ropes; and long before that, had
accompanied one of the midshipmen aloft. On the first occasion that he
did so, two of the topmen followed him, with the intention of carrying
out the usual custom of lashing him to the ratlines, until he paid his
footing. Seeing them coming up, the midshipman laughed, and told Dick
what was in store for him.

The boy had been as awkward as most beginners in climbing the shrouds,
the looseness and give of the ratlines puzzling him; but he had, for
years, practised climbing ropes in the gymnasium at Shadwell, and was
confident in his power to do anything in that way. The consequence was
that, as soon as the sailors gained the top, where he and the
midshipman were standing, Dick seized one of the halliards and, with a
merry laugh, came down hand over hand. A minute later, he stood on the
deck.

"Well done, youngster," said the boatswain's mate, who happened to be
standing by, as Dick's feet touched the deck. "This may be the first
time you have been on board a ship, but it is easy to see that it
isn't the first, by a long way, that you have been on a rope. Could
you go up again?"

"Yes, I should think so," Dick said. "I have never climbed so high as
that, because I have never had the chance; but it ought to be easy
enough."

The man laughed.

"There are not many sailors who can do it," he said. "Well, let us see
how high you will get."

As Dick was accustomed to go up a rope thirty feet high, hand over
hand, without using his legs, he was confident that, with their
assistance, he could get up to the main top, lofty as it was, and he
at once threw off his jacket and started. He found the task harder
than he had anticipated, but he did it without a pause. He was glad,
however, when the two sailors above grasped him by the arms, and
placed him beside them on the main top.

"Well, sir," one said, admiringly, "we thought you was a Johnny
Newcome, by the way you went up the ratlines, but you came up that
rope like a monkey.

"Well, sir, you are free up here, and if you weren't it would not make
much odds to you, for it would take half the ship's company to capture
you."

"I don't want to get off paying my footing," Dick said, pulling five
shillings from his pocket and handing them to the sailors; for his
mother had told him that it was the custom, on first going aloft, to
make a present to them, and had given him the money for the purpose.
"I can climb, but I don't know anything about ropes, and I shall be
very much obliged if you will teach me all you can."



Chapter 2: A Brush With Privateers.


Dick was surprised when, on descending to the deck, he found that what
seemed to him a by no means very difficult feat had attracted general
attention. Not only did half a dozen of the sailors pat him on the
back, with exclamations expressive of their surprise and admiration,
but the other midshipmen spoke quite as warmly, the eldest saying:

"I could have got up the rope, Holland, but I could not have gone up
straight, as you did, without stopping for a bit to take breath. You
don't look so very strong, either."

"I think that it is knack more than strength," Dick replied. "I have
done a lot of practice at climbing, for I have always wanted to get
strong, and I heard that there was no better exercise."

When, presently, Dick went aft to the quarterdeck, Captain Barstow
said to him:

"You have astonished us all, lad. I could hardly believe my eyes, when
I saw you going up that rope. I first caught sight of you when you had
climbed but twenty feet, and wondered how far you would get, at that
pace. I would have wagered a hundred guineas to one that you would not
have kept it up to the top.

"Well, lad, whatever profession you take to, it is certain that you
will be a good sailor spoilt."

They had now been three weeks out, but had made slow progress, for the
winds had been light, and mostly from the southwest.

"This is very dull work," the doctor said to Dick one day, at dinner.
"Here we are, three weeks out, and still hardly beyond the Channel.
There is one consolation. It is not the fault of the ship. She has
been doing well, under the circumstances, but the fates have been
against her, thus far. I have no doubt there are a score of ships
still lying in the Downs, that were there when we passed; and, tedious
as it has been beating down the Channel, with scarce wind enough most
of the time to keep our sails full, it would have been worse lying
there, all the time."

"Still, we have gained a good bit on them, sir."

"If the wind were to change round, say to the northeast, and they
brought it along with them, they would soon make up for lost time, for
it would not take them three days to run here. However, we shall begin
to do better, soon. I heard the captain say that he should change his
course tomorrow. We are somewhere off Cork, and when he makes a few
miles more westing, he will bear away south. If we had had a
favourable wind, we should have taken our departure from the Start,
but with it in this quarter we are obliged to make more westing,
before we lay her head on her course, or we should risk getting in too
close to the French coast; and their privateers are as thick as peas,
there."

"But we should not be afraid of a French privateer, doctor?"

"Well, not altogether afraid of one, but they very often go in
couples; and sometimes three of them will work together. I don't think
one privateer alone would venture to attack us, though she might
harass us a bit, and keep up a distant fire, in hopes that another
might hear it and bear down to her aid. But it is always as well to
keep free of them, if one can. You see, an unlucky shot might knock
one of our sticks out of us, which would mean delay and trouble, if no
worse.

"We had a sharp brush with two of them, on the last voyage, but we
beat them off. We were stronger then than we are now, for we had two
hundred troops on board, and should have astonished them if they had
come close enough to try boarding--in fact, we were slackening our
fire, to tempt them to do so, when they made out that a large craft
coming up astern was an English frigate, and sheered off.

"I don't know what the end of it was, but I rather fancy they were
taken. The frigate followed them, gaining fast; and, later on, we
could hear guns in the distance."

"You did not join in the chase then, doctor?"

"Oh, no. Our business is not fighting. If we are attacked, of course
we defend ourselves; but we don't go a foot out of our way, if we can
help it."

Three weeks at sea had done wonders for Mrs. Holland. Now that she was
fairly embarked upon her quest, the expression of anxiety gradually
died out. The sea air braced up her nerves, and, what was of still
greater benefit to her, she was able to sleep soundly and dreamlessly,
a thing she had not done for years. Dick was delighted at the change
in her.

"You look quite a different woman, Mother," he said. "I don't think
your friends at Shadwell would know you, if they were to see you now."

"I feel a different woman, Dick. I have not felt so well and so bright
since your father sailed on his last voyage. I am more convinced than
ever that we shall succeed. I have been trying very hard, for years,
to be hopeful, but now I feel so without trying. Of course, it is
partly this lovely weather and the sea air, and sleeping so well; and
partly because everyone is so kind and pleasant."

As soon as the Madras had been headed for the south, she began to make
better way. The wind freshened somewhat, but continued in the same
quarter. Grumbling ceased over the bad luck they were having, and
hopeful anticipations that, after all, they would make a quick passage
were freely indulged in.

On the fourth day after changing her course, she was off the coast of
Spain, which was but a hundred and fifty miles distant. At noon that
day the wind dropped suddenly, and, an hour later, it was a dead calm.

"We are going to have a change, Dick," the doctor said, as he stopped
by the lad, who was leaning against the bulwark watching a flock of
seabirds that were following a shoal of fish, dashing down among them
with loud cries, and too intent upon their work to notice the ship,
lying motionless a hundred yards away.

"What sort of a change, doctor?"

"Most likely a strong blow, though from what quarter it is too soon to
say. However, we have no reason to grumble. After nearly a month of
light winds, we must expect a turn of bad weather. I hope it will come
from the north. That will take us down to the latitude of Madeira, and
beyond that we may calculate upon another spell of fine weather, until
we cross the Line."

As the afternoon wore on, the weather became more dull. There were no
clouds in the sky, but the deep blue was dimmed by a sort of haze.
Presently, after a talk between the captain and the first officer, the
latter gave the order, "All hands take in sail."

The order had been expected, and the men at once swarmed up the
rigging. In a quarter of an hour all the upper sails were furled. The
light spars were then sent down to the deck.

"You may as well get the top-gallant sails off her, too, Mr. Green,"
the captain said to the first officer. "It is as well to be prepared
for the worst. It is sure to blow pretty hard, when the change comes."

The top-gallant sails were got in, and when the courses had been
brailed up and secured, the hands were called down. Presently the
captain, after going to his cabin, rejoined Mr. Green.

"The glass has gone up again," Dick heard him say.

"That looks as if it were coming from the north, sir."

"Yes, with some east in it. It could not come from a better quarter."

He turned and gazed steadily in that direction.

"Yes, there is dark water over there."

"So there is, sir. That is all right. I don't mind how hard it blows,
so that it does but come on gradually."

"I agree with you. These hurricane bursts, when one is becalmed, are
always dangerous, even when one is under bare poles."

Gradually the dark line on the horizon crept up towards the ship. As
it reached her the sails bellied out, and she began to move through
the water. The wind increased in strength rapidly, and in half an hour
she was running south at ten or eleven knots an hour. The thermometer
had fallen many degrees, and as the sun set, the passengers were glad
to go below for shelter.

Before going to bed, Dick went up on deck for a few minutes. The
topsails had been reefed down, but the Madras was rushing through the
water at a high rate of speed. The sea was getting up, and the waves
were crested with foam. Above, the stars were shining brilliantly.

"Well, lad, this is a change, is it not?" the captain said, as he came
along in a pea jacket.

"We seem to be going splendidly, Captain."

"Yes, we are walking along grandly, and making up for lost time."

"It is blowing hard, sir."

"It will blow a good deal harder before morning, lad, but I do not
think it will be anything very severe. Things won't be so comfortable
downstairs, for the next day or two, but that is likely to be the
worst of it."

The motion of the ship kept Dick awake for some time, but, wedging
himself tightly in his berth, he presently fell off to sleep, and did
not wake again until morning. His two cabin mates were suffering
terribly from seasickness, but he felt perfectly well, although it
took him a long time to dress, so great was the motion of the ship.

On making his way on deck, he found that overhead the sky was blue and
bright, and the sun shining brilliantly. The wind was blowing much
harder than on the previous evening, and a heavy sea was running; but
as the sun sparkled on the white crests of the waves, the scene was
far less awe inspiring than it had been when he looked out before
retiring to his berth. The ship, under closely-reefed main and
fore-top sails, was tearing through the water at a high rate of speed,
throwing clouds of spray from her bows, and occasionally taking a wave
over them that sent a deluge of water along the deck.

"What do you think of this, lad?" Mr. Rawlinson, who was in charge of
the watch, asked him; as, after watching his opportunity, he made a
rush to the side and caught a firm hold of a shroud.

"It is splendid, sir," he said. "Has she been going like this all
night?"

The officer nodded.

"How long do you think it will last, sir?"

"Two or three days."

"Will it be any worse, sir?"

"Not likely to be. It is taking us along rarely, and it is doing us
good in more ways than one.

"Look there;" and as they rose on a wave, he pointed across the water,
behind Dick.

The lad turned, and saw a brig running parallel to their course, half
a mile distant.

"What of her, sir?"

"That is a French privateer, unless I am greatly mistaken."

"But she has the British ensign flying, sir."

"Ay, but that goes for nothing. She may possibly be a trader, on her
way down to the Guinea coast, but by the cut of her sails and the look
of her hull, I have no doubt that she is a Frenchman."

"We are passing her, sir."

"Oh, yes. In a gale and a heavy sea, weight tells, and we shall soon
leave her astern; but in fine weather, I expect she could sail round
and round us. If the French could fight their ships as well as they
can build them, we should not be in it with them."

"Why don't we fire at her, Mr. Rawlinson?"

The officer laughed.

"How are you going to work your guns, with the ship rolling like this?
No, lad, we are like two muzzled dogs at present--we can do nothing
but watch each other. I am sorry to say that I don't think the fellow
is alone. Two or three times I have fancied that I caught a glimpse of
a sail on our starboard quarter. I could not swear to it, but I don't
think I was mistaken, and I called the captain's attention that way,
just before he went down ten minutes ago, and he thought he saw it,
too. However, as there was nothing to be done, he went down for a
caulk. He had not left the deck since noon, yesterday."

"But if she is no bigger than the other, I suppose we shall leave her
behind, too, Mr. Rawlinson?"

"Ay, lad, we shall leave them both behind presently; but if they are
what I think, we are likely to hear more of them, later on. They would
not be so far offshore as this, unless they were on the lookout for
Indiamen, which of course keep much farther out than ships bound up
the Mediterranean; and, having once spotted us, they will follow us
like hounds on a deer's trail. However, I think they are likely to
find that they have caught a tartar, when they come up to us.

"Ah! Here is the doctor.

"Well, doctor, what is the report below?"

"Only the usual number of casualties--a sprained wrist, a few
contusions, and three or four cases of hysterics."

"Is Mother all right, doctor?" Dick asked.

"As I have heard nothing of her, I have no doubt she is. I am quite
sure that she will not trouble me with hysterics. Women who have had
real trouble to bear, Dick, can be trusted to keep their nerves steady
in a gale."

"I suppose you call this a gale, doctor?"

"Certainly. It is a stiff north-easterly gale, and if we were facing
it, instead of running before it, you would not want to ask the
question.

"That is a suspicious-looking craft, Rawlinson," he broke off,
catching sight of the brig, now on their port quarter.

"Yes, she is a privateer I have no doubt, and, unless I am mistaken,
she has a consort somewhere out there to starboard. However, we need
not trouble about them. Travelling as we are, we are going two knots
an hour faster than the brig."

"So much the better," the doctor said, shortly. "We can laugh at one
of these fellows, but when it comes to two of them, I own that I don't
care for their company. So the longer this gale holds on, the better."

The mate nodded.

"Well, Dick," the doctor went on, "do you feel as if you will be able
to eat your breakfast?"

"I shall be ready enough for it, doctor, but I don't see how it will
be possible to eat it, with the vessel rolling like this."

"You certainly will not be able to sit down to it--nothing would stay
on the table a minute. There will be no regular breakfast today. You
must get the steward to cut you a chunk of cold meat, put it between
two slices of bread, and make a sandwich of it. As to tea, ask him to
give you a bottle and to pour your tea into that; then, if you wedge
yourself into a corner, you will find that you are able to manage your
breakfast comfortably, and can amuse yourself watching people trying
to balance a cup of tea in their hand."

Not more than half a dozen passengers ventured on deck, for the next
two days, but at the end of that time the force of the wind gradually
abated, and on the following morning the Madras had all her sails set,
to a light but still favourable breeze. Madeira had been passed, to
Dick's disappointment; but, except for a fresh supply of vegetables,
there was no occasion to put in there, and the captain grudged the
loss of a day, while so favourable a wind was taking them along.

"Do you think we shall see anything of that brig again, doctor?" Dick
asked, as, for the first time since the wind sprang up, the passengers
sat down to a comfortable breakfast.

"There is no saying, Dick. If we gained two knots an hour during the
blow (and I don't suppose we gained more than one and a half), they
must be a hundred and twenty miles or so astern of us; after all, that
is only half a day's run. I think they are pretty sure to follow us
for a bit, for they will know that, in light winds, they travel faster
than we do; and if we get becalmed, while they still hold the breeze,
they will come up hand over hand. It is likely enough that, in another
three days or so, we may get a sight of them behind us."

This was evidently the captain's opinion also, for during the day the
guns were overhauled, and their carriages examined, and the muskets
brought up on deck and cleaned. On the following day the men were
practised at the guns, and then had pike and cutlass exercise.

None of the passengers particularly noticed these proceedings, for
Dick had been warned by the captain to say nothing about the brig; and
as he was the only passenger on deck at the time, no whisper of the
privateers had come to the ears of the others.

The party were just going down to lunch, on the third day, when a
lookout in the maintop hailed the deck:

"A sail astern."

"How does she bear?"

"She is dead astern of us, sir, and I can only make out her upper
sails. I should say that they are her royals."

Mr. Green ran up, with his telescope slung over his shoulder.

"I cannot make much out of her, sir," he shouted to the captain. "She
may be anything. She must be nearly thirty miles astern. I think, with
Pearson, that it is her royals we see."

"Take a look round, Mr. Green."

The mate did so, and presently called down:

"I can make out something else away on the starboard quarter, but so
far astern that I can scarce swear to her. Still, it can be nothing
but a sail."

"Thank you, Mr. Green. I daresay that we shall know more about her,
later on."

When the captain joined the passengers at table, one of the ladies
said:

"You seem interested in that ship astern of us, captain."

"Yes, Mrs. Seaforth. One is always interested in a ship, when one gets
down as far as this. She may be another Indiaman, and although the
Madras has no claim to any great speed in a light breeze like this,
one never likes being passed."

The explanation was considered as sufficient, and nothing more was
said on the subject. By sunset, the upper sails of the stranger could
be made out from the deck of the Madras. Mr. Green again went up, and
had a look at her.

"She is coming up fast," he said, when he rejoined the captain. "She
keeps so dead in our wake that I can't make out whether she is a brig
or a three master; but I fancy that she is a brig, by the size and cut
of her sails. I can see the other craft plainly enough now; she is
eight or ten miles west of the other, and has closed in towards her
since I made her out before. I have no doubt that she is a large
schooner."

"Well, it is a comfort that they are not a few miles nearer, Mr.
Green. There is no chance of their overtaking us before morning, so we
shall be able to keep our watches as usual, and shall have time to get
ready for a fight, if there is to be one."

"The sooner the better sir, so that it is daylight. It is quite
certain that they have the legs of us."

In the morning, when Dick came up, he found that the wind had quite
died away, and the sails hung loosely from the yards. Looking astern,
he saw two vessels. They were some six miles away, and perhaps two
miles apart. As they lay without steerage way, they had swung partly
round, and he saw that they were a brig and a schooner. The former he
had no doubt, from her lofty masts and general appearance, was the
same the Madras had passed six days before. As the passengers came up,
they were full of curiosity as to the vessels.

"Of course, we know no more actually than you do yourselves," the
captain said, as some of them gathered round and questioned him, "but
I may as well tell you, frankly, that we have very little doubt about
their being two French privateers. We passed them during the gale, and
had some hopes that we should not see them again; but, in the light
breeze we have been having during the last few days, they have made up
lost ground, and I am afraid we shall have to fight them."

Exclamations of alarm broke from some of the ladies who heard his
words.

"You need not be alarmed, ladies," he went on. "We carry twelve guns,
you know, and I expect that all of them are of heavier metal than
theirs. The Madras is a strongly-built ship, and will stand a good
deal more hammering than those light craft will, so that I have no
doubt we shall give a good account of ourselves."

After breakfast, the hatches were opened and the gun cases belonging
to the passengers brought on deck. Scarce one of them but had a rifle,
and many had, in addition, a shotgun. The day passed without any
change in the positions of the vessels, for they still lay becalmed.

"Why don't they get out their boats, and tow their vessels up?" Dick
asked the doctor.

"Because they would be throwing away their chances, if they did so.
They know that we cannot get away from them, and we might smash up
their boats as soon as they came within range. Besides, their speed
and superior handiness give them a pull over us, when fighting under
sail. They may try to tow up during the night, if they think they are
strong enough to take us by boarding, but I hardly think they will do
so."

The night, however, passed off quietly. But in the morning a light
breeze sprang up from the east, the sails were trimmed, and the Madras
again began to move through the water. By breakfast time, the craft
behind had visibly decreased their distance.

The meal was a silent one. When it was over, the captain said:

"As soon as those fellows open fire, ladies, I must ask you all to go
down into the hold. The sailors have already cleared a space, below
the waterline, large enough for you; and they will take down some
cushions, and so on, to make you as comfortable as possible, under the
circumstances. Pray do not be alarmed at any noises you may hear. You
will be below the waterline, and perfectly safe from their shot; and
you may be sure that we shall do our best to keep the scoundrels from
boarding us; and I will let you know, from time to time, how matters
are going."

The unmarried men at once went up on deck. The others lingered for a
short time behind, talking to their wives and daughters, and then
followed.

"The wind has strengthened a bit, Mr. Green," the captain said, "and I
fancy we shall get more."

"I think so, too, Captain."

"Then you may as well get off the upper sails, and make her snug. Get
off everything above the top gallant. Then, if the wind increases, we
shall not want to call the men away from the guns."

The crew had, without orders, already mustered at quarters. The
lashings had been cast off the guns, the boatswain had opened the
magazines, and a pile of shot stood by each gun, together with cases
of canister and grapeshot for close work. Boarding pikes and cutlasses
were ranged along by the bulwarks. The men had thrown aside their
jackets, and many of those at the guns were stripped to the waist.
Some of them were laughing and talking, and Dick saw, by their air of
confidence, that they had no doubt of their ability to beat off the
assault of the privateers.

The latter were the first to open the ball. A puff of smoke burst out
from the brig's bows, followed almost instantly by one from the
schooner. Both shots fell short, and, for a quarter of an hour, the
three vessels kept on their way.

"We have heavier metal than that," the captain said, cheerfully, "and
I have no doubt we could reach them. But it is not our game to play at
long bowls, for it is probable that both of them carry a long pivot
gun, and if they were to draw off a bit, they could annoy us
amazingly, while we could not reach them."

Presently the privateers opened fire again. They were now about a mile
away, and the same distance from each other. Their shot fell close to
the Indiaman, and two or three passed through her sails.

Still no reply was made. The men at the guns fidgeted, and kept
casting glances towards the poop, in expectation of an order. It came
at last, but was not what they had expected.

"Double shot your guns, men," the captain said.

Scarcely was the order obeyed when the brig, which was now on the port
quarter, luffed up a little into the wind, and fired a broadside of
eight guns. There was a crashing of wood. The Madras was hulled in
three places; two more holes appeared in her sails; while the other
shot passed harmlessly just astern of her.

There was an angry growl among the sailors, as the schooner bore away
a little, and also fired her broadside. Except that a man was struck
down by a splinter from the bulwarks, no damage was done.

"Bear up a little," the captain said to the second officer, who was
standing by the helmsman. "I want to edge in a little towards the
brig, but not enough for them to notice it.

"Now, gentlemen," he went on, to the passengers, "I have no doubt that
most of you are good shots, and I want you, after we have fired our
broadside, to direct your attention to the brig's helmsmen. If you can
render it impossible for the men to stand at the wheel, we will make
mincemeat of this fellow in no time. Directly I have fired our port
broadside, I am going to bring her up into the wind on the opposite
tack, and give him the starboard broadside at close quarters. Don't
fire until we have gone about, and then pick off the helmsmen, if you
can.

"Get ready, men."

The brig was now but a little more than a quarter of a mile distant.

"Aim at the foot of his mainmast," he went on. "Let each man fire as
he gets the mast on his sight."

A moment later the first gun fired, and the whole broadside followed
in quick succession.

"Down with the helm! Hard down, sheets and tacks!"

The men whose duty it was to trim the sails ran to the sheets and
braces. The Madras swept up into the wind, and, as her sails drew on
the other tack, she came along on a course that would take her within
a hundred yards of the brig.

As she approached, three rifles cracked out on her poop. One of the
men at the helm of the brig fell, and as he did so, half a dozen more
shots were fired; and as his companion dropped beside him, the brig,
deprived of her helm, flew up into the wind.

Three men ran aft to the wheel, but the deadly rifles spoke out again.
Two of them fell. The third dived under the bulwark, for shelter.

"Steady, men!" the captain shouted. "Fetch her mainmast out of her!"

As they swept along under the stern of the brig, each gun of their
other broadside poured in its fire in succession, raking the crowded
deck from end to end. A moment later, the mainmast was seen to sway,
and a tremendous cheer broke from the Madras as it went over the side,
dragging with it the foretopmast, with all its gear.

"Down with the helm again!" the captain shouted. "Bring her head to
wind, and keep her there!"

The first officer sprang forward, to see that the order was carried
into effect, and a minute later the Indiaman lay, with her sails
aback, at a distance of a hundred yards, on the quarter of the brig.

"Grape and canister!" the captain shouted, and broadside after
broadside swept the decks of the brig, which, hampered by her
wreckage, was lying almost motionless in the water. So terrible was
the fire, that the privateer's men threw down the axes with which they
were striving to cut away the floating spars, and ran below.

"Double shot your guns, and give her one broadside between wind and
water!" the captain ordered.

"Haul on the sheets and braces, Mr. Green, and get her on her course
again--the schooner won't trouble us, now."

That craft had indeed, at first, luffed up, to come to the assistance
of her consort; but on seeing the fall of the latter's mast, and that
she was incapable of rendering any assistance, had again altered her
course, feeling her incapacity to engage so redoubtable an opponent,
single handed. Three hearty cheers broke from all on board the Madras
as, after pouring in a broadside at a distance of fifty yards, she
left the brig behind her, and proceeded on her way.

"Then you don't care about taking prizes, captain?" one of the
passengers said, as they crowded round to congratulate him upon his
easy, and almost bloodless, victory.

"No, taking prizes is not my business; and were I to weaken my crew,
by sending some of them off in a prize, I might find myself
short-handed if we met another of these gentlemen, or fell in with bad
weather. Besides, she would not be worth sending home."

"The brig is signalling to her consort, sir," Mr. Green said, coming
up.

"Ay, ay. I expect she wants help badly enough. I saw the chips fly
close to her waterline, as we gave her that last broadside."

"They are lowering a boat," one of the passengers said.

"So they are. I expect they haven't got more than one that can swim.

"I think she is settling down," the captain said, as he looked
earnestly at the wreck astern. "See how they are crowding into that
boat, and how some of the others are cutting and slashing, to get the
wreckage clear of her."

"She is certainly a good bit lower in the water than she was," the
first officer agreed. "The schooner has come round, and won't be long
before she is alongside of her."

There was no doubt that the brig was settling down fast. Men stood on
the bulwarks, and waved their caps frantically to the schooner. Others
could be seen, by the aid of a glass, casting spars, hen coops, and
other articles overboard, and jumping into the water after them; and
soon the sea around the wreck was dotted with heads and floating
fragments, while the wreckage of the mainmast was clustered with men.

When the Madras was a mile away, the schooner was lying, thrown up
head to wind, fifty yards from the brig; and her boats were already
engaged in picking up the swimmers. Suddenly the brig gave a heavy
lurch.

"There she goes!" the captain exclaimed.

A moment later the hull had disappeared, and the schooner remained
alone.

By this time, the whole of the ladies had ascended from their place of
safety to the poop, and a general exclamation broke from the
passengers, as the brig disappeared.

"The schooner will pick them all up," the captain said. "They must
have suffered heavily from our fire, but I don't think any will have
gone down with her. The boat, which has already reached the schooner,
must have taken a good many, and the mainmast and foretopmast and
spars would support the rest, to say nothing of the things they have
thrown overboard. There is one wasp the less afloat."

No further adventure was met with, throughout the voyage. They had a
spell of bad weather off the Cape, but the captain said it was nothing
to the gales they often encountered there, and that the voyage, as a
whole, was an exceptionally good one; for, even after the delays they
had encountered at the start, the passage had lasted but four months
and a half.

They touched at Point de Galle for news, and to ascertain whether any
French warships had been seen, of late, along the coast. A supply of
fresh vegetables and fruit was taken on board, as the vessel, after
touching at Madras, was to go on to Calcutta. A few of the passengers
landed at Point de Galle, but neither Dick nor his mother went ashore.

"You will have plenty of opportunities of seeing Indians, later on,
Dick," Mrs. Holland had said; "and, as the gigs will not take all
ashore, we may as well stop quietly here. I heard the captain say that
he would weigh anchor again, in four hours."

Dick was rather disappointed, but, as they would be at Madras before
long, he did not much mind.

Ten days later, they anchored off that town. Little was to be seen
except the fort, a number of warehouses, and the native town, while
the scenery contrasted strongly with that of Ceylon, with its masses
of green foliage, with hills rising behind.

For the last fortnight, Mrs. Holland had been somewhat depressed. Now
that the voyage was nearly over, the difficulties of the task before
her seemed greater than they had done when viewed from a distance, and
she asked herself whether, after all, it would not have been wiser to
have waited another two or three years, until Dick had attained
greater strength and manhood. The boy, however, when she confided her
doubts to him, laughed at the idea.

"Why, you know, Mother," he said, "we agreed that I had a much greater
chance, as a boy, of going about unsuspected, than I should have as a
man. Besides, we could never have let Father remain any longer,
without trying to get him out.

"No, no, Mother, you know we have gone through it over and over again,
and talked about every chance. We have had a first-rate voyage, and
everything is going on just as we could have wished, and it would
never do to begin to have doubts now. We have both felt confident, all
along. It seems to me that, of all things, we must keep on being
confident, at any rate until there is something to give us cause to
doubt."

On the following morning, they landed in a surf boat, and were
fortunate in getting ashore without being drenched. There was a rush
of wild looking and half-naked natives to seize their baggage; but
upon Mrs. Holland, with quiet decision, accosting the men in their own
language, and picking out four of them to carry the baggage up, to one
of the vehicles standing on the road that ran along the top of the
high beach, the rest fell back, and the matter was arranged without
difficulty.

After a drive of twenty minutes, they stopped at a hotel.

"It is not like a hotel, Mother," Dick remarked, as they drew up. "It
is more like a gentleman's house, standing in its own park."

"Almost all the European houses are built so, here, Dick, and it is
much more pleasant than when they are packed together."

"Much nicer," Dick agreed. "If each house has a lot of ground like
this, the place must cover a tremendous extent of country."

"It does, Dick; but, as every one keeps horses and carriages, that
does not matter much. Blacktown, as they call the native town, stands
quite apart from the European quarter."

As soon as they were settled in their rooms, which seemed to Dick
singularly bare and unfurnished, mother and son went out for a drive,
in one of the carriages belonging to the hotel. Dick had learned so
much about India from her that, although extremely interested, he was
scarcely surprised at the various scenes that met his eye, or at the
bright and varied costumes of the natives.

Many changes had taken place, during the seventeen years that had
elapsed since Mrs. Holland had left India. The town had increased
greatly in size. All signs of the effects of the siege by the French,
thirty years before, had been long since obliterated. Large and
handsome government buildings had been erected, and evidences of
wealth and prosperity were everywhere present.



Chapter 3: The Rajah.


"Now, Mother, let us talk over our plans," Dick said as, after dinner,
they seated themselves in two chairs in the veranda, at some little
distance from the other guests at the hotel. "How are we going to
begin?"

"In the first place, Dick, we shall tomorrow send out a messenger to
Tripataly, to tell my brother of our arrival here."

"How far is it, Mother?"

"It is about a hundred and twenty miles, in a straight line, I think;
but a good bit farther than that, by the way we shall go."

"How shall we travel, Mother?"

"I will make some inquiries tomorrow, but I think that the pleasantest
way will be to drive from here to Conjeveram. I think that is about
forty miles. There we can take a native boat, and go up the river
Palar, past Arcot and Vellore, to Vaniambaddy. From there it is only
about fifteen miles to Tripataly.

"I shall tell my brother the way I propose going. Of course, if he
thinks any other way will be better, we shall go by that."

"Are we going to travel as we are, Mother, or in native dress?"

"That is a point that I have been thinking over, Dick. I will wait,
and ask my brother which he thinks will be the best. When out there I
always dressed as a native, and never put on English clothes, except
at Madras. I used to come down here two or three times every year,
with my mother, and generally stayed for a fortnight or three weeks.
During that time, we always dressed in English fashion, as by so doing
we could live at the hotel, and take our meals at public tables
without exciting comment. My mother knew several families here, and
liked getting back to English ways, occasionally.

"Of course, I shall dress in Indian fashion while I stay at my
brother's, so it is only the question of how we shall journey there,
and I think I should prefer going as we are. We shall excite no
special observation, travelling as English, as it will only be
supposed that we are on our way to pay a visit to some of our
officers, at Arcot. At Conjeveram, which is a large place, there is
sure to be a hotel of some sort or other, for it is on the main road
from Madras south. On the way up, by water, we shall of course sleep
on board, and we shall go direct from the boat to Tripataly.

"However, we need not decide until we get an answer to my letter, for
it will take a very short time to get the necessary dresses for us
both. I think it most likely that my brother will send down one of his
officers to meet us, or possibly may come down himself.

"You heard what they were all talking about, at dinner, Dick?"

"Yes, Mother, it was something about Tippoo attacking the Rajah of
Travancore, but I did not pay much attention to it. I was looking at
the servants, in their curious dresses."

"It is very important, Dick, and will probably change all our plans.
Travancore is in alliance with us, and every one thinks that Tippoo's
attack on it will end in our being engaged in war with him. I was
talking to the officer who sat next to me, and he told me that, if
there had been a capable man at the head of government here, war would
have been declared as soon as the Sultan moved against Travancore. Now
that General Meadows had been appointed governor and commander-in-chief,
there was no doubt, he said, that an army would move against Tippoo in a
very short time--that it was already being collected, and that a force
was marching down here from Bengal.

"So you see, my boy, if this war really breaks out, the English may
march to Seringapatam, and compel Tippoo to give up all the captives
he has in his hands."

"That would be splendid, Mother."

"At any rate, Dick, as long as there is a hope of your father being
rescued, in that way, our plans must be put aside."

"Well, Mother, that will be better, in some respects; for of course,
if Father is not rescued by our army, I can try afterwards as we
arranged. It would be an advantage, in one way, as I should then be
quite accustomed to the country, and more fit to make my way about."

A week later, an old officer arrived from Tripataly.

"Ah, Rajbullub," Mrs. Holland exclaimed, as he came up with a deep
salaam; "I am, indeed, glad to see you again. I knew you were alive,
for my brother mentioned you when he wrote last year."

Rajbullub was evidently greatly pleased at the recognition.

"I think I should have known you, lady," he said; "but eighteen years
makes more changes in the young than in the old. Truly I am glad to
see you again. There was great joy among us, who knew you as a child,
when the Rajah told us that you were here. He has sent me on to say
that he will arrive, tomorrow. I am to see to his apartments, and to
have all in readiness. He intends to stay here, some days, before
returning to Tripataly."

"Will he come to this hotel?"

"No, lady, he will take the house he always has, when he is here. It
is kept for the use of our princes, when they come down to Madras. He
bade me say that he hopes you will remain here, for that none of the
rooms could be got ready, at such a short notice.

"He has not written, for he hates writing, which is a thing that he
has small occasion for. I was to tell you that his heart rejoiced, at
the thought of seeing you again, and that his love for you is as warm
as it was when you were a boy and girl together."

"This is my son, Rajbullub. He has often heard me speak of you."

"Yes, indeed," Dick said, warmly. "I heard how you saved her from
being bitten by a cobra, when she was a little girl."

"Ah! The young lord speaks our tongue," Rajbullub said, with great
pleasure. "We wondered whether you would have taught it to him. If it
had not been that you always wrote to my lord in our language, we
should have thought that you, yourself, would surely have forgotten
it, after dwelling so long among the white sahibs."

"No, we always speak it when together, Rajbullub. I thought that he
might, some day, come out here, and that he would find it very useful;
and I, too, have been looking forward to returning, for a time, to the
home where I was born."

There were many questions to ask about her brother, his wife and two
sons. They were younger than Dick, for Mrs. Holland was three years
senior to the Rajah.

At last, she said, "I will not detain you longer, Rajbullub. I know
that you will have a great deal to do, to get ready for my brother's
coming. At what time will he arrive?"

"He hopes to be here by ten in the morning, before the heat of the day
sets in."

"I shall, of course, be there to meet him."

"So he hoped, lady. He said that he would have come straight here,
first, but he thought it would be more pleasant for you to meet him in
privacy."

"Assuredly it would," she agreed.

"I will bring a carriage for you, here, at nine o'clock; and take you
and my young lord to the Rajah's house."

At the appointed time, a handsome carriage and pair drove up to the
door of the hotel, and in ten minutes Mrs. Holland and Dick alighted
in the courtyard of a large house. Four native servants were at the
door, and the old officer led the way to a spacious room. This was
carpeted with handsome rugs. Soft cushions were piled on the divan,
running round the room, the divan itself being covered with velvet and
silk rugs. Looking glasses were ranged upon the walls; a handsome
chandelier hung from the roof; draperies of gauze, lightly embroidered
with gold, hung across the windows.

"Why, Rajbullub, you have done wonders--that is, if the house was
unfurnished, yesterday."

"It is simple," the Hindoo said. "My lord your brother, like other
rajahs who use the house when they come down here, has a room
upstairs; in which are kept, locked up, everything required for
furnishing the rooms he uses. Four of his servants came down here,
with me. We had but to call in sweepers, to clear the house from dust
and wash down the marble floors, and then everything was put into its
place. The cook, who also came down, has hired assistants, and all
will be ready for my lord, when he arrives."

In half an hour, one of the servants ran in, and announced that the
Rajah was in the courtyard. There was a great trampling of hoofs, and
a minute later he ascended the stairs, and was met by his sister and
Dick at the door of the room.

Mrs. Holland had attired herself handsomely, not so much for the sake
of her brother, but that, as his sister, those with him would expect
to see in her an English lady of position; and Dick thought that he
had never seen her looking so well as when, in a dress of rich
brocade, and with a flush of pleasure and expectation on her cheeks,
she advanced to the door. She was still but a little over thirty-three
years old, and although the long years of anxiety and sorrow had left
their traces on her face, the rest and quiet of the sea voyage had
done much to restore the fulness of her cheeks, and to soften the
outline of her figure.

The Rajah, a young and handsome-looking man of thirty, ascended the
stairs with an eagerness and speed that were somewhat at variance with
Dick's preconceived ideas of the stateliness of an Eastern prince.

"My sister Margaret!" he exclaimed, in English, and embraced her with
a warmth that showed that his affection for her was unimpaired by the
years that had passed since he last saw her.

Then he stood with his hands on her shoulders, looking earnestly at
her.

"I know you again," he said. "You are changed, but I can recall your
face well. You are welcome, Margaret, most welcome.

"And this is my nephew?" he went on, turning to Dick, and holding out
both his hands to him. "You are taller than I expected--well nigh as
tall as I am. You are like your mother and my mother; and you are bold
and active and strong, she writes me. My boys are longing to see you,
and you will be most welcome at Tripataly.

"I have almost forgotten my English, Margaret "--and, indeed, he spoke
with some difficulty, evidently choosing his words--"I should quite
have forgotten it, had not I often had occasion to speak it with
English officers. I see, by your letters, that you have not forgotten
our tongue."

"Not in the least, Mortiz. I have, for years, spoken nothing else with
Dick, and he speaks it as well as I do."

"That is good," the Rajah replied, in his own tongue, and in a tone of
relief. "I was wondering how he would get on with us.

"Now, let us sit down. We have so much to tell each other, and,
moreover, I am ravenous for breakfast, as I have ridden forty miles
since sunrise."

Breakfast was speedily served, the Rajah eating in English fashion.

"I cling to some of our mother's ways, you see, Margaret. As I have
grown older, I have become more English than I was. Naturally, as a
boy of thirteen, as I was when you last saw me, I listened to the talk
of those around me, and was guided by their opinions a good deal.
Among them, there was a feeling of regret that our father had married
an English woman; and I, of course, was ever trying my hardest to show
that in riding, or the chase, or in exercises of any kind, I was as
worthy to be the son of an Indian rajah as if I had no white blood in
my veins.

"As I grew up, I became wiser. I saw how great the English were, how
steadily they extended their dominions, and how vastly better off were
our people, under their sway, than they were in the days when every
rajah made war against his neighbour, and the land never had rest.
Then I grew proud of my English blood, and although I am, to my
people, Rajah of Tripataly, a native prince and lord of their
destinies, keeping up the same state as my father, and ruling them in
native fashion, in my inner house I have adopted many English ways.

"My wife has no rival in the zenana. I encourage her to go about, as
our mother did, to look after the affairs of the house, to sit at
table with me, and to be my companion, and not a mere plaything. I am
sure, Margaret, your stay with us will do her much good, and she will
learn a great deal from you."

"You have heard no news since you last wrote, Mortiz?"

A slight cloud passed across the Rajah's animated face.

"None, Margaret. We have little news from beyond the mountains. Tippoo
hates us, who are the friends of the English, as much as he hates the
English themselves, so there is little communication between Mysore
and the possessions of the Nabob of Arcot. We will talk, later on, of
the plans you wrote of in your last letter to me."

"You do not think that they are hopeless, Mortiz?" Mrs. Holland asked,
anxiously.

"I would not say that they are hopeless," he said gently, "although it
seems to me that, after all these years, the chances are slight,
indeed, that your husband can be alive; and the peril and danger of
the enterprise that, so far as I understood you, you intend your son
to undertake, would be terrible, indeed."

"We see that, Mortiz. Dick and I have talked it over, a thousand
times. But so long as there is but a shadow of a chance of his finding
his father, he is ready to undertake the search. He is a boy in years,
but he has been trained for the undertaking, and will, when the trial
comes, bear himself as well as a man."

"Well, Margaret, I shall have plenty of opportunities for forming my
own judgment; because, of course, he will stay with us a long time
before he starts on the quest, and it will be better to say no more of
this, now.

"Now, tell me about London. Is it so much a greater city than Madras?"

Mrs. Holland sighed. She saw, by his manner, that he was wholly
opposed to her plan, and although she was quite prepared for
opposition, she could not help feeling disappointed. However, she
perceived that, as he said, it would be better to drop the subject for
a time; and she accordingly put it aside, and answered his questions.

"Madras is large--that is, it spreads over a wide extent; but if it
were packed with houses, as closely as they could stand, it would not
approach London in the number of its population."

"How is it that the English do not send more troops out here,
Margaret?"

"Because they can raise troops here, and English soldiers cannot stand
the heat as well as those born to it. Moreover, you must remember
that, at present, England is at war, not only with France and half
Europe, but also with America. She is also obliged to keep an army in
Ireland, which is greatly disaffected. With all this on her hands, she
cannot send a large army so far across the seas, especially when her
force here is sufficient for all that can be required of it."

"That is true," he said. "It is wonderful what they have done out
here, with such small forces. But they will have harder work, before
they conquer all India--as I believe they will do--than they have yet
encountered. In spite of Tippoo's vauntings, they will have Mysore
before many years are over. The Sultan seems to have forgotten the
lesson they taught him, six or seven years back. But the next time
will be the last, and Tippoo, tiger as he is, will meet the fate he
seems bent on provoking.

"But beyond Mysore lies the Mahratta country, and the Mahrattis alone
can put thirty thousand horsemen into the field. They are not like the
people of Bengal, who have ever fallen, with scarce an attempt at
resistance, under the yoke of one tyrant after another. The Mahrattis
are a nation of warriors. They are plunderers, if you will, but they
are brave and fearless soldiers, and might, had they been united, have
had all India under their feet before the coming of the English. That
chance has slipped from them. But when we--I say 'we' you see,
Margaret--meet them, it will be a desperate struggle, indeed."

"We shall thrash them, Uncle," Dick broke in. "You will see that we
shall beat them thoroughly."

The Rajah smiled at Dick's impetuosity.

"So you think English soldiers cannot be beaten, eh?"

"Well, Uncle, somehow they never do get beaten. I don't know how it
is. I suppose that it is just obstinacy. Look how we thrashed the
French here, and they were just as well drilled as our soldiers, and
there were twice as many of them."

The Rajah nodded.

"One secret of our success, Dick, is that the English get on better
with the natives here than the French do--I don't know why, except
what I have heard from people who went through the war. They say that
the French always seemed to look down on the natives, and treated even
powerful allies with a sort of haughtiness that irritated them, and
made them ready to change sides at the first opportunity; while the
British treated them pleasantly, so that there was a real friendship
between them."

Dick, finding that the conversation now turned to the time when his
mother and uncle were girl and boy together, left them and went
downstairs. He found some twenty horses ranged in the courtyard, while
their riders were sitting in the shade, several of them being engaged
in cooking. These were the escort who had ridden with the Rajah from
Tripataly--for no Indian prince would think of making a journey,
unless accompanied by a numerous retinue.

Scarcely had he entered the yard than Rajbullub came up, with the
officer in command of the escort, a fine-looking specimen of a Hindoo
soldier. He salaamed, as Rajbullub presented him to Dick. The lad
addressed him at once in his own tongue, and they were soon talking
freely together. The officer was surprised at finding that his lord's
nephew, from beyond the sea, was able to speak the language like a
native.

First, Dick asked the nature of the country, and the places at which
they would halt on their way. Then he inquired what force the Rajah
could put into the field, and was somewhat disappointed to hear that
he kept up but a hundred horsemen, including those who served as an
escort.

"You see, Sahib, there is no occasion for soldiers. Now that the
whites are the masters, they do the fighting for us. When the Rajah's
father was a young man, he could put two thousand men under arms, and
he joined at the siege of Trichinopoly with twelve hundred. But now
there is no longer need for an army. There is no one to fight. Some of
the young men grumble, but the old ones rejoice at the change.
Formerly, they had to go to the plough with their spears and their
swords beside them, because they never knew when marauders from the
hills might sweep down; besides, when there was war, they might be
called away for weeks, while the crops were wasting upon the ground.

"As to the younger men who grumble, I say to them, 'If you are tired
of a peaceful life, go and enlist in a Company's regiment;' and every
year some of them do so.

"In other ways, the change is good. Now that the Rajah has no longer
to keep up an army, he is not obliged to squeeze the cultivators.
Therefore, they pay but a light rent for their lands, and the Rajah is
far better off than his father was; so that, on all sides, there is
content and prosperity. But, even now, the fear of Mysore has not
quite died out."

"My position, Margaret," the Rajah said, after Dick had left the room,
"is a very precarious one. When Hyder Ali marched down here, eight
years ago, he swept the whole country, from the foot of the hills to
the sea coast. My father would have been glad to stand neutral, but
was, of course, bound to go with the English, as the Nabob of Arcot,
his nominal sovereign, went with them. His sympathies were, of course,
with your people; but most of the chiefs were, at heart, in favour of
Hyder. It was not that they loved him, or preferred the rule of Mysore
to that of Madras. But at that time Madras was governed by imbeciles.
Its Council was composed entirely of timid and irresolute men. It was
clear to all that, before any force capable of withstanding him could
be put in the field, the whole country, beyond reach of the guns of
the forts at Madras, would be at the mercy of Hyder.

"What that mercy was, had been shown elsewhere. Whole populations had
been either massacred, or carried off as slaves. Therefore, when the
storm was clearly about to burst, almost all of them sent secret
messages to Hyder, to assure him that their sympathies were with him,
and that they would gladly hail him as ruler of the Carnatic.

"My father was in no way inclined to take such a step. His marriage
with an English woman, the white blood in my veins, and his long-known
partiality for the English, would have marked him for certain
destruction; and, as soon as he received news that Hyder's troops were
in movement, he rode with me to Madras. At that time, his force was
comparatively large, and he took three hundred men down with us. He
had allowed all who preferred it to remain behind; and some four
hundred stayed to look after their families. Most of the population
took to the hills and, as Hyder's forces were too much occupied to
spend time in scouring the ghauts in search of fugitives, when there
was so much loot and so many captives ready to their hands on the
plains, the fugitives for the most part remained there in safety. The
palace was burnt, the town sacked and partly destroyed, and some
fifteen hundred of our people, who had remained in their homes, killed
or carried off.

"My father did some service with our horse, and I fought by his side.
We were with Colonel Baillie's force when it was destroyed, after for
two days resisting the whole of Hyder All's army. Being mounted, we
escaped, and reached Madras in safety, after losing half our number.
But all that I can tell you about, some other day.

"When peace was made and Hyder retired, we returned home, rebuilt the
palace, and restored the town. But if Tippoo follows his father's
example, and sweeps down from the hills, there will be nothing for it
but to fly again. Tippoo commanded one of the divisions of Hyder's
army, last time, and showed much skill and energy; and has, since he
came to the throne, been a scourge to his neighbours in the north. So
far as I can see, Madras will be found as unprepared as it was last
time; and although the chiefs of Vellore, Arcot, Conjeveram, and other
places may be better disposed towards the English than they were
before--for the Carnatic had a terrible lesson last time--they will
not dare to lift a finger against him, until they see a large British
force assembled.

"So you see, sister, your position will be a very precarious one at
Tripataly; and it is likely that, at any time, we may be obliged to
seek refuge here. The trouble may come soon, or it may not come for a
year; but, sooner or later, I regard it as certain that Tippoo will
strive to obtain what his father failed to gain--the mastership of the
Carnatic. Indeed, he makes no secret of his intention to become lord
of the whole of southern India. The Nizam, his neighbour in the north,
fears his power, and could offer but a feeble resistance, were Tippoo
once master of the south and west coast. The Mahrattis can always be
bought over, especially if there is a prospect of plunder. He relies,
too, upon aid from France; for although the French, since the capture
of Pondicherry, have themselves lost all chance of obtaining India,
they would gladly aid in any enterprise that would bring about the
fall of English predominance here.

"There are, too, considerable bodies of French troops in the pay of
the Nizam, and these would, at any rate, force their master to remain
neutral in a struggle between the English and Tippoo.

"However, it will be quite unnecessary that you should resume our
garb, or that Dick should dress in the same fashion. Did I intend to
remain at Tripataly, I should not wish to draw the attention of my
neighbours to the fact that I had English relations resident with me.
Of course, every one knows that I am half English myself, but that is
an old story now. They would, however, be reminded of it, and Tippoo
would hear of it, and would use it as a pretext for attacking and
plundering us. But, as I have decided to come down here, there is no
reason why you should not dress in European fashion."

"We would remain here, brother," Mrs. Holland said, "rather than bring
danger upon you. Dick could learn the ways of the country here, as
well as with you, and could start on his search without going to
Tripataly."

"Not at all, Margaret. Whether you are with me or not, I shall have to
leave Tripataly when Tippoo advances, and your presence will not in
any way affect my plans. My wife and sons must travel with me, and one
woman and boy, more or less, will make no difference. At present, this
scheme of yours seems to me to border on madness. But we need not
discuss that now. I shall, at any rate, be very glad to have you both
with me. The English side of me has been altogether in the background,
since you went away; and though I keep up many of the customs our
mother introduced, I have almost forgotten the tongue, though I force
myself to speak it, sometimes, with my boys, as I am sure that, in the
long run, the English will become the sole masters of southern India,
and it will be a great advantage to them to speak the language.

"However, I have many other things to see about, and the companionship
of Dick will benefit them greatly. You know what it always is out
here. The sons of a rajah are spoilt, early, by every one giving way
to them, and their being allowed to do just as they like. Naturally,
they get into habits of indolence and self indulgence, and never have
occasion to exert themselves, or to obtain the strength and activity
that make our mother's countrymen irresistible in battle. They have
been taught to shoot and to ride, but they know little else, and I am
sure it will do them an immense deal of good to have Dick with them,
for a time.

"If nothing comes of this search for your husband, I hope you will
take up your residence, permanently, at Tripataly. You have nothing to
go back to England for, and Dick, with his knowledge of both
languages, should be able to find good employment in the Company's
service."

"Thank you greatly, brother. If, as you say, my quest should come to
nothing, I would gladly settle down in my old home. Dick's
inclinations, at present, turn to the sea, but I have no doubt that
what you say is true, and that there may be far more advantageous
openings for him out here. However, that is a matter for us to talk
over, in the future."

The Rajah stayed four days at Madras. Every morning the carriage came
at nine o'clock to fetch Mrs. Holland, who spent several hours with
her brother, and was then driven back to the hotel, while Dick
wandered about with Rajbullub through the native town, asking
questions innumerable, observing closely the different costumes and
turbans, and learning to know, at once, the district, trade, or caste,
from the colour or fashion of the turban, and other little signs.

The shops were an endless source of amusement to him, and he somewhat
surprised his companion by his desire to learn the names of all the
little articles and trinkets, even of the various kinds of grain.
Dick, in fact, was continuing his preparations for his work. He knew
that ignorance of any trifling detail which would, as a matter of
course, be known to every native, would excite more surprise and
suspicion than would be caused by a serious blunder in other matters;
and he wrote down, in a notebook, every scrap of information he
obtained, so as to learn it by heart at his leisure.

Rajbullub was much surprised at the lad's interest in all these little
matters, which, as it seemed to him, were not worth a thought on the
part of his lord's nephew.

"You will never have to buy these things, Sahib," he said. "Why should
you trouble about them?"

"I am going to be over here some time, Rajbullub, and it is just as
well to learn as much as one can. If I were to stroll into the market
in Tripataly, and had a fancy to buy any trifle, the country people
would laugh in my face, were I ignorant of its name."

His companion shook his head.

"They would not expect any white sahib to know such things," he said.
"If he wants to buy anything, the white sahib points to it and asks,
'How much?' Then, whether it is a brass iota, or a silver trinket, or
a file, or a bunch of fruit, the native says a price four times as
much as he would ask anyone else. Then the sahib offers him half, and
after protesting many times that the sum is impossible, the dealer
accepts it, and both parties are well satisfied.

"If you have seen anything that you want to buy, sahib, tell me, and I
will go and get it for you. Then you will not be cheated."

The start for Tripataly was made at daybreak. Dick and his mother
drove, in an open carriage that had been hired for the journey. The
Rajah rode beside it, or cantered on ahead. His escort followed the
vehicle. The luggage had been sent off, two days before, by cart.

The country as far as Arcot was flat, but everything was interesting
to Dick; and when they arrived at the city, where they were to stop
for the night at the house the Rajah had occupied on his way down, he
sallied out, as soon as their meal was over, to inspect the fort and
walls. He had, during his outward voyage, eagerly studied the history
of Clive's military exploits, and the campaigns by which that portion
of India had been wrested from the French; and he was eager to visit
the fort, whose memorable defence, by Clive, had first turned the
scale in favour of the British. These had previously been regarded, by
the natives, as a far less warlike people than the French, who were
expected to drive them, in a very short time, out of the country.

Rajbullub was able to point out to him every spot associated with the
stirring events of that time.

"'Tis forty-six years back, and I was but a boy of twelve; but six
years later I was here, for our rajah was on the side of the English,
although Tripataly was, and is now, under the Nabob of Arcot. But my
lord had many causes of complaint against him, and when he declared
for the French, our lord, who was not then a rajah, although chief of
a considerable district, threw in his lot with the English; and, when
they triumphed, was appointed rajah by them, and Tripataly was made
almost wholly independent of the Nabob of Arcot. At one time a force
of our men was here, with four companies of white troops, when it was
thought that Dupleix was likely to march against us; and I was with
that force, and so learned all about the fighting here."

The next day the party arrived, late in the evening, at Tripataly. A
large number of men, with torches, received them in front of the
palace; and, on entering, Mrs. Holland was warmly received by the
Rajah's wife, who carried her off at once to her apartments, which she
did not leave afterwards, as she was greatly fatigued by the two long
days of travel.

Dick, on the contrary, although he had dozed in the carriage for the
last two or three hours of the journey, woke up thoroughly as they
neared Tripataly. As soon as they entered the house, the Rajah called
his two sons, handsome, dark-faced lads of twelve and thirteen.

"This is your cousin, boys," he said. "You must look after him, and
see that he has everything he wants, and make his stay as pleasant as
you can."

Although a little awed by the, to them, tall figure, they evinced
neither shyness or awkwardness, but, advancing to Dick, held out their
hands one after the other, with grave courtesy. Their faces both
brightened, as he said in their own language:

"I hope we shall be great friends, cousins. I am older and bigger than
you are, but everything is new and strange to me, and I shall have to
depend upon you to teach me everything."

"We did not think that you would be able to talk to us," the elder,
whose name was Doast Assud, said, smiling. "We have been wondering how
we should make you understand. Many of the white officers, who come
here sometimes, speak our language, but none of them as well as you
do."

"You see, they only learn it after they come out here, while I learnt
it from my mother, who has talked to me in it since I was quite a
little boy; so it comes as naturally to me as to you."

In a few minutes, supper was announced. The two boys sat down with
their father and Dick, and the meal was served in English fashion.
Dick had already become accustomed to the white-robed servants, at the
hotel at Madras, and everything seemed to him pleasant and home-like.

"Tomorrow, Dick," his uncle said, "you must have your first lesson in
riding."

The two boys looked up in surprise. They had been accustomed to horses
from their earliest remembrance, and it seemed to them incredible that
their tall cousin should require to be taught. Dick smiled at their
look of astonishment.

"It is not, with us in England, as it is here," he said. "Boys who
live in the country learn to ride, but in London, which is a very
great town, with nothing but houses for miles and miles everywhere,
few people keep horses to ride. The streets are so crowded, with
vehicles of all sorts, and with people on foot, that it is no pleasure
to ride in them, and everyone who can afford it goes about in a
carriage. Those who cannot, go in hired vehicles, or on foot. You
would hardly see a person on horseback once in a week."

"I do not like walking," Doast said gravely.

"Well, you see, you have no occasion to walk, as you always have your
horses. Besides, the weather here is very hot. But in England it is
colder, and walking is a pleasure. I have walked over twenty miles a
day, many times, not because I had to do it, but as a day's pleasure
with a friend."

"Can you shoot, cousin?"

"No," Dick laughed. "There is nothing to shoot at. There are no wild
beasts in England, and no game birds anywhere near London."

Dick saw, at once, that he had descended many steps in his cousins'
estimation.

"Then what can you find to do?" the younger boy asked.

"Oh, there is plenty to do," Dick said. "In the first place, there is
school. That takes the best part of the day. Then there are all sorts
of games. Then I used to take lessons in sword exercise, and did all
sorts of things to improve my muscles, and to make me strong. Then, on
holidays, three or four of us would go for a long walk, and sometimes
we went out on the river in a boat; and every morning, early, we used
to go for a swim. Oh, I can tell you, there was plenty to do, and I
was busy from morning till night. But I want very much to learn to
shoot, both with gun and pistol, as well as to ride."

"We have got English guns and pistols," Doast said. "We will lend them
to you. We have a place where we practise.

"Our father says everyone ought to be able to shoot--don't you,
Father?"

The Rajah nodded.

"Everyone out here ought to, Doast, because, you see, every man here
may be called upon to fight, and everyone carries arms. But it is
different in England. Nobody fights there, except those who go into
the army, and nobody carries weapons."

"What! Not swords, pistols, and daggers, Father?" Doast exclaimed, in
surprise; for to him it seemed that arms were as necessary a part of
attire as a turban, and much more necessary than shoes. "But, when
people are attacked by marauders, or two chiefs quarrel with each
other, what can they do if they have no arms?"

"There are no marauders, and no chiefs," Dick laughed. "In the old
times, hundreds of years ago, there were nobles who could call out all
their tenants and retainers to fight their battles, and in those days
people carried swords, as they do here. There are nobles still, but
they have no longer any power to call out anyone, and if they quarrel
they have to go before a court for the matter to be decided, just as
everyone else does."

This seemed, to Doast, a very unsatisfactory state of things, and he
looked to his father for an explanation.

"It is as your cousin says, Doast. You have been down with me to
Madras, and you have seen that, except the officers in the army, none
of the Europeans carry arms. It is the same in England. England is a
great island, and as they have many ships of war, no enemy can land
there. There is one king over the whole country, and there are written
laws by which everyone, high and low alike, are governed. So you see,
no one has to carry arms. All disputes are settled by the law, and
there is peace everywhere; for as nothing would be settled by
fighting, and the law would punish any one, however much in the right
he might be, who fought, there is no occasion at all for weapons. It
is a good plan, for you see no one, however rich, can tyrannise over
others; and were the greatest noble to kill the poorest peasant, the
law would hang him, just the same as it would hang a peasant who
killed a lord.

"And now, boys, you had better be off to bed. Your cousin has had a
long day of it, and I have no doubt he will be glad to do so. Tomorrow
we will begin to teach him to ride and to shoot, and I have no doubt
that he will be ready, in return, to teach you a great deal about his
country."

The boys got up. But Doast paused to ask his father one last question.

"But how is it, Father, if the English never carry weapons, and never
fight, that they are such brave soldiers? For have they not conquered
all our princes and rajahs, and have even beaten Tippoo Sahib, and
made him give them much of his country?"

"The answer would be a great deal too long to be given tonight, Doast.
You had better ask your cousin about it, in the morning."



Chapter 4: First Impressions.


The next morning Dick was up early, eager to investigate the palace,
of which he had seen little the night before. The house was large and
handsome, the Rajah having added to it gradually, every year. On
passing the doors, the great hall was at once entered. Its roof, of
elaborately carved stones, was supported by two rows of pillars with
sculptured capitals. The floor was made of inlaid marble, and at one
end was raised a foot above the general level. Here stood a stone
chair, on which the Rajah sat when he adjudicated upon disputes among
his people, heard petitions, and gave audiences; while a massive door
on the left-hand side gave entrance to the private apartments. These
were all small, in comparison with the entrance hall. The walls were
lined with marble slabs, richly carved, and were dimly lighted by
windows, generally high up in the walls, which were of great
thickness. The marble floors were covered with thick rugs, and each
room had its divan, with soft cushions and rich shawls and covers.

The room in which they had supped the night before was the only
exception. This had been specially furnished and decorated, in English
fashion. The windows here were low, and afforded a view over the
garden. Next to it were several apartments, all fitted with divans,
but with low windows and a bright outlook. They could be darkened,
during the heat of the day, by shutters. With the exception of these
windows, the others throughout the house contained no glass, the light
entering through innumerable holes that formed a filigree work in the
thin slabs of stone that filled the orifices.

The grounds round the palace were thickly planted with trees, which
constituted a grove rather than a garden, according to Dick's English
notions. This was, indeed, the great object of the planter, and
numerous fountains added to the effect of the overhanging foliage.

Dick wandered about, delighted. Early as it was, men with water skins
were at work among the clumps of flowers and shrubs, that covered the
ground wherever there was a break among the trees. Here and there were
small pavilions, whose roofs of sculptured stone were supported by
shafts of marble. The foliage of shrubs and trees alike was new to
Dick, and the whole scene delighted him. Half an hour later, his two
cousins joined him.

"We wondered what had become of you," Doast said, "and should not have
found you, if Rajbullub had not told us that he saw you come out here.

"Come in, now. Coffee is ready. We always have coffee the first thing,
except in very hot weather, when we have fruit sherbet. After that we
ride or shoot till the sun gets hot, and then come in to the morning
meal, at ten."

On going in, Dick found that his mother and the ranee were both up,
and they all sat down to what Dick considered a breakfast, consisting
of coffee and a variety of fruit and bread. One or two dishes of meat
were also handed round, but were taken away untouched.

"Now come out to the stables, Dick," the Rajah said. "Anwar, the
officer who commanded the escort, will meet us there. He will be your
instructor."

The stables were large. The horses were fastened to rings along each
side, and were not, as in England, separated from each other by
stalls. A small stone trough, with running water, was fixed against
each wall at a convenient height, and beneath this was a pile of
fodder before each horse.

"This is the one that I have chosen for you," the Rajah said, stopping
before a pretty creature, that possessed a considerable proportion of
Arab blood, as was shown by its small head. "It is very gentle and
well trained, and is very fast. When you have got perfectly at ease
upon it, you shall have something more difficult to sit, until you are
able to ride any horse in the stable, bare backed. Murad is to be your
own property, as long as you are out here."

A syce led the horse out. It was bridled but unsaddled, and Anwar gave
a few instructions to Dick, and then said:

"I will help you up, but in a short time you will learn to vault on to
his back, without any assistance. See! you gather your reins so, in
your left hand, place your right hand on its shoulder, and then spring
up."

"I can do that now," Dick laughed, and, placing his hand on the
horse's shoulder, he lightly vaulted into his seat.

"Well done, Dick," the Rajah said, while the two boys, who had been
looking on with amused faces, clapped their hands.

"Now, Sahib," Anwar went on, "you must let your legs hang easily.
Press with your knees, and let your body sway slightly with the
movement of the horse. Balance yourself, rather than try to hold on."

"I understand," Dick said. "It is just as you do on board ship, when
she is rolling a bit. Let go the reins."

For half an hour the horse proceeded, at a walk, along the road that
wound in and out through the park-like grounds.

"I begin to feel quite at home," Dick said, at the end of that time.
"I should like to go a bit faster now. It is no odds if I do tumble
off."

"Shake your rein a little. The horse will understand it," Anwar said.

Dick did so, and Murad at once started at a gentle canter. Easy as it
was, Dick thought several times that he would be off. However, he
gripped as tightly as he could with his knees, and as he became
accustomed to the motion, and learned to give to it, acquired ease and
confidence. He was not, however, sorry when, at the end of another
half hour, Anwar held up his hand as he approached him, and the horse
stopped at the slightest touch of the rein.

As he slid off, his legs felt as if they did not belong to him, and
his back ached so that he could scarce straighten it. The Rajah and
his sons had returned to the palace, and the boys were there waiting
for him.

"You have done very well, cousin," Doast said, with grave approval.
"You will not be long before you can ride as well as we can. Now you
had better go up at once and have a bath, and put on fresh clothes."

Dick felt that the advice was good, as, bathed in perspiration, and
stiff and sore in every limb, he slowly made his way to his room.

For the next month, he spent the greater part of his time on
horseback. For the first week he rode only in the grounds of the
palace; then he ventured beyond, accompanied by Anwar on horseback;
then his two cousins joined the party; and, by the end of the month,
he was perfectly at home on Murad's back.

So far, he had not begun to practise shooting.

"It would be of no use," the Rajah said, when he one day spoke of it.
"You want your nerves in good order for that, and it requires an old
horseman to have his hand steady enough for shooting straight, after a
hard ride. Your rides are not severe for a horseman, but they are
trying for you. Leave the shooting alone, lad. There is no hurry for
it."

By this time, the Rajah had become convinced that it was useless to
try and dissuade either his sister or Dick from attempting the
enterprise for which they had come over. Possibly, the earnest
conviction of the former that her husband was still alive influenced
him to some extent, and the strength and activity of Dick showed him
that he was able to play the part of a man. He said little, but
watched the boy closely, made him go through trials of strength with
some of his troopers, and saw him practise with blunted swords with
others. Dick did well in both trials, and the Rajah then requested
Anwar, who was celebrated for his skill with the tulwar, to give him,
daily, half-an-hour's sword play, after his riding lesson. He himself
undertook to teach him to use the rifle and pistol.

Dick threw himself into his work with great ardour, and in a very
short time could sit any horse in the stable, and came to use a rifle
and pistol with an amount of accuracy that surprised his young
cousins.

"The boy is getting on wonderfully well," the Rajah said one day to
his sister. "His exercises have given him so much nerve, and so steady
a hand, that he already shoots very fairly. I should expect him to
grow up into a fine man, Margaret, were it not that I have the gravest
fears as to this mad enterprise, which I cannot help telling you, both
for your good and his, is, in my opinion, absolutely hopeless."

"I know, Mortiz," she said, "that you think it is folly, on my part,
to cling to hope; and while I do not disguise from myself that there
would seem but small chance that my husband has survived, and that I
can give no reason for my faith in his still being alive, and my
confidence that he will be restored to me some day, I have so firm a
conviction that nothing will shake it. Why should I have such a
confidence, if it were not well founded? In my dreams, I always see
him alive, and I believe firmly that I dream of him so often, because
he is thinking of me.

"When he was at sea, several times I felt disturbed and anxious,
though without any reason for doing so; and each time, on his return,
I found, when we compared dates, that his ship was battling with a
tempest at the time I was so troubled about him. I remember that, the
first time this happened, he laughed at me; but when, upon two other
occasions, it turned out so, he said:

"'There are things we do not understand, Margaret. You know that, in
Scotland, there are many who believe in second sight, as it is called;
and that there are families there, and they say in Ireland, also,
where a sort of warning is given of the death of a member of the
family. We sailors are a superstitious people, and believe in things
that landsmen laugh at. It does not seem to me impossible that, when
two people love each other dearly, as we do, one may feel when the
other is in danger, or may be conscious of his death. It may be said
that such things seldom happen; but that is no proof that they never
do so, for some people may be more sensitive to such feelings or
impressions than others, and you may be one of them.

"'There is one thing, Margaret. The fact that you have somehow felt
when I was in trouble should cheer you, when I am away, for if mere
danger should so affect you, surely you will know should death befall
me; and as long as you do not feel that, you may be sure that I shall
return safe and sound to you.'

"Now, I believe that firmly. I was once troubled--so troubled, that,
for two or three days, I was ill--and so convinced was I that
something had happened to Jack, and yet that he was not dead, that
when, nigh two years afterwards, Ben came home, and I learned that it
was on the day of the wreck of his ship that I had so suffered, I was
not in the least surprised. Since then, I have more than once had the
same feelings, and have always been sure that, at the time, Jack was
in special danger; but I have never once felt that he was dead, never
once thought so, and am as certain that he is still alive as if I saw
him sitting in the chair opposite to me, for I firmly believe that,
did he die, I should see his spirit, or that, at any rate, I should
know for certain that he had gone.

"So whatever you say, though reason may be altogether on your side, it
will not shake my confidence, one bit. I know that Jack is alive, and
I believe firmly, although of this I am not absolutely sure, that he
will, someday, be restored to me."

"You did not tell me this before, Margaret," the Rajah said, "and what
you say goes for much, with me. Here in India there are many who, as
is said, possess this power that you call second sight. Certainly,
some of the Fakirs do. I have heard many tales of warnings they have
given, and these have always come true. I will not try, in future, to
damp your confidence; and will hope, with you, that your husband may
yet be restored to you."

One evening, Dick remarked:

"You said down at Madras, Uncle, that you would, someday, tell me
about the invasion by Hyder Ali. Will you tell me about it, now?"

The Rajah nodded. His sons took their seats at his feet, and Dick
curled himself up on the divan, by his side.

"You must know," the Rajah began, "that the war was really the result
of the intrigues of Sir Thomas Rumbold, the governor of Madras, and
his council. In the first place, they had seriously angered the Nizam.
The latter had taken a French force into his service, which the
English had compelled Basult Jung to dismiss; and Madras sent an
officer to his court, with instructions to remonstrate with him for so
doing. At the same time, they gave him notice that they should no
longer pay to him the tribute they had agreed upon, for the territory
called the Northern Circars. This would have led to war, but the
Bengal government promptly interfered, cancelled altogether the
demands made by the Madras government, and for the time patched up the
quarrel. The Nizam professed to be satisfied, but he saw that trouble
might arise when the English were more prepared to enforce their
demands. He therefore entered into negotiations with Hyder Ali and the
Mahrattis for an alliance, whose object was the entire expulsion of
the British from India.

"The Mahrattis from Poonah were to operate against Bombay; those in
Central India and the north were to make incursions into Bengal; the
Nizam was to invade the Northern Circars; and Hyder was to direct his
force against Madras. Hyder at once began to collect military stores,
and obtained large quantities from the French at Mahe, a town they
still retain, on the Malabar coast.

"The Madras government prepared to attack Mahe, when Hyder informed
them that the settlements of the Dutch, French, and English on the
Malabar coast, being situated within his territory, were equally
entitled to his protection; and that, if Mahe were attacked, he should
retaliate by an incursion into the province of Arcot. In spite of this
threat, Mahe was captured. Hyder for a time remained quiet, but the
Madras government gave him fresh cause for offence by sending a force,
in August, 1779, to the assistance of Basult Jung at Adoni.

"To get there, this detachment had to pursue a route which led, for
two hundred miles, through the most difficult passes, and through the
territories both of the Nizam and Hyder. The Council altogether
ignored the expressed determination, of both these princes, to oppose
the march, and did not even observe the civility of informing them
that they were going to send troops through their territory.

"I do not say, Dick, that this made any real difference, in the end.
The alliance between the three native Powers being made, it was
certain that war would break out shortly. Still, had it not been for
their folly, in giving Hyder and the Nizam a reasonable excuse for
entering upon hostilities, it might have been deferred until the
Madras government was better prepared to meet the storm.

"The Bengal government, fortunately, again stepped in and undid at
least a part of the evil. It took the entire management of affairs out
of the hands of Rumbold's council; and its action was confirmed by the
Board of Directors, who censured all the proceedings, dismissed Sir
Thomas Rumbold and his two chief associates from the Council, and
suspended other members.

"The prompt and conciliatory measures, taken by the Bengal government,
appeased the resentment felt by the Nizam, and induced him to withdraw
from the Confederacy. Hyder, however, was bent upon war, and the
imbecile government here took no steps, whatever, to meet the storm.
The commissariat was entirely neglected, they had no transport train
whatever, and the most important posts were left without a garrison.

"It was towards the end of June that we received the news that Hyder
had left his capital at the head of an army of ninety thousand men, of
whom twenty-eight thousand were cavalry. He attempted no disguise as
to his object, and moved, confident in his power, to conquer the
Carnatic and drive the English into the sea.

"My father had already made his preparations. Everything was in
readiness, and as soon as the news reached him, he started for Madras,
under the guard of his escort, with my mother and myself, most of the
traders of the town, and the landowners, who had gathered here in fear
and trembling.

"It was a painful scene, as you may imagine, and I shall never forget
the terrified crowds in the streets, and the wailing of the women.
Many families who then left reached Madras in safety, but of those who
remained in the town, all are dead, or prisoners beyond the hills.
Hyder descended through the pass of Changama on the 20th of July, and
his horsemen spread out like a cloud over the country, burning,
devastating, and slaughtering. Hyder moved with the main army slowly,
occupying town after town, and placing garrisons in them.

"You must not suppose that he devastated the whole country. He was too
wise for that. He anticipated reigning over it as its sovereign, and
had no wish to injure its prosperity. It was only over tracts where he
considered that devastation would hamper the movements of an English
army, that everything was laid waste.

"On the 21st of August he invested Arcot, and a week later, hearing
that the British army had moved out from Madras, he broke up the siege
and advanced to meet them. Sir Hector Munro, the British general, was
no doubt brave, but he committed a terrible blunder. Instead of
marching to combine his force with that of Colonel Baillie, who was
coming down from Guntoor, he marched in the opposite direction to
Conjeveram, sending word to Colonel Baillie to follow him. Baillie's
force amounted to over two thousand eight hundred men, Munro's to five
thousand two hundred. Had they united, the force would have exceeded
eight thousand, and could have given battle to Hyder's immense army
with fair hope of success. The English have won, before now, with
greater odds against them.

"My father had marched out with his cavalry, one hundred and fifty
strong, with Munro. Of course, I was with him, and it was to him that
the English general gave the despatch to carry to Colonel Baillie. We
rode hard, for at any moment Hyder's cavalry might swoop down and bar
the road; but we got through safely, and the next morning, the 24th,
Baillie started.

"The encampment was within twenty-five miles of Madras, and with one
long forced march, we could have effected a junction with Munro. The
heat was tremendous, and Baillie halted that night on the bank of the
River Cortelour. The bed was dry, and my father urged him to cross
before halting. The colonel replied that the men were too exhausted to
move farther, and that, as he would the next day be able to join
Munro, it mattered not on which side of the river he encamped.

"That night the river rose, and for ten days we were unable to cross.
On the 4th of September we got over; but by that time Tippoo, with
five thousand picked infantry, six thousand horse, six heavy guns, and
a large body of irregulars, detached by Hyder to watch us, barred the
way.

"Colonel Baillie, finding that there was no possibility of reaching
Conjeveram without fighting, took up a position at a village, and on
the 6th was attacked by Tippoo. The action lasted three hours, and
although the enemy were four times more numerous than we were, the
English beat off the attacks. We were not engaged, for against
Tippoo's large cavalry force our few horsemen could do nothing, and
were therefore forced to remain in the rear of the British line. But
though Colonel Baillie had beaten off the attacks made on him, he felt
that he was not strong enough to fight his way to Conjeveram, which
was but fourteen miles distant; and he therefore wrote to Sir Hector
Munro, to come to his assistance.

"For three days Sir Hector did nothing, but on the evening of the 8th
he sent off a force, composed of the flank companies of the regiments
with him. These managed to make their way past the forces both of
Hyder and Tippoo, and reached us without having to fire a shot.

"Their arrival brought our force up to over three thousand seven
hundred men. Had Munro made a feigned attack upon Hyder, and so
prevented him from moving to reinforce Tippoo, we could have got
through without much difficulty. But he did nothing; and Hyder, seeing
the utter incapacity of the man opposed to him, moved off with his
whole army and guns to join his son.

"Our force set out as soon as it was dark, on the evening of the 9th;
but the moment we started, we were harassed by the enemy's irregulars.
The march was continued for five or six miles, our position becoming
more and more serious, and at last Colonel Baillie took the fatal
resolution of halting till morning, instead of taking advantage of the
darkness to press forward. At daybreak, fifty guns opened on us. Our
ten field pieces returned the fire, until our ammunition was
exhausted. No orders were issued by the colonel, who had completely
lost his head; so that our men were mowed down by hundreds, until at
last the enemy poured down and slaughtered them relentlessly.

"We did not see the end of the conflict. When the colonel gave the
orders to halt, my father said to me:

"'This foolish officer will sacrifice all our lives. Does he think
that three thousand men can withstand one hundred thousand, with a
great number of guns? We will go while we can. We can do no good
here.'

"We mounted our horses and rode off. In the darkness, we came suddenly
upon a body of Tippoo's horsemen, but dashed straight at them and cut
our way through, but with the loss of half our force, and did not draw
rein until we reached Madras.

"The roar of battle had been heard at Conjeveram, and the fury and
indignation in the camp, at the desertion of Colonel Baillie's
detachment, was so great that the general at last gave orders to march
to their assistance. When his force arrived within two miles of the
scene of conflict, the cessation of fire showed that it was too late,
and that Baillie's force was well-nigh annihilated. Munro retired to
Conjeveram, and at three o'clock the next morning retreated, with the
loss of all his heavy guns and stores, to Madras.

"The campaign only lasted twenty-one days, and was marked by almost
incredible stupidity and incapacity on the part of the two English
commanders. We remained at Madras. My father determined that he would
take no more share in the fighting until some English general,
possessing the courage and ability that had always before
distinguished them, took the command. In the meantime, Hyder
surrounded and captured Arcot, after six weeks' delay, and then laid
siege to Amboor, Chingleput, and Wandiwash.

"In November Sir Eyre Coote arrived from England and took the command.
Confidence was at once restored, for he was a fine old soldier, and
had been engaged in every struggle in India from the time of Clive;
but with the whole country in the hands of Hyder, it was impossible to
obtain draft animals or carts, and it was not until the middle of
January that he was able to move. On the 19th he reached Chingleput,
and on the 20th sent off a thousand men to obtain possession of the
fort of Carangooly. It was a strong place, and the works had been
added to by Hyder, who had placed there a garrison of seven hundred
men. The detachment would not have been sent against it, had not news
been obtained, on the way, that the garrison had fallen back to
Chingleput.

"Our troop of cavalry went with the detachment, as my father knew the
country well. To the surprise of Captain Davis, who was in command, we
found the garrison on the walls.

"'What do you think, Rajah?' Captain Davis, who was riding by his
side, asked. 'My orders were that I was to take possession of the
place, but it was supposed that I should find it empty.'

"'I should say that you had better try, with or without orders,' my
father replied. 'The annihilation of Baillie's force, and the
miserable retreat of Munro, have made a terribly bad impression
through the country, and a success is sorely needed to raise the
spirits of our friends.'

"'We will do it,' Captain Davis said, and called up a few English
engineers, and a company of white troops he had with him, and ordered
them to blow in the gate.

"My father volunteered to follow close behind them, with his
dismounted cavalry, and, when the word was given, forward we went. It
was hot work, I can tell you. The enemy's guns swept the road, and
their musketry kept up an incessant roar. Many fell, but we kept on
until close to the gate, and then the white troops opened fire upon
Hyder's men on the walls, so as to cover the sappers, who were fixing
the powder bags.

"They soon ran back to us. There was a great explosion, and the gates
fell. With loud shouts we rushed forward into the fort; and close
behind us came the Sepoys, led by Captain Davis.

"It took some sharp fighting before we overcame the resistance of the
garrison, who fought desperately, knowing well enough that, after the
massacre of Baillie's force, little quarter would be given them. The
British loss was considerable, and twenty of my father's little
company were among the killed. Great stores of provisions were found
here, and proved most useful to the army.

"The news, of the capture of Carangooly, so alarmed the besiegers of
Wandiwash that they at once raised the siege, and retreated; and, on
the following day, Sir Eyre Coote and his force arrived there. It was
a curious thing that, on the same day of the same month, Sir Eyre
Coote had, twenty-one years before, raised the siege of Wandiwash by a
victory over the army that was covering the operation. Wandiwash had
been nobly defended by a young lieutenant named Flint, who had made
his way in through the enemy's lines, a few hours before the
treacherous native officer in command had arranged with Hyder to
surrender it, and, taking command, had repulsed every attack, and had
even made a sortie.

"There was now a long pause. Having no commissariat train, Sir Eyre
Coote was forced to make for the seashore, and, though hotly followed
by Hyder, reached Cuddalore. A French fleet off the coast, however,
prevented provisions being sent to him, and, even after the French had
retired, the Madras government were so dilatory in forwarding supplies
that the army was reduced to the verge of starvation.

"It was not until the middle of June that a movement was possible,
owing to the want of carriage. The country inland had been swept bare
by Hyder, and, on leaving Cuddalore, Sir Eyre Coote was obliged to
follow the seacoast. When he arrived at Porto Novo, the army was
delighted to find a British fleet there, and scarcely less pleased to
hear that Lord Macartney had arrived as governor of Madras.

"Hyder's army had taken up a strong position, between the camp and
Cuddalore, and Sir Eyre Coote determined to give him battle. Four
days' rice was landed from the fleet, and with this scanty supply in
their knapsacks, the troops marched out to attack Hyder. We formed
part of the baggage guard and had, therefore, an excellent opportunity
of seeing the fight. The march was by the sea. The infantry moved in
order of battle, in two lines. After going for some distance, we could
see the enemy's position plainly. It was a very strong one. On its
right was high ground, on which were numerous batteries, which would
take us in flank as we advanced, and their line extended from these
heights to the sand hills by the shore.

"They had thrown up several batteries, and might, for aught we knew,
have many guns hidden on the high ground on either flank. An hour was
spent in reconnoitring the enemy's position, during which they kept up
an incessant cannonade, to which the English field guns attempted no
reply. To me, and the officers of this troop, it seemed impossible
that any force could advance to the attack of Hyder's position without
being literally swept away by the crossfire that would be opened upon
it; but when I expressed my fears, my father said:

"'No; you will see no repetition of that terrible affair with
Baillie's column. The English have now got a commander who knows his
business, and when that is the case, there is never any fear as to
what the result will be. I grant that the lookout seems desperate.
Hyder has all the advantage of a very strong position, a very powerful
artillery, and has six or seven to one in point of numbers; but for
all that, I firmly believe that, before night, you will see us in
possession of those hills, and Hyder's army in full flight.'

"Presently, we saw a movement. The two lines of infantry formed into
columns, and instead of advancing towards Hyder's position, turned
down towards the sea, and marched along between it and the sand hills.
We were at the same time set in motion, and kept along between the
infantry and the sea, so as to be under their protection, if Hyder's
cavalry should sweep down. All his preparations had been made under
the supposition that we should advance by the main road to Cuddalore,
and this movement entirely disconcerted his plans. The sand hills
completely protected our advancing columns, and when they had reached
a point almost in line with Hyder's centre, the artillery dashed up to
the crest of the hills, and the first column passed through a break in
them, and moved forward against the enemy, the guns above clearing a
way for them.

"A short halt was made, until the artillery of the second line came
up, and also took their position on the hill. Then the first column,
with its guns, moved forward again.

"Hyder had, in the meantime, moved back his line and batteries into a
position at right angles to that they had before occupied, and facing
the passage through the sand hills by which the English were
advancing. As soon as the column issued from the valley, a tremendous
fire was poured upon it, but it again formed into line of battle, and,
covered by the fire of the artillery, moved forward.

"It was a grand sight. My father and I had left the baggage, which
remained by the sea, and had ridden up on to a sand hill, from which
we had a view of the whole of the battleground. It was astonishing to
see the line of English infantry advancing, under that tremendous
fire, against the rising ground occupied by the dense masses of the
enemy.

"Presently there was a movement opposite, and a vast body of cavalry
moved down the slope. As they came the red English line suddenly broke
up, and, as if by magic, a number of small squares, surrounded by
glistening bayonets, appeared where it had stood.

"Down rode Hyder's cavalry. Every gun on our side was turned upon
them. But though we could see the confusion in the ranks, caused by
the shot that swept them, they kept on. It seemed that the little red
patches must be altogether overwhelmed by the advancing wave. But as
it came closer, flashes of fire spurted out from the faces of the
squares. We could see the horses recoil when close to the bayonets,
and then the stream poured through the intervals between the squares.
As they did so, crackling volleys broke out, while from the batteries
on the sand hills an incessant fire was kept up upon them. Then,
following the volleys, came the incessant rattle of musketry. The
confusion among the cavalry grew greater and greater. Regiments were
mixed up together, and their very numbers impeded their action. Many
gallant fellows, detaching themselves from the mass, rode bravely at
the squares, and died on the bayonets; others huddled together,
confused and helpless against the storm of bullets and shot; and at
last, as if with a sudden impulse, they rode off in all directions,
and, sweeping round, regained their position in the rear of their
infantry, while loud cheers broke from our side.

"The squares again fell into line, which, advancing steadily, drove
Hyder's infantry before it. As this was going on, a strong force of
infantry and cavalry, with guns, was moved round by Hyder to fall on
the British rear. These, however, were met by the second line, which
had hitherto remained in reserve, and after fierce fighting were
driven back along the sand hills. But, as they were retiring, the main
body of Hyder's cavalry moved round to support the attack. Fortunately
a British schooner, which had sailed from Porto Novo when the troops
started, had anchored near the shore to give what protection she could
to the baggage, and now opened fire with her guns upon the cavalry, as
they rode along between the sand hills and the sea; and with such
effect that they halted and wavered; and when two of the batteries on
the sand hills also opened fire upon them, they fell back in haste.

"This was Hyder's last effort. The British line continued to advance,
until it had gained all the positions occupied by the enemy, and these
were soon in headlong flight; Hyder himself, who had been almost
forced by his attendants to leave the ground, being with them. It was
a wonderful victory. The English numbered but 8,476 men, of whom 306
were killed or wounded. Hyder's force was about 65,000, and his loss
was not less than 10,000.

"The victory had an immense effect in restoring the confidence of the
English troops, which had been greatly shaken by the misfortunes
caused by the incapacity of Munro and Baillie. But it had no other
consequences, for want of carriage, and a deficiency of provisions and
equipment, prevented Sir Eyre Coote from taking the offensive, and he
was obliged to confine himself to capturing a few forts near the
coast.

"On the 27th of August the armies met again, Hyder having chosen the
scene of his victory over Baillie's force to give battle, believing
the position to be a fortunate one for himself. Hyder had now been
joined by Tippoo, who had not been present at the last battle, and his
force numbered 80,000 men, while the English were 11,000 strong.

"I did not see the battle, as we were, at the time, occupied in
escorting a convoy of provisions from Madras. The fight was much
better contested than the previous battle had been. Hyder was well
acquainted with the ground, and made skilful use of his opportunities,
by fortifying all the points at which he could be attacked. The fight
lasted eight hours. At last Sir Eyre Coote's first division turned the
enemy's left flank, by the capture of the village of Pillalore; while
his second turned their right, and Hyder was obliged to fall back. But
this was done in good order, and the enemy claimed that it was a drawn
battle. This, however, was not the case, as the English, at night,
encamped on the position occupied by Hyder in the morning.

"Still, the scandalous mismanagement at Madras continued to cripple
us. But, learning from the commandant at Vellore that, unless he were
relieved, he would be driven to surrender for want of provisions, Sir
Eyre Coote marched to his help. He met the enemy on the way. Hyder was
taken by surprise, and was moving off when the English arrived. In
order to give his infantry time to march away, he hurled the whole of
his cavalry against the English. Again and again they charged down,
with the greatest bravery, and although the batteries swept their
ranks with grape, and the squares received them with deadly volleys,
they persevered until Tippoo had carried off his infantry and guns;
and then, having lost five thousand men, followed him. The English
then moved on towards Vellore. Hyder avoided another encounter, and
Vellore was relieved. Sir Eyre Coote handed over, to its commandant,
almost the whole of the provisions carried by the army, and, having
thus supplied the garrison with sufficient food for six weeks, marched
back to Madras, his troops suffering greatly from famine on the way.

"Nothing took place during the winter, except that Sir Eyre Coote
again advanced and revictualled Vellore. In March a French fleet
arrived off the coast, landed a force of three thousand men to assist
Hyder, and informed him that a much larger division was on its way.
Fortunately, this did not arrive, many of the ships being captured by
the English on their way out. In the course of the year there were
several fights, but none of any consequence, and things remained in
the same state until the end of the year, when, on the 7th of
December, Hyder died, and Tippoo was proclaimed his successor.

"Bussy arrived with fresh reinforcements from France in April, and
took the command of Hyder's French contingent, and in June there was a
battle between him and a force commanded by General Stuart, the
successor to Sir Eyre Coote, who had been obliged to resign from ill
health, and who had died in the spring.

"The French position was a very strong one, and was protected by
numerous field works. The battle was the most sanguinary fought during
the war, considering the numbers engaged. The English carried a
portion of the works, and captured fourteen guns, and, as the French
retired during the night, were able to claim a victory. Their loss,
however, was over a thousand, while that of the French was not more
than a third of that number.

"During that year there was little fighting down here. A Bombay force,
however, under the command of General Matthews, captured Bednore; but
Tippoo hastened against him with a great force, besieged Bednore, and
forced it to surrender, after a desperate defence. Tippoo violated the
terms of capitulation, and made the defenders prisoners. Bangalore was
next besieged by him, but resisted for nearly nine months, and only
surrendered in January, 1784.

"Tippoo had, by this time, lost the services of his French
auxiliaries, as England and France had made peace at home.
Negotiations between Tippoo and the English went on till March, when a
treaty was signed. By its provisions, Tippoo should have handed back
all his prisoners. He murdered large numbers of them, but 1000 British
soldiers, and 1600 Sepoys obtained their liberty. No one knows how
many were retained of the number, calculated at 200,000, of natives
carried off from the countries overrun by Hyder's troops. Only 2000
were released.

"More British would doubtless have been freed, had it not been for the
scandalous cowardice of the three men sent up, as British
commissioners, to Tippoo. They were treated with the greatest insult
and contempt by him, and, in fear of their lives, were too glad to
accept the prisoners he chose to hand over, without troubling
themselves in the slightest about the rest, whom they basely deserted
and left to their fate."



Chapter 5: War Declared.


"That gives you a general idea, Dick, of the war with Tippoo. I saw
little of the events after the battle of Porto Novo, as my father was
taken ill soon after, and died at Madras. Seeing that there was no
probability, whatever, of the English driving Hyder back, until they
had much larger forces and a much better system of management, I
remained in Madras until peace was made; then I came back here,
rebuilt the palace, and have since been occupied in trying to restore
the prosperity of my poor people.

"It is, I feel, a useless task, for it is certain that, ere long, the
English will again be engaged with Mysore; and if they are, it is
well-nigh certain that Tippoo's hordes will again sweep down from the
hills, and carry ruin and desolation everywhere.

"He would, as Hyder had, have the advantage on his side at the
beginning of the war. He has a score of passes to choose from, and can
descend on to the plain by any one he may select. And, even were there
a force here capable of giving battle to the whole Mysorean army, it
could not watch all the passes, as to do so the army would have to be
broken up into a dozen commands. Tippoo will therefore again be able
to ravage the plains, for weeks, perhaps, before the English can force
him to give battle.

"But there is no army, at present, in existence of sufficient strength
to meet him. The Madras force would have to wait until reinforcements
arrived from Calcutta. It was bad before, but it will be worse, now.
Hyder, no doubt, slaughtered many, but he was not cruel by nature. He
carried off enormous quantities of people, with their flocks and
herds, but he did this to enrich Mysore with their labour, and did not
treat them with unnecessary cruelty.

"Tippoo, on the other hand, is a human tiger. He delights in torturing
his victims, and slays his prisoners from pure love of bloodshed. He
is proud of the title of 'Tiger.' His footstool is a tiger's head, and
the uniforms of his infantry are a sort of imitation of a tiger's
stripes. He has military talent, and showed great judgment in command
of his division--indeed, most of the successes gained during the last
war were his work. Since then, he has laboured incessantly to improve
his army. Numbers of regiments have been raised, composed of the
captives carried off from here and from the west coast. They are
drilled, in European fashion, by the English captives he still holds
in his hands."

"But why, Uncle, instead of giving time to Tippoo to come down here,
should we not march up the passes, and compel him to keep his army up
there to defend Seringapatam?"

"Because, Dick, in the first place, there is not an army strong enough
to do so; but even were there a force of fifty thousand men at Madras,
they could not take the offensive in time. An English army cannot move
without a great train to carry ammunition, stores and provisions; and
to get such a train together would be the work of months. As I have
been telling you, during the three years the last war lasted, the
Madras authorities were never able to collect such a train, and the
consequence was that their army was unable to go more than two or
three days' march from the city.

"On the other hand, Tippoo could, any day, order that three days'
supply of rice or grain should be served out to each soldier, and
could set out on his march the following morning; as, from the moment
he reached the plains, his cavalry would have the whole of the
resources of the country at their mercy."

"I see, Uncle. Then, if war broke out, you would at once go to Madras
again?"

"There would be nothing else to do, Dick. I should send everything of
value down there, as soon as I saw that war was inevitable. The
traders here have already begun to prepare. The shops are half empty,
for they have not replaced goods they have sold, and a very few hours
would suffice for everything worth taking to be cleared out of the
town. The country round here is comparatively uninhabited, and but a
small portion of it tilled, so great was the number carried off by
Hyder. Next time they will take to the hills at once, and I believe
that many have already stored up grain in hiding places there. This
time it may be hoped that a few weeks, or months at most, may see
Tippoo driven back, and for that time the peasants can manage to exist
in the hills. No doubt the richer sort, who have large flocks of
goats, and many cattle, will, as soon as danger threatens, drive them
down to Madras, where they are sure to fetch good prices for the use
of the army.

"I have already told all men who have bullock carts and teams, that
they can, if forced to leave home, earn a good living by taking
service in the English transport train. I hope, therefore, that the
results will not be so disastrous as before. The town may be burnt
down again, but unless they blow up my palace, they can do little harm
to it. When I rebuilt it, seeing the possibility of another war, I
would not have any wood whatever used in its construction. Therefore,
when the hangings are taken down, and the furniture from these rooms
cleared out, there will be nothing to burn, and they are not likely to
waste powder in blowing it up.

"As to the town, I warned the people who returned that it might be
again destroyed before long, and therefore there has been no solid
building. The houses have all been lightly run up with wood, which is
plentiful enough in the hills, and no great harm, therefore, will be
done if it is again burnt down. The pagoda and palace are the only
stone buildings in it. They did some harm to the former, last time, by
firing shot at it for a day or two; and, as you can see for yourself,
no attempt has since been made to repair it, and I do not suppose they
will trouble to damage it further.

"So you see, Dick, we are prepared for the worst."

"Will you fight again, as you did last time, Uncle?"

"I do not know, Dick. I show my loyalty to the English rule by
repairing to the capital; but my force is too small to render much
service. You see, my revenues have greatly diminished, and I cannot
afford to keep up so large a force as my father could. Fortunately,
his savings had been considerable, and from these I was able to build
this palace, and to succour my people, and have still enough to keep
up my establishment here, without pressing the cultivators of the soil
for taxes. This year is the first that I have drawn any revenue from
that source; but, at any rate, I am not disposed to keep up a force
which, while it would be insufficient to be of any great value in a
war like this, would be a heavy tax on my purse."

"Even the force you have must be that, Uncle."

"Not so much as you would think, Dick, with your English notions. The
pay here is very small--so small that it would seem to you impossible
for a man to live on it; and yet, many of these men have wives and
families. All of them have patches of land that they cultivate; only
twenty, who are changed once a month, being kept on duty. They are
necessary; for I should have but little respect from my people, and
less still from other rajahs, did I not have sentries at the gates,
and a guard ready to turn out in honour of any visitor who might
arrive; to say nothing of an escort, of half a dozen men, when I ride
through the country. Of course, all can be called out whenever I want
them, as, for example, when I rode to Madras to meet you. The men
think themselves well off upon the pay of three rupees a month, as
they are practically only on duty two months each year, and have the
rest of the time to cultivate their fields. Therefore, with the pay of
the officers, my troop only costs me about four hundred rupees a
month, which is, you know, equivalent to forty English pounds; so that
you cannot call it an expensive army, even if it is kept for show
rather than use."

"No, indeed, Uncle! It seems ridiculous that a troop of a hundred men
can be kept up, for five hundred pounds a year."

"Of course, the men have some little privileges, Dick. They pay no
rent or taxes for their lands. This is a great thing for them, and
really costs me nothing, as there is so much land lying uncultivated.
Then, when too old for service, they have a pension of two rupees a
month for life, and on that, and what little land they can cultivate,
they are comparatively comfortable."

"Well, it does not seem to me, Uncle, that soldiering is a good trade
in this country."

"I don't know that it is a good trade, in the money way, anywhere.
After all, the pay out here is quite as high, in comparison with the
ordinary rate of earning of a peasant, as it is in England. It is
never the pay that tempts soldiers. Among young men there are always
great numbers who prefer the life to that of a peasant, working
steadily from daylight to dark, and I don't know that I altogether
blame them."

"Then you think, Uncle, there is no doubt whatever that there will be
war?"

"Not a shadow of doubt, Dick--indeed, it may be said to have begun
already; and, like the last, it is largely due to the incapacity of
the government of Madras."

"I have just received a message from Arcot," the Rajah said, two
months later, "and I must go over and see the Nabob."

"I thought," Mrs. Holland said, "that Tripataly was no longer subject
to him. I understood that our father was made independent of Arcot?"

"No, Margaret, not exactly that. The Nabob had involved himself in
very heavy debts, during the great struggle. The Company had done
something to help him, but were unable to take all his debts on their
shoulders; and indeed, there was no reason why they should have done
so, for although during most of the war he was their ally, he was
fighting on his own behalf, and not on theirs.

"In the war with Hyder it was different. He was then quite under
English influence, and, indeed, could scarcely be termed independent.
And as he suffered terribly--his lands were wasted, his towns
besieged, and his people driven off into slavery--the Company are at
present engaged in negotiations for assisting him to pay his debts,
which are very heavy.

"It was before you left, when the Nabob was much pressed for money,
and had at that time no claim on the Company, that our father bought
of him a perpetual commutation of tribute, taxes, and other monies and
subsidies payable by Tripataly; thus I am no longer tributary to
Arcot. Nevertheless, this forms a portion of the Nabob's territories,
and I cannot act as if I were an independent prince.

"I could not make a treaty with Mysore on my own account, and it is
clear that neither Arcot nor the English could allow me to do so, for
in that case Mysore could erect fortresses here, and could use
Tripataly as an advanced post on the plain. Therefore, I am still
subject to the Nabob, and could be called upon for military service by
him. Indeed, that is one of the reasons why, even if I could afford
it, I should not care to keep up a force of any strength. As it is, my
troop is too small to be worth summoning. The Nabob has remonstrated
with me more than once, but since the war with Hyder I have had a good
excuse, namely, that the population has so decreased that my lands lie
untilled, and it would be impossible for me to raise a larger force. I
have, however, agreed that, in case of a fresh war, I will raise an
additional hundred cavalry.

"I expect it is in relation to this that he has sent for me to Arcot.
We know that the English are bound, by their treaty with Travancore,
to declare war. They ought, in honour, to have done it long ago, but
they were unprepared. Now that they are nearly ready, they may do so
at any time, and indeed the Nabob may have learned that fighting has
begun.

"The lookout is bad. The government of Madras is just as weak and as
short sighted as it was during Hyder's war. There is but one comfort,
and that is that Lord Cornwallis, at Calcutta, has far greater power
than his predecessors; and as he is an experienced soldier, and is
said to be an energetic man, he may bring up reinforcements from
Calcutta without loss of time, and also set the troops of Bombay in
motion. I expect that, as before, things will go badly at first; but
hope that, this time, we shall end by giving Mysore so heavy a lesson
that she will be powerless for mischief, in future."

"And release all the captives," Mrs. Holland exclaimed, clasping her
hands.

"I sincerely trust so, Margaret," her brother said gravely; "but,
after what happened last time, we must not be sanguine. Scattered
about as they may be, in the scores of little hill forts that dot the
whole country, we can, unhappily, never be sure that all are
delivered, when we have only the word of a treacherous tyrant like
Tippoo. We know that, last time, he kept back hundreds of prisoners,
among whom, as we may hope, was your husband; and it may be that,
however completely he may be defeated, he may yet retain some of them,
knowing full well it is impossible that all these hill forts and their
dungeons can be searched. However, doubtless if an English army
marches to Seringapatam, many will be recovered, though we have reason
to fear that many will, as before, be murdered before our arrival."

When the Rajah returned from Arcot, on the following day, he brought
back the news that General Meadows had moved to the frontier at
Caroor, fifty miles beyond Trichinopoly, and that the war was really
about to begin.

"You know," he said, "how matters stand, up to now. Tippoo, after
making peace with the Nizam and the Mahrattis, with whom he had been
engaged in hostilities for some time, turned his attention to the
western coast, where Coorg and Malabar had risen in rebellion. After,
as usual, perpetrating horrible atrocities, and after sending a large
proportion of the population as slaves to Mysore, he marched against
Travancore. Now, Travancore was specially mentioned, in the treaty of
Mangalore, as one of the allies of the English, with whom Tippoo bound
himself not to make war; and had he not been prepared to fight the
English, he would not have attacked their ally. The excuse for
attacking Travancore was that some of the fugitives, from Coorg and
Malabar, had taken refuge there.

"Seeing that Tippoo was bent upon hostilities, Lord Cornwallis and his
council at Calcutta directed, as I learnt from an official at Madras,
the authorities there to begin at once to make preparations for war.
Instead of doing so, Mr. Holland, the governor, gave the Rajah the
shameful and cowardly advice to withdraw his protection from the
fugitives. The Rajah refused to comply with such counsel, and after
some months spent in negotiations, Tippoo attacked the wall that runs
along the northern frontier of Travancore.

"That was about six months ago. Yes, it was on the 28th of
December--so it is just six months. His troops, fourteen thousand
strong, made their way without difficulty through a breach, but they
were suddenly attacked by a small body of Travancore men. A panic
seized them. They rushed back to the breach, and in the wild struggle
to pass through it, no less than two thousand were either killed or
crushed to death.

"It was nearly three months before Tippoo renewed his attack. The
lines were weak, and his army so strong that resistance was
impossible. A breach, three-quarters of a mile in length, was made in
the wall, and marching through this, he devastated Travancore from end
to end.

"His unaccountable delay, before assaulting the position, has been of
great advantage to us. Had he attacked us at once, instead of wasting
his time before Travancore, he would have found the Carnatic as
defenceless and as completely at his mercy as Hyder did. He would
still have done so, had it depended upon Madras, but as the
authorities here did nothing, Lord Cornwallis took the matter into his
own hands. He was about to come here himself, when General Meadows,
formerly Governor of Bombay, arrived, invested by the Company with the
offices of both governor and of commander-in-chief.

"He landed here late in February, and at once set to work to prepare
for war. Lord Cornwallis sent, from Calcutta, a large amount of money,
stores, and ammunition, and a battalion of artillerymen. The Sepoys
objected to travel by sea, as their caste rules forbade them to do so,
and he therefore sent off six battalions of infantry by land, and the
Nabob tells me they are expected to arrive in four or five weeks'
time. The Nabob of Arcot and the Rajah of Tanjore, both of whom are
very heavily in debt to the government, are ordered, during the
continuance of the war, to place their revenues at its disposal, a
liberal allowance being made to them both for their personal expenses.

"Tippoo is still in Travancore--at least, he was there ten days ago,
and has been endeavouring to negotiate. The Nabob tells me he believes
that the object of General Meadows, in advancing from Trichinopoly to
Caroor, is to push on to Coimbatoor, where he will, if he arrives
before Tippoo, cut him off from his return to his capital; and as
Meadows has a force of fifteen thousand men, he ought to be able to
crush the tyrant at a blow.

"I fear, however, there is little chance of this. The Mysore troops
move with great rapidity, and as soon as Tippoo hears that the English
army is marching towards Caroor, he is sure to take the alarm, and by
this time has probably passed Coimbatoor on his way back. With all his
faults, Tippoo is a good general, and the Nabob's opinion--and I quite
agree with him--is that, as soon as he regains the table land of
Mysore, he will take advantage of the English army being far away to
the south, and will pour down through the passes into this part of the
Carnatic, which is at present absolutely defenceless. This being the
case, I shall at once get ready to leave for Madras, and shall move as
soon as I learn, for certain, that Tippoo has slipped past the
English.

"The Nabob has called upon me to join him with my little body of
cavalry, and as soon as the news comes that Tippoo is descending the
passes, I shall either join him or the English army. That will be a
matter to decide afterwards."

"You will take me with you, of course, Uncle?" Dick asked eagerly.

"Certainly, Dick. If you are old enough to undertake the really
perilous adventure of going up in disguise to Mysore, you are
certainly old enough to ride with me. Besides, we may hope that, this
time, the war is not going to be as one-sided as it was the last time,
and that we may end by reaching Seringapatam; in which case we may
rescue your father, if he is still alive, very much more easily than
it could be managed in the way you propose."

The news that the English army had marched to Caroor, and that there
was no force left to prevent the Mysoreans from pouring down from the
hills, spread quickly; and when Dick went out with the two boys into
the town, groups of people were talking earnestly in the streets. Some
of them came up, and asked respectfully if there was any later news.

"Nothing later than you have heard," Dick said.

"The Rajah is not going away yet, Sahib?"

"No; he will not leave unless he hears that Tippoo has returned, with
his army, to Seringapatam. Then he will go at once, for the sultan
might come down through the passes at any moment, and can get here a
fortnight before the English army can return from Caroor."

"Yes; it will be no use waiting here to be eaten up, Sahib. Do you
think Conjeveram would be safe? Because it is easy to go down there by
boat."

"I should think so. Hyder could not take it last time, and the English
army is much stronger than it was then. Besides, there will be six
thousand men arriving from Bengal, in a month's time, so I should
think there is no fear of Conjeveram being taken."

"It is little trouble getting there," the trader said, "but it is a
long journey to Madras. We could go down with our families and goods
in two days, in a boat; but there would not be boats enough for all,
and it will be best, therefore, that some should go at once, for if
all wait until there is news that Tippoo is coming, many will not be
able to get away in time."

"No, not in boats," Dick agreed; "but in three days a bullock cart
would get you there."

Next day, several of the shops containing the most valuable goods were
shut up; and, day by day, the number remaining open grew smaller.

"It is as I expected," the Rajah said, one morning, as he came into
the room where the family was sitting. "A messenger has just come in
from the Nabob, with the news that sickness broke out among the army,
as soon as they arrived at Caroor, and in twenty-four hours a thousand
men were in hospital. This delayed the movement, and when they arrived
at Coimbatoor they were too late. Tippoo and his army had already
passed, moving by forced marches back to Mysore.

"Finish your packing, ladies. We will start at daybreak tomorrow
morning. I secured three boats, four days ago, and have been holding
them in readiness. Rajbullub will go in charge of you. There is not
the least fear of Tippoo being here for another fortnight, at the
earliest.

"I shall ride with the troop. Dick and the boys will go with me. We
shall meet you at Conjeveram. I have already arranged with some of our
people, who have gone on in their bullock carts, with their
belongings, and will unload them there, to be in readiness to take our
goods on to Madras, so there will be no delay in getting forward."

By nightfall, the apartments were completely dismantled. The furniture
was all stowed away, in a vault which the Rajah had had constructed
for the purpose, when the palace was rebuilt. Access was obtained to
it through the floor in one of the private apartments. The floor was
of tessellated marble, but some ten squares of it lifted up in a mass,
forming together a trapdoor, from which steps led down into the vault.
When the block was lowered again, the fit was so accurate that, after
sweeping a little dust over the joint, the opening was quite
imperceptible to any one not aware of the hiding place. The cushions
of the divans were taken down here, as well as the furniture, and all
the less valuable carpets, rugs and hangings, while the costlier
articles were rolled up into bales, for transport.

The silver cups and other valuables were packed in boxes, and were,
during the night, carried by coolies down to the boats, over which a
guard was placed until morning. Provisions for the journey down the
river were also placed on board. The palace was astir long before
daybreak. The cushions that had been slept on during the night were
carried down to the boats, the boxes of wearing apparel closed and
fastened, and a hasty meal was taken.

The sun was just rising when they started. One boat had been fitted up
with a bower of green boughs, for the use of the two ladies and their
four attendants. The other two carried the baggage.

After seeing them push off, the Rajah, his sons, and Dick returned to
the palace. Here for a couple of hours he held a sort of audience, and
gave his advice to the townspeople and others who came, in
considerable numbers, to consult with him. When this was done they
went into the courtyard, where all was ready for their departure.

The troop had, during the past week, been raised to two hundred men,
many of the young cultivators coming eagerly forward, as soon as they
heard that the Rajah was going to increase his troop, being anxious to
take a share in the adventures that might be looked for, and to avenge
the sufferings that had been inflicted on their friends by Hyder's
marauders. They were a somewhat motley troop, but this mattered
little, as uniformity was unknown among the forces of the native
princes.

The majority were stout young fellows. All provided their own horses
and arms, and although the former lacked the weight and bone of
English cavalry horses, they were capable of performing long journeys,
and of existing on rations on which an English horse would starve.

All were well armed, for any deficiency had been made up from the
Rajah's store, and from this a large number of guns had, three days
before, been distributed among such of the ryots as intended to take
to the hills on the approach of the enemy. Ammunition had also been
distributed among them. Every man in the troop carried a shield and
tulwar, and on his back was slung a musket or spear; and there were
few without pistols in their girdles.

They rode halfway to Conjeveram, and stopped for the night at a
village--the men sleeping in the open air, while the Rajah, his sons,
and Dick, were entertained by the chief man of the place. The next
afternoon they rode into Conjeveram, where, just at sunset, the boats
also arrived.

The troop encamped outside the town, while the Rajah and his party
occupied some rooms that had been secured beforehand for them. In the
morning, the ladies proceeded in a native carriage; with the troop, an
officer and ten men following, in charge of the bullock carts
containing the baggage.

On reaching Madras, they encamped on the Maidan--a large, open space
used as a drill ground for the troops garrisoned there--and the Rajah
and his party established themselves in the house occupied by him on
the occasion of his last visit. The next day, the Rajah went to the
Government House, and had an interview with the deputy governor.

"I think," the latter said, after some conversation, "that your troop
of cavalry will be of little use to the Nabob. If Tippoo comes down
from the hills, he will not be able to take the field against him, and
will need all his forces to defend Arcot, Vellore, and his smaller
forts, and cavalry would be of no real use to him. Your troop would be
of much greater utility to the battalions from Bengal, when they
arrive. They will be here in three weeks or so, and as soon as they
come, I will attach you to them. I will write to the Nabob, saying
that you were about to join him, but that, in the interest of the
general defence, I have thought it better, at present, to attach you
to the Bengal contingent. You see, they will be entirely new to the
country, and it will be a great advantage to them to have a troop like
yours, many of whom are well acquainted with the roads and general
geography of the country. Your speaking English, too, will add to your
usefulness."

"I have a nephew with me who speaks English perfectly, and also
Hindustani," the Rajah said. "He is a smart young fellow, and I have
no doubt that the officer in command would be able to make him very
useful. He is eager to be of service. His father, who was an
Englishman, was wrecked some years ago on the west coast, and sent up
a prisoner to Mysore. He was not one of those handed over at the time
of the peace, but whether he has been murdered, or is still a prisoner
in Tippoo's hands, we do not know. My sister came out with the boy,
three or four months ago, to endeavour to obtain some news of him."

"I will make a note of it, Rajah. I have no doubt that he will be of
great use to Colonel Cockerell."

In the last week in July, the Rajah moved with his troop to
Conjeveram, and on the 1st of August the Bengal forces arrived there.
They were joined, at once, by three regiments of Europeans, one of
native cavalry, and a strong force of artillery, raising their numbers
to nine thousand, five hundred men.

Colonel Kelly took command of the force, and begged the Rajah to
advance with his horsemen, at once, to the foot of the ghauts, to
break it up into half troops, and to capture or destroy any small
parties of horse Tippoo might send down, by any of the passes, to
reconnoitre the country and ascertain the movements and strength of
the British forces. He was also to endeavour to obtain as much
information as he could of what was going on in Mysore, and to
ascertain whether Tippoo was still with his army, watching General
Meadows in the west; or was moving, as if with the intention of taking
advantage of the main force of the English being away south, to
descend into the Carnatic.

The order was a very acceptable one to the Rajah. His troop made a
good appearance enough, when in company with those of the Nabob of
Arcot, but he could not but feel that they looked a motley body by the
side of the trained native and European troops; and he was frequently
angered by hearing the jeering comments of English soldiers to each
other, when he rode past them with his troop; and had not a little
astonished the speakers, more than once, by turning round on his
horse, and abusing them hotly in their own language.

He was, therefore, glad to be off. For such work, his men were far
better fitted than were even the native cavalry in the Company's
service. They were stout, active fellows, accustomed to the hills, and
speaking the dialect used by the shepherds and villagers among the
ghauts.

Proceeding northward through Vellore, he there divided his force into
four bodies. He himself, with fifty men, took up a position at the
mouth of the pass of Amboor. Another fifty were sent to the pass of
Moognee, to the west of Chittoor, under the command of Anwar, the
captain of the troop. The rest were distributed among the minor
passes.

Dick remained with his uncle, who established himself in a village,
seven miles up the pass. He was well satisfied with the arrangement,
for he was anxious to learn to go about among the hills as a spy, and
was much more likely to get leave from his uncle to do so, than he
would have been from any of the officers of the troop, who would not
have ventured to allow the Rajah's nephew to run into danger.

In the second place, his especial friend among the officers, a youth
named Surajah, son of Rajbullub, was with the detachment. Surajah had
been especially picked out, by the Rajah, as Dick's companion. He
generally joined him in his rides, and they had often gone on shooting
excursions among the hills. He was about three years Dick's senior,
but in point of height there was but little difference between them.

Every day half the troop, under an officer, rode up the pass until
within a mile of the fort near the summit, garrisoned by Mysorean
troops. They were able to obtain but little information, for the
villages towards the upper end of the pass were all deserted and in
ruins, the inhabitants never having ventured back since Hyder's
invasion.

The Rajah was vexed at being able to learn nothing of what was passing
on the plateau, and was therefore more disposed than he might
otherwise have been to listen to Dick's proposal.

"Don't you think, Uncle," the latter said one evening, "that I might
try to learn something by going up with Surajah alone? We could strike
off into the hills, as if on a shooting expedition, just as we used to
do from Tripataly, except that I should stain my face and hands. The
people in the villages on the top of the ghauts are, every one says,
simple and quiet. They have no love for Tippoo or Mysore, but are
content to pay their taxes, and to work quietly in their fields. There
will be little fear of our being interfered with by them."

"You might find a party of Tippoo's troops in one of the villages,
Dick, and get into trouble."

"I don't see why we should, Uncle. Of course, we should not go up
dressed as we are, but as shikarees, and when we went into a village,
should begin by asking whether the people are troubled with any tigers
in the neighbourhood. You see, I specially came out here to go into
Mysore in disguise, and I should be getting a little practice in this
way, besides obtaining news for you."

"I am certainly anxious to get news, Dick. So far, I have had nothing
to send down, except that the reports, from all the passes, agree in
saying that they have learned nothing of any movement on the part of
Tippoo, and that no spies have come down the passes, or any armed
party whatever. This is good, so far as it goes, but it only shows
that the other passes are, like this, entirely deserted. Therefore, we
really know nothing whatever. Even at this moment, Tippoo may have
fifty thousand men gathered on the crest of the hills, ready to pour
down tomorrow through one of the passes; and therefore, as I do not
think you would be running any great danger, I consent to your going
with Surajah on a scouting expedition, on foot, among the hills. As
you say, you must, of course, disguise yourselves as peasants. You had
better, in addition to your guns, each take a brace of pistols, and so
armed, even if any of the villagers were inclined to be hostile, they
would not care about interfering with you."

"Thank you, Uncle. When would you expect us back, if we start tomorrow
morning?"

"That must be entirely in your hands, Dick. You would hardly climb the
ghauts and light upon a village in one day, and it might be necessary
to go farther, before you could obtain any news. It is a broken
country, with much jungle for some distance beyond the hills, and the
villages lying off the roads will have but little communication with
each other, and might know nothing, whatever, of what was happening in
the cultivated plains beyond. At any rate, you must not go into any
villages on the roads leading to the heads of the passes; for there
are forts everywhere, and you would be certain to find parties of
troops stationed in them.

"Even before war broke out, I know that this was the case, as they
were stationed there to prevent any captives, native or European,
escaping from Mysore. You must, therefore, strictly avoid all the main
roads, even though it may be necessary to proceed much farther before
you can get news. I should think, if we say three days going and as
many returning, it will be as little as we can count upon; and I shall
not begin to feel at all uneasy, if you do not reappear for a week. It
is of no use your returning without some information as to what is
going on in Mysore; and it would be folly to throw away your work and
trouble, when, in another day or two, you might get the news you want.
I shall, therefore, leave it entirely to your discretion."

Greatly pleased at having succeeded beyond his expectations, Dick at
once sought out Surajah. The latter was very gratified, when he heard
that he was to accompany the young Sahib on such an expedition, and at
once set about the necessary preparations. There was no difficulty in
obtaining, in the village, the clothes required for their disguises;
and one of the sheep intended for the following day's rations was
killed, and a leg boiled.

"If we take, in addition to this, ten pounds of flour, a gourd of
ghee, and a little pan for frying the cakes in, we shall be able to
get on, without having to buy food, for four or five days; and of
course, when we are once among the villages, we shall have no
difficulty in getting more. You had better cut the meat off the bone,
and divide it in two portions; and divide the flour, too; then we can
each carry our share."

"I will willingly carry it all, Sahib."

"Not at all, Surajah. We will each take our fair share. You see, we
shall have a gun, pistols, ammunition, and a tulwar; and that, with
seven or eight pounds of food each, and our water bottles, will be
quite enough to carry up the ghauts. The only thing we want now is
some stain."

"I will get something that will do, and bring it with me in the
morning, Sahib. It won't take you a minute to put on. I will come for
you at the first gleam of daylight."

Dick returned to the cottage he occupied with his uncle, and told him
what preparations they had made for their journey; and they sat
talking over the details for another hour. The Rajah's last words, as
they lay down for the night, were:

"Don't forget to take a blanket, each. You will want it for sleeping
in the open, which you will probably have to do several times,
although you may occasionally be able to find shelter in a village."

By the time the sun rose, the next morning, they were well upon their
way. They had a good deal of toilsome climbing, but by nightfall had
surmounted the most difficult portions of the ascent, and encamped,
when it became dark, in a small wood. Here they lighted a fire, cooked
some cakes of flour, and, with these and the cold meat, made a hearty
meal. They had, during the day, halted twice; and had breakfasted and
lunched off some bread, of which they had brought sufficient for the
day's journey.

"I suppose there is no occasion to watch, Surajah?"

"I don't know, Sahib. I do not think it will be safe for us both to
sleep. There are, as you know, many tigers among these hills; and
though they would not approach us, as long as the fire is burning
brightly, they might steal up and carry one of us off, when the fire
gets low. I will, therefore, watch."

"I certainly should not let you do that, without taking my turn," Dick
said; "and I feel so tired with the day's work, that I do not think I
could keep awake for ten minutes. It would be better to sleep in a
tree than that."

"You would not get much sleep in a tree, Sahib. I have done it once or
twice, when I have been hunting in a tiger-infested neighbourhood; but
I got scarcely any sleep, and was so stiff, in the morning, that I
could hardly walk. I would rather sit up all night, and keep up a good
fire, than do that."

Dick thought for a minute or two, and then got up and walked about
under the trees, keeping his eyes fixed upon the branches overhead.

"This will do," he said at last. "Come here, Surajah. There! Do you
see those two branches, coming out in the same direction? At one
point, they are but five or six feet apart. We might fasten our
blankets side by side, with the help of the straps of our water
bottles and the slings of the guns; so as to make what are called, on
board a ship, hammocks, and lie there perfectly safe and comfortable."

Surajah nodded.

"I have a coil of leather thong, Sahib. I thought that it might be
useful, if we wanted to bind a prisoner, or for any other purpose, so
I stuffed it into my waist sash."

"That is good. Let us lose no time, for I am quite ready for sleep. I
will climb up first."

In ten minutes, the blankets were securely fastened side by side,
between the branches. Surajah descended, threw another armful of wood
on to the fire, placed their meat in the crutch of a bough, six feet
above the ground, and then climbed the tree again. Thus, they were
soon lying, side by side, in their blankets. These bagged rather
inconveniently under their weight, but they were too tired to mind
trifles, and were very soon fast asleep.

Dick did not wake until Surajah called him. It was already broad
daylight. His companion had slipped down quietly, stirred up the
embers of the fire, thrown on more wood, and cooked some chupatties
before waking him.

"It is too bad, Surajah," Dick said, as he looked down; "you ought to
have woke me. I will unfasten these blankets before I get down. It
will save time after breakfast."

Half an hour later, they were again on their way, and shortly came
upon a boy herding some goats. He looked doubtfully at them, but,
seeing that they were not Mysorean soldiers, he did not attempt to
fly.

"How far is it to the next village, lad?" Surajah asked; "and which is
the way? We are shikarees. Are there any tigers about?"

"Plenty of them," the boy said. "I drive the goats to a strong, high
stockade every evening; and would not come out, before the sun rose,
for all the money they say the sultan has.

"Make for that tree, and close to it you will see a spring. Follow
that down. It will take you to the village."

After walking for six hours, they came to the village. It was a place
of some little size, but there were few people about. Women came to
the doors to look at Surajah and Dick as they came along.

"Where are you from?" an old man asked, as he came out from his
cottage.

"From down the mountain side. Tigers are getting scarce there, and we
thought we would come over and see what we could do, here."

"Here there are many tigers," the old man said. "For the last twenty
years, the wars have taken most of our young men away. Some are forced
to go against their will; for when the order comes, to the head man of
the village, that the sultan requires so many soldiers, he is forced
to pick out those best fitted for service. Others go of their own free
will, thinking soldiering easier work than tilling the fields, besides
the chance of getting rich booty. So there are but few shikarees, and
the tigers multiply and are a curse to us.

"We are but poor people, but if you choose to stay here for a time, we
will pay something for every tiger you kill; and we will send round to
the other villages, within ten miles, and doubtless every one of them
will contribute, so that you might get enough to pay you for your
exertions."

"We will think of it," Surajah replied. "We did not intend to stop in
one village, but proposed to travel about in the jungle-covered
district; and wherever we hear complaints of a tiger committing
depredations, we will stop and do our best to kill the evil beast. We
mean, first, to find out where they are most troublesome, and then we
shall work back again. We hear that the sultan gives good prices, for
those taken alive."

"I have heard so," the old man said, "but none have been caught alive
here, or by anyone in the villages round. The sultan generally gets
them from the royal forests, where none are allowed to shoot, save
with his permission. Sometimes, when there is a lack of them there,
his hunters come into these districts, and catch them in pitfalls, and
have nets and ropes with which the tigers are bound and taken away."

A little crowd had, by this time, collected round them; and the women,
when they heard that the strangers were shikarees, who had come up
with the intention of killing tigers, brought them bowls of milk,
cakes and other presents.

"I suppose, now that the sultan is away at war," Dick said, "his
hunters do not come here for tigers?"

"We know nothing of his wars," a woman said. "They take our sons from
us, and we do not see them again. We did hear a report that he had
gone, with an army, to conquer Travancore. But why he should want to
do it, none of us can make out. His dominions are as wide as the heart
of man can require. It is strange that he cannot rest contented, but,
like his father, should be always taking our sons away to fight.
However, these things are beyond the understanding of poor people like
us; but we can't help thinking that it would be better if he were to
send his armies to destroy all the tigers. If he would do that, we
should not grudge the sums we have to pay, when the tax gatherers come
round."

After pausing for an hour in the village, they continued on their way.
Two or three other small collections of huts were passed, but it was
not until the evening of the next day that they issued from the
jungle-covered country, onto the cultivated plain. At none of the
places they had passed was there anything known, as to Tippoo or his
army, but they were told that there were parties of troops, in all the
villages along the edge of the plain, as well as in the passes.

"We must be careful now, Surajah," Dick said, as, after a long day's
march, they sat down to rest, at a distance of half a mile from a
large village. "Our tale, that we are shikarees, will not do here. Had
that really been our object, we should have stopped at the first place
we came to, and, at any rate, we should not have come beyond the
jungle. We might still say that we are shikarees, but that tigers had
become scarce on the other side of the hills, and, hearing a talk that
Tippoo and the English are going to war with each other, we made up
our minds to go to Seringapatam, and enlist in his army."

"That would do very well," Surajah agreed. "They would have no reason
for doubting us, and even if the officer here were to suggest that we
should enlist under him, we could do so, as there would be no
difficulty in slipping away, and making off into the jungle again."

They waited until the sun set, and then walked on into the village.
They had scarcely entered, when two armed men stopped them, and
questioned them whence they came.

Surajah repeated the story they had agreed upon, and the men appeared
quite satisfied.

"You will be just in time," one said. "We have news that the sultan
has just moved, with his army, to Seringapatam. Officers came here,
only yesterday, to buy up cattle and grain. These are to be retained
here, until orders are received where they are to be sent, so I should
say that he is coming this way, and will be going down the passes, as
Hyder did.

"We shall be very glad, for I suppose we shall join, as he passes
along. It has been dull work here, and we are looking forward to
gaining our share of the loot. It would be just as well for you to
join us here now, as to go on to Seringapatam."

"It would save us a long tramp," Surajah agreed. "We will think it
over, and maybe we will have a talk with your officer, tomorrow
morning."

They sauntered along with the men, talking as they went, and so
escaped being questioned by other soldiers. Presently, they made the
excuse that they wanted, to buy some flour and ghee before the shops
were closed; and, with a friendly nod to the two soldiers, stopped
before the stall of a peasant who had, on a little stand in front of
him, a large jar of ghee. Having purchased some, they went a little
farther, and laid in a fresh supply of flour.

"Things are very dear," Surajah remarked.

"There is very little left in the village," the man said. "All the
flour was bought up yesterday, for the sultan's army, which, they say,
is coming in this direction; and I have only got what you see here. It
has been pounded, by my wife and some other women, since morning."

"That is good enough," Dick said, as they walked away. "Our work is
done, Surajah, and it is not likely that we should learn anything
more, if we were to stop here for a week. Let us turn down between
these houses, and make our way round behind. We might be questioned
again, by a fresh party of soldiers, if we were to go along the
street."

They kept along on the outskirts of the village, regained the road by
which they had come, and walked on until they reached the edge of the
jungle. Going a short distance among the trees, they collected some
sticks, lit a fire, and sat down to cook their meal.

At the last village or two, they had heard but little of tigers, and
now agreed that they could safely lie down, and that it would not be
necessary for them to rig up their blankets as hammocks, as they had
done on the first two nights.



Chapter 6: A Perilous Adventure.


They retraced their steps, without adventure, until they reached the
village they had first stopped at.

"There are soldiers here," Surajah exclaimed, as they entered.

"We can't help it, now," Dick said. "There is nothing for it, but to
go on boldly. I suppose that Tippoo has sent troops into all these
frontier villages, to prevent any chance of news of his movements
being taken to the plains.

"Ah! There is the old chap who spoke to us last time. Let us stop at
once, and talk with him."

"So you are back again," the peasant said, as they came up to him.

"Yes," Surajah replied. "We told you we should come back here, unless
we got news of some tiger being marked down near one of the other
villages. We have been as far as the edge of the jungle, and although
we have heard of several, not one of them seems to be in the habit of
coming back regularly to the same spot; so we thought we could not do
better than return here, at once, and make it our headquarters.

"I see you have got some soldiers here."

"Yes," the old man said, discontentedly, "and a rough lot they are.
They demand food, and instead of paying for it in money, their officer
gives us bits of paper with some writing on them. He says that, when
they go, we are to take them to him, and he will give us an order
equal to the whole of them, for which we can receive money from the
treasury at Seringapatam.

"A nice thing, that! None of us have ever been to Seringapatam, and
should not know what to do when we got there. Moreover, there would be
no saying whether one would ever come back again. It is terrible.
Besides, we have only grain enough for ourselves, and shall have to
send down to the plains to buy more; and where the money is to come
from, nobody can tell."

"I think I could tell you how you had better proceed, if you will take
us into your house," Surajah said. "This is not a place for talking.
There are four or five soldiers there, watching us."

The old man entered the house, and closed the door behind them.

"How would you counsel us to proceed?" he asked, as soon as they had
seated themselves on a divan, formed of a low bank of beaten earth,
with a thick covering of straw.

"It is simple enough," Surajah said. "One of you would take the order,
on the sultan's treasury, to a large village down in the plain. You
would go to a trader, and say that you wished to purchase so much
grain and other goods, and would pay for them with an order on the
sultan's treasury. It would probably be accepted as readily as cash,
for the trader would send it to a merchant, or banker, at Seringapatam
to get it cashed for him, to pay for goods he had obtained there; and
either to send him any balance there might be, or to retain it for
further purchases. An order of that kind is better than money, for
trading purposes, for there would be no fear of its being stolen on
the way, as it could be hidden in the hair, or shoe, or anywhere among
the clothes of the messenger."

"Wonderful!" the old peasant said. "Your words are a relief, indeed,
to me, and will be to all the village, when they hear them."

"And now," Dick broke in, "let us talk about tigers. While you have
been speaking, those soldiers have passed the door twice, and have
been looking suspiciously at the house. If they take it into their
heads to come here, and to ask who we are and what is our business, it
would not do to tell them that we have been discussing the value of
the orders on the sultan's treasury.

"Now, if our advice has been of any assistance to you in this matter,
you, in turn, can render us aid in our business of killing tigers. We
want you to find out, for us, when a tiger was last seen near the
village; where its lair is supposed to be; and whether, according to
its situation, we should have the best chance of killing it by digging
a pitfall, on the path by which it usually comes from the jungle; or
by getting a kid and tying it up, to attract the tiger to a spot where
we shall be stationed in a tree."

"I will assuredly do that, and every one here will be glad to assist,
when I tell them the advice I have received from you--and would,
indeed, do so in any case, for it will be a blessing to the village,
if you can kill the tiger that so often carries off some of our sheep
and goats."

At this moment, there was a loud knocking at the door. On the peasant
opening it, a group of soldiers demanded to see the men who had
entered.

"We are here," Surajah said, coming forward. "What do you want?"

"We want to know who you are, and where you come from."

"Any one in the village could have told you that," Surajah said. "We
are shikarees, and have come here to destroy tigers. We were
arranging, with this old man, to find us guides who can point out the
tracks of the one which has, for some time, been preying on their
animals."

"Yes, and our children," the old man put in; "for three of them were
carried off, from the street here, within the last month."

The soldiers looked doubtful, but one of them said:

"This is for our officer to inquire about. The men are strangers to
the village, and he will want to question them."

"We are quite ready to be questioned," Surajah said. "Our host, here,
will bear me out in what I say, and there are others in the village
who will tell you that we have been arranging, with them, to kill
tigers in this neighbourhood; though as yet we have not settled what
they will pay us for each beast we destroy."

Accompanied by the peasant, they went with the soldiers to the guard
house, with which each of the frontier villages was provided. It
consisted of a group of huts, surrounded by a thick wall of sunburnt
bricks. They were taken into the largest hut, where the officer of the
party was seated on a rough divan.

"Who have you here?" he asked irritably, for he had been awakened from
a doze by their entry.

"They are two young fellows, who are strangers here. They say they are
shikarees, who have come into the village to gain a reward for killing
a tiger that has been troublesome."

"They were here three days ago, Sahib," the villager said, "and asked
us many questions about the tigers, and were, when the soldiers came
to the door, questioning me as to the tiger's place of retreat, and
whether a pitfall, or a kid as a decoy, would be most suitable."

"Where do you come from?" the officer asked Surajah.

"We live in a little village, some distance down the ghauts. We heard
that tigers were more abundant, in the jungle country up here, than
they are below; and thought that we would, for a time, follow our
calling here. We can get good prices for the skins, down below; and
with that, and what we get from the villages for freeing them from the
tigers, we hope, in a few months, to take back a good store of money."

"Your story is a doubtful one," the officer said, harshly. "You may be
what you say, and you may be spies."

"If we had been spies," Surajah said, "we should not be here, but at
Bangalore or Seringapatam. These villages are not the places where
news is to be gained."

This was so self evident that the officer had nothing to say against
it.

"At any rate," he said, after a pause, "there is no confirmation to
your story, and, as I have orders to put all suspicious persons under
arrest, I shall detain you."

"It is very hard--" Surajah began; but the officer made an impatient
gesture, while two of the soldiers put their hands on the shoulders of
the prisoners, and led them from the hut.

"You need not look so downcast," one of them said good naturedly. "I
don't suppose you will be kept here long; and will, no doubt, be
released when the sultan has gone down the passes, with his army. A
week or two here will do you no harm--the tigers can wait for a bit.

"There, give us your weapons. I daresay you will get them back again,
when we go on; as I hope we shall do, for there is nothing to eat and
nothing to do in this miserable place."

The arms were taken into the officer's hut, and as there was a sentry
at the gate, no further attention was paid to them.

"I will get you some provisions, and bring them in," the old man said.
"It is hard, indeed, that men cannot go about their business without
being interfered with."

"Thank you, but we have enough for two or three days. When that is
gone, we will give you some money to buy more; for we have a few
rupees with us, as we knew it might be some time before we should be
able to kill a tiger."

As soon as the old man had left them, they seated themselves on a
large faggot of wood that had been brought in by the villagers, for
fuel.

"We cannot stay here, Surajah. It is most important that we should get
back with the news, and I have no doubt that pig-headed brute in there
will do as he says, and will hold us prisoners until Tippoo has gone
down the passes. We must get off tonight, if possible. We are not
likely to be looked after very sharply. I don't think that fellow
really suspects us, but is simply keeping us to show his authority.
There ought to be no difficulty in getting out. I suppose we shall be
put into one of the soldiers' huts tonight, and if we crawl out when
they are asleep, we have only to make our way up those narrow steps to
the top of the wall, and then let ourselves down the other side. It is
not above fifteen feet high, and even if we dropped, we should not be
likely to hurt ourselves."

"There will, most likely, be a sentry at the gate," Surajah observed,
"and there is a moon tonight."

"There ought to be no difficulty in pouncing on him suddenly, gagging
him before he can give the alarm, and then tying him. We will walk
round and see if there is any rope lying about. If not, I will tear my
sash into strips. We can use yours to lower ourselves over the wall. I
should like to get our weapons, if we could. The guns do not matter,
but the pistols are good ones. And, if there is an alarm given, we may
have to fight. Besides, it is not impossible that we may come across a
tiger, as we go along. I vote that, when we have secured the sentry,
we pay the officer a visit."

Surajah nodded. He was quite ready to agree to anything that Dick
might suggest, and felt a strong desire to repossess himself of his
arms, for it seemed to him that it would be a humiliation to go back
without them.

"Of course," Dick went on, "if the sentry gives the alarm, before we
can secure him, we must give up part of our plan; for, in that case,
we should have to bolt. Once over the wall, we should be all right.
They may fire away at us as we run, but there is no fear of their
hitting us, half asleep as they will be, and not quite sure what it is
all about. If we get a fair start of them, we need not have much fear
of their catching us."

"Not as long as it is straight running, Sahib; but if they follow us
far, they may come up within range of us as we are making our way down
some of those nasty places, where we came up the face of the ghaut."

"If we once get well away from them, we will hide up somewhere, and
then strike off on another line."

"We might do that," Surajah agreed; "but you know, the place where we
came up was the only one that seemed to us climbable, and it would be
certainly better to make for it again, if we can find our way."

"I quite agree with you there, Surajah. It would never do to go and
find ourselves on the edge of a precipice that we could not get down,
with the soldiers anywhere near us. Besides, it is of the greatest
importance that we should take the news back as soon as possible, as
every hour may be of importance. I only wish we could find out which
pass Tippoo means to go by, but I don't suppose that will be known
until he starts for it. Anyhow, our news will be very valuable, for at
present he is supposed to be over on the other side, and he would have
taken our troops entirely by surprise, if he had suddenly poured out
onto the plain. So we must give up my idea of hiding up, for if we did
so we should have to lie there all day, and it would mean the loss of
twenty-four hours; for I would not go down those ghauts for any money,
except in daylight. It is a very different thing going downhill to
going up, and if we were to attempt it in the dark, we should break
our necks for a certainty. If we can get away early, tonight, we shall
be at the edge of that steep place by nine o'clock in the morning, and
if we strike the right point, we might be back to the Rajah by
nightfall."

"It will be difficult to find our way back in the dark," Surajah said.

"No doubt. Still, we can keep in the general direction, and even if we
do not hit upon the stream tonight, we shall find it in the morning."

It was late in the afternoon when they reached the village, and it was
now growing dark. Two soldiers came up to them, and bade them follow
them into one of the huts, and there pointed to the farther corner as
their place. They wrapped themselves in their blankets, and at once
lay down.

"If they take it into their heads," Dick whispered to Surajah, "to put
a sentry on guard at the door, it will upset all our plans. It would
not be very difficult to cut our way through the mud wall behind us,
but in the first place they have taken away our knives; and, even if
we had them, it would be risky work trying it.

"The chances are that they will sit and talk all night. Of course, we
might surprise the sentry, but it would be a great risk with those
fellows close at hand, and we should have to run straight for the
steps, and might get a dozen balls after us, before we were over the
wall."

"I don't think there would be much chance of their hitting us,"
Surajah said. "Jumping up from their sleep in confusion, they would be
a minute or so before they could find out what had happened, and we
should be at the foot of the steps before they saw us, and then they
would fire almost at random.

"But, in that case, we should lose our weapons," he added regretfully.

"We cannot help that. The arms are of no consequence at all, compared
to our getting away--unless, of course, any of them happen to overtake
us."

For three or four hours, the soldiers, of whom there were ten in the
hut, sat eating, talking, and smoking round the fire, which they kept
burning on the earthen floor. One by one, however, they left it and
lay down. When but three remained, one of them got up, with a grumble
of discontent, took his musket, which was leaning against the wall,
and went out of the hut.

"What a nuisance!" Dick whispered. "He is evidently going on sentry
duty."

"Perhaps he has gone to the gate?" Surajah suggested.

"I am afraid not. I expect the other hut is furnishing the sentry
there. Listen!"

During the pauses of the low conversation of the two men still sitting
by the fire, they could hear a footfall outside.

"That settles the question," Dick said. "Now, the sooner those fellows
go to sleep, the better."

"We had better wait for some time, after they do," Surajah replied.
"One or two of the men, who lay down first, are sure to get up and go
to the door and look out. They always do that, once or twice during
the night. The sentry will soon get accustomed to the door being
opened, and won't look round sharp."

"That is a good idea," Dick agreed. "The moon is at the back of the
hut, so we shall be in the shadow. I will spring upon him, and will
try and grip him by the throat, so that he can't holloa. You wrench
the musket from his hands, and snatch his belt of cartridges. That
will give us a weapon, anyhow. As soon as you have got it, I will give
him one sharp squeeze, and throw him down. It will be some time before
he gets breath enough to holloa."

In half an hour, the two men by the fire lay down. It was not long
before, as Surajah predicted, one of the sleepers sat up and stretched
himself; then he rose and walked to the door, opened it, and stood at
the entrance; a moment later he was joined by another figure, and for
a few minutes they stood, talking together. Then he came in again,
shut the door, and lay down.

During the next hour, three of the others followed his example, the
last of them leaving the door ajar behind him, when he came in.

"Now is our chance, Surajah. We must give him ten minutes to fall
asleep again. Then we will move. Should one of them be lying awake,
and notice us--which is not likely, for it is too dark in here to see
figures distinctly--and ask where we are going, say, 'To the door, to
get cool.' They won't imagine that we are thinking of escape, with one
sentry at the door, and another at the gate."

"Don't you think, Sahib, that it would be safer to kill the sentries?"

"Safer or not, Surajah, we will not do it. At present, they have done
us no harm. They are only acting as their officer ordered, and we have
no grudge against them. When they take to shooting at us, we must
shoot at them; but to kill this sentry would be nothing short of
murder."

After waiting a few minutes longer, Dick said:

"We had better be off, now. If we were to wait longer, we should have
another fellow getting up."

They rose quietly to their feet, made their way to the door, and
opened it noiselessly. The sentry was standing, leaning on his long
matchlock, a few feet away. Suddenly a voice behind exclaimed, "Who is
that?"

The sentry was in the act of turning round, when Dick sprang upon him,
and grasped him by the throat. No cry came from the man's lips, but
the gun fell from his grasp, as he clutched convulsively at Dick's
wrists, and went off as it fell.

"Pick it up," Dick shouted, "and run."

He released his grip from the man's throat, snatched the bandolier
from his shoulder, and, tripping his feet from under him, threw him
heavily to the ground, and then turned to run.

The whole had occupied but a few seconds, but as he started a soldier
ran out from the hut, shouting loudly. He had a gun in his hand. Dick
changed his mind, turned, threw himself upon him, wrenched the gun
from his hold, and, as the man staggered back, struck him with his
right hand under the chin.

The man fell back through the open door, as if shot. Dick seized the
handle and closed it, and then ran, at full speed, towards the foot of
the steps. They were but some twenty yards away.

"Up you go, Surajah. We have not a moment to lose!"

Dick sprang up the steps, Surajah following. As they reached the top
of the wall, a shot was discharged at them by the sentry at the gate,
who, ignorant of the cause of the sudden uproar, had been standing in
readiness to fire. He was, however, too excited to take aim, and the
bullet flew harmlessly over their heads. In another instant, they
sprang over the parapet.

"Lower yourself by your arms, and then drop."

The wall, like many others of its sort, was thicker at the base than
on the top, and the foot projected two feet beyond the upper line, so
that it was a sharp slide, rather than an absolute fall. It was well
that it was so, for although only some twelve feet high inside, it was
eight feet higher on its outer face, as a dry ditch encircled it. Both
came down in a heap on the sand that had crumbled from the face of the
wall.

As soon as they picked themselves up, Dick exclaimed, "Keep along the
foot of the wall, Surajah," and they dashed along until they reached
the angle. As they turned the corner, they heard a burst of voices
from the wall where they had slid down, and several shots were fired.
Dick led the way along the ditch to the next angle, then left it and
entered the village, and dashed along the street.

The sound of firing had roused many of the peasants. Doors were
opening, and men coming out. Exclamations of surprise were heard, as
the two figures rushed past, but no one thought of interfering with
them. As they left the houses behind them, Surajah said:

"You are going the wrong way, Sahib. You are going right away from the
ghauts."

"I know that well enough," Dick panted; "but I did it on purpose. We
will turn and work round again. They will hear, from the villagers,
that we have come this way, and will be following us down the road
while we are making our way back to the ghauts."

They ran for another hundred yards, then quitted the path, and made
across the fields. From the fort and village they could hear a great
hubbub, and above it could make out the voice of the officer, shouting
orders. They continued to run, for another quarter of a mile, and then
turned.

"Now we can go quietly," Dick said, breaking into a walk. "This line
will take us clear of the fort and village, and we have only to make
straight for the ghauts. I think we have thrown them well off the
scent, and unless the officer suspects that we have only gone the
other way to deceive him, and that we are really making for the
ghauts, we shall hear nothing more of them."

"It is capital," Surajah said. "I could not think what you were doing,
when you turned round the corner of the fort and made for the village,
instead of going the other way. But where did you get that gun from?"

Dick told him how it had come into his possession.

"It was not so much that I cared for the gun," he said, "as that I
wanted to prevent the man from using it. If he had followed me
closely, he could hardly have helped hitting one of us, as we went up
the steps. By shutting the door, we gained a few moments, for they
were all in confusion in the dim light inside, and would certainly not
learn anything, either from the man I pitched in among them, or from
the sentry outside.

"I don't suppose any of them had an idea of what had happened, until
the sentry shouted to them that we had got over the wall. Then they
rushed up, and fired at random from the top, thinking that we should
be running straight from it."

They walked along for a short distance, and then Dick said:

"I have got my wind again, now. We will go on at a jog trot. I
mistrust that officer. He had a crafty face, and as we said we
belonged to a village down the ghauts, he may have a suspicion that we
have been trying to throw him off our scent, and think we should be
sure to double back and make for home."

They kept on their way, sometimes dropping into a walk, but generally
going at an easy trot, until day broke.

"As soon as it gets a little lighter, Surajah, we will go up on to one
of these rises, so as to have a good look down over the line we have
come. If they are following us, we must go on at the top of our speed.
If we see nothing of them, we can take it quietly. Of course, they
can't have been following our steps, but it is quite likely that some
of the villagers may know that the ghauts can be climbed at the point
where we came up. You know we noticed signs of a path, two or three
times, on the way up. In that case, if the officer really did think of
pursuing us, he would take one of the villagers as guide."

Half an hour later, they ascended a sharp rise, and threw themselves
down on its crest.

"I don't think that there is the least chance of their coming,"
Surajah said, carelessly. "When they had gone some distance, without
overtaking us on the road, they may possibly have suspected that we
had turned and made this way; but by the time they got back to the
village, they would know, well enough, that there was no chance of
overtaking us."

Dick made no answer. He had a sort of uneasy conviction that the
officer would at once suspect their plan, and that pursuit would have
commenced very shortly after they had re-passed the fort. For some
minutes, no words were spoken. No sign of life was to be seen; but in
so broken a country, covered in many places with jungle or wood, a
considerable body of men might be coming up, unperceived.

Suddenly, Dick grasped Surajah's arm.

"There they are. You see that I was right. Look at that clump of bush,
half a mile away, well to the left of the line we came by. They have
just come out from there. There are ten or twelve of them."

"I see them," Surajah said. "They are running, too, but not very
fast."

"We will crawl back, till we are out of their sight, and then make a
run for it. They must have got a guide, and are, no doubt, taking a
more direct line than we are, for we may be a good bit off the stream
we followed as we came along. I have not seen anything I recognise,
since it got light, though I am sure we have been going somewhere near
the right direction. Now, we have got to run for it."

They dashed off, at a rate of speed much higher than that at which
they had before been travelling; keeping, as much as possible, in
ground covered from the sight of their pursuers; and bearing somewhat
to the left, so as to place the latter directly behind them, and to
strike the path Dick had no doubt their pursuers were keeping.

"It is no use running too fast," he said, a few minutes later. "There
is a good long way to go yet--another ten miles, I should think; and
anyhow, I don't think we can get down that steep place, before they
come to the edge of the cliff above. You see, we are not certain as to
where it is. We might strike the cliffs a mile or two on either side
of it, and I have no doubt they will go straight to the spot. I expect
the man they have got as a guide has been in the habit of going down
the ghauts, and knows his way.

"If it were not that we are in such a hurry to get to Uncle with the
news about Tippoo, it would be much better to turn off, altogether,
and stay in a wood for a day or two. They would not stop very long at
the top of the ghauts, for they cannot be sure that we are going that
way, at all, and when a few hours passed, and we didn't come, the
officer would suppose that he was mistaken, and that we really kept on
in the line on which we started."

They trotted along for some time in silence, and then Surajah said:

"Do you not think that it would be better for us to make for the pass
to the left? It is twenty miles off, but we should be there by the
evening, and we should surely find some way of getting into it, below
where the fort stands."

Dick stopped running.

"Why not go the other way, and make for the pass we know?" he said.
"It can't be more than fifteen miles, at the outside, and once below
the fort we know our way, and should get down to the village twelve
hours sooner than if we went round by the other pass."

"It would be the right plan, if we could do it," Surajah agreed; "but
you know the rocks rise straight up on both sides of the fort, and the
road passes up through a narrow cleft, with the fort standing at its
mouth. That is why I proposed the other pass."

"I think we had better try it, nevertheless, Surajah. We should not be
more than three hours in going straight there, and shall have ample
time to follow the edge of the precipice for the last five miles. We
may discover some break, where we can get down. If we should find it
impossible to descend anywhere, we must sleep till sunset, then strike
the road above the fort, go down at night, and manage to slip past the
sentry."

"The only thing is, Sahib, that it seemed as if the fort lay right
across the entrance to the gorge, and the road went through it."

"It did look like that, Surajah. Certainly the road went through a
gateway. But there must be a break somewhere. We could see that, in
the wet season, a lot of water comes down there, so there must be some
sort of passage for it; and if the passage is big enough for the storm
water to go through, it must be big enough for us."

Surajah agreed, and they turned off from the line that they had before
been following; no longer hurrying, but walking at a leisurely pace.
They were not pressed for time. There was no chance, whatever, of
pursuit; and as they had been going, for some six hours, at the top of
their speed, they were both feeling exhausted.

After proceeding for two miles, they came upon a small stream. Here
they sat down, lighted a fire, mixed some flour and water--for
although the ghee had been taken from them, when they were disarmed,
they had been allowed to retain their supply of flour, for their
sustenance in prison--and made some small cakes. These they cooked in
the glowing embers. They could not be termed a success, for the
outside was burned black, while the centre was a pasty mass. However,
they sufficed to satisfy their hunger, and after an hour's rest, they
again went forward.

It was not very long before they stood on the edge of the rock wall.
They followed this along, but could nowhere find a spot where a
descent seemed at all possible. After walking for an hour, they saw a
road winding up a long valley below them.

"That is our road," Dick exclaimed. "That clump of houses, Surajah,
must be the one where we generally turned. I know that, from below,
these rocks looked as steep as walls, so there is no chance of our
finding a way down anywhere, between this and the fort."

Surajah nodded. To him, also, the ascent of the ghauts had seemed
impracticable.

"It is no use following this line any more," Dick went on. "We may as
well strike across, until we come onto the edge of the pass, somewhere
above the fort; find a place where we can descend easily, and then lie
down and sleep, till it is time to make our attempt."

In another hour, they were looking down on the road, a mile or so
above the fort. The slopes here were gradual, and could be descended
without the least difficulty, even in the dark.

"There! Do you see, Surajah? The water course runs along by the side
of the road. There is a little water in it now. You know we used to
meet with it, down below, and water our horses at a pool close to that
ruined village. When we start, we can follow the road until we get
close to the fort, and then crawl along in the water course, and take
our chances. If we should find it so blocked up that we can't get
through, we must then see how we can get past the place in some other
way. If the gate is only barred, no doubt we should be able to
overpower the sentry, and get the gate open before any alarm is given.
If it is locked, we must do the best we can. We may calculate upon
taking the sentry by surprise, as we did in the prison, and on
silencing him at once; then we should have time to break up some
cartridges, and pour the powder into the keyhole, which is sure to be
a big one, make a slow match, and blow the lock open. We could make
the slow match before we start, if we had some water."

"Shall I go down to the stream, and get some?"

"You have nothing to carry it up in, Surajah; and besides, someone
might come along the valley."

"We shall only want a little water. I will take off my sash, and dip
it in the stream; that will give us plenty, when it is wrung out."

"At any rate, Surajah, we will do nothing until it is getting dusk.
See! There are some peasants, with three bullocks, coming down the
valley, and there are four armed horsemen riding behind them. We will
go back to those bushes, a hundred yards behind us, and sleep there
until sunset; then we will make our way down to that heap of boulders
close to the stream, manufacture our slow match, and hide up there
until it is time to start. We want a rest, badly. We did not sleep
last night, and if we get through, we must push on tonight without a
stop, so we must have a good sleep, now."

The sun was low when they woke. They watched it dip below the hills,
and then, after waiting until it began to get dusk, started for the
valley. No one was to be seen on the road, and they ran rapidly down
the slope, until they reached the heap of boulders. Surajah tore off a
strip of cotton, six inches long by an inch wide, from the bottom of
his dress, went forward to the stream, and wetted it. When he came
back, they squeezed the moisture from it, broke up a cartridge, rubbed
the powder into the cotton, and then rolled it up longways.

"That will be dry enough, by the time we want to start," Dick said. "I
hope we sha'n't have to use it, but if there is no other way, we must
do so."

They remained where they were, until they thought that the garrison of
the fort would be, for the most part, asleep. Then they crossed the
stream, and walked along by the side of the road, taking care not to
show themselves upon it, as their figures would be seen for a long
distance, on its white, dusty surface. Presently, the sides of the
valley approached more closely to each other; and, just where they
narrowed, they could make out a number of dark objects, which were,
they doubted not, the houses occupied by the garrison. They at once
took to the bed of the stream, stooping low as they went, so that
their bodies would be indistinguishable among the rocks.

They could hear the murmur of voices, as they passed through the
village. Once beyond it, they entered the gorge. Here there was but
room enough for the road and the stream, whose bed was several feet
below the causeway. A few hundred yards farther, the gorge widened out
a bit, and in the moonlight they could see the wall of the fort
stretching before them, and a square building standing close to it.

"That is the guard house, no doubt," Dick said, in low tones. "It is
too close to be pleasant, if we have to attack the sentry."

Very carefully, they picked their way among the rocks, until close to
the wall; then Dick gave a low exclamation of disappointment. The
stream ran through a culvert, some twelve feet wide and ten feet high,
but this was closed by iron bars, crossing each other at intervals of
only five or six inches, the lower ends of the perpendicular bars
being fixed in a stone dam, extending across the bed of the stream.
Dick waded across the pool formed by the dam, and felt the bars, but
found them perfectly solid and strong.

"It is no good, Surajah," he said, when he returned. "There is no
getting through there. There is nothing for it but the gate, unless we
can find the steps up to the top of the wall, and get up unnoticed.
Then we might tear up our sashes longways, knot them together, and
slip down.

"The first thing to do is to have a look round. I will get up close to
the wall. It is in shadow there."

Entering the pool again, he climbed up the steep bank, which was here
faced with stones. He stopped when his eyes were above the level, and
looked round. There was the gate, twelve feet away, and to his delight
no sentry was to be seen. He was about to whisper Surajah to join him,
when he heard voices. They came from above, and he at once understood
that, instead of a man being posted behind the gate, two were on guard
on the wall above it. He beckoned to Surajah to join him, and when he
did so, whispered what he had discovered.

"If the gate is only barred, we are all right now, Surajah; except
that we shall have to run the risk of being shot by those fellows on
the wall. We shall be a pretty easy mark, on that white road by
moonlight. Our only plan will be to keep close to the wall, when we
are through the gate, get down into the bed of the stream again, and
then crawl along among the rocks. The bottom will be in shadow, and we
may get off without being noticed. The only fear is that we shall make
a noise in opening the gate.

"Now, let us try it."

Keeping close to the wall, they crept to the gateway. This projected
two feet beyond the gate itself, and standing against the latter they
could not be seen, even in the unlikely event of one of the sentries
looking down. The only risk was of anyone in the guard house coming
out. This, however, could not be avoided, and they at once began to
examine the fastenings of the gate, which consisted of two massive
bars of wood, running across it. These, by their united strength, they
removed one after another. But when they tried it, they found the gate
still immovable.

"The beastly thing is locked," Dick said. "There is nothing to do, but
to blow it open."

He broke off the ends of three cartridges, poured the powder in at the
keyhole, and then inserted the slow match.

"Stand in the corner there, Surajah. I will go down to the stream
again, to light the tinder. The noise is less likely to be heard
there."

He stole back again, sat down at the edge of the water, placed his
tinder box in his lap, took his turban off and put it over his hands,
so as to deaden the sound, and then struck the steel sharply against
the flint. The first blow was successful. The spark fell on the
tinder, and at once began to extend.

He listened intently. The men on the wall were still talking, and the
sound had evidently not reached their ears.



Chapter 7: Besieged.


Dick hastily clambered up the wall, ran to the gate, blew the tinder,
and then applied it to the slow match. A moment later, this began to
fizz.

"Round the corner of the wall, Surajah!" he exclaimed, running back
himself.

A few anxious seconds passed, then came a sharp explosion. In an
instant they ran up. The gate stood two or three inches open. It
yielded to a push, and they ran out.

Loud shouts were heard from the men above, and a hubbub of cries from
the guard house.

"Run, Surajah! We must risk it. Keep on the edge of the road, and
dodge as you go. The chances are they will run down below, to see what
has happened."

At the top of their speed, they dashed down the road. No shot was
fired from the wall, Dick's conjecture that the first impulse of the
sentries would be to run down below having been justified. They were a
couple of hundred yards away, before two shots were fired from the
gate. The bullets whistled by harmlessly.

"We are all right now," Dick cried. "They can scarcely see us, and we
shall soon be out of sight altogether."

Five or six more shots were fired a few seconds later, as the men from
the guard house reached the gate. On looking back, when they had gone
another hundred yards, they saw a number of figures on the road.

"Not quite so fast, Surajah," Dick said. "It is going to be a long
chase, now. We have got three hundred yards start, and they won't be
able to load again, running at full speed."

For a time, their pursuers gained somewhat upon them; then, gradually,
they began to straggle, as the effect of the speed at which they were
running told upon them. When they reached the ruined village, there
were four men running together, some three hundred yards behind. The
rest were a considerable distance in the rear.

"Another mile or two, and they will all give up the chase except these
four, Surajah, and if they turn out better runners than we do, we can
make a stand. There are some more huts another two miles farther, and
we will fight them there."

They were going slower now, for although the downward course of the
road helped them a good deal, the run was telling on them. Not a word
was spoken, until they reached the second village. When they came to
the first house, they stopped simultaneously, and looked round. Their
pursuers were not more than two hundred yards behind them.

"In here, Surajah," Dick said, as he ran into the ruined hut.

Its roof was gone, its door hung loose on its hinges. It had but one
window, a small one, looking up the valley. Dick laid his gun on the
sill, which was nearly level with his shoulder.

"I must wait until they get pretty close," he said, "for I am panting
so that I can't keep the barrel steady, even with this rest."

"I will kneel down outside," Surajah said.

"Mind, I will fire first, Surajah. Don't you fire until they are
within twenty yards of you. By that time I shall have loaded again."

Dick had more time than he had expected, for as soon as their pursuers
saw them enter the hut, they slackened their pace considerably. They
were within about eighty yards, when Dick held his breath and
standing, for a moment, immovable, took a steady aim and fired.

One of the men stumbled in his run, took a step or two forward, and
then fell on his face. The others paused for a moment, and then, with
a fierce yell, ran forward.

The moment he had fired, Dick dropped the stock of his gun on to the
ground, snatched a cartridge from the bandolier, bit off the end, and
emptied the powder into the barrel, gave the gun a shake, so as to be
sure that it ran into the touch hole, and then rammed down the bullet.
As he was in the act of doing so, Surajah fired, and a loud yell told
that his shot had been successful.

Dick sprang to the door as Surajah entered. Two shots at the same
instant rang out; but, at even so short a distance, the bullets went
wide. Dick stepped out, and in turn fired. One of the two men fell;
the other threw down his musket, and fled up the road.

"Thank goodness that is over," Dick exclaimed. "I thought they had no
chance with us, here. Now the first thing is to get our wind again."

They stood for two or three minutes, breathing heavily; then, as their
breath came again, they prepared to move, when Dick exclaimed
suddenly, "What is that noise?"

There was a dull, confused sound in the air, and then Surajah,
pointing up the road, exclaimed, "Cavalry!"

Far away on the white road, a dark mass could be seen. At first, Dick
instinctively turned to resume their flight, but then he said:

"It is of no use, Surajah. The sides of the valley are too steep to
climb, and they will be up in five or six minutes. We must fight it
out here. Run out to that man I shot, and bring in his gun, bandolier,
pistols if he has any, and sword. I will take them from these two. It
will make all the difference, having spare weapons."

Surajah, without a word, hurried up the road, while Dick ran over to
the house opposite, which seemed to be larger than the one they had
first entered. He looked round. It contained only one room, but this
was twenty feet square. There were three small windows, one looking
into the street, one looking up the valley, and one behind. The floor
was littered with the beams of the roof. The door was still in its
place. Having ascertained this, he ran back to the bodies of the two
men, picked up the three guns, took off their bandoliers, and removed
the pistols from their sashes; and with these, and one of their
swords, returned to the house, just as Surajah came back.

"This is the best house to defend, Surajah. There are some beams with
which we can block up the door."

Laying down the arms inside, they set to work with the beams, and
barricaded the door so firmly that, short of its being splintered to
pieces, no entry could be effected. This done, they re-charged the six
guns, examined the pistols, and finding that they were loaded, placed
three of them in each of their sashes, and hung the swords by their
sides. Then they went to the window looking up the valley. The
horsemen, some twenty in number, were but a short quarter of a mile
away, and were coming along at a gallop.

"Don't fire, Surajah," Dick said. "They will have heard, from the man
who has got away, that we are in the house opposite, and if they don't
find us there, they will think that we have gone on, and will ride
down the valley till they are sure they must be ahead of us. Then they
will search the ground carefully, as they come back, and altogether we
may gain an hour; and every moment is of use. It must be two o'clock
now, and our troop generally gets here soon after seven."

As he spoke, the horsemen drew up in front of the opposite hut. There
was a momentary pause, and then a voice said:

"It is empty."

Then followed the command:

"Ride on, men. They can't have got very far. We shall overtake them in
ten minutes."

As soon as they started, Dick said:

"Take a ramrod, Surajah, and make some holes through the walls, to
fire through. If we were to show ourselves at the windows, we might
get shot."

The walls were built of mud and clay, and with the iron ramrods they
had no difficulty in making four holes, an inch wide and two inches
high, on each side of the house.

"Now we are ready for them," Dick said, when they had finished. "They
have been gone half an hour, and it won't be long before they are
back."

In a few minutes, they heard the clatter of horses' hoofs. It ceased
some forty or fifty yards away, and by the sound of voices and orders,
it was evident that the other houses were being searched. Voices were
also heard at the back of the house, and they guessed that the ground
was being closely examined, up to the foot of the rock walls which
enclosed the valley.

"Now, Surajah, you can take a shot from the window of that side. The
others will be here in a minute, and it is just as well to let them
know where we are, before they get close up to our door."

Surajah went to the window at the back. Four horsemen were making
their way, at a walk, along the level ground between the rocks and the
huts. The nearest was but some forty yards away. Surajah fired, and
the man at once fell from his horse. The others instantly galloped on
at full speed up the valley, and from the window at the end, Surajah
saw them gather on the road three or four hundred yards away; and
then, after a short consultation, cross to the other side of the
valley, with the intention, he had no doubt, of rejoining their
comrades.

The sound of the gun had been followed by shouts and exclamations from
the party in the village. Dick could hear a conference in low tones;
then all was silent. He went to the loophole at the corner, laid his
rifle in it, and waited, looking along the barrel. Two or three
minutes later the hole was darkened, and he fired at once. There was a
sound of a heavy fall, followed by cries of rage, and a moment later
there was a rush of men against the door.

Surajah ran across. Two spare guns were pushed through the loopholes,
one on each side of it. These had not been bored straight through the
wall, but at angles that would enable them to fire at anyone attacking
it. Looking along the barrels, each could see one of the group in
front, and fired at the same moment. With a yell of rage and surprise,
the assailants of the door sprang back and ran down the street.

"There are four less, anyhow," Dick said, as he and Surajah reloaded
the empty guns. "Those loopholes will puzzle them, and I don't think
they will care to come on again, for a bit."

There was a pause for some minutes, and then, from the huts opposite,
and from various points higher up the valley and behind, a dropping
fire was opened.

"Keep out of the line of the windows, whatever you do, Surajah; and it
will be just as well to lie down for a bit, until we see whether any
of their shots come through the wall. I think we are quite safe from
the distant fire, but from the house opposite it is possible they may
penetrate it. Anyhow, don't stand in the line of a loophole. A stray
ball might find its way in."

For a few minutes, the enemy fired away unanswered, and then Dick, who
had been seated on the ground with his back against the end wall, got
up and went along that facing the street, carefully examining it.

"I don't think any of their balls have come through, Surajah. I should
be able to see out into the moonlight, if they had done so. Now it is
time for us to be doing something. I expect they are getting a little
bolder, and will perhaps give us a chance.

"You take this loophole. It is exactly in a line with the opposite
hut, and the fellows in there must come to their door to fire. I will
take this slanting hole by the doorpost. I can see one of the windows
of the next hut to that we were in. I have no doubt that they are
firing from there also. Don't wait for them to shoot, but fire
directly a figure shows itself."

In a very short time Surajah fired. Dick heard the clatter of a gun,
as it fell to the ground.

"You have hit him, Surajah."

"Yes, but only wounded him. I think I hit him on the shoulder. He let
his gun drop, and ran into the house."

"Take a spare gun at once. If there are others there, they will think
that you are loading, and may show themselves again."

A moment later, Dick saw a gun thrust out through the window he was
watching. Then the head and shoulders of a man appeared behind it. He
fired, and the figure disappeared. Almost at the same instant, Surajah
fired again.

"I had one that time, Sahib!"

It was now quiet for some little time. Then a horseman dashed suddenly
past, and galloped up the valley at full speed.

"The end window, Surajah! Bring him down, if you can."

Surajah ran there and fired.

"I have missed him!" he said, in a tone of deep disappointment.

"It does not make much difference. If you had hit him, they could have
sent another off close to the opposite side of the valley. There is no
doubt as to what he has gone for. You see, they have lost six killed
and one wounded, and they must know that they have not the slightest
chance of taking this hut. I have no doubt that he has ridden back to
bring down the infantry from the fort. From the number of huts round
the gate, and the sound of talking, I should think there were fifty or
sixty at least--perhaps a hundred.

"If they send down fifty, we shall have sharp work. Our difficulty
will be to prevent them from making a rush at all the windows
together. If they were to get there, they could riddle us with balls."

"Could we block them up, Sahib?"

"That is just what I was thinking," Dick replied. "We might try,
anyhow. It will be an hour and a half before they are down here. It
must be past four now, and in another hour daylight will begin to
break.

"There is any amount of the old thatch down on the floor. The best way
would be to fill up the window holes with it first, then to put two or
three bits of wood across, and a strong piece down behind it, and to
keep that in its place by wedging one of the long beams against it. If
they came up and tried to pull the thatch out, we could fire through
it with our pistols; and we will make a loophole below each when we
have got the work done."

It was not so difficult a business as they thought it would be. The
windows were little more than a foot across and two feet high. It was
but the work of a few minutes to fill these up with the masses of
thatch. When this was done, they picked out thick pieces of wood for
crossbars. Then they took a beam, eight feet long, made a hole with
their tulwars in the clay floor close to the wall, put one end of the
beam into it, and reared it upright against the window. Dick held it
in its place, while Surajah hacked a deep notch in it--a by no means
difficult matter, for it was half rotten with exposure.

The notch was cut just opposite the middle of the window. The three
crosspieces were then put into their place, and the upright pressed
firmly against them. One end of a long beam was placed in the notch,
the other in a slight hole made in the ground, thus forming a strut,
which held the rest firmly in their positions.

"That is a good job done," Dick said, "but a very hot one. Now,
Surajah, sharpen three or four pieces of wood, and drive them down
into the ground at the foot of that strut; then it will be as firm as
a rock."

They then proceeded, in the same way, with the other two windows.

"It is getting light fast," Dick said, as he wiped the perspiration
from his face. "Take a look out up the valley. They ought to be coming
by this time."

Surajah applied his eye to one of the loopholes.

"I can see them," he said. "They are half a mile away. There are two
mounted men. I expect one is their officer, and the other the man who
rode back to fetch them."

"Let us set to work at the loopholes under the windows, Surajah. It is
most important to get them done. You make the one at the end, I will
do that one looking into the street. Put it as close to the beam as
you can."

They worked hard, and it was not long before the walls were pierced.

"Now, Surajah, you do the one at the back. The fellows will soon be
within range, and I will give them a lesson to be careful. They will
naturally break up, and go round behind the houses opposite, as they
can find shelter nowhere else; and, for a bit at any rate, we shall
get them all on one side of us, which is what we want."

Dick carried the six guns to the end of the hut, and then applied his
eye to the loophole there. The enemy were coming along at a run, in a
confused mass.

"I can't very well miss them," he muttered to himself, as he thrust
his gun through a loophole, and fired. Without waiting to see the
result, he thrust another gun out, aimed, and fired.

"Never mind the hole, Surajah," he said. "Come here and reload."

The four other shots were discharged in rapid succession. The
Mysoreans at first opened an irregular fire on the hut. When the sixth
shot was fired, they left the road in a body, and ran across the
valley, leaving four of their number on the ground behind them.

As soon as the guns were reloaded, Surajah returned to his work. It
was now broad daylight, and the sun was shining upon the hilltops. A
quarter of an hour passed, without a movement from the enemy. Dick and
his companion occupied the time in further strengthening the door with
crossbeams, kept in their place by struts.

"If they break it to splinters," Dick said, when they had finished,
"they will hardly be able to force their way in, for if they were to
try to crawl in between those crossbeams, they would be completely at
our mercy.

"Now, we must get ready for a rush. I expect they will come all
together. There are the six guns, and three pistols each. Keep one of
the latter in reserve. We ought not to waste a shot; and if they lose
ten men, I should think they will give up the attack on the door.

"Stand clear of it, Surajah. They will probably fire into it before
they charge--keep down below the level of the loopholes."

Presently a volley of musketry was fired, and the door was riddled by
bullets. Then a number of figures sprang from between the two opposite
houses, and rushed at the door. Two of them carried a long, heavy
beam.

Two shots flashed out in return, from the hut. One of the men carrying
the beam fell, as did an officer who was leading them; but instantly
another caught up the end of the timber, and in a moment a crowd were
clustered round the door. Several caught hold of the beam, and swung
it as though they meant to use it as a battering ram.

Two more puffs of smoke spurted out from the loopholes, and again two
of the men fell. The others, however, swung it forward with a crash
against the door. The end of the beam went right through the rotten
woodwork. Dick and Surajah fired their last musket shots with as
deadly effect as before. The next blow dashed the door from its
hinges, and, split and shattered by the former shocks, it fell forward
into the road, while a yell of triumph broke from the Mysoreans.

This died away, however, when they saw the three crossbars blocking
their entrance. Again two pistol shots carried death among them.

"Load your guns, Surajah."

But before Surajah had time to do so, the Mysoreans made a rush at the
door. The defenders stepped forward and fired between the crossbars,
and then, drawing their tulwars, ran the two men in front through the
body. As they dropped, those behind them drew back.

"The last pistols!" Dick shouted, and they fired two shots into the
crowd.

This completed the consternation of the enemy. It seemed to them that
the defenders possessed an unlimited supply of firearms. Already
twelve shots had been fired, and not one had failed to take effect.
With a cry of consternation they fled down the street, leaving the
ground in front of the fatal door strewn with bodies.

The defenders instantly set about the work of recharging their
firearms. They were not interrupted, but presently an irregular fire
opened upon them, from the jungle that had taken the place of the
garden between the opposite houses.

"We may as well lie down at full length," Dick said, setting the
example. "There is no use in running risks. You keep that side, and
listen attentively. It is likely enough that they will work round
behind, next time, and try the windows. By the way they are firing, I
fancy there are not more than five or six of them opposite."

Another half hour passed. Then Surajah exclaimed, "I can hear them on
this side."

Dick got up, and crossed at once.

"I will take the loophole under this window. You go to the one at the
end. I expect they will try both windows at once."

Dick placed the muzzle of his gun in the loophole, and, glancing
along, saw that something dark barred his view. He fired at once.
There was a loud cry and a fall, then a rush to the window, and a
moment later a hole appeared in the thatch. Dick discharged two
pistols through it, and as he did so Surajah fired.

The thatch was speedily pulled down, as the enemy had learned to avoid
the loopholes. A yell of rage rose, as the fallen thatch showed them
that the window was defended with crossbars, in the same way as the
door. Immediately afterwards, Dick had a narrow escape from a shot
fired through a loophole close to him.

"Stoop down," he cried, and, crouching below the level of the
loopholes, made his way to the end of the hut. "Recharge the guns
first, Surajah. They may fire away through the loopholes as long as
they like. It is lucky we made them so high, except the three under
the windows. We must be careful in keeping out of the line of those.

"You sit down where you can command the end window, and the one
behind--I will watch the front window and door. A bold fellow might
put his musket through, and pick one of us off, and that is what we
have to prevent. So keep your gun in readiness, and if you see a head
appear, don't miss it."

The enemy now kept up a constant fire through the loopholes at the end
and back of the house; but as these were shoulder high, and there was
no altering the elevation of the guns, the shots flew harmlessly over
the heads of the defenders. Several times, Dick went to one or other
of the loopholes, pistol in hand, and, standing close beside it,
waited until a shot was fired; and then, thrusting the barrel into the
loophole, fired before another gun could be inserted, the discharge
being generally followed by a sharp cry of pain.

After this had gone on for nearly an hour, the assailants evidently
became discouraged. The shots came from the loopholes less frequently,
and presently ceased altogether.

"I would give a good deal to know what they are up to," Dick said,
after a long pause.

"Shall I look through the loophole?" Surajah asked.

"Certainly not. There will be a man standing at each of them, waiting
in expectation of our taking a look out."

"But there are none in front," Surajah said.

"That is more than we can say. They have not been firing on that side,
but they may have men there now. No, we will leave well alone,
Surajah. The longer they delay, the better for us.

"Keep your eye on the top of the wall, as well as on the window. They
may have made some ladders by this time, and may intend to try a
shot."

"Perhaps they are gone?" Surajah suggested.

"It is quite possible. They must know that our troop comes up here
early, and as they have four miles to walk back to the fort, and
several wounded to carry with them, they certainly won't stay much
longer--if, as you say, they have not gone already."

It was indeed well that Surajah had not attempted to look out at one
of the loopholes; for, at the time he asked the question, a dark
figure was standing at each, looking along the barrel of his gun, in
readiness to fire the moment the light was obscured.

A few minutes later Dick exclaimed:

"How stupid! We can easily test whether there is any one there,
Surajah;" and, taking up a piece of thatch he pushed it suddenly
across one of the loopholes.

No shot followed the action, and he went round the hut, and repeated
the experiment at each of them.

"They have all gone," he said confidently. "Had they been outside,
they would certainly have fired directly the light was obscured."

Standing a short distance back from the end window, he looked out
between the crossbeams.

"Hurrah!" he shouted. "There they go up the road. They are a quarter
of a mile away. They are not more than half as strong as they were
when they came down. They are carrying eight or ten figures on their
shoulders, on litters, or doors."

"I don't see the cavalry," Surajah said, as he joined him.

"No. It is likely enough that they may be in hiding among the huts
opposite, and are waiting, in hopes that we may be foolish enough to
take it for granted that they are all gone, and pull down the bars of
the door. I expect they will stay until they see our troop coming up
the valley."

They continued to look out from the window, from which they had now
removed the bars. Half an hour later, Dick exclaimed:

"There they go, up that side of the valley. I have no doubt they see
our troop, and that in a few minutes we shall hear them coming."

It was not long before they heard a trampling of horses, and a moment
later the Rajah's voice exclaimed:

"Why, what is this? Here are a dozen dead bodies. They are Mysoreans,
by their dress."

"All right, Uncle," Dick shouted, "we will be out as soon as we get
these bars down. We have been standing a siege."

It did not take long to remove the bars. The Rajah and his men had
dismounted, as soon as some of the latter had gone round the hut, and
had brought back the report that there were five more dead on that
side. As Dick and his companion stepped out, the Rajah exclaimed:

"What, are you alone?"

"Yes; there is no one with us, Uncle."

"Do you mean to say that you two have defended this place alone, and
killed sixteen of the enemy, besides some I see lying farther up the
road?"

"Yes, Uncle. You see, it was a pretty strong position, and we had time
to block up the doors and windows, and to make loopholes to fire
through."

"What think you of that, Anwar?" the Rajah exclaimed to the captain of
the troop. "My nephew and Rajbullub's son have shown themselves brave
fighters, have they not?"

"It is wonderful," the captain said; and exclamations of admiration
broke from the men standing round.

"Tell us all about it, Dick," the Rajah went on.

"It is a long story, Uncle; but the real news is that Tippoo, with his
army, has left the head of the western passes, and has gone to
Seringapatam. He is going to march down one of the passes, this side,
at once. Provisions have been collected for his army to consume on the
march. No one knows yet which pass he will come down by; but it will
not be far from here, for they are buying up cattle in the villages at
the top of the ghauts."

"That is important, indeed, Dick, and we must ride off without delay;
but first, I must have a look at this fortress of yours."

He entered the hut, the soldiers crowding in after him, and examined
the defences at the windows, and the loopholes; while Dick explained
how the bars had been arranged to defend the door.

"We began on the other side, Uncle. We had a fight with four men who
came up with us there. Only one of them got away--and he left his gun
behind. It was lucky, for their guns and pistols were of immense use
to us. We could not have held out with only our own weapons.

"About twenty of their cavalry came up a few minutes afterwards. We
beat them off, and then they sent up to the fort for infantry, and
about fifty men came down and attacked us, just at sunrise. They kept
it up to within half an hour ago. Then the infantry marched back,
knowing, of course, that your troop generally got here about seven.

"The horsemen stayed here till within a few minutes of your arrival.
No doubt they thought that we should suppose they had all gone, and
might venture out, and let them get a shot at us."

"Why, it must have been a veritable battle, Dick."

"There was a good deal of noise, Uncle, though not much danger. So
long as we kept below the level of the loopholes and windows, and out
of the line of the door, there was no chance of our being hit."

"They must have made a strong attack on the door," the Rajah said. "I
see that the two lying next to it were both killed by sword thrusts."

"Yes, that was the most critical moment, Uncle. We had emptied nearly
all our barrels, and if they could have broken down the bars, which I
have no doubt they could have done, if they had stuck to it, they
would have made very short work of us."

"Now let us be going," the Rajah said. "You can tell me the whole
story, as we go along."

Two of the sowars were ordered to give up their horses to Dick and
Surajah, and to mount behind comrades. Then they started down the
valley, Dick riding between his uncle and the captain, while Surajah
took his place with the two other officers of the troop. They rode so
rapidly that Dick's story was scarcely concluded by the time they
reached the village where the troops were quartered.

"Well, you have done marvelously well, Dick," his uncle said. "Surajah
deserves the highest praise, too. Now I will write a note to the
British officer with the Nabob, giving the news of Tippoo's movements,
and will send it off by two of the troopers, at once. Where Colonel
Maxwell's force is, I have no idea. It marched to join General
Meadows, on the day we came up here.

"In the meantime you can have a wash, while breakfast is being cooked.
I have no doubt that you are ready for it."

"I am indeed, Uncle. We had nothing, yesterday, but a few cakes made
of flour and water; and have had nothing at all, since."

"All right, lad. I will be ready almost as soon as breakfast is."

After the meal was over, the Rajah lit his hookah, and said:

"You must go through the story again, this evening, Dick. You cut
short some of the details, as you told it to me on the road, and I
want to understand it all thoroughly. You had better turn in now for a
long sleep. You must want it badly enough, lad, after the work of the
two last nights."

Dick slept until his uncle roused him, at six o'clock.

"Dinner will be ready in ten minutes. It is just as well that you
should get up, for two or three hours. After that, you will be good
for another sleep till morning. We shall have to look out sharp now,
and keep a couple of vedettes always at that village; as, for all we
know, this may be the pass by which Tippoo is coming down."

Dick got up rather reluctantly, but he was not long in shaking off his
drowsiness, and after dinner was able to go through the story again,
with full details of his adventures.

"I don't know what I should have done without Surajah, Uncle. He is a
capital fellow, and if ever I go up by myself, into Mysore, to look
for my father, I hope that you will let me take him."

"That I will certainly do, Dick. Ever since I first heard of your
plans, I have quite decided that you ought not to go alone. I daresay
I should have chosen an older man to accompany you, but after what you
and the lad have done together, I don't think you could do better than
take him. Of course, such an affair would demand infinitely greater
caution and care, though not greater courage, than you had occasion to
use on this excursion. It is one thing to enter a village, to ask a
few questions, make a purchase or two, and be off again; but it is a
very different thing to be among people for weeks, or perhaps months,
and to live as one of themselves. However, we may hope that this war
will end in our army marching to Seringapatam, when we shall recover
many of the prisoners in Tippoo's hands.

"I do not say all. We know how many hundreds remained in his power
last time, in spite of his promise to deliver them all up; and maybe
something of the same sort will occur next time. Numbers may be sent
away, by him, to the hill fortresses dotted all over the country; and
we should never be able to obtain news of them. However, we must hope
for the best."

The next morning, the troopers arrived with a letter from the English
resident at Arcot. The Rajah glanced through it, and handed it to
Dick, with the remark:

"You will not get the honour you deserve, Dick."

The letter ran:

"Dear Rajah:

"Your news would be extremely valuable, were it correct; but
unfortunately it is not so, and doubtless the reports brought down by
your nephew were spread by Tippoo, for the purpose of deceiving us.
Or, possibly, he may have intended to have come that way, but
afterwards changed his mind. We have news that, just after Colonel
Maxwell effected his junction with General Meadows, near Caveripatam,
and was about to ascend the ghauts by the Tapour pass, Tippoo came
down by that very route, slipped past them, and is marching on to
Trichinopoly. That being the case, I see no further utility in your
remaining with your troop in the passes, but think it were best that
you should re-assemble them at once, and march here. There is no
chance of Tippoo capturing Trichinopoly before Meadows, who is
following him, can come up and force on a battle; so it is likely that
the Mysore army may continue their march in this direction, in which
case every fighting man will be of use, to defend this place until it
is relieved by the general."

Dick uttered an exclamation of disgust, as he laid the letter down.

"It does not matter about my news turning out wrong," he said, "but it
is very bad that General Meadows should have allowed Tippoo to pass
him, as he may do frightful damage to the country, before he can be
overtaken."

"He never can be overtaken, as long as he chooses to keep ahead. He is
hampered with no baggage train. He lives on the plunder of the country
he passes through; and the British army, with all its baggage and
provision train, has no more chance of overtaking him than it has of
flying."

Messengers were at once sent off, to call in the scattered portions of
the troop. These were assembled in twenty-four hours, and at once
started for Arcot, where they arrived after a two days' march. They
there learned that Tippoo had appeared before Trichinopoly, and after
pillaging and laying waste the sacred island of Seringham, had marched
north.

Day after day, news arrived of the devastation he was committing on
his march. At Thiagur, however, he met with a serious repulse. Great
numbers of the inhabitants from the surrounding country had crowded
into the town with their valuables, and Tippoo, expecting a rich
booty, attacked the town; but although its fortifications were
insignificant, the little garrison was commanded by Captain Flint, the
officer who had so bravely defended Wandiwash in the previous war, and
two assaults were repulsed with serious loss.

At Trinalee, thirty-five miles farther north, he was more successful,
capturing the town, and putting the inhabitants to the sword. Here
Tippoo changed his course, and marched for Pondicherry, capturing
Permacoil by the way.

The news that Tippoo had changed his course, to the southeast, was
received with great joy at Arcot. Although confident that this capital
would be able to resist any sudden attack, the belief had been general
that the whole territory would be laid waste, as it had been by Hyder;
and hopes were now entertained that the British army would arrive in
time to bar Tippoo's further progress.



Chapter 8: The Invasion Of Mysore.


For some time, there was a pause in the hostilities. Tippoo remained
with his army near Pondicherry, carrying on negotiations with the
French governor, and arranging for the despatch of an envoy to France,
with a request that the Republic would furnish him with six thousand
French troops. While he was thus wasting his time, General Meadows was
slowly moving, with the army, towards an encampment formed at Vellout,
some eighteen miles west of Madras.

On the 14th of December, a messenger arrived with the news that Lord
Cornwallis had arrived from Calcutta, two days before, with
considerable reinforcements, and that he was about to assume the
supreme command of the army. The news caused unbounded satisfaction.
By the extreme dilatoriness of his movements, and especially by the
manner in which he had allowed Tippoo to pass him near Caveripatam,
when he might easily have attacked him, while his army was still
struggling through the pass, General Meadows had disgusted his troops.
He had frittered away, without striking a single blow, the finest army
that the British had, up to that time, ever put into the field in
India; and had enabled Tippoo, unmolested, to spread destruction over
a large extent of country.

The only countervailing success that had been gained, by the British,
was a brilliant victory won by Colonel Hartley, who was in command of
a Bombay force, consisting of a European regiment and two battalions
of Sepoys. With these, he engaged Hossein Ali, who had been left by
Tippoo in Malabar, with a force of 9000 men, when the sultan first
retreated before General Meadows' advance. This force was defeated,
with a loss of 1000 men killed and wounded, 900, including Hossein
himself, taken prisoners on the field, and 1500 in the pursuit; the
total British loss being only 52 men. A few days after this victory,
General Abercrombie arrived from Madras with reinforcements, and the
whole of Tippoo's fortified places in Malabar were captured, one after
another, and the entire province conquered.

As soon as Lord Cornwallis reached the camp at Vellout, with a large
train of draught animals that had been brought by sea from Calcutta,
the Rajah and his troops received orders to join him. It was on the
29th of January, 1791, that the commander in chief arrived at Vellout,
and the Rajah arrived there on the 4th of February. As he was the
bearer of a letter from the Resident at Arcot, he was at once enabled
to have an interview with Lord Cornwallis. On finding that he could
speak English, the general received him with much courtesy.

"I am glad, indeed, to have a troop like yours with us, Rajah," he
said. "There are few of my officers who know anything of this part of
the country, and your local knowledge will be invaluable. Moreover, as
I do not speak the language myself, it will be a great advantage to
have someone with me through whom I can communicate freely with the
people of the country. There is no doubt that such communications are
much more effectual, when they come through one of their own princes,
than through English officers. I shall therefore order that, on the
march, a space be allotted for the encampment of your troop by the
side of that occupied by my own escort; and hope that, when not
employed on scouting or other duties, you will ride with my staff.

"Your mother, Rajah, was an English lady, I am told."

"She was, sir. My sister, who married an Englishman, is at present in
Madras with my family, and her son is with me.

"I beg to recommend him to your lordship. He speaks my language
perfectly, and having been brought up in his father's country,
naturally speaks English as well as Hindustani; and will understand,
far better than I can do, any orders that you may give. He has come
out, with his mother, in the hopes of finding his father, who has, if
alive, been a prisoner for several years in the hands of Tippoo.

"He is a fine young fellow. The other day, he made a most dangerous
reconnaissance into Mysore, in order to ascertain Tippoo's movements.
He had with him a young officer of mine, two or three years older than
himself; and when I tell you that the two young fellows held a ruined
hut, for hours, against the attack of some seventy of Tippoo's troops,
and beat them off with a loss of upwards of twenty killed, I need
hardly say that he has no lack of courage."

"You are right, indeed, Rajah. Let the lad ride beside you, with my
staff. Some day he will, perhaps, shorten a long day's march by giving
me details of this adventure of his."

On the 5th of February the army started on its march, and on the 11th
reached Vellore. Tippoo had, for two months, been wasting his time at
Pondicherry; but, upon hearing news that instead of, as he expected,
the English general having marched south from Vellout to meet him, he
had turned westward; and that Mysore, itself, was threatened with
invasion, he hastily broke up his camp, and marched at full speed for
the ghauts; and, reaching the table land, hurried to oppose the
British army, as it endeavoured to ascend the pass going from Vellore
through Amboor, by which he made sure he would come.

Lord Cornwallis encouraged him in the idea, by sending a battalion a
considerable distance up the pass; while he started north and entered
the easy pass of Mooglee, leading west from Chittoor to Moolwagle. He
pushed rapidly up the pass, and gained the summit before Tippoo could
reach the spot and oppose him. It took four days longer for the
battering train, baggage, and provisions to reach the top of the pass.
After a delay of a day or two, to rest the animals, which included
sixty-seven elephants which had been brought from Bengal, the army set
out for Bangalore, the second largest town in Mysore.

The Rajah's troops had been busily employed, from the time the army
moved from Vellout. The men, on their tireless little horses, carried
his messages to the various divisions and brigades, brought up news of
the progress of the train, or rode on ahead with the officers of the
quartermaster's department, whose duty it was to precede the army, to
decide on the camping ground, and to mark off the spots to be occupied
by the various corps. In this way, they saved the regular cavalry from
much fatiguing duty.

Surajah and Dick were generally with the party that went on with the
quartermasters, and, as soon as the camping ground was fixed upon,
aided them in the purchase of forage and food from the natives, as it
was most desirable that the forty days' provisions the army carried
with it should remain intact, until the army had passed up the ghauts.
Beyond that, it was expected that it would be harassed by the Mysore
horse, who would render it impossible for the cavalry to go out to
collect forage, or provisions, from the country through which it
marched.

So well did the Rajah's troop perform its duties, that Lord Cornwallis
ordered it to be taken on the strength of the army, and to receive the
pay and rations of native cavalry in the service. On the day after
leaving Vellore, the general sent an orderly to request the Rajah and
his nephew to ride with him.

"I have not had an opportunity of hearing of your scouting
expedition," he said to Dick, "and shall be glad if you will give me
full details of it."

Dick related the adventure, from the time they had started.

"You were wonderfully lucky, in getting back safely," the general
said, when he had finished. "At least, luck is not the proper word,
for your safety was due to your quick wittedness and courage; and your
escape with your companion from the guard house, the manner in which
you got through the fort in the pass, and your defence of that hut,
until the Rajah's troop arrived to your rescue, were all of them
admirably managed."

He then proceeded to inquire further into the object for which Dick
had come out to India.

"I heartily wish you success in your search," he said, "and sincerely
hope we may obtain news of your father. I do not know what your
intentions may be, afterwards, but should you wish to enter the army,
I will at once nominate you to a commission, in one of our native
cavalry regiments."

"I am deeply obliged to your Excellency," Dick replied, "but as, if we
learn nothing of my father during the war, I am quite resolved to
spend, if necessary, some years in Mysore in the search for him, I
must therefore be free to devote my time to that."

"At any rate," the general said, "if at any time you should feel free
to accept my offer, it will be open to you. In the meantime, I will
appoint you one of the interpreters to the army, during the
expedition, and will attach you to my own staff. It will give you a
recognised position, and it is only right that, as you are doing good
service, you should receive pay. You shall be put in orders this
evening. You can, of course, continue to camp and live with the
Rajah."

The change made very little difference in Dick's duties, and he
continued at his former work, in the quartermasters' department, until
the army was ready for its advance to Bangalore. To the general
surprise, as the army moved forward, nothing was seen of Tippoo's
cavalry, by which they had expected to be continually harassed. The
sultan had, as soon as he perceived that Bangalore was threatened,
hurried the whole army to that city, where he had sent his harem when
he started from Seringapatam to attack Travancore; and instead of
sending off a few hundred horsemen, to escort them to the capital,
while with his army he opposed the advance of the British, he took his
whole force with him, in order to remove his harem with all the pomp
and ceremony with which their passage through the country was
generally accompanied. Consequently, it was not until after taking,
without resistance, the forts of Colar and Ooscotah, and arriving
within ten miles of Bangalore, that the army encountered Tippoo's
cavalry.

This was on the 4th of March. They made an attempt to reach the
baggage trains, but were sharply repulsed, and on the following day
the army took up its position before Bangalore. As they approached the
town, three horsemen dashed out from a small grove, and rode furiously
towards a little group, consisting of Lord Cornwallis, General
Meadows, and the staff, who were reconnoitring at some little distance
from the head of the column. It was evident that their intention was
to cut down the general.

The Rajah, who was riding as usual with the staff, dashed forward with
four or five other officers, and encountered the horsemen before they
could reach him. The Rajah cut down one of them, another was killed by
one of the staff, and the third knocked off his horse and captured.

It was learned that the enterprise was not a planned one, but was the
result of a quarrel between the men, themselves. One had charged the
others with cowardice, and in return they had challenged him to follow
them where they dared go. All had prepared themselves for the
enterprise by half intoxicating themselves with bhang, and thus made
but a poor fight, when they found their object thwarted by the
officers who threw themselves between them and their intended victim.

Bangalore was a fine town, situated on a plain so elevated that the
climate was temperate, the soil fertile, and vegetation abundant. The
town was of considerable extent, that portion lying within the
fortifications being a mile and a quarter long, by half a mile broad.
It was surrounded by a strong rampart, a thick hedge, and a deep, dry
ditch. The wall, however, did not extend across the side facing the
fort, whose guns were supposed to render it ample protection.

The fort was oval in shape, and about nine hundred yards across, at
its greatest diameter. It was defended by a broad rampart,
strengthened by thirty semicircular bastions and five outworks. The
two gates, one at each end, were also protected by outworks. In the
fort stood the splendid palace built by Tippoo. Here also were immense
foundries of cannon, factories for muskets, the arsenal, and large
magazines of grain and ammunition.

The position taken up by the army lay to the northeast of the petah,
or town, and the next morning a reconnoitring party, escorted by
Colonel Floyd, with the whole of the cavalry and a brigade of
infantry, went out to examine the defences of the town and fort.
Seeing a large body of laden elephants and camels, escorted by a
strong body of horsemen, Colonel Floyd rode with the cavalry to attack
them. The movement was a rash one, as the guns on the fort opened
fire, and although at first he defeated the Mysore horse, a heavy fire
was poured upon him, when entangled in broken ground. He himself was
shot by a musket ball which, striking him in the face, passed through
both jaws. It was at first believed that he was dead, but he was
carried back to camp, and ultimately recovered. This rash attack cost
the lives of seventy-one men, and of four times as many horses.

As Tippoo's army was lying at a distance of only six miles away, the
general determined that it would be best, in the first place, to
capture the town without delay; and to assault the fort on that side,
as he could then do so without any fear of an attack by Tippoo; who
would be able to harass him, constantly, were he to approach the fort
from any other direction. Orders were therefore issued for the 36th
Regiment, supported by the 26th Bengal Sepoys, and a party of
artillery under Colonel Moorhouse, to prepare to storm the north gate
of the town at daybreak the next morning.

As soon as dawn broke, the troops rushed forward against the gate. The
outside work was speedily stormed, but as they issued from it, towards
the gate itself, they were received with a very heavy fire from the
walls, together with a storm of hand grenades. Colonel Moorhouse
brought forward a six pounder, receiving two wounds as the piece was
run up to the gate. The first time it was fired, it had no effect
beyond making a small hole, and the next shot had no greater success.
Colonel Moorhouse ordered a twelve-pounder to be brought up, but as he
was aiding to put it into position, another ball struck him, and he
fell dead.

While the artillerymen were pouring shot after shot into the gate, the
roar of musketry was unceasing, the 36th keeping up an incessant fire
upon the enemy upon the wall, in order to cover, as much as possible,
the operations of the gunners. At last, the gate gave way. The troops
poured in, cheering loudly, and the enemy at once fled.

Many, however, took up their positions in the houses, and kept up a
galling fire, until their places of refuge were stormed by detachments
of troops, scattered through the town. By nine o'clock all was over,
and the town completely in the possession of the British.

Tippoo, furious at its having been so speedily captured, moved down
early in the afternoon with a strong force of infantry; and, marching
along by the side of the fort, endeavoured to force his way into the
town through the open space at that end. He was aided by the guns of
the fort, while his artillery kept up a heavy cannonade upon the
British encampment.

When the sultan was seen marching towards the town, with the evident
intention of endeavouring to retake it, the 76th Regiment was sent in
to reinforce the garrison; and the three battalions opposed so steady
a resistance to Tippoo's infantry that the latter were forced to fall
back, after sustaining a loss of five hundred men. The troops began
next morning to erect batteries.

The position was a singular one. A small army was undertaking the
siege of a strong fortress, while an army vastly outnumbering it was
watching them; and was able, at any moment, to throw large
reinforcements into the fort through the Mysore gate, which was at the
opposite end of the fort to that attacked, the efforts of the British
being directed against the Delhi gate, which faced the town.

The advantage which had been gained, by the employment of the great
train carrying the provisions for the troops, was now manifest; for,
unless the army had been so provided, it would have been forced to
retreat; as, in the face of Tippoo's army, with its great host of
cavalry, it would have been impossible to gather provisions.

The first batteries erected by the engineers proved to be too far
distant from the wall of the fort to effect any material damage, and
others were commenced at a much shorter range. The work was performed
with great difficulty, for the guns of the defenders were well served,
and a storm of missiles were poured, night and day, into the town and
against the batteries. The garrison, which consisted of eight thousand
men, were frequently relieved by fresh troops from the sultan's army,
and were thus able to maintain their fire with great vigour.

On the 17th, Tippoo cannonaded the British camp from a distance, but
without doing great damage. In the meantime, the fire of our siege
guns was steadily doing its work, in spite of the heavy fire kept up
on them. The stone facing of the bastion next to the gateway was soon
knocked away, but the earth banks behind, which were very thick and
constructed of a tough red clay, crumbled but slowly. Still, the
breach was day by day becoming more practicable, and Tippoo, alarmed
at the progress that had been made, moved his army down towards the
east side of the fort, and seemed to meditate an attack upon our
batteries. He placed some heavy guns behind a bank surrounding a large
tank, and opened some embrasures through which their fire would have
taken our trenches, which were now pushed up close to the fort, in
flank.

Lord Cornwallis at once directed a strong force to advance, as if with
the intention of attacking the new work, and Tippoo ordered his troops
to retire from it. It was evident, however, that he had determined to
give battle in order to save the fort, and the English general
therefore determined to storm the place that very night, the 21st of
March. The preparations were made secretly, lest the news should be
taken to Tippoo by one of the natives in the town, and it was not
until late in the evening that orders were issued to the troops which
were to take part in the assault.

The column was to be composed of the grenadier and light companies of
all the European regiments, and these were to be followed and
supported by several battalions of Sepoys. The force, commanded by
Colonel Maxwell, at eleven o'clock issued from the town and advanced
through the trenches. The besieged were vigilant, and the instant the
leading company sprang from the trenches and, in the bright moonlight,
ran forward to the breach, a number of blue lights were lighted all
along the ramparts, and a heavy musketry fire was opened.

The scene was eagerly watched by the troops in the camp, every feature
being distinctly visible. The storming party could be seen, rushing up
the breach and mounting, by ladders, over the gateway, which was the
central object of attack. The enemy gathered in masses at the top of
the breach, but as soon as the stormers collected in sufficient
strength, and charged them with the bayonet, they broke and dispersed.

The grenadiers moved along the ramparts to the right, clearing it of
its defences as they went along. The light companies did the same
along the ramparts to the left, while the Sepoys descended into the
body of the fort. The whole of the defenders fled towards the Mysore
gate at the other end of the fort, and when the three bodies of troops
met there, they found the gate blocked by the masses of fugitives.

They charged them on all sides. The governor, a brave old soldier, and
a great favourite of the sultan, died fighting gallantly to the last.
Six hundred of the garrison fell, and three hundred, for the most part
wounded, were taken prisoners. The British loss was only fifty
officers and men, killed and wounded.

The body of the governor was found, next morning, among the slain; and
Lord Cornwallis sent a message to Tippoo, with an offer to have the
body carried to his camp for burial. Tippoo, however, replied that the
proper place for a soldier to be buried was where he fell, and
accordingly the brave old soldier was laid to rest, in the fort, by
the Mohammedan troops in the Sepoy regiments; with all military
honours.

While the assault was going on, Tippoo--who, in spite of the
precautions taken, had received news of the intention of the general,
and had warned the garrison of the fort to be prepared--despatched two
heavy columns, as soon as the fire opened, to attack the British camp
on its flank. The movement had been foreseen and prepared against, and
the attacks were both repulsed with heavy loss.

The capture of the fort was effected but just in time, for the
provisions were almost entirely consumed, and the scanty rations were
eked out by digging up the roots of grasses and vegetables within the
circuit of our pickets. The draught and carriage cattle were dying
daily, by hundreds. The few remaining, intended for food, were in so
emaciated a state that the flesh was scarcely eatable. And, worst of
all, the supply of ammunition was almost exhausted.

The news of the fall of the fortress, considered by the natives to be
almost impregnable, under the very eyes of the sultan himself and his
great army, produced a widespread effect; greatly depressing the
spirit of Tippoo's adherents, while it proportionately raised those of
the British troops, and excited the hopes of the peoples conquered by
Tippoo and his father. One result was that the polagars, or chiefs, of
a tribe that had but recently fallen under the yoke of Mysore, were at
once emboldened to bring in provisions to the town. As great stores
were found in the magazines in the fort, the starving animals regained
some of their condition during the ten days that the troops were
occupied in repairing the breaches, burying the dead, and placing the
fort in a condition to stand a siege, should Tippoo return during the
absence of the army.

When this was done, and the stores of ammunition replenished from the
magazines, the army started on its march north to Deonhully, where
they were to effect a junction with the cavalry that the Nizam had
agreed to furnish. As it marched, it passed within three miles of
Tippoo's army, which was proceeding in a westerly direction. Tippoo
could here have brought on a general engagement, had he wished it; but
the capture of Bangalore had for the time cowed his spirit, and he
continued his march, at a rate that soon placed him beyond the reach
of the British.

At Deonhully a junction was effected with the Nizam's horse, ten
thousand in number. These proved, however, of no real utility, being a
mere undisciplined herd, who displayed no energy whatever, except in
plundering the villagers. The united force now moved southeast, to
guard a great convoy which was advancing up the pass of Amboor; and,
when this had been met, returned to Bangalore.

During the operations of the siege, the Rajah's troop had remained
inactive, and Dick's duties as interpreter had been nominal. At
Bangalore, no English prisoners had been found, and he was heartily
glad when he heard that it was the intention of Lord Cornwallis to
march directly upon Seringapatam.

It was, indeed, a necessity for the English general to bring the
campaign to a speedy termination. The war was entailing a tremendous
strain upon the resources of the Company. The Nizam and Mahrattis were
not to be depended upon in the slightest degree, and might at any
moment change sides. The French revolution had broken out, and all
Europe was alarmed, and many of the English regiments might, at any
moment, be ordered to return home. Therefore, anything like a thorough
conquest of Mysore was impossible, and there was only time to march to
Seringapatam, to capture Tippoo's capital, and to dictate terms to
him.

Immense exertions were made to restore the efficiency of the baggage
train, and on the 3rd of May, the army marched from Bangalore.

Tippoo, devoured alike by rage and fear, had taken no efficient steps
to meet the coming storm. His first thought was to prevent the English
from discovering the brutal cruelty with which his white captives had
been treated. He had, over and over again, given the most solemn
assurances that he had no white prisoners in his hands; and he now
endeavoured to prevent their obtaining evidence of his falsehood and
cruelty, by murdering the whole of those who remained in his hands at
Seringapatam. Having effected this massacre, he next ordered all the
pictures that he had caused to be painted on the walls of his palace
and other buildings, holding up the English to the contempt and hatred
of his subjects, to be obliterated; and he also ordered the bridge
over the northern loop of the Cauvery to be destroyed. He then set out
with his army to bar the passage of the British to Seringapatam.

The weather was extremely bad when the British started. Rain storms
had deluged the country, and rendered the roads well nigh impassable,
and the movement was, in consequence, very slow. Tippoo had taken up a
strong position on the direct road and, in order to avoid him, Lord
Cornwallis took a more circuitous route, and Tippoo was obliged to
fall back.

The whole country through which the English passed had been wasted.
The villages were deserted, and not an inhabitant was to be met with.
Suffering much from wet, and the immense difficulties of bringing on
the transport, the army, on the 13th of May, arrived on the Cauvery,
nine miles east of Seringapatam. Here it had been intended to cross
the river, but the rains had so swollen the stream that it was found
impossible to ford it. It was, therefore, determined to march to a
point on the river, ten miles above Seringapatam, where it was hoped
that a better ford could be found; and where a junction might be
effected with General Abercrombie's Bombay army, which was moving up
from the Malabar coast, and was but thirty or forty miles distant.

To effect this movement, it was necessary to pass within sight of the
capital. Tippoo came out, and took up a strong position, on a rugged
and almost inaccessible height. In front was a swamp stretching to the
river, while batteries had been thrown up to sweep the approaches.

By a night march, accomplished in the midst of a tremendous thunder
and rain storm, Lord Cornwallis turned Tippoo's position. The
confusion occasioned by the storm, however, and the fact that several
of the corps lost their way, prevented the full success hoped for from
being attained, and gave Tippoo time to take up a fresh position.

Colonel Maxwell led five battalions up a rocky ledge, held by a strong
body of the Mysore troops, carried it at the point of the bayonet, and
captured some guns. Tippoo immediately began to fall back, but would
have lost the greater portion of his artillery, had not the Nizam's
horse moved forward across the line by which the British were
advancing. Here they remained in an inert mass, powerless to follow
Tippoo, and a complete barrier to the British advance. So
unaccountable was their conduct, that it was generally believed in the
army that it was the result of treachery; and it was with difficulty
that the British troops could be restrained from firing into the horde
of horsemen, who had, from the time they joined the force, been worse
than useless.

As soon as the British could make their way through, or round, the
obstacle to their advance, they pursued the retreating force of
Tippoo, until it took refuge under the guns of the works round
Seringapatam. Their loss had been 2000, that of the British 500.

But the success was of little benefit to the latter. The terrible
state of the roads, and the want of food, had caused the death of
great numbers of draught animals, and the rest were so debilitated as
to be absolutely useless; and during the two days' marches, that were
required to reach the point on the river previously determined upon,
the battering train, and almost the whole of the carts, were dragged
along by the troops.

The position of the army was bad in the extreme. Neither food nor
forage were to be obtained from the country round. The troops were
almost on famine rations, worn out by fatigue, and by the march
through heavy rains, and nights spent on the sodden ground. Tippoo's
horsemen hovered round them. The cavalry of the Nizam, which had been
specially engaged to keep the foe at a distance, never once ventured
to engage them. It was absolutely impossible to communicate with
General Abercrombie, and after remaining but a couple of days in his
new camp, Lord Cornwallis felt that the army could only be saved from
destruction by immediate retreat.

No time was lost in carrying out the decision, when once arrived at.
Some natives were paid heavily to endeavour to make their way to
Abercrombie, with orders for him to retire down the ghauts again into
Malabar. Then the whole of the battering train, and the heavy
equipments, were destroyed; and on the 26th of May, the army started
for its long march back to Bangalore.

It had made but six miles when a body of horsemen, some two thousand
strong, were seen approaching. Preparations were instantly made to
repel an attack, when a soldier rode in, and announced that the
horsemen were the advance party of two Mahratta armies, close at hand.
This was welcome news, indeed, for Lord Cornwallis had no idea that
the Mahrattis were within two hundred miles of him, and had come to
believe that they had no intention, whatever, of carrying out their
engagements.

They had, it appeared, sent off a messenger, every day, to inform him
of their movements; but so vigilant were Tippoo's cavalry, that not
one of them ever reached the British. In a few hours, the junction was
completed, and the sufferings of the army were at an end. Stores of
every kind were abundant with the Mahrattis, and not only food, but
clothing, and every necessary of life, could be purchased in the great
bazaars, occupied by the Mahratta traders who accompanied the army.

Had the two Mahratta armies arrived a couple of days earlier, the
destruction of the siege train would have been avoided, Seringapatam
would have been besieged, Abercrombie's army of eight thousand men
have joined, and the war brought at once to a conclusion. It was now,
however, too late. The means for prosecuting the siege of so powerful
a fortress were altogether wanting, and the united armies returned, by
easy marches, to Bangalore.

On the march, the future plan of operations was decided upon. Lord
Cornwallis sent orders for the sum of 1,500,000 rupees, that had been
intended for China, to be at once despatched to Bangalore for the use
of the army, and the allies. The larger of the Mahratta forces, under
Purseram Bhow, with a detachment of Bombay troops that had accompanied
it, were to march to the northwest, and reduce some of the forts and
towns still held by the troops of Mysore. The other Mahratta force,
consisting chiefly of cavalry, under Hurry Punt, were to remain at
Bangalore.

The cause of the long delay, on the part of the Nizam and the
Mahrattis, was now explained. The Nizam's troops had spent six months
in the siege of the fortress of Capool, while an equal time had been
occupied, by Purseram Bhow, in the siege of Durwar, a very strong
place, garrisoned by ten thousand men.

Tippoo began negotiations immediately after his defeat near
Seringapatam, and these were continued until July, when they were
finally broken off. Some months were occupied in reducing a number of
the hill forts, commanding the entrances to the various passes. Among
these, two, deemed absolutely impregnable, Savandroog and Nundidroog,
were captured, but the attack upon Kistnagherry was repulsed with
considerable loss.

By the capture of these places, Lord Cornwallis obtained access to
supplies from the Malabar and Carnatic coasts, and was thus free from
the risk of any recurrence of the misfortunes that had marred his
previous attempt to lay siege to Seringapatam; and, on the 5th of
February, 1792, he again came within sight of Tippoo's capital.



Chapter 9: News Of The Captive.


During the nine months that had elapsed since the retreat from before
Seringapatam, Dick had been occupied in following out the main object
of his presence in Mysore. Finding that Purseram Bhow's army was the
first that would be engaged in active service, he asked permission
from the general to join it. This was at once granted, and Lord
Cornwallis introduced him to the officer in command of the Bombay
troops attached to that army, informing him of the object that he had
in view.

"He will not be of much use as an interpreter," he said, "for as the
country in which you are going to operate formed, until lately, a part
of the Mahratta dominions, Mahratti will be principally spoken. He
will, therefore, go simply as an officer of my staff, attached for the
present to your command. He has asked me to allow him to take with him
twenty men, belonging to the troop of his uncle, the Rajah of
Tripataly. His object, in doing so, is that he will be able to
traverse the country independently, and can either rejoin me here, or
go to one of the other columns operating against the hill forts, if it
should seem to him expedient to do so. Should you desire to make a
reconnaissance at any time, while he is with you, you will find him
useful as an escort, and will not be obliged to ask Purseram Bhow for
a party of his cavalry."

Dick was sorry to leave his uncle, whose tent he had now shared for
the last ten months. He found himself, however, very comfortable with
the Bombay troops, being made a member of the mess, consisting of the
officer in command and the four officers of his staff. Wishing to have
some duties with which to occupy himself, he volunteered to act as an
aide-de-camp; and although the work was little more than nominal, it
gave him some employment. When not otherwise engaged, he generally
rode with Surajah, whom his uncle had appointed to command the twenty
troopers.

In the year that had elapsed since his arrival in India, Dick had
grown considerably, and broadened out greatly, and was now a powerful
young fellow of over seventeen. He had, since the troop joined the
army of Lord Cornwallis, exchanged his civilian dress for the undress
uniform of an officer, which he had purchased at the sale of the
effects of a young lieutenant on the general's staff, who had died
just as the army arrived before Bangalore. It was, indeed, necessary
that he should do this, riding about, as he did, either on the staff
of the general, or with the officers of the quartermasters'
department. There would be no difficulty in renewing his uniform, for
hardship, fever, and war had carried off a large number of officers,
as well as men; and the effects were always sold by auction, on the
day following the funeral.

Many hill fortresses were captured by the Mahrattis, but few offered
any resistance; as their commanders knew well that there was no chance
of their being relieved, while the men were, in most cases, delighted
at the prospect of an escape from their enforced service, and of
freedom to return to their homes. In a few of these forts, English
captives were found. Some had been there for years, their very
existence being apparently forgotten by the tyrant. Some had been
fairly treated by the Mysore governor, and where this was the case,
the latter was furnished by the British officers with papers,
testifying to the kindness with which they had treated the prisoners,
and recommending them to the officers of any of the allied forces they
might encounter on their way home, or when established there.

Upon the other hand, some of the prisoners were found to have been all
but starved, and treated with great brutality. In two cases, where the
captives said that some of their companions had died from the effects
of the ill treatment they had received, the governors were tried by
court martial and shot, while some of the others they sentenced to be
severely flogged.

Every captive released was closely scrutinised by Dick, and eagerly
questioned. From one of them, he obtained news that his father had
certainly been alive four years previously, for they had been in
prison together, in a hill fort near Bangalore.

"I was a civilian and he a sailor," he said, "consequently neither of
us were of any use in drilling Tippoo's battalions, and had been sent
up there. Your father was well, then. The governor was a good fellow,
and we had nothing much to complain of. Mr. Holland was a favourite of
his, for, being a sailor, he was handy at all sorts of things. He
could mend a piece of broken furniture, repair the lock of a musket,
and make himself generally useful. He left there before I did, as the
governor was transferred to some other fort--I never heard where it
was--and he took your father with him. I don't know whether he had
Tippoo's orders to do so, or whether he took him simply because he
liked him.

"At any rate, he was the only prisoner who went with him. The rest of
us remained there till a few months back, when the fort was abandoned.
It was just after the capture of Bangalore, and the place could have
offered no resistance, if a body of troops had been sent against it.
At any rate, an order arrived one morning, and a few hours afterwards
the place was entirely abandoned, and we and the garrison marched
here."

"My father was quite well?"

"Quite well. He used to talk to me, at times, of trying to make his
escape. Being a sailor, I have no doubt that he could have got down
from the precipice on which the fort stood; but he knew that, if he
did so, we should all suffer for it, and probably be all put to death,
as soon as Tippoo heard that one of us had escaped--for that was
always done, in order to deter prisoners from trying to get away."

"Do you think that there is any chance of his being still alive?"

"That is more than I can possibly say. You see, we have not known much
of what is passing outside our prison. Some of the guards were good
natured enough, and would occasionally give us a scrap of news; but we
heard most from the ill-tempered ones, who delighted in telling us
anything they knew that would pain us.

"Three or four months ago, we heard that every white prisoner in
Seringapatam had been put to death, by Tippoo's orders, and that
doubtless there would be a similar clearance everywhere else. Then,
again, we were told that the English had retreated, beaten, from
before Seringapatam, and that the last of them would soon be down the
ghauts. But whether the prisoners have been killed in other hill forts
like this, I cannot say, although I suppose not, or we should not have
escaped."

"Certainly no such orders can have been sent to the forts here, for we
have found a few prisoners in several of them. Of course, it may be
otherwise in the forts near the capital, which Tippoo might have
thought were likely to fall into our hands; while he may not have
considered it worth while to send the same orders to places so far
away as this, where no British force was likely to come. Still, at any
rate, it is a great satisfaction that my father was alive four years
ago, and that he was in kind hands. That is all in favour of my
finding him, still alive, in one of the places we shall take, for Lord
Cornwallis intends to besiege some of the fortresses that command the
passes, because he cannot undertake another siege of Seringapatam
until he can obtain supplies, freely and regularly, from beyond the
ghauts; as nothing whatever can be obtained from the country round, so
completely is it wasted by Tippoo's cavalry. I have, therefore, great
hopes that my father may be found in one of these forts."

"I hope, indeed, that you may find him. I am convinced that the
governor would save his life, if he could do so; though, on the other
hand, he would, I am sure, carry out any order he might receive from
Tippoo. Of course, he may not be in charge of a fort now, and may have
been appointed colonel of one of the regiments. However, it is always
better to hope that things will come as you wish them, however
unlikely it may seem that they will do so. We have been living on hope
here, though the chances of our ever being released were small,
indeed. Of course, we did not even know that Tippoo and the English
were at war, until we heard that an English army was besieging
Bangalore; and even then we all felt that, even if Tippoo were beaten
and forced to make peace, it would make no difference to us. He kept
back hundreds of prisoners when he was defeated before, and would
certainly not surrender any he now holds, unless compelled to do so;
and no one would be able to give information as to the existence of
captives in these distant forts.

"And yet, in the teeth of all these improbabilities, we continued to
hope, and the hopes have been realised."

The capture of forts by the Mahratta army was abruptly checked.
Having, so far, met with such slight opposition, Purseram Bhow became
over confident, and scattered his force over a wide extent of country,
in order that they might more easily find food and forage. In this
condition they were suddenly attacked by Tippoo, who took advantage of
the English being detained at Bangalore, while the transport train was
being reorganised, to strike a blow at the Mahrattis.

The stroke was a heavy one. Many of the detached parties were
completely destroyed; and the Mahratta general, after gathering the
rest to his standard, was forced to retreat, until strong
reinforcements were sent him from Bangalore.

Learning, from them, that it was probable Lord Cornwallis would
advance as soon as they rejoined him, Dick determined to go back to
Bangalore, as it was unlikely that, after the severe check they had
received, the Mahrattis would resume the offensive for a time.

Surajah and the men were glad to return to the troop, and as soon as
the Mysorean force returned to Seringapatam, Dick, without waiting for
the infantry to get in motion, rode rapidly across the country with
his little party.

He accompanied the English army during their operations, obtaining
permission to go with the columns engaged in the siege of the hill
fortresses, and was present at the capture of all the most important
strongholds. To his bitter disappointment, no English prisoners were
found in any of them, and it was but too certain that all who might
have been there had been massacred, by Tippoo's orders, on the first
advance of the British against Seringapatam.

Great indeed was the satisfaction of the army when they at last came
in sight of the city. The capital of Mysore stood on an island, in the
river Cauvery. This was four miles in length, and two in breadth. The
town stood in its centre, the fort at the northern end. The island was
approached by two bridges, one close to the fort, the other at the
south, both being defended by strong batteries. There were also three
fords, two of these being at the north end of the island, and also
defended by batteries; the third was near the centre of the island, a
mile below the fort, and leading to the native town.

The fort was separated from the rest of the island by a deep ditch cut
across it. It was defended by numerous batteries. There were two
gardens on the island, full of large trees, one of them being the
burial place of Hyder Ali. This was connected with the fort by two
avenues of trees. The country round was flat, a considerable portion
being almost level with the river, and devoted to the cultivation of
rice, while at other points a forest extended, almost to the bank.

After obtaining a view, from some high ground, of the city and of
Tippoo's army encamped beyond its walls, the British force took up its
position six miles to the northwest of the city. No sooner had the
army reached their camping ground than Lord Cornwallis, with his
staff, reconnoitred the approaches.

A thick hedge, formed by a wide belt of thorny shrubs, interlaced and
fastened together by cords, extended from the bank of the river, about
a thousand yards above Seringapatam; and, making a wide sweep, came
down to it again opposite the other end of the island.

It was within the shelter of this formidable obstacle that Tippoo's
army was encamped. Within the enclosed space were seven or eight
eminences, on which strong redoubts had been erected. Fearing that
Tippoo might, as soon as he saw the position taken up by the
assailants, sally out with his army, take the field, and, as before,
cut all his communications, Lord Cornwallis determined to strike a
blow at once.

At sunset, orders were accordingly issued for the forces to move, in
three columns, at three o'clock; by which time the moon would be high
enough to light up, thoroughly, the ground to be traversed. The centre
column, consisting of 3,700 men, under Lord Cornwallis himself, was to
burst through the hedge at the centre of the enemy's position, to
drive the enemy before them, and, if possible, to cross the ford to
the island with the fugitives.

This, however, was not to be done until the centre column was
reinforced by that under General Meadows, which was to avoid a strong
redoubt at the northwest extremity of the hedge, and, entering the
fence at a point between the redoubt and the river, drive the enemy
before it, until it joined the centre column. Colonel Meadows had
3,300 under his command. The left column, consisting of 1,700 men
under Colonel Maxwell, was first to carry a redoubt on Carrygut Hill,
just outside the fence; and, having captured this, to cut its way
through the hedge, and to cross the river at once, with a portion of
the centre column.

Unfortunately, owing to a misunderstanding as to the order, the
officer guiding General Meadow's column, instead of taking it to a
point between the northwestern redoubt and the river, led it directly
at the fort. This was stoutly defended, and cost the British eighty
men and eleven officers. Leaving a strong garrison here, the column
advanced, but came upon another redoubt, of even greater strength and
magnitude; and the general, fearing that the delay that would take
place in capturing it would entirely disarrange the plan of the
attack, thought he had better make his way out through the hedge,
march round it to the point where the centre column had entered it,
and so give Lord Cornwallis the support he must need, opposed as he
was to the whole army of Tippoo.

In the meantime, Colonel Maxwell's force had stormed the work on
Carrygut Hill, and had made its way through the hedge; suffering
heavily, as it did so, from the fire of a strong body of the enemy,
concealed in a water course. The head of the centre column, under
General Knox, after cutting its way through the hedge, pushed on with
levelled bayonets, thrust its way through the enemy's infantry, and,
mingling with a mass of fugitives, crossed the main ford close under
the guns of the fort, and took possession of a village, half way
between the town and the fort.

Unfortunately, in the confusion but three companies had followed him.
The rest of the regiment and three companies of Sepoys crossed lower
down, and gained possession of a palace on the bank of the river. The
officer in command, however, not knowing that any others had crossed,
and receiving no orders, waited until day began to break. He then
recrossed the river and joined Lord Cornwallis, a portion of whose
column, having been reinforced by Maxwell's column, crossed the river
nearly opposite the town.

As they were crossing, a battery of the enemy's artillery opened a
heavy fire upon them; but Colonel Knox, with his three companies,
charged it in the rear, drove out the defenders, and silenced the
guns.

All this time Lord Cornwallis was with the reserve of the central
column, eagerly waiting the arrival of General Meadows' division.
This, in some unaccountable way, had missed the gap in the hedge by
which the centre column had entered, and, marching on, halted at last
at Carrygut Hill, where it was not discovered until daylight.

The Mysore army on its left was still unbroken, and had been joined by
large numbers of troops from the centre. On discovering the smallness
of the force under Lord Cornwallis, they attacked it in overwhelming
numbers, led by Tippoo himself. The British infantry advanced to meet
them with the bayonet, and drove them back with heavy loss. They
rallied, and returned to the attack again and again, but were as often
repulsed; continuing their attacks, however, until daylight, when Lord
Cornwallis, discovering at last the position of General Meadows,
joined him on Carrygut Hill.

When day broke, the commanders of the two armies were able to estimate
the results of the night's operations. On the English side, the only
positions gained were the works on Carrygut Hill, the redoubt at the
northwest corner of the hedge, another redoubt captured by the centre
column, and the positions occupied by the force under Colonels Stuart
and Knox, at the eastern end of the island.

The sultan found that his army was much reduced in strength, no less
than twenty-three thousand men being killed, wounded, or missing. Of
these, the missing were vastly the most numerous, for ten thousand
Chelahs, young Hindoos whom Tippoo had carried off in his raids, and
forced to become soldiers, and, nominally, Mohammedans, had taken
advantage of the confusion, and marched away with their arms to the
Forest of Coorg.

Tippoo made several determined efforts to drive Colonel Stuart's force
off the island, and to recapture the redoubts, but was repulsed with
such heavy loss that he abandoned the attempt altogether, evacuated
the other redoubts, and brought his whole army across on to the
island.

Tippoo now attempted to negotiate. He had already done so a month
before, but Lord Cornwallis had refused to accept his advances, saying
that negotiation was useless, with one who disregarded treaties and
violated articles of capitulation.

"Send hither," he wrote, "the garrison of Coimbatoor, and then we will
listen to what you have to say."

Lord Cornwallis alluded to the small body of troops who, under
Lieutenants Chalmers and Nash, had bravely defended that town when it
had been attacked by one of Tippoo's generals. The gallant little
garrison had surrendered at last, on the condition that they should be
allowed to march freely away. This condition had been violated by
Tippoo, and the garrison had been marched, as prisoners, to
Seringapatam. The two officers had been kept in the fort, but most of
the soldiers, and twenty-seven other European captives who had lately
been brought in from the hill forts, were lodged in the village that
Colonel Knox had first occupied, on crossing the river, and had all
been released by him. Some of these had been in Tippoo's hands for
many years, and their joy at their unexpected release was unspeakable.

Preparations were now made for the siege. General Abercrombie was
ordered up, with a force of six thousand men, but before his arrival,
Lieutenant Chalmers was sent in with a letter from Tippoo, asking for
terms of capitulation. Negotiations were indeed entered into, but,
doubting Tippoo's good faith, the preparations for the siege were
continued; and upon the arrival of General Abercrombie's force, on the
15th of February, siege operations were commenced at the end of the
island still in British possession.

A few days afterwards, the army was astounded at hearing that the
conditions had been agreed upon, and that hostilities were to cease at
once. So great was the indignation, indeed, that a spirit of
insubordination, and almost mutiny, was evinced by many of the corps.
They had suffered extreme hardships, had been engaged in most arduous
marches, had been decimated by fever and bad food, and they could
scarce believe their ears when they heard that they were to hold their
hands, now that, after a year's campaigning, Seringapatam was at their
mercy; and that the man who had butchered so many hundred English
captives, who had wasted whole provinces and carried half a million
people into captivity, who had been guilty of the grossest treachery,
and whose word was absolutely worthless, was to escape personal
punishment.

Still higher did the indignation rise, both among officers and men,
when the conditions of the treaty became known, and it was discovered
that no stipulation whatever had been made for the handing over of the
English prisoners still in Mysore, previous to a cessation of
hostilities. This condition, at least, should have been insisted upon,
and carried out previous to any negotiations being entered upon.

The reasons that induced Lord Cornwallis to make this treaty, when
Seringapatam lay at his mercy, have ever been a mystery. Tippoo had
proved himself a monster unfitted to live, much less to rule, and the
crimes he had committed against the English should have been punished
by the public trial and execution of their author. To conclude peace
with him, now, was to enable him to make fresh preparations for war,
and to necessitate another expedition at enormous cost and great loss
of life. Tippoo had already proved that he was not to be bound either
by treaties or oaths. And, lastly, it would have been thought that, as
a general, Lord Cornwallis would have wished his name to go down to
posterity in connection with the conquest of Mysore, and the capture
of Seringapatam, rather than with the memorable surrender of York
Town, the greatest disaster that ever befell a British army.

The conditions were, in themselves, onerous, and had they been imposed
upon any other than a brutal and faithless tyrant, might have been
deemed sufficient. Tippoo was deprived of half his dominions, which
were to be divided among the allies, each taking the portions adjacent
to their territory. A sum of 3,300,000 pounds was to be paid for the
expenses of the war. All prisoners of the allied powers were to be
restored.

Two of Tippoo's sons were to be given up as hostages. Even after they
had been handed over, there were considerable delays before Tippoo's
signature was obtained, and it was not until Lord Cornwallis
threatened to resume hostilities that, on the 18th of March, a treaty
was finally sealed. Of the ceded territory the Mahrattis and the Nizam
each took a third as their share, although the assistance they had
rendered in the struggle had been but of comparatively slight utility.
It may, indeed, be almost said that it was given to them as a reward
for not accepting the offers Tippoo had made them, of joining with him
against the British.

The British share included a large part of the Malabar coast, with the
forts of Calicut and Cananore, and the territory of our ally, the
Rajah of Coorg. These cessions gave us the passes leading into Mysore
from the west. On the south we gained possession of the fort of
Dindegul, and the districts surrounding it; while on the east we
acquired the tract from Amboor to Caroor, and so obtained possession
of several important fortresses, together with the chief passes by
which Hyder had made his incursions into the Carnatic.

Dick felt deeply the absence of any proviso, in the treaty, that all
prisoners should be restored previous to a cessation of hostilities;
at the same time admitting the argument of his uncle that, although
under such an agreement some prisoners might be released, there was no
means of insuring that the stipulation would be faithfully carried
out.

"You see, Dick, no one knows, or has indeed the faintest idea, what
prisoners Tippoo still has in his hands. We do not know how many have
been murdered during the years Tippoo has reigned. Men who have
escaped have, from time to time, brought down news of murders in the
places where they had been confined, but they have known little of
what has happened elsewhere. Moreover, we have learned that certainly
fifty or sixty were put to death, at Seringapatam, before we advanced
upon it the first time. We know, too, that some were murdered in the
hill forts that we have captured. But how many remain alive, at the
present time, we have not the slightest idea. Tippoo might hand over a
dozen, and take a solemn oath that there was not one remaining; and
though we might feel perfectly certain that he was lying, we should be
in no position to prove it.

"The stipulation ought to have been made, if only as a matter of
honour, but it would have been of no real efficiency. Of course, if we
had dethroned Tippoo and annexed all his territory, we should
undoubtedly have got at all the prisoners, wherever they were hidden.
But we could hardly have done that. It would have aroused the jealousy
and fear of every native prince in India. It would have united the
Nizam and the Mahrattis against us, and would even have been
disapproved of in England, where public opinion is adverse to further
acquisitions of territory, and where people are, of course, altogether
ignorant of the monstrous cruelties perpetrated by Tippoo, not only
upon English captives, but upon his neighbours everywhere.

"Naturally, I am prejudiced in favour of this treaty, for the handing
over of the country from Amboor to Caroor, with all the passes and
forts, will set us free at Tripataly from the danger of being again
overrun and devastated by Mysore. My people will be able to go about
their work peacefully and in security, free alike from fear of
wholesale invasion, or incursions of robber bands from the ghauts. All
my waste lands will be taken up. My revenue will be trebled.

"There is another thing. Now that the English possess territory beyond
that of the Nabob of Arcot, and are gradually spreading their power
north, there can be little doubt that, before long, the whole country
of Arcot, Travancore, Tanjore, and other small native powers will be
incorporated in their dominions. Arcot is powerless for defence, and
while, during the last two wars, it has been nominally an ally of the
English, the Nabob has been able to give them no real assistance
whatever, and the burden of his territory has fallen on them. They
took the first step when, at the beginning of the present war, they
arranged with him to utilise all the resources and collect the
revenues of his possessions, and to allow him an annual income for the
maintenance of his state and family. This is clearly the first step
towards taking the territory into their own hands, and managing its
revenues, and the same will be done in other cases.

"Lord Cornwallis the other day, in thanking me for the services that
you and I and the troop have rendered, promised me that an early
arrangement should be made, by which I should rule Tripataly under the
government of Madras, instead of under the Nabob. This, you see, will
be virtually a step in rank, and I shall hold my land direct from the
English, instead of from a prince who has become, in fact, a puppet in
their hands."

A few days later, the army set off on its march from Mysore, and the
same day the Rajah, after making his adieus to Lord Cornwallis,
started with his troop for Tripataly, making his way by long marches,
instead of following the slow progress of the army. After a couple of
days at Tripataly, they went down to Madras, and brought back the
Rajah's household.

The meeting between Dick and his mother was one of mixed feeling. It
was twenty months since the former had left with his uncle, and he was
now nearly eighteen. He had written whenever there was an opportunity
of sending any letters; and although his position as interpreter on
the staff of the general had relieved her from any great anxiety on
his account, she was glad, indeed, to see him again.

Upon the other hand, the fact that, as the war went on, and fortress
after fortress had been captured, no news came to her that her hopes
had been realised; and that the war had now come to a termination,
without the mystery that hung over her husband being in any way
cleared up, had profoundly depressed Mrs. Holland, and it was with
mingled tears of pleasure and sorrow that she fell on his neck on his
return to Madras.

"You must not give way, Mother," Dick said, as she sobbed out her
fears that all hope was at an end. "Remember that you have never
doubted he was alive, and that you have always said you would know if
any evil fate had befallen him; and I have always felt confident that
you were right. There is nothing changed. I certainly have not
succeeded in finding him, but we have found many prisoners in some of
the little out-of-the-way forts. Now, some of them have been captives
quite as long as he has; therefore there is no reason, whatever, why
he should not also be alive. I have no thought of giving up the search
as hopeless. I mean to carry out our old plans; and certainly I am
much better fitted to do so than I was when I first landed here. I
know a great deal about Mysore, and although I don't say I speak the
dialect like a native, I have learnt a good deal of it, and can speak
it quite as well as the natives of the ghauts and outlying provinces.
Surajah, who is a great friend of mine, has told me that if I go he
will go too, and that will be a tremendous help. Anyhow, as long as
you continue to believe firmly that Father is still alive, I mean to
continue the search for him."

"I do believe that he is alive, Dick, as firmly as ever. I have not
lost hope in that respect. It is only that I doubt now whether he will
ever be found."

"Well, that is my business, Mother. As long as you continue to believe
that he is still alive, I shall continue to search for him. I have no
other object in life, at present. It will be quite soon enough for me
to think of taking up the commission I have been promised, when you
tell me that your feeling that he is alive has been shaken."

Mrs. Holland was comforted by Dick's assurance and confident tone,
and, putting the thought aside for a time, gave herself up to the
pleasure of his return. They had found everything at Tripataly as they
had left it, for the Mysore horsemen had not penetrated so far north,
before Tippoo turned his course east to Pondicherry. The people had,
months before, returned to their homes and avocations.

One evening the Rajah said, as they were all sitting together:

"I hear from my wife, Dick, that your mother has told her you still
intend to carry out your original project."

"Yes, Uncle. I have quite made up my mind as to that. There are still
plenty of places where he may be, and certainly I am a good deal more
fitted for travelling about in disguise, in Mysore, than I was
before."

The Rajah nodded.

"Yes. I think, Dick, you are as capable of taking care of yourself as
anyone could be. I hear that Surajah is willing to go with you, and
this will certainly be a great advantage. He has proved himself
thoroughly intelligent and trustworthy, and I have promised him that
someday he shall be captain of the troop. You are not thinking of
starting just yet, I suppose?"

"No, Uncle. I thought of staying another month or two, before I go off
again. Mother says she cannot let me go before that."

"I fancy it will take you longer than that, Dick, before you can pass
as a native."

Dick looked surprised.

"Why, Uncle, I did pass as a native, eighteen months ago."

"Yes, you did, Dick; but for how long? You went into shops, bought
things, chatted for a short time with natives, and so on; but that is
not like living among them. You would be found out before you had been
a single day in the company of a native."

Dick looked still more surprised.

"How, Uncle? What do I do that they would know me by."

"It is not what you do, Dick, but it is what you don't do. You can't
sit on your heels--squat, as you call it. That is the habitual
attitude of every native. He squats while he cooks. He squats for
hours by the fire, smoking and talking. He never stands for any length
of time and, except upon a divan or something of that sort, he never
sits down. Before you can go and live among the natives, and pass as
one for any length of time, you must learn to squat as they do, for
hours at a stretch; and I can tell you that it is not by any means an
easy accomplishment to learn. I myself have quite lost the power. I
used to be able to do it, as a boy, but from always sitting on divans
or chairs in European fashion, I have got out of the way of it, and I
don't think I could squat for a quarter of an hour, to save my life."

Dick's mother and cousins laughed heartily, but he said, seriously,
"You are quite right, Uncle. I wonder I never thought of it before. It
was stupid of me not to do so. Of course, when I have been talking
with Surajah or other officers, by a camp fire, I have sat on the
ground; but I see that it would never do, in native dress. I will
begin at once."

"Wait a moment, Dick," the Rajah said. "There are other things which
you will have to practise. You may have to move in several disguises,
and must learn to comport yourself in accordance with them. You must
remember that your motions are quicker and more energetic than are
those of people here. Your walk is different; the swing of the arms,
your carriage, are all different from theirs. You are unaccustomed to
walk either barefooted or in native shoes. Now, all these things have
to be practised before you can really pass muster. Therefore I propose
that you shall at once accustom yourself to the attire, which you can
do in our apartments of an evening. The ranee and the boys will be
able to correct your first awkwardness, and to teach you much.

"After a week or two, you must stain your face, arms, and legs, and go
out with Rajbullub in the evening. You must keep your eyes open, and
watch everything that passes, and do as you see others do. When
Rajbullub thinks that you can pass muster, you will take to going out
with him in the daylight, and so you will come, in time, to reach a
point that it will be safe for you to begin your attempt.

"Do not watch only the peasants. There is no saying that it may not be
necessary to take to other disguises. Observe the traders, the
soldiers, and even the fakirs. You will see that they walk each with a
different mien. The trader is slow and sober. The man who wears a
sword walks with a certain swagger. The fakir is everything by turns;
he whines, and threatens; he sometimes mumbles his prayers, and
sometimes shrieks at the top of his voice.

"When you are not riding or shooting, lad, do not spend your time in
the garden, or with the women. Go into the town and keep your eyes
open. Bear in mind that you are learning a lesson, and that your life
depends upon your being perfect in every respect.

"As to your first disguise, I will speak to Rajbullub, and he will get
it ready by tomorrow evening. The dress of the peasant of Mysore
differs little from that here, save that he wears rather more clothing
than is necessary in this warm climate."



Chapter 10: In Disguise.


On the following evening, Dick appeared in the room where the others
were sitting, in the dress Rajbullub had got for him, and which was
similar to that of other peasants. The boys had already been told that
he was shortly going on a journey, and that it would be necessary for
him to travel in disguise, but had been warned that it was a matter
that was not to be spoken of, to anyone. The early respect, that
Dick's strength and activity had inspired them with, had been much
shaken when they discovered that he was unable either to ride or
shoot; but their father's narrative of his adventures, when scouting
with Surajah, had completely reinstated him in their high opinion.

When he entered, however, they burst out laughing. The two ladies
could not help smiling, and Dick was not long before he joined in the
laugh against himself. He had felt uncomfortable enough when he
started, in an almost similar dress, with Surajah, although there was
then no one to criticise his appearance. But now, in the presence of
his mother and aunt, he felt strangely uncomfortable.

"Never mind, Dick," his uncle said, encouragingly. "The boys would
feel just as uncomfortable as you do now, if they were dressed up in
European fashion. Now, while we are talking, make your first attempt
at sitting on your heels."

Dick squatted down until his knees nearly touched his chest, and a
moment later lost his balance and toppled over, amid a roar of
laughter. Next time, he balanced himself more carefully.

"That is right, Dick. You will get accustomed to it, in time. But you
must see, already, that there is a good deal more to be done than you
thought of, before you can pass as a native. Remember, you must not
only be able to balance yourself while sitting still, but must be able
to use your hands--for cooking purposes, for example; for eating; or
for doing anything there may be to do--not only without losing your
balance, but without showing that you are balancing yourself."

"It is much more difficult than I thought, Uncle. Of course, I have
always seen the natives squatting like this, but it seemed so natural
that it never struck me it was difficult at all. I say, it is
beginning to hurt already. My shin bones are aching horribly."

"Yes; that is where the strain comes, my boy. But you have got to
stick to it, until your muscles there, which have never been called
into play in this way before, get accustomed to the work."

"I understand that, Uncle. It was just the same with my arms, when I
began to climb. But I can't stand this any longer. I can no more get
up than I can fly;" and Dick rolled over on to his side.

Again and again he tried, after a short rest between each trial. As he
gave it up, and limped stiffly to the divan, he said:

"I feel as if some one had been kicking me on the shins, until he had
nearly broken them, Mother. I have been kicked pretty badly several
times, in fights by rough fellows at home in Shadwell, but it never
hurt like this;" and he rubbed his aching legs ruefully.

"Well, Uncle, I am very much obliged to you for putting me up to
practising this position. It seemed to me that it would be quite a
simple thing, to walk along quietly, and to move my arms about as they
do; but I never thought of this.

"I wonder, Mother, you never told me that, above all things, I should
have to learn to squat on my heels for any time. It would not have
been so difficult to learn it, five or six years ago, when I was not
anything like so heavy as I am now."

"It never once occurred to me, Dick. I wish it had. I thought I had
foreseen every difficulty, but it never once came into my mind that,
in order to pass as a native, you must be able to sit like one."

"Ah, well, I shall learn in time, Mother," Dick replied cheerfully.
"Every exercise is hard at first, but one soon gets accustomed to it."

Dick threw himself with his usual energy into his new work. Although
of a morning, when he first woke, his shins caused him the most acute
pain, he always spent half an hour in practice. Afterwards he would
sit for some time, allowing the water from the tap at the side of the
bath to flow upon the aching muscles. Then he would dress and, as soon
as breakfast was over, go for a run in the garden. At first it was but
a shamble, but gradually the terrible stiffness would wear off, and he
would return to the house comparatively well.

Of an evening the practice was longer, and was kept up until the
aching pain became unendurable. At the end of four or five days, he
was scarcely able to walk at all, but after that time matters
improved, and three weeks later he could preserve the attitude for
half an hour at a time.

In other respects, his training had gone on uninterruptedly every day.
He went out into the town, accompanied sometimes by Rajbullub,
sometimes by Surajah, in the disguises of either a peasant, a soldier,
or a trader; and learnt to walk, and carry himself, in accordance with
his dress. Before putting on these disguises, he painted himself with
a solution that could easily be washed off, on his return to the
palace, where he now always wore a European dress.

"You cannot be too careful," the Rajah said. "There are, of course,
Mohammedans here; and, for aught we know, some may act as agents or
spies of Tippoo, just as the English have agents and spies in Mysore.
Were one of them to send word that you had taken to Indian attire, and
that it was believed that you were about to undertake some mission or
other, it would add considerably to your difficulties and dangers. As
it is, no one outside our own circle ever sees you about with me or
the boys, except in your European dress, and Rajbullub tells me that,
in no single instance while you have been in disguise, has any
suspicion been excited, or question asked by the people of various
classes with whom you and he converse in the streets."

Another month passed, and by this time Dick could, without any great
fatigue, squat on his heels for an hour at a time. As the date for his
departure drew near, his mother became more and more nervous and
anxious.

"I shall never forgive myself, if you do not come back," she said one
day, when they were alone. "I cannot but feel that I have been
selfish, and that really, on the strength of a conviction which most
people would laugh at as whimsical and absurd, I am risking the
substance for a shadow, and am imperilling the life of my only boy,
upon the faint chance that he may find my husband. I know that even
your uncle, although he has always been most kind about it, and
assisted in every way in his power, has but little belief in the
success of your search; although, as he sees how bent I am upon it, he
says nothing that might dash my hopes.

"If evil comes of it, Dick, I shall never forgive myself. I shall feel
that I have sacrificed you to a sort of hallucination."

"I can only say, Mother," Dick replied, "that I came out here, and
entered into your plans, only because I had the most implicit faith
that you were right. I should now continue it on my own account, even
if tomorrow you should be taken from me. Of course, I see plainly
enough that the chances are greatly against my ever hearing anything
of Father; but from what has taken place during the campaign, I have
seen that there must be many British captives still hidden away among
the hill forts, and it is quite possible he may be among them. I do
not even say that it is probable, but the chances are not so very
greatly against it; and even if I thought they were smaller--much
smaller than I believe them to be--I should still consider it my duty
to go up and try and find him. So, even if it should happen that I
never come back again, you will not have yourself to blame, for it is
not you that are sending me, but I who am going of my free will; and
indeed, I feel it so much my duty that, even were you to turn round
now and ask me to stay, I should still think it right to undertake
this mission.

"But indeed, Mother, I see no great danger in it; in fact, scarcely
any danger at all--at any rate, unless I find Father. If I do so,
there might certainly be risk in attempting to get him away; but this,
if I am lucky enough in discovering him, will not weigh with me for an
instant. If I do not find him, it seems to me that the risk is a mere
nothing. Surajah and I will wander about, enlisting in the garrisons
of forts. Then, if we find there are no prisoners there, we shall take
an early opportunity of getting away. In some places, no doubt, I
shall be able to learn from men of the garrison whether there are
prisoners, without being forced to enter at all; for although in the
great forts, like Savandroog and Outradroog, it is considered so
important the defences should be kept secret, that none of the
garrison are allowed to leave until they are discharged as too old for
service, there is no occasion for the same precaution in the case of
less important places. Thus, you see, we shall simply have to wander
about, keeping our eyes and ears open, and finding out, either from
the peasants or the soldiers themselves, whether there are any
prisoners there."

"I wish I could go with you, Dick. I used to think that, when the work
of searching for your father had begun, I could wait patiently for the
result; but instead of that, I find myself even more anxious and more
nervous than I was at Shadwell."

"I can quite understand, Mother, that it is very much more trying
work, sitting here waiting, than it is to be actively engaged. The
only thing is, that you must promise me not to trouble more than you
can help; for if I think of you as sitting here fretting about me, I
shall worry infinitely more than I otherwise should over any
difficulties we may have to encounter. You must remember that I shall
have Surajah with me. He is a capital companion, and will always be
able to advise me upon native business. He is as plucky as a fellow
can be, and I can trust him to do anything, just as I would myself."

The preparations for departure now began in earnest. There was some
discussion as to the arms that were to be taken, but at last it was
decided that, with safety, they could carry nothing beyond a
matchlock, a pistol, and a sword each.

Great pains were taken in the selection of the matchlocks. In the
armoury were several weapons of high finish, with silver mountings,
that had belonged to the Rajah's father and grandfather. These were
tried against each other, and the two that were proved to be the most
accurate were chosen. Dick found, indeed, that at distances up to a
hundred yards, they were quite equal to the English rifle he had
brought out. The silver mountings were taken off, and then the pieces
differed in no way, in appearance, from those in general use among the
peasantry.

The pistols were chosen with equal care. The swords were of finely
tempered steel, the blades being removed from their jewelled handles,
for which were substituted rough handles of ordinary metal.

Ten gold pieces were sewn up underneath the iron bands encircling the
leathern scabbard, as many under the bosses of their shields, and five
pieces in the soles of each of their shoes. In their waist sashes, the
ordinary receptacle of money, each carried a small bag with native
silver coins.

At last all was ready and, an hour before daybreak, Dick took a
cheerful farewell of his mother, and a hearty one of his uncle, and,
with Surajah, passed through the town and struck up into the hills.
Each carried a bag slung over his shoulder, well filled with
provisions, a small water bottle, and, hung upon his matchlock, a
change of clothing. In the folds of his turban, Dick had a packet of
the powder used for making dye, so that he could, at any time, renew
the brown shade, when it began to fade out.

For a time but few words were spoken. Dick knew that, although his
mother had borne up bravely till the last, she would break down as
soon as he left her; and the thought that he might never see her again
weighed heavily upon him. Surajah, on the contrary, was filled with
elation at the prospect of adventures and dangers, and he was silent
simply because he felt that, for the present, his young lord was in no
humour for speech.

As soon as the sun rose, Dick shook off his depression. They were now
a considerable distance up the hillside. There was no path, for the
people of Tripataly had no occasion to visit Mysore, and still less
desire for a visit from the Mysoreans. Periodically, raids were made
upon the villages and plains by marauders from the hills, but these
were mostly by the passes through the ghauts, thirty or forty miles
left or right from the little state which, nestling at the foot of the
hills, for the most part escaped these visitations--which, now that
the British had become possessed of the territories and the hills,
had, it was hoped, finally ceased. Nevertheless, the people were
always prepared for such visits. Every cultivator had a pit in which
he stored his harvest, except so much as was needed for his immediate
wants. The pit was lined with mats, others were laid over the grain.
Two feet of soil was then placed over the mats and, after the ground
had been ploughed, there was no indication of the existence of the
hiding place.

The town itself was surrounded by a wall, of sufficient strength to
withstand the attacks of any parties of marauders; and the custom of
keeping a man on a watch tower was still maintained. At the foot of
the tower stood a heavy gun, whose discharge would at once warn the
peasants for miles round of an enemy, calling those near to hasten to
the shelter of the town, while the men of the villages at a distance
could hurry, with their wives and families, to hiding places among the
hills.

Dick and Surajah had no need of a path, for they were well acquainted
with the ground, and had often wandered up, nearly to the crest of the
hills, in pursuit of game. An hour before noon, they took their seats
under a rock that shaded them from the sun's rays and, sitting down,
partook of a hearty meal. There was no occasion for haste, and they
prepared for rest until the heat of the day was passed.

"We are fairly off now, Surajah," Dick said, as he stretched himself
out comfortably. "I have been thinking of this almost as long as I can
remember, and can hardly believe that it has come to pass."

"I have thought of it but a short time, my lord."

"No, no, Surajah," Dick interrupted. "You know it was arranged that,
from the first, you were to call me Purseram, for unless you get
accustomed to it, you will be calling me 'my lord' in the hearing of
others."

"I had forgotten," Surajah replied with a smile, and then went on. "It
is but a short time since I was sure I was going with you, but I have
ever hoped that the time would come when, instead of the dull work of
drilling men and placing them on guard, I might have the opportunity
of taking part in war and adventure, and indeed had thought of asking
my lord, your uncle, to permit me to go away for a while in one of the
Company's regiments, and there to learn my business. Since the English
have become masters, and there is no longer war between rajah and
rajah, as there used to be in olden times, this is the only way that a
man of spirit can gain distinction. But this adventure is far better,
for there will be much danger, and need for caution as well as
courage."

Dick nodded.

"More for caution and coolness than for courage, I think, Surajah. It
will only be in case we find my father, or if any grave suspicion
falls on us, that there will be need for courage. Once well into
Mysore, I see but little chance of suspicion falling upon us. We have
agreed that we will first make for Seringapatam, avoiding as much as
possible all places on the way where inquiries whence we come may be
made of us. Once in the city, we shall be safe from such questions,
and can travel thence where we will; and it will be hard if we do not,
when there, manage to learn the places at which any prisoners there
may be are most likely to be kept.

"Besides, my father is as likely to be there as anywhere, for Tippoo
may, since our army marched away, have ordered all prisoners to be
brought down from the hill forts to Seringapatam."

When the sun had lost its power, they proceeded on their way again.
Their start had been timed so that, for the first week, they would
have moonlight; and would, therefore, be able to travel at night until
they arrived at Seringapatam. It was considered that it was only
necessary to do this for the first two or three nights as, after that,
the tale that they were coming from a village near the frontier, and
were on their way to join Tippoo's army, would seem natural enough to
any villagers who might question them.

They continued their course until nearly midnight, by which time they
were both completely fatigued, and, choosing a spot sheltered by
bushes, lay down to sleep. It took another two days before they were
clear of the broken country, and the greater portion of this part of
the journey they performed in daylight. Occasionally they saw, in the
distance, the small forts which guarded every road to the plateau. To
these they always gave a very wide berth, as although, according to
the terms of peace, they should all have been evacuated, they might
still be occupied by parties of Tippoo's troops.

Indeed, all the news that had arrived, since the army left,
represented Tippoo as making every effort to strengthen his army and
fortresses, and to prepare for a renewal of the war.

Several times they saw bears, which abounded among the ghauts, and
once beheld two tigers crossing a nullah. They had, however, other
matters to think of, and neither the flesh nor the skins of the bears
would have been of any use to them. The work was severe, and they were
glad when at last they reached the level country. In some of the upper
valleys, opening on to this, they had seen small villages. Near one of
these they had slept, and as in the morning they saw that the
inhabitants were Hindoos, they fearlessly went out and talked with
them, in order to gain some information as to the position of the
forts, and to learn whether any bodies of Tippoo's troops were likely
to be met with.

They found the people altogether ignorant on these matters. They were
simple peasants. Their whole thoughts were given to tilling their
land, and bringing in sufficient to live upon, and to satisfy the
demands of the tax gatherers when they visited them. They had little
communication with other villages, and knew nothing of what was
passing outside their own. They evinced no curiosity whatever
concerning their visitors, who bought from them some cakes of ground
ragee, which formed the chief article of their food.

The country through which they passed, on emerging from the hills, was
largely covered with bush and jungle, and was very thinly populated.
It was an almost unbroken flat, save that here and there isolated
masses of rock rose above it. These were extremely steep and
inaccessible, and on their summits were the hill forts that formed so
prominent a feature in the warfare of both Mysore and the Nizam's
dominions to the north. These forts were, for the most part,
considered absolutely impregnable, but the last war with the British
had proved that they were not so, as several of the strongest had been
captured, with comparatively slight loss.

Whenever they passed within a few miles of one of these hill
fortresses, Dick looked at it with anxious eyes; for there, for aught
he knew, his father might be languishing.

After two days' walking across the plain, they felt that there was no
longer any necessity for concealment, except that it would be as well
to avoid an encounter with any troops. Although, therefore, they
avoided the principal roads, they kept along beaten paths, and did not
hesitate to enter villages to buy food.

They no longer saw caste marks on the foreheads of the inhabitants.
The Hindoos had been compelled by force to abandon their religion, all
who refused to do so being put to death at once. Dick and Surajah
found that their dialect differed much more from that of the country
below the ghauts than they had expected and, although they had no
difficulty in conversing with the peasants, they found that their idea
that they would be able to pass as natives of one of these villages
was an altogether erroneous one.

"This will never do, Surajah," Dick said, as they left one of the
villages. "We shall have to alter our story somehow, for the first
person we meet, in Seringapatam, will see that we are not natives of
Mysore. We must give out that we come from some village far down on
the ghauts--one of those which have been handed over to the English by
the new treaty. You know the country well enough there to be able to
answer any questions that may be asked. We must say that, desiring to
be soldiers, and hating the English raj, we have crossed the hills to
take service of some sort in Mysore. This will be natural enough: and
of course there are many Mohammedans down in the plains, especially
among the villages on the ghauts."

"I think that would be best, Purseram."

"There is one comfort," Dick went on. "It is evident that Tippoo is
hated by all the Hindoos. He has forced them to change their religion,
and we need have no fear of being betrayed by any of them, except from
pressure, or from a desire to win Tippoo's goodwill."

"Yes, that might be the case with those who are fairly well off, but
would scarcely be so among the poorer classes. Besides, even they,
were we living among them, would have no reason for suspecting our
story. There seems no doubt, from what they say, that Tippoo is
preparing for war again, and I think that we shall do well, as soon as
we enter the city, to change our attire, or we might be forced into
joining the army, which would be the last thing we want. What I should
desire, above all things, is to get service of some kind in the
Palace."

After six days' travel, they saw the walls of Seringapatam. Dick had
made many inquiries, at the last halting place, as to the position of
the fords on that side of the town; and learned that only those
leading to the fort were guarded. The ford opposite the town was
freely open to traffic, and could be crossed without question by
country people, although a watch was kept to see that none of the very
numerous prisoners escaped by it.

It was here, therefore, that they crossed the river, the water being
little more than knee deep. No questions were asked by the guard as
they passed, their appearance differing in no way from that of the
peasants of the neighbourhood.

After a quarter of a mile's walk they entered the town. It was open,
and undefended by a wall. The streets were wide, and laid out at right
angles. The shops, however, were poor, for the slightest appearance of
wealth sufficed to excite the cupidity of Tippoo or his agents, and
the possessor would be exposed to exorbitant demands, which, if not
complied with, would have entailed first torture and then death.

The streets, however, presented a busy appearance. They were thronged
with soldiers. Battalions of recruits passed along, and it was evident
that Tippoo was doing all in his power to raise the strength of his
army to its former level. They wandered about for some time, and at
last, in a small street, Dick went up to an old man whose face pleased
him. He was standing at the door of his house.

"We desire to find a room where we can lodge for a time," he said.
"Can you direct us where we can obtain one?"

"You are not soldiers?" the old man asked.

"No. We desire to earn our living, but have not yet decided whether to
join the army."

"You are from the plains?" the native said sharply, in their own
dialect.

"That is so," Dick replied.

"And yet you are Mohammedans?"

"Every one is Mohammedan here."

"Ah! Because it is the choice of 'death or Mohammed.' How comes it
that two young men should voluntarily leave their homes to enter this
tiger's den? You look honest youths. How come you here?"

"I trust that we are honest," Dick said. "We have assuredly not
ventured here without a reason, and that reason is a good one; but
this is not a city where one talks of such matters to a stranger in
the street, even though his face tells one that he can be trusted with
a secret."

The old man was silent for a minute; then he said:

"Come in, my sons. You can, as you say, trust me. I have a room that
you can occupy."

They followed him into the house, and he led them into a small room at
the back. It was poorly furnished, but was scrupulously clean. A pan
of lighted charcoal stood in one corner, and over this a pot of rice
was boiling.

"I bid you welcome," he said gravely.

And as the salutation was not one in use by the Mohammedans, Dick saw
that his idea that the old man was a Hindoo, who had been forced to
abjure his religion, was a correct one. The old man motioned to them
to take their seats on the divan.

"I do not ask for your confidence," he said, "but if you choose to
give it to me, it will be sacred, and it may be that, poor as I am, I
am able to aid you. I will tell you at once that I am a native of
Conjeveram and, of course, a Hindoo. I was settled as a trader at
Mysore, the old capital. But when, four years ago, the tyrant
destroyed that town, I, with over a hundred thousand of our religion,
was forced to adopt Mohammedanism. I was of high caste and, like many
others, would have preferred death to yielding, had it not been that I
had a young daughter; and for her sake I lived, and moved here from
Mysore.

"I gained nothing by my sin. I was one of the wealthiest traders in
the whole city, and I had been here but a month when Tippoo's soldiers
burst in one day. My daughter was carried off to the Tiger's harem,
and I was threatened with torture, unless I divulged the hiding place
of my money.

"It was useless to resist. My wealth was now worthless to me, and
without hesitation I complied with their demands; and all I had was
seized, save one small hoard, which was enough to keep me thus to the
end of my days. My wants are few: a handful of rice or grain a day,
and I am satisfied. I should have put an end to my life, were it not
that, according to our religion, the suicide is accursed; and,
moreover, I would fain live to see the vengeance that must some day
fall upon the tyrant.

"After what I have said, it is for you to decide whether you think I
can be trusted with your secret, for I am sure it is for no slight
reason that you have come to this accursed city."

Dick felt that he could safely speak, and that he would find in this
native a very valuable ally. He therefore told his story without
concealment. Except that an exclamation of surprise broke from his
lips, when Dick said that he was English, the old man listened without
a remark until he had finished.

"Your tale is indeed a strange one," he said, when he had heard the
story. "I had looked for something out of the ordinary, but assuredly
for nothing so strange as this. Truly you English are a wonderful
people. It is marvellous that one should come, all the way from beyond
the black water, to seek for a father lost so many years ago. Methinks
that a blessing will surely alight upon such filial piety, and that
you will find your father yet alive.

"Were it not for that, I should deem your search a useless one.
Thousands of Englishmen have been massacred during the last ten years.
Hundreds have died of disease and suffering. Many have been poisoned.
Many officers have also been murdered, some of them here, but more in
the hill forts; for it was there they were generally sent, when their
deaths were determined upon.

"Still, he may live. There are men who have been here as many years,
and who yet survive."

"Then this is where the main body of the prisoners were kept?" Dick
asked.

"Yes. All were brought here, native and English. Tens of thousands of
boys and youths, swept up by Tippoo's armies from the Malabar coast
and the Carnatic, were brought up here and formed into battalions, and
these English prisoners were forced to drill them. It was but a poor
drill. I have seen them drilling their recruits at Conjeveram, and the
difference between the quick sharp order there, and the listless
command here, was great indeed. Consequently, the Englishmen were
punished by being heavily ironed, and kept at starvation point for the
slackness with which they obeyed the tyrant's orders. Sometimes they
were set to sweep the streets, sometimes they were beaten till they
well nigh expired under the lash. Often would they have died of
hunger, were it not that Tippoo's own troops took pity on them, and
supplied them from their store.

"Some of the boys, drummer boys, or ship's boys, or little ship's
officers, were kept in the Palace and trained as singers and dancers
for Tippoo's amusement. Very many of the white prisoners were handed
over to Tippoo by Admiral Sufferin. Though how a Christian could have
brought himself to hand over Christians to this tiger, I cannot
imagine.

"Others were captured in forays, and there were, till lately, many
survivors of the force that surrendered in Hyder's time. There are
certainly some in other towns, for it was the policy of Hyder, as it
is of Tippoo, always to break up parties of prisoners. Many were sent
to Bangalore, some to Burrampore, and very many to the fort of
Chillembroom; but I heard that nearly all these died of famine and
disease very quickly.

"While Tippoo at times considers himself strong enough to fight the
English, and is said to aim at the conquest of all southern India, he
has yet a fear of Englishmen, and he thus separates his captives,
lest, if they were together, they should plot against him and bring
about a rising. He knows that all the old Hindoo population are
against him, and that even among the Mohammedans he is very unpopular.
The Chelah battalions, who numbered twelve or fourteen thousand, made
up entirely of those he has dragged from their homes in districts
devastated by him, would assuredly have joined against him, were there
a prospect of success, just as they seized the opportunity to desert
six months ago, when the English attacked the camp across the river.

"Now, if you will tell me in what way I can best serve you, I will do
so. In the first place, sturdy young peasants are wanted for the army,
and assuredly you will not be here many days before you will find
yourselves in the ranks, whether you like it or not; for Tippoo is in
no way particular how he gets recruits."



Chapter 11: A Useful Friend.


"I agree with you that it would be a disadvantage to go as a soldier,"
Dick said, after a pause; "but what disguise would you recommend us to
choose?"

"That I must think over. You both look too straight and active to be
employed as the assistants of a trader, or I could have got some of my
friends to take you in that capacity. The best disguise will be a
gayer attire, such as would be worn by the retainers of some of the
chiefs; and were it not that, if questioned, you could not say who was
your employer, that is what I should recommend."

"I saw a number of men working at a battery they are erecting by the
river side. Could we not take service there until something better
presents itself?"

"I should not advise that," the native replied, "for the work is very
hard, and the pay poor. Indeed, most of those employed on it are men
driven in from the country round and forced to labour, getting only
enough pay to furnish them with the poorest food. There would also be
the disadvantage that, if you were so employed, you would have no
opportunity of seeing any English captives who may have been brought
here of late.

"All that I can at present do, myself, is to speak to some of my
friends who have been here for a long time, and ask them whether they
can remember an English captive being sent up here from Coorg, some
eight years ago, and whether they ever heard what was his fate. I
should say, of course, that I have received a message from friends at
Conjeveram; that some of the man's relations have sent out to make
inquiries concerning him, and asking me if I can find any news as to
his fate. My friends may not know themselves, but they may be able to
find out from others. Very many of our people were forced into the
ranks of the army, and there is not a regiment which has not some men
who, although regarded as Mohammedans, are still at heart, as we all
are, as true to our faith as ever.

"It is from these that we are more likely to obtain information than
in any other way. You will not be very long before you will be able to
satisfy yourself as to whether or not he whom you seek is in this
city; and if he should not be here, there remain but the two towns
that I have named, and the hill forts. As to these, it will be
well-nigh impossible to obtain an entrance, so jealously are they all
guarded. None save the garrisons are allowed to enter. The paths,
which are often so steep and difficult that men and provisions have to
be slung up in baskets, are guarded night and day, and none are
allowed to approach the foot of the rocks within musket shot--lest, I
suppose, they might find some spot where an ascent could be made. The
garrisons are seldom changed. The soldiers are allowed to take their
wives and families up with them, but once there, they are as much
prisoners as those in the dungeons. That is one reason why captives
once sent up there never come down again, for were they to do so they
might, if by chance they escaped, be able to give information as to
the approaches that would assist an assailing force.

"I do not say that all are killed, though undoubtedly most of them are
put to death soon after they arrive; but it may be that some are
retained in confinement, either from no orders being sent for their
execution, or from their very existence being, in time, forgotten by
the tyrant here. Some of these may languish in dungeons, others may
have gained the goodwill of the commanders of the fort--for even among
the Mohammedans there are doubtless many good and merciful men.

"Now for the present. This house has but one storey in front, but
there is a room over this, and that is at your service. Furniture it
has none, but I will, this evening, get a couple of trusses of straw.
It is but a loft, but you will not want to use it, save to sleep in.
You need not fear interruption in this house. There is scarce a man
here that is not, like myself, a Hindoo, for when we were brought here
from Mysore, the piece of ground on which the street stands was
assigned to us, and we were directed to build houses here. Few besides
ourselves ever enter it, for those who still carry on trade have
booths in the marketplace.

"There is one thing I will tell you at once. We, the persecuted, have
means of recognising each other. Outward signs there are none, neither
caste mark nor peculiarity of dress; but we know each other by signs.
When we salute, we turn in the thumbs as we raise our hands to our
turbans--so. If we have no occasion to salute, as we move our hands,
either to stroke our faces, or to touch the handles of our daggers, or
in other way, we keep the thumb turned in. If the man be one of
ourselves, he replies in the same way. Then, to prevent the
possibility of error, the one asks the other a question--on what
subject it matters not, providing that before he speaks, he coughs
slightly.

"You must remember that such communication is not made lightly. Were
it to be so, it would soon attract notice. It is used when you want to
know whether you can trust a man. It is as much as to say, 'Are you a
friend? Can I have confidence in you? Will you help me?'--and you can
see that there are many occasions on which such knowledge may be most
useful, even to the saving of life."

"I do indeed see it," Dick said, "and greatly are we indebted to you
for telling us of it."

They remained talking with their host, whose name was, he told them,
Pertaub, until darkness came on. They had shared his rice with him,
and had requested him to lay in such provision as was necessary for
them; and as soon as it became dark they went out, leaving their guns
behind them.

Busy as the main streets were when they had before passed through
them, they were very much more so now. The shops were all lighted up
by lanterns or small lamps, and the streets were filled with troops,
now dismissed from duty, and bent, some on amusement, some in
purchasing small additions to their rations with the scanty pay
allowed to them. In the open spaces, the soldiers were crowded round
performers of various kinds. Here was a juggler throwing balls and
knives into the air. There was a snake charmer--a Hindoo, doubtless,
but too old and too poor to be worth persecuting. A short distance off
was an acrobat turning and twisting himself into strange postures.

Two sword players, with bucklers and blunted tulwars, played
occasionally against each other, and offered to engage any of the
bystanders. Occasionally the invitation would be accepted, but the
sword players always proved too skilful for the rough soldiers, who
retired discomfited, amid the jeers of their comrades.

More than one party of musicians played what seemed to Dick most
discordant music, but which was appreciated by the soldiers, as was
evident from the plaudits and the number of small coins thrown to the
players. In the great open space, by the side of the market, the crowd
was thickest. Here were large numbers of booths, gay with lamps. In
one were arranged, on tables, trays of cheap trinkets, calicoes,
cloths, blankets, shoes, and other articles of dress. In another were
arms, matchlocks, pistols, tulwars, and daggers. On the ground were
lines of baskets, filled with grain of many kinds, the vendors
squatting patiently behind them. Some of the traders volubly accosted
passers by. Others maintained a dignified silence, as if they
considered the excellence of their wares needed no advertisement.

It was not new, but it was very amusing to Dick, and it was late
before they returned to their lodging.

"I wish," he said, as they strolled back, "that I were a good juggler
or musician. It seems to me that it would be an excellent disguise,
and we could go everywhere without question, and get admittance into
all sorts of places we could not get a chance of entering into in any
other way."

"Yes, that would be a good thing," Surajah agreed; "but I am sure that
I could not do anything, even if you could."

"No, I quite see that, and I am not thinking of trying; but it would
have been a first-rate plan."

"You are very good at sword play," Surajah suggested, although
somewhat doubtfully.

Dick laughed.

"The first really good swordsman that came along would make an
exhibition of me. No; one would have to do something really well."

The subject was renewed, after they had seated themselves with
Pertaub.

"It would be an excellent disguise," he agreed. "A good juggler could
gain admission to the Palace, and might even enter forts where no
others could set foot; for life there is dull, indeed, and anyone who
could amuse the soldiers would be certain of a welcome, and even a
governor might be willing to see his feats."

"Could one bribe a conjurer to let one pass as his assistant?"

"That would be impossible," the Hindoo said, "for an assistant would
have opportunities for learning the tricks, and no money would induce
a really good juggler to divulge his secrets, which have been passed
down from father to son for centuries."

"If one had thought of it," Dick said, "one could have bought, in
London, very many things which would have seemed almost magical to the
people here. I am afraid that we must go on, on our old line. It is a
pity, for the other would have been first rate."

"I have obtained for you, this evening, two suits of clothes such as
we spoke of. In them you can pass as followers of some petty rajah,
and are not likely to attract attention. I have inquired among some of
my friends, and hear that the Rajah of Bohr left here today with his
following. He is but a petty chief, and Bohr lies up north, close to
the Nizam's frontier. Thus, if you should be asked in whose service
you are, you will have a name to give, and there will be no fear of
your being contradicted.

"If you are still further questioned by anyone with a right to ask,
you can say that you were told to remain here, in order to see how
fast the drilling of the troops went on, and to send the Rajah a
report when it is time for him to return here to accompany Tippoo on
his march. You will, of course, account for your dialect by keeping to
your present story, that you came from a village on the ghauts, in
order to enter the service of one of our rajahs; and that your father
having, years ago, been a soldier in the pay of the Rajah of Bohr, you
made your way there direct, instead of coming to the capital."

"That will do excellently, Pertaub. It was a fortunate moment, indeed,
that brought us to your door."

"I have done nothing as yet, Sahib; but I hope that, in time, I may be
able to be of use to you. It was fortunate for me as well as for you,
perhaps, that you stopped at my door. Of late I have had nothing to
think of, save my own grief and troubles, but now I have something to
give an interest to my life, and already I feel that I need not merely
drag it on, until I am relieved of its burden.

"And now, Sahibs, I am sure that rest must be needful for you, and
would recommend that you seek your beds at once."

On the following morning, Pertaub brought up the garments that he had
bought for them. Nothing could be more irregular than the dress of the
armed retainers of an Indian rajah. All attire themselves according to
their fancy. Some carry spears and shields, others matchlocks. Some
wear turbans, others iron caps. The cut and colour of their garments
are also varied in the extreme.

Dick's dress consisted of a steel cap, with a drooping plume of red
horsehair, and a red tunic with a blue sash. Over it was worn a skirt
of linked mail which, with leggings fitting tightly, completed the
costume. Surajah had a red turban, a jerkin of quilted leather, with
iron scales fastened on to protect the shoulders and chest. A scarlet
kilt hung to his knees, and his legs were enclosed in putties, or
swathes, of coarse cloth, wound round and round them. He wore a blue
and gold girdle.

Dick laughed as he surveyed the appearance of himself and Surajah.

"We are a rum-looking couple," he said, "but I have seen plenty of
men, just as gaudy, in the train of some of the rajahs who visited the
camp when we were up here. I think that it is a much better disguise
than the one we wore yesterday. I sha'n't be afraid that the first
officer we meet will ask us to what regiment we belong. There were
scores of fellows lounging about in the streets last night, dressed as
we are."

Sticking their swords and pistols into their girdles, they sallied
out, and were pleased to find that no one paid the slightest attention
to them. They remained in the town until some battalions of recruits
poured out from the fort, to drill on the grounds between it and the
town. The first four that passed were, as Dick learnt from the remarks
of some of the bystanders, composed entirely of boys--some of them
Christians, thirty thousand of whom had been carried off by Tippoo, in
his raid on Travancore; and the young men were compelled to serve,
after being obliged to become, nominally, Mohammedans. After the
Chelah battalions came those of Tippoo's army.

"These fellows look as if they could fight," Dick said. "They are an
irregular lot, and don't seem to have an idea of keeping line, or
marching in step, but they are an active-looking set of fellows, and
carry themselves well. As to the Chelahs, I should say they would be
no good whatever, even if they could be relied on, which we know they
cannot be. They look dejected and miserable, and I suppose hate it all
as much as their officers do. I should back half a regiment of English
to lick the twelve battalions. I wonder Tippoo, himself, does not see
that troops like these must be utterly useless."

"I don't expect he thinks they would be of much use," Surajah agreed.
"He only turned them into soldiers to gratify his hatred of them."

Leaving the troops, they walked on and entered the great fort, which
enclosed an area of nearly two square miles. In this were Tippoo's
palace, his storehouses--containing grain sufficient for the garrison,
for a siege of many months--mosques, the residences of Tippoo's
officials and officers, the arsenals, and the huts for the troops.
There was also a street of shops, similar to those in the town.

Wandering about, unquestioned, they came presently upon a scene that
filled Dick with indignation and fury. Two white officers, heavily
ironed, were seated on the ground. Another, similarly ironed, lay
stretched beside them. He was naked from the waist up. His back was
covered with blood, and he had evidently been recently flogged, until
he fell insensible. Half a dozen savage-looking men, evidently
executioners of Tippoo's orders, were standing round, jeering at the
prisoners and refusing their entreaties to bring some water for their
comrade.

"You brutes!" one of the captives exclaimed, in English. "I would give
all my hopes of liberty, for ten minutes face to face with you, with
swords in our hands."

"They would not be of much use to us," the other said quietly. "It is
four days since we had a mouthful of food, and they would make very
short work of us."

"All the better," the other exclaimed. "Death would be a thousand-fold
preferable to this misery."

Dick felt that, if he remained longer, he would be unable to contain
himself; and turning hastily away, walked off, accompanied by Surajah.

"It is awful!" he exclaimed, with tears running down his cheeks; "and
to be able to do nothing! What must Father have gone through! I think,
Surajah, that if we were to come upon Tippoo I should go for him, even
if he were surrounded by guards. Of course it would cost me my life.
If I could kill him, I think I should not mind it. Such a villain is
not fit to live; and at any rate, whoever came after him, the
prisoners could not be worse off than they are now.

"Let us go back. I have had enough for this morning."

When they returned, Dick told Pertaub of the scene that he had
witnessed.

"Many of them have been starved to death," the old man said. "Possibly
one of their companions may have tried to escape. It is to prevent
this that Tippoo's greatest cruelties are perpetrated. It is not so
very difficult to get away, and take to the jungle. Some have
succeeded, but most of them are retaken, for a watch is vigilantly
kept up, at every village and every road leading on to the frontier;
and if caught, they are hung or forced to take poison. But whether
they are caught or not, Tippoo's vengeance falls upon their
companions. These are flogged, ironed, and kept without rations for
weeks--living, if they do live, upon the charity of their guards.

"This is why there are so few attempts at escape. A man knows that,
whether he himself gets off or not, he dooms his companions to
torture, perhaps death. One case I remember, in which an English
sailor, one out of nine, attempted to get away. He was captured and
killed at once, and his eight companions were all hung. So you see,
even if one of the captives sees a chance of escape, he does not take
it, because of the consequences that would fall upon his companions."

"It is horrible," Dick said, "and I can quite understand why so few
escape. The question for me, now, is whether there are any prisoners
kept in dungeons here."

"Not here, I think. Tippoo's policy is to make all his captives
useful, and though one might be ironed and confined for a time, I do
not think that any are so kept, permanently, here. There were, of
course, some confined to the fort by illness, and some in irons. It
may need some little search, before you are quite sure that you have
seen every one. However, I will try to find out how many there are
there, and to get as many of the names as possible. Some of my
friends, who keep shops in the fort, may be able to do this for me.
This would shorten your task.

"But I cannot hold out any hopes that you will find him whom you seek
in the city. It is among the hill forts you will find him, if he be
alive. I have been turning the matter over, since you spoke to me last
night, and the best plan I can think of is, that you should go as a
travelling merchant, with Surajah as your assistant. You would want a
good assortment of goods; fine muslins and silks, and a good selection
of silver jewellery, from different parts of India. All these I could
purchase for you here. If, by good luck, you could obtain a sight of
the commander of one of these forts, you might possibly obtain
permission from him to go up, and show your wares to the ladies of his
establishment, and to those of other officers. The present of a
handsome waist sash, or a silver-mounted dagger, might incline him
favourably to your petition."

"I think that the idea is an excellent one," Dick said warmly. "If we
cannot get in in that way, there seems to me to be no chance, save by
taking a careful survey of the fortress, to discover where the rocks
can be most easily climbed. There must surely be some spots, even
among the steepest crags, where active fellows like Surajah and myself
would be able to scale them. Of course, we should have to do it after
dark; but once up there, one ought to be able to move about in the
fort without difficulty, as we should, of course, be dressed as
soldiers, and could take dark blankets to wrap round us. We ought then
to be able to find where any prisoners who may be there are confined.
There might be a sentry at the door, or, if there were no other way,
one might pounce upon someone, force him by threats to tell us what
prisoners there are, and where they are confined; and then bind and
gag him, and stow him away where there would be no chance of his being
discovered before daylight."

"There would be a terrible risk in such a matter," Pertaub said,
shaking his head gravely.

"No doubt there would be risk, but we came here prepared to encounter
danger, and if it were well managed, I don't see why we should be
found out. Even if we were, we ought to be able to slip away, in the
darkness, and make our way to the point where we went up. Once down on
the plain, we could renew our disguise as traders, and, however hotly
they scoured the country, pass without suspicion through them.

"I think that there will be more chance, in that way, than in going in
as traders; for we should, in that case, have little chance of walking
about, still less of questioning anyone. However, it is worth trying
that first. We can always fall back upon the other, if it fails. We
might, on our first visit, obtain indications that would be very
useful to us on our second."



Chapter 12: A Tiger In A Zenana.


Another week passed, and by the end of that time, Dick was perfectly
assured that his father was not at Seringapatam. It was then a
question which of the hill forts to try first. Pertaub had already
procured for them an assortment of goods and dresses, suitable for
travelling merchants, and the purchase of these things had drawn
heavily on their stock of money; although several of the traders, on
receiving a hint from Pertaub of the purpose for which the goods were
required, had given many articles without charge; while for the
majority of the goods Dick gave an order on his mother, who had told
him that he could draw up to five hundred pounds.

On the day before they were about to start, their plans were
interrupted by the issue of a proclamation, saying that sports with
wild beasts would take place on the following day; and they agreed
that, as one day would make no difference, they would stop to see
them, especially as Tippoo himself would be present. Hitherto,
although they had several times seen him being carried in his
palanquin, they had had no opportunity of observing him closely, as he
was always surrounded by his guards.

The sports were held in a great square in the fort. A strong network
was erected in a semicircle, of which the Palace formed the base.
Behind the network, the spectators ranged themselves. Tippoo occupied
a window in the Palace, looking down into the square. There were
always a number of wild beasts in Seringapatam, available for these
purposes, as a regular supply of tigers, leopards, and wild elephants
was caught and sent in every month. Six of the largest tigers were
always kept, in cages, in the courtyard in front of the Palace; and to
these were thrown state criminals, or officials who had offended the
tyrant, and were devoured by them.

In his younger days, Tippoo had been very fond of the chase, but he
was now too fat and heavy, and seldom ventured on horseback.

Dick and Surajah, who had arrived early, had placed themselves at the
corner, where the network touched the Palace. Some thirty yards in
front of them, a balcony projected. It was enclosed by a thick lattice
work. From behind this, the ladies of Tippoo's harem viewed the
sports.

These began with a contest of fighting rams. The animals were placed
some fifty yards apart. As soon as they saw each other, both showed
extreme anger, uttering notes of defiance. Then they began to move
towards each other, at first slowly, but increasing in speed until,
when within a few yards of one another, each took a spring, meeting in
mid air, forehead to forehead, with a crash that could be heard far
away. Both fell back, and stood for a moment shaking their heads, as
if half stupefied with the blow. Then they backed two steps, and
hurled themselves at each other again. After this had been repeated
once or twice, they locked forehead to forehead, and each strove to
push the other back.

For some time the struggle continued on equal terms. Then the weaker
began to give way, and was pushed back, step by step, until its
strength failed altogether, and it was pushed over on to the ground,
when the attendants at once interfered and separated them.

Some thirty pairs of rams fought, the affair being, to Dick, extremely
monotonous. The natives, however, took great interest in the contests,
wagering freely on the issues, shouting loudly to the combatants, and
raising triumphant cries when one was adjudged victor.

Then elephants were brought in; but the struggle between these was
even tamer than between the rams. They pushed each other with their
foreheads until one gave way, when the other would follow it, beating
it with its trunk, and occasionally shoving it.

When this sport was over, two parties of men entered the arena, amid a
shout of satisfaction from the crowd. After prostrating themselves
before Tippoo, they took up their ground facing each other. Each man
had, on his right hand, four steel claws fixed to the knuckles.
Approaching each other cautiously they threw, with their left hands,
the garlands of flowers they wore round their necks, into the faces of
their opponents, trying to take advantage of the moment to strike a
blow, or to obtain a grip. Each blow laid open the flesh as by a
tiger's claws. The great object was to gain a grip, no matter where,
which would completely disable the opponent, and render him incapable
of defending himself. When this was done, the combat between that pair
came to an end.

After the ghetties, as these men were named, had retired, a buffalo
was matched against a tiger. The latter was averse to the contest, but
upon some firecrackers being thrown close behind him, he sprang at the
buffalo, who had been watching him warily. As the tiger launched
itself into the air, the buffalo lowered its head, received it on its
sharp horns, and threw it a distance of ten yards away. No efforts
could goad the wounded tiger to continue the fray, so it and the
buffalo were taken out, and two others brought in.

The second tiger was a much more powerful beast than its predecessor,
and was, indeed, larger than any of those in the cages of the Palace.
It had been captured four days before, and was full of fight. It
walked round the buffalo three or four times, and then, with the speed
of lightning, sprang upon it, breaking its neck with a single blow
from its powerful forepaw. Six buffaloes in succession were brought
in, and were killed, one after the other, by the tiger.

Satisfied with what it had done, the tiger paid no attention to the
seventh animal, but walked round and round the arena, looking for a
means of escape. Then, drawing back, it made a short rush and sprang
at the net, which was fourteen feet high. Strong as were the poles
that supported the net, it nearly gave way under the impact. The tiger
hung, ten feet above the ground, until some of the guards outside ran
up, discharging their muskets into the air, when it recommenced its
promenade round the foot of the net, roaring and snarling with anger.

As it neared the Palace, it stopped and uttered a roar of defiance at
those at the windows. Then, apparently, something moving behind the
lattice work caught its eye. It moved towards it, crouching, and then,
with a tremendous spring, launched itself against it.

The balcony was ten feet from the ground, but the tiger's spring took
it clear of this. The woodwork gave way like paper, and the tiger
burst through. A shout of dismay arose from the multitude, but high
above this sounded the screams of the women.

"Quick, Surajah!" Dick cried, and, drawing his keen dagger, he cut
through the network and dashed through, followed by his companion.
"Stand here," he cried, as they arrived below the balcony. "Steady!
Put your hands against the wall."

Then he sprang on to Surajah's back, and thence to his shoulder.
Drawing his pistols, he put one between his teeth, grasping the other
in his right hand.

"Steady, Surajah," he said. "I am going to stand on your head."

He stepped on to his companion's turban, put his left arm on the
balcony, and raised himself by it, until his arms were above its
level. The tiger was standing with its paw upon a prostrate figure,
growling savagely, but evidently confused and somewhat dismayed at the
piercing screams from the women, most of whom had thrown themselves
down on the cushions of the divan.

Dick stretched his right hand forward, took a steady aim, and fired. A
sharp snarl showed that the shot had taken effect. He dropped the
pistol, snatched the other from his mouth, waited for a moment until
he could make out the tiger, fired again, and at once dropped to the
ground, just as a great body flashed from the window above him.

He and Surajah had both had their matchlocks slung over their
shoulders, and before the tiger could recover from its spring, they
levelled and fired. The tiger rolled over, but regained its feet and
made towards them. One of the bullets had, however, struck it on the
shoulder and disabled the leg. Its movements were therefore
comparatively slow, and they had time to leap aside. Surajah
discharged his pistol into its ear, while Dick brought down his keen
sword, with all his strength, upon its neck; and the tiger rolled
over, dead.

A mighty shout rose from the crowd.

"We had better be off," Dick said, "or we shall have all sorts of
questions to answer."

They slipped through the hole in the net again, but were so surrounded
by people, cheering and applauding them, that they could not extricate
themselves; and a minute later some soldiers ran up, pushed through
the crowd to them, and surrounded them.

"The sultan requires your presence," they said; and as resistance was
out of the question, Dick and Surajah at once accompanied them to the
entrance of the Palace.

They were led through several large halls, until they entered the room
where Tippoo was standing. He had just left the women's apartment,
where he had hurried to ascertain what damage had been done by the
tiger. Dick and his companion salaamed to the ground, in accordance
with the custom of the country.

"You are brave fellows," the sultan said graciously, "and all the
braver that you risked death, not only from the tiger, but for daring
to look upon my women, unveiled."

"I saw nothing, your Highness," Dick said humbly, "save the tiger.
That he was standing over a fallen figure I noticed. As soon as my eye
fell on him I fired at once, and the second time as soon as the smoke
cleared so that I could catch a glimpse of him."

"I pardon you that," Tippoo said; "and in faith you have rendered me
good service, for had it not been for your interference, he might have
worked havoc in my harem, and that before a single one of my officers
or men had recovered his senses;" and he looked angrily round at the
officers standing near him.

"How comes it that you were so quick in thought and execution?" he
asked Surajah, as the elder of the two.

"My brother and myself have done much hunting among the hills, your
Highness, and have learned that, in fighting a tiger, one needs to be
quick as well as fearless."

"Whence come you?" Tippoo asked. "By your tongue, you are strangers."

Surajah gave the account that they had agreed upon, as to their
birthplace, but he was quick-witted enough to see that it would not be
safe to say they were in the service of the Rajah of Bhor, as
inquiries might be made; and he therefore said:

"We came hither to take service either with your Royal Highness, or
with one of your rajahs, but have as yet found no opportunity of doing
so."

"It is well," Tippoo said. "Henceforth you are officers in my service.
Apartments shall be assigned to you, in the Palace.

"Here is the first token of my satisfaction;" and he took out a heavy
purse from his girdle, and handed it to Surajah. "You are free to go
now. I will, later on, consider what duties shall be assigned to you.
When you return, report yourselves to Fazli Ali, my chamberlain;" and
he indicated a white-bearded official, among the group standing beside
him.

Salaaming deeply again, they left the apartments. Not a word was
spoken, until they were outside the precincts of the Palace.

"This makes a sudden change in our plans," Dick said. "Whether for
better or worse, I cannot say yet."

"I was right in not saying we were in the service of the Rajah of
Bhor, was I not? I thought that Tippoo would offer to take us into his
service, and he might have caused a letter to be sent to the Rajah,
saying that he had done so."

"Yes, you were quite right, Surajah. I had thought of that myself, and
was on thorns when you were telling your story, and felt not a little
relieved when you changed the tale. I think that it has turned out for
the best. As officers of the Palace, we may be able to obtain some
information as to what Christian captives there are, and the prisons
where they are confined."

"Still more," Surajah said; "when we get to be known as being his
officers, we might present ourselves boldly at any of the hill
fortresses, as sent there with some orders."

"You are right," Dick said. "I had not thought of that. Indeed, we
might even produce orders to inspect the prisoners, in order to render
an account to Tippoo of their state and fitness for service; and might
even show an order for my father to be handed over to us, if we should
find him. This is splendid, and I am sure I cannot be too grateful to
that tiger, for popping into the harem. He has done more for us, in a
few minutes, than we could have achieved in a year.

"Well, Surajah, if my father is alive, I think now that we have every
chance of rescuing him."

As they walked through the streets, many of those who had been present
at the sports recognised them as the heroes in the stirring episode
there, and, judging they would gain a high place in Tippoo's favour,
came up to them and congratulated them on their bravery, and made
offers of service. They replied civilly to all who accosted them, but
were glad when they turned off to the quiet quarter where Pertaub
lived. The Hindoo was surprised, indeed, when they told him what had
happened, and that they were already officers in the Palace, and might
consider themselves as standing high in Tippoo's favour.

"It is wonderful," he said, when they brought their story to a
conclusion. "Surely Providence must have favoured your pious object.
Such good fortune would never have occurred to you, had it not been
that it was destined you should find your father still alive. But if
good fortune befalls you, it is because you deserve it. That you
should face a great tiger without hesitation, and slay him, shows how
firm your courage is; and the quickness was still more to be admired.
No doubt there are many others there who, to gain the favour of the
sultan, would have risked their lives; but you alone of them were
quick enough to carry it out."

"We were nearest to the spot, Pertaub. Had we been among the crowd
farther back, we could have done nothing."

"Let praise be given where it is due," Surajah said. "I had nothing to
do with the affair. I saw the tiger bound through the window, and
heard screams, and stood frozen with horror. I did not even see my
lord cut through the net. I knew nothing, until he seized me by the
arm and pulled me after him; and it was not until he sprang upon my
back, and then upon my shoulders, that I knew what he was going to do.
I simply aided in despatching the tiger when he sprang, wounded, down
into the courtyard."

"And yet you are a hunter and a soldier," Pertaub said. "This is how
it is that the English have become lords of so wide a territory. They
are quick. While we hesitate, and spend great time in making up our
minds to do anything, they decide and act in a moment. They are always
ready, we are always slow. They see the point where a blow has to be
struck, they make straight to it and strike.

"The English sahib is very young, and yet to him comes, in a moment,
what is the best thing to be done. He does not stop to think of the
danger. While all others stand in consternation, he acts, and slays
the tiger before one of them has so much as moved from his place.

"But indeed, as you say Tippoo himself told you, your danger was not
only from the tiger. The tyrant must, indeed, have been alarmed for
the safety of his harem, when he forgave you what, in the eyes of a
Mohammedan, is the greatest offence you can commit.

"This will, of course, change all of your plans."

"For the present, at any rate. It may be that, later on, we shall
still find occasion for our disguises, as possibly we may fall into
disfavour, and have to assume them to make our escape. We may, as
Tippoo's officers, manage to obtain entrance into one or two of the
hill fortresses, but unless absolutely sent by him, that is the utmost
we could hope for; for were we missing, messengers would be sent all
over the country to order our arrest, and in that case we should have
to take to some disguise.

"The first thing, now, is to procure our dresses. How much is there in
that purse, Surajah? It seems pretty heavy."

Surajah poured the gold out on the table.

"There are fifty tomauns. That will be more than enough to clothe you
handsomely," the Hindoo said.

"Much more than enough, I should think, Pertaub."

"Tippoo likes those round him to be well dressed. It is not only a
proof of his generosity, but he likes to make a brave show on great
occasions, and nothing pleases him more than to be told that neither
the Nizam, nor any other Indian prince, can surpass him in the
magnificence of his Court. Therefore, the better dressed you are, the
more he will be satisfied, for it will seem to him that you appreciate
the honour of being officers of the Palace, and that you have laid out
his present to the best advantage, and have not a mind to hoard any of
it.

"I will take the matter in hand for you. You will need two suits; one
for Court ceremonies, and the other for ordinary wear in the Palace."

"I shall be very much obliged to you, Pertaub, for indeed I have no
idea what ought to be got. Had we better present ourselves at the
Palace this evening, or tomorrow morning?"

"This evening, certainly. Did he take it into his head to inquire
whether you were in the Palace, and found that you were not, it might
alter his humour towards you altogether. He is changeable in his
moods. The favourite of one day may be in disgrace, and ordered to
execution, the next. You will soon feel that it is as if you were in a
real tiger's den, and that the animal may at any moment spring upon
you.

"Take with you the clothes you now wear, and those in which you came,
so that at any moment, if you see a storm gathering, you can slip on a
disguise, and leave the Palace unobserved. In that case hasten here,
and you can then dress yourselves as merchants."

"The worst of it is, Pertaub, that our faces will soon become known to
so many in the Palace that they would be recognised, whatever our
dress."

"A little paint, and some false hair, and a somewhat darker stain to
your skin, would alter you so that those who know you best would pass
you without suspicion. I trust that no such misfortune will befall,
but I will keep everything in readiness to effect a transformation,
should it be required.

"Now I will go out at once, to get the clothes."

In two hours he returned, followed by a boy carrying the goods he had
purchased; and in a few minutes, Dick and his companion were arrayed
in Court dresses. The turbans were pure white, and the tunic was of
dark, rich stuff, thickly woven with gold thread. A short cloak or
mantle, secured at the neck by a gold chain, three or four inches in
length, hung from the back; but could, if necessary, be drawn round
the shoulders. A baldric, embroidered with gold, crossed the chest,
and from this hung a sword with an ivory handle.

The waist sash was of blue and gold in Dick's case, purple and gold in
that of Surajah. Silver-mounted pistols and daggers were stuck into
the sashes. The dresses were precisely alike, except that they
differed in colour. The trousers were white.

Surajah was greatly delighted with his dress. Dick laughed.

"Of course, it comes naturally to you," he said, "but I feel as if I
were dressed up for a masquerade."

The other suits were similar in style, but the tunics were of
richly-figured damask, instead of cloth of gold.

Half an hour later they started for the Palace, a coolie carrying a
box containing their second suits, and the simple dresses they had
worn on their arrival. Dick could not help smiling, at the manner in
which the people in the streets obsequiously made way for them.

"I shall be very glad," he said, as they traversed the space that
divided the town from the fort, "when we have got over the next day or
two, and have settled down a bit. It all seems so uncertain, and I
have not the most remote idea of what our duties are likely to be.
Hitherto, we have always had some definite plan of action, and had
only ourselves to depend upon. Now, everything seems doubtful and
uncertain. However, I suppose we shall soon settle down; and we have
the satisfaction of knowing that, if things do not turn out well, we
can go off to our good friend Pertaub, and get out of the place
altogether."

On arriving at the Palace, they inquired for the chamberlain.

"He is expecting you, my lord," one of the attendants said, coming
forward. "I will lead you first to the room that is prepared for you,
and then take you to Fazli Ali."

The room was a commodious one, and the richness of the covering of the
divan, and the handsome rugs spread on the floor, were satisfactory
signs that the chamberlain considered them prime favourites of the
sultan. Having seen the box placed in a corner, and paid the coolie,
they followed the attendant along some spacious corridors and
passages, until they entered a room where Fazli Ali was seated on a
divan. The attendant let the curtains that covered the door drop
behind them, as they entered.

They salaamed to the chamberlain, who looked at them approvingly, and
motioned to them to take their seats on the divan beside him.

"I see," he said kindly, "that you possess good judgment, as well as
courage and quickness. The former qualities have won you a place here,
but judgment will be needed to keep it. You have laid out your money
well, as the sultan loves to see all in the Palace well attired; and
quiet also, and discreet in behaviour."

"Can you give us any idea what our duties will be?" Surajah asked, as
Dick had requested him always to be the spokesman, if possible.

The chamberlain shook his head.

"That will be for the sultan himself to decide. For a time, probably,
you will have little to do but to attend at the hours when he gives
public audiences. You will, doubtless, occasionally carry his orders
to officers in command of troops, at distant places, and will form
part of his retinue when he goes beyond the Palace. When he sees that
you are worthy of his favour, prompt in carrying out his orders, and
in all respects trustworthy, he will in time assign special duties to
you; but this will depend upon yourselves.

"As one who admires the courage and promptness that you showed today,
and who wishes you well, I would warn you that it is best, when the
sultan has had matters to trouble him, and may blame somewhat
unjustly, not to seek to excuse yourselves. It is bad to thwart him,
when he is roused. You can rely upon me to stand your friend and, when
the storm has blown over, to represent the matter to him in a
favourable light. The sultan desires to be just, and in his calm
moments assuredly is so; but when there is a cloud before his eyes,
there is no saying upon whom his displeasure may fall.

"At present, however, there is little chance of your falling into
disgrace, for he is greatly impressed with the service you have
rendered him, and especially by the promptness with which you carried
it out. After you had gone he spoke very strongly about it, and said
that he would he were possessed of a hundred officers, capable of such
a deed. He would, in that case, have little fear of any of the foes of
his kingdom.

"It is fortunate that you came here this afternoon. It is well-nigh
certain that he will ask for you presently, and though he could hardly
blame you, had you required until tomorrow to complete your
preparations, your promptitude will gratify him; and he will, I am
sure, be still more pleased at seeing that you have so well laid out
his gift. He gave you no orders on the subject, and had you appeared
in the dresses you wore this morning, he would, doubtless, have
instructed me to provide you with more suitable attire. The fact that
you have so laid out the money will show that you have an
understanding of the honour of being appointed to the Palace, and a
proper sense of fitness. The sultan himself dresses plainly and, save
for a priceless gem in his turban, and another in his sword hilt,
there is nothing in his attire to lead a stranger to guess at his
rank. But while he does this himself, he expects that all others in
the Palace should do justice to his generosity.

"And now, you had best return to your room, and remain there until
sent for. If he does not think of it himself, I shall, if opportunity
occurs, inform him that you have already arrived."

They had some difficulty in finding their way back to their room, and
had, indeed, to ask directions of attendants they met before they
discovered it. A native was squatting at the door. He rose and
salaamed deeply, as they came up.

"Your slave is appointed to be your attendant, my lords," he said.
"Your servant's name is Ibrahim."

"Good," Surajah said, as he passed him and entered the room. "Now,
Ibrahim, tell us about the ways of the Palace, for of these we are
altogether ignorant. In the first place, about food. Do we provide
ourselves, or how is it?"

"All in the Palace are fed from the sultan's kitchen. At each meal,
every officer has so many dishes, according to his rank. These vary
from three to twelve. In the early morning, I shall bring you bread
and fruit and sherbet; at ten o'clock is the first meal; and at seven
there is supper. At one o'clock the kitchens are open, and I can fetch
you a dish of pillau, kabobs, a chicken, or any other refreshment that
you may desire. At present, I have no orders as to how many dishes
your Excellencies will receive, at the two meals."

"We shall not be particular about that," Surajah said. "It is evident
we shall fare well, at any rate."

"I am told to inform you, my lords, that the sultan has ordered two
horses to be placed at your service. A ghorrawalla has been appointed
to take charge of them. His name is Serfojee. If you ask for him at
the stable, you will be directed to him, and he will show you the
horses.

"In an hour supper will be served, but this evening I shall only be
able to bring you three dishes each. Such is always the rule, until
the sultan's pleasure has been declared."

Ibrahim then proceeded to light two lamps, hanging from the ceiling,
for it was now getting dusk; and then, finding that his masters had no
further need of his services, he retired.

"So far, so good, Surajah. We are certainly in clover, as far as
comfort is concerned, and the only drawback to the situation is
Tippoo's uncertain temper. However, we must try our best to satisfy
him. We have every reason to stand well with him, and if he sees that
we are really anxious to please him, we ought to be able to avoid
falling into disgrace, even when he is in his worst moods."

Their attendant presently brought up the six portions of food, and
they enjoyed their meal heartily. Each had an ample portion of a
pillau of rice and chicken, a plate of stew, which Dick thought was
composed of game of some kind, and a confection in which honey was the
predominating flavour. With this they drank water, deliciously cooled
by being hung up in porous jars.

Surajah ate his food with the dexterity of long habit, but Dick had
not yet learned to make his bread fulfil the functions of spoon and
fork, for at his uncle's table European methods of eating were
adopted.

Half an hour after they had finished, an officer presented himself at
the door, and said that he was ordered to conduct them to the sultan.
Tippoo had supped in the harem, and was now seated on a divan, in a
room of no great size, but richly hung with heavy silken curtains, and
carpeted with the richest rugs. Two or three of his chief officers
were seated beside him. Seven or eight others were standing on either
side of the room. A heavy glass chandelier, of European manufacture,
hung from the richly carved ceiling, and the fifty candles in it
lighted up the room.

The chamberlain met them at the door, and advanced with them towards
Tippoo.

"Great Sultan," he said, "these are the young men whom it has pleased
your Highness to appoint officers in the Palace."

The two lads salaamed until their turbans touched the ground.

"Truly they are comely youths," Tippoo said, "and one would scarcely
deem them capable of performing such a feat as that they accomplished
this morning.

"Well, my slayers of tigers, you have found everything fitly
provided?"

"Far more so than our deeds merit, your Highness," Surajah replied.
"We have found everything that heart could desire, and only hope for
an opportunity to show ourselves worthy of your favours."

"You have done that beforehand," Tippoo said graciously, "and I am
glad to see, by your attire, that you are conscious that, as my
officers, it is fitting you should make a worthy appearance. It shows
that you have been well brought up, and are not ignorant of what is
right and proper.

"At present, you will receive orders from Fazli Ali, and will act as
assistant chamberlains, until I decide in what way your services can
be made most useful.

"Now, follow me. There are others who wish to see you."

Rising, Tippoo led the way through a door with double hangings, into a
room considerably larger than that which they had just left. The
chandeliers, at the end of the room where they stood, were all
lighted, while the other end was in comparative darkness.

Leaving them standing alone, Tippoo walked towards the other end, and
clapped his hands. Immediately, a number of closely veiled figures
entered, completely filling the end of the room.

"These are the young men," Tippoo said to them. "It is the one on the
right to whom it is chiefly due that the tiger did not commit havoc
among you. It was he who climbed up the balcony, and fired twice at
the beast. You owe your lives to him and his companion, for among all
my officers and guards there was not one who was quick-witted enough
to move as much as a finger."

There was a faint murmur of surprise, among the veiled figures, at the
youth of their preserver.

"Hold your heads fully up," Tippoo went on, for Dick and his
companion, after making a deep salaam, had stood with bent heads and
with eyes fixed upon the ground.

Then two of the attendants, girls of thirteen or fourteen years old,
came forward from behind the others, each bearing a casket.

"These are presented to you, with my permission, by the ladies whose
lives you saved," Tippoo said; "and should you at any time have a
favour to ask, or even should you fall under my displeasure, you can
rely upon their good offices in your behalf."

There was another low murmur from the other end of the hall. Then
Tippoo clapped his hands, and the women moved out, as noiselessly as
they had entered.

"You can retire now," Tippoo said, as he moved towards the door into
the other room. "Be faithful, be discreet, and your fortune is
assured."

He pointed to another door, and then rejoined his councillors.

Dick and his companion stood in an attitude of deep respect, until the
hanging had fallen behind the sultan, and then went out by the door he
had pointed to, and made their way back to their own room.

"Truly, Surajah, fortune is favouring us mightily. This morning, we
walked the streets in fear of being questioned and arrested. This
evening we are officers of the Palace, favoured by Tippoo, and under
the protection of the harem.

"I wonder what the ladies have given us."

They opened the caskets, which were of considerable size. As they
examined the contents, exclamations of surprise broke from them. Each
contained some thirty or forty little parcels, done up in paper; and
on these being opened, they were found to contain trinkets and jewels
of all kinds. Some were very costly and valuable. All were handsome.

It was evident that every one of the ladies who had been in the room,
when the tiger burst in, had contributed a token of her gratitude.
Many of the more valuable gems had been evidently taken from their
settings, as if the donors did not care that jewels they had worn
should be exposed to view. One parcel contained twenty superb pearls,
another a magnificent diamond and ten rubies, and so on, down to the
more humble gifts--although these were valuable--of those of lower
rank.

Dick's presents were much more costly than those of his companion, and
as soon as this was seen to be the case, Dick proposed that they
should all be put together, and divided equally. This, however,
Surajah would not hear of.

"The whole thing is due to you," he said. "It would never have
occurred to me to interfere at all. I had no part in the matter,
beyond aiding to kill a wounded tiger, and it was no more than I have
done, many times, among our hills, and thought nothing of. These
jewels are vastly more than I deserve, for my share in the affair. I
do not know much about the value of gems, but they must be worth a
large sum, and nothing will induce me to take any of those that you
have so well earned."

"I wonder whether Tippoo knows what they have given us," Dick said,
after in vain trying to alter his companion's decision.

"I don't suppose he troubled himself about it," Surajah replied. "No
doubt he was asked for permission for each to make a present to us.
The jewels in the harem must be of enormous value, as, for the last
fifteen years, Tippoo has been gathering spoil from all southern
India, having swept the land right up to the gates of Madras. They say
that his treasures are fabulous, and no doubt the ladies of his harem
have shared largely in the spoils. The question is, what had we best
do with these caskets? We know that, in the course of our adventures,
it may very well happen that we shall be closely searched, and it
would never do to risk having such valuables found upon us."

"No; I should say that we had best bury them somewhere. Some of these
merchants here may be honest enough for us to leave the jewels in
their care, without anxiety; but as they themselves may, at any
moment, be seized and compelled to give up their last penny, these
things would be no safer with them than with us.

"As to Pertaub, I have absolute faith in him, but he himself is liable
to be seized at any moment. However, I should say we had better
consult him. If we were to bury them, say, under the floor of his
house, we might leave them there for a time. If we saw any chance of
this place being, someday, captured by our people, we could wait till
then for their recovery. But the war may not be renewed for years.
Possibly Pertaub may be able to arrange to send them down, only
entrusting a portion at a time to a messenger, so that, if he got into
trouble, we should only lose what he had upon him.

"We will put the caskets into our box, and lock it up for the present,
and take them down to Pertaub tomorrow evening, after it gets dark. It
will be as well to get them off our minds, as soon as possible, for
although just at present we are in high favour, there is no saying how
long it may last, or when it may be necessary for us to move."



Chapter 13: Officers Of The Palace.


The next morning, just as they had finished their early breakfast,
they were sent for by Fazli Ali.

"You had better accompany me on my rounds," he said. "I shall not
commit any special duties to you, until I see whether the sultan
intends that you shall remain with me, or whether, as is far more
likely, he assigns other work to you. Were you placed in separate
charges in the Palace, I should have to fill your places if you left.
Therefore I propose that, at present, you shall assist me in general
supervision.

"We will first go to the kitchens. These give me more trouble than any
other part of my duties. In the first place, one has to see that the
contractors do their work properly, that the number of carcases sent
in is correct, the flesh of good quality, and that the list of game is
correct. Then one has to check the amount of rice and other grain sent
in from the storehouses, the issue of spices, and other articles of
that kind. These matters do not require doing every day. The kitchen
officers are responsible for them, but once or twice a week I take
care to be present, to see that all is right. Then I ascertain that
everything is in good and proper order in the kitchen, listen to
complaints, and decide disputes.

"When we have done there, we will see that the requisitions from the
harem are properly complied with, and that the sweetmeats, perfumes,
silks, and muslins, as required, are furnished.

"The payment of salaries does not come into my department. That is one
of the functions of the treasurer of the Palace, who also discharges
all accounts, upon my signature that they are correct.

"Then I take a general tour of the Palace, to see that the attendants
have done their duties, and that everything is clean and in order. As
a rule, I have finished everything before the morning meal is served.
The details of making up the accounts are, of course, done by clerks.

"After that, my duties depend entirely upon the sultan. If there is
any state ceremonial in the Palace, I summon those whose duty it is to
attend, and see that everything is properly arranged and in order. If
not, I am generally at his Highness's disposal.

"Unless you receive any instructions from me, you will be free to
occupy yourselves as you like. You will, of course, take part in all
public ceremonials. You will be among the officers who accompany the
sultan, when he goes out, and will be liable to be summoned to attend
him at all times. Therefore, although free to go into the town, or
ride beyond the island, it is well that you should never be long
absent; and that, if you wish to be away for more than two hours at a
time, you should first let me know, as I may be able to tell you if
the sultan is likely to require you. He has fixed your pay at four
hundred rupees a month."

Dick, as he accompanied the chamberlain on his tour through the
Palace, was struck with the order and method that prevailed in every
department, and the chamberlain told him that Tippoo, himself,
inquired closely into details, and that, large as was the daily
expenditure, no waste of any kind was allowed.

The splendour of some of the apartments was surprising, especially the
throne room. The throne itself was of extraordinary magnificence. It
was of gold, thickly inlaid with gems. On the apex stood a jewelled
peacock, covered entirely with diamonds, emeralds, and rubies, with
pendants of pearls. In front of it stood a golden tiger's head, which
served as a footstool. On either side were standards of purple silk,
having a sun with gold rays in the centre. The spear heads were of
gold, set with jewels.

When the work of inspection was finished, they went back to their
room, where their attendant soon afterwards, with an air of great
exultation, brought their meal, which consisted of nine dishes each, a
proof of the high favour with which Tippoo regarded them. After this
meal was eaten they went down to the stables, and were pleased,
indeed, with the mounts provided for them. They were fine animals,
with handsome saddles and trappings, and Dick and Surajah at once
mounted, and rode through the town to the other extremity of the
island. As they wore scarves that had been furnished them by Fazli
Ali, showing that they were officers of the Palace, they were
everywhere greeted with deep salaams.

"I hope," Dick said, as they returned from their ride, "that Tippoo
will not be long before he finds us some other duties. There is
nothing very interesting in counting carcases, or seeing rice
measured."

"That is true enough," Surajah agreed. "But we must not be impatient.
Fortune has befriended us marvellously, and I have great faith that it
will continue to do so. We must be content to wait."

"Yes, I know that, Surajah, but I think it is all the more difficult
to do so, because we have done so much in a short time. It seems as if
one ought to go on at the same rate."

That evening they went down, as they had arranged, with ordinary wraps
round their gay attire, to Pertaub's, taking with them the caskets of
gems. The Hindoo received them warmly.

"I saw you ride through the streets this morning, although you did not
notice me. Truly, you made a good appearance, and were well mounted. I
have heard from one of our people, who is a servant in the Palace,
that you stand in high favour."

"We have brought you down these two caskets of gems," Dick said. "They
were given us by the ladies of the harem, and many of the stones,
Surajah thinks, are very valuable. We don't know what to do with them,
and wanted to know whether you could arrange to send them down to
Tripataly for us."

"I would not undertake to do so, if they are valuable," Pertaub said.
"The prospects of fresh troubles are stronger every day, and the roads
are so closely watched, especially those through the passes, that it
would be running a terrible risk to trust valuables to anyone."

"In that case, Pertaub, we thought you might bury them in the ground
under your house. But first, look at some of the stones, and tell us
what you think of them."

The Hindoo opened Surajah's casket, and undid many of the little
parcels.

"Assuredly they are valuable," he said. "Some of them much more so
than others; but if all are like these that I have opened, they must
be worth at least fifty thousand rupees."

"Now look at this casket, Pertaub."

The Hindoo uttered an exclamation of surprise, as he opened some of
the packets, and, taking out some of the larger gems, he examined them
by the light of his lamp.

"I could not place a value on these," he said at last. "The ladies
must, indeed, have felt that they owed their lives to you. The gems
are a fortune. Doubtless they are the spoils of a score of districts,
and Tippoo must have distributed them lavishly among his wives, or
they could never have made such rich presents. I would bury them,
Sahib, for surely they could not be entrusted even to the most
faithful messengers, in times like these. But though, if you like, I
will hide them here, I think it would be far safer for you to take
them across the river, and bury them in a wood, marking well the
trees, that you may know the place again; for although methinks
Tippoo's agents believe that they have squeezed the last rupee from
me, one can never tell--I might again be tortured, and none can say
that they are brave enough to bear the agonies that Tippoo's
executioners inflict.

"I will bury them for tonight; but I pray you give me notice the first
time you cross the river. I will be at the other side of the ford,
with the jewels hidden in a sack on an ass. This I will drive forward,
when I see you crossing the ford. You will follow me, till I enter a
wood. I will have the tools, and when you join me, you can go on a
short distance and bury them. I do not wish to see where you hide
them, but will move about, to make sure that none come near you when
so engaged.

"You had best take out a few small stones, which you will find as good
as money, and much more easily concealed, for in every town or large
village you will find a jeweller, who will give you silver for them."

"I think that will be a very good plan, Pertaub, and will certainly
carry it out."

A month passed, without any change in their work. They rode, with
other officers, behind Tippoo's palanquin when he went out, which he
did almost every day, to inspect the progress of the fortifications;
and were among the brilliant circle behind his throne, when he gave
orders.

By this time, they had come to know most of the other Court officials,
and were able to inquire cautiously about the prisons. They could
learn nothing, however, of any English prisoners in Seringapatam, save
those they had seen in the hut in the fort.

Six weeks after their appointment as Palace officers, Dick and Surajah
were sent for by Tippoo.

"I am about to employ you," the sultan said, when they appeared before
him, "on a mission. You are strangers here, and are unconnected with
any of my officers; and I can, therefore, place greater reliance on
your reports, than upon those of men who have other interests than my
own to serve. I desire you to go and inspect the hill forts, to see
how the repairs of the fortifications injured by the English are
progressing, and to make sure that the cannon are in good order, and
the supply of ammunition plentiful. You have shown that you are quick
sighted and sharp. Look round the defences, and if you see aught that
can be done to strengthen them, confer with the governors, learn their
opinions on the subject, and if they agree with you, they will be
authorised to take men from the country round to strengthen the
fortifications, and I will forward, at once, such guns and stores as
may be required.

"After the inspection of each fort, you will despatch a mounted
messenger to me with your report; and you will state which fort you
will next visit, in order that I may despatch there any order that I
may have to give you.

"Do your duty well, and I shall know how to reward you. In order that
your authority may be increased, you are both named colonels in the
army. Fazli will furnish you with a written copy of the orders I have
given you, and with authority, under my seal, to enter and inspect all
fortresses, and to consult with the governors as to everything
considered, by them, as necessary for their better defence.

"The last time the English came, they captured Nundidroog, and other
hill fortresses that we had regarded as impregnable, simply because
the governors were overconfident, and the defences had been neglected.
This must not occur again, and if there is failure in the defences, I
shall hold you responsible. Therefore, take care that you do not
neglect, not only to see that the repairs are being well carried out,
but to recommend additions to the fortifications, wherever it seems to
you that there is even a possibility of an enemy making his way up.

"You will take with you twenty troopers as an escort, but these are
not to enter any of the fortresses with you, for treachery is always
possible; and no one, save the garrisons, must be acquainted with the
defences of the hill forts."

Surajah expressed his thanks to the sultan for entrusting them with
the mission, and assured him that their inspection of the forts should
be careful and complete, and that they would start in an hour's time.

When they reached their own room, Dick threw up his turban in delight.

"Was there ever such a stroke of good fortune?" he exclaimed. "The
tiger business was as nothing to this. Tippoo has given us the
mission, of all others, that will enable us to carry out our search.
Our work is as good as done.

"That is to say," he added, more gravely, "we are at least pretty sure
to find my father out, if he is alive. Besides, we may get information
that will be of great use, if the war is renewed.

"Now we had better, in the first place, go and see Fazli and get our
instructions. We will order our horses to be in readiness to start, as
soon as we have had our meal--we may not get another chance of eating
today.

"I should like to take Ibrahim with us. He is a capital servant, and a
strong, active fellow. I believe he is fond of us, and we shall want
someone who can cook for us, and buy things, and so on. I will speak
to Fazli about it."

The chamberlain looked up, as they entered the room where he was
engaged in dictating to a clerk.

"I congratulate you on your mission," he said. "It will involve a
great deal of hard work, but as you have told me how you longed for
some duty outside the Palace, you will not mind that. Tippoo consulted
me before sending for you. I told him you were diligent in the
service, and I felt sure you would do your best in the present matter;
and that, as you were accustomed, in the pursuit of game, to ascend
mountains and scale precipices, you were far more likely to find the
weak spots in the forts than an old officer, who would be likely to
take everything for granted.

"There is no doubt that many of the garrisons are very far from being
efficient. They have been stationed in the forts for many years.
Discipline, both among officers and men, is sure to have become lax,
and there will be much that young men, going freshly into the matter,
will see needs amendment. That the walls are often weak, and the
cannon so old as to be almost useless, I am well aware; for sometimes
newly-appointed governors have sent in strong protests, and urgent
requests that they might be furnished with new cannon, and that walls
and defences might be renewed. But what with the wars, the removal of
the capital, and the building and fortification of this place, these
matters have been neglected; and it is only now that the sultan sees
the necessity of putting the fortifications of all these places in
good repair.

"I have had the papers prepared and signed. Your escort has been
ordered. Is there anything else you can think of?"

"We should like to take our Palace attendant with us," Surajah said.
"He is a good man and, starting so suddenly, we should have a
difficulty in hiring servants we could rely on."

"I have thought of that," the chamberlain replied, "and have ordered a
horse to be got in readiness for him, together with a spare animal to
carry food and necessaries for your journey. You will need them on
your marches, and may even be glad of them in some of the smaller
forts, where the fare will be very rough."

When they returned to their room, they found Ibrahim awaiting them. He
was evidently delighted at the prospect of accompanying them.

"My lords," he said, "I have the pack horse saddled in the stable,
with two great sacks and ropes. Is it your pleasure that I should go
down, at once, to the market and buy flour and rice, spices, and other
things necessary?"

"Certainly, Ibrahim. But it will not be necessary to buy much meat. It
will not keep, and we ought always to be able to buy a sheep or a fowl
from villagers. Get some thick, wadded sleeping rugs, some cooking
pots, and whatever you think is necessary. Do not waste any time, for
we shall start immediately after our meal."

As soon as the man had left, Dick said to Surajah:

"I will hurry down to the town and see Pertaub. You had best remain
here, in case Tippoo should send for us to give us final instructions.
You can say, should he ask, that I have gone down to the town to get a
supply of powder and ball for our pistols, writing materials, and
other things that we may require; which will be true enough. It is
most lucky that we buried our jewels in the forest, ten days ago, for
we should not have had time to do it, now."

Dick returned in time for the meal, which was brought up by another
servant.

"Pertaub was delighted to hear of our good fortune," he said, on his
return. "He will keep our disguises by him, and if we have occasion
for them, will either bring them himself with the merchandise, or will
send them by a trusty messenger, to any place we may mention, directly
he hears from us. I do not think there is any chance of our wanting
them, but it is as well to prepare for any contingency that may
occur."

Half an hour later they started, at the head of an escort of twenty
troopers; Ibrahim riding in the rear, leading the pack horse, which
carried a change of clothes, and thick cloths to keep out the night
dews, as well as the stock of provisions. Ibrahim had also purchased
two very large, dark blankets, that could be used for a temporary
shelter. Surajah now felt quite at home, for he was engaged in the
same sort of duty he performed at Tripataly; and more than one pair of
dark eyes glanced admiringly at the two young officers, as they rode
down to the ford.

They had been furnished, by Fazli, with a list of the forts they were
to visit, and the order in which they were to take them; the first on
the list being Savandroog, fifty miles northeast of the city. After a
ride of twenty miles, they halted at a village. To the surprise of the
troopers, Surajah gave orders that nothing was to be taken by force,
as he was prepared to pay for all provisions required.

As soon as the villagers understood this, ample supplies were brought
in. Rice, grain, and fowls were purchased for the soldiers, and forage
for the horses, and after seeing that all were well provided for, the
two officers went to a room that had been placed at their service, in
the principal house in the village.

Ibrahim justified his assertion that he was a good cook, by turning
out an excellent curry. By the time they had finished this it was
getting dark, and after again visiting the troopers, and seeing that
their own horses were fed and well groomed, they retired to bed.

An early start was made, and at ten o'clock they approached
Savandroog. It was one of the most formidable of the hill forts of
Mysore, and stood upon the summit of an enormous mass of granite,
covering a base of eight miles in circuit, and rising in ragged
precipices to the height of 2,500 feet. The summit of the rock was
divided by a deep chasm into two peaks, each of which was crowned with
strong works, and capable of separate defence. The lower part of the
hill was, wherever ascent seemed possible, protected by walls, one
behind the other. The natives had regarded the fort as absolutely
impregnable, until it was stormed by the troops under Lord Cornwallis.

Dick looked with intense interest at the great rock, with its numerous
fortifications. The damages committed by the British guns could not be
seen at this distance, and it seemed to him well-nigh impossible that
the place could have been captured. They rode on, until they neared an
entrance in the wall that encircled the fort, at the side at which,
alone, access was considered possible.

They were challenged as they approached. Ordering the troopers to
remain behind, Dick and Surajah rode forward.

"We are the bearers," Surajah cried out, as they reined in their
horses within twenty yards of the gate, "of an order from the sultan
for our admittance, and of a letter to Mirzah Mohammed Bukshy, the
governor."

"I will send up word to him," an officer on the wall replied. "I can
admit no one, until I have received his orders to do so."

"How long will it be before we receive an answer?"

"An hour and a half, at the earliest. I regret that your Excellencies
will be inconvenienced, but my orders are absolute."

"I do not blame you," Surajah replied. "It is necessary that you
should always be vigilant;" and they retired under the shade of a
tree, a hundred and fifty yards from the gate.

Ibrahim spread out the rugs, and then proceeded to light the fire, and
to prepare a pillau of rice and fowl, while Dick and his companion
regarded the rock with fixed attention, and conversed together as to
the possibility of ascending at any of the points so steep as to be
left undefended by walls. They concluded, at last, that it would be
next to impossible to climb the rock anywhere on the side that faced
them, save by scaling several walls.

They had just finished their luncheon when the gate opened, and an
officer and four soldiers issued out. They at once rose, and went to
meet them.

"I have the governor's order to admit you, on the production of the
sultan's pass."

Surajah produced the document. The officer at once recognised the
seal, and carried it to his forehead, salaaming deeply.

"Your troopers can enter at the gate, but cannot proceed farther than
the second wall."

"Can we ride up, or must we walk?" Dick asked.

"You can ride," he replied. "The road is steep, but nowhere so steep
that horses cannot mount it."

After the party had entered the gate, it was at once closed and
bolted. The troopers dismounted, and were led to a small barrack;
while Surajah and Dick, accompanied by the officer, and four soldiers
on foot, rode on.

The road was a better one than Dick had expected. It was just wide
enough for a cart to proceed up it, and was cut out of the solid rock.
It turned and zigzagged continually, and at each angle was a small
fort, whose guns swept the approach. They passed under a score of
gateways, each defended by guns; and after upwards of an hour's
climbing, at a quick pace, they approached one of the forts on its
summit. The governor met them at the gate.

"You will pardon my not descending to meet you below," he said, "but I
am not so young as I used to be, and the journey up and down fatigues
me much."

Dick and Surajah dismounted, and the former presented the two
documents. The governor, after reading the pass, bowed, and led the
way into the interior of the fort; and they were soon seated on a
divan in his quarters, when he read the circular letter.

"I am glad indeed," he said, when he had finished, "that the sultan is
pleased to take into consideration the many demands I have made for
cannon and ammunition. A large number of the pieces are past service,
and they would be as dangerous to those who fired them as to those at
whom they were aimed; while I have scarcely powder enough to furnish
three rounds for each. As to the defences, I have done my best to
strengthen them. Idleness is bad for all men, most of all for
soldiers, and I have kept them well employed at repairing the effects
of the English fire. Still, there is much to do yet before they are
finished, and there are points where fortifications might be added
with advantage. These I will gladly point out to you. They have been
beyond our means here, for, as you will perceive, it will need
blasting in many places to scarp the rock, and to render inaccessible
several points at which active men can now climb up. For this work,
powder is required. And I would submit that, for such hard work, it
will be needful to supply extra rations to the troops, for the present
scale scarcely suffices to keep the men efficient, especially as most
of them have their wives and families dependent on them."

"I have no doubt that the sultan will accede to any reasonable
requests, your Excellency. He is anxious that the walls of the forts
should be placed in the best possible condition for defence. No one
doubts that we shall, ere long, be again at war with England, and
although the sultan relies much upon large reinforcements that have
been promised by France, with whom he has entered into an alliance,
they have not yet arrived, and he may have to bear the brunt of the
attack of the English by himself."

"I have heard of this," the governor said, "and regret that we shall
again have the Feringhees upon us. As for the Mahrattis or the Nizam,
I heed them not--they are dust, whom the sultan could sweep from his
path; but these English are terrible soldiers. I have fought against
them under Hyder, and in the last war they again showed their valour;
and the strangest thing is that they make the natives under them fight
as bravely as they do themselves.

"As to forts, nothing is safe from them. Were all the troops of the
Nizam and the Mahrattis combined to besiege us, I should feel
perfectly safe; while were there but five hundred Englishmen, I should
tremble for the safety of the fortress. You have come up the hill, and
have seen for yourselves how strong it is; and yet they took the place
without the loss of a single man. I was not here, for I was in command
of Kistnagherry at that time, and succeeded in holding it against
their assaults. When the war was over, and Kistnagherry was ceded to
them, I was appointed to this fortress, which seems to me to be even
stronger than that was.

"The commander was a brave man, the garrison was strong, there was no
suspicion of treachery; and though, at last, the troops were seized
with a panic, as they might well be when they saw that they were
unable to arrest the advance of the enemy, the defence up to that time
had been stout. The English brought up guns, where it was thought no
guns could be taken. They knocked the defences to pieces; and, after
winning their way to the top, in one day captured this fort, and that
on the hill yonder. It seems miraculous."

Coffee was brought in, and pipes, for although Tippoo was violently
opposed to smoking, and no one would venture upon the use of tobacco
in the Palace or fort, old officers like the governor, in distant
commands, did not relinquish tobacco.

"It is necessary here," the governor said, as he filled his pipe. "The
country round is terribly unhealthy, and the air is full of fever. I
do not discourage its use among the men, for they would die off like
flies, did they not smoke to keep out the bad air. The climate is,
indeed, the best protection to the fort, for an army that sat down for
any length of time before it, would speedily melt away."

He opened a box that stood on the divan beside him.

"I have copies here," he said, taking some papers out, "of the
memorials that I have sent in to the sultan, as to the guns. This is
the last. It was sent in two months ago. You see I asked for
forty-nine heavy pieces. Of these, thirty are to replace guns that are
honeycombed, or split. The other eleven are for new works. I asked for
thirty-two lighter ones, or howitzers, and a hundred wall guns. Of
course I could do with less; but to place the fort in a perfect state
of defence, that is the number that I and my artillery officer think
are requisite.

"Of powder, we have not more than a ton and a half, and if the siege
were to be a long one we might require ten times as much. We have not
more than eight rounds of shot for each gun, and we ought to have at
least fifty for the heavy pieces, and twenty for those defending the
path up the hill."

Dick made a note of the figures, in a pocket book he had bought for
the purpose.

"As for provisions," the governor went on, "we ought to have large
stores of rice and grain. The magazines are nearly empty, and as we
have eight hundred men in garrison, and perhaps twice as many women
and children, we should require a large store were we blockaded for
any time."

"Are the troops in good condition?" Surajah asked.

The governor shook his head.

"Many of them are past the term of service; but until I get
reinforcements to supply their places, I shall not venture to
discharge them. Many others are wasted by fever, and, I must say, from
insufficient rations, which not only weakens their bodies, but lowers
their spirits. As long as there was no fear of attack, this mattered
little; but if the English are coming again, we shall want well-fed
and contented men to oppose them.

"I see, by the stars on your turbans, that you are both colonels as
well as officers of the Palace. You are fortunate in obtaining that
rank so young."

"It was due to the sultan's favour," Surajah said. "The other day, at
the sports, a tiger burst into the sultan's zenana, and we were lucky
enough to kill it--that is, my friend did most of the killing. I only
gave the brute the final coup."

"Ah, it was you who performed that deed!" the governor said, warmly.
"I heard the news, from one of my officers who was on leave, and
returned yesterday. Truly it was a gallant action, and one quickly
done. No wonder that you obtained the sultan's favour, and your rank
as colonel.

"I was a sportsman, in my young days. But I think I should have been
more frightened at the thought of taking a peep into the sultan's
zenana, than I should have been of fighting the tiger."

"I did not think anything about it," Dick said, "until it was all
over. I heard some women scream, and, being quite close, went to their
assistance, without a thought whether they might be the ladies of the
zenana, or servants of the Palace. But indeed, I saw nothing save the
tiger, and only vaguely observed that there were women there at all."

"It was well that the sultan took the view he did of the matter," the
governor said. "I have known men put to death, for deeds that were but
trifles in comparison to looking into the zenana.

"Now, Colonel, I will send for my artillery officer and the horses,
and we will ride round the fortifications on the brow of the hill,
inspect the two forts closely, and will point out to you the spots
where it appears to us the defences ought to be strengthened."



Chapter 14: A Surprise.


Dick was much pleased with the governor. He was evidently an outspoken
old soldier and, though rough, his bearded face had an honest and
kindly expression, and he thought to himself, "If my father fell into
his hands, I don't think he would be treated with any unnecessary
hardship, though no doubt the sultan's orders would be obeyed."

When a soldier came in, to say that the horses were at the door, they
went out. An officer was standing beside them, and the governor
presented him as his chief artillery officer.

"You have not brought your horse," he said.

"No, your Excellency. The distance is not great, and we should need to
dismount so many times, to get a view from the walls, that it would
not be worthwhile to ride."

"In that case, we may as well walk, also," Dick said.

"I would rather do so, too," the governor said. "I proposed riding,
because I thought you might be tired. As Bakir Meeram says, the
distance is not great. The walls themselves, with the exception of
those of the two forts, are not more than half a mile in extent; for
in most places the rocks go sheer down, and there defences are, of
course, unnecessary. We will inspect this fort, first."

They went the round of the walls, Dick and his companion listening to
the suggestions of the two officers. The principal one was that a wall
should be raised, inside the gate.

"The English, last time, got in here by rushing in at the tail of the
fugitives from below. They were in before the gates could be closed,
and took our men so completely by surprise that they were seized with
a panic. Were we to raise a semicircular wall behind the gateway, such
a thing could not occur again," the governor said. "Of course, there
would be a gate in the inner wall, but not immediately behind the
outer gateway as, if so placed, it might be destroyed by the cannon
shots that battered the outer gate in. I should, therefore, put it at
one end of the inner wall. This gate would be generally open, but in
case of a siege I should have it blocked up with stones piled behind
it, placing a number of ladders by which men, running in, could get on
to the walls, and, however closely they were pursued, could make a
stand there until the ladders were pulled up."

"That would be an excellent idea," Surajah said gravely, "and I will
certainly lay it before the sultan. I suppose you would propose the
same for the other fort?"

"Just the same."

"The only thing that I would observe," Dick said, "is that, if an
enemy once got a footing on the top here, you could not hope to make a
long defence of these forts."

"That is so," the governor agreed. "The strength of the defence is not
here, but on the upward road, and if the English once gained the top
the forts must fall; but at least it shall not be said, as long as I
am governor, that Savandroog fell almost bloodlessly. In these forts
we can at least die bravely, and sell our lives to the last. It is for
that reason I desire that they shall be so defended that they cannot
be carried, as they were before, by a sudden rush."

The other fort was then visited, and a tour made round the walls. The
suggestions offered by the governor and the officers were all noted
down and approved.

Then they made what was, to Dick, the most important part of the
inspection; namely, an examination of the undefended portion of the
rock. The result showed him that the builders of the defences had not
acted unwisely in trusting solely to nature. At many points the rock
fell away in precipices, hundreds of feet deep. At other points,
although the descent was less steep, it was, as far as he could see
from above, altogether unclimbable; but this he thought he would be
able to judge better, from below.

"Do you have sentries round here at night?" he asked the governor.

"No. It would not be necessary, even if an enemy were encamped below.
If you will ride round the foot of the hill when you leave, you will
see for yourself that, save from the side you came up, the place is
absolutely inaccessible."

The view from the top of the hill was superb. Away to the northeast,
the governor pointed out the pagodas of Bangalore, twenty-two miles
away; the distance, in the clear air, seeming comparatively trifling.

"Are there many troops there?" Dick asked.

"There are about five battalions of the regular troops, and three
Chelah battalions. These can hardly be counted as troops. They have
never been of the slightest use. In the last war they ran like sheep.
It is a fancy of the sultan's. But, indeed, he can hardly expect men
to fight who have been forced into the ranks, and made to accept
Mohammedanism against their will. Naturally they regard an invader,
not as an enemy, but as a deliverer.

"Of course the sultan's idea was, that since the native troops,
drilled and led by Englishmen, fought so well; the Chelahs, who were
also drilled and led by Englishmen, would do the same. But the
Company's troops are willing soldiers, and it is the English leading,
more than the English drill, that makes them fight. If the Chelahs
were divided among the hill fortresses they might do good service; and
I could, as far as fighting goes, do with a battalion of them here;
for, mixed up with my men, they would have to do their duty. But, of
course, they will never be placed in the hill forts, for one would
never be safe from treachery. Even if all the lower walls were in the
hands of my own men, some of the Chelahs would be sure to manage to
desert, and give information as to all the defences."

A considerable portion of the upper plateau of the rock was occupied
by the huts of the troops, for the forts were much too small to
contain them and their families. On their way back, they passed
through these. Dick looked anxiously about for white faces, but could
see none, nor any building that seemed to him likely to be used as a
prison.

When they returned to the governor's quarters, they found that a room
had been placed at their disposal, and they presently sat down to
dinner with him.

"I suppose you have no English prisoners here?" Dick said carelessly,
when the meal was over.

The governor paused a moment, before he replied.

"I don't want any of them here," he said shortly. "Batches are sent
up, sometimes, from Bangalore; but it is only for execution. I am a
loyal subject of the sultan, but I would that this work could be done
elsewhere. Almost all the executions take place in the hill forts; in
order, I suppose, that they may be done secretly. I obey orders, but I
never see them carried out. I never even see the captives. They have
done no harm, or, at most, one of their number has tried to escape,
for which they are not to be blamed. I always have them shot, whether
that is the mode of execution ordered or not. It is a soldier's death,
and the one I should choose myself, and so that they are dead it can
matter little to the sultan how they die. If they were all shot, as
soon as they were taken, I should not think so much of it; but after
being held captive for years, and compelled to work, it seems to me
that their lives should be spared. As far as giving up my own life is
concerned, I would willingly do it at the orders of the sultan, but
these executions make me ill. I lose my appetite for weeks afterwards.
Let us talk of something else."

And the governor puffed furiously away at the hookah he had just
lighted. Then the conversation turned to the forts again.

"No, I do not find the life dull," he said, in answer to a remark of
Dick's. "I did so at first, but one soon becomes accustomed to it. I
have my wife and two daughters, and there are ten officers, so that I
can have company when I choose. All the officers are married, and that
gives society. Up here, we do not observe strictly the rules of the
plains, and although the ladies, of course, wear veils when they go
beyond the house, they put them aside indoors, and the families mix
freely with each other, so that we get on very well. You see, there
are very few changes ever made, and as many of the ladies are, like my
wife, no longer young, we treat them as comrades."

In the morning Dick and Surajah mounted their horses, took a hearty
farewell of the governor, and rode down to the gate. A soldier had
been sent down, half an hour before, and they found their escort in
readiness to move. They had decided that, before going to the next
fort, they would ride round the foot of the hill of Savandroog. This
they did, going at a foot pace, and scanning the cliffs and slopes as
they passed. Sometimes they reined up their horses and rode a little
farther back, so as to have a view to the very summit.

When they completed the round, they agreed that there were but two
spots where it seemed to them that an ascent was barely possible, and
they were very doubtful whether the difficulties, when examined more
closely, would not prove to be absolutely insurmountable.

"That is not a satisfactory outlook," Dick said, "but fortunately
there is, now, no motive for climbing the precipice. Certainly those
places would be of no use to a party wanting to make an attack. In the
first place, though you and I might get up, with soft shoes on, I am
sure that English soldiers, with muskets and ammunition pouches, could
never do it, especially at night; and in the daytime, even if a body
of troops strong enough to be of any use could get up, those who first
arrived at the top would be killed before the others could come to
their assistance, and a few stones rolled down would sweep all behind
them to the bottom.

"I don't like turning my back on the place," he went on, as they
turned their horses' heads to the south; for Savandroog was the
farthest north of the forts they were to visit. "It seems to me that,
even now, my father may be there."

"How can that be, Dick?" Surajah said in surprise. "Nothing could be
more straightforward than the governor seemed to be. I thought that he
was even rash, in speaking as frankly as he did to us."

"I think he saw there was no fear of our repeating what he said,
Surajah. He is a frank, outspoken old soldier, and has evidently been
so disgusted at the treatment of the prisoners that he could not mince
his words; and yet, you know, he did not absolutely say that he had no
prisoners."

"No; I noticed that he did not reply directly to your question."

"On the contrary, he distinctly hesitated before he spoke. Now, why
should he have done that? He might just as well have said, 'No, I have
no prisoners. They are only sent up here for execution.' That would
have been his natural answer. Instead of that he hesitated, and then
began, 'I don't want any of them here; batches are sent up sometimes
from Bangalore.' Now, why did he shirk the question? If it had been
any other subject, I might not have noticed that he had not really
answered it, but of course, as it was so important a one, I was
listening most anxiously for his reply, and noticed his hesitation at
once, and that he gave no direct answer at all.

"Now, think it over, Surajah. Why should he have hesitated, and why
should he have turned the question off without answering it, unless
there had been some reason? And if so, what could the reason be?"

Surajah had no suggestion to make, and they rode on for some distance
in silence.

"It is quite evident," Dick went on, after a long pause, "that he is a
kind-hearted man, and that he objects altogether to Tippoo's cruelty
to the prisoners. Therefore, if he had any captives, his reason for
not answering was most likely a kindly one."

"Yes, I should think so."

"You see, he would consider that we should report, to the sultan, all
particulars we had gathered about the fortress. His remarks about the
execution of the prisoners, and the worthlessness of the Chelah
battalions, and so on, was a private conversation, and was only a
matter of opinion. But, supposing he had had some prisoners, and had
said so, we might, for anything he knew, have had orders to inspect
them, and to report about them, as well as about the garrisons and
defences."

"Yes, he might have thought that," Surajah agreed; "but after all, why
should he mind that?"

Dick did not answer for some time. He was trying to think it out.
Presently, he reined in his horse suddenly.

"This might be the reason," he said, excitedly. This governor may be
the very one who we heard had taken my father with him, when he was
moved from that fort up in the north. He was in command at
Kistnagherry before he came here, after the war, and he may have gone
to Kistnagherry from that fort in the north. You see there have been
executions, but they have been those of fresh batches sent up, and the
governor would not include the captive he had brought with him. In
time, his very existence may have been forgotten, and he may still be
living there. That would account for the governor's objection to
answering the question, as he would be sure that, did Tippoo hear
there was a prisoner there, he would send orders for him to be
executed at once.

"This may be all fancy, Surajah, but I cannot think of any other
reason why he should have shirked my question."

He took up the reins again, and the horse at once started forward.
They rode for some little time in silence, Dick thinking the matter
over, again and again, and becoming more and more convinced he was
right; except that, as he admitted to himself, the prisoner whom the
governor wished to shield might not be his father.

He was roused, at last, by Surajah asking the question, "Is there
anything that you would like us to do?"

"Not now," Dick replied. "We could not go back again. We must visit
the other forts on our list, and see what we can find out there. When
we have quite assured ourselves that my father is not in any of them,
we can think this over again; but at present we must put it aside.
However, I sha'n't rest until I get to the bottom of it."

During the next ten days, they inspected the forts of Navandroog,
Sundradroog, Outradroog, and Chitteldroog. Few of these were as
extensive, and none so strong, as Savandroog. They did the official
part of their business, and assured themselves that no English
captives were contained in any of them. The governors all said that
prisoners were never kept there many days, and that it was only when
Tippoo wished to get rid of them that they were sent there. None of
the governors made any objection to answering Dick's questions on the
subject, generally adding an expression of satisfaction that prisoners
were never left long under their charge.

"It entails a lot of trouble," the governor of Outradroog said. "They
have to be watched incessantly, and one never feels certain they may
not slip away. Look at this place. You would think that no one could
make his escape; and yet, some ten years ago, fourteen of them got
away from here. They slid down a precipice, where no one would have
thought a human being could have got down alive. They were all of them
retaken, except one, and executed the following day; but the sultan
was so furious that, although it was no fault of the governor, who had
sentries placed everywhere, he sent for him to Seringapatam, and threw
him to the tigers, declaring that there must have been treachery at
work. You may be sure that I have no desire to hold English prisoners,
after that; and when they have been sent here have been glad, indeed,
when orders came for their execution.

"A good many were ordered to be starved to death. But I never waited
for that. It took too long. Do what I could, the guards would smuggle
in pieces of bread, and they lingered on for weeks; so that it was
more merciful to finish with them at once, besides making me feel
comfortable at the knowledge that there was no chance of their making
their escape. There were sentries at their doors, as well as on the
walls, when the fourteen I have told you about escaped; but they dug a
passage out at the back of their hut, chose a very dark night, and it
was only when the sound of some stones, that they dislodged as they
scrambled down the precipice, gave the alarm to the sentries, that
their escape was discovered.

"No, I do not want any prisoners up here, and when they do come, there
is no sleep for me until I get the order to execute them. But they do
not often come now. Most of the prisoners who were not given up have
been killed since, and there are not many of them left."

Upon finishing their round, they returned to Seringapatam, where Dick
drew up a full report of the result of their investigations. The
sultan himself went through it with them, questioned them closely, cut
off a good many of the items, and gave orders that the other demands
should be complied with, and the guns and ammunition sent off at once
to the various forts, from the great arsenal at the capital.

Dick was depressed at the result of their journey. His hopes had
fallen lower and lower, as, at each fort they visited, he heard the
same story--that all prisoners sent up to the mountain fortresses had,
in a short time, been put to death. It was possible, of course, that
his father might still be at one of the towns where new levies had
been drilled; but he had not, from the first, thought it likely that a
merchant sailor would be put to this work; and had it not been that he
clung to the belief that there was a prisoner at Savandroog, and that
that prisoner was his father, he would have begun to despair.

It was true that there were still many hill forts scattered about the
country, unvisited, but there seemed no reason why any of the
prisoners should have been allowed to survive in these forts, when
they had all been put to death in those they had visited, among which
were the places that had been most used as prisons.

"I would give it up," he said to Surajah, "were it not that, in the
first place, it would almost break my mother's heart. Her conviction
that my father is still alive has never been shaken. It has supported
her all these years, and I believe that, were I to return and tell her
that it was no longer possible to hope, her faith would still be
unshaken. She would still think of him as pining in some dungeon, and
would consider that I had given up the search from faint heartedness.
That is my chief reason. But I own that I am almost as much influenced
by my own conviction that he is in Savandroog. I quite admit that I
can give no reason whatever why, if there is a prisoner there, it
should be my father, and yet I cannot get it out of my mind that it is
he. I suppose it is because I have the conviction that I believe in
it. Why should I have that impression so strongly, if it were not a
true one? I tell myself that it is absurd, that I have no real grounds
to go upon, and yet that does not shake my faith in the slightest. It
is perhaps because we have been so fortunate. Altogether everything
has turned out so favourably, that I can't help thinking he is alive,
and that I shall find him.

"What do you think, Surajah? Ought we to give it up?"

"Why should we?" Surajah replied stoutly. "I think you are right, and
that we are destined to find your father. There is no hurry. We have
not been anything like so long a time as we expected to be, and
Fortune has, as you say, befriended us wonderfully. We are well off
here. We have positions of honour. For myself, I could wish for
nothing better."

"Well, at any rate we will wait for a time," Dick said. "We may be
sent to Savandroog again, and if so, I will not leave the place until
I find out from the governor whether he has still a prisoner; and if
so, manage to obtain a sight of him."

The next day, Dick was informed by the chamberlain that the officer
who was in charge of the wild beasts had fallen into disgrace, and
that the sultan had appointed him to the charge. Dick was well
pleased, in some respects. The work would suit him much better than
examining stores, and seeing that the servants of the Palace did their
duty; but, on the other hand, it lessened his chance of being sent to
Savandroog again. However, there was no choice in the matter, and
Surajah cheered him by saying:

"You must not mind, Dick. Has not everything turned out for the best?
And you may be sure that this will turn out so, also."

It was, indeed, but two days later that Dick congratulated himself
upon the change, for Surajah was sent by Tippoo with an order for the
execution of four English prisoners. Dick knew nothing of the matter
until Surajah, on his return, told him that he had been obliged to
stop and see the orders carried out, by poison being forced down the
unfortunate officers' throats.

"It was horrible," he said, with tears in his eyes.

"Horrible!" Dick repeated. "Thank God I have been put to other work,
for I feel that I could not have done it. And yet, to have refused to
carry out the tyrant's orders would have meant death to us both, while
it would not have saved the lives of these poor fellows. Anyhow, I
would not have done it. As soon as I had received the order I would
have come to you, and we would have mounted and ridden off together,
and taken our chance."

"Let us talk of something else," Surajah said. "Are the beasts all in
good health?"

"As well as they can be, when they are fed so badly, and so miserably
cooped up. I made a great row this morning, and have kept the men at
work all day in cleaning out the places. They were all in a horrible
state, and before I could get the work done, I had to threaten to
report the whole of them to Tippoo, and they knew what would come of
that. I told Fazli, last night, that the beasts must have more flesh,
and got an order from him that all the bones from the kitchens should
be given to them."

That evening when Dick, on his way to the apartments of one of the
officers, was going along a corridor that skirted the portion of the
Palace occupied by the zenana; a figure came out suddenly from behind
the drapery of a door, dropped on her knees beside him, and, seizing
his hand, pressed it to her forehead. It was, to all appearance, an
Indian girl in the dress of one of the attendants of the zenana.

"What is it, child?" he said. "You must have mistaken me for someone
else."

"No, Bahador," she said, "it is yourself I wanted to thank. One of the
other attendants saw you go along this corridor, some time ago, and
ever since I have watched here of an evening, whenever I could get
away unobserved, in hopes of seeing you. It was I, my lord, whom the
tiger was standing over when you came to our rescue. I was not greatly
hurt, for I was pushed down when the tiger burst in, and, save that it
seized me with one of its paws, and tore my shoulder, I was unhurt.
Ever since I have been hoping that the time would come when I could
thank you for saving my life."

"I am glad to have done so, child. But you had best retire into the
zenana. It would not be good for you, or me, were I found talking to
you."

The girl rose to her feet submissively, and he now saw her face,
which, in the dim light that burnt in the corridor, he had not
hitherto noticed.

"Why," he exclaimed, with a start, "you are English!"

"Yes, Sahib. I was brought here eight years ago. I am fourteen now.
There were other English girls here then, but they were all older than
me, and have been given away to officers of the sultan. I am afraid I
shall be, too, ere long. I have dreaded it so much! But oh, Sahib, you
are a favourite of the sultan. If he would but give me to you, I
should not mind so much."

Dick was about to reply, when he heard a distant footfall.

"Go in," he exclaimed. "Someone is coming. I will speak to you again,
in a day or two."

When he returned to his room, he told Surajah what had happened.

"It will, at any rate, give me a fresh interest here," he said. "It is
terrible to think that a young English girl should be in Tippoo's
power, and that he can give her, whenever he likes, to one of his
creatures. Of course, according to our English notions, she is still
but a young girl, but as your people out here marry when the girls are
but of the age of this child, it is different altogether."

"She does not suspect that you are English?"

"No. As I told you, I had only just discovered that she was so, when I
heard a footstep in the distance. But I shall see her again, tomorrow
or next day."

"You will be running a great risk," Surajah said gravely.

"Not much risk, I think," Dick replied. "She is only a little slave
girl, and as the tiger was standing over her when I fired, no doubt I
did save her life, and it would be natural enough that she would, on
meeting me, speak to me and express her thanks."

"That would be a good excuse," Surajah agreed. "But a suspicious
tyrant, like Tippoo, might well insist that this was only a pretence,
and that the girl was really giving you a letter or message from one
of the inmates of the zenana."

Dick was silent for a time.

"I will be very careful," he said. "I must certainly see her again,
and it seems to me, at present, that whatever risk there may be, I
must try to save this poor girl from the fate that awaits her. I
cannot conceal from myself that, however much I may refuse to admit
it, the hopes of my finding and saving my father are faint indeed; and
although this girl is nothing to me, I should feel that my mission had
not been an entire failure, if we could take her home with us and
restore her to her friends.

"No, I don't think," he went on, in answer to a grave shake of
Surajah's head, "that it would add to our danger in getting away. We
know that, if we try to escape and are caught, our lives will be
forfeited in any case; and if she were disguised as a boy, we could
travel with her without attracting any more observation than we should
alone. She would not be missed for hours after she had left, and there
would be no reason, whatever, for connecting her departure with ours.
I don't say, Surajah, that I have made up my mind about it--of course
it has all come fresh to me, and I have not had time to think it over
in any way. Still, it does seem to me that when the time for our
leaving comes, whether we ride off openly as Tippoo's officers, or
whether we go off in disguise, there ought to be no very great
difficulty in taking her away with us. You see that yourself, don't
you?"

"I can't give any opinion about it, at present," Surajah replied. "I
do think that it will add to our difficulties, however we may go, but
I don't say it cannot be managed."

"I should think not, Surajah, and it would be worth doing, however
great the difficulties might be. Just think of the grief that her
parents must feel, at her loss, and the joy when she is restored to
them. You see, it would be no great loss of time, if we were obliged
to take her down to Tripataly first, and then come back again to renew
our search. It would take but a week, going and returning, and now
that the passes are all open to us, the difficulties would be nothing
to what they were when we went back after our scouting expedition.
Besides, at that time they were more vigilant, all along the frontier,
than they will be now, because there was war between the two
countries, and Tippoo was anxious that no news of his movements should
be taken down. There is no talk of war now, for though Tippoo makes no
disguise of his fury at his losses, especially at Coorg being taken
from him, and is evidently bent upon fighting again, it will take a
very long time to get his army into an efficient state, to repair his
fortresses, to complete all the new works of defence he is getting up
here, and to restore the confidence of his soldiers.

"I should think it will be fully four or five years before he is ready
to fight again. At any rate, if we once get well away from here with
the girl, we ought to have no difficulty in getting across the
frontier. It would mean but a fortnight lost in the search for my
father, and, anyhow, we are not making any progress that way as long
as we stop here. The only drawback would be, so far as I can see, that
we should lose the benefit of our official positions, but unless we
happen to be sent off with orders to other hill forts, that position
will only hamper our movements. Besides, we should still have our
badges of office, and Tippoo's official orders to the governors.
Possibly, the news that we had disappeared might reach the governors
of some of the forts in this neighbourhood, but it would not be likely
to travel very far. His officers so frequently fall into disgrace, and
are either killed or thrown to the tigers, that the fact of our being
missing would scarce excite a remark, and those who heard of it would
suppose that we had either been secretly made away with, or that,
having learned that Tippoo was displeased with us, we had fled."

Surajah nodded. His confidence in his leader was complete, and he was
always ready to follow unquestioningly.

"There is one thing, Surajah," Dick concluded. "This state of things
cannot last much longer, anyhow, for next time it might be me he
ordered to see to the execution of an English prisoner, and that would
mean that I should, as soon as I received the command, make a bolt for
it. So you see our stay here, in any case, may not last many days. I
would rather run any risks than carry out such an order."

Two evenings later, Dick went down the corridor at the same hour as
that on which he had before met the English girl. She came out from
behind the hangings at once, when he passed.

"I knew you would come, Bahador!" she said joyfully. "I could see that
you were as kind as you were brave, and would have pity upon a poor
little white slave!"

"I have much that I want to say to you, child. This is not a good
place for speaking. Someone might come along at any moment. How long
can you be away, without fear of your absence being noticed?"

"Not long now," she said. "In the morning I am sent out on messages,
and could meet you anywhere."

"Very well. I will remain in my room all the morning, tomorrow, and if
you do not come then, I will stay in next day."

"I will come," the girl said unhesitatingly.

He then gave her full instructions how to find his room, and made her
repeat them to him, in order to be sure that she had them correctly.

"Do you know my companion by sight?" he asked.

"Oh, yes. I have seen him often."

"Well, either he or I will be standing at my door. It is as well that
you should look carefully round, before you enter, so as to be sure
there is no one in the corridor, and that you can slip in unobserved.
You may be sure that I am asking you to come for no idle freak, but
because I have something very important to say to you.

"I fancy I hear footsteps. Good night."

Dick was sure that he and Surajah would both be at liberty next day,
for Tippoo had that morning started for Bangalore, where a large
number of men were at work, repairing the fortifications and removing
all signs of the British occupation from the fort and palace. He was
likely to be away for at least a fortnight. As soon as Ibrahim had
swept the room, after their early breakfast, Dick gave him a number of
small commissions to be executed in the town, and told him that he
should not require him again until it was time to bring up their meal
from the kitchen. Then he and Surajah, by turns, watched at the door.

An hour later Surajah, who was upon the watch, said:

"The girl is coming."

There was no one else in sight, and when Surajah beckoned to her, she
hurried on, and, passing through the curtains at the door, entered the
room. It had been arranged that Surajah should remain on watch, so
that should, by any chance, one of the officials of their acquaintance
come along, he might go out and talk with him in the corridor, and, on
some excuse or other, prevent his entering the room, if he showed any
intention of doing so.

"Now, in the first place," Dick said, as he led the girl to the divan
and seated her there, "what is your name?"

"My name is Goorla."

"No; I mean your proper name?"

"My name used to be Annie--Annie Mansfield, Bahador."

"And my name is Dick Holland," he said, in English.

She gave a start of surprise.

"Yes, Annie, I am a countryman of yours."

She looked at him almost incredulously, and then an expression of
aversion succeeded that of confidence in her face. She sprang from the
divan, and drew herself up indignantly.

"Please let me go," she said haughtily. "You have saved my life, but
if you had saved it twenty times, I could not like a man who is a
deserter!"

Dick had at first been speechless with astonishment at the girl's
change of manner, and at her reception of the news he had thought
would have been very pleasant to her. As her last words threw a light
upon the matter, he burst into a merry laugh.

"I am no deserter, Annie. Save my friend at the door and yourself,
there is no one here who knows that I am English. Sit down again, and
I will tell you how I come to be here.

"My father was the captain of an English ship. She was wrecked on the
west coast, and he was seized and brought up here a prisoner, eight
years ago. My mother, who is a daughter of the late Rajah of
Tripataly, who married an English lady, taught me to speak Hindustani,
so that when I got old enough I could come out here and try to find
out if my father was still alive, and if so, to help him to escape. I
had only just come up here, with my friend, who is an officer of the
Rajah's, when that affair with the tiger took place. Then, as you
know, Tippoo made us both officers in the Palace. Of course, while we
are here we can do nothing towards finding out about my father, and we
should not have remained here much longer anyway, and may have to
leave at any moment. Since you met me, and I found that there was an
English girl captive here, it has of course changed my plans, and I
feel that I could not go away and leave you to the fate you told me
of, and that if possible, I must take you away with me. That is, of
course, if you are willing to go with us, and prepared to run a
certain amount of risk.

"Do not take on so," he continued, as the girl threw herself on her
knees, and, clinging to him, burst into a passion of tears. "Do not
cry like that;" and, stooping down, he lifted her, and placed her in a
corner of the divan. "There," he said, patting her on the shoulder, as
she sobbed almost convulsively; "try and compose yourself. We may be
disturbed at any moment, and may not have an opportunity of talking
again, so we must make our arrangements, in readiness to leave
suddenly. I may find it necessary to go at an hour's notice. You may,
as you said, be given by Tippoo to one of his favourites at any time.
Fortunately he has gone away for a fortnight, so we have, at any rate,
that time before us to make our plans. Still, it is better that we
should arrange, now, as much as we can."



Chapter 15: Escape.


Annie Mansfield was not long before she mastered her emotions. She had
learned to do so in a bitter school. Beaten for the slightest fault,
or at the mere caprice of one of her many mistresses, she had learned
to suffer pain without a tear; to assume a submissive attitude under
the greatest provocation; to receive, without attempting to defend
herself, punishment for faults she had not committed; and to preserve
an appearance of cheerfulness, when her heart seemed breaking at the
hopelessness of any deliverance from her fate. For the last six months
she had been specially unhappy, for when Seringapatam had been
besieged she had hoped that, when it was captured, her countrymen
would search the Palace and see that, this time, no English captive
remained behind. Her disappointment, then, when she heard that peace
had been made, and that the English army was to march away, without
even an attempt to see that the condition for the release of captives
was faithfully carried out, had for a time completely crushed her, and
all hope had forsaken her.

Thus, then, while she had been, for a moment, overwhelmed at finding
that her preserver from the tiger was a countryman in disguise, and
that he was willing to make an attempt to rescue her; yet in a few
minutes she stifled her sobs, hastily thrust back the hair that had
fallen over her face, uncoiled herself from her crouching position in
the angle of the divan, and rose to her feet.

"I can hardly believe it to be true," she said, in a low voice. "Oh,
Sahib, do you really mean what you say? And are you willing to run the
risk of taking me away with you?"

"Of course I am," Dick said heartily. "You don't suppose that an
Englishman would be so base as to leave a young countrywoman in the
hands of these wretches? I do not think that there is much risk in it.
Of course, you will have to disguise yourself, and there may be some
hardships to go through, but once away from here we are not likely to
be interfered with. You see, my friend and I are officers of the
Palace, and no one would venture to question us, as we should be
supposed to be travelling upon the sultan's business. There is peace
at present, and although Tippoo may intend, some day or other, to
fight again, everything is settling down quietly. Traders go about the
country unquestioned. There is plenty of traffic on the roads from one
town to another; and so long as your disguise is good enough to
prevent your being recognised as a white, there is no greater danger
in travelling, in Mysore, than there would be down in the Carnatic."

Annie stood before him, with her fingers playing nervously with each
other. Long trained in habits of implicit obedience, and to stand in
an attitude of deep respect before her numerous mistresses, she was in
ignorance whether she ought to speak or not. She had been but a child
of six, when she had been carried off. Her remembrance of English
manners had quite died out, and the habit of silent submission had
become habitual to her. Dick was puzzled by her silence.

"Of course, Annie," he said, at last, "I don't want you to go with me,
if you would rather stay here, or if you are afraid of the risk of
travelling."

She looked up with frightened eyes.

"Oh, Sahib, it is not that; I would go, even if I felt sure I should
be found out and cut to pieces. Anything would be better than this. I
am not afraid at all.

"But forgive me, Sahib. I don't know how to thank you. I don't know
what is proper to say. It is all so strange and so wonderful."

"Oh, that is all right, Annie," Dick said cheerfully. "Of course, you
will feel it a little strange, just at starting.

"Well, in the first place, you must call me Dick, instead of calling
me sahib; and in the next place, you must talk to me freely, as a
friend, and not stand as if I were your master. While we are on this
journey together, consider me as a sort of big brother. When we get
down the ghauts I shall hand you over to the care of my mother, who is
living at present at Tripataly with her brother, the Rajah.

"Now sit down again, and let us make our arrangements. When we have
done that we can talk, if there is time. Now, how am I to let you know
if I have to go away suddenly? Do you always get out at this time of a
morning?"

"Not always, but very often. I always go down at twelve o'clock, with
some of the other slave girls, to fetch the food and sweetmeats for
the ladies of the harem."

"Well, you must always manage, even if you are not sent out, to look
out through that doorway where you met me, at eight o'clock in the
morning. If we have anything particular to say to you, Surajah--that
is my friend, you know--will be there. Which way do you go out from
the harem to fetch the food?"

"Not from that door, but from the one nearest to the kitchen. You go
right down that corridor, and then take the first turning to the
right. There is a flight of stairs at its end. We come out at the door
just at its head. At the foot of the stairs there is a long passage,
and at the end of that is a large room, with tables, on which the
dishes are placed in readiness for us to bring back."

"Well, if it is necessary to speak to you at once, one of us will meet
you in the passage between the bottom of the stairs and the room where
the food is. If you see one of us, you will know that the matter is
urgent, and as soon as you can possibly slip away, you must come here.
In the evening you had better again look out from the door where you
first met me.

"Now, as to the disguise, it will be better for you to go as a boy. It
would be strange to see a girl riding behind two of the officers of
the Palace. You won't mind that, will you?"

"Not at all, Sahib."

"Not at all, Dick," he corrected. "Well, I will have a dress ready for
you here. You will find it in that corner, and there will be a bottle
of stain on the table. It will be only necessary for you to colour
your neck, hands, and feet, but you must cut off your hair, behind, to
a level with your ears, so that none of it will show below the turban.
You must do that, of course, before you stain your neck, and must
stain the skin where you have cut off your hair, also. I am giving you
these instructions now, because when the time comes there may not be a
minute to spare, though, of course, I hope there will be no desperate
hurry."

"I understand," she said, "and will look out for you, three times a
day."

"Of course," he went on, "if you are suddenly told that you are to be
given to any one, you must slip out at once, and come here. You will
find everything ready for you to disguise yourself, and you must do
that at once, and wait here till one of us comes. Even if you are
missed, it will be some time before any search is made, and it would
be thought much more likely that you had gone down into the town, than
that you were hiding in the Palace, so there would be no chance of
their looking for you here before we return. Anyhow, we shall be able
to have another talk before Tippoo comes back. We shall be here every
morning until nine, and if you are able to get away again, come and
see us.

"It will be better, perhaps, for you not to wait any longer, now. I
suppose you have been charged with some message or other, and it would
not do for you to be too long gone."

The girl stood up at once.

"I have to go down to the Pettah, to get some sewing silk to match
this;" and she drew out a small fragment of yellow silk.

"Very well, then. You had better go and do it, or they may think that
you are too long away.

"Goodbye, Annie. I hope that in another week, or ten days at the
latest, I shall have you out of this;" and he held out his hand to
her.

She took it timidly, and would have raised it to her forehead, but
Dick said, laughing:

"That is not the way, Annie. English girls don't treat their friends
as if they were lords and masters. They just shake hands with them, as
if it were two men, or two girls."

"I shall know better, in time," she said, with a faint smile, though
her eyes were full of tears. "I want to do something, though I don't
know what. You saved my life from the tiger, and now you are going to
save me again. I should like to throw myself down, and kiss your
feet."

"You would make me horribly uncomfortable, if you did anything of the
sort, Annie. I can understand that you feel strange and out of your
element, at present, but you will soon get over that, when you come to
know me better.

"There, goodbye, lassie. I hope to see you again, tomorrow or next
day, and then you will be able to tell me more about yourself.

"Is the coast clear, Surajah?"

Surajah looked out through the curtains.

"There is no one in sight," he said, a moment later.

The girl passed silently out, and went down the corridor. Surajah
returned from his post by the door.

"The poor girl is shy and awkward, as yet," Dick said, "but I think
she will be plucky enough, when the time comes. You heard what we
said. The first thing will be to get her disguise ready for her. What
do you think? Had we better take Ibrahim with us? I think he is to be
trusted."

"I am sure he is," Surajah agreed. "He is a Hindoo of Coorg, and was
carried away as a slave, six years ago. In the first place, he will be
delighted at the prospect of getting away; and in the next, I am sure
that he is very fond of you. But there is no occasion to tell him that
you are English."

"No, it will be time enough to do that when we get over the ghauts. It
will be better that he should get the disguise. In the first place, he
will know exactly what is wanted; and in the next, it would look rum
for either of us to be buying such a thing. Of course, we could ask
Pertaub to get it for us, but if we take Ibrahim with us he may as
well buy it.

"We shall want a couple more horses. These, of course, we can buy
ourselves, and saddles and things. When we have got them, we had
better leave them at some place on the other side of the river.
Pertaub would help us, there. He is sure to know someone who will look
after them for a few days. Then Ibrahim and the girl can start
together, go over there and saddle them, so as to be in readiness to
mount, directly we come along. We will stop at the wood and dig up the
caskets. There is nothing like taking them away with us, when there is
a chance, and it is not likely that we shall come back to Seringapatam
again--it would be like putting our heads into a tiger's den."

When Ibrahim brought in the dishes for their meal, Dick said:

"Go down and get your own food, Ibrahim, and when you have done come
back here again. I want to have a talk with you."

They had just finished their meal, when Ibrahim returned.

"Ibrahim, would you be glad of a chance of getting away from here, and
returning to your own country?"

"I would have given anything to do so, my lord," Ibrahim said, "before
I was ordered to attend upon you. But I am happy now. You are kind to
me, and I should not like to leave your service."

"But if I were going too, Ibrahim?"

"Then, my lord, I would go with you anywhere, if you would take me."

"Well, Ibrahim, we feel sure that we can trust you, and so I may tell
you that I think it likely we shall, very shortly, go away. You know
what the sultan is. One day he gives you honours and rewards, the next
he disgraces you, and perhaps sends you into the ranks of the army,
perhaps has you thrown to the tigers. We do not care to live under
such conditions, and we mean, in a few days, to slip away and go to
our friends down the ghauts. You can come with us, if you like."

"I would go with you to the end of the world, my lord," Ibrahim
exclaimed earnestly. "To go with you and be a free man, and not a
slave, would be almost too great happiness."

"Very well, then, that is settled. Now, Ibrahim, we are not going
alone. We are going to take with us a young white slave in the harem,
and restore her to her friends. I want you to get a disguise for her.
Let it be a dress like your own--long white trousers to the ankle, a
shirt and tunic with waist belt, also the stuff for a turban. That you
must wind in proper folds, as she would not be able to do it herself.
I also want a bottle of stain for the skin."

"I will get them, my lord. How tall is she?"

"About half a head shorter than you are. She is about the size of an
average Hindoo woman."

"Shall I get the things at once, my lord?"

"Yes, you had better get them today. We may leave at any time, and it
is as well to have them in readiness. We shall buy two horses, one for
each of you, and have them taken across the river. You can ride, I
suppose?"

"Yes; I used to ride when I was a boy, before Tippoo came down and
killed my father and mother, and brought me up here. Will my lord want
me to take the horses across?"

"I will tell you that in the morning, Ibrahim. We are going down into
the town, now, to inquire about them, but we shall not buy any until
tomorrow, as we shall have to make arrangements for them to be kept
for us, until we want them."

They did not go out until it was dark, and then took their way to
Pertaub's house. The old Hindoo was in.

"I am glad to see you, Sahibs," he said to Dick, as they entered. "I
have always fears that ill may, in some way, befall you."

"We are going to leave, Pertaub. Surajah had, two days ago, to go up
to see four English prisoners put to death at one of the hill forts.
Next time I may be ordered on such a duty. I could not carry it out,
and you know that refusal would probably mean death. Moreover, we are
convinced that we have no means, here, of finding out what captives
may still be in Tippoo's hands, and have therefore determined to
leave. We are going to take with us our servant, Ibrahim, who is a
slave from Coorg; and will, we know, be faithful to us; and also a
young English girl who has, for eight years, been a slave in Tippoo's
harem. She will go with us in the disguise of a boy. This Ibrahim is
getting for us. We are going to buy a couple of horses for them, and
shall make straight down the ghauts, where I shall leave the girl in
my mother's care."

"It is a good action," the Hindoo said gravely.

"Now, in the first place, Pertaub, would you like to go with us?
Riding as we shall do, as two of the officers of the Palace, it is not
likely that any questions whatever will be asked, and certainly we
shall have no difficulty until it comes to crossing the frontier."

"No, Sahib. I thank you, but I am too old, now, for any fresh change.
I have friends here, and have none below the ghauts. Nothing save the
rescue of my daughter from the harem would induce me to move now, and
of that there is little chance. She will, by this time, have become
reconciled to her fate, and would probably not care to escape, were an
opportunity offered to her. Besides, with only me to protect her, what
would she do elsewhere? A few months, and she might be left alone in
the world."

"As to that," Dick said, "I could promise her the protection of my
aunt, the wife of the Rajah of Tripataly. After the kindness that you
have shown to us she would, I am sure, gladly take her into her
service. And there would be no difficulty about a dowry for her. I
would see to that."

The old man shook his head.

"There could be no question of marriage," he said; "but should I ever
hear from her that she is unhappy, and I can arrange to fly with her,
I will assuredly avail myself of your offer, and take her to
Tripataly; rejoiced indeed that, at my death, there will be a shelter
open to her.

"And now, can I aid you in any way, Sahib? One of my friends, a
merchant, could get the horses for you without difficulty. He has
often occasion to buy them, for the purposes of his trade."

"Thank you, Pertaub. I had intended to buy them myself, but doubtless
it will be safer for somebody else to do so. What I was going to ask
you was to let me know of some place, on the other side of the river,
where the horses could be kept until I want them."

"That I can do, Sahib. I have a friend, a cultivator. His house stands
by itself on this side of the first village--the one half a mile
beyond the ford. It is the only house this side of the village, so you
cannot mistake it. It lies about a hundred yards back from the road. I
will go over and arrange with him that, when two horses arrive, they
shall be placed in his stalls, and remain there until one arrives who
will say to him, after greeting, the word 'Madras'. To him he is to
deliver the horses at once, whether he comes by night or day."

"That would do admirably, Pertaub. Of course, I shall also want
saddles and bridles. How much do you think it will come to,
altogether? I do not want showy horses, but they must be animals
capable of performing a long journey, and of travelling at a fair rate
of speed--the faster the better. We are likely to get seven or eight
hours start, at least; but must, of course, travel fast. As long as
all goes well, I shall keep the main roads, but if there is a
breakdown, or an unforeseen accident occurs, I may have to leave the
road and take to bypaths."

"The cost of such horses would be about eighty rupees each; the
saddles and bridles another fifteen or twenty."

"Then here are two hundred rupees, Pertaub."

"Have you given up all hope of finding your father, Sahib? I have felt
so sure that you would be successful. It seemed to me that such brave
efforts could not go unrewarded."

"No, Pertaub, I have not given it up, at all. I intend to stay at
Tripataly for a fortnight, with my mother, and shall then come up the
ghauts again.

"That is another matter I want to speak to you about. Of course, we
should not dare to return to Seringapatam, and I think that we had
better settle to go to Bangalore. Could you forward our packs, with
the merchandise, to someone in that town?"

"There will be no difficulty in that, Sahib. There are many Hindoo
merchants there, who have been forced to change their religion, and
who have frequent dealings with traders here. One of my friends will,
I am sure, forward your goods with the next consignment that he sends
to Bangalore. That, also, I will arrange tomorrow, and when you come
in the evening will give you the name of the trader there, together
with a letter from the one here, telling him that you are the person
to whom the goods are to be given up."

"Thank you, Pertaub. I don't know what we should have done, without
your assistance."

"It has been a pleasure, to me, to be of use to you, Sahib. I had
thought my time of usefulness was over, and it has given a real
pleasure to my life to have been able to aid you. You will let me
know, Sahib, if ever you find your father?"

"Certainly, Pertaub. I will, in any case, send word to you, either
that I have found him, or that I have given up all hope and have
abandoned my efforts."

The next morning a lad brought Dick a message, from Pertaub, that he
had fulfilled all his commissions; and on the following morning, Annie
Mansfield again came to Dick's room.

"Everything is going on well, Annie," Dick said, as he shook hands
with her. "The horses have been bought. There is your disguise in that
corner, and we can start any moment, at a quarter of an hour's notice.

"Now, I want you to tell me how you came to be brought up here."

"I have not much to tell," she said. "You see, I was only six years
old. I can remember there was a great deal of firing of guns, and that
lasted for a long time. Then the firing stopped. I suppose the place
surrendered."

"Do you know what place it was, Annie?"

She shook her head.

"I do not know at all. I suppose I did know, then, but I do not
remember ever to have heard the name. I remember quite well that there
were soldiers, and Father and Mother, and servants, and many other
people, and everyone was very miserable, and we all went together out
of a gate, and on each side there were a great many natives with guns
and swords, some on horse and some on foot; and there were elephants.
I don't think I had ever seen one before, for I noticed them
particularly. We went on and on, and I know one of the soldiers
carried me.

"At night we stopped somewhere. I think it was in a wood, and there
were fires, and we lay down to sleep on the ground. Then I woke up
suddenly, and there was a great noise and firing of guns, and someone
caught me up and threw something over my head, and I don't remember
anything more, for a long time. I know that presently I was on
horseback, before a fierce-looking man. There were a good many of
them, and when I cried for my father and mother, they said they would
cut off my head if I were not quiet.

"I do not know how long we were travelling, but after the first day
there was only the man who carried me, and another. I was brought
here, and there were many people, and I was very much frightened. Then
I found myself only among women, and they took off my clothes and
dressed me in their fashion. I think I was very happy, when I once got
accustomed to it. The ladies made a sort of pet of me, and I was
taught to dance and to sing little native songs. There were other
white girls here, and they were all very kind to me, though they
always seemed very sad, and I could not make out why they cried so
often, especially when they were beaten for crying.

"As I grew bigger, I was not so happy. I had ceased to be a plaything,
and little by little I was set to work to sweep and dust, and then to
sew, and then to do all sorts of work, like the other slave girls. The
other white girls gradually went away, the oldest first. The last two,
who were two or three years older than I was, went about three years
ago.

"At first, I used to wonder why they cried so when they went, and why
the others all cried, too; but by the time the last two left, I had
come to know all about it, and knew that they had been given by the
sultan to his favourite officers.

"There were many white men here, when I first came. When I went out
with one of the slaves, into the town, I saw them often. Sometimes
they would burst into tears when they saw me. Then I used to wonder
why, but I know now that I must have reminded them of girls of their
own, whom they would never see again. Then, till three years ago,
there were about twenty white boys who had been taught to dance and
sing, and who used to come sometimes, dressed up like women, to amuse
the ladies of the harem; but I heard that they were all killed, when
the sultan first thought that the English might come here. One of the
slave girls told me that it was done because the sultan had often
sworn, to the English, that there were no white captives here, and so
he did not wish that any should be found, if they came.

"I don't think that I have anything else to tell you."

"Well, I hope that what you have told me will be enough to enable us,
some day, to find out who you belong to. Evidently you were in some
place that was besieged, eight years ago, and had to surrender. The
garrison were promised their lives and liberty to depart. They were
attacked at night by an armed party, who may have been Hyder's
horsemen, but who were perhaps merely a party of mounted robbers, who
thought that they might be able to take some loot. Most likely they
were defeated, especially as you saw no other captives in the party,
but in the confusion of the night attack, one of them probably came
upon you, and carried you off, thinking you would be an acceptable
present here, and that he would get a reward for you from the sultan.

"Are you not noticed, when you go into the streets on errands?"

"No; I always go veiled. Except the slaves who are old and ugly, all
the others wear veils when they go outside the Palace, and we all wear
a red scarf, which shows we are servants in the harem; and so, even
when the town is full of rough soldiers, no one ventures to speak to
us.

"Now tell me, Dick--you see I have not forgotten--all about how you
came to be here."

Dick told her, briefly, how he had come out with his mother; and how,
finding war had broken out, he had joined the army; and how, at the
end of the war, having been able to learn nothing about his father, he
had come up with Surajah to search for him.

"And then you saw that tiger break in," the girl said, eagerly. "That
was dreadful. I will tell you how it was the tiger came to seize me. I
was standing behind a lady, and could not see anything. Suddenly they
all began screaming, and ran, some to one side, some to the other, of
the window; and I, who could not think what was the matter, remained
where I was, when there was a great cry, and before I had time to
move, or even to wonder, some great thing knocked me down. It was only
from the screams of the ladies, and their cries of 'Tiger!' that I
knew what had happened. I felt something heavy standing on me--so
heavy that I could hardly breathe; and indeed, I did not try to
breathe, for I knew many stories of tigers, and had heard that
sometimes, when a man shams being dead, the tiger will walk away and
kill someone else.

"The tiger was keeping up an angry growl, and I felt that, unless it
took its paw off me, I should soon die, when I heard a shot, and a
fierce growl from the tiger, and then the weight was gone, and I think
I fainted. When I came round, I was lying where I fell, for many of
the ladies were insensible, and everyone was too busy with them to
think anything of me.

"When I got up, one of the other slave girls, who had been brave
enough to look out of the window, told me that it had been killed by
two young men, one of whom must have been the one who had fired the
shot in at the window. I went and looked out, and saw it lying there.
After that every one talked, and laughed, and cried, and then the
sultan's chief wife said that everyone must make a present to the
young men who had saved us, and that each one ought to give one of her
best jewels. Of course, everyone did. I had nothing to give, except a
little cross of gold filigree work, that hung round my neck when I was
carried off. It had been hidden by my dress. The men had not noticed
it, and they had not taken it away when I was brought here. It was
such a poor little gift, but it was all I had."

"I noticed it, Annie," Dick said; "there was a little flat plate
behind it, with the letters 'A. M.' and I thought, then, that it must
be some little ornament taken from one of the Englishwomen Hyder's
troops killed. It is fortunate you kept it, for it may be useful,
someday, in proving that you are Annie Mansfield."

"Now I must be going," she said. "I was slapped and pinched, last
time, for being so long, but I have several things to get today, so
that if I hurry I can be back again as soon as they expect me. You
have not settled when you are going, yet?"

"No; but we rather think of going the day after tomorrow. It will be
better to do so before Tippoo comes back, for we might be ordered away
so quickly as to have no time to make arrangements. Besides, there
will be ten times as many people about, in the Palace, and more guards
at the entrances when he returns. So, altogether, it will be better to
go before he does so. If we settle it so, I will come along past your
door, tomorrow evening; and if I say, 'Tomorrow morning,' get here as
soon as you can in the morning, and directly you have stained your
skin and put on your disguise, we will start. My servant, who is going
with us, will act as your guide, and will take you to the place where
the horses are, and where we shall join you, almost as soon as you get
there."

At the appointed time, next evening, Dick told Annie that they should
start in the morning. He and Surajah then went down and said goodbye
to Pertaub, and Dick gave him a letter to his aunt, to give to her
should he ever go to Tripataly with his daughter.

"It may be," he said, "that neither Surajah nor I may be there, but I
shall speak to her about you, and of course tell her how much you have
done for us; so you may be sure of the heartiest welcome from her."

"And you will also find a hearty friend in my father, Rajbullub,"
Surajah said. "He is principal officer in the Rajah's household, and
will treat you as a brother, and your daughter as if she were my
sister."

Then they returned to the Palace, where they had a final talk over the
route that it would be best to pursue. The nearest point to the new
frontier was the territory ceded to the English on the Malabar coast.
But this would entail a long sea voyage, and they therefore determined
to make for Caveripatam, going by the road that led through Anicull,
and then through Ryacotta, which stood just outside the line of
territory ceded to England, and from whence a road led direct down the
passes. Anicull lay nearly due south of Bangalore, but the road they
would follow would not be the one by which Tippoo would return, as he
would come by the main road, which ran in a direct line between the
two cities.

Ibrahim was informed of their plans, and was told to warn the syce to
get their horses saddled and in readiness at eight o'clock, and that,
as they were going for a long day's ride, he would not be required to
accompany them--as he always did when they rode only into the town,
for then he might be wanted to hold the horses, if they dismounted and
went into a shop.

He was also to give notice, in the kitchen, that they would not return
to the midday meal, and that dishes for them would therefore not be
required. Thus it would be unlikely that any suspicion would be
aroused by their absence until they had been gone twenty-four hours,
by which time they would be more than halfway to the frontier.

They went to bed at their usual time, and slept soundly, for it seemed
to them both that there was practically no risk whatever to be run,
and that they would be across the frontier before any active search
was made for them. Even when it was discovered that they had left the
Palace, it would be thought that they had received some order from
Bangalore, either to join the sultan, or to go on some mission for him
that had occupied more time than they had anticipated on starting. The
idea that two officers, who were considered to stand high in Tippoo's
favour, should desert, would scarcely occur to anyone.

In the morning they were up early, completed their slight
preparations, and took their early breakfast, reserving a portion for
Annie, who, they thought, would not improbably have eaten nothing
before coming to them.

She was a quarter of an hour late in arriving, and looked somewhat
pale and flurried.

"They did not send me out this morning," she said, "and so I had to
stay, until I could slip out without being noticed; but they may miss
me at any moment."

"That will be all right," Dick said confidently. "They will search all
the rooms in the harem for you, first, and certainly won't look for
you outside, until there has been a lot of talk over your absence. But
even if they do search, you will be able, in a few minutes, to walk
through the middle of them without being suspected.

"However, we will lose no time; and to begin with, I will cut off what
hair is necessary. I shall do it a good deal quicker than you would.
Then we will leave you to yourself, to stain your skin and put on your
disguise. When you have finished, clap your hands. Ibrahim will come
in and see that your disguise is all right, and that your turban
covers your hair. Then he will go with you. We shall be waiting near
the gate. There is practically no chance of your being asked any
questions, but if you are, and there is any difficulty, we will pass
you through all right. Having seen you on your way, we shall mount and
follow you."

The operation of cutting off Annie's hair, to the line of her ears,
was speedily done; then, with a few reassuring words, Dick joined
Surajah in the corridor. As they walked down it he said:

"I don't like leaving them to themselves. Look here, Surajah, you go
down to the stable, and mount at once. Tell the syce I shall come for
my horse in a few minutes. Then ride out, and take your post where you
can see them come out of the gate, and then follow them closely. I
will stay here, and see them safely through the gate, and then mount
and follow you. I shall overtake you before you get to the ford."

"That will perhaps be safest," Surajah agreed, "though I should think
there is no chance of her being suspected, seeing that she will be
with Ibrahim. Even if they met one of the Palace officers, and he
asked Ibrahim who he had with him, he could say it was a lad who had
come to you respecting some horses you had bought."

"Yes, that would do very well."

Dick returned to Ibrahim, who was squatting down in the corridor near
the door.

"I am going to follow you, until you are through the gate, and shall
keep a short distance behind you. If you should meet any officer on
your way out, who may ask you who you have with you, say he has come
with a message to me from a trader in the town. By the time you have
told him that, I shall be up."

"There is no chance of being questioned, my lord. People come and go
all day."

"That is so, Ibrahim, but one cannot be too careful."

They stood, talking together, until they heard Annie clap her hands
within. Ibrahim entered at once, and in two or three minutes came out
again with the girl. Ibrahim carried a bundle.

"You will do very well," Dick said to Annie. "I should not know you,
in the least. You make a capital boy.

"What bundle is that, Ibrahim? I thought you took our other disguises
on, yesterday, to the stable where the horses are."

"Yes, my lord, I took them on. These are the things she has taken off.
I thought, perhaps, it would be better not to leave them here, as, if
they were found, it would be known that she had gone with you."

"I don't think it makes much difference, Ibrahim, but perhaps it is as
well to bring them away. We can leave the bundle in the wood.

"Now, go along. I will follow. Perhaps I had better go first. Keep a
few paces behind me."

They passed through the long passages of the Palace, without
attracting the slightest attention. Once or twice, Dick paused to
speak to some officials of his acquaintance, the others stopping
respectfully a few paces away. Then he went out into the courtyard,
and across to the gate, and as the sentries saluted he stopped, and
asked them a few questions as to the regiment they belonged to, until
Ibrahim and his companion, who had passed straight through, were well
away. He saw Surajah sitting upon his horse, a couple of hundred yards
away, and then went to the stables.



Chapter 16: The Journey.


The syce brought out his horse, as soon as he saw Dick approaching.

"You need not wait up for us, after nine o'clock," Dick said, as he
mounted. "It is possible that we may be detained, and shall not return
until tomorrow evening. If we come, we shall certainly be back by nine
at the latest, and we shall not be back before seven, at any rate, so
that until then you are free to do as you like."

He rode quietly off, and did not quicken his pace until he had got
beyond the fort. Then he touched the horse with his heel, and cantered
down to the ford. Surajah was halfway across the river, when he
reached it. The other two figures were just ascending the road up the
other bank.

Surajah checked his horse, when he got across, and waited till Dick
joined him.

"Shall we go on with them to the farmhouse?" he asked.

"We may as well do so as halt in the road. Besides, there are the
things Ibrahim took over yesterday, to put into our saddlebags. There
is another thing that I never thought of. Of course, the girl has
never been on a horse, and that may give us a good deal of trouble. I
wonder I did not think of it, though if I had, I don't see that
anything else could have been done. We must see how she gets on, and
if she cannot manage I must take her before me, whenever we see that
the road is clear for a good distance ahead. Of course, it does not
matter about country people, but if we see a body of troops coming in
the distance, she must mount her own horse again, and follow us at a
walk. If we find that things don't go well, we must halt in a wood
somewhere, and ride only by night."

They cantered on now, and overtook the others just as they reached the
farmhouse. The farmer was at his door, and looked a little surprised
at seeing two of the officers of the Palace come up. He salaamed
deeply.

"We have not come to requisition anything," Dick said, with a smile,
as he saw that the farmer looked alarmed as well as surprised. "We
have only come for the two horses that we have bought, for our
servants, as we are going on a journey."

"Can I assist you in any way, my lords?"

"No, our men will saddle the horses," Dick said, and, dismounting,
went into the stable with Ibrahim and Annie.

"You are not afraid of riding, I hope, Annie?" he said.

"I am not afraid of anything, Dick, so that I can but get away."

"We will go quietly at first, anyhow. Mind, as you mount, put your
left foot in the stirrup. When you are seated, carry yourself as
easily as you can. The pony looks quiet enough, but if, when we get
fairly off, you find that you cannot sit comfortably, you must get up
before me, and Ibrahim must lead your pony. When we are fairly on the
road, I will fasten a bit of rope to your bridle to act as a leading
rein, and you can ride by my side, unless we see people coming along;
then you must drop behind, with Ibrahim."

"I won't give more trouble than I can help," she said.

Ibrahim had taken some rugs over with him, on the previous afternoon,
which had been bought in case they should sleep out at night. When the
horses were saddled, Dick rolled two of these up, strapped one on the
high peak, and the other on the cantle of the saddle upon which the
girl was to ride.

"That will wedge you in pretty tightly," he said.

"Now, Ibrahim, put the things into the saddlebag, and then we shall be
ready."

When this was done, the two horses were led outside. The farmer had
gone back into the house, and Dick, helping the girl into her seat,
arranged the stirrups the right length for her.

"Now," he said, "you must keep your knees pressed against the roll of
blankets in front, and hold on as well as you can with them; but the
principal thing is for you to balance yourself with your body. Don't
sit up stiffly, but as if you were in a chair.

"Now, we will start at a walk. Ibrahim will keep quite close to you,
so as to be able to catch hold of your rein, should there be any
occasion for him to do so."

Then, mounting, he and Surajah rode off at a walk, the others
following a length or two behind them. Dick looked round, from time to
time, and saw that Annie exhibited no signs of nervousness.

"I am quite comfortable," she said, in reply to one of his glances.

When they got into the road again, Dick said:

"We will go at an easy canter now, Annie. If you feel as if you could
not keep on, call out, and we will stop directly; but first come up
between Surajah and myself, and we will take the leading reins, so
that you will have nothing to attend to but holding on."

Two cords had been attached to the bridle, before setting out, and
Surajah and Dick each taking one, they started again, the horses
instinctively breaking into a canter, which was their usual pace.
Annie at first grasped the strap of the rug in front of her, but as
soon as she became accustomed to the motion, she let go. A small rug
had been strapped over the saddle, before she mounted, and this
afforded her a much better hold than she would have had of the
leather; and as the pace of the horse was a gentle one, she found it
much more easy to keep her seat than she had expected. Moreover, the
fact that Dick and Surajah rode close by her side, and would be able
to catch her, at once, if she swayed in the saddle, gave her
confidence.

"It is much better than I thought it would be," she said. "It is quite
a pleasant motion. I will go faster, if you like."

"No, there is no occasion for that," Dick replied. "This is the pace
the horses are most accustomed to, and they will go on longer, at it,
than at any other. There is no fear of pursuit, and we have all day
before us."

After a quarter of a mile's riding, they came to a wood.

"We must turn in here," Dick said. "We are going treasure hunting. We
hid those caskets, that were given us by the ladies, directly after we
got them; and we are going to dig them up now, and take them with us."

They rode at a walk, now, till they came to a very large baobab tree,
growing by the path they were following.

"Here we turn off."

"There is a man there," Surajah exclaimed, when they had ridden a few
yards farther.

Dick checked his horse.

"It is Pertaub," he said, a moment later, and in a minute they were
beside the Hindoo.

"I could not sleep, thinking of you, Sahib," the latter said, as they
came up. "So I came across here, partly to help you dig up the
caskets, and partly that I might see you, and assure myself that, so
far, all had gone well."

"Thank you, Pertaub. You have, I see, brought a pickaxe. It will save
us half an hour's work; and besides, I am glad to say goodbye again.

"All has gone well. This is the young lady."

"She is well disguised," Pertaub said, bowing his head to Annie. "She
looks so like a boy that, even now you tell me, I can scarce believe
she is a white girl. Truly you can go on without fear that anyone will
suspect her."

Leading the way to the spot where the caskets had been buried, Dick
looked on while Surajah and Ibrahim dug them up. They were then
wrapped up in rugs, and strapped securely behind their owners'
saddles. Then, after a warm adieu to the kind old man, they turned
their horses' heads, and rode back out of the woods.

After riding for three hours at a canter, Dick saw that, although
Annie still spoke cheerfully, her strength was failing her, and on
arriving at a wood, he said:

"We will wait here till the heat of the sun has abated. We have done
very well, and the horses, as well as ourselves, will be glad of a few
hours' rest."

He alighted from the saddle, gave his horse to Ibrahim, and then
lifted Annie from her seat. As he set her down on her feet, and loosed
his hold of her, she slipped down on to the ground. Dick and Surajah
at once raised her, and placed her so that, as she sat, she could lean
against a tree.

Here Dick supported her, while Surajah ran and fetched his water
bottle. Annie drank a little, and then said, with a nervous laugh:

"It is very silly of me. But I feel better now. My legs seemed to give
way, altogether."

"It was not silly at all," Dick said. "You have held on most bravely.
I can tell you there are not many girls who would have ridden four or
five and twenty miles, the first time they sat on a horse. Why, I can
tell you the first time I mounted, I did not do a quarter as much, and
I was so stiff I could hardly walk, when I got down. I should have
stopped before, but you kept talking so cheerfully that, it seemed to
me, you could not be anything like as tired as I was, then. I was a
brute not to have known that you must be thoroughly done up, although
you did not say so.

"We have got some food with us. Do you think you could eat, a little?"

She shook her head.

"Not just yet."

"All right. I have brought a couple of bottles of wine I got at one of
the traders' stores, yesterday. You must take a sip of that, and then
we will leave you to yourself for a bit, and you must lie down and
have a good nap."

Dick took a bottle from his holster, opened it, and gave her some in a
tin cup. Then one of the rugs was spread on the ground, with another
one rolled up as a pillow, and then they led the horses farther into
the wood, leaving Annie to herself.

"She won't be able to ride again, tonight," Surajah said, as they sat
down, while Ibrahim took out the provisions that he had, on the
previous day, carried across to the farm.

"No, I must carry her before me. We will shift my saddle a little
farther back, and strap a couple of rugs in front of it, so as to make
a comfortable seat for her. There is no doubt she will not be able to
ride again, by herself. I am sure that, after my first day's riding, I
could not have gone on again for anything.

"We won't start until it begins to get dusk. Of course, she ought to
have a good twenty-four hours' rest, before she goes on, but we dare
not risk that. I don't think there is any chance of pursuit for days;
or, indeed, of any pursuit at all, for by the time they begin to
suspect that we have really deserted, they will know that we have had
time to get to the frontier. Still, I don't want to run the slightest
risk, and at any rate, if we have to halt, it would be better to do so
fifty miles farther on than here.

"When we mount again, we will put the saddlebags from my horse on to
hers, and Ibrahim must lead it. Her weight won't make much difference
to my horse, and if I find it tiring, I will change with you. You may
as well put your saddlebags on to her horse, also."

"It would be better, would it not," Surajah said, "if you change to
her horse, which will have carried nothing?"

"Yes, of course that would be best, so you had better not shift your
saddlebags."

After they had had their meal, they stretched themselves out for a
sleep, and when they woke it was already becoming dusk. The horses had
had a good feed, and were now given a drink of water, from the skin.
They were then saddled again, the blankets carefully arranged for
Annie's use, and then they went back to the place where she was lying,
still asleep.

"Put the provisions into the wallet again, Ibrahim. We will see if we
can get her up without waking her. She is so dead beat that, perhaps,
we may do so. I don't suppose she would be able to eat anything, if we
woke her.

"I had better mount first. Then you, Surajah, can lift her up to me. I
can stoop down, and take her from your arms, and put her in front of
me. She is no weight to speak of."

Very gently, Surajah put his arms under the sleeping girl, and lifted
her.

"That is right," Dick said, as he placed her on the blankets before
him, and held her with his right arm, with her head against his
shoulder. "She is dead asleep."

The blankets were strapped on to the horses again, the others mounted,
and they started, at a walk, out of the wood. As soon as they were on
the road, the horses broke into a canter again. Annie moaned uneasily,
but did not open her eyes. Dick drew her still more closely to him.

"She will do now, Surajah," he said, in a low voice. "I hope that she
will sleep till morning."

Half an hour later, they rode through Sultanpetta. It was quite dark
now, and although there were people in the streets, Dick knew that at
the rate they were riding, in the darkness, the fact that he was
carrying a lad in front of him would scarce be noticed. Nor would it
be of any consequence if it were, as, even if they met any officer who
should stop and question them, it would suffice to say that the lad
had been taken ill; and that, their business being urgent, they were
taking him on with them.

Four hours later they passed through Conkanelly, and crossed the
bridge over a branch of the Cauvery. Here Dick felt that his horse was
flagging. Halting, he dismounted, and lifted Annie down. This time the
movement woke her; she gave a little cry.

"Where am I?" she asked.

"You are quite safe, child," Dick said cheerfully. "Just lie quiet in
my arms. We have come five hours' journey, and as my horse is getting
tired, I am changing to yours. Ibrahim is shifting the rugs that you
have been sitting on."

"I can go on by myself," she said, making a little struggle to get
down.

"You must be good, and do what you are told," he said, with a laugh.
"Remember that you are a slave, and I am your master, at present."

She said nothing more until they were seated afresh, and had got into
motion.

"Oh, you are good, Dick!" she sighed softly. "Only to think of your
carrying me like this, for five hours, without waking me!"

"Well, it was much better for us both that you should sleep," he said,
"and it is the horse that is carrying you, not I. I have been very
comfortable, I can assure you.

"We shall go on for another four hours. After that we shall hide up in
a wood, and sleep till the afternoon. Then it will depend upon you. If
you can sit your horse, we shall ride on through Anicull. If not, we
must wait till it gets dark again, and then go on as we are now. Are
you comfortable, child?"

"Very comfortable, Dick."

They were talking in English now, for the first time since they
started.

"I have almost forgotten how to talk English," she said. "We white
girls always used to talk it, when we were together, so as not to
forget it; and since the last one went, three years ago, I have always
talked it to myself, for a bit, before going to sleep, so as to keep
it up; but it does not come anything like so easy as the other. Still,
I like talking it to you. It almost seems as if I were at home again.
You see, I have never heard a man talk English, since I was carried
away. Even now, I can hardly believe this is not a happy dream, and
that I shall not wake up, presently, and find myself a slave girl in
the harem."

"It is pleasant to me to talk English, too," Dick said, "though it is
only a few months since I last spoke it. Now, the best thing you can
do is to try and get off to sleep again. When we stop you shall have
breakfast. I am sure you must want something. You have had nothing
since you ate a mouthful or two, in my room, before starting."

"Oh, I have slept hours and hours!" she said. "I shall not want to
sleep any more."

However, before long the easy motion lulled her off again, and she did
not wake until, at about four o'clock in the morning, they entered a
wood that was, as Dick supposed, some three or four miles from
Anicull.

"Well, how do you feel now?" Dick asked, as he set her on her feet.

"I feel stiff," she said; "but that will soon wear off, when I have
run about a little. Oh, how tired you must be, after carrying me all
these hours!"

"There has not been much to hold," Dick said with a laugh, "especially
since we started the last time. Before that, you were so dead asleep
that I did have to hold you; but, you see, you nestled up more
comfortably when we changed horses, and needed very little support
since then."

"Now, what can I do?" she asked, with a little laugh. "Please order me
to do something. I am your slave, you know, and I want to be helping
you."

"Well, then, I command you to aid me to gather some sticks for a fire.
We have nothing to cook, but it will be cheerful, and the air is
cool."

They picked up sticks, while Surajah and Ibrahim loosened the girths
of the horses, took off their bridles, and poured out another feed
from the bag of grain they had brought with them. In a few minutes a
fire was blazing, and the wallet of provisions brought out.

"I wish I had a cup of coffee to offer you, Annie," Dick said, as he
poured her out some wine and water, "but we must wait, for that, until
we get down to Tripataly."

"I have forgotten all about coffee, Dick, and what it tastes like. The
white girls used to talk about it, and say how they longed for a cup.
It seems, to me, funny to drink anything hot. I have never tasted
anything but water, that I can remember, until you gave me that wine
yesterday."

"It is very nice, and very refreshing. There is another drink that is
coming into fashion. It is called tea. I have tasted it a few times,
but I don't like it as well as coffee, and it is much more expensive."

"The sultan says that all the English get drunk, and there used to be
pictures of them on the walls. They used to make me so angry."

"I don't say that no English get drunk, Annie, because there is no
doubt that some do. But it is very far from being true of the great
proportion of them. Tippoo only says it to excite the people against
us, because, now that he has made them all Mohammedans, they cannot
drink wine--at any rate, openly. When I bought these two bottles, the
trader made a great mystery over it, and if I had not given him a sign
he understood, and which made him believe that I was a Hindoo and not
a Mussulman, he would not have admitted that he kept it at all. He did
say so, at first, for I have no doubt he thought that, as I was an
officer of the Palace, it was a snare, and that if he had admitted he
had wine I should have reported him, and it would have served as an
excuse for his being fined, and perhaps having all his goods
confiscated. When I made the sign that an old Hindoo had taught me,
his manner changed directly, and he took me to the back of his little
shop, and produced the wine. I told him I wanted it for medicine, and
that was quite true, for I thought it was a drug you were very likely
to need, on your journey."

"How much farther have we to ride?" she asked, after a pause.

"Only about thirty-five miles--that is to say, it is only that
distance to the frontier. There is a road that is rather more direct,
but it passes through Oussoor, a large town, which we had better
avoid. It is not more than fifty miles from the frontier to Tripataly,
but once across the line we can take matters easily, and stop whenever
you get tired."

"It will be all very strange to me, Dick. I sha'n't mind it, as long
as you are with me, but it will be dreadful when you go. I am afraid
your mother won't like me. You see, I know nothing of English ways,
and I am oh! so ignorant. I cannot even read--at least, very little.
One of the girls used to teach me, from a book she had when she was
carried off. It was a Bible--she used to tell me stories out of it.
But one day they found it, and she was beaten, very much, for
venturing to have it. I am afraid I have quite forgotten even my
letters; but she and the other girls used to teach me about religion,
and told me I must never forget that I was a Christian, whatever they
might do to me, and I was to say my prayers every night after I lay
down, and every morning before I got up. Of course, I have always done
it."

"You need not be afraid of my mother, Annie. She is very kind, and I
am sure she will take to you very much, and will be very glad that I
have brought you to Tripataly; for, you see, she has no girls of her
own. She will teach you to read and write, and if we go back to
England, I dare say you will go to school for a time, so as to learn
things like other girls."

"I can work very nicely," she said. "The ladies of the harem all used
to say that."

"Well, you will find that very useful, no doubt."

"And what else is there to learn?" she asked.

"No end of things, Annie--at least, there are no end of things for
boys to learn. I do not know anything about girls. But, of course, you
will have to get to know something of history and geography."

"What is geography, Dick?"

"Well, geography is where countries and places are. For instance, you
know something of the geography of India, without ever having learnt
it. You know that Madras and the Carnatic lie to the east, and
Travancore to the southwest, and Malabar to the west, and the Mahratta
country and the Nizam's dominions to the north. Well, that is the
geography of this part of the country--that and the names of the towns
and rivers. In the same way, there are a lot of nations in Europe, and
you want to know all about them, and where they lie with respect to
each other, and the names of their principal towns. Then there are
America, and Africa, and Asia, and all the countries in them. If you
don't know about these things, you can't follow what people are
talking about."

"And did you like learning geography, Dick?" she asked, a little
anxiously.

"Well no, I can't say that I did, Annie. I think I used to hate
geography. It was very hard to remember where all the places were, and
what rivers they stood on. I know very little about it now, except the
principal towns and places. But then, I never was very fond of
learning anything. I was a very stupid boy, at school."

"Oh, I am sure you could not have been that, Dick," she said
confidently.

"I was indeed, Annie. I think the only thing I could do well was
fighting. I was a beggar to fight--not because I used to quarrel with
fellows, but because it made me hard and tough, and my mother thought
that it would make me more fit to carry out this search for my
father."

"What did you fight with--swords?" Annie asked.

Dick laughed.

"No, no, Annie, when we quarrel in England we fight with our fists."

"What is a fist? I never heard of that weapon."

"That is a fist, Annie. You see, it is hard enough to knock a fellow
down, though it does not very often do that; but it hurts him a bit,
without doing him any harm, except that it may black his eyes or puff
up his face for a day or two--and no boy minds that. It accustoms one
to bear pain, and is a splendid thing for teaching a boy to keep his
temper, and I believe it is one reason why the English make such good
soldiers. It is a sort of science, you see, and one learns it just as
people here learn to be good swordsmen. I had lessons, when I was
twelve years old, from a little man who used to be a champion
lightweight--that is, a man of not more than a certain weight."

Annie looked doubtful for a minute, and then exclaimed:

"Ah, yes, I understand now. That is how it is you came to our help so
quickly and bravely, when the tiger burst in."

"I daresay it had something to do with it," Dick said, with a smile.
"There is no doubt that boxing, as we call it, does make you quick.
There is not much time to waste in thinking how you are to stop a
blow, and to return it at the same moment. One gets into the habit of
deciding at once what is the best thing to be done; and I have no
doubt that I should not have seen, at once, that one must cut through
the netting, run to the window, jump on to Surajah's shoulders, and
fire at the tiger, unless I had been sharpened up by boxing. I only
say I suppose that, because there were, no doubt, hundreds of men
looking on who had pluck enough to face the tiger, and who would have
gladly done the thing that we did, if the idea had occurred to them.
The idea did not occur to them, you see, and I have no doubt that it
was just owing to that boxing that I thought of it. So you see, Annie,
it was, in a way, the fights I had with boys at Shadwell--which is the
part of London where I lived--that saved you, and perhaps half a dozen
ladies of the sultan's harem, from being killed by that tiger.

"Now, I should advise you to walk about the wood for at least an hour,
to get rid of your stiffness. The longer you walk, the better. When
you have tired yourself, come back here. By that time, I daresay you
will be ready for another sleep. We will start about three o'clock,
and shall cross the frontier before it gets quite dark. Once across,
we can camp comfortably where we like, or put up at a village, if we
should light upon one.

"I should not go far away from here," he went on, as the girl at once
rose and prepared to start. "Very likely the wood may get thicker,
farther in, and you might lose your way, or come across a snake; so I
should not go far out of sight. The great thing is to keep moving. It
is getting broad daylight, now."

As soon as Annie had started, Dick lay down.

"I feel dog tired, Surajah. This right arm of mine is so stiff that I
can hardly lift it. I did not feel it at the time, and her weight was
nothing, but I certainly feel it now."

"You have a good sleep, Dick. Ibrahim and I will keep watch, by
turns."

"I don't think there is any occasion for that," Dick said. "No one is
likely to come into the wood."

"Not very likely," Surajah agreed; "but a body of travellers might
turn in here, for a halt in the middle of the day, and it would look
strange were they to find two of the Palace officers, and their
attendants, all fast asleep."

"They would only think we came in for a rest, a short time before they
did," Dick said drowsily. "Still, if you don't mind, perhaps it would
be best."

In two minutes, Dick was sound asleep.

"'Now, Ibrahim, you lie down," Surajah said. "I will call you in three
hours."

In half an hour Annie returned. She looked pitifully at Dick, and then
seated herself by Surajah.

"He must be tired," she said. "It was too bad of me, letting him carry
me like that all night. I thought so, over and over again, when he
believed I was fast asleep, but I knew that it was of no use asking
him to let me ride for a bit.

"You don't mind my sitting here for a little, do you? I am going away
again, presently. I only came back, so soon, because I thought he
might wonder what had become of me, if I did not. I could have gone on
walking for a long time. It was very hard work at first, for my back
ached dreadfully, and every step hurt me so, it was as much as I could
do to keep on walking; but gradually it got better, and at last I had
a long run, and after that I scarcely felt it.

"How long have you known him, Surajah?" and she nodded towards Dick.

"It is about two years and a half since he came to Tripataly, and I
have seen a great deal of him, ever since. I love him very much. He is
always the same. He never seems to get angry, and is kind to
everyone."

"Did he fight when he was with the army?"

"Not much. He was one of the general's own officers, and used to ride
with the others behind him. He fought in the battle before
Seringapatam, for the general and every one else had to fight, then."

"How is it you come to be always with him?" she asked.

"It first began when we went out on a scouting expedition together,
before the English army went up the ghauts. We volunteered to find
out, if we could, which way the sultan's army was going. We went
through a good deal of danger together, and some hard fighting, and
the Sahib was pleased with me; and since then we have always been
together."

"Tell me about that, Surajah?"

Surajah related the story of their capture and escape, of their making
their way through the fort, and the subsequent pursuit, and their
defence of the ruined hut. Annie listened almost breathlessly.

"How I should like to have been with you," she said, when he finished.
"At least, I think I should have liked it. I should have been
dreadfully in the way, but I could have sat down in the hut and loaded
the guns, while you were both fighting. You could have shown me how to
do it. How brave of you both to have fought fifty or sixty men!"

"It was not so very brave," Surajah said. "We knew we should be
killed, if they took us. There is nothing brave in doing your best,
when you know that. But it was not so much the fighting as arranging
things, and he did all that, and I only carried out his orders. He
always seemed to know exactly what was best to be done, and it was
entirely his doing, our getting through the fort, and taking to the
hut, and making the loopholes, and blocking up the windows; just as it
was his doing, entirely, that we killed that tiger. Whatever he says
is sure to be right, and when he tells me to do a thing I do it
directly, for I trust him entirely, and there is no need for me to
think at all. If he had told me to go up to the sultan and shoot him,
in the middle of his officers, I should have done it, though they
would have cut me in pieces a minute afterwards."

"I will go away again, now," Annie said, getting up. "He told me to
keep on walking about, and he would not like it if he were to wake up
and find me sitting here."

And she got up and strolled away again. By the time she returned,
Surajah had lain down to sleep, and Ibrahim was on watch. Annie was,
by this time, tired enough to be ready for sleep again, and, wrapping
herself in a rug, she lay down at a short distance from the others.

It was two o'clock when she awoke, and she sprang to her feet as she
saw Dick and Surajah standing by the fire, talking.

"I was going to wake you soon," Dick said, as she joined them, "for we
must have another meal before we start. I hope you feel all the
better, after your walk and sleep?"

"Ever so much better. I scarcely feel stiff at all, and shall be ready
to ride, as soon as you like. How do you feel, Dick?"

"Oh, I am all right, Annie. I was all right before, though I did feel
I wanted a sleep badly; and you see I have been having a long one, for
I only woke up ten minutes ago. I own, though, that I should like a
good wash. I don't suppose I can look dirty through this stain, but I
certainly feel so."

"There is a pool," she said, "a few hundred yards away there, on the
right. I found it the second time I went away, and I did enjoy a
wash."

"I thought you were looking wonderfully tidy," Dick said, smiling.
"Well, I will go there at once. I shall feel a new man, after a bath."

"I will come with you," Surajah said--for he had learned to speak a
good deal of English, during his companionship with Dick.

They returned in half an hour. Ibrahim had warmed up some of the
chupatties, over the ashes, and they all thoroughly enjoyed their
meal. The horses were saddled, and were taken to the pool for a good
drink.

Then Annie was helped into her saddle, and they started again. They
rode at a canter to Anicull, their badges of office securing them from
any questioning from the soldiers at the guard houses, when they
entered and left the town.

"I don't know whether there is any post established at the frontier,"
Dick said, as Annie, who had ridden behind with Ibrahim as they passed
through the town, took her place again between him and Surajah. "I
have no fear that they will be erecting a fort, for after our
capturing Bangalore and the hill fortresses, they will know very well
that nothing they could build on the flat would be of the slightest
use in stopping an army advancing by this line. Still, there may be a
guard placed there.

"How do you think we had better get past, Surajah? We have still got
the order to the governors of forts, and it is likely enough that the
officer in charge may not be able to read. Very few of those we met
before were able to do so. The sight of the sultan's seal at the
bottom was quite enough for them, and I should think it would suffice
to pass us here. Still, it would look suspicious, our leaving the the
country altogether, and we must give some explanation if they ask us."

"I might say that we are charged with a mission to the English
commander at Kistnagherry."

"That might do, Surajah. The fort is only eight or ten miles on the
other side of the frontier, and we might very well be sent on some
message. A complaint of some of the villagers, that their rights have
not been respected as agreed by the treaty, or that they have been
robbed by men from this side of the frontier--there are plenty of
things about which Tippoo might be sending a message to Kistnagherry.
The worst of it is that Tippoo has not given us a mission, and I do
hate your having to say what is not true."

Surajah was not so particular, and he replied:

"Well, he has given us a mission to visit the hill forts, and as
Kistnagherry is a hill fort, it is not a very great stretch to include
it."

Dick laughed.

"That is ingenious, Surajah. Anyhow, I don't see any better excuse for
crossing the frontier, and so we must make the best of it; but I hope
we sha'n't be asked at all."

"I think, if I say we are going to Kistnagherry, and then show
Tippoo's order and seal, that will be sufficient; and the story will
be quite true, for we shall go by Kistnagherry, as the road passes
close to the fortress."

"Yes, that will be quite true, Surajah, and the officers are not
likely to ask any further questions.

"How are you getting on, Annie?"

"Oh, much better than I did yesterday," she said. "I would much rather
not halt, until we are across the frontier. I am getting accustomed to
the motion now, and am not at all afraid of falling off. I dare say I
shall be rather stiff, when we halt, but that will not matter, then."

The sun was just setting when they arrived at a newly-erected house,
round which ten or twelve tents were arranged. An officer came out of
the house as they approached. He salaamed on seeing two officials of
the Palace, wearing the emblems of the rank of colonels. Surajah
returned the usual Moslem salutation.

"We are going to Kistnagherry," he said. "Here is the sultan's order."

The officer glanced at the seal, placed it to his forehead, and then
stood aside.

"Will you return tonight, my lord? I ask that I may give orders to the
sentries."

"No; there is no chance of our being able to be back before morning."

He touched his horse, and then trotted on again. Not a word was
spoken, until they had gone a few hundred yards, and then Dick checked
his horse, and, as Annie came alongside, held out his hand and said:

"Thank God, Annie, that we have got you safely back onto English
territory."



Chapter 17: Back At Tripataly.


Annie's lips moved, as Dick announced that they had crossed the Mysore
boundary, but no sound came from them. He saw her eyes close, and she
reeled in the saddle.

"Hold her, Surajah," Dick exclaimed, "or she will fall."

Leaning over, Surajah caught her by the shoulder; and Dick, leaping to
the ground, stopped her horse, and, lifting her from the saddle,
seated her upon a bank and supported her.

"Some water, Surajah!" he exclaimed.

Surajah poured a little water from the skin into the hollow of Dick's
hand, and the latter sprinkled the girl's face with it.

"I have not fainted," she murmured, opening her eyes, "but I turned
giddy. I shall be better, directly."

"Drink a little wine," Dick said.

Surajah poured some into a cup, but with an effort she sat up, and
pushed it from her.

"There is nothing the matter," she said. "Only, only" and she burst
suddenly into a passion of sobbing.

The spirit that she had shown, so long as there was danger, had
deserted her now that the peril had passed, and she was safe.

Dick looked at her, helplessly. A girl in tears was a creature wholly
beyond his experience, and he had no idea what he ought to do in such
an emergency. He therefore adopted what was, doubtless, the best
course, had he but known it, of letting her alone. After a time, the
violence of her crying abated, and only short sobs broke from her, as
she sat with her face hidden in her hands.

"That is right, Annie," he said, putting his hand on her shoulder. "It
is quite natural for you to cry, after the excitement and fatigue you
have gone through. You have been very brave, and have not said a word
of complaint today about your fatigue, although you must be
desperately tired. Now, try and pull yourself together. It is getting
dark already, and we ought to be moving on to Ryacotta, which cannot
be much more than a mile away. You shall ride in front of me, when we
get there."

"I would rather not," she said, getting up with a painful effort. "I
am awfully foolish, and I am so sorry that I broke down, but I felt so
delighted that I could not help it. You said we could camp, safely,
when we once got across the frontier. Would you mind doing so? For I
don't think I could go much farther."

"Certainly we can camp," Dick said cheerfully. "But we must get a
little bit farther from that post we passed. If they were to see a
fire, here, they would be sure to suspect something. I see a clump of
trees a quarter of a mile on. We can make our camp there, and I would
rather do that, myself, than go on to Ryacotta, where our appearance
in the Mysore uniform would excite a stir, and we should have no end
of questions to answer.

"But I am sure that you are not fit to walk, even that distance. Now,
I will lift you on my saddle, and you can sit sideways. There, I will
walk by your side, and you can put your hand to my shoulder to steady
yourself. Surajah can lead your horse and his own, and Ibrahim can
take mine."

In this way they performed the journey to the trees, and then halted.
Annie was lifted down, and laid on a rug. Dick insisted on her
drinking some wine, and then, covering her with another rug, they left
her and lighted a fire, fifty yards away.

"Look here, Ibrahim, put that whole chicken into the pan, cover it
with water, and let it stew. Don't let it boil fast, but just simmer
until it falls all to pieces. Then I will wake her, if she has gone to
sleep, and make her drink the broth. It will do her ever so much more
good than wine, and she will be all right in the morning, though no
doubt she will be desperately stiff again. Still, it has not been a
longer ride than she had yesterday. I expect it is the excitement,
more than the fatigue, that has upset her. Tomorrow she must ride in
front of me, again."

An hour and a half later, Dick went across with the cup full of strong
broth.

"Are you asleep, Annie?" he said, when he reached her side.

"No, I am not asleep. There is so much to think of, and it is such
happiness to know that I am free, that I feel quite wide awake.
Besides, you know, I have been asleep for hours today, and I slept all
night, as I was riding before you."

"Then sit up, and drink this hot broth. It will do you good. And after
that, I hope you will go off. You won't be fit for anything, tomorrow,
if you don't have a good night. You will have plenty of time to think,
as we ride along."

The girl did as she was told.

"It is very nice," she said, as she handed the cup back to him. "Oh,
Dick, I do hope that we shall find my father and mother. I don't want
to, for some things, but I do for others, and most of all that they
may thank you for all your goodness to me, which I shall never be able
to do, myself."

"Nonsense, child!" he said cheerfully. "I have done what every one
would do, if they found a little countrywoman in distress. I should
have gone away from Seringapatam anyhow, if I had not met you, and
getting you down is a good excuse for me to go back and spend a
fortnight with my mother.

"Now get off to sleep, as quickly as you can. We will see what we can
do to make things comfortable for your ride, tomorrow."

It was late when Annie awoke. The sun was some distance above the
horizon, and she saw her companions occupied with the horses. In a few
minutes she joined them.

"I am ashamed at sleeping so long," she said.

"We were glad to find that you did," Dick replied. "If you went to
sleep soon after I brought you the broth, you have had ten hours of
it, and ought to feel all the better."

"I do," she said. "I am very stiff, but not so stiff as I was
yesterday morning. How you are both altered!"

"Yes. It would never have done to have gone on in our gay dresses, and
Tippoo's badges. These are the clothes we came up in, and we shall
attract no attention whatever. You won't have to ride far, today. It
will be as well for you to keep to your own horse, until we have
passed through Ryacotta, which is not much more than half a mile away.
After that, you must sit on this pad I have fastened behind my saddle.
You can sit sideways, you know, and put your arm around me, just as
ladies used to ride in England, a couple of hundred years ago."

As soon as they had eaten something they started, and rode at a good
pace to the little town. People looked at them somewhat curiously as
they passed through the street, wondering that they should have come
from Mysore; but as they did not halt, no one asked any questions. The
population were, at present, a good deal divided. The great majority
by no means regretted their change of masters. Some of the Mohammedans
had left, when the place was taken over by the English, and had
crossed into Mysore. Others had remained, and hoped that, ere long,
Tippoo would drive back the British, and regain his former dominions.

Before mounting, the rich housings and the silver work on the bridles
had been removed, and hidden among the rugs, and there was nothing
beyond the excellence of two of the horses, and the direction from
which they came, to attract attention.

When well beyond the town, they halted. The saddlebags were all packed
upon Annie's horse. Dick lifted the girl on to the pad behind his
saddle, and then mounted.

"Now hold tight by me," he said, "and mind, whenever you are tired, we
will halt for an hour's rest. We will not go more than twenty miles
today, and then it will only be as much more down to Tripataly,
tomorrow. We will walk for a bit, until you get quite accustomed to
your seat."

After a while, the horses broke into a gentle canter. For a time,
Annie felt very doubtful as to whether she could retain her seat, and
so held tight with one arm to Dick, while with the other hand she kept
a firm hold of the crupper. Presently, however, she was able to
release her hold of the latter, and it was not long before she was
able, honestly, to assure Dick that she felt quite comfortable, and
had no fear of falling off.

In two hours they passed near the hill on which stood the fortress of
Kistnagherry, which had successfully resisted the attack of the
English, but above which now flew the British flag. Skirting round the
foot, they came, in the course of an hour and a half's ride, on to the
direct road which they had left at Anicull, in order to avoid passing
through the town of Oussoor. Here they came upon a large village, and
Dick found no difficulty in hiring a light native cart to take Annie,
who was, as he felt by the relaxation of her hold, unable to proceed
farther on horseback, or continue straight through to Tripataly.

A thick layer of straw was placed at the bottom of the cart, a couple
of rugs spread over it, and on this Annie was enabled to lie down at
her ease. The horses were fed and watered, and had an hour's rest, and
then they started for the last twenty miles of their journey.

Annie had, while the horses were resting, a chat with a native woman,
and had gone into her house with her. When they were ready for the
start, she returned, dressed in the costume she had worn in the
Palace. It had originally been intended to get rid of the clothes,
after starting, but Annie had asked for them to be taken on.

"I can change again, before I get to Tripataly," she said. "I should
not like to appear before your mother, for the first time, dressed as
a boy."

And Dick had at once fallen in with her wishes.

The turban was gone, and her head was covered in the fashion of native
women, with a long cotton cloth of a deep red colour.

Where the road was good, the cart proceeded at a fair pace, but in the
pass down the ghauts they could go only at a walk, and the sun had set
before they reached Tripataly. Dick, seeing that Annie was growing
very nervous, as they neared their destination, had ridden all the way
by the side of the cart, chatting cheerfully with her.

"Why, Annie," he said, "you look as solemn as if you were just going
into slavery, instead of having escaped from it."

"It is not that I feel solemn, Dick. It is that everything is so new
and strange. Of course, after your saving my life, I have never felt
that you were a stranger, and as long as there were only you and
Surajah, I did not mind, and I have felt quite at home with you. But
now that I am going to a new place, where I don't know anyone, I can't
help feeling desolate."

"You will feel quite as much at home with them, in twenty-four hours,
as you have done with me, Annie. You are tired now, and quite worn out
with your journey, and so you take a gloomy view of things. I will
guarantee that, before I go away again, you will be good friends with
everyone, and will wonder how you could have thought it to be anything
dreadful to come among them."

When they got within a mile of Tripataly, Dick said:

"Now I will ride on ahead, Annie, and prepare my mother for your
coming. It will be pleasant to have no questions or explanations when
you arrive, and I am sure she will carry you straight off to bed, and
keep you there, until you have quite got over the effects of your
journey."

He did not wait to hear Annie's faint protest against his leaving her,
but telling Surajah to take his place beside the cart, and to keep
talking to the girl, he galloped on ahead. He sprang from his horse in
the courtyard, threw the reins to a servant, and ran in. The party had
just sat down to their evening meal, and as he entered he was greeted
by exclamations of astonishment and welcome.

His mother had received two letters, sent through Pertaub by traders
going down from Seringapatam. In these he had told her, first, of his
arrival and of the adventure with the tiger, and of his obtaining the
post in the Palace; and in the second of the non-success that had
attended his visits to the hill forts. He had told her that he should
probably leave Seringapatam shortly, and continue the search, but that
she must not anticipate any result, for a long time.

"Well, Mother," he said, after the first embrace and greetings were
over, "I have left Tippoo's service, you see, and am no longer a
colonel, or an officer of the Palace. I have come down to spend a
fortnight with you, before I set out again on my travels."

"Has Surajah come back with you, Dick?" the Rajah asked.

"Yes. He will be here in a few minutes, with a cart. That is one of
the reasons why I came down here. I found, among the slaves of the
harem, a white girl about fourteen years old. She is the daughter of a
British officer named Mansfield, and was carried away from her
parents, eight years ago. She was the only white captive left in the
Palace. There have been other girls, in a similar position, but they
have all, at about fourteen or fifteen, been given by Tippoo to his
officers; as would have been her fate, before long, so I determined to
carry her off with me, and bring her to you, until we could find her
parents. She is a very plucky girl, and, although she had never been
on a horse before, rode all the way down, until we got this side of
Kistnagherry. But as you may imagine, the poor little thing is
completely knocked up, so we brought her down from there in a cart.

"It is something, Mother, to have saved one captive from Tippoo's
grasp, even though it is not the dear one that I was looking for; and
I promised that you would be a mother to her, until we could restore
her to her friends."

"Certainly I will, Dick," Mrs. Holland said warmly.

"Will you tell the girls, Gholla," she said to her sister-in-law, "to
have a bed made up for her, in my room?"

"I will do so at once," the ranee said. "Poor little thing, she must
have had a journey, indeed."

"She will be here directly, Mother," Dick said, as his aunt gave the
necessary directions for the bed to be prepared, and a dish of rice
and strong gravy. "She is very nervous, and I am sure it will be best
if you will meet her, when she arrives, and take her straight to her
room."

"That is what I was going to do, Dick," his mother said, with a smile.
"Well, I will go down with you, at once."

Two or three minutes later, the cart entered the courtyard. Mrs.
Holland was on the steps. Dick ran down, and helped Annie from the
cart. The girl was trembling violently.

"Don't be afraid, Annie," Dick whispered, as he lifted her down. "Here
is my mother, waiting to receive you.

"This is the young lady," he went on cheerfully, as he turned to his
mother. "I promised her a warm welcome, in your name."

Mrs. Holland had already come down the steps, and as the girl turned
towards her, she took her in her arms, and kissed her in motherly
fashion.

"Welcome, indeed," she said. "I will be a mother to you, poor child,
till I can hand you over to your own. I thank God for sending you to
me. It will be a comfort to me to know that, even if my son should
never bring my husband back to me, he has at least succeeded in
rescuing one victim from Tippoo, and in making one family happy."

The girl clung to her, crying softly.

"Oh, how good you all are!" she sobbed. "It seems too much happiness
to be true."

"It is quite true, dear. Come with me. We will go up the private
stairs, and I will put you straight to bed in my room, and no one else
shall see you, or question you, until you are quite recovered from
your fatigue."

"I am afraid," Annie began faintly.

She did not need to say more. Mrs. Holland interrupted her.

"Dick, you must lift her up, and carry her into my room. Poor child,
she is utterly exhausted, and no wonder."

A couple of minutes later, Dick returned to the dining room. He had
run down, first, to tell Surajah to come up with him, but found that
he had already gone to his father's apartments.

"Well, Dick," the Rajah said, as he entered, "I was prepared, after
hearing of that tiger adventure, and of you and Surajah being colonels
in Tippoo's household, for almost anything; but I certainly never
dreamt of your returning here with an English girl."

"I suppose not, Uncle. Such a thing certainly never entered into my
calculations. I did not even know there was a white girl in the
Palace, until one day she stopped me, as I was passing along the
corridor near the harem, to thank me for saving her life--for it was
this girl that the tiger had struck down, and was standing upon, when
I fired at him. Of course, she had no idea that I was English. We only
said a few words then, for if I had been seen talking to a slave girl
belonging to the harem, I might have got into a scrape. However, I saw
her afterwards, and she told me about herself, and how she was afraid
that she would be given away to one of Tippoo's officers. Of course, I
could not leave her to such a fate as that.

"There was really no difficulty in getting her away. She was dressed
as a boy, and only had to ride, with our servant, after us. We had
arranged so that our absence would not be noticed, until we had been
away for at least twenty-four hours, and of course, as officers of the
Palace, no one questioned us on the journey, so that it is a very
simple affair altogether, and the only difficulty there was, rose from
her being completely tired out and exhausted by the journey, as she
was utterly unaccustomed to travelling. I had to carry her one night,
in front of me on my saddle, for she was scarce able to stand."

"I am not surprised at that. A journey of a hundred and fifty miles,
to anyone who has never been on horseback, would be a terrible trial,
especially to a young girl. I really wonder that she did not break
down altogether. Why, you can remember how stiff you were, yourself,
the first day or two you were here, and that after riding only an hour
or two."

"I know, Uncle, and I should not have been in the least surprised, if
she had collapsed. I talked it over with Surajah, and we agreed that,
if she could not go on, we must hire a vehicle of some sort, and let
her travel, every day, in front of us with Ibrahim, and that if it
delayed us so much that there was any possibility of our being
overtaken, we would have put on our peasant's dresses, got rid of our
horses, and have gone forward on foot.

"However, she kept up wonderfully well, and always made the best of
things."

"We won't ask you to tell us anything more, Dick, till your mother
joins us, or you will have to go over the story twice."

"No, Uncle; and I can assure you I don't want to tell the story until
I have had my supper, for our meals have not been very comfortable on
the road, and I have not eaten anything since early this morning."

"What is Tippoo doing, Dick?"

"Well, as far as I can see, Uncle, he is preparing for war again. He
is strengthening all his forts, building fresh defences to
Seringapatam, and drilling numbers of fresh troops."

"The English general made a great mistake, in not finishing with him
when he was there. We ought to have taken the city, sent Tippoo down a
prisoner to Madras, and there tried him for the murder of scores of
Englishmen, and hung him over the ramparts. We shall have all our work
to do over again, in another four or five years. However, it will not
be such a difficult business as it was last time, now that we have the
passes in our hands."

"There is no doubt, Uncle, that a considerable part of the population
will be heartily glad when Tippoo's power is at an end. You see, he
and Hyder were both usurpers, and had no more right to the throne than
you had."

"Quite so, Dick, and that makes our letting him off, when we could
have taken the capital easily, all the more foolish. If he had been
the lawful ruler of Mysore, it might not have been good policy to push
him too hard, for he would have had sympathy from all the native
princes of India. But, as being only the son of an adventurer, who had
deposed and ill-treated the lawful ruler of Mysore, it would seem to
them but a mere act of justice, if the English had dethroned him and
punished him--provided, of course, they put a native prince on the
throne, and did not annex all his dominions.

"It has all got to come some day. I can see that, in time, the English
will be the rulers of all India, but at present they are not strong
enough to face a general coalition of the native states against them;
and any very high-handed action, in Mysore, might well alarm the
native princes, throughout India, into laying aside their quarrels
with each other, and combining in an attempt to drive them out."

Just as they had finished their meal, Mrs. Holland entered.

"The poor child is asleep," she said. "She wanted to talk at first,
and to tell me how grateful she was to you, Dick; but of course I
insisted on her being quiet, and said that she should tell me all
about it, in the morning. She ate a few mouthfuls of the rice, and not
long after she lay down, she fell asleep. I have left Sundra sitting
there, in case she should wake up again, but I don't think it is
likely that she will do so.

"Now, Dick, you must tell us all about it."

Dick was not a great hand at writing letters, so he had not entered,
with any fullness, into the details of what he was doing, the
principal point being to let his mother know that he was alive and
well.

"Before he begins," the Rajah said, "I will send for Rajbullub and
Surajah. Master Dick is rather fond of cutting his stories short, and
we must have Surajah here to fill up details."

Surajah and his father soon appeared. The former was warmly greeted by
the Rajah, and when they had seated themselves on a divan, Dick
proceeded to tell the story. He was not interrupted, until he came to
the incident of the killing of the tiger, and here Surajah was called
upon to supplement the story, which he did, doing full credit to the
quickness with which Dick had, without a moment's loss of time, cut
the netting and ascended to the window.

When Dick came to the incident of the ladies of the harem presenting
them, in Tippoo's presence, with the two caskets, Mrs. Holland broke
in:

"You did not say anything about that in your letter, Dick. Let me see
your casket. Where is it?"

"It is in one of the saddlebags," Dick said.

"They are in my room," Rajbullub corrected. "Surajah brought them up
at once."

"Then he had better get them," the Rajah said.

"What do they contain, Dick?" he asked, as Surajah left the room.

"All sorts of things--necklaces and rings. Some of them are stones, as
if they had been taken out of their settings. Pertaub said they had
done this because they thought, perhaps, that Tippoo would not allow
the jewels they had worn to be sold, or worn by anyone else."

"Then I should think that they must be valuable," the ranee said.

"Pertaub said they were worth a good deal, but I don't know whether he
really knew about the cost of precious stones. Some of the things were
of small value, being, I suppose, the trinkets of the slave girls. All
gave something, and there is a little cross there that belonged to
Annie. It has her initials on it, and she had it on her neck, when she
was captured. It was the thing she valued most, and therefore she gave
it. I don't suppose she had anything else, except the usual trinkets
she would wear, when she went out on special occasions with the ladies
of the harem. I thought it would be useful to us, to prove who she
was."

Surajah now returned with the casket.

"You had better look at Surajah's first," Dick said. "I don't know
anything about it, but it looks as if mine were the more valuable. I
wanted Surajah to put them all together, and divide fairly, but he
would not."

"My son was perfectly right," Rajbullub said. "If it had not been for
the young lord, the deed would never have been done at all. Surajah
aided in killing the tiger, but that was nothing more than he has done
on the hills, here. It is to you the merit is entirely due. The purse
that the Sultan gave my son was, in itself, an ample reward for the
share he took in it.

"Now, Surajah, open your casket. The ladies are waiting to see the
contents."

The whole of the little packets, some fifty in number, were opened and
examined; many of them eliciting exclamations of admiration from the
ranee and Mrs. Holland.

"There is no doubt that many of them are worth a good deal of money,"
the Rajah said. "It is certain that Tippoo's treasuries are full of
the spoils he has carried off, from the states he has overrun, and the
ladies of the harem, no doubt, possess a store of the jewels, and
could afford to be liberal to those whom they considered had saved
their lives. Those seven, which you put together as the best, must
alone be worth a large sum. I should think that the total value of the
whole cannot be less than forty or fifty thousand rupees, so that, if
those in your casket are handsomer than these, Dick, they must be
valuable, indeed."

Dick's casket was next examined.

"Some of these stones are magnificent, Dick. Those three great
diamonds could only be valued by a jeweller accustomed to such things,
for their value depends upon their being of good lustre, and free from
all flaws; but, according to my judgment, I should say that, at the
very least, they must be worth ten thousand rupees each. That pearl
necklace is worth at least as much. Those rubies are superb. I should
say, lad, that the value of the whole cannot be less than fifteen
thousand pounds.

"The harem must be rich in jewels, indeed, to be able to make such
gifts. Not that I am surprised at that. Tippoo had all the jewels
belonging to the lawful rulers of Mysore. He has captured all those of
Coorg, Travancore, and the other states on the Malabar coast. He and
his father have looted all the Carnatic, from Cape Comorin to the
north of Madras. He has captured many of the Nizam's cities, and
several Mahratta provinces.

"In fact, he has accumulated, at Seringapatam, the spoils of the whole
of southern India, and those of the Hindoo portion of his own people.
The value of the jewels, alone, must be millions of pounds; and as he
himself, as they say, dresses simply, and only wears one or two gems,
of immense value, he may well have bestowed large quantities upon his
harem, especially as these would be, in fact, only loans, as at the
death of their wearers they would revert to him, or, indeed, could be
reclaimed at any moment, in a freak of bad temper.

"I have no doubt they had to ask his permission to give you the
presents, and as you, at the moment, were in high favour with him, I
daresay he suffered them to give what they chose, without inquiring at
all into their value. The gold he gave you was simply to procure your
outfits, and he left it to the harem to reward you, as they chose, for
the service you had rendered.

"Well, Dick, I congratulate you heartily. It places your future beyond
doubt, and leaves you free to choose any mode of life that you may
prefer.

"I congratulate you, too, Margaret, on the lad's good fortune; which
he has well deserved by his conduct.

"See this, my sons. Here you have a proof of the advantages of the
training your cousin has had. The quickness and coolness he has
acquired, by it, enabled him to make his way down through the fort at
the top of the pass, and to defend the ruined hut against fifty
enemies. Now it has enabled him to seize the opportunity, opened by
the attack of the tiger on Tippoo's harem, thereby gaining the
Sultan's favour, his appointment to the rank of colonel in the Mysore
army, a post in his Palace, and this magnificent collection of gems.
Without that quickness and decision, his courage alone would have done
little for him. We in India have courage; but it is because our
princes and nobles are brought up in indolence and luxury that the
English, though but a handful in point of numbers, have become masters
of such wide territories. Surajah is as brave as Dick, but he would be
the first to tell you that it is to Dick he owes it that, on their
first excursion together, he escaped with his life; and that, in this
last adventure, he attained rank and position, and has returned with
these valuable gifts."

"It is indeed, my lord," Surajah said. "The young lord has been my
leader, and I have tried to carry out his orders. Alone, I could never
have got through the gate in the fort, and should no more have thought
of going to the assistance of the ladies of the Sultan's harem than
did any other of the thousands of men who were there, looking on."

"So you see, boys," the Rajah went on, "that though, when he came out
here, your cousin was able neither to shoot nor to ride, and can
neither shoot nor ride as well, now, as can tens of thousands of
natives; he has acquired, from his training in rough exercises,
qualities of infinitely greater value than these accomplishments; and
I do hope that his example will stir you up to take much greater
interest than, in spite of my advice, you have hitherto done in active
sports and exercises. Your grandmother was an Englishwoman, and I want
to see that, with the white blood in your veins, you have some of the
vigour and energy of Englishmen."

It was some days before Annie Mansfield left her room. For the first
two she had been completely prostrated. After that, she rapidly gained
strength; but Mrs. Holland thought it best to insist upon her
remaining perfectly quiet, until she had quite recovered. Either she
or the ranee were constantly with her, so that when, at the end of a
week, she made her first appearance at the breakfast table, she was
already at home with three of the party.

Before long her shyness completely wore off, and she seemed to have
become really a member of the family. Mrs. Holland had altered two of
her own dresses to fit her, but she preferred, for a time, to dress in
Indian costume, to which she was accustomed; and which was, indeed,
much better suited to the climate than the more closely-fitting
European dress. Mrs. Holland, however, bargained that she should, of
an evening, wear the frocks she had made for her.

"You must get accustomed to them, my dear, so that when you find your
own people, you will not be stiff and awkward; as you certainly will
be, when you dress in English fashion for the first time."

The day after his arrival, Dick had written to the military secretary
of the governor of Madras, with whom he was well acquainted, to tell
him that, having gone up in disguise to Seringapatam, to endeavour to
ascertain the fate of his father, he had discovered a young English
girl, detained as a slave in Tippoo's harem, and that he had enabled
her to effect her escape, and had placed her in the charge of his
mother. He then repeated the account Annie had given of her capture,
and asked if the circumstances could be identified, and if the
officer, of the name of Mansfield, concerned in it was still alive;
and if so, was he still in India?

Annie was secretly dreading the arrival of the answer. After her life
as a slave, her present existence seemed to her so perfectly happy
that she shrank from the idea of any fresh change. She had no memory,
whatever, of her parents, and had already a very strong affection for
Mrs. Holland. She liked the ranee very much also, and the absence of
all state and ceremony, in the household of the Rajah, was to her
delightful. She was already on good terms with the boys; and as to
Dick, she was always ready to go out with him, if he would take her,
to run messages for him, or to do anything in her power; and, indeed,
watched him anxiously, as if she would discover and forestall his
slightest wish.

"One would think, Annie," he said one day, "that you were still a
slave, and that I was your master. I don't want you to wait on me,
child, as you waited on the ladies of the harem. However, as I shall
be going away in a few days now, it does not matter; but I should grow
as lazy as a young rajah, if this were to go on long."

"What shall I do when you go away, Dick?"

"Well, I hope that you will set to work, hard, to learn to read and
write, and other things my mother will teach you. You would not like,
when you find your own people, to be regarded by girls of your own age
as an ignorant little savage; and I want you to set to, and make up
for lost time; so that, if you are still here when I come back, I
shall find you have made wonderful progress."

"Oh, I do hope I sha'n't be gone before that, Dick!"

"I am afraid you must make up your mind to it, Annie, for there is no
saying how long I may be away next time. You see, there is not much
chance of my lighting upon another white slave girl, and having to
bring her down here; and I shall go in for a long, steady search for
my father."

"I don't want you to find another slave girl, Dick," she said
earnestly, "not even if it brought you down here again. I should not
like that at all."

"Why not, Annie?"

"Oh, you might like her ever so much better than me. I should like you
to do all sorts of brave things, Dick, and to save people as you have
saved me, but I would rather there was not another girl."

Dick laughed.

"Well, I don't suppose that there is much chance of it. Besides, I
can't turn my uncle's palace into a Home for Lost Girls."

Two days before Dick and Surajah started again, the reply from the
military secretary arrived. It stated that the time and circumstances
pointed out that the place besieged and forced to surrender, eight
years before, was Corsepan; and this was indeed rendered a certainty,
by the fact that the officer in command was Captain Mansfield. He had
with him a half company of Europeans, and three companies of Sepoys.
On looking through the official papers at the time, he had found
Captain Mansfield's report, in which he stated that, on the night
after leaving the fort, the troops, which had been reduced to half
their original strength, had been attacked by a party either of
dacoits or irregular troops. Fearing that some such act of treachery
might be attempted, he had told his men to conceal a few cartridges
under their clothes, when they marched out with empty cartridge
pouches. They had, on arriving at their halting place, loaded; and,
when the dacoits fell upon them, had opened fire.

The robbers doubtless expected to find them defenceless, and speedily
fled. In the confusion, some of them had penetrated far into the camp,
and had carried off the captain's daughter, a child of six years old.
When peace was signed with Tippoo, three weeks afterwards, the
commissioners were ordered to make special inquiries as to this child,
and to demand her restoration. They reported that Tippoo denied all
knowledge of the affair, and neither she, nor any of the other girls
there, were ever given up. The letter went on:

"There can be no doubt that the young lady you rescued is the child
who was carried off, and the initials you speak of, on the cross, may
certainly be taken as proof of her identity. Her father retired from
the Service last year, with the rank of colonel. I am, of course,
ignorant of his address. As you say that Mrs. Holland will gladly
continue in charge of her, I would suggest that you should write a
letter to Colonel Mansfield, stating the circumstances of the case,
and saying that, as soon as you are informed of his address, the young
lady will be sent to England. I will enclose the letter in one to the
Board of Directors, briefly stating the circumstances, and requesting
them to forward the enclosure to Colonel Mansfield."

To Annie, the letter came as a relief. It would be nearly a year
before a letter could be received from her father. Until then she
would be able to remain in her new home.



Chapter 18: A Narrow Escape.


Mrs. Holland undertook to write the letter to Annie's father, and did
so at very much greater length than Dick would have done, giving him
the story of the girl's life at Seringapatam, the circumstances of her
meeting Dick, and the story of her escape. She assured him that his
daughter was all that he could wish her to be.

"She is of a very affectionate disposition. She is frank, outspoken,
and natural--qualities that are wonderful, considering the years she
has passed as a slave in the harem. Now that she has been with us for
a fortnight, and has recovered from the fatigue of her flight, and is
beginning to feel at home, she has regained her natural spirits, after
their long repression.

"Personally, she is of about the average height, and of a more
graceful figure than is usual with girls of her age. The stain has now
worn off her face, and I should say she will, as she grows up, be
pretty. She is fair rather than dark, has expressive eyes, and a nice
mouth. Altogether, had I a daughter, I should be well content if she
resembled your Annie. I shall, I can assure you, do my best to supply
the place of a mother to her, until I receive a letter from you, and
shall part from her with regret. She is, of course, at present
entirely uneducated, but she has already begun to learn with me, and
as she is quick and intelligent I hope that, before I resign my
charge, her deficiencies will be so far repaired that she will be able
to pass muster, in all ordinary matters."

"You will be back before I go, won't you, Dick?" Annie said, as she
sat by his side on a seat in the garden, on the evening before he was
to start.

"I think so," he said. "We can calculate on your being here ten
months, anyhow. I have been talking it over with my mother. If it had
not been for those jewels, I should have given up the search for my
father after another six months, because it would have been high time
for me to get to work in some profession. I had, indeed, made up my
mind to enter the Company's service, for Lord Cornwallis promised me a
commission, and my uncle received a letter some time ago, from the
governor of Madras, saying that, on the very strong recommendation of
Lord Cornwallis, and his report of my services, he was authorised to
grant me one. It was to be dated back to the time I joined Lord
Cornwallis, more than two years ago. However, now that I am really
made independent of a profession, I shall probably continue my search
for a somewhat longer time. But at any rate, I will promise to come
back, at the end of ten months from the present time, so as to say
goodbye to you, before you start."

The girl's face brightened.

"Thank you, Dick. I don't think I should go, anyhow, until I saw you
again--not even if I got a letter saying that I was to sail by the
next ship."

"My uncle would take you down bodily, and put you on board," Dick
laughed. "Mind, Annie, when I come back, at the end of ten months, I
shall expect to find you quite an educated young lady. I shall think
of all sorts of hard questions, in geography and history, to put to
you."

"I will try hard, Dick, really hard, to please you. I have had three
lessons, and I have learnt all the letters quite well."

"That is a good beginning, Annie. It took me a lot longer than that, I
know."

The next morning, Dick and Surajah started. They were to ride up the
ghauts, to the frontier line at Amboor, two troopers accompanying them
to bring back their horses. There they were to disguise themselves as
traders, and make their way direct to Bangalore. Dick said goodbye to
his mother, up in her own room.

"You must not be down-hearted, Mother," he said, as she tried in vain
to keep back her tears. "You see, I have come back to you twice,
safely, and after passing unsuspected in Tippoo's palace, there is no
fear of my being detected elsewhere. Besides, of course, every month I
am there I become better acquainted with the people, and can pass as a
native more easily."

"I am not really afraid, my boy. You have got on so well that, it
seems to me, God will surely protect you and bring you back safely.
And I can't help thinking that this time your search may be
successful. You know why I feel convinced that your father is still
alive, and, in spite of past disappointments, I still cling to the
belief."

"Well, Mother, if he is to be found I will find him. There are still
many hill forts where he may be living, and his very existence
forgotten, and until I have visited every one of them, I don't mean to
give up the search. Anyhow, I shall come back at the end of ten
months, whether I have heard of him or not. I have promised Annie that
I will be back before she sails. It is not a very long journey down
here, and I shall drop in for a fortnight's stay with you, as I have
done this time."

"She is in the next room, crying her eyes out, Dick. You had better
look in there, and say goodbye to her. She is not fit to go down to
the door."

After parting with his mother, Dick went in to see Annie.

"You must not cry so, child," he said, as she rose from the divan,
with her face swollen with crying. "I am sure that you will be very
happy here, until I come back."

"I know, Dick; but it won't be at all the same, without you."

"Oh, you will have plenty to do, and you will soon fall into regular
ways. Besides, you know, you have got to comfort my mother, and keep
up her spirits, and I quite rely upon you to do that."

"I will try, Dick," she said earnestly.

"Now, goodbye, Annie."

He held out his hand, but she threw her arms round his neck, and
kissed him.

"You have never kissed me, not once," she said reproachfully, "and you
were going away without it, now. Your mother kisses me, and the
English girls in the harem always used to do so."

"But that is different, Annie. Girls and women do kiss each other, but
boys and girls do not kiss, unless they are brothers and sisters, or
are relations, or something of that sort."

"But you are not a boy. You are a great big man, Dick."

"I am not much more than a boy yet, Annie. However, there is no harm
in kissing, when one is saying goodbye, so there.

"Now be a good girl, and don't fret;" and he ran downstairs to the
door, where his uncle and the two boys were standing.

"Take care of yourself, lad," the Rajah said, as, after bidding them
goodbye, Dick sprang upon his horse. "Whenever you get a chance, send
down a letter as we arranged last night, to the care of Azol Afool,
trader, Tripataly. That will seem natural enough, whoever you send it
by, while a letter directed to me might excite suspicion.

"Goodbye."

"Goodbye, Uncle;" and, with a wave of his hand, Dick rode off and
joined Surajah, who was waiting for him a short distance off. And
then, followed by Ibrahim--who had begged so earnestly to be allowed
to accompany them that Dick had consented to take him, feeling indeed
that his services would be most useful to them--and the two troopers,
they rode off at a sharp pace.

At Amboor they assumed their disguises. Dick purchased a pack pony,
and some goods suitable to their appearance as pedlers, and then they
started up the pass on foot. They passed the frontier line without any
interruption, stopped and chatted for a few minutes with the guard,
and then passed on up the valley.

"There is the house where we had our fight, Surajah," Dick said, as
they reached the ruined village. "Though there is peace now, I fancy
we should not get much farther than that fort ahead, if they guessed
that we were the fellows who gave them such trouble, two years and a
half ago."

"There is no fear of our being recognised," Surajah said. "The guard
has probably been changed, long ago. Besides, they never once caught
sight of our faces."

"Oh, no; we are safe enough," Dick agreed. "If I had not been sure of
that, we would have gone up one of the passes to the south, that has
been ceded to us, though it would have been a great deal longer round
to Bangalore--unless, indeed, we had gone by Kistnagherry, and that
would have been too dangerous to attempt, for the officers on the
frontier would probably have recognised us."

It was late in the afternoon before they arrived at the gate. It stood
open, and there was no sentry on duty. A few soldiers could be seen,
loitering about in the street; but it was evident that, now the war
was over and everything finally settled, it was considered that all
occasion for vigilance was at an end.

Upon making inquiries, they soon found a house where they could put up
for the night. They had, as is the custom in India, brought their
provisions with them, and after leaving their goods in the house, and
seeing that the horse was fed, Ibrahim set to work to cook a meal;
while the others opened one of the packs, and went round the village,
where they disposed of a few small articles.

They arrived, without any adventure, at Bangalore. There, as soon as
they had established themselves at one of the caravansaries for
travellers, Dick and Surajah went to the house of the trader to whom
Pertaub had promised to consign their goods.

"We have come for some packs, that have been sent by friends of ours
at Seringapatam to your care," Dick said, making as he spoke the sign
that Pertaub had taught him, as enabling those who were Hindoos to
recognise each other, at once. "We were to use the word 'Madras' as a
sign that we were the parties to whom they were consigned."

"The goods arrived a week ago," the trader said, "and are lying for
you at my warehouse. I will hand them over to you, tomorrow morning."

"Thank you. We may not come early, for we have to purchase two pack
horses to carry them, and three tats for ourselves and our man. This
may take us some time, and it will be, perhaps, better for us to come
to you early the next morning, and we can then start away direct."

This was arranged, and on the following day, two strong animals were
bought for the packs; and three tats, or ponies, for their own riding.
Dick had disposed of the horse he had ridden down to Tripataly for a
good price, and had also been supplied with funds by his mother,
although, as he said, the contents of their packs ought to suffice to
pay all their expenses, for a long time.

Then they purchased some provisions for the journey. The pack horse
they had brought with them was laden with these, and the goods brought
up from Amboor. The new pack horses were taken round to the trader's,
and the goods sent from Seringapatam packed on them. Then they mounted
and rode off at a walk, the pack animals following Ibrahim's horse,
tied one behind the other.

They had already debated upon the course to pursue, and finally
decided that they would, in the first place, again visit Savandroog;
for the conviction Dick had entertained, that there was at least one
white captive there, had increased rather than diminished.

"I can't give any good reason for it, Surajah," he had admitted, when
they talked it over before starting, "but it is just because I have no
good reason to give, that I want to go there again. Why should I have
such a strong conviction without a good cause? One has heard of a
presentiment of evil--I can't help feeling that this is a presentiment
of good. The question is, how can we best go there again? I don't
think it is in the least likely that the governor will have heard of
our flight, as this would be the last direction anyone would think of
our taking, for had we done so, we might have met the Sultan on his
way back from Bangalore. It will naturally be supposed that we have
made for the frontier, and have descended the Western or Southern
Ghauts. The affair will, of course, seem a mystery to them altogether;
for why should two young fellows, so recently promoted, and in such
high favour, desert Tippoo's service? If they do not associate Annie's
disappearance with our flight--and there is no reason on earth why
they should do so, as no one ever saw us speaking to her--they will
most likely think that we have fallen into the hands of the Dacoits,
or Thugs, and have been murdered. Numbers of people do disappear every
year, and are, as everyone supposes, victims of that detestable sect.
My uncle has told me of Thugs. He warned me to be very careful, if I
travelled with strangers, for that these men travel in all sorts of
disguises.

"So I think that, as far as that goes, we could boldly put on our
uniforms and badges again, and ride into Savandroog. The disadvantage
of doing so is, however, plain. The commander would remain with us all
the time. We should get no opportunity of speaking privately with any
of the soldiers, and, taking us to be in Tippoo's confidence, he
would, as before, shirk the question of prisoners. On the other hand,
if we can get in as traders we shall be able to move about
unwatched--to go to the soldiers' huts and offer goods to their wives,
and be able to find out, to a certainty, if there is a prisoner there,
and, if so, where he is kept. We may even see him; for while, if the
governor wished to keep his existence a secret, he would have shut him
up when he heard that two of Tippoo's officers were coming, he would
not trouble about it, one way or the other, in the case of a couple of
traders.

"The only objection to that course is that we were here but two or
three months since, and he and his servants, and that artillery
officer we went round with, would know us at once. If we go, we shall
have to alter our appearance completely. At any rate, we had better
provide means for disguise, and we can use them, or not, as we
please."

While they were at Tripataly, therefore, they had two false beards
made for themselves, and tried many experiments in the way of painting
their faces; and found that by tracing light lines on their foreheads,
and at the corners of their eyes, they were able, by the help of
beards, to counterfeit the appearance of old age, so well that it
could only be detected on close observation. Dick, too, had purchased
a pair of native spectacles, with large round glasses and broad
black-horn rims, that made him look, as he said, like an astonished
owl. It was agreed that Surajah should wear, under his dress, a very
thickly padded vest, which would give him the appearance of being fat,
as well as elderly.

They proceeded for seven or eight miles at a walking pace, and when
the heat of the day rendered it necessary for them to stop, turned
into a grove by the roadside, as they had no intention of going on to
Savandroog that day, intending to halt some miles short of it, and to
present themselves there the next afternoon. They therefore prepared
for a stay of some hours. The pack horses were unloaded, and the
saddles taken off the other animals.

Half an hour later a party of twelve men, travelling in the same
direction as themselves, also halted and turned in among the trees.
The man who was apparently the leader of the party came across to
where they were sitting.

"We do not disturb you, I hope, brothers?" he said. "The grove is
large enough for us all. I see that you are traders, like myself."

"By no means," Surajah replied. "The wood is open to all, and even
were it not, we should be discourteous, indeed, did we refuse to share
our shade with others. Sit down by us, I beg of you, while your people
are unloading your animals."

"I marked you as you left Bangalore," the trader said, as he seated
himself beside them, "and when I saw that you were taking the same
route that we should follow, I wondered how far our roads might lie
together."

"We are travelling west," Surajah replied. "It may be that we shall
stop at Magree, and there, or at Outradroog, stop for a day or two to
trade. Thence we may go north."

"Then as far as Outradroog our paths will lie together," the merchant
said. "There we shall strike the river, and turn south to
Seringapatam. I am sorry that you will not be going farther in our
direction, for the roads are far from safe. Since the war with the
Feringhees ended, there are many disbanded soldiers who have taken to
dacoity, and it is always better to travel with a strong band. I
wonder that you venture with three loaded animals, and only one man
beside yourselves."

Surajah was about to speak, but a quick glance from Dick stopped him.

"We think there is less danger in travelling in a small body than
there is with a large one," the latter said. "There is less to tempt
anyone to interfere with us. Moreover, we could not travel with a
caravan, because the greater part of our goods are such as would tempt
the peasantry only. We therefore stop at small villages to trade,
leaving the towns to those who travel with more valuable merchandise."

After chatting for some minutes, the traveller got up and joined his
party.

"I don't much like that fellow's looks," Dick said, when they were
alone.

"Why? He looks a very respectable man."

"Oh, yes, he looks respectable enough, but for all that I don't fancy
him. It may be that he regards us as rivals, and was only trying to
find out where we intended to stop, and whether we were likely to
spoil his trade. That was why I said what I did, so that he might
perceive that we were not likely to interfere with him.

"Then again, Surajah, I remembered my uncle's warning against joining
other travellers, as these Thugs, who, they say, commit so many
murders, generally travel in bands, disguised sometimes as traders,
sometimes as men seeking work, sometimes as disbanded soldiers.
Anyhow, it is as well to be careful. We have each got a brace of
double-barrelled pistols in our girdles, in addition to these old
single-barrelled Indian ones that we carry for show, and our swords
are leaning against the tree behind us, so we can get hold of them in
a moment. I know, of course, that the betting is all in favour of
these people being peaceful traders, but I don't want to leave
anything to chance, and there is nothing like being prepared for
whatever may happen."

Presently Dick got up and sauntered across to Ibrahim, who was engaged
in cooking.

"Ibrahim," he said, "don't look round while I speak to you, but go on
with your cooking. I don't like the look of the leader of this party.
He may be a respectable trader, he may be a Dacoit or a Thug. I want
you to keep a sharp lookout, without seeming to do so. See that your
pistols will come out of your girdle easily. Keep your sword handy for
use. If you see anything suspicious, come over and tell me, and if
there is not time for that, shout."

"I will watch, Sahib," Ibrahim said. "But they seem to me peaceable
men like ourselves. Of course they carry weapons. No one would travel
about, with merchandise, without doing so."

"They may be all right, Ibrahim, but I have a sort of feeling that
they are not, and at any rate, it is best to be cautious."

The other party did not light a fire, but sat down and ate some
provisions they carried with them. When Surajah and Dick had finished
their meal, the leader again strolled over to them. He asked whether
they intended to sleep, and on hearing that they did not, he again sat
down with them. He proceeded to discuss trading matters, to describe
the goods he carried, the places where he had purchased them, and the
prices he had given.

As he talked, Dick noticed that three or four of the others came
across. They did not sit down, but stood round listening to the
conversation, and sometimes joining in. Dick's feeling of uneasiness
increased, and thrusting one hand carelessly into his girdle, he
grasped the butt of one of his hidden pistols.

Suddenly a loud cry came from Ibrahim. At the same moment something
passed before Dick's face. He threw himself backwards, drawing his
pistol as he did so, and fired into the body of the man behind him. A
second later he shot another, who was in the act of throwing a twisted
handkerchief round Surajah's neck. Then he leapt to his feet,
delivering, as he did so, a heavy blow, with the barrel of his pistol,
on the head of the trader who had been sitting between him and
Surajah.

It had all passed in a few seconds, and the other men started back, in
their surprise at this unexpected failure of their plan.

Surajah was on his feet almost as quickly as Dick. Even yet, he did
not understand what had happened. At this moment there was the crack
of another pistol, and then Ibrahim came running towards them, having
shot a man who had suddenly drawn his sword, and tried to cut him
down. At his heels came the six men who had, up to this point, been
standing in a group near their horses.

Without hesitation, Dick drew out one of his single-barrelled pistols
and shot the pretended trader, whose turban had saved him from the
effect of the blow, and who, shouting loudly to his companions, was
struggling to his feet. The remaining eight men had all drawn their
swords, and were rushing upon them.

"Fire, Surajah!" Dick shouted. "Are you asleep, man?"

Surajah was not asleep, but he was confused by the suddenness of the
fray, and was still doubtful whether Dick had not made an entirely
unprovoked attack upon the strangers. However, he perceived that it
was now too late to discuss that point, and was a question of fighting
for his life. Accordingly, he fired both barrels of one of his
pistols. One of the men dropped.

"Your sword, Surajah!" Dick exclaimed, as he grasped the scabbard of
his own weapon in his left hand, while in his right he held his other
double-barrelled pistol.

Their antagonists, with yells of fury, were now upon them. Dick shot
one, but the next man he aimed at darted suddenly aside when he fired.
Dick dropped his pistol, and grasped the hilt of his sword just in
time to ward off a blow aimed at his head. Blow after blow was
showered upon him, so quickly that he could do no more than ward them
off and wait his opportunity. He heard Surajah fire two more shots in
quick succession; then Ibrahim suddenly dashed forward and cut down
his opponent, and then furiously engaged another, who was on the point
of attacking him from behind. Dick drew his remaining pistol, and shot
the man through the head.

He had then time to look round.

Both Surajah's shots had told, and he was now defending himself
against the assaults of two others, who were pressing him hard, while
a third stood irresolute a short distance away. Dick rushed to
Surajah's assistance. As he did so, the third man fled.

"After him, Ibrahim!" Dick shouted. "Not one of them must get away."

The two Thugs defended themselves, with cries of fanatical fury, but
their opponents were far better swordsmen, and, fighting coolly, were
not long before they cut them both down.

"What on earth is it all about, Dick?" Surajah asked, as, panting with
his exertions, he looked round after cutting down his opponent.

"Thugs," Dick said briefly.

"Are you sure, Dick?" Surajah asked presently. "It may be a terrible
business for us, if there is any mistake."

For answer, Dick pointed to the bodies of the two men he had first
shot. One still grasped the roomal, or twisted silk sash, while a like
deadly implement lay by the side of the other.

"Thank Heaven!" Surajah ejaculated. "I was afraid there might have
been a mistake, Dick, but I see that you were right, and that it was a
party of Thugs. If it had not been that you were on the watch for
them, and had your pistol ready, we should have lost our lives."

"It was a close shave as it was, Surajah. One second later, and you
and I should both have been strangled. I had my hand on my pistol, and
felt so sure that an attack was intended that, the moment something
passed before my face, although I had no idea what it was, I threw
myself back and fired at the man behind me, with an instinctive
feeling that my life depended on my speed. But it was only when, on
looking at you, I saw a man in the act of throwing a noose round your
neck, that I knew exactly what I had escaped."

"It was fortunate that they had not pistols," Surajah said. "We should
have had no chance against them, if they had had firearms."

"No; they could have shot us the moment I first fired. But Uncle said,
when he was talking to me one day, that he had heard that the
Stranglers did not carry firearms, because the reports might attract
attention; and that it was a matter of religion, with them, to kill
their victims by strangling; but that if the Strangler failed, which
he very seldom did, the other men would then despatch the victims with
their swords and knives.

"Ah! here comes Ibrahim."

"I caught him just outside the trees, Sahib. He will strangle no more
travellers."

"Well, what had we better do?" asked Surajah.

"I should say we had better make off, as fast as we can. Of course, if
we were really traders, able to prove who we are, we should go back to
the town and report the affair; but as we can't do that, we had better
be moving on at once, before any other party of travellers comes up.
That was why, when we had killed several of them, I was anxious that
none should get away, for they might have gone and accused us of
slaughtering their companions."

"That would be too unlikely a story to be believed. No one would
credit that three men would attack twelve."

"But there would be no one to prove that there were only three. The
fellows would naturally swear that there were a score of us, and that,
after murdering their companions, the rest made off with the booty.

"Ibrahim, load the pack animals, at once. We will saddle the horses.

"I think, Surajah, we had better leave everything just as it is. It is
now getting on for the afternoon. It is likely enough that no other
travellers will enter the grove today. By tomorrow, at the latest,
someone will come in, and will of course go and report at once, in
Bangalore, what he has found; and they will send out here to examine
into it. When they find that the men have all fallen, sword in hand,
that two of them are evidently Stranglers, and that their girdles have
not been searched, nor the packs on their horses opened, it will be
seen that it was not the work of robbers. I don't suppose they will
know what to make of it, but I should think they would most likely
conclude that these men have been attacked by some other party, and
that it is a matter of some feud or private revenge--though, even
then, the fact that the bodies have not been searched for valuables,
or the baggage or animals carried off, will beat them altogether."

By this time, the horses were ready for the start, and after looking
up and down the long, straight road, to see that no one was in sight,
they issued from the wood and continued their journey. Being anxious,
now, to get away as far as possible from the scene of the struggle,
instead of going on to Magree as they had intended, they turned off by
the first country road on the left-hand side, and made for Savandroog,
which they could see towering up above the plain. When within three
miles of it, they halted in a large wood. Here, as soon as the horses
had been unsaddled, and the fire lighted, their talk naturally turned
to the fight they had gone through.

"I cannot make out how you came to suspect them, Dick."

"I can hardly account for it myself, but, as I told you, I did not
like the look of that man, and I had an uneasy sort of feeling, which
I could not explain even to myself, that there was danger in the air."

"But what made you think of these Stranglers? I had heard some talk
about them, but never anything for certain."

"The Rajah told me, when he was warning me against joining parties of
travellers, that although very little was known about the
organisation, it was certain that there was a sect who strangled and
robbed travellers in great numbers. He said that he was aware that
complaints had been made, to princes all over India, of numbers of
persons being missing; and that it was certain that these murders were
not the work of ordinary dacoits, but of some secret association; and
that even powerful princes were afraid to take any steps against it,
as one or two, who had made efforts to investigate the affair, had
been found strangled in their beds. Therefore, no one cared to take
any steps to search into the matter. It was not known whether these
Stranglers, scattered as they were very widely, obeyed one common
chief, or whether they acted separately; but all were glad to leave
this mysterious organisation alone, especially as they preyed only on
travellers, and in no case meddled in any way with rajahs, or
officials, who did not interfere with them. Consequently, the idea
occurred to me, directly, that these men who seemed like traders might
be a party of these Stranglers; and when the others came up, while the
leader was sitting talking to us, I felt as if cold water was running
down my back, and that someone was whispering to me, 'Be on your
guard, be on your guard!' Therefore, the moment something passed
before my face, I threw myself back and fired at the man behind me,
without a moment's thought as to what it was."

"Well, certainly you saved our lives by doing so, Dick; for I suppose,
if that man behind me had once got his silk scarf round my neck, he
would have choked me before I had time to so much as lift my hand."

"I have not the least doubt that he would, and I feel thankful,
indeed, that I had such a strange feeling that these men were
dangerous. Do you know, Surajah, it seems to me that it was just the
same sort of feeling that my mother tells me she has, whenever my
father is in danger; and I shall be curious to know, when we get back,
whether she had the same feeling about me. Anyhow, I shall, in future,
have even more faith than I had before, in her confidence that she
would have certainly known if any evil had happened to my father."



Chapter 19: Found At Last.


The next morning, early, Dick and Surajah set to work to perfect their
disguises. They had, before, appeared simply as two young traders,
well to do, and of a class above the ordinary peddling merchant. They
now fitted on the ample beards that had been made at Tripataly. These
were attached so firmly to their faces, by an adhesive wax, that they
could not be pulled off without the use of a good deal of force. With
the same stuff, small patches of hair were fastened on, so as to hide
the edge of the foundation of the beard. Tufts of short grey hair were
attached to their eyebrows; a few grey lines were carefully drawn at
the corner of the eyes, and across the foreheads; and when this was
done, they felt assured that no one was likely to suspect the
disguise.

Ibrahim, who had assisted in the operation, declared that he should
take them for men of sixty-five, and as, before beginning it, both of
them had darkened their faces several shades, they felt confident that
no one at the fort was likely to recognise them. When Surajah had put
on the padded undergarment, and converted himself into a
portly-looking old man, and Dick the great horn spectacles, they
indulged in a burst of laughter at their changed appearance, while
Ibrahim fairly shouted with amusement.

He was to stay behind in the wood, when they went on, for it would but
have added to the risk had he accompanied them, as, unless also
completely disguised, he would have been recognised by the soldiers
with whom he had talked, during his twenty-four hours' stay inside the
Tower walls. He was, in the evening, to proceed along the road, to
encamp in the last grove he came to, at a distance of a quarter of a
mile from the gates, and to remain there until they returned.

Under his garments Dick had wound a thin, but very strong, silken cord
that he had purchased at Bangalore. It was four hundred feet in
length, and considerably increased his apparent bulk, although he was
still far from emulating the stoutness of Surajah. The halters of the
pack horses were attached to the cruppers of the riding ponies, and
after a final instruction to Ibrahim that if at the end of four days
they had not returned, he was to endeavour to find out what had
happened to them, and was then to carry the news to Tripataly, they
started for the fort. When they approached the gate they were, as
before, hailed by the sentry.

"We are merchants," Surajah said, "and we have with us a rich
assortment of goods of all descriptions--silks and trinkets for the
ladies of the governor's harem, and handkerchiefs, scarves, silver
ornaments, and things of all kinds suitable for the wives of those of
lower rank. We pray for permission to enter and exhibit our wares,
which have been collected by us in the cities where they were
manufactured, and which we can therefore sell at prices hitherto
unheard of."

"I will send word up to the governor," the officer said. "It is a long
time since we have been visited by traders, and maybe he will grant
you permission. You had best go back to the shade of those trees. It
will be a good hour before the answer comes."

"I think it likely they will let us in," Dick said, as they moved away
towards the trees. "It is but a short time since things were
sufficiently settled for traders to venture up here, and as Savandroog
lies altogether off the roads between large towns, it is possible that
none with such goods as we have have come this way, since the garrison
took over Savandroog from the British detachment that occupied it."

In little over an hour there was a shout from the walls, and on
approaching the gate again, they were told that the governor had given
permission for them to enter.

"You are to be blindfolded," the officer said, as the gate closed
behind them. "No one may ascend the rock, unless he consents to this.
Your horses will be led, and beware that you do not attempt to remove
the bandages, until you have permission to do so."

It took nearly an hour to mount the steep road, and when they came to
a standstill, and the sub-officer who had accompanied them told them
they could now remove their bandages, they found themselves in front
of a small building, close to the commander's quarters. The packs
were, by the order of the officer, taken off the horses by the
soldiers who had led them up, and carried into the house. The horses
were fastened in the shade to rings in the wall, and on Surajah
pointing out the packs containing goods he wished to show to the
ladies, two of the soldiers carried them across to the governor's
house. The old officer himself came to the door.

"Enter, my friends," he said. "You are the first traders who have come
up here since we took over the fort, some six months ago, and methinks
you will do a brisk business if your wares are, as you sent up to say,
good and cheap."

The bales were taken into a room, the soldiers retired, and in a
minute the commander's wife, accompanied by three or four other
ladies, entered. Dick and Surajah, after salaaming profoundly to the
veiled figures, at once began to unpack their bales.

The assortment had been very judiciously made, and to women who had,
for more than six months, been deprived of the pleasure of shopping,
the display was irresistible. In their desire to examine the goods,
the ladies speedily lifted their veils, and, seating themselves on
cushions they had brought in with them, chattered unrestrainedly;
examining the quality of the silks which Surajah and Dick, squatting
behind their wares, handed for their inspection; comparing the
colours, asking each other's advice, and endeavouring to beat down the
terms Surajah named.

In the first place, he asked the prices marked on small labels
attached to each article, but suffered himself, after the proper
amount of reluctance, and protests that he should be a ruined man, to
abate his terms considerably, although the ladies were evidently well
satisfied that the goods were indeed bargains.

It was a long time before the ladies could make up their minds which
to choose, among the many silks exhibited for their selections. When
this had been settled, the pack containing delicate muslins was
opened, and the same scene gone through. It was, altogether, four
hours before the purchases were all made, and even then the boxes of
trinkets remained unopened, the governor's wife saying:

"No, we will not look at them. We have ruined ourselves already.
Tomorrow, when our husbands know how much we have spent, you can show
the trinkets to them, and try your best to get them to buy. These
things we have been getting are our own affair. It is for them to make
us presents of ornaments, if they are disposed to.

"This evening you must come in again. The ladies from the other fort
will be here, then."

The purchases made were paid for, the bales again fastened up, and
carried across to their room. The governor met them as they went out.

"I suppose you have been ruining us all?" he said good humouredly.
"Well, it is a dull life up here, and the ladies have but few chances
of spending money."

"We are to see the ladies from the other fort this evening, my lord,"
Surajah said. "Have we your permission, in the meantime, to go and
sell in the soldiers' quarters? We have goods suited to the needs of
their wives also, as well as those for the ladies."

"Certainly. You can go about as you please up here. It is only as to
the approaches that we have to be careful. But wait in your room for a
short time. I will have food sent over to you."

In a few minutes a servant brought across a large dish of pillau, and
several cakes of sweetmeats, the latter being, as he informed them,
the special gift of the governor's wife. There was no occasion for
them to start, as they had intended, after their meal, for the news of
their coming had spread, and by the time they had finished, a number
of women were waiting outside. Until sunset they were busily engaged
in selling their goods--for the most part bright cotton cloths, red
silk handkerchiefs, and cheap silver trinkets. Soldiers sauntered in
and out. For these they had provided a store of pipes, tobacco,
tobacco boxes, knives, and muslins for turbans; and as the news spread
that these were to be obtained, the number of soldiers increased,
until the room was quite crowded with them, as well as by many natives
engaged in the work of rebuilding the fortifications.

Surajah did the selling, while Dick's part of the work was receiving
the money and giving change. As he was stooping over a tray in front
of him, piled with copper, picking up the change for silver coin, he
heard a man ask Surajah for a pound of his best tobacco and a pipe.

There was something in the accent that caused him to look up sharply.
As he did so, he started. The blood rushed to his head so violently
that a mist seemed to pass across his eyes, and his hand shook so that
he dropped the coins he was counting. Forgetful of the dark stain on
his face, he bent forward over the tray again to conceal his emotion,
forced himself to pick out the right change, and then, handing it to
its owner, again looked up.

The man who was standing before Surajah was broader and taller than
those around him. The sun had darkened his face, until its shade
approached those of his companions, and yet there was no mistaking the
fact that he was a European. A heavy moustache and beard, streaked
with grey, concealed the lower part of his face. Dick dared not gaze
on the man too earnestly, and could see no likeness to the picture on
the wall at Shadwell; but, allowing for the effects of hardship and
suffering, he judged him to be about the age of his father.

The man was evidently on good terms with the soldiers, one or two of
whom were chaffing him on his purchase.

"Will nothing but the best tobacco satisfy you?" one laughed.

"Nothing; and even that won't really satisfy me. This stuff is good
enough, when rolled up, for cigars, and it does well enough in
hookahs; but I would give all this pound for a couple of pipes of
pigtail, which is the tobacco we smoked at sea."

Again Dick's heart beat rapidly. This man must have been a sailor. He
could not restrain himself from speaking.

"Have you been a sailor, then?" he asked.

"Ay, I was a sailor, though it is many years ago, now, since I saw the
sea."

"We got some English tobacco at Madras," Dick said, not hesitating for
once at telling an untruth. "We sold most of it to the Feringhee
soldiers, on our way up, but I think I have got a little of it still
left somewhere in the pack. I am too busy to look for it now, and we
shall soon be going to show our goods to the officers' wives; but if
you can come here at nine o'clock, I may have looked it out for you."

"I can't come at nine," the man said, "for at half-past eight I am
shut up for the night."

"Come at eight, then," Dick said. "If I am not back, come the first
thing in the morning, before we get busy."

"I will come, sure enough," the man said. "I would walk a hundred
miles, if they would let me, for half a pound of pigtail."

"Get rid of them, Surajah," Dick whispered, as the man shouldered his
way through the crowd. "Make some excuse to send them off."

"Now, my friends," Surajah said, "you see it is getting dusk. It will
soon be too dark to see what you are buying, and we have been selling
for eight hours, and need rest. At eight o'clock tomorrow we will open
our packs again, and everyone shall be served; but I pray you excuse
us going on any longer now. As you see, we are not as young as we once
were, and are both sorely weary."

As time was no object, and the work of purchasing would relieve the
tedium of the following day, the crowd good humouredly dispersed.
Surajah rose and closed the door after the last of them, and then
turned to Dick. He had, himself, been too busily engaged in satisfying
the demands of the customers to look up, and had not noticed that one
of them was a white man.

"What is it?" he asked, as he looked round. "Has the heat upset you?"

Then, as his eye fell on Dick, his voice changed, and he hurried
towards him, exclaiming anxiously:

"What is it, Dick? What has happened?"

For Dick was leaning against a bale by the side of him, and had hidden
his face in his arms. Surajah saw that his whole frame was shaking
with emotion.

"My dear lord," Surajah said, as he knelt beside him and laid his arm
across his shoulder, "you frighten me. Has aught gone wrong? Are you
ill?"

Dick slightly shook his head, and, lifting one of his hands, made a
sign to Surajah that he could not, at present, speak. A minute or two
later, he raised his head.

"Did you not see him, Surajah?"

"See who, Dick?"

"The white man you last served."

"I did not notice any white man."

"It was the one you gave a pound of the best tobacco to. Did you not
hear me speak to him, afterwards?"

"No. I was so busy, and so fearfully hot with this padded thing, it
was as much as I could do to attend to what they said to me. A white
man, did you say? Oh, Dick!"

And as the idea struck him, he rose to his feet in his excitement.

"Do you think--do you really think he can be your father?"

"I do think so, Surajah. Of course, I did not recognise his face. Nine
years must have changed him greatly, and he has a long beard. But he
is about the right age, and, I should say, about the same figure; and
he has certainly been a sailor, for he said, to one of the soldiers,
that he would give that pound of tobacco for a couple of pipes of
pigtail, which is the tobacco sailors smoke. I told him that, perhaps,
I might be able to find him some in my packs, and asked him to come
here at eight o'clock this evening. If I was not in, then, he was to
come the first thing tomorrow morning; but of course I shall be in at
eight. You must make some excuse to the ladies. Say that there are
some goods you wish to show them, in one of the other packs, and ask
me to go and look for it."

"Oh, Dick, only to think that, after all our searching, we seem to
have come on him at last! It is almost too good to be true."

Great as was Surajah's confidence in Dick, he had never quite shared
his faith that he would find his father alive, and his non-success
while with the army, and since, had completely extinguished any hopes
he had entertained. His surprise, therefore, equalled his delight at
finding that, after all, it seemed probable that their search was
likely to be crowned with success.

"Of course we will manage it," he said. "I will put aside that narrow
Benares cloth-of-gold work for trimmings, and you can be as long as
you like looking for it. They will be too busy examining the other
things to give it a thought, after you have gone out."

"I can be back at half-past eight," Dick said, "for the man told me he
was locked up at that hour. If it had not been for that, I should have
arranged for him to come a little later. But, of course, I shall have
opportunities for talking to him tomorrow.

"There is someone at the door."

Surajah opened it, and a soldier entered with their evening meal, and
a request that they would go across to the governor's as soon as they
had finished it, as the ladies had already assembled there. They
hurried through their food, and then went across. There was quite a
large gathering, for not only had the wives of the officers in the
other fort come over, but all those who had been there in the morning
were again present, several of them prepared to make further
purchases. Trade was as actively carried on as it had been before.

When he judged it to be nearly eight o'clock, Dick nudged Surajah, who
said, a minute afterwards:

"We have forgotten the Benares cloth-of-gold. I am sure that will
please the ladies for waist bands, or for trimmings. It must have got
into the other bales, by mistake."

"I will go and fetch it," Dick said, and, rising, left the room.

A figure was standing at the door, when he reached the house.

"I was afraid you had forgotten me," the man said. "It is not quite
eight o'clock yet, but as I found that you were both out, I began to
be afraid that you might be detained until after I had to go; and you
don't know how I long for a pipe of that tobacco. The very thought of
it seems to bring old days back again."

By this time they had entered the house, and Dick shut the door behind
him. He had left a light burning, when they went out. Dick was so
agitated that he felt unable to speak, but gazed earnestly in the
man's face.

"What is it, old chap?" the latter said, surprised at the close
scrutiny. "Is anything wrong with you?"

Dick took off his spectacles, rather to gain time than to see more
clearly, for a plain glass had been substituted for the lenses.

"I want to ask you a question," he said. "Is your name Holland?"

The man started.

"My name is Jack Holland," he said, "sure enough; though how you come
to know it beats me altogether, for I am always called Jack, and
except the governor, I don't think there is a man here knows my other
name."

"You were captain of the Hooghley, wrecked on the Malabar coast, nine
years ago," Dick said, this time speaking in English.

After an exclamation of startled surprise, the man stared at him in an
astonishment too great for words.

"Are you English?" he said slowly, at last. "Yes, I was in command of
the Hooghley. Who, in God's name, are you?"

Dick took his two hands.

"Father," he said, "I am your son, Dick."

The sailor gazed at him with a stupefied air.

"Are you mad, or am I?" he said hoarsely.

"Neither of us, Father. I am disguised as an old man, but really I am
little more than eighteen. I have been searching for you for more than
two years, and, thank God, I have found you at last;" and, bursting
into tears, Dick would have thrown his arms round his father's neck,
but the latter pushed him off with one hand, and held him at arm's
distance, while his other hand plucked at his own throat, as if to
loosen something that was choking him.

"It can't be true," he muttered to himself. "I am dreaming this. I
shall wake presently, and you will be gone."

"It is quite true, Father. Mother is down at Tripataly, waiting for me
to bring you to her."

With a hoarse cry the sailor reeled, and would have fallen, had not
Dick caught him and allowed him to sink gradually to the ground; where
he lay, half supported by one of the bales. Dick ran to one of the
saddlebags, where he carried a flask of brandy in case of emergencies,
poured some into a cup, and held it to his father's lips. The sailor
gasped.

"It is brandy," he said suddenly. "I can't have dreamt that."

Then he broke into a violent sobbing. Dick knelt by his side, and took
his hand.

"It is assuredly no dream, Father," he said gently. "I am really your
son, Dick. I am here with a trusty friend, and now we have found you,
you may be sure that we will, in some way, manage your escape. There
is no time, now, to tell you all that has happened. That I can do,
afterwards. All that is important for you to know, is, that Mother is
quite well. She has never given up hope, and has always insisted that
you were alive, for she said that she should surely have known, if you
had died. So she taught me her language, until I could speak like a
native; and two years and a half ago, she came out here with me.

"I accompanied the army, with my uncle's troop, and searched every
hill fort they took, for you. Since they went back, I have been up in
Mysore with my friend Surajah, and, thank God, at last we have found
you!"

"Thank God, indeed, my boy. I do thank Him, not only that you have
found me, but that your mother, whom I had never hoped to see again,
is alive and well; and also, that He has given me so good a son."

"And now, Father, about your escape. In the first place, have you
given your parole not to try to get away?"

Captain Holland was himself now.

"No lad, no. At the fort, where I was for six years, there was no
possibility of escape; and as I was a long time, before I began to
speak the language, even if I had got away I could never have made my
way through the country. Then the governor--it was the same we have
here--took me with him to Kistnagherry. I was the only white captive
who went there with him. At Kistnagherry there were five or six
others, but when Tippoo heard that an English army was coming up the
ghauts, an order came that they were to be killed. But the governor is
a kind-hearted old fellow, and as I had become almost a chum of his,
he chose to consider that the order did not apply to me, but only to
those he had found at Kistnagherry--for I fancy my existence had been
forgotten altogether.

"I had great hopes that the British would take the place. I think that
is the only time I have hoped, since I was made prisoner; but the old
man is a good soldier, and beat them off.

"When peace was made, Kistnagherry was, as you know, given up, and the
governor was ordered to evacuate the place, and to come here. He
brought me with him, making me dye my face before I started, so that
in my native dress it would not be noticed, in any town we passed
through, that I was a white. For had this been done, the news might
have come to Tippoo's ears, and there would have been an end of me.

"Except that I am locked up at night, I am not treated as a prisoner;
but the governor, who has a strong sense of duty, has a certain watch
kept over me. He has a real friendship for me, and would do all in his
power to save my life, short of disobedience to an actual order. But
his view is that I have been confided to his care, and that if, at any
moment, the Sultan should write to demand me of him, he would be bound
to produce me."

"Well, Father, it must be nearly half-past eight. I will go with you,
and see where you are confined--that is the first step. We will both,
tonight, think over the best way of attempting your escape; and in the
morning, when your guard is removed, if you will come straight here we
will talk it over.

"I am afraid you will have to wait for your pigtail till we get to
Madras."

Captain Holland laughed.

"I can afford to wait for that, now. God bless you, my boy! I have
never looked for such happiness as this again. But, as you say, it is
time for me to be off. I have never been late yet, and if it were
reported to the governor that I was so tonight, he might think that
there was something in the wind."

Dick walked with his father across the fort.

"That is the house, in the corner," the captain said, pointing to one
before which a group of soldiers were standing. "Don't come any
farther."

Dick stood looking after him, and heard a voice say:

"You are late, Jack. I was beginning to wonder what had become of
you."

"I don't think it is past the hour, yet," Captain Holland replied. "I
have been with those traders. They told me, this afternoon, they might
be able to find me some English tobacco in their pack; but they have
been too busy to look for it. I hope they will light on it, tomorrow.
If they do, I will give you half a pipeful. I won't give you more, for
it is strong enough to blow your head off, after this tasteless stuff
you smoke here."

Then Dick hurried off to the house, snatched up the stuff he was
supposed to be looking for, and joined Surajah at the governor's.

It was another hour before the ladies had completed their purchases.
Dick, on entering, had given a little nod to Surajah, to let him know
that it was really his father whom he had discovered, and had then
tried to keep his attention upon his work as a salesman; and Surajah,
as he handed him the goods, had given a furtive squeeze to his hand in
token of his sympathy.

"So it is really your father?" he said, as, carrying their greatly
diminished pack, they walked across to their house.

"It is, indeed. You may imagine his surprise and joy, when I told him
who I was. Now we have got to talk over the best plan of getting him
out."

When the door was shut, and they had seated themselves on two of the
bales, Dick first repeated all that his father had told him, and then,
for a long time, they discussed the best plan of attempting an escape.
Both agreed, at once, that it would be next to impossible to get him
down the road and out of the gate. In the first place, they would have
to leave by daylight; and even could a disguise be contrived that
would deceive the sentries and guard at the gate, all of whom were
well acquainted with Captain Holland's figure and appearance, it was
certain that, as but two had come up the rock, a third would not be
allowed to leave, unless he had a special order from the governor.

They agreed, therefore, that the escape must be made over the
precipice. That this was a matter of great difficulty was evident from
the fact that the captain had made no attempt to get away in that
manner. Still, there was hope that, with the assistance of the silk
rope Dick had brought with them, it might be managed.

There was, too, the initial difficulty of getting out from the fort to
be faced.

"We can do nothing, till we have had a long talk with my father," Dick
said. "I have no doubt that he has thought all these things over, and
has, long before this, made up his mind as to the point at which a
descent would be easiest. As at present we know little, except by the
casual examination we made last time, we can decide on nothing by
ourselves."

"I hope it won't be a long way to let oneself down," Surajah said,
"for I am quite sure I could not hold on, by that thin rope, for any
distance."

"Nor could I, Surajah, if I had to trust only to my hands. My father,
as a sailor, will be able to put us up to the best way to do it. But
at any rate, he might let you down first; and I think that by twisting
the rope two or three times round my body, and then holding it between
my knees and feet, I might manage. But I dare say my father will hit
on some better plan than that.

"And now we will lie down. I am so stiff that I can hardly stand, from
squatting for so many hours behind those things of ours. I thought
that I had got pretty well accustomed to it, but I never calculated on
having to do it from ten in the morning until ten at night, with only
two half-hours off."

Dick, however, had little sleep that night. He was too excited over
the glorious success he had obtained to be capable of closing an eye,
and it was not until day was breaking that he fell into a doze.

An hour later, he started to his feet at a knock at the door. He was
wide awake in a moment, and on running to it, his father entered.

"You look older today than you did yesterday," the latter said, as he
held his hand and gazed into Dick's face. "I fancy that neither of us
has had any sleep to speak of. As for myself, I have not closed an
eye."

"Nor did I, Father, until day began to break. Now please, let us talk
over our plan of escape first, for we may be interrupted at any
moment."

"Right you are, lad. Does your friend here speak English? For I have
never got to be a good hand at their lingo. I want to thank him, too,
but as you say, time is precious, and we must postpone that."

"He understands it, Father, and can talk it pretty fairly. We have
been constantly together for nearly two years.

"Now, in the first place, is there any place where we can get down
from the top here, with the aid of a rope?"

"It would be a pretty tough job, anyhow, but at the farthest end of
the rock is a place where it goes sharp down, as if cut with a knife.
That would be the best place to try. I take it to be about two hundred
feet deep. Beyond, the ground seems to slope regularly away. If I
could have got a rope I should have tried it, but they are pretty
scarce commodities up here--in fact, I have never seen a piece twenty
feet long since we came. What sort of rope have you got?"

Dick opened the front of his garment, and showed the rope round his
body. Captain Holland gave a low whistle of dismay.

"I should not like to trust a child with that thing, Dick, much less a
grown man. It is no thicker than a flag halliard."

"It is thin, Father, but there is no fear as to its strength. I tested
every yard of it, and found it would bear six hundred weight."

"Well, that is ample; but how is one to hold on to a cord like that?"

"That is just what we want you to tell us, Father. There must be some
way of managing it, if one could but hit upon it."

"Yes, that is so, lad," the sailor said thoughtfully. "I will think it
over. Anyhow, I think I could lower you both down, and by knotting it
I might get hold enough to come down after you; but even the knots
would be precious small."

"One might get over that, Father, by fastening a short stick across,
every five or six feet; or every two or three feet, if you like."

"Good, Dick. That would prevent one's coming down with a run,
certainly, and by keeping it between one's legs, one could always get
a rest. Yes, that will do, lad, if I can think of nothing better.
There are a lot of spears stowed away, in the room adjoining mine. If
we were to cut them up into six-inch lengths, with one of a foot long
to each ten, for sitting on, they would be just the thing."

"That is capital, Father. I had a lot of practice in rope climbing,
before I came out, and I am sure that I could manage with the help
that would give. I don't think Surajah could, but we could let him
down first, easily. Now, as to your prison."

"There are bars to the windows," the captain said, "and a sentry is
always on duty outside. The only way would be to escape at the rear. I
have often thought it over, but it was of no use breaking out there,
if I could not get any farther. The wall is built of loose stone,
without mortar. You see, it would have been a big job to bring up
either mortar or bricks from down below, so most of the buildings are
entirely of stone. The wall is two feet thick, but there would be no
great difficulty in getting out the stones, and making a hole big
enough to crawl through. I could not do it in my room, because they
always look round to see that everything is safe before they lock me
up; and it would take so long to do it noiselessly that half the night
would be wasted, before I could get out. But the magazine, where the
spears are kept, communicates with my room, and I could slip in there
in the daytime, when no one was looking, get behind the spears, which
are piled against the wall, and work hidden by them. No one would be
likely to go into my room during the day, and if he did, he would not
expect to find me there, as I am generally about the place. In that
way, I could get out enough stones to render it an easy job to finish
it, after I was locked up. A spear head is as good a thing, to help me
prize them out, as one could wish for."

"Very well, Father. Then we had better settle that you shall get out
in that way. Now, shall we go round on the outside, and help you?"

"No; I don't say but that your help would make it easier to get the
stones out, without making a noise. Still, your going round might be
noticed."

"Well then, Father, shall we seize and gag the sentry? We have done
such a thing before, successfully."

"No, that wouldn't do, Dick. The guard house is hard by, and the
slightest noise would destroy us all. Besides, as they have not many
sentries posted up here, they relieve guard every hour, so that the
thing would be discovered in no time.

"No; when I get out I will creep along noiselessly by the wall. There
are houses in the yard almost all along, and though the sentry would
not be likely to see me, in the shade of the wall, I will take care to
cross the open spaces when his back is turned. I will then come
straight here for you, and we will make for the wall behind the
governor's house. There is no sentry on that side, for that steep
ravine covers it from attack there. However, there are six or eight
feet of level ground between the foot of the wall and the edge of the
ravine. The walls are twenty feet in height. With fifty feet of that
rope I will make a ladder, and will get hold of a piece of iron to
make a grapnel of. How much time can you give me?"

"I should think we could stay here today and tomorrow, without seeming
to be dawdling without reason. Do you think you could get ready by
tomorrow night, Father?"

"Yes, that will give me plenty of time. Let me see. There is the short
ladder to make. That won't take me over an hour. There are a hundred
bits to cut for the long ladder, putting them about two feet apart.
That will be a longish job, for the spear shafts are of very tough
wood. However, I have a saw, and some oil, which will prevent it
making a noise, and can make fairly quick work of it. I have several
tools, too. I very often do carpentering jobs of all sorts--that is
what first made the governor take to me. I can get all that part of
the work done today. Tonight I will do the knotting. Of course, I
shall make it a goodish bit over two hundred feet long, for it may
turn out that I have not judged the depth right, and that the cliff is
higher than I thought it was.

"I don't think sawing up the spear shafts will take more than an hour
or two, so I shall be able to show myself about the place as usual. I
will go over and take a good look at the rock again, and stick a spear
head into the ground, at the point where it seems to me that it goes
down straightest, and where there is the least chance of the rope
getting rubbed against a sharp edge. I sha'n't begin at the wall until
tomorrow, for I don't suppose I shall be able to get out the first few
stones without making a bit of a noise, and it would not do to work at
night.

"Now, lad, I think we can consider that as all settled, and I won't
come near you again, unless there is some change of plan. I shall be
here tomorrow evening, I hope it will be by ten o'clock--that must
depend upon how long it takes me to get down the outside layer of
stone.

"If you should hear a sudden row, make at once for the wall behind the
governor's house, and wait there for me to join you. You see, some of
the stones may come down with a run, and if they do I shall give the
rest a shove, and be out like a shot. I shall hear which side the
sentry is running round the house, and shall belt the other way. Of
course, he will see the stones and give the alarm; but in the
darkness, I have not much doubt of being able to slip away, and I will
then make my way straight to the wall. Of course, I shall have the
ladders tied up into bundles, and shall take care not to leave them
behind me."

"All right, Father. We will be ready tomorrow evening. We shall wait
quietly for you until you come, unless we hear a sudden alarm. If we
do, we will go round behind the governor's house, and wait there for
your coming."

"That is it, my lad. Now I will be going. I am glad that no one has
come in while I have been here."



Chapter 20: The Escape.


Soon after eight o'clock customers began to drop in, and throughout
the day a brisk trade was carried on. Surajah was sent for, in the
course of the morning, by the governor; who bought several silver
bracelets, brooches, and earrings for his wife. Most of the other
officers came in during the day, and made similar purchases, and many
trinkets were also sold to the soldiers, who considered them a good
investment for their money. Indeed, no small portion of the earnings
of the natives of India are spent upon silver ornaments for their
women, as they can at any time be converted into cash.

The commoner cloths, knives, beads, and trinkets were almost all
disposed of, by the end of the day, for as no traders had come up for
six months, and as a long time might elapse before others did so, the
garrison were glad to lay in a store of useful articles for themselves
and families, especially as the prices of all the goods were at least
as low as they could have been bought in a town.

"We sha'n't leave much behind us," Dick said, as he looked round after
the last customer had left, and they had sat down to their evening
meal. "Almost all the silver work and the better class of goods have
gone, and I should say three-quarters of the rest. I daresay we shall
get rid of the remainder tomorrow. I don't suppose many of the
soldiers stationed down by the gate have come up yet; but when they
hear that we sell cheaply, some of them will be here tomorrow. We have
made no money by the transaction, but at any rate we shall have got
back the outlay. Of course, I should not have cared if we had got
nothing back. Still, it is satisfactory to have cleared oneself.

"I wonder how Ibrahim is getting on, down in the wood."

"He won't be expecting us today," Surajah replied, "but I have no
doubt he will begin to feel anxious by tomorrow night. I wish we could
have seen some way of getting the horses down. It will be awkward
doing without them."

"Yes. I hope we shall get a good start. Of course, we must put on our
peasant's dresses again. I am glad enough to be rid of that rope,
though I have had to put on two or three additional things, to fill me
out to the same size as before. Still, I don't feel so bound in as I
did, though it is horribly hot."

"I am sure I shall be glad to get rid of all this stuffing," Surajah
said. "I felt ready to faint today, when the room was full."

"Well, we have only one more day of it," Dick said. "I do hope Father
will be able to get out by ten o'clock. Then, before eleven we shall
be at the edge of the rock. Say we are two hours in getting down, and
walking round to join Ibrahim. That will take us till one, and we
shall have a good five hours before Father's escape will be
discovered. They will know that he can't have gone down the road, and
it will take them fully two hours to search the fort, and all over the
rock. It will be eight o'clock before they set out in pursuit, and by
that time we ought to be well on the road between Cenopatam and
Anicull.

"If we can manage to buy horses at Cenopatam, of course we will do so.
We shall be there by five o'clock, and ought to be able to get them in
a couple of hours. Once on horseback, we are safe. I don't think they
will pursue very far--perhaps not even so far as Cenopatam; for the
governor will see that he had better not make any fuss about a white
captive having escaped, when it was not known that he had one there at
all. I think it more likely that, when he finds Father has got fairly
away, he will take no steps at all. They have no cavalry here, and he
will know, well enough, that there will be no chance of our being
tracked and overtaken by footmen, if we had but a couple of hours'
start."

"I think that is so, Dick. He has done his duty in keeping your father
a prisoner, but I don't think he will be, at heart, at all sorry that
he has made his escape."

"I think, Surajah, I will write a letter to him, and leave it here, to
be found after we have got away, thanking him in Father's name for the
kindness that he has always shown him, saying who I am, why I came
here, and asking his pardon for the deception that I have been obliged
to play upon him. He is a good old fellow, and I should think it would
please him."

"I should think it would," Surajah agreed.

"I will do up my brace of pistols in a packet, and put them with the
note," Dick went on, "and will say, in it, that I hope he will accept
them as a token of our esteem and gratitude. They are well-finished
English pistols, and I have no doubt he will prize them. I will
mention, too, that we shall have made our escape at eleven o'clock,
and therefore, by the time he receives my letter, we shall be far
beyond the reach of pursuit. I daresay that will decide him upon
letting the matter pass quietly, and he will see himself that, by
making no fuss over it, no one outside the fortress will ever know
that a prisoner has escaped."

The next day passed comparatively quietly. A good many soldiers and
women came up from below, and before sunset their goods were
completely cleared out. The governor came over in the afternoon and
had a talk with them. They expressed their satisfaction at the result
of their trading, and said that they should be off before sunrise.

"I hope you will come again," he said; "but not for another six
months, for assuredly you will take away with you pretty nearly every
rupee in the fortress. My wife and the other ladies are all well
content with their purchases, and agree that they would not have got
them cheaper at Seringapatam, or Bangalore."

"We try to buy cheaply and sell cheaply," Surajah said modestly. "In
that way we turn over our money quickly. But it is seldom, indeed,
that we find so good a market as we have done here. When we left
Bangalore, we thought that it might be a month before we should have
to go back there to replenish our packs from our magazine; but we
shall only have been away five or six days."

"I am glad that you are content, for you are honest traders, and not
like some of the rascals that have come up to the forts I have
commanded, and fleeced the soldiers right and left."

Although not given to blushing, Dick felt that he coloured under his
dye at the praise; for although they had certainly sold cheaply, he
doubted whether the term honest could be fairly applied to the whole
transaction.

As ten o'clock approached, the two friends sat with open door,
listening intently for every sound. Conversation was still going on in
the houses, and occasionally they could make out a dark figure
crossing the yard.

It was not yet ten when a light footfall was heard, and a moment later
Captain Holland appeared at the door.

"It is all right so far," he said, "but wait five minutes, to give me
time to get the ladder fixed. You had better come one by one, and
stroll quietly across the yard. It is too dark for anyone to recognise
you, unless they run right against you; and even if they do so, they
will not think it strange you should be out, after having been cooped
up all the day."

In another moment he was gone. They had each, during the day, gone out
for a time, and had walked round through the narrow lane behind the
governor's house, to see that there were no obstructions that they
might fall over in the dark. They agreed, on comparing notes, that
Captain Holland had chosen the best possible place for scaling the
wall, for the lane was evidently quite unused, and the house, which
was higher than the wall, would completely screen them from
observation.

In five minutes Dick followed his father, leaving Surajah to come on
in a minute or two. They had secured about them the gold and silver
they had received for their purchases, but they left behind a large
heap of copper coins, on the top of which Dick had placed his letter
to the governor, and the parcel containing the brace of pistols. He
met no one on his way to the rendezvous, but almost ran against his
father in the dark.

"Steady, Dick, or you will run me down," Captain Holland said. "I have
got the ladder fixed, so you had better go up at once. Take these
three spears with you. I will bring the long ladder."

"We sha'n't want the spears, Father. We have a brace of
double-barrelled pistols, and two brace of single barrels."

"Never mind that, Dick. You will see that they will come in useful."

Dick took the spears, and mounted the ladder without further question.
His father then came up and placed the long rope, which, with the
pieces of wood, was a bulky bundle, on the wall and then descended
again. It was another five minutes before Surajah came up.

"I was stopped on the way," he said, "and had to talk with one of the
officers."

He and the captain were soon by Dick's side. The ladder was then
pulled up, and lowered on the other side of the wall. They were soon
standing at its foot.

"Shall I jerk the ladder down, Father?"

"I think not, Dick. It would only make a clatter, and it is no matter
to us whether they find it in the morning or not. You had better
follow me. I know every foot of the ground, and there are some nasty
places, I can tell you."

They had to make several detours, to avoid ravines running deep into
the plateau, and for a time Captain Holland walked very cautiously.
When he had passed these, he stepped out briskly, and in less than an
hour from starting they were near the edge of the precipice. Their
eyes had, by this time, become accustomed to the darkness.

"We are just there now," Captain Holland said. "But we must go very
cautiously, for the rock falls sheer away, without warning. Ah! There
is the edge, a few yards ahead of me.

"Now, do you stay where you are, while I feel about for that spear
head I put in to mark the place. It had about three feet of the staff
on it. If it were not for that, there would be small chance of finding
it. I know it is somewhere close here."

In a few minutes he returned to them.

"I have found it," he said. "Keep close behind me."

After walking for fifty yards, he stopped.

"Here it is, lads.

"Now give me those spears, Dick."

He thrust them firmly into the ground, a few inches apart.

"Throw your weight on them, too," he said. "That is right. Now they
will stand many times the strain we shall put on them.

"I have chosen this place, Dick, for two reasons. In the first place,
because it is the most perpendicular, and in the second, because the
soil and grass project slightly over the edge of the rock. There is a
cushion in that bundle, and four spear heads. I will peg it down close
to the edge, and the rope will run easily over it.

"Now, Surajah, we had better let you down first. You will be tied
quite securely, and there will be no risk whatever, as you know, of
the rope giving way. I should advise you to keep your eyes shut, till
you get to the bottom, for the rope will certainly twist round and
round; but keep your arms well in front of you, and whenever you feel
the rock, open your eyes, and send yourself off with your arms and
legs. I don't think you will touch, for at this point it seemed to me,
as I looked down, that the rock projects farther out than anywhere
else on the face of the precipice, and that a stone dropped straight
down would fall some fourteen or fifteen feet from its foot. Would you
like me to bandage your eyes?"

"No, thank you. I will keep my eyes closed."

"That is the best thing you can do," Captain Holland said, "though it
is so dark that you would not be able to see, if you did. When you get
to the bottom, untie the rope, pull it gently down, and call out to me
whether the lowest piece of stick touches the ground. If it does not,
I will pull it up again and fasten on some more. I have got a dozen
spare ones with me."

Captain Holland then told Surajah and Dick to take off their upper
garments. These he wound round and round the lower four feet of the
rope, increasing its diameter to over two inches.

"There," he said, as he fastened this round Surajah's body, under the
arms. "It won't hurt you, now. That silk rope would have cut in an
inch deep before you got to the bottom, if it had not been covered."

Then he took off his own garment, made it up into a roll, lashed one
end to the rope in the centre of Surajah's back, passed it between his
legs and fastened it to the knot at his chest.

"There," he said; "that will prevent any possibility of the thing
slipping up over your shoulders, and will take a lot of the strain off
your chest."

Then he lay down and crawled forward to the edge, pegged the cushion
down, and then, turning to Surajah, said:

"All is ready now."

Surajah had felt rather ashamed that all these precautions should be
taken for him, while the others would have to rely solely upon their
hands and feet, and, sternly repressing any sign of nervousness, he
stepped forward to the side of Captain Holland.

"That is right," the captain said approvingly. "Now, lie down by my
side, and work yourself backwards. Go over on one side of the cushion,
for you might otherwise displace it. I will hold your wrists and let
you over. Dick will hold the rope. I will put it fairly on the
cushion. Then I shall take it and stand close to the edge, and pay it
out gradually as you go down. If you should find any projecting piece
of rock, call out 'Stop!' I will hold on at once. We can then talk
over how we can best avoid the difficulty. When you are down, and I
tell you Dick is coming, take hold of one of the steps, and hold the
ladder as firmly as you can, so as to prevent it from swaying about.

"Now, are you ready?"

"Quite ready," Surajah said, in a firm voice.

Dick, who was standing five or six yards back, tightened the rope.
Gradually he saw Surajah's figure disappear over the edge.

"Slack out a little bit," his father said. "That is right. I have got
it over the cushion. Now hold it firmly until I am on my feet. That is
right. Now pay it out gradually."

It seemed an endless time, to Dick, before his father exclaimed:

"The strain is off! Thank God, he has got down all right!"

A minute later there was a slight pull on the rope, and the captain
paid it out until he heard a call from below.

"Have you got to the lowest stick?" he asked, leaning over.

"Yes; it is just touching the ground."

"Not such a bad guess," the captain said, as he turned to Dick. "There
are about twenty feet left."

He now fastened the rope round the spears in the ground.

"I will lower you down, if you like, Dick. You are half as heavy again
as that young native, but I have no doubt that I can manage it."

"Not at all, Father. I am not a bit nervous about it. If it was light,
I should not feel so sure of myself, for I might turn giddy; but there
is no fear of my doing so now."

"Well, lad, it is as well to be on the safe side, and I manufactured
this yesterday."

He put a loop, composed of a rope some four feet long, over Dick's
shoulders and under his arms. To each end was attached a strong double
hook, like two fingers.

"There, lad! Now, if you feel at all tired or shaky, all you have got
to do is to hook this on to one of the steps. Do you see? One hook on
each side of the cord. That way you can rest as long as you like, and
then go on again. You say you can go down a rope with your hands only.
I should advise you to do that, if you can, and not to use your legs
unless you want to sit down on one of the long steps; for, as you
know, if you use your feet the rope will go in till they are almost
level with your head; while, if you use your arms only, it will hang
straight down."

"I know, Father. And I don't suppose I shall have to rest at all, for
these cross sticks make it ten times as easy as having to grip the
rope only."

Dick laid himself down as Surajah had done, and crawled backwards
until he was lying half over the edge. Then he seized the rope and
began to descend, hand over hand. He counted the rungs as he went
down, and half way he sat down on one of the long pieces, hitched the
hooks on to the one above, and rested his arms. After a short pause,
he continued until he reached the bottom.

The captain, who was stooping with his hand on the rope, felt the
vibration cease, and as he leaned over he heard Dick call out:

"I am all right, Father. Those bits of wood make easy work of it."

Then the captain at once began to descend, and was soon standing
beside his son and Surajah.

"Thank God that job is finished! How do you both feel?"

"My arms feel as if they had done some work, Father. I have been four
or five months without practice, or I should hardly have felt it."

"And how are you, Surajah?"

"I feel ashamed at having been let down like a baby, Captain Holland,
and at being so nervous."

"There is nothing to be ashamed of," Captain Holland said. "Rope
climbing is a thing that only comes with practice; and as to
nervousness, most landsmen are afraid to trust themselves to a rope at
all. Did you open your eyes?"

"Not once, Sahib. I kept my arms out, as you told me, but I did not
touch anything. I could feel that I was spinning round and round, and
was horribly frightened just at first. But I went down so smoothly and
quietly that the feeling did not last long; for I knew that the rope
was very strong, and as I did not touch anything, it seemed to me that
there could be no fear of it being cut against the rock."

The clothes were soon unwound from the rope, and put on again. Captain
Holland cut off all the slack of the rope, and made it into a coil.

"The slope is all right, as far as I could see from the top," he said;
"but we may come across nasty bits again, and this will stand in
useful, if we do."

They went down cautiously, but at a fair rate of speed; until, without
meeting with any serious difficulty, they arrived on the plain. Four
miles' brisk walking brought them to the grove where Ibrahim had been
left, and they had scarce entered among the trees when he asked:

"Who is it that is coming?"

"It is us, Ibrahim. We have got my father!"

Ibrahim gave an exclamation of joy, and a minute later they joined
him.

"You were not asleep, then, Ibrahim?" Dick said.

"No, my lord. I have slept during the day, and watched at night; but I
did not sleep yesterday, for I was growing sorely anxious, and had
begun to fear that harm had befallen you."

"Well, let us be off at once. Of course, we have had to leave the
horses behind us, and I want to be at Cenopatam by daybreak. We will
buy horses there."

They struck across the country to the southwest, until they came on a
road between Magree and Cenopatam, and arrived within sight of the
latter town just at daybreak. As they walked, Dick and Surajah had,
with no small amount of pain, removed their beards and the patches of
hair.

"You ought both to have shaved before you put those things on,"
Captain Holland said, as they muttered exclamations of pain. "You see,
cobbler's wax, or whatever it is, sticks to what little down there is
on your cheeks and chin, and I don't wonder that it hurts horribly,
pulling it off. If you had shaved first, you would not have felt any
of that."

"I will remember that, Father, if I ever have to disguise myself
again," Dick said. "I feel as if I were pulling the whole skin off my
face."

The painful task was at last finished.

"I shall be glad to have a look at you in the morning, Dick," his
father said, "so as to see what you are really like; of which I have
not the least idea, at present. You must feel a deal more comfortable,
now that you have got rid of the rope."

"I am, indeed. I am sure Surajah must be quite as much pleased at
leaving his padding behind."

They stopped half a mile from the town, which was a place of
considerable size. Dick took, from the saddlebag of the horse Ibrahim
was leading, the bottle of liquid with which he was in the habit of
renewing his staining every few days, and darkened his father's face
and hands. Then they took off their costumes as merchants, and put on
their peasants' attire. Dick directed Ibrahim to make a detour, so as
to avoid the town and come down on the road half a mile beyond it, and
there wait until they rejoined them--for his father was to accompany
Ibrahim.

It was growing light as Dick and Surajah entered the town, and in half
an hour the streets became alive with people. After some search, they
found a man who had several horses to sell, and, after the proper
amount of bargaining, they purchased three fairly good animals.
Another half hour was occupied in procuring saddles and bridles, and,
after riding through quiet streets to avoid questioning, they left the
town, and soon rejoined their companions.

"Now, Surajah," Dick said, "we will be colonels again for a bit."

The saddlebags were again opened, and in a few minutes they were
transformed.

"Why, where on earth did you get those uniforms?" Captain Holland
asked, in surprise. "Those sashes are the signs that their wearers are
officers of the Palace, for I have seen them more than once at
Kistnagherry; and the badges are those of colonels. There is nothing
like impudence, Dick, but it seems to me it would have been safer if
you had been contented with sub-officers' uniforms."

Dick laughed.

"We are wearing them because we have a right to them," Dick laughed.
"We are both colonels in Tippoo's army, and officers of the
Palace--that is, we were so until a month ago, though I expect since
then our names have been struck off their army list. I will tell you
about it, as we ride."

"You had better tell me afterwards, Dick. I have never ridden a horse
in my life, except when they were taking me from the coast to Mysore,
and I shall have enough to do to keep my seat and attend to my
steering, without trying to listen to you."

They rode all day, passed through Anicull and Oussoor, and halted for
the night in a grove two or three miles farther on. They had not been
questioned as, at a walk, they went through the town. Captain Holland
had ridden behind with Ibrahim, and the latter had stopped and laid in
a stock of provisions at Anicull.

"Thank goodness that is over!" Captain Holland said, as they
dismounted. "I feel as if I had been beaten all over with sticks, and
am as hungry as a hunter."

"Ibrahim will have some food ready in half an hour, Father, and I
shall be glad of some myself. Though, you know, we all had some
chupatties he bought."

"They were better than nothing, Dick, but a pancake or two does not go
very far, with men who have been travelling since ten o'clock last
night. Well, lad, I am glad that you have got rid of your beard, and
that, except for that brown skin, I am able to have a look at you as
you are. You will be bigger than I am, Dick--bigger by a good bit, I
should say, and any father might be proud of you, much more so one who
has been fetched out from a captivity from which he had given up all
hope of escaping. As it is, lad, words can't tell how grateful I feel,
to God, for giving me such a son."

"My dear Father, it is Mother's doing. It has been her plan, ever
since she heard that you were wrecked, that we should come out here to
find you, and she has had me regularly trained for it. I had masters
for fencing and gymnastics, we always talked Hindustani when we were
together, and she has encouraged me to fight with other boys, so that
I should get strong and quick."

That evening by the fire, Dick told his father the whole story of his
life since he had been in India.

"Well, my lad, you have done wonders," his father said, when he had
finished; "and if I had as much enterprise and go as you have, I
should have been out of this place years ago. But in the first place,
I was very slow in picking up their lingo. You see, until within the
last three or four years, there have always been other Englishmen with
me. Of course we talked together, and as most of them were able to
speak a little of the lingo, there was no occasion for me to learn it.
Then I was always, from the first, when they saw that I was handy at
all sorts of things, kept at odd jobs, and so got less chance of
picking up the language than those who were employed in drilling, or
who had nothing to do but talk to their guards. But most of all, I did
not try to escape because I found that, if I did so, it would
certainly cost my companions their lives. That was the way that
scoundrel Tippoo kept us from making attempts to get off.

"Well, soon after the last of the other captives was murdered, we
moved away to Kistnagherry, which was a very difficult place to escape
from; and besides, very soon after we got there, I heard of the war
with our people, and hoped that they would take the place. It was, as
you may suppose, a terrible disappointment to me when they failed in
their attack on it. Still, I hoped that they would finally thrash
Tippoo, and that, somehow, I might get handed over to them. However,
as you know, when peace was made, and Kistnagherry had to be given
over, the governor got orders to evacuate it, without waiting for the
English to come up to take possession.

"Well, since I have been at Savandroog, I have thought often of trying
to get away. By the time I got there, I had learned to speak the
language fairly enough to make my way across the country, and I have
been living in hopes that, somehow or other, I might get possession of
a rope long enough to let myself down the rocks. But, as I told you, I
have never so much as seen one up there twenty feet long.

"I did think of gradually buying enough cotton cloth to twist up and
make a rope of; but you see, when one has been years in captivity, one
loses a lot of one's energy. If I had been worse off, I should have
set about the thing in earnest; but you see, I was not badly treated
at all. I was always doing odd carpentering jobs for the colonel and
officers, and armourer's work at the guns. Any odd time I had over, I
did jobs for the soldiers and their wives. I got a good many little
presents, enough to keep me in decent clothes and decent food--if you
can call the food you have up there decent--and to provide me with
tobacco; so that, except that I was a prisoner, and for the thought of
my wife and you, I had really nothing to grumble about, and was indeed
better off than anyone in the fortress, except the officers. So you
see, I just existed, always making up my mind that some day I should
see a good chance of making my escape, but not really making any
preparations towards casting off my moorings.

"Now, Dick, it must be past twelve o'clock, and I am dog tired. How
far have we to ride tomorrow?"

"It is thirty-five miles from Oussoor to Kistnagherry, which will be
far enough for us to go tomorrow, and then another five-and-twenty
will take us down to Tripataly. As the horses have gone about forty
miles, it would be a long journey for them to go right through
tomorrow."

"I don't think I could do it, Dick, if they could. I expect I shall be
stiffer tomorrow than I am now. Eager as I am to see your dear mother,
I don't want to have to be lifted off my horse when I arrive there,
almost speechless with fatigue."

The next day they rode on to Kistnagherry, passing a small frontier
fort without question. They slept at the post house there, Dick and
Surajah having removed their scarves and emblems of rank, as soon as
they passed the frontier, in order to escape all inquiries. They
started next morning at daybreak, and arrived within sight of
Tripataly at ten o'clock.

"Now, Father, I will gallop on," Dick said. "I must break the news to
Mother, before you arrive."

"Certainly, Dick," his father, who had scarcely spoken since they
started, replied. "I have been feeling very anxious about it, all the
morning; for though, as you tell me, she has never lost faith in my
being alive, my return cannot but be a great shock to her."

Dick rode on, and on arriving at the palace was met in the courtyard
by the Rajah, who was on the point of going out on horseback. He
dismounted at once.

"I am truly glad to see you back, Dick, for your mother has been in a
sad state of anxiety about you. Eight days ago, she started up from a
nap she was taking, in the middle of the day, and burst out crying,
saying that she was certain you were in some terrible danger, though
whether you were killed or not she could not say. Since then she has
been in a bad state. She has scarcely closed an eye, and has spent her
whole time in walking restlessly up and down."

"It is quite true that I was in great danger, Uncle, and I am sorry
indeed that she is in this state, for my coming home will be a shock
to her; and she has an even greater one to bear. Surajah and I have
rescued my father, and he will be here in a few minutes."

"I congratulate you," the Rajah said warmly. "That is news,
indeed--news that I, for one, never expected to hear. It is simply
marvellous, Dick. However, I am sure that your mother is not fit to
bear it, at present. I will go up now, and tell Gholla to break your
return gradually to her. I will say nothing about your father to your
aunt. As soon as the news that you are here is broken, you must go to
your mother. Tell her as little as possible. Pretend that you are
hungry, and have a meal sent up, and persuade her to take some
nourishment; then declare, positively, that you won't tell her
anything about your adventures, until she has had a long sleep. Gholla
will prepare a sleeping draught for her.

"In the meantime, I will ride off, directly I have seen my wife, to
meet Surajah and your father, and bring him on here. I sha'n't tell
anyone who he is, in case a chance word should come to your mother's
ears. If she wakes up again this evening, and asks for you, you must
judge for yourself whether to tell her anything, or to wait until
morning. You might, perhaps, if she seems calm, gladden her with the
news that, from what you have heard, you have very strong hopes that a
prisoner in keeping at one of the hill forts is your father. Then,
tomorrow morning, you can tell her the whole truth. Now I will run up
to Gholla. There is no time to be lost."

"I shall be in the dining room, Uncle, when I am wanted."

A few minutes later, Gholla came in hastily.

"Your mother has fainted, Dick. I broke the news to her very gently,
but it was too much for her, in her weak state. When she comes round
again, and is able to talk, I will fetch you. In the meantime, I will
send Annie in to you."

Two minutes later the girl ran in with a flushed face, threw herself
into Dick's arms, and kissed him.

"I can't help it, Dick," she said, "so it is of no use your scolding
me. This is a surprise. Who would have thought of your coming back so
soon? But it is lucky you did. Your mother has been in a sad way, and
she was so sure that you had been in some terrible danger, that I have
been almost as anxious as she has. And now, it seems that I need not
have frightened myself at all."

"I was in great danger, Annie. Just at the time my mother dreamt about
me, Surajah, Ibrahim, and I were attacked by a party of Stranglers,
disguised as merchants; and if it had not been that I had some strange
suspicion of them, we should all have been murdered. As it was, we
shot the whole gang, who, fortunately for us, had no firearms."

"It must have been your mother who warned you," Annie said gravely.
"She told us that she dreamt you were in some terrible danger, though
she could not remember what it was, and she tried with all her might
to warn you."

"Perhaps it was that, Annie. I don't know why I suspected them so
strongly--Surajah quite laughed at the idea. Anyhow, it saved our
lives.

"And how are you getting on, Annie? Are you happy?"

"Oh, so happy!" she exclaimed. "At least, I was until your mother got
ill, and I was working very hard at my lessons; but of course that has
all been stopped, as far as taking them from her is concerned. But I
have gone on working, and the Rajah's sons have been very good, and
helped me sometimes, and I begin to read words of two letters. And
what has brought you back so soon?"

"That I can't tell you yet, Annie. I will only tell you that it is not
bad news; and no one but my uncle will know more than that, till I
have told my mother--even my aunt won't hear it."

"Has Surajah come back too, Dick?"

"Yes; I heard horses in the courtyard just now, and I have no doubt it
was him. I rode on first, being anxious to see my mother."

They chatted for a few minutes. Then the Rajah came to the door, and
called Dick into the next room.

"I have settled your father in the room at the other end of the
gallery, Dick. He agreed with me that it was better for him to keep
there, by himself, until you have told your mother that he is here. I
have just ordered a meal to be sent, and after that will send my
barber in to shave him. He says your mother will never recognise him,
with all that hair on his face. I am going to see if something cannot
be done to take the stain off his face, and shall then set half a
dozen tailors to work on some dark blue cloth, to turn him out a suit
before tomorrow morning, in what he calls sailor fashion, so that he
may appear before your mother in something like the style in which she
remembers him."

A few minutes later Gholla came in, and said that Mrs. Holland was
ready for Dick to go in to her. Dick found his mother looking pale and
weak; but the joy of his coming had already brightened her eyes, and
given a faint flush to her cheeks.

"I have been so dreadfully anxious, Dick," she said, after the first
embrace. "I was certain you had been in some terrible danger."

"I have been, but thank God I escaped; owing, I think, to the warning
Annie says you tried to give me. But we must not talk about that now.
I will tell you all the story tomorrow. You are not fit to talk. You
must take some broth, and some wine, and a sleeping draught; and I
hope you will go off, and not wake up till tomorrow morning.

"Now, you do as I tell you. While you are drinking your broth, I will
go in and take something to eat, for I have had nothing today, and am
as hungry as a hunter. Then I will come back, and sit by you till you
go off to sleep."

He was not long away, but he was met at the door by his aunt, who
said:

"She has gone off already, Dick. I have no doubt that she will sleep
many hours, but if she wakes, I will let you know at once."

"If that is the case, Gholla," the Rajah, who had come in at the same
moment, said, "I can let you into a secret, which no one but myself
knows yet, but which, now that Margaret is asleep, can be told."

Gholla was very pleased when she heard the news, and Dick went off at
once to his father. It was a great relief, to the latter, to know that
his wife had gone off to sleep, and would probably be well enough to
have the news broken to her in the morning.

"I hear that you are preparing for the meeting, Father, by getting
yourself shaved, and having a blue cloth suit made?"

"Yes, Dick. I should like to be as much like my old self as possible."

"I don't think Mother will care much what you look like, Father.
Still, it is very natural that you should want to get rid of all that
hair."

"What bothers me, lad," Captain Holland went on, putting his hand to
the back of his neck, "is this shaved spot here. Of course, with the
turban on and the native rig, it was all right, but it will look a rum
affair in English clothes."

Dick could not help laughing at his father's look of perplexity.

"Well, Father, it is just the same with myself. I have not changed
yet, but when I do, the hair above, which is now tucked up under the
turban, will be quite long enough to come down to the nape of the
neck, and hide that bare place till the hair grows again."

"Yes; I did not think of that. My hair is long enough to come down
over my shoulders. I was going to tell the barber to cut it short all
over, but I will see now that he allows for that."

"Now, Father, do you mind my bringing in Annie Mansfield? I know she
will be wanting to keep close to me all day, and I should never be
able to get rid of her, without telling her about you."

"Bring her in by all means, Dick. She must be a plucky young girl, by
what you said about her."

"Where have you been, Dick?" Annie inquired, when Dick went out a few
minutes later. "I have been looking for you everywhere. Nobody had
seen you, unless it was the Rajah. I asked him, and he said that
little girls must not ask questions, and then laughed.

"You have not brought home another white girl?" she exclaimed
suddenly.

"Would it not be very nice for you to have a companion, Annie?"

"No," she said sharply; "I should not like it at all."

"Well, I will take you in to see her, and I think you will like her.

"No; I am only joking," he broke off, as he saw tears start into her
eyes. "It is not another girl. But you shall see for yourself."

He took her hand, and led her to his father's room.

"There, Annie, this is the gentleman who has come back with me this
time."

Annie looked at Captain Holland in surprise, and then turned her eyes
to Dick for an explanation.

"He is a respectable-looking old native, isn't he, Annie?"

"Yes, he looks respectable," Annie said gravely; "but he doesn't look
very old. Why has he come down with you, Dick? He can't have been a
slave."

"But I have, lass," the captain said, in English, to Annie's intense
astonishment. "I have been in their hands a year or so longer than you
were."

Annie turned impulsively to Dick, and grasped his arm.

"Oh, Dick," she said, in an excited whisper. "Is it--is it your
father, after all?"

"Ay, lass," the captain answered for him. "I am the boy's father, and
a happy father, too, as you may guess, at finding I have such a son.
And I hear he has been a good friend to you, too."

"Oh, he has, he has indeed!" Annie cried, running forward and seizing
his hands in both of hers. "I don't think there ever was anyone so
kind and good."

"What bosh, Annie!" Dick exclaimed, almost crossly.

"Never mind what he says, my dear. You and I know all about it. Now we
can do very well without him, for a time. He can go and tell his uncle
and cousins all about his adventures, which, I have no doubt, they are
dying to hear; and you and I can sit here, and exchange confidences
until my barber comes. I don't look much like an Englishman now, but I
hope that they will be able to get me something that will take this
stain off my face."

Mrs. Holland did not wake till evening. She seemed very much better,
and had a short chat with Dick. She would have got up, had he not told
her that he should be going to bed himself, in a short time, and that
all his story would keep very well until the morning, when he hoped to
find her quite herself again.

By dint of the application of various unguents, and a vast amount of
hard scrubbing, Captain Holland restored his face to its original hue.

"I look a bit sunburnt," he said, "but I have often come back, browner
than this, from some of my voyages."

"You look quite like yourself, in your portrait at home, Father," Dick
said. "It is the shaving and cutting your hair, even more than getting
off the dye, that has made the difference. I don't think you look much
older than you did then, except that there are a few grey hairs."

"I shall look better tomorrow, Dick, when I get these outlandish
things off. I have been trying on my new suit, and I think it will do,
first rate. Those clothes that you wore on board ship, and handed to
them as a model, gave them the idea of what I wanted."

And indeed, the next morning, when Captain Holland appeared in his new
suit, Dick declared that he looked just as if he had walked down from
his picture. The ranee had agreed to break the news to Mrs. Holland,
as soon as she was dressed. She came into the room where the others
were waiting for breakfast, and said to Captain Holland:

"Come. She knows all, and has borne it well."

She led him to the door of Mrs. Holland's room, and opened it. As he
entered there was a cry of:

"Oh Jack! My Jack!"

Then she closed it behind him, and left husband and wife together.

A few days afterwards, there was a family consultation.

"Now, Dick," his father said, "we must settle about your plans. You
know we have decided upon going home, by the next ship, and taking
Annie with us, without waiting for her father's letter. Of course I
shall have no difficulty in finding out, when I get there, what his
address is. I have promised your mother to give up the sea, and settle
down again at Shadwell, where I can meet old friends and shall feel at
home. We have had a long talk over what you said the other night,
about your insisting that we should take the money those jewels of
yours fetch. Well, we won't do that."

"Then I will sell them, Father," Dick said positively, "and give the
money to a hospital!"

"I have not finished yet, Dick. We won't take all the money, but we
have agreed that we will take a quarter of it. Of course, we could
manage on my savings, as your mother did when I was away. We shall
lose the little allowance the Company made her, but I shall buy a
share in a ship with my money, which will bring in a good deal better
rate of interest than she got for it in the funds, so we could still
manage very well. Still, as we feel that it would please you, we agree
to take a quarter of the money the jewels fetch; and that, with what I
have, will give us an income well beyond our wants. So that is
settled.

"Now, about yourself. I really don't think that you can do better than
what you proposed, when we were talking of it yesterday. You would be
like a fish out of water, in England, if you had nothing to occupy
your time; and therefore can't do better than enter the Service here,
and remain, at any rate, for a few years.

"As your commission was dated from the time you joined Lord
Cornwallis, two and a half years ago, you won't be at the bottom of
the tree, and while you are serving you will want no money here, and
the interest of your capital will be accumulating. If I invest it in
shipping for you, you will get eight or ten percent for it; and as I
shall pick good ships, commanded by men I know, and will divide the
money up in small shares, among half a dozen of them, there will be
practically no risk--and of course the vessels will be insured. So
that, at the end of ten years, by reinvesting the profits, your money
will be more than doubled, and you will have a nice fortune when you
choose to come home, even if the jewels do not fetch anything like
what you expect."

A week later the party journeyed down to Madras, where they stayed for
a fortnight. Dick, on his arrival, called upon the governor, who
congratulated him most heartily when he heard that he had succeeded in
finding and releasing his father, and at once appointed him to one of
the native cavalry regiments; and his parents had the satisfaction of
seeing him in uniform before they started. Annie showed but little
interest in the thought of going to England, and being restored to her
parents, being at the time too much distressed at parting from Dick to
give any thought to other matters. But at last the goodbyes were all
said, and, as the anchor was weighed, Dick returned on shore in a surf
boat, and next day joined his regiment.

Surajah had wanted to accompany him to Madras, and to enlist in any
regiment to which he might be appointed; and the assurance that it
might be a long time before he became a native officer, as these were
always chosen from the ranks, except in the case of raising new
regiments, had little influence with him. The Rajah, however, had
finally persuaded him to stay, by the argument that his father, who
was now getting on in years, would sorely miss him; that the captain
of the troop would also be retiring shortly; and that he should, as a
reward for his faithful services to his nephew, appoint him to the
command as soon as it was vacant. Ibrahim entered the Rajah's service,
preferring that to soldiering.



Chapter 21: Home.


It was early in December, 1792, that Dick Holland joined his regiment,
which was stationed at Madras. There were but five other officers, and
Dick found, to his satisfaction, that the junior of them had had four
years' service. Consequently, he did not step over any one's head,
owing to his commission being dated nearly three years previously. As
there were, in the garrison, many officers who had served on the
general staff in the last war, Dick soon found some of his former
acquaintances, and the story of his long search for his father, and
its successful termination, soon spread, and gained for him a place in
civil as well as military society.

The next year passed peacefully, and was an unusually quiet time in
India. That Tippoo intended to renew the war, as soon as he was able,
was well known to the government, and one of its chief objects of
solicitude was the endeavour to counteract the secret negotiations
that were constantly going on between him, the Nizam, and the
Mahrattis.

Tippoo was known to have sent confidential messengers to all the great
princes of India--even to the ruler of Afghanistan--inviting them to
join the confederacy of the Mahrattis, the Nizam, and himself, to
drive the English out of India altogether. Still greater cause for
uneasiness was the alliance that Tippoo had endeavoured to make with
the French, who, as he had learned, had gained great successes in
Europe; and, believing from their account that their country was much
stronger than England, he had sent envoys to the Mauritius, to propose
an offensive and defensive alliance against England. The envoys had
been politely received, and some of them had proceeded to France,
where Tippoo's proposal had been accepted. They committed France,
indeed, to nothing, as she was already at war with England; but the
French were extremely glad to embrace the proposal of Tippoo, as they
overrated his power, and believed that he would prove a formidable
opponent to the English, and would necessitate the employment of
additional troops and ships there, and so weaken England's power at
home. To confirm the alliance, some sixty or seventy Frenchmen, mostly
adventurers, were sent from the Mauritius as civil and military
officers.

Tippoo's council had been strongly opposed to this step on his part.
They had pointed out to him that their alliance, with a power at war
with the English, would render war between the English and him
inevitable; and that France was not in a position to aid them in any
way. The only benefit, indeed, that he could gain, was the possibility
that the fourteen thousand French troops, in the service of the Nizam,
might revolt and come over to him; but even this was doubtful, as
these were not troops belonging to the French government, but an
independent body, raised and officered by adventurers, who might not
be willing to imperil their own position, and interests, by embarking
on a hazardous war at the orders of a far-distant government.

These events happened soon after Dick's return, but nothing was
generally known of what was passing, although reports of Tippoo's
proceedings had reached the government of India. The party of
Frenchmen arrived at Seringapatam and were, at first, well received by
Tippoo. But they had soon disgusted him by their assumption of
dictatorial powers; while they, on their part, were disappointed at
not receiving the emoluments and salaries they had expected. Most of
them very speedily left his service. Some of the military men were
employed at Bangalore, and other towns, in drilling the troops, and a
few remained at Seringapatam, neglected by Tippoo, whose eyes were now
open to the character of these adventurers. But this in no way shook
his belief that he would obtain great aid from France, as he had
received letters from official personages there, encouraging him to
combine with other native powers, to drive the English out of India,
and promising large aid in troops and ships.

When the Earl of Mornington--afterwards the Marquis of
Wellesley--arrived at Calcutta as Governor General of India, in May
1798, the situation had become so critical that, although war had not
been absolutely declared on either side, Tippoo's open alliance with
the French rendered it certain that hostilities must commence ere
long; and Lord Mornington lost no time in proceeding to make
preparations for war. As Lord Cornwallis had done, he found the
greatest difficulty in inducing the supine government of Madras to
take any steps. They protested that, were they to make any show of
activity, Tippoo would descend the ghauts, and at once ravage the
whole country; and they declared that they had no force whatever that
could withstand him. They continued in their cowardly inactivity until
the governor general was forced to override their authority
altogether, and take the matter into his own hands.

The first step was to curb the Nizam's power, for everything pointed
to the probability that he intended to join Mysore, being inclined so
to do by Tippoo's promises, and by the influence of the officers of
the strong body of French troops in his service. Negotiations were
therefore opened by Lord Mornington, who offered to guarantee the
Nizam's dominions if he would join the English against Tippoo, and
promised that after the war he should obtain a large share of the
territory taken from Mysore.

The Nizam's position was a difficult one. On one side of him lay the
dominions of his warlike and powerful neighbour, Tippoo. On the other
he was exposed to the incursions of the Mahrattis, whose rising power
was a constant threat to his safety. He had, moreover, to cope with a
serious rebellion by his son, Ali Jah.

He was willing enough to obtain the guarantee of the English against
aggressions by the Mahrattis, but he hesitated in complying with the
preliminary demand that he should dispense with the French. The
fighting powers of this body rendered them valuable auxiliaries, but
he secretly feared them, and resented their pretensions; which pointed
to the fact that, ere long, instead of being his servants, they might
become his masters. When, therefore, the British government offered
him a subsidiary force of six battalions, and to guarantee him against
any further aggression by the Mahrattis, he accepted the proposal; but
in a half-hearted way, that showed he could not be relied upon for any
efficient assistance in disarming his French auxiliaries.

No time was lost, by the government, in marching the promised force to
Hyderabad. The French, 14,000 strong, refused to disband, and were
joined by the Nizam's household force, which was in the French
interest. The Nizam, terrified at the prospect of a contest, the
success of which was doubtful, abandoned the capital and took refuge
in a fortress, there to await the issue of events; but positively
refused to issue orders to the French to disband. Two of the English
battalions, which were on the other side of the river to that on which
the French were encamped, opened a destructive fire upon them, and
with red-hot shot set fire to their magazines and storehouses, while
the other four battalions moved into position to make a direct attack.

The Nizam now saw that he had no alternative but to declare openly for
the French, or to dismiss them. He preferred the latter alternative.
Peron, who commanded the French, saw that unless he surrendered, the
position of his force was desperate. Accordingly, on receipt of the
order, he and his officers expressed their readiness to accept their
dismissal. Their men were, however, in a state of mutiny, and the
officers were compelled to make their escape from the camp under cover
of night. The next morning the camp was surrounded by the English and
the troops of the Nizam, and the French then surrendered without a
shot being fired.

While the Nizam was thus rendered powerless, negotiations had been
going on with the Mahrattis; but owing to the quarrels and jealousies
of their chiefs, nothing could be done with them. It was, however,
apparent that, for the same reason, Tippoo would equally fail in his
attempt to obtain their alliance against us, and that therefore it was
with Mysore alone that we should have to deal.

In the meantime, though preparing for war, Lord Mornington was most
anxious to avoid it. When Tippoo wrote to complain that some villages
of his had been occupied by people from Coorg, the governor general
ordered their immediate restoration to him. In November he sent the
Sultan a friendly letter, pointing out that he could look for no
efficient aid from France, and that any auxiliaries who might possibly
join him would only introduce the principles of anarchy, and the
hatred of all religion, that animated the whole French nation; that
his alliance with them was really equivalent to a declaration of war
against England; and, as he was unwilling to believe that Tippoo was
actuated by unfriendly feelings, or desired to break the engagements
of the treaty entered into with him, he offered to send an officer to
Mysore to discuss any points upon which variance might have arisen,
and to arrange a scheme that would be satisfactory to them both.

To this letter no answer was received for five weeks, by which time
Lord Mornington had arrived at Madras. He then received a letter
containing a tissue of the most palpable lies concerning Tippoo's
dealings with the French. Two or three more letters passed, but as
Tippoo's answers were all vague and evasive, the governor general
issued a manifesto, on the 22nd of February, 1799, recapitulating all
the grievances against Mysore, and declaring that, though the allies
were prepared to repel any attack, they were equally anxious to effect
an arrangement with him.

But Tippoo still believed that a large French army would speedily
arrive. He had received letters from Buonaparte in person, written
from Egypt, and saying that he had arrived on the borders of the Red
Sea, "with an innumerable and invincible army, full of the desire to
deliver you from the iron yoke of England." Tippoo well knew, also,
that although the governor general spoke for himself and his allies,
the Nizam was powerless to render any assistance to the English, and
that the Mahrattis were far more likely to join him than they were to
assist his foes.

The manifesto of Lord Mornington was speedily followed by action, for
at the end of January an army of nearly 37,000 men had been assembled
at Vellore. Of these some 20,000 were the Madras force. With them were
the Nizam's army, nominally commanded by Meer Alum, but really by
Colonel Wellesley--afterwards Duke of Wellington--who had with him his
own regiment, the 33rd; 6,500 men under Colonel Dalrymple; 3,621
infantry, for the most part French troops who had re-enlisted under
us; and 6000 regular and irregular horse.

Dick, who had now attained the rank of captain, had been introduced by
one of Lord Cornwallis's old staff officers to General Harris, who, as
general of the Madras army, was in command of the whole. On hearing of
the services Dick had rendered in the last war, and that his perfect
acquaintance with the language, and with the ground over which the
army would pass, would enable him to be equally efficient on the
present occasion, General Harris at once detached him from service
with the regiment, and appointed him to a post on his own staff.

Had it not been that Dick had seen, for the last two years, that
hostilities must ere long be commenced with Tippoo; he would, before
this, have left the army and returned home. He was heartily tired of
the long inaction. When the regiment was stationed at Madras, life was
very pleasant; but a considerable portion of his time was spent at out
stations, where the duties were very light, and there was nothing to
break the monotony of camp life. He received letters regularly from
his mother, who gave him full details of their home life.

The first that he received merely announced their safe arrival in
England. The second was longer and more interesting. They had had no
difficulty in discovering the address of Annie's father, and on
writing to him, he had immediately come up to town. He had lost his
wife, on his voyage home from India, and was overjoyed at the
discovery of his daughter, and at her return to England.

"He is," Dick's mother wrote, "very much broken in health. Annie
behaved very nicely. Poor child, it was only natural that, after what
you did for her, and our being all that time with her, the thought of
leaving us for her parent, of whom she had no recollection, was a
great grief. However, I talked it over with her, many times, and
pointed out to her that her first duty was to the father who had been
so many years deprived of her, and that, although there was no reason
why she should not manifest affection for us, she must not allow him
to think, for a moment, that she was not as pleased to see him as he
was to welcome her. She behaved beautifully when her father arrived,
and when he had been in the house five minutes, and spoke of the death
of his wife, his bitter regret that she had not lived to see Annie
restored to them, the loneliness of his life and how it would be
brightened now that she was again with him, his words so touched her
that she threw herself into his arms, and sobbed out that she would do
all she could to make his life happy. He had, of course, received the
letter we had written to him from Tripataly, and quite pained me by
the gratitude he showed for what he called my kindness to his
daughter.

"He said that, by this post, he should write to endeavour to express
some of his feelings to you. Annie went away with him the next day, to
a place he has bought near Plymouth. He has promised to let us have
her for a month, every year, and we have promised to go down for the
same time, every summer, to stay with her. He asks numberless
questions about you, which neither I nor Annie are ever tired of
answering. Even with a mother's natural partiality, I must own that
her descriptions are almost too flattering, and he must think that you
are one of the most admirable of men.

"Next as to the jewels. Your father took them to be valued by several
diamond merchants, and accepted the highest offer, which was
16,000 pounds, of which he has already invested twelve, in your name,
in shares in six ships. Four of these are Indiamen. The other two are
privateers. He said that he did not think you would object to a
quarter of the money being put into a speculative venture, and that
they were both good craft, well armed and well commanded, with strong
crews; and would, if successful, earn as much in a year as a
merchantman would in ten."

Since then the letters had been of a uniform character. The shares in
the Indiamen were giving a good and steady return. The privateers had
been very fortunate, and had captured some rich prizes. Annie had been
up, or they had been down at Plymouth. The letters during the last
three years had reported her as having grown into a young woman, and,
as his mother declared, a very pretty one. After that the allusions to
her were less frequent, but it was mentioned that she was as fond of
them as ever, and that she was still unmarried.

"She always asks when you are coming home, Dick," Mrs. Holland said,
in the last letter he had received before accompanying General Harris
to Vellore. "I told her, of course, that your last letter said that
war was certain with Tippoo; that you hoped, this time, to see
Seringapatam taken and the tyrant's power broken; and that after it
was over you would come home on leave and, perhaps, would not go out
again."

During the six years that he had been in the army, Dick had very
frequently been at Tripataly, as there was little difficulty in
getting leave for a fortnight. His cousins had now grown up into young
men, Surajah commanded the troop, and his stays there were always
extremely pleasant. The troop now numbered two hundred, for with quiet
times the population of the territory had largely increased, and the
Rajah's income grown in proportion. The troop was now dressed in
uniform, and in arms and discipline resembled the irregular cavalry in
the Company's service, and when Dick arrived at Vellore he found his
uncle and cousins there with their cavalry.

"I thought, Dick, of only sending the boys," the Rajah said, "but when
the time came for them to start, I felt that I must go myself. We have
suffered enough at the hands of Mysore, and I do hope to see Tippoo's
capital taken, and his power of mischief put an end to, for good and
all."

"I am glad, indeed, that you are coming, Uncle. You may be sure that,
whenever I can get away from my duties with the general, I shall spend
most of my time in your camp, though I must occasionally drop in on my
own regiment."

The Rajah had already been down to Madras a month before, and with his
sons had been introduced to General Harris, by the latter's chief of
the staff, as having been always, like his father before him, a
faithful ally of the English, and as having accompanied Lord
Cornwallis on the occasion of the last campaign in Mysore. The general
had thanked him, heartily, for his offer to place his two hundred
cavalry at the disposal of the government, and had expressed a hope
that he, as well as his sons, would accompany it in the field.

On the 11th of February, 1799, the army moved from Vellore, but
instead of ascending by the pass of Amboor, as had been expected, it
moved southwest, ascended the pass of Paliode, and on the 9th of March
was established, without opposition, in Tippoo's territory, at a
distance of eighty miles east of his capital. They then marched north,
until they reached a village ten miles south of Bangalore. This route,
although circuitous, was chosen, as the roads were better, the country
more level, and cultivation much more general, affording far greater
facilities for the collection of forage for the baggage animals.

Hitherto, nothing had been seen of the Mysorean army. It had been
confidently expected that Tippoo would fight at least one great
battle, to oppose their advance against his capital, but so far no
signs had been seen of an enemy, and even the Mysore horse, which had
played so conspicuous a part in the last campaign, in no way
interfered with the advance of the army, or even with the foraging
parties.

A despatch that reached them, by a circuitous route, explained why
Tippoo had suffered them to advance so far unmolested. While the
Madras army had advanced from the southeast, a Bombay force, 6,500
strong, was ascending the Western Ghauts. As the advance brigade,
consisting of three native battalions, under Colonel Montresor,
reached Sedaseer; Tippoo, with 12,000 of his best troops, fell upon it
suddenly. His force had moved through the jungle, and attacked the
brigade in front and rear.

Although thus surprised, by an enemy nearly six times their superior
in force, the Sepoys behaved with a calmness and bravery that could
not have been surpassed by veteran troops. Maintaining a steady front,
they repulsed every attack, until a brigade, encamped eight miles in
their rear, came up to their assistance; and Tippoo was then forced to
retreat, having suffered a loss of 1,500 men, including many of his
best officers.

This proof of the inferiority of his troops, even when enormously
outnumbering the English, and fighting with all the advantages of
surprise, profoundly impressed Tippoo, and from this time he appeared
to regard the struggle as hopeless, and displayed no signs whatever of
the dash and energy that had distinguished him, when leading one of
the divisions of his father's army. He marched with his troops
straight to Seringapatam, and then moved out with his whole force, to
give battle to the main body of the invaders. The antagonists came
within sight of each other at the village of Malavilly, thirty miles
east of the capital. For some time an artillery fire on both sides was
kept up. Gradually the infantry became engaged, and the Mysoreans
showed both courage and steadiness, until a column of two thousand men
moved forward to attack the 33rd Regiment.

The British troops reserved their fire, until the column was within
fifty yards of them. Then they poured in a withering volley, and
charged. The column fell back in disorder. General Floyd at once
charged them, with five regiments of cavalry, sabred great numbers of
them, and drove the remainder back in headlong rout. The whole British
line then advanced, cheering loudly. The first line of Tippoo's army
fell back upon its second, and the whole then marched away, at a speed
that soon left the British infantry far behind them.

Instead of continuing his march straight upon the capital, General
Harris, learning from spies that Tippoo had wasted the whole country
along that line, moved southwest; collecting, as he went, great
quantities of cattle, sheep, and goats, and an abundance of grain and
forage; crossed the Cauvery at a ford at Sosilay; and, on the 5th of
April, took up his position at a distance of two miles from the
western face of the fort of Seringapatam.

This movement completely disconcerted Tippoo. He had imagined that the
attack would, as on the previous occasion, take place on the northern
side of the river, and had covered the approaches there with a series
of additional fortifications, while on the other side he had done but
little. So despondent was he, that he called together his principal
officers, and said to them:

"We have arrived at our last stage. What is your determination?"

His advisers took no brighter view of the prospect than he did
himself. They had unanimously opposed the war, had warned Tippoo
against trusting to the French, and had been adverse to measures that
could but result in a fresh trial of strength with the English. The
Sultan, however, while not attempting to combat their opinion, had
gone on his own way, and his officers now saw their worst fears
justified. They replied to his question:

"Our determination is to die with you."

On the day after arriving before Seringapatam, the British attacked
the villages and rocky eminences held by the enemy on the south side
of the river, and drove them back under the shelter of their guns.
General Floyd was sent, with the cavalry, to meet the Bombay force and
escort it to Seringapatam. This was accomplished, and although the
whole of the Mysore cavalry, and a strong force of infantry hovered
round the column, they did not venture to engage it, and on the 14th
the whole arrived at the camp before Seringapatam.

The Bombay force, which was commanded by General Stuart, crossed to
the north bank of the river, and took up a position, there, which
enabled them to take in flank the outlying works and trenches, with
which Tippoo had hoped to prevent any attack upon the western angle of
the fort, where the river was so shallow that it could be easily
forded.

Tippoo now endeavoured to negotiate, and asked for a conference.
General Harris returned an answer, enclosing the draft of a
preliminary treaty, with which he had been supplied before starting.
It demanded one half of Tippoo's territories, a payment of two
millions sterling, and the delivery of four of his sons as hostages.
Tippoo returned no reply, and on the 22nd the garrison made a vigorous
sortie, and were only repulsed after several hours' fighting.

For the next five days, the batteries of the besiegers kept up a heavy
fire, silenced every gun in the outlying works, and compelled their
defenders to retire across the river into the fort. Tippoo now sank
into such a state of despondency that he would listen to none of the
proposals of his officers for strengthening the position, and would
not even agree to the construction of a retrenchment, which would cut
off the western angle of the fort, against which it was evident that
the attack would be directed.

He knew that, if captured, there was little chance of his being
permitted to continue to reign; and had, indeed, made that prospect
more hopeless, by massacring all the English prisoners who had, by his
order, been brought in from the hill forts throughout the country on
his return to Seringapatam, after the repulse he had suffered in his
attack on the Bombay force.

On the 2nd of May, the batteries opened on the wall of the fort, near
its northwest angle; and so heavy was their fire that, by the evening
of the 3rd, a breach of sixty yards long was effected. General Harris
determined to assault on the following day. General Baird, who had,
for four years, been a prisoner in Seringapatam, volunteered to lead
the assault; and before daybreak 4,376 men took their places in the
advance trenches, where they lay down.

It was determined that the assault should not be made until one
o'clock, at which time Tippoo's troops, anticipating no attack, would
be taking their food, and resting during the heat of the day. The
troops who were to make the assault were divided into two columns
which, after mounting the breach, were to turn right and left,
fighting their way along the ramparts until they met at the other end.
A powerful reserve, under Colonel Wellesley, was to support them after
they had entered.

When the signal was given, the troops leapt from the trenches and,
covered by the fire of the artillery, which at the same moment opened
on the ramparts, dashed across the river, scaled the breach, and, in
six minutes from the firing of the signal gun, planted the British
flag on its crest.

Then the heads of the two columns at once started to fight their way
along the ramparts. At first the resistance was slight. Surprised and
panic stricken, the defenders of the strong works at this point
offered but a feeble resistance. Some fled along the walls. Some ran
down into the fort. Many threw themselves over the wall into the rocky
bed of the river. The right column, in less than an hour, had won its
way along the rampart to the eastern face of the fort; but the left
column met with a desperate resistance, for as each point was carried,
the enemy, constantly reinforced, made a fresh stand. Most of the
officers who led the column were shot down, and so heavy was the fire
that, several times, the advance was brought to a standstill.

It was not until the right column, making their way along the wall to
the assistance of their comrades, took them in the rear, that the
Mysoreans entirely lost heart. Taken between two fires, they speedily
became a disorganised mass. Many hundreds were shot down, either in
the fort or as, pouring out through the river gate, they endeavoured
to cross the ford and escape to the north.

As soon as the whole rampart was captured, General Baird sent an
officer with a flag of truce to the Palace, to offer protection to
Tippoo and all its inmates, on condition of immediate surrender. Two
of Tippoo's younger sons assured the officer that the Sultan was not
in the Palace. The assurance was disbelieved, and, the princes being
sent to the camp under a strong escort, the Palace was searched. The
officer in command, on being strictly questioned, declared that
Tippoo, who had in person commanded the defence made against the left
column, had been wounded, and that he had heard he was lying in a
gateway on the north side of the fort.

A search was immediately made, and the information proved correct.
Tippoo was found lying there, not only wounded, but dead. He had
indeed received several wounds, and was endeavouring to escape in his
palanquin, when this had been upset by the rush of fugitives striving
to make their way through the gate.

The gateway was, indeed, almost choked up with the bodies of those who
had been either suffocated in the crush, or killed by their pursuers.
On his palanquin being overturned, Tippoo had evidently risen to his
feet, and had at the same moment been shot through the head by an
English soldier, ignorant of his rank. In the evening he was buried
with much state, by the side of his father, in the mausoleum of Lal
Bang, at the eastern extremity of the island.

It was with great difficulty that, when the British soldiers became
aware of the massacre of their countrymen, a few days before, they
were restrained from taking vengeance upon his sons and the inmates of
the Palace. In the assault, 8000 of the defenders were killed; while
the loss of the British, during the siege and in the assault, amounted
to 825 Europeans and 639 native troops. An enormous quantity of
cannon, arms, and ammunition was captured, and the value of the
treasure and jewels amounted to considerably over a million pounds,
besides the doubtless large amount of jewels that had, in the first
confusion, fallen into the hands of the soldiers.

As Dick, after the fighting had ceased, went, by order of the General,
to examine the prisoners and ascertain their rank, his eye fell upon
an old officer, whose arm hung useless by his side, broken by a musket
ball. He went up to him, and held out his hand.

"Mirzah Mahomed Buckshy!" he exclaimed. "I am glad to meet you again,
although sorry to see that you are wounded."

The officer looked at him, in surprise.

"You have spoken my name," he said, "but I do not know that we have
ever met before."

"We have met twice. The first time I was, with a friend, dressed as
one of Tippoo's officers, and came to examine the state of Savandroog.
The second time we were dressed as merchants, and I succeeded in
effecting the liberation of my father. Both times I received much
kindness at your hands. But far more grateful am I to you for your
goodness to my father, whose life you preserved.

"I see you still carry the pistols I left for you, and doubtless you
also received the letter I placed with them."

"Thanks be to Allah," the old colonel said, "that we have thus met
again! Truly I rejoiced, when my first anger that I had been fooled
passed away, that your father had escaped, and that without my being
able to blame myself for carelessness. Your letter to me completed my
satisfaction, for I felt that Heaven had rightly rewarded the efforts
of a son who had done so much, and risked his life for a father.

"Is he alive? Is he here? I should be glad to see him again; and
indeed, I missed him sorely. I have been here for two years, having
been appointed to a command among the troops here."

"My father is well, and is in England. He will, I know, be glad indeed
to hear that I have met you, for he will ever retain a grateful
remembrance of your kindness. Now I must finish my work here, and will
then go to the general, and beg him to give me an order for your
release."

An hour later Dick returned with the order, and carried Mahomed
Buckshy off to the Rajah's camp. Here his arm was set by one of the
surgeons, and he was so well cared for by the Rajah, Dick, and
Surajah, that a fortnight later he was convalescent, and was able to
join his wife in the town.

"I am thankful," he said, on leaving, "that my life as a soldier is
over, and that I shall never more have to fight against the English.
Tippoo was my master, but it is he who, by his cruelty and ambition,
has brought ruin upon Mysore. I have saved enough to live in comfort
for the rest of my life, and to its end I shall rejoice that I have
again met the son of my friend Jack."

The capture of Seringapatam was followed, at once, by the entire
submission of the whole country. A descendant of the old Rajah of
Mysore was placed upon the throne. His rule was, however, but a
nominal one. A very large amount of territory was annexed. The island
of Seringapatam was permanently occupied as a British possession. The
new rajah was bound to receive, and pay, a large military force for
the defence of his territories; not to admit any European foreigners
into his dominions; to allow the Company to garrison any fort in
Mysore that might seem advisable to them; and to pay, at all times,
attention to such advice as might be given him as to the
administration of his affairs. He was, in fact, to be but a puppet,
the British becoming the absolute rulers of Mysore.

The family of Tippoo, and the ladies of the harem, were removed to
Vellore, where they were to receive a palace suitable to their former
rank and expectations, and allowances amounting to 160,000 pounds a
year.

Thus Mysore, one of the most ancient and powerful of the kingdoms of
India, fell into the hands of the English, owing to the ambition,
bigotry, and besotted cruelty of the son of a usurper.

Dick's part in all these operations had been a busy, although not a
very dangerous one. The only share he had taken in the active fighting
had been in the battle at Malavilly, where, having been sent with a
message to Colonel Floyd, just before he led the cavalry to the
assault of the column that had attacked the 33rd, he took his place by
the side of the Rajah and his cousins, whose troop formed part of
Floyd's command, and joined in the charge on the enemy. He had,
however, rendered great services in the quartermasters' department,
was very highly spoken of in the despatches of General Harris, and his
name appeared, as promoted to the rank of major, in the list of
honours promulgated by Lord Mornington, at the termination of the
campaign.

His regiment was among those selected for the occupation of Mysore,
and, a month after the capture of the city, he obtained leave to
return to England. He stayed for a week at Tripataly, and then took an
affectionate farewell of his uncle, the ranee, his cousins, and
Surajah, and sailed from Madras a fortnight later. The ship in which
he was a passenger was accompanied by two other Indiamen; and when, a
fortnight out they encountered a French frigate; which, however, they
beat off, and arrived in England without further adventure.

As soon as he landed, Dick drove to the house where his father and
mother had taken up their residence, on their arrival in England; but
he found to his surprise that, eight months before, they had moved to
another, in the village of Hackney. He proceeded there, and found it
to be a considerably larger one than that they had left, and standing
in its own grounds, which were of some extent. He had written to them
after the fall of Seringapatam, and told them that he should probably
sail for England about six weeks later. As the vehicle drove to the
door, his father and mother ran out. His father grasped his hand, and
his mother threw her aims round his neck, with tears of joy.

As soon as the first greeting was over, Dick saw a young lady, in deep
mourning, standing on the steps. He looked at her for a moment in
surprise, and then exclaimed:

"It is Annie Mansfield!"

Annie held out her hand, and laughed.

"We are both changed almost beyond recognition, Dick."

Then she added, demurely, "The last time, I had to ask you--"

"You sha'n't have to ask me again, Annie," he said, giving her a
hearty kiss. "My first impulse was to do it, but I did not know
whether your sentiments on the subject had changed."

"I am not given to change," she said.

"Am I, Mrs. Holland?"

"I don't think you are, my dear. I think there is a little spice of
obstinacy in your composition.

"But come in, Dick. Don't let us stand talking here at the door, when
we have so much to say to each other."

He went into the sitting room with his father and mother, where Annie
presently left them to themselves.

"Why, Father, the privateers must have done well, indeed!" Dick said,
looking round the handsome room.

"I have nothing to grumble at, on that score, Dick, though they have
not been so lucky the last two years. But it is not their profits that
induced us to move here. You saw Annie was in mourning. Her father
died, nearly a year ago, and at her earnest request, as he said in his
will, appointed us her guardians until she came of age, which will be
in a few months now. As he had no near relations, he left the whole of
his property to her; and having been in India in the days when, under
Warren Hastings, there were good pickings to be obtained, it amounted
to a handsome fortune. She said that she should come and live with us,
at any rate until she became of age; and as that house of ours, though
a comfortable place, was hardly the sort of house for an heiress, she
herself proposed that we should take a larger house between us.

"And so, here we are. We shall stay here through the winter, and then
we are going down to her place at Plymouth for the summer. What we
shall do, afterwards, is not settled. That must depend upon a variety
of things."

"She has grown much prettier than I ever thought she would do," Dick
said. "Of course, I knew she would have grown into a woman, but
somehow I never realised it, until I saw her, and I believe I have
always thought of her as being still the girl I carried off from
Seringapatam."

In a few minutes Annie joined them, and the talk then turned upon
India, and many questions were asked as to their friends at Tripataly.

"I suppose by this time, Annie--at least, I hope I may still call you
Annie?"

"If you call me anything else, I shall not answer," she said
indignantly.

"Well, I was going to say, I suppose you have got a good deal beyond
words of two letters, now?"

"I regard the question as an impertinent one. I have even mastered
geography; the meaning of which word you may remember, you explained
to me; and I have a partial knowledge of history."

The next day Dick met an old friend, Ben Birket. Dick had kept his
promise, and had written to him as soon as he returned to Tripataly
with his father, and a few weeks after Captain Holland's return, his
old shipmate came to see him and his wife. Ben had for some time
thought of retiring, and he now left the sea, and settled down in a
little cottage near. Captain Holland insisted upon settling a small
pension upon him, and he was always a welcome guest at the house. His
delight at Dick's return was extreme.

"I never thought you would do it, Master Dick, never for a moment, and
when on coming home I got your letter, and found that the Captain and
your mother were in England, it just knocked me foolish for a bit."

Three weeks later, Dick told Annie that he loved her. He spoke without
any circumlocution, merely taking her hand one evening, when they
happened to be alone together, and telling her so in plain words.

"I know nothing of women, Annie," he said, "or their ways. I have been
bothering myself how to set about it, but though I don't know how to
put it, I do know that I love you dearly. All these years I have been
thinking about you--not like this, you know, but as the dear, plucky
little girl of the old days."

"The little girl of old days, Dick," she said quietly, "is in no way
changed. I think you know what I thought of you, then. I have never
for a moment wavered. I gave you all the love of my heart, and you
have had it ever since.

"Why, you silly boy," she said, with a laugh, a few minutes later, "I
had begun to think that, just as I had to ask you for a kiss in the
old times, and again when you met me, I should have to take this
matter in hand. Why, I never thought of anything else. Directly I got
old enough to look upon myself as a woman, and young men began to come
to the house, I said to my dear father:

"'It is of no use their coming here, Father. My mind has been made up
for years, and I shall never change.'

"He knew at once what I meant.

"'I don't blame you, my dear,' he said. 'Of course, you are young at
present, but he has won you fairly; and if he is at all like what you
make him out to be, I could not leave you in better hands. He will be
home in another three or four years, and I shall have the comfort of
having you with me, until then. But you must not make too sure of it.
He may fall in love out there. You know that there is plenty of
society at Madras.'

"I laughed at the idea.

"'All the pretty ones either come out to be married, or get engaged on
the voyage, or before they have been there a fortnight. I have no
fear, Father, of his falling in love out there, though I don't say he
might not when he gets home, for of course he thinks of me only as a
little girl.'

"'Well, my dear,' he said, 'we will get him, and his father and
mother, to come down as soon as he gets home. As you have made up your
mind about it, it is only right that you should have the first
chance.'

"It was not to be as he planned, Dick, but you see I have had the
first chance, and it is well it was so, for no one can say how matters
would have turned out, if I had not been on the spot. Do you know,
Dick, I felt that when you rescued me from slavery, you became somehow
straightway my lord and master. As you carried me that night before
you, I said to myself I should always be your little slave; and you
see, it has come quite true."

"I don't know about that, Annie. We are in England now, and there are
no slaves. You will be the mistress now, and I your devoted servant."

"It will be as I say, Dick," she said tenderly. "I feel that, to the
end of my life, I shall remain your willing slave."

There was nothing to prevent an early marriage. It was settled that
Captain and Mrs. Holland should retain the house, which indeed they
could well afford to do, and that Dick and Annie should reside there
whenever they were in town, but that, as a rule, they would live at
the estate her father had purchased, near Plymouth. Their means were
ample, for during the eight years he was in the Service, Dick's 12,000
pounds had, as his father had predicted, doubled itself; and Annie's
fortune was at least as large as his own.

Dick had good reason to bless, to the end of his life, his mother's
plan; that had resulted in the double satisfaction of restoring his
father to her, and in winning for himself the woman whom he ever
regarded as the dearest and best wife in the world.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Tiger of Mysore - A Story of the War with Tippoo Saib" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home