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Title: In Times of Peril: A Tale of India
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Language: English
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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 "In Times of Peril: A Tale of India" ***

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IN TIMES OF PERIL

A TALE OF INDIA.


BY G. A. HENTY



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

Life in Cantonments

CHAPTER II.

The Outbreak

CHAPTER III.

The Flight

CHAPTER IV.

Broken Down

CHAPTER V.

Back Under the Flag

CHAPTER VI.

A Dashing Expedition

CHAPTER VII.

Delhi

CHAPTER VIII.

A Desperate Defense

CHAPTER IX.

Saved by a Tiger

CHAPTER X.

Treachery

CHAPTER XI.

Retribution Begins

CHAPTER XII.

Dangerous Service

CHAPTER XIII

Lucknow

CHAPTER XIV.

The Besieged Residency

CHAPTER XV.

Spiking the Guns

CHAPTER XVI.

A Sortie and its Consequences

CHAPTER XVII.

Out of Lucknow

CHAPTER XVIII.

The Storming of Delhi

CHAPTER XIX.

A Riot at Cawnpore

CHAPTER XX.

The Relief of Lucknow

CHAPTER XXI.

A Sad Parting

CHAPTER XXII.

The Last Capture of Lucknow

CHAPTER XXIII.

A Desperate Defense

CHAPTER XXIV.

Rest after Labor



CHAPTER I.

LIFE IN CANTONMENTS.


Very bright and pretty, in the early springtime of the year 1857, were
the British cantonments of Sandynugghur. As in all other British
garrisons in India, they stood quite apart from the town, forming a
suburb of their own. They consisted of the barracks, and of a maidan,
or, as in England it would be called, "a common," on which the troops
drilled and exercised, and round which stood the bungalows of the
military and civil officers of the station, of the chaplain, and of the
one or two merchants who completed the white population of the place.

Very pretty were these bungalows, built entirely upon the ground floor,
in rustic fashion, wood entering largely into their composition. Some
were thatched; others covered with slabs of wood or stone. All had wide
verandas running around them, with tatties, or blinds, made of reeds or
strips of wood, to let down, and give shade and coolness to the rooms
therein. In some of them the visitor walked from the compound, or
garden, directly into the dining-room; large, airy, with neither
curtains, nor carpeting, nor matting, but with polished boards as
flooring. The furniture here was generally plain and almost scanty,
for, except at meal-times, the rooms were but little used.

Outside, in the veranda, is the real sitting-room of the bungalow. Here
are placed a number of easy-chairs of all shapes, constructed of cane
or bamboo--light, cool, and comfortable; these are moved, as the sun
advances, to the shady side of the veranda, and in them the ladies read
and work, the gentlemen smoke. In all bungalows built for the use of
English families, there is, as was the case at Sandynugghur, a
drawing-room as well as a dining-room, and this, being the ladies'
especial domain, is generally furnished in European style, with a
piano, light chintz chair-covers, and muslin curtains.

The bedroom opens out of the sitting-room; and almost every bedroom has
its bathroom--that all-important adjunct in the East--attached to it.
The windows all open down to the ground, and the servants generally
come in and out through the veranda. Each window has its Venetian
blind, which answers all purposes of a door, and yet permits the air to
pass freely.

The veranda, in addition to serving as the general sitting-room to the
family, acts as a servants' hall. Here at the side not used by the
employers, the servants, when not otherwise engaged, sit on their mats,
mend their clothes, talk and sleep; and it is wonderful how much sleep
a Hindoo can get through in the twenty-four hours. The veranda is his
bedroom as well as sitting-room; here, spreading a mat upon the ground,
and rolling themselves up in a thin rug or blanket from the very top of
their head to their feet, the servants sleep, looking like a number of
mummies ranged against the wall. Out by the stables they have their
quarters, where they cook and eat, and could, if they chose, sleep; but
they prefer the coolness and freshness of the veranda, where, too, they
are ready at hand whenever called. The gardens were all pretty, and
well kept, with broad, shady trees, and great shrubs covered by bright
masses of flower; for Sandynugghur had been a station for many years,
and with plenty of water and a hot sun, vegetation is very rapid.

In two of the large reclining chairs two lads, of fifteen and sixteen
respectively, were lolling idly; they had been reading, for books lay
open in their laps, and they were now engaged in eating bananas, and in
talking to two young ladies, some three years their senior, who were
sitting working beside them.

"You boys will really make yourselves ill if you eat so many bananas."

"It is not that I care for them," said the eldest lad; "they are
tasteless things, and a good apple is worth a hundred of them; but one
must do something, and I am too lazy to go on with this Hindoo grammar;
besides, a fellow can't work when you girls come out here and talk to
him."

"That's very good, Ned; it is you that do all the talking; besides, you
know that you ought to shut yourselves up in the study, and not sit
here where you are sure to be interrupted."

"I have done three hours' steady work this morning with that wretched
Moonshi, Kate; and three hours in this climate is as much as my brain
will stand."

Kate Warrener and her brothers, Ned and Dick, were the children of the
major of the One Hundred and Fifty-first Bengal Native Infantry, the
regiment stationed at Sandynugghur. Rose Hertford, the other young
lady, was their cousin. The three former were born in India, but had
each gone to England at the age of nine for their education, and to
save them from the effects of the climate which English children are
seldom able to endure after that age. Their mother had sailed for
England with Dick, the youngest, but had died soon after she reached
home. Dick had a passion for the sea, and his father's relations having
good interest, had obtained for him a berth as a midshipman in the
royal navy, in which rank he had been serving for upward of a year. His
ship being now in Indian waters, a month's leave had been granted him
that he might go up the country to see his father. The other lad had
arrived from England three months before, with his sister and cousin.
Major Warrener had sent for his daughter, whose education was finished,
to take the head of his house, and, as a companion, had invited Rose
Hertford, who was the orphan child of his sister, to accompany her.
Ned, who had been at Westminster till he left England, was intended for
the Indian army. His father thought that it would be well for him to
come out to India with his sister, as he himself would work with him,
and complete his education, to enable him to pass the necessary
examination--then not a very severe one--while he could be at the same
time learning the native languages, which would be of immense benefit
to him after he had entered the army. Coming out as they had done in
the cold season, none of the four exhibited any of that pallor and
lassitude which, at any rate during the summer heats, are the rule
throughout the Anglo-Indian community.

As Ned finished his sentence the sound of the tread of two horses was
heard along the road.

"Captains Dunlop and Manners," Dick exclaimed; "a shilling to a penny!
Will either of you bet, girls?"

Neither his sister nor cousin replied to this offer; and the boys gave
a sly nod of intelligence to each other, as two horsemen rode up to the
veranda and dismounted; throwing their reins to the _syces_, who,
whatever the pace at which their masters ride, run just behind, in
readiness to take the horses, should they dismount.

"Good-morning, Miss Warrener; good-morning, Miss Hertford: we have
brought you some interesting news."

"Indeed!" said the girls, as they shook hands with the newcomers, who
were two as good specimens of tall, well-made, sunburnt Anglo-Saxons as
one would wish to see. "What is it?"

"We have just got the news that a family of wild boars have come down,
and are doing a lot of damage near Meanwerrie, four miles off. I
suppose they have been disturbed somewhere further away, as we have not
heard of any pig here for months; so to-morrow morning there is going
to be grand pig-sticking; of course you will come out and see the fun?"

"We shall be delighted," said Kate; but Rose put in: "Yes; but oh! how
unfortunate! it's Mrs. Briarley's garden party."

"That has been put off till next day. It is not often we get a chance
at pig, and we have always got gardens. The two need not have
interfered with each other, as we shall start at daylight for
Meanwerrie; but we may be out some hours, and so it was thought better
to put off the party to a day when there will be nothing else to do."

"Hurrah!" shouted Dick; "I am in luck! I wanted, above all things, to
see a wild boar hunt; do you think my father will let me have a spear?"

"Hardly, Dick, considering that last time you went out you tumbled off
three times at some jumps two feet wide, and that, were you to fall in
front of a pig, he would rip you up before you had time to think about
it; besides which, you would almost certainly stick somebody with your
spear."

Dick laughed.

"That was the first time I had ever been on a horse," he said; "will
you ride, Ned?"

"No," said Ned; "I can ride fairly enough along a straight road, but it
wants a first-rate rider to go across country at a gallop, looking at
the boar instead of where you are going, and carrying a spear in one
hand."

"Do you think papa will ride?" Kate asked.

"I don't know, Miss Warrener; the major is a famous spear; but here he
is to speak for himself."

Major Warrener was in uniform, having just come up from the
orderly-room. He was a tall, soldierly figure, inclining to stoutness.
His general expression was that of cheeriness and good temper; but he
was looking, as he drove up, grave and serious. His brow cleared,
however, as his eye fell upon the group in the veranda.

"Ah! Dunlop, brought the news about the boar, eh?"

"You will take us with you?" the girls asked in a breath.

"Oh, yes, you shall go; I will drive you myself. I am getting too heavy
for pig-sticking, especially with such responsibilities as you about.
There, I will get out of this uniform; it's hot for the time of year.
What are you drinking? nothing? Boy, bring some soda and brandy!"

Then, producing his cigar-case, he took a cheroot.

"Ag-low!" he shouted, and a native servant ran up with a piece of
red-hot charcoal held in a little pair of tongs.

"There, sit down and make yourselves comfortable till I come back."

The lads, finding that their society was not particularly required,
strolled off to the stables, where Ned entered into a conversation with
the _syces_ as to the distance to Meanwerrie and the direction in which
that village lay. Like all Anglo-Indian children brought up in India,
the boys had, when they left India, spoken the language fluently. They
had almost entirely forgotten it during their stay in England, but it
speedily came back again, and Ned, at the end of three months' work,
found that he could get on very fairly. Dick had lost it altogether.

When they went back to the veranda they found that the girls had gone
indoors, and that their father was sitting and smoking with his brother
officers. When the lads came up the conversation ceased, and then the
major said:

"It is as well the boys should know what is going on."

"What is it, father?" Ned asked, struck with the grave tone in which
the major spoke, and at the serious expression in all their faces.

"Well, boys, for some months past there have been all sorts of curious
rumors running through the country. Chupatties have been sent round,
and that is always considered to portend something serious."

"Do you mean the chupatties we eat--flat cakes, father?"

"Yes, Ned. Nobody knows who sends them round, or the exact meaning of
the signal, but it seems to be an equivalent for to 'prepare,' 'make
ready.' Chupatties are quickly prepared; they are the bread eaten on a
journey, and hence probably their signification. At any rate, these
things have been circulated among the native troops all over the
country. Strangers are known to have come and gone, and there is a
general uneasy and unsettled feeling prevalent among the troops. A
ridiculous rumor has circulated among them that the new cartridges have
been greased with pig's fat, in order that the caste of all who put it
to their lips might be destroyed. To-day I have received news from
Calcutta that the Nineteenth native regiment at Berhampore has behaved
in a grossly mutinous manner, and that it is feared the regiments at
Barrackpore and Dumdum will follow their example. The affair has been
suppressed, but there is an uneasy feeling abroad, and all the troops
in Bengal proper appear tainted with paltry disaffection. We have no
reason for believing that the spirit has spread to the northwest, and
are convinced that as far as our own regiment is concerned they can be
relied on; but the affair, taken in connection with the previous
rumors, is very strange, and I fear that there are lots of trouble
ahead. I wish now that I had not had the girls out for another year;
but I could not foresee this, and, indeed, until this morning, although
there has been a good deal of talk, we all hoped it would have passed
off without anything coming of it. One hopes still that it will spread
no further; but should it do so, it is impossible to say what may
happen. All we have to do is to be watchful, and to avoid with care
anything that can offend the men's prejudices. We must explain to the
native officers the folly of the greased cartridge story, and tell them
to reassure the men. You don't see anything else to do, Dunlop?"

"No, major; I trust that the regiment is to be depended upon; it has
always been well treated and the men have seemed attached to us all. We
will do our best to reassure them; but if there is any insubordination,
I hope that the colonel will give the men a lesson which will put an
end to the nonsense in the bud."

"Of course you will stay to tiffin?" the major said, as the _kitmagar_,
or head servant, announced that tiffin was ready.

"Many thanks, major, but we promised to tiff with Bullen, and he would
be mad if we did not turn up. How are you thinking of going to-morrow?
I intend to drive over, and send my horse on; so I can give one of your
boys a lift in my buggy."

"Thank you," the major said, "that would suit us exactly. I shall drive
in my dog-cart, which will carry four of us; and if you will take Dick,
that will make it all right."

"What time do we start?"

"We are to be there by seven; we set it so late to give the ladies time
to breakfast comfortably before starting. I will call here at half-past
six for Dick; it will be all in my way. Good-morning."

Two minutes later the girls, Ned, and Dick came into the dining-room,
and the party sat down to luncheon--a meal always called tiffin in
India. It is a great mistake to suppose that people in India cannot eat
because of the heat; in the extreme heat of summer their appetites do,
no doubt, fall off; but at other times, they not only eat, but eat more
largely than is good for them; and a good deal of the liver complaint
which is the pest of India is in no small degree due to the fact that,
the appetite being unnaturally stimulated by hot and piquant food,
people eat more than in such a climate as this can be properly
digested. The meal consisted of curries, with which were handed round
chutney and Bombay ducks--a little fish about the size of a smelt, cut
open, dried, and smoked with assafoetida, giving it an intolerably
nasty taste to strangers, but one which Anglo-Indians become accustomed
to and like--no one knows why they are called Bombay ducks--cutlets,
plantains sliced and fried, pomegranates, and watermelons. They were
waited upon by two servants, both dressed entirely in white, but
wearing red turbans, very broad and shallow. These turbans denoted the
particular tribe and sect to which their wearers belonged. The castes
in India are almost innumerable, and each has a turban of a peculiar
color or shape, and by these they can be at once distinguished by a
resident. On their foreheads were lines and spots of a yellowish white
paint, indicating also their caste, and the peculiar divinity to whose
worship they were specially devoted. On their feet they wore slippers,
and were as noiseless as cats in all their movements. There are no
better or more pleasant waiters in the world than the natives of
Hindostan.

Early as the hour named for the start would appear in England, it was
by no means early for India, where every one is up and about soon after
daylight--the morning hours up to eight o'clock being the most pleasant
of the whole day.

Kate and Rose were up, and all had had "_chota hazaree_" (little
breakfast) by half-past six, and were ready when Captain Dunlop drew up
in his buggy--a conveyance which will only hold two. The dog-cart was
already at the door, and the whole party were soon in motion. On the
road they passed several of their friends, for every one was going out
to the hunt, and merry greetings were exchanged.

The scenery round Sandynugghur resembles that which is common to all
the great plains of India watered by the Ganges and Jumna. The country
is for the most part perfectly flat, and cut up into little fields,
divided by shallow ditches. Here and there nullahs, or deep
watercourses, with tortuous channels and perpendicular sides, wind
through the fields to the nearest stream. These nullahs constitute the
great danger of hunting in the country. In the fields men may be
noticed, in the scantiest of attire, working with hoes among their
springing crops; women, wrapped up in the dark blue calico cloth which
forms their ordinary costume, are working as hard as the men. Villages
are scattered about, generally close to groves of trees. The huts are
built of mud; most of them are flat-topped, but some are thatched with
rushes. Rising above the villages is the mosque, where the population
are Mohammedan, built of mud like the houses, but whitewashed and
bright. The Hindoo villages generally, but not always, have their
temples. The vegetation of the great plains of India is not tropical,
according to the ideas of tropical vegetation gathered from British
hothouses. There are a few palms and many bananas with their wide
leaves, but the groves are composed of sturdy trees, whose appearance
at a distance differs in no way from that of ordinary English forest
trees. Viewed closer, the banian with its many stems is indeed a
vegetable wonder; but, were it not for the villages and natives, a
traveler might journey for very many miles across the plains of India
without seeing anything which would specially remind him that he was
out of England.

There were a considerable number of traps assembled when Major Warrener
drew up, and some eight or ten gentlemen on horseback, each carrying a
boar-spear--a weapon not unlike the lance of an English cavalryman, but
shorter in the handle. The riders were mostly dressed in coats of the
Norfolk jacket type, and knee-breeches with thick gaiters. The material
of their clothes was a coarse but very strong cloth of native make,
gray or brown in color. Some wore round hats and forage caps with
puggarees twisted round them.

A chorus of greeting saluted the party as they drove up.

"Well, young ladies," the colonel said, "so you have come out to see
the death of the boar,

  "'The boar, the boar, the mighty boar,'

as the song says? So you are not going to take a spear to-day, major?
Think it's time to leave it to the youngsters, eh?"

"Where are the wild boars, Mrs. Renwick?" Kate asked of the colonel's
wife.

"Pig, my dear; we always call them pig when we speak of them together,
though we talk of the father of the family as the boar. Do you see that
clump of long grass and jungle right across the plain? That's where
they are. They have been watched all night. They went out to feed
before daybreak and have just gone back again. Do you think we are in
the best place for seeing the sport, Major Warrener?"

"I think, Mrs. Renwick, that if you leave your trap and go up to the
top of that knoll, two hundred yards to the right, you will get a
really good view of the plain."

Mrs. Renwick alighted from the dog-cart in which the colonel had driven
her, and the whole party, following her example, walked in a laughing
group to the spot which Major Warrener had indicated, and which was
pronounced as just the place. The _syces_ stood at the heads of the
horses, and those who were going to take part in the sport cantered off
toward the spot where the pigs were lurking, making, however, a wide
_détour_ so as to approach it from the other side, as it was desired to
drive them across the plain. At some distance behind the clump were
stationed a number of natives, with a variety of mongrel village curs.
When they saw the horsemen approach they came up and prepared to enter
the jungle to drive out the pigs.

The horsemen took up their position on either side of the patch in
readiness to start as soon as the animals were fairly off. A number of
villagers, in whose fields of young rice the family had done much
damage during the few days that they had taken up their abode in their
present quarters, were assembled on such little rises of ground as were
likely to give a good view of the proceedings. There were about a dozen
horsemen with spears; of these, three or four were novices, and these
intended to try their skill for the first time upon the "squeakers," as
the young pigs are called, while the others prepared for a race after
the old ones.

Great nerve, considerable skill, and first-rate horsemanship are
required for the sport of pigsticking. The horse, too, must be fast,
steady, well-trained and quick, for without all these advantages the
sport is a dangerous one. The wild boar is, at the start, as fast as a
horse. He is very quick at turning, and when pressed always attacks his
pursuers, and as he rushes past will lay open the leg or flank of a
horse with a sweeping cut with his sharp tusk. If he can knock a horse
down the position of his rider would be serious indeed, were not help
to arrive in time to draw off the attention of the enraged animal from
his foe. Heavy falls, too, take place over watercourses and nullahs,
and in some parts of India the difficulties are greatly increased by
bowlders of all kinds being scattered over the ground, and by the
frequent occurrence of bushes and shrubs armed with most formidable
spines and thorns. Conspicuous among these is the bush known as the
"wait-a-bit thorn," which is furnished with two kinds of thorn--the one
long, stiff, and penetrating, the other short and curved, with a forked
point almost like a fishhook. When this once takes hold it is almost
necessary to cut the cloth to obtain a release.

Scarcely had the beaters, with much shouting and clamor, entered the
patch of bush in which the pigs were lying, than the porcine family,
consisting of a splendid boar and sow, and eight nearly full-grown
squeakers, darted out on the open, and in a moment the horsemen were
off in pursuit. The ground was deep and heavy, and the pigs at the
first burst gained fast upon their pursuers. There was no attempt on
the part of the pigs to keep together, and directly after starting they
began to diverge. The old boar and sow both kept across the plain--one
bearing toward the left, the other to the right. The squeakers ran in
all directions--some at right angles to the line that the old ones were
taking. The object of one and all was to gain cover of some kind.

With their hats pressed well down upon their heads, and their spears
advanced with the head some two or three feet from the ground, the
hunters started after them--some making after the boar, some after the
sow, according to the position which they occupied at the commencement
of the chase, while some of the young hands dashed off in pursuit of
the squeakers.

There were five, however, after the boar; Captain Dunlop, a young
ensign named Skinner, the Scotch doctor of the regiment, and two
civilians. For a short time they kept together, and then Captain Dunlop
and Skinner began to draw ahead of the others.

The boar was a stanch one, and a mile had been passed before his speed
began sensibly to diminish. The young ensign, who was mounted on a very
fast Arab, began to draw up to him three or four lengths ahead of
Captain Dunlop, bearing his horse so as to get upon the left side of
the boar, in order to permit him to use his spear to advantage.

He was nearly up to him when Captain Dunlop, who saw the boar glancing
back savagely, cried:

"Look out, Skinner! he will be round in a moment; keep your horse well
in hand!"

A moment later the boar was round. The horse, young and unbroken at the
work, started violently, swerved, and, before his rider could get him
round, the boar was upon him. In an instant the horse was upon the
ground, with a long gash upon his flank, and Skinner, flying through
the air, fell almost directly in the boar's way.

Fortunately for the young ensign, Captain Dunlop, as he shouted his
warning, had turned his horse to the left, so as to cut off the boar
when he turned, and he was now so close that the boar, in passing, had
only time to give a vicious blow at the fallen man, which laid his arm
open from his shoulder to his elbow.

At that instant Captain Dunlop arrived, and his spear pierced the
animal's flank. His aim was, however, disconcerted by his horse, at the
moment he struck, leaping over the fallen ensign; the wound, therefore,
was but a glancing one, and in a moment the boar was round upon his new
assailant. Fortunately the horse was a well-trained one, and needed not
the sharp touch of his master's rein to wheel sharp round on his hind
legs, and dart off at full speed. The boar swerved off again, and
continued his original line of flight, his object being to gain a thick
patch of jungle, now little over a quarter of a mile distant; the
detention, however, was fatal to him, for the doctor, who was close on
Captain Dunlop's heels, now brought up his horse with a rush and, with
a well-aimed thrust, ran the animal through, completely pinning him to
the earth. The honor of his death was therefore divided between the
doctor and Captain Dunlop, for the latter had drawn first blood, or, as
it is termed, had taken first spear, while the former had scored the
kill.

The sow had been more fortunate than her lord. She had taken a line
across a part of the plain which was intersected by several nullahs.
She, too, had been wounded, but one of the nullahs had thrown out
several of her pursuers: one rider had been sent over his horse's head
and stunned; and the sow, turning sharp down a deep and precipitous
gully, had made her escape. Three of the squeakers fell to the spears
of the Griffs--young hands--and the rest had escaped. The boar had been
killed only a short distance from the rise upon which the spectators
from Sandynugghur were assembled, and the beaters soon tied its four
legs together, and, putting a pole through them, six of them carried
the beast up to the colonel's wife for inspection.

"What a savage-looking brute it is!" said Kate; "not a bit like a pig,
with all those long bristles, and that sharp high back, and those
tremendous tusks."

"Will you accept the skin, Miss Warrener?" Captain Dunlop said to her
afterward; "I have arranged with the doctor. He is to have the hams,
and I am to have the hide. If you will, I will have it dressed and
mounted."

"Thank you, Captain Dunlop, I should like it very much;" but, as it
turned out, Kate Warrener never got the skin.

The boar killed, the doctor's first care was to attend to the wounded,
and Skinner's arm was soon bound up, and he was sent home in a buggy;
the man who was stunned came to in a short time. The unsuccessful ones
were much laughed at by the colonel and major, for allowing half the
game started to get away.

"You ought not to grumble, colonel," Captain Manners said. "If we had
killed them all, we might not have had another run for months; as it
is, we will have some more sport next week."

There was some consultation as to the chance of getting the sow even
now, but it was generally agreed that she would follow the nullah down,
cross the stream, and get into a large canebrake beyond, from which it
would take hours to dislodge her; so a general move was made to the
carriages, and in a short time the whole party were on their way back
to Sandynugghur.



CHAPTER II.

THE OUTBREAK.


A week after the boar-hunt came the news that a Sepoy named Mangul
Pandy, belonging to the Thirty-fourth Native Infantry, stationed at
Barrackpore, a place only a few miles out of Calcutta, had, on the 29th
of March, rushed out upon the parade ground and called upon the men to
mutiny. He then shot the European sergeant-major of the regiment, and
cut down an officer. Pandy continued to exhort the men to rise to arms,
and although his comrades would not join him, they refused to make any
movement to arrest him. General Hearsey now arrived on the parade
ground with his son and a Major Ross, and at once rode at the man, who,
finding that his comrades would not assist him, discharged the contents
of the musket into his own body.

Two days later the mutinous Nineteenth were disbanded at Barrackpore.
On the 3rd of April Mangul Pandy, who had only wounded himself, was
hung, and the same doom was allotted to a native officer of his
regiment, for refusing to order the men to assist the officer attacked
by that mutineer, and for himself inciting the men to rise against the
government.

"What do you think of the news, papa?" Dick asked his father.

"I hope that the example which has been set by the execution of these
ringleaders, and by the disbandment of the Nineteenth, may have a
wholesome effect, Dick; but we shall see before long."

It needed no great lapse of time to show that this lesson had been
ineffectual. From nearly every station throughout Bengal and the
northwest provinces came rumors of disaffection; at Agra, at Umballah,
and at other places incendiary fires broke out with alarming frequency,
letters were from time to time intercepted, calling upon the Sepoys to
revolt, while at Lucknow serious disturbances occurred, and the Seventh
Regiment were disarmed by Sir Henry Lawrence, the Commissioner of Oude.
So the month of April passed, and as it went on the feeling of disquiet
and danger grew deeper and more general. It was like the anxious time
preceding a thunderstorm, the cloud was gathering, but how or when it
would burst none could say. Many still maintained stoutly that there
was no danger whatever, and that the whole thing would blow over; but
men with wives and families were generally inclined to take a more
somber view of the case. Nor is this to be wondered at. The British
form an almost inappreciable portion of the population of India; they
are isolated in a throng of natives, outnumbered by a thousand to one.
A man might therefore well feel his helplessness to render any
assistance to those dear to him in the event of a general uprising of
the people. Soldiers without family ties take things lightly, they are
ready for danger and for death if needs be, but they can always hope to
get through somehow; but the man with a wife and children in India, at
the time when a general outbreak was anticipated, would have the
deepest cause for anxiety. Not, however, that at this time any one at
Sandynugghur looked for anything so terrible. There was a spirit of
insubordination abroad in the native troops, no doubt, but no one
doubted but that it would, with more or less trouble, be put down. And
so things went on as usual, and the garden parties and the drives, and
the friendly evening visiting continued just as before. It was at one
of these pleasant evening gatherings that the first blow fell. Most of
the officers of the station, their wives, and the two or three
civilians were collected at Major Warrener's. The windows were all
open. The girls were playing a duet on the piano; five or six other
ladies were in the drawing-room and about the same number of gentlemen
were standing or sitting by them, some four or five were lounging in
the veranda enjoying their cheroots; native servants in their white
dresses moved noiselessly about with iced lemonade and wine, when a
Sepoy came up the walk.

"What is it?" asked Major Warrener, who was one of the group in the
veranda.

"Dispatch for the colonel, Sahib."

The colonel, who was sitting next to the major, held out his hand for
the message, and was rising, when Major Warrener said:

"Don't move, colonel; boy, bring a candle."

The servant brought it: the colonel opened the envelope and glanced at
the dispatch. He uttered an exclamation which was half a groan, half a
cry.

"Good Heaven! what is the matter, colonel?"

"The native troops at Meerut have mutinied, have murdered their
officers and all the European men, women, and children they could find,
and are marching upon Delhi. Look after your regiment."

A low cry broke from the major. This was indeed awful news, and for a
moment the two men sat half-stunned at the calamity, while the sound of
music and merry talk came in through the open window like a mockery on
their ears.

"Let us take a turn in the compound," said the major, "where no one can
hear us."

For half an hour they walked up and down the garden. There could be no
doubt about the truth of the news, for it was an official telegram from
the adjutant at Meerut; and as to the extent of the misfortune, it was
terrible.

"There is not a single white regiment at Delhi," exclaimed the colonel;
"these fiends will have it all their own way, and at Delhi there are
scores of European families. Delhi once in their hands will be a
center, and the mutiny will spread like wildfire over India. What was
the general at Meerut about? what were the white troops up to? It is as
inexplicable as it is terrible. Is there anything to be done, major, do
you think?" But Major Warrener could think of nothing. The men at
present knew nothing of the news, but the tidings would reach them in
two or three days; for news in India spreads from village to village,
and town to town, with almost incredible speed, and Meerut was but a
hundred and fifty miles distant.

"Had we better tell them inside?" the major asked.

"No," answered the colonel; "let them be happy for to-night; they will
know the news to-morrow. As they are breaking up, ask all the officers
to come round to the messroom; I will meet them there, and we can talk
the matter over; but let the ladies have one more quiet night; they
will want all their strength and fortitude for what is to come."

And so, clearing their brows, they went into the house and listened to
the music, and joined in the talk until ten o'clock struck and every
one got up to go, and so ended the last happy evening at Sandynugghur.

The next morning brought the news of the rising at Delhi, but it was
not till two days later that letters giving any details of these
terrible events arrived, and the full extent of the awful calamity was
known.

The flame broke out at Meerut at seven o'clock in the evening of
Sunday, the 10th of May. On the previous day a punishment parade had
been held to witness the military degradation of a number of men of the
Third Native Cavalry, who had been guilty of mutinous conduct in
respect to the cartridges. The native regiments at the station
consisted of the Third Cavalry, the Eleventh and Twentieth Infantry;
there were also in garrison the Sixtieth Rifles, the Sixth Dragoon
Guards, and two batteries of artillery; a force amply sufficient, if
properly handled, to have crushed the native troops, and to have nipped
the mutiny in the bud. Unhappily, they were not well handled. The
cantonments of Meerut were of great extent, being nearly five miles in
length by two in breadth, the barracks of the British troops were
situated at some distance from those of the native regiments, and the
action of the troops was paralyzed by the incompetency of the general,
an old man who had lost all energy, and who remained in a state of
indecision while the men of the native regiments shot their officers,
murdered all the women and children, and the white inhabitants whose
bungalows were situated at their end of their cantonment, opened the
jail doors, and after setting fire to the whole of this quarter of
Meerut, marched off toward Delhi, unmolested by the British troops.
Even then an orderly sent off with dispatches to the officer commanding
at Delhi, informing him of what had happened, and bidding him beware,
might have saved the lives of hundreds of Englishmen and women, even if
it were too late to save Delhi; but nothing whatever was done; the
English troops made a few meaningless and uncertain movements, and
marched back to their barracks. No one came forward to take the lead.
So the white troops of Meerut remained stationary under arms all night,
and the English population of Delhi were left to their fate.

From Meerut to Delhi is thirty-two miles, and the mutineers of Meerut,
marching all night, arrived near the town at eight in the morning.
Singularly enough, the ancient capital of India, the place around which
the aspiration of Hindoos and Mohammedans alike centered, and where the
ex-emperor and his family still resided, was left entirely to the guard
of native troops; not a single British regiment was there, not a
battery of white troops. As the center of the province, a large white
population were gathered there-the families of the officers of the
native infantry and artillery, of the civil officers of the province,
merchants, bankers, missionaries, and others. As at all other Indian
towns, the great bulk of the white inhabitants lived in the cantonments
outside the town; had it not been for this, not one would have escaped
the slaughter that commenced as soon as the Third Cavalry from Meerut
rode into the town. The Fifty-fourth Native Infantry, who had hastily
been marched out to meet them, fraternized with them at once, and,
standing quietly by, looked on while their officers were murdered by
the cavalrymen. Then commenced a scene of murder and atrocity which is
happily without parallel in history. Suffice to say, that with the
exception of some half-dozen who in one way or other managed to escape,
the whole of the white population inside the walls of Delhi were
murdered under circumstances of the most horrible and revolting
cruelty. Had the news of the outbreak of Meerut been sent by a swift
mounted messenger, the whole of these hapless people would have had
time to leave the town before the arrival of the mutineers. Those in
the cantonments outside the city fared somewhat better. Some were
killed, but the greater part made their escape; and although many were
murdered on the way, either by villagers or by bodies of mutineers, the
majority reached Meerut or Aliwal. The sufferers of Delhi did not die
wholly unavenged. Inside the city walls was an immense magazine
containing vast stores of powder, cartridges, and arms. It was
all-important that this should not fall into the hands of the
mutineers. This was in charge of Lieutenant Willoughby of the royal
artillery, who had with him Lieutenants Forrest and Rayner, and six
English warrant and non-commissioned officers, Buckley, Shaw, Scully,
Crow, Edwards, and Stewart. The following account was given by
Lieutenant Forrest:

"The gates of the magazine were closed and barricaded, and every
possible arrangement that could be made was at once commenced. Inside
the gate leading to the park were placed two six-pounders doubly
charged with grape. These were under acting sub-conductor Crow and
Sergeant Stewart, with lighted matches in their hands. Their orders
were that if any attempt was made to force the gate the guns were to be
fired at once, and they were to fall back to that part of the magazine
where Lieutenant Willoughby and I were posted. The principal gate of
the magazine was similarly defended by two guns and by the
_chevaux-de-frise_ laid down in the inside. For the further defense of
this gate and the magazine in its vicinity, there were two six-pounders
so placed as to command it and a small bastion close by. Within sixty
yards of the gate, and commanding two cross roads, were three
six-pounders, and one twenty-four pound howitzer, which could be so
managed as to act upon any part of the magazine in that neighborhood.
After all these guns and howitzers had been placed in the several
positions above named, they were loaded with a double charge of grape.
After these arrangements had been completed a train was laid ready to
be fired at a preconcerted signal. On the enemy approaching the walls
of the magazine, which was provided with scaling ladders, the native
establishment at once deserted us by climbing up the sloped sheds on
the inside of the magazine and descending the ladders on the outside."

When the attack began the mutineers climbed the walls in great numbers,
and opened fire upon the little garrison; these replied by an incessant
fire of grape-shot, which told severely upon the enemy. There were but
two men to each gun, but they stood nobly to their pieces until all
were more or less wounded by the enemy's fire. Finding that no more
could be done, Lieutenant Willoughby gave the order, Conductor Scully
fired the several trains, and in another instant a tremendous explosion
took place which shook all Delhi, and covered the city with a cloud of
black smoke. It was calculated that from fifteen hundred to two
thousand of the mutineers and rabble of the town were killed by the
falling walls, or crushed under the masses of masonry. Lieutenants
Willoughby, Forrest, Rayner, and Conductor Buckley survived the
explosion, and effected their retreat in the confusion through a small
sallyport on the river face. The mutineers were so enraged by their
misfortune that they rushed to the palace and demanded of the king a
number of European officers and ladies who had sought refuge under his
protection. They were handed over to the mutineers, and at once
slaughtered.

The Warreners listened with pale faces as their father, on his return
from the orderly-room, where the news had been discussed, told them the
sad story.

"There is nothing to be done, I suppose, papa?" Ned said gently.

"No, my boy; we are in the hands of God. We must wait now for what may
come. At present the regiment professes its fidelity, and has now
volunteered to march against the mutineers. The colonel believes them,
so do some of the others; I do not; it may be that the men mean what
they say at present, but we know that emissaries come and go, and every
fresh rising will be an incentive to them. It is no use blinking the
truth, dear; we are like men standing on a loaded mine which may at any
moment explode. I have been thinking, indeed for the last week I have
done nothing but think, what is best to be done. If the mutiny breaks
out at night or at any time when we are not on parade, we have agreed
that all the whites shall make at once for Mr. Thompson's house. It is
the strongest of any of the residences--for there would of course be no
getting to the messhouse--and then we will sell our lives as dearly as
we may. If it happens when we are on parade, defense by the rest of the
residents would be useless. There are but six civilians, with you two
boys--for we have counted you--eight. Probably but few of you could
gain Thompson's house in time; and if all did, your number would be too
small to defend it. There remains then nothing but flight. The rising
will most likely take place on parade. The residents have agreed that
each day they will, on some excuses or other, have their traps at their
door at that hour, so that at the sound of the first shot fired they
may jump in and drive off."

"But, you, papa?" Kate asked.

"My dear," said her father, "I shall be on duty; so long as a vestige
of the regiment remains as a regiment, I shall be with it; if the whole
regiment breaks up and attacks us, those who do not fall at the first
volley will be justified in trying to save their lives. The colonel,
the adjutant, and myself are mounted officers, and two or three of the
others will have their dogcarts each day brought up to the messhouse,
as they often do. If there is a mutiny on parade, the unmounted
officers will make for them, and we who are mounted will as far as
possible cover their retreat. So it is arranged."

"But will the road be open to Meerut, uncle?" Rose asked after a pause,
for the danger seemed so strange and terrible that they felt stunned by
it.

"No, my dear; it certainly will not. There are three garrison towns
between us, and they also will probably be up. The only thing is to
keep to the road for the first ten or twelve miles, and then take to
the woods, and make your way on foot. I have spoken to Saba this
morning. We can trust her; she nursed you all, and has lived with me
ever since as a sort of pensioner till you came out. I have asked her
to get two dresses of Mussulman country women; in those only the eyes
are visible, while the Hindoo dress gives no concealment. I have also
ordered her to get me two dresses: one, such as a young Mussulman
_zemindar_ wears; the other, as his retainer. They are for you boys.
Keep the bundles, when you get them, in that closet in the dining-room,
so as to be close at hand; and in case of alarm, be sure and take them
with you. Remember my instructions are absolute. If by day, escape in
the trap at the first alarm; if the trap is not available, escape at
once on foot. If you hear the enemy are close, hide till nightfall in
that thick clump of bushes in the corner of the compound, then make for
that copse of trees, and try and find your way to Meerut. I trust I may
be with you, or that I may join you on the road. But in any case, it
will relieve my anxiety greatly to know that your course is laid down.
If I had to return here to look for you, I should bring my pursuers
after me, and your chance of escape would be gone--for I rely upon you
all to follow my instructions to the letter."

"Yes, indeed, papa," was the unanimous answer of the young Warreners,
who were deeply affected at the solemn manner in which their father
spoke of the situation.

"I have a brace of revolvers upstairs," he said, "and will give one to
each of you boys. Carry them always, but put them on under your coats,
so that they may not be noticed; it would be as well for you to
practice yourselves in their use; but when you do so, always go some
distance from the station, so that the sound will not be heard."

"Can you give Rose and me a pistol each, too, papa?" Kate said quietly.

Major Warrener kissed his daughter and niece tenderly.

"I have a pair of small double-barreled pistols; you shall each have
one," he answered with a deep sigh.

That afternoon the young Warreners and their cousin went out for a
walk, and, fixing a piece of paper against a tree, practiced pistol
shooting for an hour. Any passer-by ignorant of the circumstances would
have wondered at the countenances of these young people, engaged,
apparently, in the amusement of pistol practice. There was no smile on
them, no merry laugh when the ball went wide of the mark, no triumphant
shout at a successful shot. Their faces were set, pale, and earnest,
Scarcely a word was spoken. Each loaded in silence, took up a place at
the firing point, and aimed steadily and seriously; the boys with an
angry eye and frowning brow, as if each time they were firing at a
deadly foe; the girls as earnestly, and without any of the nervousness
or timidity which would be natural in girls handling firearms for the
first time. Each day the exercise was repeated, and after a week's
practice all could hit, with a fair amount of certainty, a piece of
paper six inches square, at a distance of ten yards.

During this time Captains Dunlop and Manners spent their whole time,
when not engaged upon their military duties, at Major Warrener's. They
were now the recognized lovers of Kate and Rose; and although, in those
days of tremendous anxiety and peril, no formal engagements were
entered upon, the young people understood each other, and Major
Warrener gave his tacit approval. Very earnestly all the party hoped
that when the dread moment came it might come when they were all
together, so that they might share the same fate, whatever it might be.
The young officers' buggies now stood all day in Major Warrener's
compound, with the patient _syces_ squatting near, or talking with the
servants, while the major's horses stood ready saddled in the stables.

However much the party might hope to be together when the crisis came,
they felt that it was improbable that they would be so, for at the
first symptoms of mutiny it would be the duty of the officers to hasten
to the barracks to endeavor to quell it, even if certain death should
meet them there.

In the face of the tidings from Meerut and Delhi, all the pretense of
confidence, which had hitherto been kept up at the station, came to an
end; and even had there been implicit confidence in the regiment, the
news of such terrible events would have caused an entire cessation of
the little amusements and gatherings in which Sandynugghur had
previously indulged.

As is usual in cases of extreme danger, the various temperaments of
people come strongly into relief at these awful times. The pretty young
wife of the doctor was nearly wild with alarm. Not daring to remain at
home alone, she passed the day in going from house to house of her
female friends. Advice and example she obtained from these, but poor
comfort. The colonel's wife was as brave as any man in the station; she
hardly shared her husband's opinion that the regiment would remain
faithful in the midst of an almost general defection; but she was calm,
self-possessed, and ready for the worst.

"It is no use crying, my dear," she said to the doctor's wife. "Our
husbands have enough to worry them without being shaken by our tears.
Death, after all, can only come once, and it is better to die with
those we love than to be separated."

But there were not many tears shed in Sandynugghur. The women were pale
and quiet. They shook hands with a pressure which meant much, lips
quivered, and tears might drop when they spoke of children at home; but
this was not often, and day after day they bore the terrible strain
with that heroic fortitude which characterized English women in India
during the awful period of the mutiny. Ten days after the news came in
of the rising at Delhi Major Warrener told his family, on his return
from parade, that the regiment had again declared its fidelity, and had
offered to march against the mutineers.

"I am glad of it," he said, "because it looks as if at present, at
least, they have not made up their minds to mutiny, and I shall be able
to go to mess with a lighter heart; as I told you yesterday, it is the
colonel's birthday, so we all dine at mess."

In the meantime Saba had faithfully carried out her commission as to
the dresses, and had added to the bundles a bottle containing a brown
juice which she had extracted from some berries; this was to be used
for staining the skin, and so completing the disguise. The Warreners
knew that if their old nurse had any information as to any intended
outbreak she would let them know; but she heard nothing. She was known
to be so strongly attached to the major's family that, had the other
servants known anything of it, they would have kept it from her.

The hour for the mess-dinner was eight, and the young Warreners had
finished their evening meal before their father started.

"God bless you, my children, and watch over and protect us all till we
meet again!" such was the solemn leave-taking with which the major and
his children had parted--if only for half an hour--since the evil days
began.

For an hour and a half the young Warreners and their cousin sat and
read, and occasionally talked.

"It's time for tea," Kate said, looking at her watch; and she struck a
bell upon the table.

Usually the response was almost instantaneous; but Kate waited two
minutes, and then rang sharply twice. There was still no reply.

"He must be asleep," she said, "or out of hearing; but it is curious
that none of the others answer!"

Dick went out into the veranda, but came in again in a minute or two:

"There is no one there, Kate; and I don't hear any of them about
anywhere."

The four young people looked at each other. What did this mean? Had the
servants left in a body? Did they know that something was going to
happen? Such were the mute questions which their looks asked each other.

"Girls!" said Ned, "put your dark shawls round you. It may be nothing,
but it is better to be prepared. Get the bundles out. Dick, put a
bottle of wine in your pocket; and let us all fill our pockets with
biscuits."

Silently and quietly the others did as he told them.

"There is that great biscuit-tin full," Ned said when they had filled
their pockets; "let us empty it into that cloth, and tie it up. Now, if
you will put your shawls on I will look in at the stables."

In a couple of minutes he returned.

"The horses are all unharnessed," he said, "and not a soul is to be
seen. Ah, is that Saba?"

The old nurse had been found asleep in her favorite place outside the
door of her young mistresses' room.

"Do you know what is the matter, Saba? All the servants are gone!"

The old nurse shook her head. "Bad news; no tell Saba."

"Now, Saba, get ready to start," for the nurse had declared that she
would accompany them, to go into the villages to buy food; "Dick, come
with me; we will put one of the horses into the dogcart."

They were leaving the room when they heard the sound of a rifle. As if
it were the signal, in a moment the air rang with rifle shots, shouts,
and yells. The boys leaped back into the room and caught up the bundles.

"Quick, for your lives, girls! some of them are not fifty yards off! To
the bushes! Come, Saba!"

"Saba do more good here," the old nurse said, and seated herself
quietly in the veranda.

It was but twenty yards to the bushes they had marked as the place of
concealment; and as they entered and crouched down there came the sound
of hurrying feet, and a band of Sepoys, led by one of the jemadars, or
native officers, rushed up to the veranda from the back.

"Now," the jemadar shouted, "search the house; kill the boys, but keep
the white women; they are too pretty to hurt."

Two minutes' search--in which furniture was upset, curtains pulled
down, and chests ransacked--and a shout of rage proclaimed that the
house was empty.

The jemadar shouted to his men: "Search the compound; they can't be far
off; some of you run out to the plain; they can't have got a hundred
yards away; besides, our guards out there will catch them."

The old nurse rose to her feet just as the Sepoys were rushing out on
the search.

"It is of no use searching," she said; "they have been gone an hour."

"Gone an hour!" shouted the enraged jemadar; "who told them of the
attack?"

"I told them," Saba said steadily; "Saba was true to her salt."

There was a yell of rage on the part of the mutineers, and half a dozen
bayonets darted into the faithful old servant's body, and without a
word she fell dead on the veranda, a victim to her noble fidelity to
the children she had nursed.

"Now," the jemadar said, "strip the place; carry everything off; it is
all to be divided to-morrow, and then we will have a blaze."

Five minutes sufficed to carry off all the portable articles from the
bungalow; the furniture, as useless to the Sepoys, was left, but
everything else was soon cleared away, and then the house was lit in
half a dozen places. The fire ran quickly up the muslin curtains,
caught the dry reeds of the tatties, ran up the bamboos which formed
the top of the veranda, and in five minutes the house was a sheet of
flame.



CHAPTER III.

THE FLIGHT.


The young Warreners and their cousin, hurrying on, soon gained the
thick bush toward which they were directing their steps. As they
cowered down in its shelter the girls pulled their shawls over their
heads, and with their hands to their ears to keep out the noise of the
awful din around them, they awaited, in shuddering horror, their fate.
The boys sat, revolver in hand, determined to sell their lives dearly.
Ned translated the jemadar's speech, and at his order to search the
compound both felt that all was over, and, with a grasp of each other's
hand, prepared to sally forth and die. Then came Saba's act of noble
self-sacrifice, and the boys had difficulty in restraining themselves
from rushing out to avenge her.

In the meantime the night was hideous with noises; musket shots, the
sharp cracks of revolvers, shouts, cries, and at times the long shrill
screams of women. It was too much to be borne, and feeling that for the
present Saba's act had saved them, the boys, laying down their weapons,
pressed their hands to their ears to keep out the din. There they sat
for half an hour, stunned by the awful calamity, too horror-stricken at
what had passed, and at the probable fate of their father, to find
relief in tears.

At the end of that time the fire had burned itself out, and a few
upright posts still flickering with tongues of fire, and a heap of
glowing embers marked where the pretty bungalow, replete with every
luxury and comfort, had stood an hour before.

Dick was the first to move; he touched Ned's arm.

"All is quiet here now, but they may take it into their heads to come
back and search. We had better make for the trees; by keeping close to
that cactus hedge we shall be in shadow all the way."

The girls were roused from their stupor of grief.

"Now, dears, we must be brave," said Ned, "and carry out our orders.
God has protected us thus far; let us pray that He will continue to do
so."

In another five minutes the little party, stealing cautiously out from
their shelter, kept along close to the wall to a side door, through
which they issued forth into the open. Ten steps took them to the
cactus hedge, and stooping low under its shelter, they moved on till
they safely reached the clump of trees.

For some time the little party crouched among the thick bushes, the
silence broken only by the sobs of the girls. Ned and Richard said
nothing, but the tears fell fast down their cheeks. The crackling of
the flames of many of the burning bungalows could be distinctly heard;
and outside the shadow of the trees it was nearly as light as day.
Yells of triumph rose on the night air, but there was no firing or
sounds of conflict, and resistance was plainly over. For a quarter of
an hour they sat there, crushed with the immensity of the calamity.
Then Ned roused himself and took the lead.

"Now, dears, the fires have burned down, and we must be moving, for we
should be far away from here before morning. No doubt others have
hidden in the woods round this place, and those black fiends will be
searching everywhere to-morrow. Remember what our orders are;" and he
paused for a moment to choke down the sob which would come when he
thought of who had given the order, and how it was given. "We were to
make for Meerut. Be strong and brave, girls, as father would have had
you. I have gone over the course on the district map, and I think I can
keep pretty straight for it. We need not change our clothes now; we can
do that when we halt before daylight. We must walk all night, to be as
far as possible away before the search begins. We know this country
pretty well for some miles round, which will make it easier. Come,
girls, take heart; it is possible yet that some of the officers have
cut their way out, and our father may be among them. Who can say?"

"I knew that he had talked over with Dunlop and Manners the very best
course to take whenever they might be attacked," Dick said in a more
cheerful tone, "so they were sure to keep together, and if any one has
got away, they would." Neither of the boys had at heart the least hope,
but they spoke as cheerfully as they could, to give strength and
courage to the girls. Their words had their effect. Kate rose, and
taking her cousin's arm said:

"Come, Rose, the boys are right. There is still some hope; let us cling
to it as long as we can. Now let us be moving: but before we go, let us
all thank God for having saved us from harm so far, and let us pray for
His protection and help upon the road."

Silently the little group knelt in prayer, and when they rose followed
Ned--who had naturally assumed the position of leader--out into the
open country beyond the grove, without a word being spoken. The moon
was as yet quite young, a favorable state for the fugitives, as it
afforded light enough to see where they were going without giving so
bright a light as to betray them to any one at a distance.

"The moon will be down in a couple of hours," Ned said; "but by that
time we shall be beyond where any sentries are likely to have been
placed on the road, so we can then trust ourselves on that till it
begins to get daylight. We must keep in the fields till we are past
Nussara, which is five miles by the road; then we can walk straight on.
There is a nullah a few yards on; we had better keep in that for a
quarter of a mile; it does not go quite the way we want, but it will be
safer to follow it till we are well out of sight of any one who may be
watching the plain."

They scrambled down into the bed of the nullah. Then Kate said, "Walk
on as fast as you can, Ned; we can keep up with you, and if we hurry on
we shan't be able to think."

"All right," Ned answered; "I will go fast for a bit, but you must not
knock yourselves up; we have a long journey before us."

Walking fast, however, was impossible at the bottom of the nullah, for
it was pitch dark between its steep banks, and there were bowlders and
stones lying here and there. After half an hour's walking Ned scrambled
up and looked back.

"It is quite safe now," he said; "let us make as straight as we can for
Nussara."

Kate Warrener and Rose Hertford have never been able to recall any
incidents of that night's walk. Mechanically, as in a dreadful dream,
they followed Ned's guidance, stumbling across little watercourses,
tramping through marshy rice-fields, climbing into and out of deep
nullahs, now pausing to listen to the barking of a village dog, now
making their way through a thick clump of trees, and at last tramping
for hours--that seemed ages--along the dead flat of the highroad. This
at the first faint dawn of morning they left, and took refuge in a
thick grove a quarter of a mile from the highway. Before throwing
themselves down to rest, the girls, at Ned's earnest request, tried to
eat a piece of biscuit, but tried in vain, they, however, each sipped a
little wine from the bottles, and then, utterly worn out and exhausted,
soon forgot their misery in a deep and heavy sleep.

The sun was upon the point of setting when their companions aroused
them, and they woke up to their sorrows and dangers. The day had passed
quietly; the boys, after both sleeping for some four or five hours, had
watched by turns. No one had approached the wood; but a party of four
Sepoys, mounted on horses, had passed from Sandynugghur; and a larger
party had, later in the afternoon, come along in the other direction.
From this the boys guessed that a successful revolt had also taken
place at Nalgwa, the next station to Sandynugghur.

"Now, girls, the first thing to do is to eat. Here are biscuits for
some days, and the two bottles of wine, which we must be sparing of.
Dick and I have eaten lots of biscuits, and have had some water from a
well at a little distance behind the wood. There was a large gourd
lying by it which we have taken the liberty of borrowing. You can drink
some water if you like, but you must each take a glass of wine. You
must keep up your strength. There is no one in sight, so if you like
you can go to the well and have a wash. Don't be longer than you can
help; it would be ruin to be seen before we have changed our clothes.
While you are away washing, Dick and I will put on our dresses, and
when you come back you can do the same. We can stain our faces and
hands afterward."

The girls chose to have their wash first and their meal afterward, and
felt refreshed and brighter after they had done so. Then they dressed
in the clothes Saba had provided for them, and could, at any other
time, have laughed at the comicality of their aspect, muffled up in
white, with only their eyes visible. The awkward shoes were the only
part of the costume to which they objected; but the sight of European
boots below the native dress would have betrayed them instantly;
however, they determined to adopt them for walking in at nights, or
when crossing the fields, and to put the native shoes in a bundle, to
be worn in public.

The boys presently joined them, Ned in the dress of a young Mussulman
zemindar, Dick as his follower.

"I should not have known you in the least," Rose said; "as far as
appearances go, I think we are all safe now."

When it was quite dark they again started, regained the road, and kept
steadily along it. After two hours' walking they approached a village.
After some consultation it was decided that Dick, whose dress was the
darkest and least noticeable, should steal forward and reconnoiter. If
every one was indoors they would push boldly through; if not, they
would make a circuit round it. In ten minutes he returned.

"Ned, there are two troopers' horses standing before the largest house
of the place. I suppose they belong to some of the men of the cavalry
regiment at Nalgwa. If we could but steal them!"

"Splendid, Dick; why should we not? I can get on one, you on the other;
one of the girls can sit behind each of us, with her arms round our
waists. What do you say, girls? With our dress it would be natural for
us to be on horseback, and no one would ask any questions. We are
pretty safe, because if they come out there are but two of them, and we
are more than a match for them with our pistols."

"It seems a terrible risk to run, Ned; but I do think it would be our
best plan. What do you say, Rose?"

"I think we had better try, Kate."

"Now let us settle everything before we start," said Ned. "We must
mount first, I think, that we may be able to help you more easily; and
you would have less risk of falling off if you get up in front of us.
We can change when we have gone half a mile. Will you stand close to
Dick, Kate, when he mounts; Rose, you keep close to me. The moment we
are fairly in the saddle, and have got the reins in our hands, you put
your foot on mine, and take hold of my hand, and climb up in the saddle
in front of me. Put your arms round our necks and hold us, because we
shall want one hand for the reins, the other for a pistol."

"Let us cut a stick, Ned, to give them a lick and make them start at a
gallop."

Very gently, and with bated breath, they stole up the village. The
horses were still standing with their reins thrown over a hook in the
wall. Very quietly the boys unhooked the reins, but the horses moved
uneasily, and objected to their mounting them, for horses accustomed to
natives dislike to be touched by Europeans. However, the boys had just
managed to climb into their seats when a shutter of the house opened,
and a voice said in Hindostanee, "What is fidgeting the horses?" Then a
head looked out.

"Some one is stealing the horses," he shouted.

"Quick, girls, up with you," Ned said; and the girls, as light as
feathers, sprang up. "Go along," the boys cried, bringing down their
sticks on the animals' sides. Dick's at once leaped forward, but Ned's
horse only backed. Ned gave his stick to Rose and seized his pistol,
which was cocked and ready for use. As he did so a native trooper
rushed from the house. As he came out Ned fired, and the man fell
forward on his face.

Startled by the shot, the horse darted off after his companion. For a
few minutes they went forward at a gallop, the boys holding on as well
as they could, but expecting every moment to be thrown off. For awhile
shouts and cries were heard from the village, and then all was quiet
again. The two boys reined in their horses.

"That was awful," Dick said; "I would rather sit on the yardarm in a
storm than ride on that beast any further at the pace we have been
going."

The girls had not spoken a word since they started, and they now
slipped to the ground. It was not an easy thing for them to get up
behind, and several slips were made before their attempts were
successful. Once seated, they were more comfortable, and they again
went on, this time at an easy canter. After half an hour's ride they
came to a crossroad, and turned up there, going now at a walk. After
awhile they took a well-marked path running in a parallel direction to
the road; this they followed for some time, passing fearlessly through
one or two small villages.

Then, feeling by the flagging walk of their horses that they were
becoming fatigued, they plunged deep into a thick wood, dismounted, and
prepared for the night. Attached to the saddle of each horse was a
nose-bag with some forage. These were put on, the horses fastened up,
and the little party were soon asleep again.

Before starting next morning the first care of the boys was to take off
the embroidery of the horse-cloths, and as much of the metal work on
the bridles as could be possibly dispensed with, in order to conceal
the fact that the horses had belonged to a British cavalry regiment;
then they mounted, with the girls behind them, and rode quietly
forward, taking care not to travel by the main road, as the news of the
carrying off the horses would have been generally known there.

They passed through several villages, attracting but little attention
as they did so, for there was now nothing unusual in the appearance of
a Mohammedan zemindar and follower riding with two closely-veiled women
_en croupe_. Late in the afternoon they stopped at a village store, and
Ned purchased, without exciting any apparent suspicion, some grain for
the horses. That night they slept as usual in a wood, and congratulated
themselves on having made fully twenty-five miles of their journey
toward Meerut.

The next morning, after two miles' riding, they entered a large
village. As they were passing through it a number of peasants suddenly
rushed out into the road, and shouted to them to stop. They were armed
with sticks and hoes, and a few had guns. Looking behind, Ned saw a
similar body fill up the road behind them, cutting off their escape.

"Look, Ned, at that old fellow with the gun; that's the man who sold us
the grain last night," Dick said.

"We must charge them, Dick; there's nothing else to do. Hold tight,
girls. Now for your revolver, Dick! Now!"

And, digging their heels into their horses' side, the boys rode at the
crowd of peasants. There was a discharge of guns, and Dick felt as if a
hot iron had been drawn suddenly across his cheek; then they were in
the midst of the crowd, emptying their revolvers with deadly effect
among them; some fell, and the horses dashed forward, followed by the
yells of their assailants. A minute later three or four more guns were
discharged, the rear party having now joined the other, and being
therefore able for the first time to fire.

Dick heard a little startled cry from Kate.

"Are you hurt, darling?" he cried in alarm.

"Nothing to speak of, Dick. Ride on."

In a quarter of a mile they drew rein, and found that a ball had passed
through the upper part of Kate's arm, as it went round Dick's body.
Fortunately it had gone through the flesh only, without touching the
bone. Dick was bleeding copiously from a wound across the cheek.

"Another two inches to the right," he said, "and it would have taken me
fairly in the mouth. It's well it's no worse."

Kate's arm was soon bandaged up, and a handkerchief tied round Dick's
face. Ned proposed that for Kate's sake they should make a halt at the
first wood they came to, but Kate would not hear of it.

"On the contrary, Ned, we ought to press forward as hard as we can, for
it is very possible that at that village where we were recognized--I
suppose because they had heard about the horses--they may have
dispatched people to the main road, as well as further on to stop us
here; and we may be pursued at any moment, if there happens to be any
native cavalry upon the road. Evidently they are very much in earnest
about catching us, and have sent word to look after four people on two
horses all over the country, or they could not have known about it at
the village yesterday evening."

"I am afraid you are right, Kate; if we could turn off this road I
should not fear, but the river cannot be far to our right, and the main
road is to our left. There is nothing for it but to press straight on.
Fortunately, the country is not thickly populated, and there is a good
deal of jungle. If the worst comes to the worst, we must leave our
horses and go on foot again. I fear that is more fatiguing for you, but
we can hide ourselves a good deal better."

It was late in the afternoon when Rose cried. "They are coming, Ned;
there is a party of cavalry behind!"

Ned looked round; and far back, along the straight road, he saw a body
of horsemen.

"They are a long distance behind," he said; "now for a race!"

The boys plied their sticks, and the horses sprang on at full gallop.

"How much are they gaining, Rose?" he asked, after twenty minutes' hard
riding.

"They are nearer, Ned--a good deal nearer; but they have not gained
half their distance yet."

"The sun set fully ten minutes ago," Ned said; "in another half-hour it
will be dark. Their horses must be done up, or they would gain faster
on us, as ours have to carry double, and are getting terribly blown;
but there is a wood, which looks a large one, a couple of miles ahead.
If we can get there five minutes before them, we are safe."

By dint of flogging their horses they entered the wood while their
pursuers were half a mile behind.

"Another hundred yards," Ned said, "and then halt. Now, off we get."

In an instant they leaped off, and gave a couple of sharp blows with
their sticks to the horses, who dashed off at a gallop down the road.

It was already perfectly dark in the wood, and the fugitives hurried
into the thickest part. In five minutes they heard the cavalry come
thundering past.

"We must push on," Ned said; "fortunately, we have done no walking, for
we must be far away by to-morrow morning. They will come up with the
horses before very long, and will know we are in the wood, and they
will search it through and through in the morning."

A quarter of a mile, and the wood grew thicker, being filled with an
undergrowth of jungle.

"If you will stop here, Ned, I will push on through this jungle, and
see how far it goes. The girls can never get through this. I think we
are near the edge of the wood; it looks lighter ahead."

In ten minutes he came back.

"Ned, we are on the river; it is not fifty yards from here."

This was serious news.

"What a pity we did not take to the left instead of the right when we
left the horses. However, they won't know which way we have gone, and
must watch the whole wood. We must push forward, and, by keeping as
close as we can to the river, shall most likely pass them; besides,
they will be some time before they decide upon forming a chain round
the wood, and as there are only about twenty of them they will be a
long way apart. There! Do you hear them? They are coming back! Now let
us go on again!"

In ten minutes they reached the edge of the wood. They could see
nothing of the horsemen. Keeping in the fields, but close to the line
of jungle that bordered the river, they walked onward for upward of an
hour. Then they came upon the road. The river had made a bend, and the
road now followed its bank.

"Shall we cross it, and keep in the open country, or follow it, girls?"

"Follow it as long as we can keep on walking," Kate said. "It is in the
right direction, and we can go on so much faster than in the fields. If
we hear them coming along we can get into the jungle on the bank."

"Listen, Kate," Rose said a few minutes afterward; "they are following!"

"I expect," Ned said, "they find that the wood is too big to be
watched, and some of them are going on to get some help from the next
garrison, or, perhaps, to rouse up a village and press them in the
work. Trot on, girls; the jungle is so thick here you could hardly
squeeze yourself in. We have plenty of time; they won't be here for
five minutes yet."



CHAPTER IV.

BROKEN DOWN.


They ran at the top of their speed, but the sound of the horses' feet
grew louder.

"There is a path leading to the river," Ned said; "let us turn down
there; we can hide under the jungle on the bank."

Breathlessly they ran down to the river.

"Hurrah! here is a boat, jump in;" and in another minute they had
pushed off from the bank, just as they heard a body of cavalry--for
that they were troops they knew by the jingling of their
accouterments--pass at a gallop. The stream was strong; and the boys
found that with the rude oars they could make no way whatever.

"We had better land again, and get further from the river," Ned said.
"We will push the boat off, and it will be supposed that we have gone
off in it."

This was soon done, and having regained the road, they crossed it and
struck over the fields.

The moon, which had been hitherto hidden under a passing cloud, was
soon out fully, and for some time they kept across the country,
carefully avoiding all villages. These were here more thinly scattered;
patches of jungle and wood occurred more frequently; and it was evident
that they were getting into a less highly cultivated district. It was
long before daybreak that Rose declared that she was too fatigued to go
further, and they entered a large wood. Here they lay down, and were
soon fast asleep. It was broad daylight when the Warreners woke. Rose
still slept on.

Presently Kate came to her brothers. "I am afraid Rose is going to be
ill. She keeps talking and moaning in her sleep; her face is flushed,
and her hands as hot as fire."

As they were looking sadly at her she opened her eyes.

"Is it time to get up?" she asked. "Oh, my head! it is aching terribly.
Is the trap at the door?"

Then she closed her eyes again, and went on talking incoherently to
herself.

"She has fever," Kate said, "and we must get her under shelter, at
whatever risk."

"I heard a dog bark not far off, just as I went to sleep," Ned said. "I
will go and reconnoiter. Dick, you had better stay here."

Dick nodded, and Ned advanced cautiously to the edge of the wood. There
he saw a farmhouse of a better class than usual. Three peons were just
starting for work, and an elderly man with a long beard was standing at
the door. Then he went in, and after a few minutes reappeared with a
long staff in his hands, and went out into the fields. He did not,
however, follow the direction which the peons had taken, but took a
line parallel with the edge of the wood. "He looks a decent old
fellow," Ned said to himself; "I can but try; at any rate, at the worst
I am more than a match for him."

So saying, he stepped out into the field. The farmer started with
surprise at seeing a young Mussulman appear before him.

"I am English," Ned said at once. "I think you are kind by your face,
and I tell you the truth. There are two English girls in the wood, and
one is ill. We can go no further. Will you give them shelter?"

The old man stood for some time in thought.

"I have no complaint against the Feringhees," he said; "in my fathers
time the country was red with blood, but all my life I have eaten my
bread in peace, and no man has injured me. Where are the English
ladies?"

Ned led the way to the spot where Rose was still lying. The old man
looked at her flushed face, and then at Kate, and said:

"The English ladies have suffered much, and can have done harm to no
one. I will shelter them. My wife and daughter will nurse the sick one.
They will be in the women's chamber, and my servants will not know that
there is a stranger there. I believe that they would be faithful, but
one who knows nothing can tell no tales. On the other side of the wood
there is a shed. It is empty now, and none go near it. The English
sahibs can live there, and each day I will bring them food. When their
sister is well they can go on again."

Ned translated the old man's words, and Kate, who was kneeling by Rose,
caught his hand and kissed it in her gratitude. He patted her head and
said, "Poor child!"

"How are we to carry Rose? I don't think she can walk," Kate asked.

The farmer solved the difficulty by motioning them to stay where they
were. He then went off, and in ten minutes returned, bearing a dried
bullock's skin. On this Rose was laid. The Hindoo took the two ends at
her feet, the boys each one of those by her head, and then, slung as in
a hammock, Rose was carried to the house, where the wife and daughter
of their host, prepared by him for what was coming, received them with
many expressions of pity, and she was at once carried into the inner
room. The farmer then placed before the boys two bowls of milk and some
freshly made chupatties, and then gave them some food for the day. With
an expression of fervent gratitude to him, and a kiss from Kate, who
came out to tell them that Rose would be well nursed and cared for, the
boys started for the hut in the direction the Hindoo pointed out to
them. It was a small building, and had apparently been at some time
used as a cattle shed. The floor was two feet deep in fodder of the
stalks of Indian corn. Above was a sort of rough loft, in which grain
had been stored.

The boys at once agreed that, to prevent suspicion, it was safer to
occupy this, and they soon transferred enough of the fodder from below
to make a comfortable bed. Then, feeling secure from discovery, even if
by chance some passer-by should happen to glance into the shed, they
were soon deep in a sounder sleep than they had enjoyed since they left
Sandynugghur.

The next day, when the old man came to see them, he was accompanied by
Kate. She looked pale and wan.

"How is Rose?" was their first question.

"She is as bad as she can be, dears. She has been delirious all night,
and is so this morning. I did not like to leave her for a moment. But
this kind old man wanted me to go with him, as I think he has something
to say to you."

"Have you any news?" Ned asked him.

"My servants tell me that the Sepoys are searching the whole country,
some of the officers have escaped from Sandynugghur, and also from
Nalgwa, where the troops rose on the same night; some of the residents
have escaped also. There is a reward offered for them alive or dead,
and any one hiding them is to be punished with death. The white lady is
very ill. She is in the hand of God; she may get better, she may die.
If she gets better it will be weeks before she can go through the
hardships of the journey to Meerut. I think it better that you should
go on alone; the white ladies will be as my daughters. I have told my
servants that my daughter is ill, so that if they hear cries and voices
at night they will think that it is she who is in pain. You can do no
good here. If the woods are searched you may be found; if you are found
they will search everywhere closely, and may find them. I will hide
them here safely. The orders are, I hear, that the captives taken are
to be carried to Delhi; but if they should be found I will myself
journey to Meerut to bring you the news. You will give me your names,
and I will find you; then you may get help and rescue them on the way."

Ned translated the old man's opinion and kind offer to his brother and
sister, and said that he was very unwilling to leave the girls--a
sentiment in which Dick heartily joined.

Kate, however, at once expressed her warm approval of the plan.

"It will be weeks, dears, before Rose can walk again, and I shall have
an anxious time with her. It would add greatly to my anxiety if I knew
that you were near, and might at any time be captured and killed. If
dear papa has escaped he will be in a terrible state of anxiety about
us, and you could relieve him if you can join him at Meerut, and tell
him how kindly we are treated here. Altogether, boys, it would be so
much better for you to go; for if the Sepoys do come, you could not
defend us against more than two or three, and they are sure to come in
a stronger party than that."

In spite of their disinclination to leave the girls without such
protection as they could give them, the boys saw that the course
advised was the best to be pursued, and told their Hindoo friend that
they agreed to follow his counsel, thanking him in the warmest terms
for his kindness.

He advised them to leave their Mohammedan dresses behind, and to dress
in the simple costume of Hindoo peons, with which he could supply them.
They would then attract far less attention, and could even by day pass
across the fields without any comment whatever from the natives at work
there, who would naturally suppose that they belonged to some village
near at hand. "Englishmen could not do this," he said; "too much leg,
too much arm, too much width of shoulders; but boys are thinner, and no
one will notice the difference. In half an hour I will come back with
the things." Ned gave him the rest of the berries, which they had
preserved, and asked him to boil them up in a little water, as they
would now have to color their bodies and arms and legs, in addition to
their faces.

It was a sad parting between Kate and her brothers, for all felt that
they might never meet again. Still the course decided upon was, under
the circumstances, evidently the best that could be adopted.

In an hour the Hindoo returned. The boys took off their clothes, and
stained themselves a deep brown from head to foot. The farmer then
produced a razor and a bowl of water and some soap, and said that they
must shave their hair off their heads, up to a level with the top of
the ears, so as to leave only that which could be concealed by their
turban. This, with some laughter--the first time they had smiled since
they left Sandynugghur--they proceeded to do to each other, and the
skin thus exposed they dyed the same color as the rest of the body.
They then each put on a scanty loincloth, and wrapping a large piece of
dark blue cotton stuff first round their waists and then over one
shoulder, their costume was complete, with the exception of a pair of
sandals and a white turban. The old Hindoo surveyed them gravely when
their attire was completed, and expressed his belief that they would
pass without exciting the slightest suspicion. Their pistols were a
trouble. They were determined that, come what might, they would not go
without these, and they were finally slung behind them from a strap
passing round the waist under the loin-cloth; the spare ammunition and
a supply of biscuit were stowed in stout cotton bags, with which their
friend provided them, and which hung by a band passing over one
shoulder. Their money and a box of matches they secured in a corner of
their clothes. A couple of stout staves completed their outfit.

Bidding a grateful farewell to their friendly Hindoo, the boys started
on their journey. The sandals they found so difficult to keep on that
they took them off and carried them, except when they were passing over
stony ground. They kept to bypaths and avoided all villages.
Occasionally they met a native, but either they passed him without
speech, or Ned muttered a salutation in answer to that of the passer.
All day they walked, and far into the night. They had no fear of
missing their way, as the road on one hand and the river on the other
both ran to Meerut; and although these were sometimes ten miles apart,
they served as a fair index as to the line they should take. The
biscuits, eked out with such grain as they could pluck as they crossed
the fields, lasted for two days; but at the end of that time it became
necessary to seek another supply of food.

"I don't know what to ask for, Dick; and those niggers always chatter
so much that I should have to answer, and then I should be found out
directly. I think we must try some quiet huts at a distance from the
road."

The wood in which they that night slept was near three or four
scattered huts. In the morning they waited and watched for a long time
until one of the cottages was, as far as they could judge, deserted,
all its inmates being gone out to work in the fields. They then entered
it boldly. It was empty. On hunting about they found some chupatties
which had apparently been newly baked, a store of rice and of several
other grains. They took the chupatties, five or six pounds of rice, and
a little copper cooking-pot. They placed in a conspicuous position two
rupees, which were more than equivalent to the value of the things they
had taken, and went on their way rejoicing.

At midday they sat down, lit a fire with some dried sticks, and put
their rice in the pot to boil. As Ned was stooping to pick up a stick
he was startled by a simultaneous cry of "Look out!" from Dick, and a
sharp hiss; and looking up, saw, three or four feet ahead of him, a
cobra, with its hood inflated, and its head raised in the very act of
springing. Just as it was darting itself forward Dick's stick came down
with a sharp tap on its head and killed it.

"That was a close shave, Ned," the boy said, laughing; "if you had
stooped he would have bit you on the face. What would have been the
best thing to do if he had bitten you?"

"The best thing is to suck the wound instantly, to take out a knife and
cut deeply in, and then, as we have no vesuvians, I should break up
half a dozen pistol cartridges, put the powder into and on the wound,
and set it alight. I believe that that is what they do in some parts of
Eastern Europe in the case of the bites of mad dogs; and this, if no
time is lost after the bite is given, is almost always effectual in
keeping off hydrophobia."

"Well, Ned, I am very thankful that we had not to put the virtue of the
receipt to a practical test."

"Would you like to eat the snake, Dick? I believe that snake is not at
all bad eating."

"Thank you," Dick said, "I will take it on trust. We have got rice; and
although I am not partial to rice it will do very well. If we could
have got nothing else we might have tried the snake; but as it is, I
had rather not. Two more days, Ned, and we shall be at Meerut. The old
Hindoo said it was a hundred miles, and we go twenty-five a day, even
with all our bends and turns to get out of the way of villages."

"Yes, I should think we do quite that, Dick. We walk from daylight to
sunset, and often two or three hours by moonlight; and though we don't
go very fast, we ought to get over a lot of ground. Listen! There is
music!" Both held their breath. "Yes, there are the regular beats of a
big drum. It is on the highroad, I should say, nearly abreast of us. If
we go to that knoll we shall have a view of them; and there cannot be
the least danger, as they must be fully a mile away."

Upon gaining the rise in question they saw a regiment in scarlet,
winding along the road.

"Are they mutineers, Dick, or British?"

It was more than any one could say. Mounted officers rode at the head
of the regiment; perfect order was to be observed in its marching;
there was nothing that in any way differed from its ordinary aspect.

"Let us go back and get our rice and lota, Dick. We can't afford to
lose that; and if we go at a trot for a couple of miles we can get
round into some trees near the road, where we can see their faces. If
the mounted officers are white it is all right; if not, they are
mutineers."

Half an hour's trot brought them to such a point of vantage as they
desired. Crouched in some bushes at the edge of a clump of trees, not
fifty yards from the road, they awaited the passage of the regiment.
They had not been in their hiding-place five minutes when the head of
the column appeared.

"They march in very good order, Ned; do you think that they would keep
up such discipline as that after they had mutinied?"

"I don't know. Dirk; but they'll want all their discipline when they
come to meet our men. For anything we know we may be the two last white
men left in India; but when the news gets to England there will be such
a cry throughout the land that, if it needed a million men to win back
the country, I believe they would be found and sent out. There! There
are two mounted officers; I can't see their color, but I don't think
they are white."

"No, Ned; I am sure they are not white; then they must be mutineers.
Look! Look! Don't you see they have got three prisoners? There they
are, marching in the middle of that column; they are officers; and oh!
Ned! I do think that the middle one's father." And the excited boy,
with tears of joy running down his cheeks, would have risen and dashed
out had not Ned forcibly detained him.

"Hush! Dick! and keep quiet. Yes! It is father! and Dunlop and Manners.
Thank God!" he said, in deep gratitude.

"Well, let's go to them, Ned; we may as well be all together."

"Keep quiet, Dick," the elder said, holding him down again; "you will
destroy their chance as well as ours. We must rescue them if we can."

"How, Ned, how?"

"I don't know yet, Dick; but we must wait and see; anyhow, we will try.
There goes the bugle for a halt. I expect they have done their day's
march. Come on, Dick; we must get out of this. When they have once
pitched their tents they will scatter about, and, as likely as not,
some will come into this wood. Let us get further back, so as to be
able to see them pitch their tents, and watch, if we can, where they
put the prisoners."

The regiment piled arms, and waited until the bullock-carts came up
with the tents. These were taken out and pitched on the other side of
the road, and facing the wood. The ground being marked out, the men
were told off to their quarters, and the poles of the tents aligned
with as much regularity and exactness as could have been used when the
regiment possessed its white officers.

Near the quarter-guard tent--that is, the tent of the men engaged upon
actual duty--a small square tent was erected; and into this the three
officers, who were handcuffed, were thrust; and two sentries, one in
front, the other at the back of the tent, were placed.

"Now, Dick, we know all about it; let us get further away, and talk
over how it is to be managed."

The task was one of extreme difficulty, and the boys were a long time
arranging the details. Had there been but one sentry, the matter would
have been easy enough: but with two sentries, and with the quarter
guard close at hand, it seemed at first as if no possible scheme could
be hit upon. The sentry at the back of the tent must be the one to be
disposed of, and this must be done so noiselessly as not to alarm the
man in front. Each marched backward and forward some eight paces to the
right, and as much to the left, of the tent, halting occasionally. When
both marched right and left at the same time, they were in sight of
each other except during the time of passing before and behind the
tent; when they walked alternately, the tent hid them altogether from
each other.

"I suppose there is no chance of our being able to gag that fellow,
Ned? It's horrid to think of killing a man in cold blood."

"There is no help for it, Dick. If he were alone, we might gag him; as
it is, he must be killed. These scoundrels are all mutineers and
murderers. This regiment has, no doubt, like the others, killed its
officers, and all the men, women, and children at the station. I would
not kill the man unless it could be helped, but our father's life
depends upon it; and to save him I would, if there were no other way,
cut the throats of the whole regiment while they were asleep! This is
no ordinary war, Dick; it is a struggle for existence; and though I'm
sure I hate the thought of it, I shall not hesitate for an instant."

"I shan't hesitate," the midshipman said; "but I wish the fellow could
make a fight of it. However, as he would kill me if he had a chance, he
mustn't grumble if I do the same for him. Now, Ned, you tell me exactly
what I am to do, and you may rely on my doing it."

Every minute detail of the scheme was discussed and arranged; and then,
as the sun set, the boys lit a fire in a nullah and boiled some rice,
and ate their food with lighter hearts than they had done since they
left Sandynugghur, for the knowledge that their father had escaped
death had lifted a heavy burden from their hearts. As to the danger of
the expedition that they were about to undertake, with the happy
recklessness of boys they thought but little of it.

Across the plain they could see the campfires, but as the evening went
on these gradually died away, and the sounds which had come faintly
across the still night air ceased altogether. As patiently as might be,
they waited until they guessed that it must be about ten o'clock. The
night was, for the country, cold--a favorable circumstance, as the
natives, who are very chilly, would be less likely to leave their tents
if they felt restless. The moon was now half full and shining brightly,
giving a light with which the boys could well have dispensed.

"Now, Dick, old boy, let's be moving. May God help us in our night's
work!"

They made a considerable detour to approach the camp in the rear, where
they rightly judged that the Sepoys, having no fear whatever of any
hostile body being near, would have placed no sentries.

"Listen!" Dick said, as they were pausing to reconnoiter; "that sounded
like a cannon in the far distance."

There was no doubt of it; faintly, but quite distinct, across the air
came the sound of heavy cannon fired at regular intervals.

"Those cannon must be fired as a salute to some great chief newly
arrived at Delhi--we should not fire so late, but I suppose they are
not particular," Ned said; "we calculated it was not more than
twenty-five miles off, and we should hear them at that distance easily.
We had better wait a few minutes to see if any one comes out to listen
to it."

But there was no movement among the white tents. Then they stole
quietly into the camp.

The tents of the Indian native regiments are large, oblong tents, with
two poles, holding thirty men each. They are manufactured at the
government prison at Jubbalpore, and are made of thick cotton canvas,
lined with red or blue cotton. In the daytime they open right along one
side, the wall of the tent being propped outward, with two slight
poles, so as to form a sort of veranda, and shade the inside of the
tent while admitting the air. At night-time, in the cool season, this
flap is let down and the tent closed. In front of the tents the muskets
of the men inside are piled.

Into one of these tents Dick crawled, Ned watching outside. When Dick
first entered it was so dark that he could see nothing; but the
moonlight penetrated dimly through the double cotton, and he was soon
able to discover objects around. The ground was all occupied by
sleeping figures, each wrapped up from head to foot in his blanket,
looking like so many mummies. Their uniforms were folded, and placed
between their heads and the wall of the tent. Six of these, with the
same number of caps, and six ammunition pouches and belts, and a
uniform cloak, taken carefully off one of the sleepers, Dick collected
and passed out through the door of the tent to Ned. Not a sleeper
stirred while he did so, and he crept quietly out, with the first part
of his task accomplished. Gathering the things together, the boys made
all speed back to a clump of trees half a mile in the rear of the camp.
Here Ned put on one of the uniforms and the cloak, and they then
started back again for the camp.

The sentries upon the prisoners' tent were changed at twelve o'clock,
and a few minutes later the sentry at the rear of the tent saw one of
his comrades come out of one of the large tents close to the end of his
beat. He was wrapped in his blanket, and his face was tied up with a
cloth. Coughing violently, he squatted himself in front of his tent,
and rocked himself to and fro, with his hands to his face, uttering
occasional groans. This was all so natural--for the natives of India
suffer much from neuralgia in the cold weather--that the sentry thought
nothing of the matter. He continued to pace his beat, turning back each
time when within a yard or two of the sufferer. The third time he did
so the figure dropped off his blanket, and, with a sudden bound, threw
himself on the sentry's back; at the same moment a Sepoy in uniform
darted out from the tent. One hand of the assailant--in which was a
damp cloth--was pressed tightly over the mouth and nostrils of the
sentry; the other grasped the lock of his musket, so that it could not
be discharged. Thrown backward off his balance, taken utterly by
surprise, the sentry was unable even to struggle, and in an instant the
second antagonist plunged a bayonet twice into his body, and he fell a
lifeless mass on the ground. It was the work of an instant to drag the
body a yard or two into the shadow of the tent, and before the other
sentry appeared from the opposite side of the prisoner's tent the
native was rocking himself as before; the sentry, wrapped in his cloak,
was marching calmly on his beat. The whole affair had lasted but twenty
seconds, and had passed as noiselessly as a dream.

The next time the sentry in front was hidden from view the native
started from his sitting position and stole up behind the tent.
Cautiously and quietly he cut a slit in the canvas and entered. Then he
knelt down by the side of one of the sleepers, and kissed him. He moved
in his sleep, and his disturber, putting his hand on his mouth to
prevent sudden speech, shook him gently. The major opened his eyes.

"Father, it is I--Richard; hush! do not speak."

Then, as the bewildered man gradually understood what was said, his son
fell on his neck, kissing him with passionate delight.

After the first rapturous joy of the recognition was over, "Ned and the
girls?" Major Warrener asked.

"The girls are at present safe," Dick said; "Ned is outside behind. He
is the sentry. Now, father, wake the others, and then let us steal off.
Take off your boots; the men's tents are only ten yards behind; once
there, you are safe. I will let Ned know when you are ready, and he
will occupy the sentry. We can't silence him, because he is within
sight of the sentry of the quarter-guard."

Major Warrener aroused his sleeping companions, and in a few whispered
words told them what had happened. In silence they wrung Dick's hand,
and then taking off their boots, stole one by one out of the tent. As
Ned passed he exchanged a silent embrace with his father. The next time
the sentry in front was passing before the tent, a heavy stone, hurled
by Ned, crashed into a bush upon the other side of the road. The sentry
halted instantly, and, with gun advanced, listened, but he could hear
nothing, for his comrade was at that instant seized with a fit of
coughing.

After standing in a listening attitude for three or four minutes the
Sepoy supposed that the noise must have been caused by some large bird
suddenly disturbed in the foliage.

"Did you hear anything?" he asked Ned, as their path crossed.

"Nothing," Ned answered, continuing his march.

For another quarter of an hour he passed backward and forward, his only
fear being that the sentry might take it into his head to open the tent
and look in to see if the prisoners were safe. In a quarter of an hour
he knew that the fugitives would have gained the trees, and would have
time to put on the Sepoy uniforms before he reached them; and also, by
the aid of a couple of large stones, have got rid of their handcuffs,
lie might therefore be off to join them.

Waiting till the sentry was at the other end of his beat, he slipped
round the tent, stripped off his cloak, lay down his musket and
belt--for Dick had arranged that they should carry off five muskets in
their retreat--threw off the Sepoy jacket, and in light running order,
darted through the tents. He calculated that he should have at least a
couple of minutes start before his absence was discovered, another
minute or two before the sentry was sufficiently sure of it to hail the
quarter-guard and report the circumstance. Then would follow the
discovery of the escape of the prisoners; but by that time he would be
far out on the plain, and even if seen, which was unlikely, he was
confident that he could outrun any native.

His anticipations turned out correct; he was already some distance off
when he heard the call of the sentry to the quarter-guard, followed
almost immediately by a still louder shout, that told that he had
discovered the flight of the prisoners; then came the sound of a musket
shot, a drum beat the alarm, and a babel of sounds rang on the still
air. But by this time Ned was halfway to the clump of trees, and three
minutes later he was in his father's arms. There was no time to talk
then. Another coat was hurried on to him, an ammunition belt and pouch
thrown over his shoulder, and Captain Manners carrying his musket until
he should have quite recovered breath, the five went off at a steady
trot, which after a quarter of an hour broke into a walk--for there was
no fear of pursuit--in the direction in which they knew Delhi to lie.



CHAPTER V.

BACK UNDER THE FLAG.


"How far is it to Delhi? We heard the guns there just now."

"Not thirty miles."

"Have you heard how things are going on there?" Dick asked.

"According to the Sepoy reports, fresh regiments are pouring in from
all quarters; and they boast that they are going to drive us out of the
country. Our troops are still at Meerut, and a force is gathering at
Umballah; but they are after all a mere handful."

"Do you think there is any chance of help coming to us?"

"None for the present. The Sepoys say that every station has gone down
except Agra, Allahabad, and Benares, and that these are soon to go too.
Cawnpore and Lucknow have risen."

"Are all the whites killed everywhere?"

"I am afraid they are all killed where there are no white troops; but
there, we must hope that they are making a stand. We shall be a long
time before we know anything. It is but a week yet since our station
went; seven days longer since Delhi rose."

"It seems ages ago," Ned said. "You don't mean to try and get to Meerut
to-night, I hope; we could walk as far if it were absolutely necessary,
but we have done a long day's walk already."

"No, no, Ned. I only want to get well away from our late camp.
To-morrow we will get near the river, hide all next day, and cross
after nightfall. There is a clump of trees; we will pass the night
there; I think we are safe enough now. The mutineers are too anxious to
be at Delhi to spend much time in looking for us. Now, first of all,
let us get a fire."

"We have never had a fire at night," Dick said, "since we started; we
have been too much afraid of being seen."

"There is not much chance of its being observed in a wood; especially
if the bushes are thick. We are four miles at least from the camp, and
we are all wet through with dew. Now for sticks."

The whole party soon collected a pile of sticks; and the major was
about to scatter some powder among the dead leaves, when Ned said, "We
have matches, father."

"Oh, that's all right, Ned. There we are, fairly alight. Yes, we have
chosen the place well; there are bushes all around. Now," he said, when
the fire had burned up brightly, "let us hear the full story of what
has passed; you gave us a short account when we first got free. Now let
us hear all about it."

Ned and Dick told the story--sometimes one taking it up, sometimes the
other. There were many questions from their auditors, and expressions
of warm approval of their conduct; and Captain Dunlop threatened under
his breath that if he ever had a chance he would not leave one cake of
mud upon another in the village where Kate was wounded. He and Captain
Manners proposed that they should go back, and afford what protection
they could to the girls. But Major Warrener at once negatived this idea.

"If they could come straight back with us, I should say yes," he said,
"for with us five we might hope to get them through safely; but even
that would be very risky, for the larger the party is, the more easily
it attracts attention, and the whole country is alive with rebels
marching to Delhi. But as Rose cannot be fit to travel for weeks, we
have no choice in the matter. They must remain where they are, and we
can only hope and pray for their safety. Our duty lies clearly at
Meerut, where every man who can sight a rifle will be wanted most
urgently. Now let us be off to sleep; the fire has burned low, and in
another hour or two it will be daybreak; however, there will be no
reveille, and we can sleep on with lighter hearts than we have had for
some time."

"What figures you are in those uniforms!" Dick said, laughing, next
morning; "you can scarcely move in them, and they won't meet by eight
or nine inches. It does not seem to me that they are any disguise at
all. Any one could see in a moment that they were not made for you."

"They are wretchedly uncomfortable, Dick." his father said; "and, as
you say, any one could see they were not made for us. But they are
useful. As we go along, any one who saw us at a distance would take us
for a straggling party of mutineers making our way to Delhi; while the
bright scarlet of our own uniform would have told its tale miles off."

"I shall be glad enough to get rid of mine, Dick; I feel as if I had
got into a boy's jacket by mistake. Jack Sepoy has no shoulders to
speak of; as far as height goes he is well enough; but thirty Sepoys on
parade take up no more room than twenty English. I had to take my
jacket off last night and lay it over my shoulders; I might as well
have tried to go to sleep in a vise. There! major; do you hear the
music? These rascals are on the march again."

The strains of music came very faintly to the ear, for the bivouac was
nearly a mile from the road.

"That is all right," the major said. "Now they have gone by, we can be
moving. We must give them an hour's start."

"Now, father, we have not heard your adventures yet; please tell us all
about them."

"Well, we have not had so much variety as you, but we have gone through
a good deal. You know we had talked over the best possible course to
take in case of an attack, come when it might. We had arranged what
each should do in case of a night attack, or of a rising upon parade;
and we had even considered the probability of being set upon when
gathered in the messroom. We had all agreed that if taken by surprise,
resistance would mean certain death; they would shoot us down through
the doors and windows, and we should be like rats in a cage. We agreed,
therefore, that in case of an attack, a simultaneous attempt to break
out must be made, and we had even settled upon the window by which we
should go. The married men were, of course, to make for their
bungalows, except where, as in my case, I had made other arrangements;
and the rest to various bungalows agreed upon, where traps were to be
in readiness. Dunlop, Manners, and myself had agreed to make for
Dunlop's, as it was the nearest, and his trap was to be ready that
evening.

"There were not many who believed in a mutiny that night. The villains,
only in the morning, having sworn to be faithful, deceived most of us,
for it was very hard to believe they could be capable of such
diabolical treachery. Swords and pistols were, of course, taken off,
but instead of being left in the anteroom, were brought into the
messroom. Some fellows put theirs in a corner, others against the wall
behind them. I was sitting between Dunlop and Manners, and we were, as
it happened, at the corner nearest the window fixed upon for the bolt.
Things went on all right till dinner was over, There was an insolent
look about some of the servants' faces I did not like, but nothing to
take hold of. I pointed it out to Dunlop, and we agreed that the plan
arranged was the best possible; and that, as resistance would be of no
use, if at each of the eight large windows and the two doors a stream
of musketry fire were being poured in, we would make a rush straight
for the window. Presently the colonel rose and gave 'The Queen.' We all
rose, and as if--as I have no doubt it was--the toast was the signal,
there was a sudden trampling in the veranda outside, and at every
window appeared a crowd of Sepoys, with their arms in their hands. I
shouted, 'To the window for your lives!' and without stopping to get my
sword, I dashed at the Sepoys who were there. Dunlop and Manners were
with me, and before the scoundrels had time to get their guns to their
shoulders, we were upon them. We are all big men; and our weight and
impetus, and the surprise, were too much for them; we burst through
them, standing as they did four or five deep, as if they had been
reeds. They gave a yell of rage and astonishment as they went down like
ninepins; but we scarcely saw it, for as we went through them the
musketry fire broke out round the messroom.

[Illustration: BEFORE THE SCOUNDRELS HAD TIME TO GET THEIR GUNS TO
THEIR SHOULDERS, WE WERE UPON THEM.]

"Whether any of the others tried to follow us, we don't know. I think
most of them forgot their arrangement, and rushed to their arms:
certainly some of them did so, for we heard the crack of revolvers
between the rifle shots. We made straight across the parade for
Dunlop's bungalow, with musket balls flying in all directions, as soon
as the fellows we had gone through recovered from their first
astonishment; but they are not good shots at the best, and a man
running at his top speed is not an easy mark by moonlight. We heard
yells and musket shots all round, and knew that while a part of the
regiment was attacking us, parties were told off to each bungalow. By
the time we had got over the few hundred yards to Dunlop's, the
whistling of the bullets round us had pretty well ceased, for the
fellows had all emptied their muskets; besides, we were nearly out of
range. None of them were near us, for they had stopped in their run to
fire; they were too much interested in the massacre going on inside,
and we seemed pretty safe; when, just as I entered the gate of the
compound, a stray bullet hit me on the head, and down I went like a log.

"Happily, the syce had proved faithful; he had been with Dunlop ever
since he joined the regiment, and Dunlop once risked his life to save
him from a tiger. There was the syce with the trap. He had not dared
bring it out till the first shot was fired, lest his fellow-servants,
who were all traitors, should stop it; but the instant it began, he
came round. They ran the horse up to where I was lying, lifted me in,
and jumped in, and drove out of the gate as a score of fellows from the
mess-house came making toward the bungalow. We had fifty yards' start,
but they fired away at us, a ball passing through the syce's leg as he
scrambled up behind. The horse went along at a gallop; but we were not
safe, for parties were carrying on their hellish work in every
bungalow, Dunlop and Manners were maddened by the screams they heard;
and if it had not been for having me under their charge, and by the
thoughts of the girls, I believe they would have jumped out and died
fighting. A few of the black devils, hearing wheels, ran out and fired;
but we kept on at a full gallop till we were well out of the place. A
mile further Dunlop found the horse begin to slacken his speed, and to
go very leisurely. He jumped out to see what was the matter, and found,
as he expected, that the horse had been hit. He had one bullet in the
neck, another in the side. It was evident that it could not go much
further. They lifted me out and carried me to a patch of bushes thirty
yards from the road. The syce was told to drive on quietly till the
horse dropped. Dunlop gave him money and told him to meet us at Meerut."

"Why did you not keep him with you? he would have been very useful?"
Dick asked.

"You see I wanted to get the trap as far away as possible before the
horse fell," Captain Dunlop said. "We did not know how severely wounded
the major was; indeed, we both feared he was killed; but the mutineers,
when they found the dead horse in the morning, were certain to make a
search in its neighbourhood, and would have found your father had he
been close by laid up with a wound."

"Happily I now began to come to," the major went on, continuing his
story. "The ball was nearly spent, and had given me a nasty scalp
wound, and had stunned me, but I now began to come round. The instant I
was able to understand where I was or what had happened, Dunlop and
Manners, who were half-wild with excitement and grief, made me promise
to lie quiet, while they went back to see what had become of you all.
Of course I consented. They were away about three hours, for they had
to make a circle of the cantonments, as our bungalow was quite at the
other end. They brought cheering news. They had first been to the
house, and found it utterly destroyed as they expected. That told them
nothing; for if you had been killed, your bodies would probably have
been burned with the house. Then they went out to the tope of trees
where it was agreed that you should, if possible, first fly. Here they
found a pocket-handkerchief of Rose's; and going round to the other
side, found by the marks upon the soil that four of you had started
together. With hearts immensely lightened by the discovery that you
had, at any rate, all escaped from the first massacre, they hurried
back to gladden me with the news. I was past understanding it when they
arrived, for the intense pain in my head and my terrible anxiety about
you had made me delirious. It would have been certain death to stay so
near the road, so they dipped their handkerchiefs in water, and tied
them round my head; and then supporting me, one on each side, they
half-dragged, half-carried, me to a deserted and half-ruinous cottage,
about a mile away.

"Next day I was still feverish, but fortunately no one came near us.
Dunlop and Manners went out at night, and got a few bananas. Next
morning our regiment marched away; and Dunlop then appealed to an old
cottager for shelter and food for us all. He at once promised to aid
us, and I was removed to his cottage, where everything in his power was
done for me. I was now convalescent, and a day later we were talking of
making a move forward. That night, however, the cottage was
surrounded--whether the peasant himself or some one else betrayed us,
we shall never know--but the men that we saw there belonged to a
regiment of mutineers that had marched in that afternoon from Dollah.
We saw at once that resistance was useless, and we were, moreover,
without arms. Had we had them, I have no doubt we should have fought
and been killed. As it was, we were bound and marched into the camp at
Sandynugghur. It was resolved to take us in triumph into Delhi; and we
were marched along with the regiment till you saw us. We had talked
over every conceivable plan of escape, and had determined that we would
try to-night, which will be the last halt before they get to Delhi. It
is very unlikely that we should have succeeded, but it was better to be
shot down than to be taken to Delhi and given over to the mob to
torture before they killed us. I am convinced we had no chance of
really getting off, and that you have saved our lives, just as Dunlop
and Manners saved mine, at the risk of their own, on that first night
of our flight. And now let us be on the march."

They had not gone far before the three officers found that it was
impossible to walk in their Sepoy jackets. They accordingly took them
off, and slung them from their muskets. Ned and Dick were fairly
fitted. They halted for the night near the river, about ten miles above
Delhi. In the morning they were off early. By nine o'clock they stood
on the bank of the river, five miles higher up.

The river is wide, or rather the bed of the river is wide, half a mile
at least; this in the rainy season is full to the brim, but at other
times the stream is not more than half that width. After crossing the
river they would have fifteen miles still to traverse to arrive at
Meerut; and it was probable that the whole intervening country was in
the hands of the Sepoys.

"Had we not better keep this side of the river for a bit, father?" Ned
asked.

"No, my boy; we will cross here after dark, and make straight for
Meerut. If we can't find a boat, we will each cut a large bundle of
rushes, to act as a lifebuoy and carry your guns and ammunition, and so
swim across after it is dark."

"Well, major, as the sun is getting awfully hot, I vote we get into the
shade of those stunted trees, and have a nap till the afternoon. It
won't do to begin even to make the raft till the sun is down."

Captain Dunlop's proposition was carried into effect; but it is
questionable whether any of the party slept much, for they were excited
by the thought that in a few hours they would be with friends, once
more soldiers instead of fugitives, with power to fight in defense of
their sovereign's dominions, and of the helpless women and children
exposed to the fury of the atrocious mutineers. With these thoughts
mingled the anxiety which was wearing them all, although each refrained
from talking about it, as to the safety of the girls, whose lives wore
dependent upon the fidelity of a native and his servants.

Over and over again, since they met the boys, had they regretted that
they had not gone back to watch over them; but the fact that Rose might
be weeks before she was able to stand, and that, as their protector had
said, the presence of Europeans near them might be detected, and would
be a source of constant danger, convinced them that they had taken the
proper course. They knew, too, that in acting as they had done they
were performing their duty; and that at a moment when the fate of
British India trembled in the balance, the place of every soldier was
by the side of the British troops who still maintained the old flag
flying in the face of increasing numbers of the enemy. Still, although
they knew that they were doing their duty, and were, moreover, taking
the wisest course, the thoughts of the girls alone in the midst of
danger, with one of them down with fever, tried them terribly, and they
longed with a fierce desire for the excitement of work and of danger to
keep them from thinking of it.

"Here, boys, is a ear of Indian corn apiece; eat that and then get to
work."

The frugal meal was soon over, and they then set to work, cutting down,
breaking off, and tearing up large reeds with which to make floats. The
boys had knives, but the others had been stripped of everything they
had at the time of their capture. In about an hour, however, five
bundles were made, each some six feet long and nearly three feet thick.
The muskets and ammunition pouches were fastened on these, and soon
after it was quite dark they entered the water.

"There are no crocodiles, I hope," Dick whispered to Ned.

"Nothing to fear in these large rivers; the chances of meeting one are
very small."

"All right," Dick said. "Of course we've got to risk it. But they're as
bad as sharks; and sharks, as the Yankee said, is pison. Well, here
goes."

When the bundles were placed in the water they were lashed side by side
with long trailing creepers which grew abundantly among the rushes; and
they were thus secured from the risk of turning over from the weights
on the top. Upon the raft thus formed their clothes were placed, and
then, side by side, pushing it before them, the party shoved off from
shore. In twenty minutes they touched ground on the other side. They
dressed, examined their muskets to see if they were in good order, and
then started in the direction in which they knew Meerut to be. Several
times they paused and listened, for they could occasionally hear the
noise of galloping men, and it was evident that there were troops of
some kind or other moving about.

They walked for some hours until they thought that they could not be
far from their destination, and had begun to congratulate themselves
upon being near their friends, when the sound of a strong body of men
was heard sweeping along the level plain across which they were now
passing.

"There is a small building ahead," the major said; "run for that; they
are coming across here."

They were seen, for a shout of "Who goes there?" in Hindostanee was
heard.

"Give me your musket, Dick," Captain Dunlop exclaimed. For the lad,
with the weight of his musket and ammunition, could hardly keep up with
the others.

Just in time they reached the building in front of them, rushed in, and
closed the door as the cavalry swept up. It was a small temple; a
building of massive construction, with one little window about six
inches square, and on the same side a strong door.

"Pile everything against the door," the major cried. "Dunlop, fire at
once at them. Our only chance is to hold out with the hope that we may
be heard, and that some of our fellows may come to the rescue."

Captain Dunlop fired just as the troopers dashed up to the door.

"Now, Manners, steady, pick off your man," the major said, as, aided by
the boys, he jammed a beam of wood between the door and the wall, at
such an angle that, except by breaking it to pieces, the door could not
be forced.

"Now," he said, "it's my turn;" and he fired into the enraged enemy.
"Now, Ned, steady. Are you loaded again, Dunlop?"

"Yes, major; just ready."

"Dick, you follow; take good aim."

The cavalry answered their fire, every shot of which was taking effect,
by a confused discharge of their pistols at the door and window.

"Draw off!" their leader shouted; "rear-rank men hold the horses,
front-rank men dismount and break in the door."

The order was obeyed; and the troopers rushed forward on foot, and were
met by a steady fire, to which the straggling return of their pistols
was but an inefficient answer. Vainly the mutineers hacked at the door
with their sabers and struck it with their pommels.

"Throw yourselves against it, all at once," cried their leader; and a
dozen men sent themselves against the door; it creaked and strained,
but the beam kept it in its place.

"You keep up the fire through the window," said the major; "the boys
and I will fire through the door."

Yells and shrieks followed each shot through the door, and after three
or four minutes the troopers drew off.

"Any one hurt?" the major asked.

"I have got a bullet in my shoulder," said Captain Dunlop.

But that was the only reply. There was a shout outside, and Manners
exclaimed: "Confound the fellows, they have got a big log of wood that
will soon splinter the door."

"We must stop them as long as we can," said the major, as he fired
among the men who were advancing with the log.

Several Sepoys fell before they got up to the house, but they pressed
on, and, at the first blow given by the battering-ram driven by the
men, the door split from top to bottom.

"Fix bayonets," the major said. "Now, Manners, you and I will hold them
back. Not more than two can come at once, and their swords are of no
use against bayonets in a narrow space. Dunlop, will you stand in
reserve? you have still got your right hand; use your bayonet as a
dagger if a rush comes. Boys, you go on loading and firing; put in four
balls each time. If they get in, of course use your bayonets; there
goes the door!"

A shout burst from the natives as the last portion of the door dropped
from its hinges, and the doorway was open. There was, however, no
inclination betrayed to make a rush.

"Forward! Death to the infidel dogs!" shouted their officer.

"Suppose you lead us," said one of the troopers; "the officers always
show the way."

"Come, then," cried an old officer, on whose breast hung several
medals; "follow me!"

Drawing his sword, he rushed forward, followed by twenty of his men.
But as he passed over the threshold he and the trooper next to him fell
beneath the bayonet thrusts of Major Warrener and his companion. The
next two, pushed forward by their comrades, shared the same fate;
while, as they fell, the muskets of Ned and Dick sent their contents
into the mass. The rest recoiled from the fatal doorway, while the
defenders set up a cheer of triumph. It was drowned in a crash of
musketry, mingled with a cry of surprise and despair from the natives,
as a body of British soldiers leaped from the wood, and followed their
volley by an impetuous charge. The cavalry on the plain turned and fled
at a gallop; and in five minutes, but for a few dark figures prostrate
on the plain, not an enemy was in sight.

"Well, gentlemen, you have made a stout defense," the officer in
command said, as he returned to the shrine, outside which the little
party had gathered. "It seems as if you could have done without my
help. Who are you, may I ask? And where have you sprung from?"

"Why, Sibbold, is it you? You haven't forgotten Warrener? And here are
Dunlop and Manners."

"Hurrah!" shouted the officer. "Thank God, old fellows, you are saved;
we fancied that you had all gone down. I am glad;" and he shook hands
enthusiastically with his friends; while two of the officers, coming
up, joined in the hearty greeting.

"Do those two men belong to your regiment?" Captain Sibbold asked. "If
so, they are wonders; for I don't know a case as yet where any of the
men proved true when the rest mutinied."

"They are my sons," Major Warrener answered.

"What?" exclaimed the other, laughing--believing that the major was
joking.

"It's a fact, as you will see when they have got rid of the stains on
their faces," he replied; while Captain Dunlop added, "and two as fine
young fellows as ever stepped. Do you know that we three were
prisoners, and that these lads rescued us from the middle of a pandy
regiment. If they hadn't we should have been dead men before now. And
now have you got anything to eat at Meerut, for we are famishing? In
the next place, I have got a bullet in my shoulder, and shall enjoy my
food all the more after it has been taken out. Our stories are long and
will keep. How go things here?"

"Not very brightly, Dunlop; however, that will keep, too; now let us be
off. Have we any casualties, sergeant?" he asked a non-commissioned
officer who came up for orders.

"None, sir."

"What is the enemy's loss?"

"There are fifteen which can be fairly counted to us, sir, and nineteen
here."

"That's a respectable total. Fall in, lads," he said to the men who had
gathered round, "and let us get back. You will be glad to hear that
these officers have escaped from the massacre at Sandynugghur."

There was a hearty cheer of satisfaction from the men, for Englishmen
were knit very closely together in those terrible days. Then, falling
in, the two companies of the Sixtieth Rifles marched back again to
their cantonments at Meerut.



CHAPTER VI.

A DASHING EXPEDITION.


On arriving at the cantonments, the party were soon surrounded by the
troops, who had been called under arms at the sound of distant firing,
but had been dismissed again on the arrival of a message to the effect
that the enemy had fled. The news had spread rapidly that some
fugitives had escaped from Sandynugghur, where it was supposed that the
massacre had been general; and officers pressed forward to shake their
hands, and the men uttered words of kindly congratulation and welcome.
The greeting swelled into a cheer as the detachment fell out, and,
scattering among their comrades, told of the desperate defense, and of
the slaughter inflicted upon the enemy by this handful of men. The
fugitives were, of course, taken first to the messroom, Captain Dunlop
being, however, carried off by the surgeon to his quarters, to have his
wound examined and attended to.

It seemed almost like a dream to the worn and weary party, as they sat
down again to a table laid with all the brightness and comfort of
civilization, and felt that they were indeed safe among friends. Many
were the questions asked them by officers who had friends and
acquaintances among the military and civilians at Sandynugghur; and the
fugitives learned that they were, so far as was known, the only
survivors from the massacre. The story of their escape, and the safety
of the girls, was told briefly, and listened to with eager interest;
and very deep and hearty were the congratulations which the boys
received for their share in the history. In return, Major Warrener
learned what had taken place in the last ten days.

The story was not reassuring; tidings of evil were coming from all
parts. As yet the number of stations where risings had taken place was
comparatively small; but the position was everywhere critical. In Agra,
Allahabad, and Benares, the attitude of the native troops and
population was more than doubtful. At Lucknow and Cawnpore every
precaution was being taken, but a rising was regarded as inevitable. In
fact everywhere, save in the Punjab, trouble had either come or was
coming. General Anson was collecting in all haste a force at Umballah,
which was intended to advance upon Delhi--where the ex-king had been
proclaimed Emperor of India--but his force would necessarily be an
extremely small one; and no help could possibly arrive up country for
many weeks. There was therefore only the Punjab to look to for aid.
Happily, the troops of the Madras and Bombay presidencies had so far
remained faithful.

"I suppose you have a good many men from Delhi, civilians and military,
as well as from other places?"

"Oh, yes, we are crowded; every bungalow has been given up to the
ladies, and we all sleep under canvas."

"I intend to ask leave to get up a troop of volunteers," Major Warrener
said; "in the first place to go out and bring in my daughter and niece,
and afterward to do any scouting or other duty that may be required."

"There has already been a talk of forming the unattached officers and
civilians into a sort of irregular cavalry, so I should think that you
will get leave; but it will be a hazardous business to make your way
eighty miles through the country, especially as the mutineers are
marching in all directions toward Delhi."

The next morning Major Warrener obtained permission, without
difficulty, to carry out his scheme; and the news no sooner was known
through the cantonments that a body of irregular horse was to be formed
for scouting and general purposes, and that unattached officers might,
until they received further orders, join it, than the tent which had
been assigned to Major Warrener was besieged by men anxious to join a
corps which seemed likely to afford them a chance of striking an early
blow at the mutineers.

Hitherto, the officers who had escaped from Delhi and other stations,
those who had come in from police duties in isolated districts, and
civilians, both merchants and government officials, had been fretting
that they could not be doing something to aid the great work of holding
India, and punishing those who had murdered their friends and
relations. Major Warrener's Light Horse, as it was to be called,
afforded the opportunity desired, and by the next morning eighty-five
volunteers had enrolled themselves. Some thirty-five of these were
officers, the rest civilians. Many of them had ridden in, others had
driven, so that most of them were already provided with horses. An
appeal was made to the officers of the Meerut garrison, and to the
civilians resident there, to give up any horses they might be able to
spare for the public service, while others were bought from friendly
zemindars. In a week the troop were all mounted, and during this time
they had worked hard to acquire a sufficient amount of cavalry drill to
enable them to perform such simple evolutions as might be necessary.
Major Warrener divided the squadron into two troops, each with a
captain and subaltern; all these officers being cavalrymen, as were the
officers who did duty as sergeants. Thus Major Warrener had the general
command, each troop being maneuvered by its own officers. In the ranks
as simple privates were two majors and a dozen captains--among these
latter, Captain Manners. Captain Dunlop was for the present in the
surgeon's hands; but he was resolved that when the time came for a
start for the rescue of the girls he would take his place in the ranks.
The boys of course formed part of the troop. The uniform was simple,
consisting simply of a sort of Norfolk jacket made of karkee, a kind of
coarse brown holland of native make. Each man carried a revolver, and
sword belt of brown leather. Their headgear was a cap of any kind,
wrapped round and round with the thick folds of a brown puggaree.
Beyond the Norfolk jacket and puggaree there was no actual uniform.
Most of the men had hunting breeches, many had high boots, others had
gaiters; but these were minor points, as were the horses' equipments.

Nothing had been said as to the intended expedition to bring in the
fugitives, as native spies might have carried the news to the rebels,
and so caused a renewed search to be made for their hiding-place. There
was, therefore, a deep feeling of satisfaction, as well as of surprise,
when, on the tenth day after the formation of the corps, the men were
told, on being dismissed from morning parade, that the squadron would
parade for duty at evening gunfire; that each man was to be provided
with a blanket and a haversack, with cooked food sufficient for four
days, and a bag with twenty pounds of forage for his horse, each horse
to be well fed before coming on parade.

Had the route been free from enemies, the distance might have been done
in two long night marches; but it would be necessary to make a detour
on starting, so as to avoid striking the main road, as on the way out
it was all-important to avoid detection, as the enemy might muster in
such strength that their return would be difficult and dangerous in the
extreme. The girls once in their hands, the return journey would be
easy, as they could avoid any infantry, and had no fear of being able
to cut their way through any body of cavalry whom they might
accidentally come across, especially as they would have all the
advantage of a surprise. Half an hour after sunset the squadron rode
out from the lines at Meerut, amid a hearty cheer from the many troops
at the station, who, hearing that Warrener's Light Horse were off on an
expedition against the mutineers, had assembled to see the start. Major
Warrener rode at the head of the squadron, with Captain Kent, who
commanded the first troop, by his side, and behind them came two native
guides well acquainted with the country. These had been dressed in the
uniform of a native cavalry regiment, in order that if they passed any
village and were challenged, they could ride forward and represent the
troop as a body of native cavalry sent out from Delhi on a mission to a
friendly rajah. The precaution was unnecessary. During two long night
marches, with occasional halts to rest the horses, they rode without
interruption. They passed through several villages; but although the
tramp of the horses and the rattle of sabers must have been heard by
the inhabitants, none stirred, for the mutineers took what they wanted
without paying, and were already behaving as masters of the country;
and even thus early the country people were beginning to doubt whether
the fall of the English Raj, and the substitution of the old native
rule, with its war, its bloodshed, and its exactions, was by any means
a benefit, so far as the tillers of the soil were concerned. Just
before morning, on the third day, the troop halted in a thick grove,
having watered their horses at a tank a half-hour before. They had
ridden some seventy miles, and were, they calculated, about fifteen
miles from the place where they had left the girls. It might have been
possible to push on at once, but the day was breaking, and it would
have been inexpedient to tire out the horses when they might want all
their speed and strength on the return journey. Very slowly passed the
day. Most of the men, after seeing to their horses and eating some
food, threw themselves down and slept soundly. But Major Warrener, his
sons, and Captains Dunlop and Manners were far too anxious to follow
their example, for some time. It was more than a fortnight since the
boys had left the ladies, and so many things, of which they hardly dare
think, might have happened since.

"Don't let us talk about it any more," Major Warrener said at last; "we
only add to each other's anxiety. Now, Dunlop, you must positively lie
down; you know Johnson said it was mad in you to get on horseback till
your bone had set firmly, and that it was ten to one in favor of
inflammation coming on again. You have much to go through yet."

[Illustration: AFTER FIVE MINUTES' RIDING, THEY DREW UP THEIR HORSES
WITH A CRY OF DISMAY.]

Gradually sleepiness overcame excitement, and with the exception of ten
men told off as sentries and to look after the horses, the whole party
slept quietly for some hours. It had been determined to start in time
to arrive at the farmhouse before it was dark, as the boys required
daylight to enable them to recognize the locality; besides which it was
advisable to get as far back upon the return journey as possible before
daybreak. The boys were now riding in front with their father.

"That is the wood," Ned said presently. "I know by those three palm
trees growing together in a clump, at a short distance in advance. I
noticed them particularly."

"Where is the house?" Major Warrener asked.

"We ought to see the house," Dick said, and he looked at his brother
apprehensively.

"Yes," Ned said; "we certainly ought to see it."

"You are sure you are not mistaken in the locality?" their father asked.

"Quite sure," the boys answered together; "but the house----"

"Let us gallop on," Major Warrener said, catching the fear which was
expressed in each of his sons' faces.

Five minutes' riding, and they drew up their horses with a cry of
dismay. A large patch of wood ashes marked the spot where the house had
stood. No words were needed; the truth was apparent; the fugitives had
been discovered, and the abode of their protectors destroyed. Their two
friends joined the little group, and the rest of the troop dismounted
at a short distance, respecting the deep pain which the discovery had
caused to their leader.

"What is to be done?" Major Warrener asked, breaking the deep silence.

For a moment no one answered; and then Dick said:

"Perhaps we may find some of the farmer's people in the hut where we
slept, and we may get news from them."

"A capital thought, Dick," said Major Warrener. "We must not give up
hope; there are no bodies lying about, so the farm people are probably
alive. As to the girls, if they are carried off we must rescue them.
Where is the hut?"

A few minutes' walking brought them to it. Even before they reached it
it was evident that it was inhabited, for two or three peons were
squatted near the door. These rose on seeing the group of Englishmen,
but made no attempt at flight. They entered the hut without ceremony,
and Ned and Dick hurried to the side of an old man lying on a heap of
straw, while some females standing near hastily veiled themselves at
the entrance of the strangers.

"Where are the girls? what has happened? are you hurt?" were the three
questions poured out rapidly by Ned, as the boy seized the old man's
hands.

"Is it you, sahibs? I am glad, indeed. I did not break my promise to
come and tell you; but as you see," and he pointed to the bandage which
enveloped his head, "I was wounded, and am still ill."

"But the girls?" asked Ned.

"They have been carried off by the troops of the Rajah of Nahdoor."

"How long since?"

"Thursday, sahib."

"How far off is Nahdoor?"

"Ten miles, sahib."

Major Warrener now took up the interrogation.

"How is the one who was ill?"

"She was better, and was getting stronger again when they carried her
off."

"Do you think they are still at Nahdoor? or that they have been sent
into Delhi?"

"They are still there," the Hindoo said. "I have sent a man each day to
watch, so that directly I got better I might be able to tell you the
truth of the matter. My servant has just returned; they had not left at
three o'clock, and they would be sure not to start after that hour. The
rajah will go with his troops in a few days to pay his respects to the
emperor; he will probably take the _mem_ sahibs with him."

"Thank God for that," Major Warrener said. "If they have not yet been
taken to that horrible den of murder we will save them. I am the father
of one, and the other is my niece," he said to the zemindar; "and I owe
their lives so far to you. The debt of gratitude I can never pay to
you--or to your wife and daughter," he added, turning to the women,
who, their first impulse of alarm over, had now, in the presence of
friends, uncovered their faces, for it is only the higher class of
Hindoo women who closely veil--"for your care in nursing my niece, and
for giving them shelter, when to do so was to risk your lives. This
debt I can never pay; but the losses you have sustained in the
destruction of your house, and the loss of animals, I can happily more
than replace. And now tell me how it happened."

"It was late in the afternoon," the Hindoo said, "when a body of horse
galloped across the field to my door. Their captain rode up to me. 'Are
there any Feringhees hid here, old man?' he asked. 'I have seen no man
of the white race since the troubles began,' I said; and you know I
spoke not falsely. 'I must search the house,' he said; 'there are a
party of fugitives hiding somewhere in this district, and the orders
from Delhi are strict that every Feringhee is to be hunted down and
sent there.' 'You will find no one here,' I said, 'but my women, one of
whom is sick.' 'I must see them,' he said; and he knocked loudly at the
door of the women's room, and ordered them to come out. My wife and
daughter came to the door. 'Where is the one who is said to be sick?'
he said; 'I must see her too.' Then, seeing that he was determined to
enter, the young _mem_ sahib came to the door. The captain gave a shout
of pleasure; calling in his men, he entered the room, and, in spite of
the entreaties of her sister, brought the one who was sick out also.
She was able to walk, but, as we had agreed between us should be done
if discovery was made, she pretended that she was almost at the point
of death. Some poles were got; a hammock was made; and borne by four
bearers, she was carried away, her sister being placed on a horse
closely guarded. As he turned to ride off the captain's eye fell upon
me. 'Ah! old traitor!' he said; 'I had forgotten you!' and he drew a
pistol and fired at me. I know no more; his men put fire to the barn
and granaries, and drove off our cattle and horses. When he had ridden
off my servants--who thought I was dead--by order of my sorrowing wife
carried me here. Happily, however, by the will of Brahma, the bullet,
instead of going through my skull, glanced off, and I was only stunned.
I had lost much blood, but I determined to set out as soon as I could
walk to bring you the news, and in the meantime have had a watch kept
upon Nahdoor."

Major Warrener and his sons thanked the old peasant and his family in
the warmest terms for what they had done, and the former pressed upon
the farmer a sum of money which would cover all the losses he had
sustained.

"Your conduct," he said, "will be reported to the government, and you
will find when these troubles are over that England knows how to reward
those who proved faithful when so many were faithless. Now we will say
adieu. When the war is over the ladies you have so kindly treated will
themselves return to thank you."

In a few minutes the troop was in the saddle again, and directed its
march toward Nahdoor.

On the way Major Warrener questioned his guide as to the strength and
position of the fortress, which lay away from the main road, and had
not been visited by any of the troop--as the major had ascertained
before starting. The account was not reassuring. The guide reported
that it stood on a rock, which rose perpendicularly some eighty or a
hundred feet from the plain; the only access being by a zigzag road cut
in the face of the cliff, with a gateway defended by a gun, and
loopholed walls at each turn, and with a very strong wall all round the
edge of the rock. The garrison, they had learned from the persons at
the farm, was some three hundred strong, the ordinary number of
retainers being at present increased by many fighting men, who had
within the last few days joined the rajah, on hearing that he was going
to march to Delhi to fight under the emperor against the Feringhees.

The troop halted in a wood three miles from Nahdoor; as the guide said
that there was no place nearer where they could be concealed without a
certainty of discovery.

Before morning Major Warrener and his second in command put on native
clothes, which the former bad brought with him, in case it should be
necessary to open communication with the girls, and left the wood with
one of the native guides. The disguises were not meant to deceive close
investigation, and no attempt was made to change the color of the skin,
but they were sufficient to enable the wearers to pass without exciting
suspicion by any one who only saw them at a distance.

When morning broke they stood within half a mile of the fortress, which
answered exactly to the description they had received of it.
Gradually--keeping always at a distance, and availing themselves as far
as possible of cover--they made a circuit of the place, and then
returned to the troop, who were anxiously awaiting their report.

"It is a very hard nut to crack," Major Warrener said to his sons.
"There is no possibility of climbing the rock anywhere, or of attacking
in any way except by the regular ascent. There are eight gateways to be
forced before arriving at the main entrance through the walls. We
should require petards to blow in gates, and ought to have field guns
to drive them out of the gate-houses. I do not say it would be
absolutely impossible, because before now British troops have done what
seemed impossible in India; but the difficulties would be so enormous,
the risk of failure so great, and the loss certainly so crushing, that
I should not be justified in undertaking such a desperate adventure on
my own responsibility, and for my own private ends. We have no right,
boys, to cause the loss of some thirty or forty of these fine young
fellows, even to rescue the girls. An attack by surprise is the only
possibility. At present we don't see the way, but something may turn up
to help us. Failing that, our only plan is to wait till the rajah
starts with his following and the girls for Delhi, and then to attack
them on their way. The drawback to this is that he may not leave for
days, and that at any moment we may be discovered. Besides, there is
the difficulty of feeding the horses and ourselves. Now, boys, you know
as much as I do. Think it over while I have a talk with Dunlop and
Manners."

"Manners is at the other end of the wood, father, half a mile away. We
found, after you had gone, that the main Delhi road ran through the
further skirts of the wood, so Manners suggested to Lieutenant Simmons
that he should go with ten men and hide there, so that they could see
who went along the road and perhaps intercept some messenger between
Delhi and Nahdoor."

"A capital idea," Major Warrener said.

Two hours later Captain Manners returned with his party, bringing in
two prisoners.

"Who have you there, Manners?" Major Warrener asked.

"Two of the rascally Third Cavalry, who mutinied at Meerut. This
fellow, as you see, is a native officer; there were two of them and two
sowars, but they showed fight when we surrounded them, and tried to
ride through us, so we had to shoot two of them. They are bearers of a
letter from the Delhi prince to the rajah. Here it is."

Major Warrener looked sternly at the prisoners, who were still wearing
their British uniform, and then ordered them to be taken away and hung
at once.

"What did you do with the others, Manners?"

"We hid their bodies under some bushes at a distance from the road."

"You must go back," the major said, "with another; take Larkin with
you. You must strip off the uniforms and bring them here."

Half an hour later Major Warrener summoned the captains of his two
troops, and took them into council.

"Nothing could be more fortunate than this capture," he said; "it seems
to clear the way for us altogether. What I propose to do is this: that
two of the best linguists of the troop, with the two native guides,
should dress in the uniforms of these scoundrels. They can then go
boldly in with the letter from the prince. They will of course be well
received, and will stay for the night. The two who go as officers will
be entertained by the rajah, and will learn the plan of the state
apartments; the other two will be made welcome by the retainers. When
all is quiet at night they must steal out and wait on the wall. That
projecting watch-tower that overhangs the cliff on the other side would
be the best. We will be below. Then a rope must be lowered. We have two
long picketing ropes, either of which would be long enough, but they
would be too bulky to carry in without suspicion. Our native guides,
however, will soon tear up some cloth, and twist a rope not much
thicker than string, but strong enough to hold the rope. Then the
string can be twisted round the body without fear of detection, and
when the time comes lowered, with a stone at the end. We shall be below
with a strong rope ladder, made with the picket-ropes and bamboo
staves; and once fixed, we shall be up in no time. I leave it to you to
decide who are the best linguists. They must of course be asked if they
are willing to undertake it. I will speak to the guides. What do you
think of the general plan?"

"Excellent," the officers said. "It might be as well," one suggested,
"that each of the party should have a light rope wound round him, so
that if one, two, or even three could not slip away, the fourth could
still carry out the plan."

Some other details were arranged, and then the officers went to pick
out the two men who could best pass as natives. There was no difficulty
upon this score, for two of the troop, who had for years commanded
large police districts, spoke the language as perfectly as natives, and
these, upon being asked, readily accepted the duty. The work of making
the rope ladders, and the light ropes for hauling them up, was entered
upon, and by sunset all were ready for the expedition.

It was fortunate that they had no longer to stay in the wood, for
during the day five or six natives who came in to gather wood had to be
seized and bound, and it was certain that a search would be set on foot
there next morning. Fortunately a large field of Indian corn bordered
one side of the wood, and from this both man and horse had satisfied
their hunger.

Every detail of the plan was carefully considered and discussed, so
that no mistake could occur; and each of the principal actors in the
piece had his part assigned to him. The two native guides, who had
themselves served as soldiers in native regiments, consented willingly
to perform their parts, and just at sunset the two officers and men
rode off to Nahdoor, bearing the letter from the prince of Delhi to the
rajah.

There was high feasting in Nahdoor that night. The rajah had received
with all honor the officers from Delhi. The letter from the prince had
promised him a high command in the army which was to exterminate the
last infidel from the land. It had thanked him for the capture of the
white women, and had begged him to bring them on with him to Delhi, and
to come at once with his own force. From the officers the rajah had
heard how the mutiny was everywhere a success, and that at Lucknow and
Cawnpore the troops would rise in a day or two and massacre all the
whites. The evening ended early, for the officers from Delhi were
fatigued with their long ride, and being shown into a little square
marble-lined room off the great hall where they had supped, were soon
apparently asleep on the cushions and shawls spread for them. The rajah
retired to his apartments, and his officers to their quarters; and
although for another hour talking and laughing went on round the little
fires in the courtyard, presently these too were hushed, and a profound
stillness fell upon Nahdoor. Then, barefooted, the officers from Delhi
stole out of their apartment and made for the outer wall. As they had
anticipated, they found no one about; beyond a sentry at the lower gate
there would be no watch kept, and they reached the watch-tower on the
wall without the slightest interruption. Here two other figures had
already arrived, and after throwing down some small stones as a signal,
which was answered by a faint whistle, the ropes were lowered without
delay. One of them was soon seized from below, and the others being
also found and fastened to the rope ladder, the weight of which was
considerable, those above began to draw up. Everything succeeded
admirably. One by one fifty men appeared at the top of the wall.
Quietly they made their way down to the courtyard, and broke up into
parties, taking their places at the entrance to the various buildings;
then, all further need for concealment being at an end, a bugle call
sounded loud in the air. It was answered by another down upon the plain
near the gate. The rajah himself was one of the first to rash out. He
was seized and disarmed before he was aware of what had happened.

"Tell your men to throw down their arms and surrender," Major Warrener
said to him, "or we will put you and every soul here to the sword. The
place is surrounded, and there is no escape. Do you not hear our bugles
on the plain?"

It needed not the rajah's order; the garrison, taken utterly by
surprise, and finding the castle captured by an enemy of unknown
strength, threw down their arms as they came out of their quarters.
Orders were sent by the rajah to the men at the various gates on the
hill to come up and lay down their arms, and the sentry at the lowest
of all was to open it to the troops there. A bugler and ten men were
left below, and the rest joined the party in the castle.

Long ere they had arrived, the joyful meeting of the captives and their
friends had taken place. Rose and Kate had awoke at the sound of the
bugle, but had heeded it little, believing that it was only a Sepoy
call. Even the stir and commotion outside had not disturbed them, and
they had lain quiet until they heard a loud knocking at the door of the
women's apartments, followed by screams from the women, and then--they
could scarcely believe their ears--their names shouted in Major
Warrener's voice. With a cry of delight both sprang up, and seizing
shawls, rushed to the door, and in another moment Kate was in the arms
of her father.

"We are all here, dear," he said, after the first wild greeting--"the
boys, and Dunlop, and Manners. Hurry on your clothes, darlings; they
are longing to see you."

The garrison of the castle were all collected in one of the smaller
courts, where twenty troopers, revolver in hand, kept guard over them.
The whole of the arms found in the castle were broken to pieces and
thrown over the walls, and the cannon planted there were first spiked
and then pitched over. The guns on the gates were similarly rendered
useless, and the stores of gunpowder all wetted. The rajah and his two
sons, boys of six and eight, were then told to prepare to accompany the
troops, and warning was given that they would be shot in case an attack
was made upon the force as it returned to Meerut.

"Tell your followers this," Major Warrener said, "and order them to
give no alarm, or to spread the news; for if we are caught your life
and that of your sons will pay forfeit. As it is, you may hope for
clemency. You have as yet taken no part in the insurrection; and
although there is no doubt of your intention, your good conduct in the
future may, perhaps, wipe out the memory of your faults."

It needs not to say anything of the rapturous greeting of the girls and
their brothers and lovers, or the happy half-hour which was spent
together in the great hall while the preparations for the departure
were being made outside. Captain Kent saw to all that there was to be
done, leaving the major free to join the happy party within.

"Are you strong enough to ride, Rose?"

"Oh, I think so, uncle; I have been shamming ill, and they thought I
could not walk; but I am pretty strong, and if I can't ride by myself I
must be tied on to some one else."

"I dare say my horse will carry double," Captain Manners said, laughing.

"Have the women here been kind?" Major Warrener asked.

The girls shook their heads:

"Not very, papa; they have been talking of Delhi;" and Kate shuddered.

The major frowned; he could guess what they must have suffered. He went
to the door.

"Kent, order the women out of the _zenana_ into one of the other rooms.
Tell them that they will all be searched as they come out, and that if
one brings out an ornament or a jewel with her she will be put to
death. Of course you will not search them; but the threat will do. Let
no insult be offered them. Then let Rivers take four men, and go in,
and take all the loot you can find. The jewels we will divide among the
men when at Meerut. Tell off another party to loot the rest of the
rooms, but only take what is really valuable and portable. We cannot
cumber ourselves with baggage. It would serve the rajah right if I were
to burn his castle down; he may think himself lucky to get off with his
life."

The girls pleaded for the women. "We bear them no ill-feeling," they
said. "They are very ignorant; they only acted as they were taught."

"Well, well," said the major, "we will take the jewels alone; they are
a fair loot."

Another hour and the troops were already well on their way on the Delhi
road. The good luck which had attended them so far followed them to the
end. Anxious to avoid an encounter with the enemy, they took an even
more circuitous route than that by which they had come, and on the
fourth afternoon after leaving rode into Meerut, where their arrival
after the long and successful expedition created quite an excitement. A
comfortable house was found for the girls, with some old friends of the
major, who resided permanently at Meerut; as for the major and his
troops, they prepared to accompany the column which was on the point of
marching against Delhi.



CHAPTER VII.

DELHI.


Never did a government or a people meet a terrible disaster with a more
undaunted front than that displayed by the government and British
population of India when the full extent of the peril caused by the
rising of the Sepoys was first clearly understood. By the rising of
Delhi, and of the whole country down to Allahabad, the northern part of
India was entirely cut off from Calcutta, and was left wholly to its
own resources. Any help that could be spared from the capital was
needed for the menaced garrisons of Allahabad, Benares, and Agra, while
it was certain that the important stations of Cawnpore and Lucknow, in
the newly-annexed province of Oude, would at best be scarcely able to
defend themselves, and would in all probability urgently require
assistance. Thus the rebel city of Delhi, the center and focus of the
insurrection, was safe from any possibility of a British advance from
the south. Nor did it look as if the position of the English was much
better in the north. At Sealkote, Lahore, and many other stations, the
Sepoys mutinied, and the Sikh regiments were disturbed, and
semi-mutinous. It was at this all-important moment that the fidelity of
two or three of the great Sikh chieftains saved British India. Foremost
of them was the Rajah of Puttiala, who, when the whole Sikh nation was
wavering as to the course it should take, rode into the nearest British
station with only one retainer, and offered his whole force and his
whole treasury to the British government. A half-dozen other prominent
princes instantly followed the example; and from that moment Northern
India was not only safe, but was able to furnish troops for the siege
of Delhi. The Sikh regiments at once returned to their habitual state
of cheerful obedience, and served with unflinching loyalty and bravery
through the campaign.

Not a moment was lost, as it was all-important to make an appearance
before Delhi, and so, by striking at the heart of the insurrection, to
show the waverers all over India that we had no idea of giving up the
game. The main force was collected at Umballah, under General Anson.
Transport was hastily got together, and in the last week of May this
force moved forward, while a brigade from Meerut advanced to effect a
junction with it. With this latter force were Warrener's irregular
horse, which had returned only the evening before the advance from its
successful expedition to Nahdoor. On the 30th of May the Meerut force
under Brigadier-General Wilson came in contact with the enemy at
Ghazee-ud-deen-Nugghur, a village fifteen miles from Delhi, where there
was a suspension bridge across the Hindur. This fight, although
unimportant in itself, is memorable as being the first occasion upon
which the mutineers and the British troops met. Hitherto the Sepoys had
had it entirely their own way. Mutiny, havoc, murder, had gone on
unchecked; but now the tide was to turn, never to ebb again until the
Sepoy mutiny was drowned in a sea of blood. Upon this, their first
meeting with the white troops, the Sepoys were confident of success.
They were greatly superior in force; they had been carefully drilled in
the English system; they were led by their native regimental officers;
and they had been for so many years pampered and indulged by
government, that they regarded themselves, as being, man for man, fully
equal to the British. Thus, then, they began to fight with a confidence
of victory which, however great their superiority in numbers, was never
again felt by the mutineers throughout the war. Upon many subsequent
occasions they fought with extreme bravery, but it was the bravery of
despair; whereas the British soldiers were animated with a burning
desire for vengeance, and an absolute confidence of victory. Thus the
fight at Ghazee-ud-deen-Nugghur is a memorable one in the annals of
British India.

The mutineers, seeing the smallness of the British force, at first
advanced to the attack; but they were met with such fury by four
companies of the Sixtieth Rifles, supported by eight guns of the
artillery, by the Carbineers and Warrener's Horse, that, astounded and
dismayed, they broke before the impetuous onslaught, abandoned their
intrenchments, threw a way their arms, and fled, leaving five guns in
the hands of the victors, and in many cases not stopping in their
flight until they reached the gates of Delhi. The next day considerable
bodies of fresh troops came out to renew the attack; but the reports of
the fugitives of the day before, of the fury and desperation with which
the British troops were possessed, had already effected such an
impression that they did not venture upon close fighting, but after
engaging in an artillery duel at long distances, fell back again to
Delhi.

On the 7th of June the Meerut force joined that from Umballah, at
Alipore, a short march from Delhi; and the next morning the little
army, now under the command of Sir H. Barnard--for General Anson,
overwhelmed by work and responsibility, had died a few days before
advanced upon the capital of India, After four miles march they came at
Badulee-Ka-Serai upon the enemy's first line of defense, a strong
intrenched position, held by three thousand Sepoys with twelve guns.
These pieces of artillery were much heavier than the British field
guns, and as they opened a heavy fire, they inflicted considerable
damage upon our advancing troops. The British, however, were in no
humor for distant fighting; they panted to get at the murderers of
women and children--these men who had shot down in cold blood the
officers, whose only fault had been their too great kindness to, and
confidence in them. Orders were given to the Seventy-fifth to advance
at once and take the position; and that regiment, giving a tremendous
cheer, rushed forward with such impetuosity through the heavy fire
that, as at Ghazee-ud-deen-Nugghur, the Sepoys were seized with a
panic, and fled in wild haste from their intrenchments, leaving their
cannon behind them.

At the foot of the steep hill on which the signal tower stands, another
and stronger line of defense had been prepared; but the mutineers
stationed here were infected by the wild panic of the fugitives from
the first position, and so, deserting their position, joined in the
flight into the city.

The British troops had marched from their encampment at Alipore at one
in the morning, and by nine A.M. the last Sepoy disappeared within the
walls of the town, and the British flag flew out on the signal tower on
the Ridge, almost looking down upon the rebel city, and the troops took
up their quarters in the lines formerly occupied by the Thirty-eighth,
Fifty-fourth, and Seventy-fourth native regiments. As the English flag
blew out to the wind from the signal tower, a thrill of anxiety must
have been felt by every one in Delhi, from the emperor down to the
lowest street ruffian. So long as it waved there it was a proof that
the British Raj was not yet overthrown--that British supremacy,
although sorely shaken, still asserted itself--and that the day of
reckoning and retribution would, slowly perhaps, but none the less
surely, come for the blood-stained city. Not only in Delhi itself, but
over the whole of India, the eyes of the population were turned toward
that British flag on the Ridge. Native and British alike recognized the
fact that English supremacy in India depended upon its maintenance.
That England would send out large reinforcements all knew, but they
also knew that many an anxious week must elapse before the first
soldier from England could arrive within striking distance. If the
native leaders at Delhi, with the enormously superior forces at their
command, could not drive off their besiegers and pluck down the flag
from the Ridge, the time must come when, with the arrival of the
reinforcements, the tide would begin to flow against them. So India
argued, and waited for the result. The Delhi leaders, as well as the
English, felt the importance of the issue, and the one never relaxed
their desperate efforts to drive back the besiegers--the other with
astonishing tenacity held on against all odds; while scores of native
chiefs hesitated on the verge, waiting, until they saw the end of the
struggle at Delhi. It was called the siege of Delhi, but it should
rather have been called the siege of the Ridge, for it was our force
rather than that of the enemy which was besieged. Never before in the
history of the world did three thousand men sit down before a great
city inhabited by a quarter of a million bitterly hostile inhabitants,
and defended moreover by strong walls, a very powerful artillery, and a
well-drilled and disciplined force, at first amounting to some ten
thousand men, but swelled later on, as the mutineers poured in from all
quarters, to three times that force. Never during the long months which
the struggle lasted did we attempt to do more than to hold our own. The
city was open to the enemy at all sides, save where we held our
footing; large forces marched in and out of the town; provisions and
stores poured into it; and we can scarcely be said to have fired a shot
at it until our batteries opened to effect a breach a few days before
the final assault.

The troops with which Sir H. Barnard arrived before Delhi consisted of
the Seventy-fifth Regiment, six companies of the Sixtieth Rifles, the
First Bengal Fusiliers, six companies of the Second Fusiliers--both
composed of white troops--the Sirmoor battalion of Goorkhas, the Sixth
Dragoon Guards (the Carbineers), two squadrons of the Ninth Lancers,
and a troop or two of newly-raised irregular horse. The artillery
consisted of some thirty pieces, mostly light field-guns.

Upon the day following the occupation of the Ridge a welcome accession
of strength was received by the arrival of the Guides, a picked corps
consisting of three troops of cavalry and six companies of infantry.
This little force had marched five hundred and eighty miles in
twenty-two days, a rate of twenty-six miles a day, without a break--a
feat probably altogether without example, especially when it is
considered that it took place in India, and in the hottest time of the
year.

The Ridge, which occupies so important a place in the history of the
siege of Delhi, is a sharp backed hill, some half a mile long, rising
abruptly from the plain. From the top a splendid view of Delhi, and of
the country, scattered with mosques and tombs--the remains of older
Delhi--can be obtained. The cantonments lay at the back of this hill, a
few posts only, such as Hindoo Rao's house, being held in advance.
Until the work of building batteries and regularly commencing the siege
should begin, it would have been useless putting the troops
unnecessarily under the fire of the heavy guns of the city bastions.

When the troops had fairly taken possession of the old native lines on
the 8th of June many of them, as soon as dismissed from duty, made
their way up to the flagstaff tower, on the highest point of the Ridge,
to look down upon Delhi. Among those who did so were Major Warrener and
his two sons. Both uttered an exclamation of pleasure as the city came
into view:

"What a superb city!"

Delhi is indeed a glorious city as viewed from the Ridge. It is
surrounded by a lofty crenelated wall, strengthened with detached
martello towers, and with eleven bastions, each mounting nine guns, the
work of our own engineers, but in admirable architectural keeping with
the towers. Conspicuous, on a high table rock rising almost
perpendicularly in the heart of the city, is the Jumma Musjid, the
great mosque, a superb pile of building, with its domes and minarets.
To the left, as viewed from the Ridge, is the great mass of the king's
palace--a fortress in itself--with its lofty walls and towers, and with
its own mosques and minarets. These rise thickly, too, in other parts,
while near the palace the closely-packed houses cease, and lofty trees
rise alone there. The Ridge lies on the north of the city, and opposite
to it is the Cashmere gate, through which our storming parties would
rush later on; and away, a little to the right, is the Lahore gate,
through which the enemy's sorties were principally made. On the left of
the Ridge the ground is flat to the river, which sweeps along by the
wall of the town and palace. There are two bridges across it, and over
them the exulting mutineers were for weeks to pass into the city--not
altogether unpunished, for our guns carried that far, and were
sometimes able to inflict a heavy loss upon them as they passed, with
music playing and flags flying, into the town.

"A glorious city!" Ned Warrener said, as they looked down upon it.
"What a ridiculous handful of men we seem by the side of it! It is like
Tom Thumb sitting down to besiege the giant's castle. Why, we should be
lost if we got inside!"

"Yes, indeed, Ned," said his father; "there will be no possibility of
our storming that city until our numbers are greatly increased; for if
we scaled the walls by assault, which we could no doubt do, we should
have to fight our way through the narrow streets, with barriers and
barricades everywhere; and such a force as ours would simply melt away
before the fire from the housetops and windows. There is nothing so
terrible as street fighting; and drill and discipline are there of
comparatively little use. The enemy will naturally fight with the
desperation of rats in a hole: and it would be rash in the extreme for
us to make the attempt until we are sure of success. A disastrous
repulse here would entail the loss of all India. The news is worse and
worse every day from all the stations of the northwest; and as the
mutineers are sure to make for Delhi, the enemy will receive
reinforcements vastly more rapidly than we shall, and it will be all we
shall be able to do to hold our own here. We may be months before we
take Delhi."

"I hope they won't keep us here all that time," Dick said, "for cavalry
can't do much in a siege; besides, the ground is all cut up into
gardens and inclosures, and we could not act, even if we had orders to
do so."

"We may be very useful in going out to bring convoys in," Major
Warrener replied, "and to cut off convoys of the enemy, to scout
generally, and to bring in news; still, I agree with you, Dick, that I
hope we may be sent off for duty elsewhere. Hullo! what's that?"

As he spoke a sudden fire broke out from the walls and bastions; shot
and shell whizzed over their heads, many of them plunging down behind
the Ridge, among the troops who were engaged in getting up their tents;
while a crackling fire of musketry broke out in the gardens around
Hindoo Rao's house, our advanced post on the right front.

"A sortie!" exclaimed the major. "Come along, boys." And those who had
gathered around the flagstaff dashed down the hill to join their
respective corps. The Sixtieth Rifles, however, of whom two companies
held Hindoo Rao's, repulsed the sortie, and all calmed down again; but
the enemy's artillery continued to play, and it was evident that the
foe had it in his power to cause great annoyance to all our pickets on
the Ridge.

Fortunately our position could only be assailed on one side. Our
cavalry patrolled the plain as far as the river, and our rear was
covered by a canal, possessing but few bridges, and those easily
guarded. It was thus from our right and right front alone that serious
attacks could be looked for.

The next afternoon a heavy firing broke out near Hindoo Rao's house,
and the troops got under arms. The enemy were evidently in force.

An aid-de-camp rode up:

"Major Warrener, you will move up your troop, and fall in with the
Guide cavalry."

At a trot Warrener's Horse moved off toward the right. The guns on the
walls were now all at work, and our artillery at Hindoo Rao's were
answering them, and the shots from a light battery placed by the
flagstaff went singing away toward the right.

Warrener's Horse were now at the station assigned to them. The musketry
fire in the gardens and broken ground near Hindoo Rao's was very heavy,
and a large body of the enemy's cavalry was seen extending into the
plain, with the intention of pushing forward on the right of the Ridge.

"You will charge the enemy at once," an aid-de-camp said; and with a
cheer the Guides and Warrener's Horse dashed forward.

It was the moment they had longed for; and the fury with which they
charged was too much for the enemy, who, although enormously superior
in numbers, halted before they reached them, and fled toward the city,
with the British mixed with them, in a confused mass of fighting,
struggling men. The pursuit lasted almost to the walls of the city.
Then the guns on the wall opened a heavy fire, and the cavalry fell
back as the balls plunged in among them.

There were but two or three hurt, but among them was Lieutenant Quentin
Battye, a most gallant young officer, a mere lad, but a general
favorite alike with other officers and the men. Struck by a round shot
in the body, his case was hopeless from the first; he kept up his
spirits to the last, and said with a smile to an old school-friend who
came in to bid him farewell:

"Well, old fellow, _Dulce et decorum est pro patriá mori_, and you see
it's my case."

Such was the spirit which animated every officer and man of the little
army before Delhi; and it is no wonder that, day after day, and week
after week, they were able to repulse the furious attacks of the
ever-increasing enemy.

On the 9th, 10th, and 11th fresh sorties were made. Before daybreak on
the 13th a large force of the mutineers came out quietly, and worked
their way round to the left, and just as it began to be light, made a
furious assault on the company of the Seventy-fifth who were holding
the flagstaff battery. Warrener's Horse were encamped on the old
parade-ground, immediately behind and below the flagstaff, and the men
leaped from their beds on hearing this outburst of firing close to them.

There was a confused shouting, and then the major's voice was heard
above the din:

"Breeches and boots, revolvers and swords, nothing else. Quick, lads;
fall in on foot. We must save the battery at all hazards."

In a few seconds the men came rushing out, hastily buckling on their
belts, with their pouches of revolver ammunition, and fell into rank;
and in less than two minutes from the sound of the first shot the whole
were dashing up the steep ascent to the battery, where the tremendous
musketry fire told them how hardly the Seventy-fifth were pressed.

"Keep line, lads; steady!" shouted the major as they neared the crest.
"Now get ready for a charge; go right at them. Don't fire a shot till
you are within five paces, then give them three barrels of your
revolvers; then at them with the sword; and keep your other shots in
case you are pressed. Hurrah!"

With a thundering cheer the gallant little band fell on the mutineers,
many of whom had already made their way into the battery, where the
handful of white troops were defending themselves with desperation.
Struck with terror and surprise at this sudden attack, and by the
shower of pistol bullets which swept among them, the enemy wavered and
broke at the fierce onslaught, sword in hand, of these new foes; while
the Seventy-fifth, raising a shout of joy at the arrival of their
friends, took the offensive, swept before them the mutineers who had
made their way into the battery, and, joining the irregulars, drove the
mutineers, astounded and panic-stricken at the fierceness of the
assault, pell-mell before them down the hill.

The reinforcements had arrived but just in time, for Captain Knox, who
commanded at this post, and nearly half his force, had fallen before
Major Warrener's band had come up to their aid. The next day, and the
next, and the next, the sorties from the city were repeated, with
ever-increasing force and fury, each fresh body of mutineers who came
into the city being required to testify their loyalty to the emperor by
heading the attack on his foes. Desperately the little British force
had to fight to maintain their position, and their losses were so
serious, the number of their enemies so large, so rapidly increasing,
that it was clear to all that the most prodigious efforts would be
necessary to enable them to hold on until reinforcements arrived, and
that all idea of an early capture of the city must be abandoned.

Warrener's Horse, however, had no share in these struggles, for on the
day after the fight at the flagstaff a report spread among them that
they were again to start upon an expedition. A note had been brought in
by a native to the effect that several English ladies and gentlemen
were prisoners at the fortress of Bithri, in Oude, some hundred and
fifty miles from Delhi. The instructions given to Major Warrener were
that he was to obtain their release by fair means, if possible; if not,
to carry the place and release them, if it appeared practicable to do
so with his small force; that he was then to press on to Cawnpore.
Communications had ceased with Sir H. Wheeler, the officer in command
there; but it was not known whether he was actually besieged, or
whether it was merely a severance of the telegraph wire. If he could
join Sir H. Wheeler he was to do so; if not, he was to make his way on,
to form part of the force which General Havelock was collecting at
Allahabad for an advance to Cawnpore and Lucknow. It would be a long
and perilous march, but the troops were admirably mounted; and as they
would have the choice of routes open to them, and would travel fast, it
was thought that they might hope to get through in safety, and their
aid would be valuable either to Sir H. Wheeler or to General Havelock.

It was a lovely moonlight evening when they started. During their stay
at Delhi they had, profiting by their previous expedition, got rid of
every article of accouterment that could make a noise. Wooden scabbards
had taken the place of steel, and these were covered in flannel, to
prevent rattle should they strike against a stirrup. The water bottles
were similarly cased in flannel, and the rings and chains of the bits
in leather. Nothing, save the sound of the horses' hoofs, was to be
heard as they marched, and even these were muffled by the deep dust
that lay on the road. Each man, moreover, carried four leathern shoes
for his horse, with lacings for fastening them. Under the guidance of
two natives, the troop made their first six stages without the
slightest adventure. The country was flat, and the villages sparsely
scattered. The barking of the dogs brought a few villagers to their
doors, but in those troubled times the advantages of non-interference
were obvious and the peasant population in general asked nothing better
than to be let alone.

The troop always marched by night, and rested by day at villages at a
short distance from the main road. Upon a long march like that before
them, it would have been impossible to maintain secrecy by resting in
woods. Food for men and horses was requisite, and this could only be
obtained in villages. So far no difficulty had been met with. The head
men of the villages willingly provided provender for the horses, while
flour, milk, eggs, and fowls were forthcoming in sufficient quantities
for the men, everything being strictly paid for.

The last night march was as successful as the preceding, and crossing
the river by a bridge at Banat, they halted some five miles from the
fortified house, or castle, which was the immediate object of their
expedition. They were now in Oude, and had, since crossing the river,
avoided the villages as much as possible, for in this province these
are little fortresses. Each is strongly walled and guarded, and petty
wars and feuds are common occurrences. The people are warlike, and used
to arms, and without artillery even a small village could not be
carried without considerable loss. The troops therefore had made
circuits round the villages, and bivouacked at the end of their march
in a wood, having brought with them a supply of food and grain from the
village where they had halted on the previous day. They had not slept
many hours when one of the vedettes came in to say that there was a
sound of beating of drums in a large village not far away, and that
bodies of peasantry had arrived from other villages, and that he
believed an attack was about to take place.

Major Warrener at once took his measures for defense. The first troop
were to defend the front of their position with their carbines against
an attack. The second troop were to move round to the extreme end of
the tope, were to mount there, and when the enemy began to waver before
the musketry fire, were to sweep round and take them in flank. Major
Warrener himself took command of the dismounted troop, and posted the
men along behind a bank with a hedge, a short distance in front of the
trees. Then, each man knowing his place, they fell back out of the
scorching sunshine to the shade of the tree's, and waited. In half an
hour a loud drumming was heard, and a motley body, two or three
thousand strong, of peasants in a confused mass, with a tattered banner
or two, made their appearance.

The "Avengers," as Warrener's Horse called themselves, took their
places behind the bank, and quietly awaited the attack. The enemy
opened a heavy fire, yet at a long distance. "Answer with a shot or
two, occasionally," Major Warrener had ordered, "as they will then aim
at the bank instead of tiring into the wood. We don't want the horses
hurt."

Slowly and steadily the rifled carbines spoke out in answer to the
heavy fire opened on the bank, and as almost every man of Warrener's
Horse was a sportsman and a good shot, very few shots were thrown away.
The enemy beat their drums more and more loudly, and shouted
vociferously as they advanced. When they were within three hundred
yards Major Warrener gave the word:

"Fire fast, but don't throw away a shot."

Astonished at the accuracy and deadliness of the fire which was poured
into them by their still invisible foe, the enemy wavered. Their
leaders, shouting loudly, and exposing themselves bravely in front,
called them on, as slowly, and with heavy loss, the main body arrived
within a hundred yards of the hedge. Those in front were, however,
falling so fast that no efforts of their leaders could get them to
advance further, and already a retrograde movement had begun, when
there was a yell of fear, as the mounted troop, hitherto unnoticed,
charged furiously down upon their flank.

"Empty your rifles, and then to horse," shouted Major Warrener; and the
men dashed back through the tope to the spot in the rear, where four of
their number were mounting guard over the horses.

In three minutes they were back again on the plain, but the fight was
over. The enemy in scattered bodies were in full flight, and the
cavalry, dashing through them, were cutting them down, or emptying
their revolvers among them.

"Make for the village," Major Warrener said. "Gallop!"

At full speed the troop dashed across the plain to the village, whose
gate they reached just as a large body of the fugitives were arriving.
These gave a yell as this fresh body of horsemen fell upon them; a few
tried to enter the gates of the village, but the main body scattered
again in flight. The cavalry dashed in through the gates, and sabered
some men who were trying to close them. A few shots were fired inside,
but resistance was soon over, and the male inhabitants who remained
dropped over the wall and sought refuge in flight. A bugle call now
summoned the other troop from pursuit, and the women and children being
at once, without harm or indignity, turned out of the village, the
conquerors took possession.

"This will be our headquarters for a day or two," the major said, as
the troop gathered round him; "there is an abundance of food for horse
and man, and we could stand a siege if necessary."

Warrener's Horse was the happiest of military bodies. On duty the
discipline was severe, and obedience prompt and ready. Off duty, there
was, as among the members of a regimental mess, no longer any marked
distinction of rank; all were officers and gentlemen, good fellows and
good comrades. The best house in the village was set aside for Major
Warrener, and the rest of the squadron dispersed in the village,
quartering themselves in parties of threes and fours among the
cleanest-looking of the huts. Eight men were at once put on sentry on
the walls, two on each side. Their horses were first looked to, fed and
watered, and soon the village assumed as quiet an aspect as if the
sounds of war had never been heard in the land. At dark all was life
and animation. A dozen great fires blazed in the little square in the
center of the village, and here the men fried their chickens, or,
scraping out a quantity of red-hot embers, baked their chupatties, with
much laughter and noise.

Then there was comparative quiet, the sentries on the walls were
trebled, and outposts placed at a couple of hundred yards beyond the
gates. Men lighted their pipes and chatted round the fires, while Major
Warrener and a dozen of the oldest and most experienced of his comrades
sat together and discussed the best course to be pursued.



CHAPTER VIII.

A DESPERATE DEFENSE.


"Well, major, what do you think of the situation?" one of the senior
captains asked, after the pipes had begun to draw.

"It looks rather bad, Crawshay. There's no disguising the fact. We
shall have the country up in force; they will swarm out like wasps from
every village, and by to-morrow night we shall have, at the very least,
ten thousand of them round us. Against a moderate force we could defend
the village; but it is a good-sized place, and we have only twenty-five
men for each wall, and a couple of hundred would be none too little."

"But surely, major, we might prevent their scaling the walls. It is not
likely that they would attack on all sides at once, and without
artillery they could do little."

"They will have artillery," said Captain Wilkins, an officer, who had
served for some time in Oude. "These talookdars have all got artillery.
They were ordered to give it up, and a good many old guns were sent in;
but there is not one of these fellows who cannot bring a battery at the
very least into the field. By to-morrow night, or at the latest next
day, we may have some thirty or forty pieces of artillery round this
place."

"It will not do to be caught like rats in a trap here," Major Warrener
said. "For to-night it is a shelter, after that it would be a trap. But
about Bithri; I don't like to give up the idea of rescuing our
country-people there. Still, although the matter has been left to my
discretion, I cannot risk losing the whole squadron."

"What is the castle like, Warrener? have you heard?" Captain Crawshay
asked.

"A square building, with high walls, and a deep moat. Beyond the moat
is another wall with a strong outwork and gate. There are believed to
be a couple of guns on the outwork, and eight on the inner wall."

"Do you think they will attack us to-morrow, Wilkins? You know these
Oude fellows."

"They will muster strong, no doubt, and be prepared to attack us if we
sally out; but I should think if we remain quiet they would wait till
next day, so as to gather as many men and guns as possible."

"Then you think we ought to be out of this early?" Major Warrener asked.

"I don't say we ought to be, major; I only say we ought to be if we
intend to get off without having to fight our way through them. I
suppose the Bithri man is sure to come out to attack us?"

"Oh, no doubt," Major Warrener answered; "he has openly declared
against us."

"The thing would be to pop into his place, just as he is thinking of
popping in here," Captain Dunlop said, laughing.

"That's a good idea, Dunlop--a capital idea, if it could be carried
out. The question is, is it possible?"

Then gradually the plan was elaborated, until it finally was definitely
arranged as afterward carried into execution.

The night passed quietly, but fires could be seen blazing in many
directions over the plain, and occasionally a distant sound of drums,
or a wild shout, came faintly on the still air. Next morning Major
Warrener started early, with half a troop, to reconnoiter the country
toward Bithri. The party got to a spot within two miles of the castle,
and had a look at it and its surroundings, and were able to discern
that a great deal of bustle was going on around it, and that
considerable numbers of horse and footmen were gathered near the gate.
Then they rode rapidly back again, having to run the gantlet of several
bodies of natives, who fired at them. One party indeed had already
placed themselves on the road, about a mile from the village; but
Captain Kent, seeing with his glass what was going on, rode out with
his troop to meet the little reconnoitering party, and the enemy,
fearing cavalry on the open, fell back after a scattering fire, but not
quickly enough to prevent the horse from cutting up their rear somewhat
severely.

At eight o'clock large bodies of men could, be seen approaching the
village. These, when they arrived within gunshot, discharged their long
matchlocks at the walls, with much shouting and gesticulation. Major
Warrener's order was that not a shot should be returned, as it was
advisable to keep them in ignorance as to the long range of the Enfield
carbine.

"Let all get their breakfasts," he said, "and let the horses be well
groomed and attended to; we shall want all their speed to-morrow."

At eleven some elephants, surrounded by a large body of horse, could be
seen across the plain.

"Here come some of the talookdars," Captain Wilkins said. "I suspect
those elephants are dragging guns behind them."

"Yes, the fun will soon begin now," Captain Dunlop answered. "Now,
Dick," he went on to young Warrener, "you are going to see a little
native artillery practice. These fellows are not like the Delhi
pandies, who are artillerymen trained by ourselves; here you will see
the real genuine native product; and as the manufacture of shell is in
its infancy, and as the shot seldom fits the gun within half an inch,
or even an inch, you will see something erratic. They may knock holes
in the wall, but it will take them a long time to cut enough holes near
each other to make a breach. There, do you see? there are another lot
of elephants and troops coming from the left. We shall have the whole
countryside here before long. Ah! that's just as we expected; they are
going to take up their position on that rising ground, which you
measured this morning, and found to be just five hundred yards off. Our
carbines make very decent practice at that distance, and you will see
we shall astonish them presently."

The two forces with elephants reached the rising ground at the same
time, and there was great waving of flags, letting off of muskets, and
beating of drums, while the multitude of footmen cheered and danced.

By this time the greater portion of the little garrison were gathered
behind the wall. This was some two feet thick, of rough sun-dried
bricks and mud. It was about fourteen feet high. Against it behind was
thrown up a bank of earth five feet high, and in the wall were
loopholes, four feet above the bank. At the corners of the walls, and
at intervals along them, were little towers, each capable of holding
about four men, who could fire over the top of the walls. In these
towers, and at the loopholes, Major Warrener placed twenty of his best
shots. There was a great deal of moving about on the rising ground;
then the footmen cleared away in front, and most of the elephants
withdrew, and then were seen ten guns ranged side by side. Close behind
them were two elephants, with gaudy trappings, while others, less
brilliantly arrayed, stood further back.

Major Warrener was in one of the little towers, with his second in
command, and his two sons to act as his orderlies.

"Run, boys, and tell the men in the other towers to fire at the howdahs
of the chief elephants; let the rest of them fire at the artillery.
Tell them to take good aim, and fire a volley; I will give the word.
Make haste, I want first shot; that will hurry them, and they will fire
wild."

The boys started at a run, one each way, and in a minute the
instructions were given. The major glanced down, saw that every carbine
was leveled, and gave the word:

"Fire!"

The sound of the volley was answered in a few seconds by a yell of
dismay from the enemy. One of the state elephants threw up its trunk,
and started at a wild gallop across the plain, and a man was seen to
fall from the howdah as it started. There was also confusion visible in
the howdahs of the other elephants. Several men dropped at the guns;
some, surprised and startled, fired wildly, most of the balls going
high over the village; while others, whose loading was not yet
complete, ran back from the guns. Only one ball hit the wall, and made
a ragged hole of a foot in diameter.

"That's sickened them for the present," Captain Dunlop said, "I expect
they'll do nothing now till it gets a bit cooler, for even a nigger
could hardly stand this. Ah, we are going to give them another volley,
this time a stronger one."

Fifty carbines spoke out this time, and the wildest confusion was
caused among the elephants and footmen, who were now trying to drag the
guns back. Again, a third volley, and then the garrison were dismissed
from their posts, and told to lie down and keep cool till wanted again.

Half an hour later another large train of elephants, ten of them with
guns, came from the direction of Bithri, and proceeded to a tope at
about a mile from the village. There the elephants of the first comers
had gathered after the stampede, and presently a great tent was raised
in front of the tope.

"Bithri is going to do it in style," Dick laughed to his brother. "I
shouldn't mind some iced sherbet at present, if he has got any to
spare."

"Look, Dick, there is a movement; they are getting the guns in position
on that knoll a little to the right, and a hundred yards or so in front
of their tent."

Dick took the field-glass which his brother handed him.

"Yes, we shall have a salute presently; but they won't breach the wall
this afternoon at that distance."

Twenty guns opened fire upon the village, and the shot flew overhead,
or buried themselves in the ground in front, or came with heavy thuds
against the wall, or, in some instances, crashed into the upper parts
of the houses. After an hour's firing it slackened a little, and
finally died out, for the heat was tremendous.

At three o'clock there was a move again; ten of the guns were brought
forward to a point about a thousand yards from the wall, while ten
others were taken round and placed on the road, at about the same
distance, so as to command the gate. Again the fire opened, and this
time more effectually. Again the men were called to the loopholes. The
greater portion of them were armed, not with the government carbines,
but with sporting rifles, shortened so as to be carried as carbines;
and although none of the weapons were sighted for more than six hundred
yards, all with sufficient elevation could send balls far beyond that
distance. Ten of the best-armed men were told off against each battery
of artillery, and a slow, steady fire was opened. It was effective,
for, with the field-glasses, men could be seen to fall frequently at
the guns, and the fire became more hurried, but much wilder and even
less accurate, than it had hitherto been. The rest of the men, with the
exception of ten told off for special duty, were dispersed round the
walls, to check the advance of the footmen, who crept daringly to
within a short distance, and kept up a rolling fire around the village.

At five o'clock half of the men were taken off the walls, and several
were set to build a wall four feet high, in a semicircle just inside
the gate, which had been struck by several shots, and showed signs of
yielding. Two or three of the nearest huts were demolished rapidly,
there being plenty of native tools in the village, and a rough wall was
constructed of the materials; a trench five feet deep and eight feet
wide was simultaneously dug across the entrance. At six o'clock, just
as the wall was finished, an unlucky shot struck one of the doorposts,
and the gate fell, dragging the other post with it. A distant yell of
triumph came through the air.

The gates fell partly across the trench. "Now, lads, push them back a
bit if you can; if not, knock the part over the ditch to pieces; it's
half-smashed already."

It was easier to knock the gate, already splintered with shot, to
pieces, than to remove it.

"Now, Dunlop, fetch one of those powder-bags we brought for blowing up
the gates; put it in the trench, with a long train. You attend to the
train, and when I give the word, fire it. Bring up those two big pots
of boiling water to the gate-towers. Captain Kent, thirty men of your
troop will hold the other three walls; but if you hear my dog-whistle,
every man is to leave his post and come on here at a run. Thirty men
more will man this front wall and towers. They are to direct their fire
to check the crowd pushing forward behind those immediately assaulting.
The remaining forty will fire through the loopholes as long as
possible, and will then form round the breastwork and hold it to the
last. One man in each gate-tower, when the enemy reach the gate, will
lay down his carbine, and attend to the boiling water. Let them each
have a small pot as a ladle. But let them throw the water on those
pressing toward the gate, not on those who have reached it. Those are
our affair."

In five minutes every man was at his post, and a sharp fire from the
seventy men along the front wall opened upon the masses of the enemy,
who came swarming toward the gate. The effect on the crowd, many
thousand strong, was very severe, for each shot told; but the Mussulmen
of Oude are courageous, and the rush toward the gate continued. Fast as
those in front fell, the gaps were imperceptible in the swarming crowd.
Major Warreners band of forty men were called away from the loopholes,
and were drawn up behind the ditch; and as the head of the assaulting
crowd neared the gate volley after volley rang out, and swept away the
leaders, foremost among whom were a number of Sepoys, who, when their
regiments mutinied, had returned to their homes, and now headed the
peasantry in their attack upon the British force. When the dense mass
arrived within thirty yards of the gate Major Warrener gave the word,
and a retreat was made behind the breastwork. On, with wild shouts,
came the assailants; the first few saw the trench, and leaped it; those
who followed fell in, until the trench was full; then the crowd swept
in unchecked. The defenders had laid by their carbines now, and had
drawn their revolvers. They were divided into two lines, who were
alternately to take places in front and fire, while those behind loaded
their revolvers. The din, as the circle inclosed by the low wall filled
with the assailants, was prodigious; the sharp incessant crack of the
revolver; the roll of musketry from the walls; the yells of the enemy;
the shrieks, which occasionally rose outside the gate as the men in the
towers scattered the boiling water broadcast over them, formed a chaos.
With the fury and despair of cornered wild beasts, the enemy fought,
striving to get over the wall which so unexpectedly barred their way;
but their very numbers and the pressure from behind hampered their
efforts.

If a man in the front line of defenders had emptied his revolver before
the one behind him had reloaded, he held his place with the sword.

"The wall's giving from the pressure!" Dick exclaimed to his father;
and the latter put his whistle to his lips, and the sound rang out
shrill and high above the uproar.

A minute later the front of the wall tottered and fell. Then Major
Warrener held up his hand, and Captain Dunlop, who had stood all the
time quietly watching him, fired the train. A thundering explosion, a
flight of bodies and fragments of bodies through the air, a yell of
terror from the enemy, and then, as those already rushing triumphantly
through the breach stood paralyzed, the British fell upon them sword in
hand; the men from the other walls came rushing up, eager to take their
part in the fray, and the enemy inside the gate were either cut down or
driven headlong through it!

The crowd beyond, already shaken by the murderous fire that the party
on the walls kept up unceasingly upon them, while they stood unable to
move from the jam in front, had recoiled through their whole mass at
the explosion, and the sight of the handful of their comrades flying
through the gate completed the effect. With yells of rage and
discomfiture, each man turned and fled, while the defenders of the
gateway passed out, and joined their fire to that of their comrades
above on the flying foe.

"Thank God, it is all over!" Major Warrener said; "but it has been hot
while it lasted. Have we had many casualties?"

The roll was soon called, and it was found that the besieged had
escaped marvelously. One young fellow, a civil servant, had been shot
through the head, by a stray ball entering the loophole through which
he was firing. Thirteen of the defenders of the gateway were wounded
with pistol shots, or with sword cuts; but none of the injuries were of
a serious character.

It was now rapidly becoming dark, and Major Warrener mounted one of the
towers to have a last look.

The enemy had rallied at a distance from the walls, and two fresh
bodies of troops, with elephants, were to be seen approaching from the
distance.

"That is all right," he said. "They will wait, and renew the attack
to-morrow."

An hour afterward it was night. The moon had not risen yet, and Major
Warrener had a huge bonfire lighted outside the gate, with posts and
solid beams from the fallen gates and from the houses.

"That will burn for hours," he said, "quite long enough for our
purpose."

Lights could be seen scattered all over the side of the plain on which
the tents were erected, some of them coming up comparatively close to
the walls. On the road in front, but far enough to be well beyond the
light of the fire, voices could be heard, and occasionally a shout that
they would finish with the infidel dogs to-morrow rose on the air.
Evidently by the low buzz of talk there were a large number here, and
probably the guns had been brought closer, to check any attempt on the
part of the little garrison to dash through their enemies. The blazing
fire, however, throwing as it did a bright light upon the empty gateway
through which they must pass, showed that at present, at least, the
besieged had no idea of making their escape.

At nine o'clock the whole of the garrison stood to their horses. Not
only had their feet been muffled with the leather shoes, but cloths, of
which there were plenty in the village, had been wound round them,
until their footfalls would, even on the hardest road, have been
noiseless. Then Major Warrener led the way to the spot where ten men
had been at work during the afternoon.

At this point, which was on the side furthest from that upon which was
the main camp of the enemy, a clump of trees and bushes grew close to
the wall outside; behind them a hole in the wall, wide enough and high
enough for a horse to pass through easily, had been made, and the ditch
behind had been filled up with rubbish. There was no word spoken; every
one had received his orders, and knew what to do; and as silently as
phantoms the troop passed through, each man leading his horse. Once
outside the bushes, they formed fours and went forward, still leading
their horses-as these were less likely to snort with their masters at
their heads.

Ten minutes' walking convinced them that they had little to fear, and
that no guards had been set on that side. It was regarded by the enemy
as so certain that the English would not abandon their horses and fly
on foot, only to be overtaken and destroyed the next day, that they had
only thought it necessary to watch the gateway through which, as they
supposed, the British must, if at all, escape on horseback.

The troop now mounted, and trotted quietly away, making a wide detour,
and then going straight toward Bithri. The moon had risen; and when,
about a mile and a half in front, they could see the castle, Major
Warrener, who with Captain Kent and the native guides was riding ahead,
held up his hand. The troop came to a halt.

"There are some bullock-carts just ahead. Take the mufflings off your
horse's feet and ride on by yourself," he said to one of the native
guides, "and see what is in the wagons, and where they are going."

The man did as ordered, but he needed no questions. The wagons were
full of wounded men going to Bithri. He passed on with a word of
greeting, turned his horse when he reached a wood a little in front,
and allowed them to pass, and then rode back to the troop.

"Four bullock-carts full of wounded, sahib."

"The very thing," Major Warrener exclaimed; "nothing could be more
lucky."

Orders were passed down the line that they were to ride along until the
leaders were abreast of the first cart, then to halt and dismount
suddenly. The drivers were to be seized, gagged, and bound. The wounded
were not to be injured.

"These men are not mutinous Sepoys, with their hands red with the blood
of women," Major Warrener said; "they are peasants who have fought
bravely for their country, and have done their duty, according to their
light."



CHAPTER IX.

SAVE BY A TIGER.


The drivers of the bullock-carts were startled at the noiseless
appearance by their side of a body of horsemen; still more startled,
when suddenly that phantom-like troop halted and dismounted. The rest
was like a dream; in an instant they were seized, bound, and gagged,
and laid down in the field at some distance from the road; one of them,
however, being ungagged, and asked a few questions before being finally
left. The wounded, all past offering the slightest resistance, were
still more astonished when their captors, whom the moonlight now showed
to be white, instead of cutting their throats as they expected, lifted
them tenderly and carefully from the wagons, and laid them down on a
bank a short distance off.

"Swear by the Prophet not to call for aid, or to speak, should any one
pass the road, for one hour!" was the oath administered to each, and
all who were still conscious swore to observe it. Then with the empty
wagons the troops proceeded on their way. At the last clump of trees, a
quarter of a mile from the castle, there was another halt. The troop
dismounted, led their horses some little distance from the road, and
tied them to the trees. Twenty men remained as a guard. Four of the
others wrapped themselves up so as to appear at a short distance like
natives, and took their places at the bullocks' heads, and the rest
crowded into the wagons, covering themselves with their cloaks to hide
their light uniforms. Then the bullocks were again set in motion across
the plain. So careless were the garrison that they were not even
challenged as they approached the gate of the outworks, and without a
question the gate swung back.

"More wounded!" the officer on guard said. "This is the third lot.
Those children of Sheitan must have been aided by their father. Ah,
treachery!" he cried, as, the first cart moving into the moonlight
beyond the shadow of the gateway, he saw the white faces of the
supposed wounded.

There was a leap from the nearest driver upon him, and he was felled to
the ground. But the man at the open gate had heard the cry, and drew a
pistol and fired it before he could be reached. Then the British leaped
from the carts, and twenty of them scattered through the works, cutting
down those who offered resistance and disarming the rest. These were
huddled into the guardroom, and five men with cocked revolvers placed
at the door, with orders to shoot them down at the first sign of
movement.

The garrison in the castle itself had been alarmed by the shots; and
shouts were heard, and loud orders, and the sentries over the gate
discharged their muskets. There was little time given them to rally,
however; for Captain Kent, with four of his men, had, on leaping from
the cart, made straight across the drawbridge over the moat, for the
gateway, to which they attached the petards which they had brought with
them. Then they ran back to the main body, who stood awaiting the
explosion. In a few seconds it came, and then with a cheer the troops
dashed across the drawbridge, and in through the splintered gate. There
was scarcely any resistance. Taken utterly by surprise, and being
numerically inferior to their assailants--for nearly all the fighting
men had gone out with their lord--the frightened retainers tried to
hide themselves rather than to resist, and were speedily disarmed and
gathered in the courtyard.

Major Warrener, informed by the bullock drivers of the quarter in which
the Europeans were confined, followed by a dozen men, made his way
straight to it, and had the delight of being greeted by the voices of
his countrymen and women. These were, as reported, three officers and
five ladies, all of whom were absolutely bewildered by the surprise and
suddenness of their rescue.

There was no time for explanation. The stables were ransacked and eight
of the rajah's best horses taken. Then, when all was ready for
starting, Major Warrener proceeded to the door of the women's
apartments. Here, in obedience to the order he had sent her, the wife
of the talookdar, veiled from head to foot, and surrounded by her
attendants, stood to await the orders of her captor.

"Madam," said Captain Wilkins, who spoke the dialect in use in Oude,
"Major Warrener, the British officer in command, bids me tell you that
this castle, with you and all that it contains, are in his power, and
that he might give it to the flames and carry you off as hostage. But
he will not do this. The Rajah of Bithri is a brave man, but he is
wrong to fight against fate. The English Raj will prevail again, and
all who have rebelled will be punished. We treat him as a brave but
mistaken enemy; and as we have spared his castle and his family, so we
hope that he in turn will behave kindly to any Englishman or woman who
may fall into his hands or may ask his aid. Lastly, let no one leave
this castle till daybreak, for whoever does so we will slay without
mercy."

Then, turning round again, Warrener and his companions returned to the
courtyard. The moment the castle was entered and opposition quelled,
half the troops had run back for the horses, and in twenty minutes from
the arrival of the bullock-carts at the gateway of Bithri the last of
its captors filed out from its walls and trotted off into the darkness.
Day broke before any of the inhabitants of Bithri dared issue from its
walls. Then a horseman took the news on to the camp. The artillery,
increased now to thirty-six guns, had already opened upon the village
ere he reached the great tent on the plain. The rajah could not credit
the intelligence that the enemy had escaped, that his castle had been
attacked and carried, and the white prisoners released; but his
surprise and fury were overpowered by the delight he felt at the news
that his women and children were safe and his ancestral dwelling
uninjured. "The English are a great people," he said, stroking his
beard; then, issuing from his tent, he told the news. Like wildfire it
ran through the camp, and as none of the thousands gathered there had
his feelings of gratitude and relief to soften their anger and
disappointment, the fury of the multitude was unbounded.

With a wild rush they made for the gate-almost blocked with their
dead-scoured the little village, and soon discovered the hole through
which the besieged had escaped. Then with wild yells three thousand
horsemen set off in pursuit; but it was six o'clock now, and the
fugitives had got seven hours' start. The Rajah of Bithri's contingent
took no part in the pursuit. On issuing from his tent he had, after
telling the news, briefly given orders for his tents to be struck and
for all his troops to return at once to the castle, toward which he
himself, accompanied by his bodyguard, set out on his elephant of state.

Major Warrener and his troops had no fear of pursuit. New foes might be
met; but with horses fresh and in good condition, and six hours'
start--for they were confident that no pursuit could commence before
daybreak at the earliest--they felt safe, from the enemy who had just
attacked them, especially as these could not know the direction which
they were pursuing, and would believe that their aim would be to return
with their rescued friends to Delhi, instead of proceeding through the
heart of Oude. The party whom they had found at Bithri consisted of Mr.
Hartford, a deputy commissioner, with his wife and two daughters; of a
Mrs. Pearson and her sister, the former the wife of a district
magistrate, who had been absent on duty when the rising at the little
station at which they lived took place; and of Captain Harper and
Lieutenant Jones, who were the officers of the detachment there. The
men, native cavalry, had ridden off without injuring their officers,
but the fanatical people of the place had killed many of the residents
and fired their bungalows. Some had escaped on horseback or in
carriages; and the present party, keeping together, had, when near
Bithri, been seized and brought in to the chief, who intended to take
them with him to Lucknow, when--an event of which he daily expected
news--the little body of English there were destroyed by the forces
gathering round them. The captives had heard what was doing, both at
Lucknow and Cawnpore. At the latter place not only had the native
troops mutinied, but the Rajah of Bithoor, Nana Sahib, whom the English
had regarded as a firm friend, had joined them. Sir Hugh Wheeler, with
the officers of the revolted regiments the civilians of the station,
and forty or fifty white troops, having some eight hundred women and
children in their charge, were defending a weak position against
thousands of the enemy, provided with artillery.

When after riding thirty miles, the party stopped at daybreak at a
ruined temple standing in its grove at a distance from the main road,
Major Warrener called his officers into council, to determine what was
the best course to adopt under the circumstances. Should they dash
through the lines of the besiegers of Cawnpore, or should they make for
Agra, or endeavor to join the force which was being collected at
Allahabad to march to their relief?

Finally, and very reluctantly, the latter course was decided upon. It
was agreed--and the truth of their conclusion was proved by the fact
that throughout the mutiny there was no single instance of the rebels,
however numerous, carrying a position held by any body of
Englishmen--that Sir Hugh Wheeler and his force could probably hold the
intrenchments against any assault that the enemy could make, and that
if forced to surrender it would probably be from want of supplies. In
that case the arrival of a hundred men would be a source of weakness
rather than of strength. The reinforcement would not be of sufficient
strength to enable the garrison, incumbered as it was with women and
children, to cut its way out, while there would be a hundred more
mouths to fill. It was therefore resolved to change their course, to
avoid Cawnpore, and to make direct for Allahabad, with the news of the
urgent strait in which Sir Hugh Wheeler was placed, and of the
necessity for an instant advance to his relief.

Cawnpore was now but forty miles away, and Lucknow was about the same
distance, but in a different direction; and as they stretched
themselves on the ground and prepared for sleep, they could distinctly
hear the dull, faint sounds that told of a heavy artillery fire. At
which of the stations, or if at both, the firing was going on, they
could not tell; but in fact it was at Cawnpore, as this was the 25th of
June, and the siege of the Lucknow Residency did not begin in earnest
until the 30th of that month.

The course had now to be decided upon, and maps were consulted, and it
was determined to cross the river at Sirapore. It was agreed, too, that
they should, at the first village they passed through that evening,
question the inhabitants as to the bodies of rebels moving about, and
find out whether any large number were stationed at any of the bridges.

At nine o'clock in the evening they were again in the saddle, and an
hour later halted at a village. There several of the men were examined
separately, and their stories agreed that there were no large bodies of
Sepoys on the line by which they proposed to travel, but that most of
the talookdars were preparing to march to Lucknow and Cawnpore, when
the British were destroyed. Having thus learned that the bridge by
which they intended to cross was open to them, the troop again
proceeded on their way, leaving the village lost in astonishment as to
where this body of British horse could have come from.

Upon this night's ride Ned and Dick Warrener were on rearguard--that is
to say, they rode together some two hundred yards behind the rest of
the squadron.

An hour after leaving the village, as they were passing through a thick
grove of trees some figures rose as from the ground. Ned was knocked
off his horse by a blow with the butt-end of a gun; and Dick, before he
had time to shout or make a movement in his defense, was dragged from
his horse, his head wrapped in a thick cloth, and his arms bound. Then
he could feel himself lifted up and rapidly carried off. After a time
he was put on his legs and the covering of his head removed. He found
Ned beside him; and a word of congratulation that both were alive was
exchanged. Then a rope was placed round each of their necks, and
surrounded by their captors, two of whom rode their horses, they were
started at a run, with admonitions from those around them that any
attempt to escape or to shout would be punished with instant death.

For full two hours they were hurried along, and then the party halted
at the edge of a thick jungle, lighted a fire, and began to cook. The
prisoners were allowed to sit down with their captors. These were
matchlock-men, on their way to join the forces besieging the Residency
at Cawnpore, toward which town they had been making their way, as the
boom of the guns sounded sharper and clearer every mile that they
traveled. Ned gathered from the talk that their capture was the effect
of pure accident. The party had sat down in the wood to eat, when they
heard a troop of horsemen passing. A word or two spoken in English as
the leaders came along sufficed to show the nationality of the troop,
and the band lay quiet in the bushes until, as they supposed, all had
passed. They had risen to leave when the two last horsemen came in
view, and these they determined to capture and carry off, if possible,
hoping to get a considerable reward from Nan a Sahib on their arrival
at Cawnpore.

Nana Sahib's name had not as yet that terrible history attached to it
which rendered it execrated wherever the English tongue is spoken; but
the boys had heard that after pretending to be the friend of the
whites, he was now leading the assault against them, and that he was
therefore a traitor, and fighting as it were with a rope round his
neck. At the hands of such a man they had no mercy to expect.

"It is of no use trying to make a bolt, Ned?"

"Not the least in the world. The two fellows next to us are appointed
to watch us. Don't you see they are sitting with their guns across
their knees? We should be shot down in a moment."

There was a debate among the band whether to push on to Cawnpore at
once; but they had already made a long day's journey, and moreover
thought that they could create a greater effect by arriving with their
prisoners by daylight. The fire was made up, and the men wrapped
themselves in their cloths--the native of India almost invariably
sleeps with his head covered, and looking more like a corpse than a
living being. Anxiously the boys watched in hopes that their guards
would follow the example. They showed, however, no signs of doing so,
but sat talking over the approaching destruction of the English rule
and of the restoration of the Mohammedan power.

Two hours passed; the fire burned low, and the boys, in spite of the
danger of their position, were just dropping off to sleep, when there
was a mighty roar--a rush of some great body passing over them--a
scream of one of the natives--a yell of terror from the rest. A tiger
stood with one of the guards in his mouth, growling fiercely, and
giving him an occasional shake, as a cat would shake a mouse, while one
of his paws held down the prostrate figure of the other.

There was a wild stampede--men tumbled over and over each other in
their efforts to escape from the terrible presence, and then, getting
to their feet, started off at full speed. For a moment the boys had
lain paralyzed with the sudden advent of the terrible man-eater, and
then had, like the rest, darted away.

"To the jungle!" Ned exclaimed; and in an instant they had plunged into
the undergrowth, and were forcing their way at full speed through it.
Man-eating tigers are rarely found in pairs, and there was little fear
that another was lurking in the wood; and even had such been the case,
they would have preferred death in that form to being murdered in cold
blood by the enemy. Presently they struck on a track leading through
the wood, and followed it, until in five minutes they emerged at the
other side. As they did so they heard the report of firearms in the
direction of their last halting-place, and guessed that the peasants
were firing at hazard, in hopes of frightening the tiger into dropping
his prey. As to their own flight, it was probable that so far they had
been unthought of. The first object of the fugitives was to get as far
as possible from their late captors, who would at daybreak be sure to
organize a regular hunt for them, and accordingly they ran straight
ahead until in three-quarters of an hour they came into a wide road.
Then, exhausted with their exertions, they threw themselves down, and
panted for breath.

Dick was the first to speak. "What on earth are we to do now, Ned?
These uniforms will betray us to the first person we meet, and we have
no means of disguise."

"We must get as far away as we can before daylight, Dick, and then hide
up. Sooner or later we must throw ourselves on the hospitality of some
one, and take our chance. This is evidently the main road to Cawnpore,
and, judging from the guns, we cannot be more than ten or twelve miles
away. It will not do to go back along this road, for the fellows we
have got away from may strike it below us and follow it up. Let us go
forward along it till we meet a side road, and take that."

Ten minutes' walking brought them to a point where a side road came in,
and, taking this, they walked steadily on. They passed two or three
villages, which the moonlight enabled them to see before they reached
them; these they avoided by a detour, as the dogs would be sure to
arouse the inhabitants, and it was only in a solitary abode that they
had a chance of being sheltered. Toward morning they saw ahead a
building of considerable size, evidently the abode of a person of
consequence. It was not fortified; but behind it was a large inclosure,
with high walls.

"I vote we climb over that wall, Ned; there are several trees growing
close up to it. If they hunt the country round for us they will never
look inside there; and I expect that there is a garden, and we are sure
to find a hiding-place. Then, if the owner comes out, we can, if he
looks a decent chap, throw ourselves on his hands."

"I think that a good idea, Dick; the sooner we carry it out the better,
for in another half-hour day will be breaking."

[Illustration: A TIGER STOOD, WITH ONE OF THE GUARDS IN HIS MOUTH,
GROWLING FIERCELY.]

They made a detour round to the back of the building, and after some
search found a tree growing close enough to the wall to assist them.
This they climbed, got along a branch which extended over the top of
the wall, and thence dropped into the garden. Here there were pavilions
and fountains, and well-kept walks, with great clumps of bushes and
flowering shrubs well calculated for concealment. Into one of these
they crept, and were soon fast asleep.

It was late in the afternoon when they awoke, roused by the sound of
laughter, and of the chatter of many voices.

"Good gracious!" Ned exclaimed; "we have got into the women's garden."

In another minute a group of women came in sight. The principal figure
was a young woman of some twenty-two or twenty-three, and with a red
wafer-like patch on her forehead, very richly dressed.

"She is a Hindoo," Ned whispered; "what luck!"

There are indeed very few Hindoos in Oude, and the Mohammedan being the
dominant race, a Hindoo would naturally feel far more favorably
inclined toward a British fugitive than a Mohammedan would be likely to
do, as the triumph of the rebellion could to them simply mean a
restoration, of Mohammedan supremacy in place of the far more tolerant
British rule.

Next to the ranee walked an old woman, who had probably been her nurse,
and was now her confidante and adviser. The rest were young women,
clearly dependants.

"And so, Ahrab, we must give up our garden, and go into Cawnpore; and
in such weather too!"

"It must be so indeed," the elder woman said. "These Mohammedans doubt
us, and so insist on your highness showing your devotion to the cause
by taking up your residence in Cawnpore, and sending in all your
retainers to join in the attack on the English."

The ranee looked sad.

"They say there are hundreds of women and little children there," she
said, "and that the English who are defending them are few."

"It is so," Ahrab said. "But they are brave. The men of the Nana, and
the old regiments, are fifty to one against them, and the cannon fire
night and day, and yet they do not give way a foot."

"They are men, the English sahibs."

While they were speaking the two chief personages of the party had
taken their seats in a pavilion close to the spot where the young
Warreners were hidden.

Ned translated the purport of the talk to Dick, and both agreed that
the way of safety had opened to them.

Seeing that their mistress was not in the humor for laughter and mirth,
and would rather talk quietly with her chief friend and adviser, the
attendants gradually left them, and gathered in a distant part of the
garden.

Then Ned and Dick crept out of their hiding-place, and appeared
suddenly at the entrance to the pavilion, where they fell on one knee,
in an attitude of supplication, and Ned said:

"Oh, gracious lady, have pity upon two fugitives!"

The ranee and her counselor rose to their feet with a little scream,
and hastily covered their heads.

"Have pity, lady," Ned went on earnestly; "we are alone and friendless;
oh, do not give us up to our enemies."

"How did you get here?" asked the elder woman.

"We climbed the wall," Ned said. "We knew not that this garden was the
ladies' garden, or we might not have invaded it; now we bless
Providence that has brought us to the feet of so kind and lovely a
lady."

The ranee laughed lightly behind her veil.

"They are mere boys, Ahrab."

"Yes, your highness, but it would be just as dangerous for you to
shelter boys as men. And what will you do, as you have to go to
Cawnpore to-morrow?"

"Oh, you can manage somehow, Ahrab--you are so clever," the ranee said
coaxingly; "and I could not give them up to be killed: I should never
feel happy afterward."

"May Heaven bless you, lady!" Ned said earnestly; "and your kind action
may not go unrewarded even here. Soon, very soon, an English army will
be at Cawnpore to punish the rebels, and then it will be well with
those who have succored British fugitives."

"Do you say an English army will come soon?" Ahrab said doubtfully.
"Men say the English Raj is gone forever."

"It is not true," Ned said. "England has not begun to put out her
strength yet. She can send tens of thousands of soldiers, and the great
chiefs of the Punjab have all declared for her. Already Delhi is
besieged, and an army is gathering at Allahabad to march hither. It may
be quickly; it may be slowly; but in the end the English rule will be
restored, her enemies will be destroyed, and her friends rewarded. But
I know," he went on, turning to the ranee, "that it needs not a thought
of this to influence you, and that in your kind heart compassion alone
will suffice to secure us your protection."

The ranee laughed again.

"You are only a boy," she said, "but you have learned to flatter. Now
tell us how you got here."

"Your highness," Ahrab interrupted, "I had better send all the others
in, for they might surprise us. Let these young sahibs hide themselves
again; then we will go in, and I will call in your attendants. Later,
when it is dusk, you will plead heat, and come out here with me again,
and then I can bring some robes to disguise the sahibs; that is, if
your highness has resolved to aid them."

"I think I have resolved that, Ahrab," the ranee said. "You have heard,
young sahibs; retire now, and hide. When the sun has set we will be
here again."

With deep assurance of gratitude from Ned, the lads again took refuge
in the shrubs, delighted with the result of their interview.

"I do hope that the old one will bring us something to eat, Ned. I am
as hungry as a hunter! That ranee's a brick, isn't she?"

Two hours later a step was heard coming down the garden, and a woman
came and lit some lamps in the pavilion, and again retired. Then in
another ten minutes the ranee and her confidante made their appearance.
The former took her seat on the couch in the pavilion, the latter
remained outside the circle of light, and clapped her hands softly. In
a minute the boys stood before her. She held out a basket of
provisions, and a bundle of clothes.

"Put these wraps on over your uniforms," she said; "then if we should
be surprised, no one will be any the wiser."

The boys retired, hastily ate some food, then wrapped themselves in the
long folds of cotton which form the principal garment of native women
of the lower class, and went forward to the pavilion.

The ranee laughed outright.

"How clumsy you are!" she said. "Ahrab, do arrange them a little more
like women."

Ahrab adjusted their robes, and brought one end over their heads, so
that it could, if necessary, be pulled over the face at a moment's
notice.

The ranee then motioned to them to sit down upon two cushions near her;
and saying to Ahrab, "It is very hot, and they are only boys," removed
the veil from her face. "You make very pretty girls, only you are too
white," she said.

"Lady, if we had some dye we could pass as natives, I think," Ned said;
"we have done so before this, since the troubles began."

"Tell me all about it," the ranee said. "I want to know who you are,
and how you came here as if you had dropped from the skies."

Ned related their adventures since leaving Delhi, and then the ranee
insisted upon an account of their previous masquerading as natives.

"How brave you English boys are," she said. "No wonder your men have
conquered India. Now, Ahrab, tell these young sahibs what we propose."

"We dare not leave you here," Ahrab said. "You would have to be fed,
and we must trust many people. We go to Cawnpore to-morrow, and you
must go with us. My son has a garden here; we can trust him, and he
will bring a bullock-cart with him to-morrow morning. In this will be
placed some boxes, and he will start. You must wait a little way off,
and when you see him you will know him, because he will tie a piece of
red cloth to the horns of the bullock; you will come up and get in. He
will ask no questions, but will drive you to the ranee's. I will open
the door to you and take you up to a little room where you will not be
disturbed. We shall all start first. You cannot go with us, because the
other women will wonder who you are. Here is some stuff to dye your
faces and hands. I will let you out by a private door. You will see a
wood five minutes along the road. You must stop there to-night, and do
not come out till you see the ranee and her party pass. There is a
little hut, which is empty, in the wood, where you can sleep without
fear of disturbance. The ranee is sorry to turn you out to-night, but
we start at daybreak, and I should have no opportunity of slipping away
and letting you out."

Everything being now arranged, the ranee rose. Ned reiterating the
expression of the gratitude of his brother and himself, the ranee
coquettishly held out a little hand whose size and shape an
Englishwoman might have envied; and the boys kissed it--Ned
respectfully, Dick with a heartiness which made her laugh and draw it
away.

"You are a darling," Dick said in English, with the native impudence of
a midshipman, "and I wish I knew enough of your lingo to tell you."

"What does he say?" she asked of Ned.

"He is a sailor," Ned said; "and sailors say things we on shore would
not venture to say. My brother says you are the flower of his heart."

"Your brother is an impudent boy," the ranee said, laughing, "and I
have a good mind to hand him over to the Nana. Now good-by! Ahrab will
let you out."



CHAPTER X.

TREACHERY.


Of all the names connected with the Indian mutiny, Cawnpore stands out
conspicuous for its dark record of treachery, massacre, and bloodshed;
and its name will, so long as the English language continues, be
regarded as the darkest in the annals of our nation. Cawnpore is
situated on the Ganges, one hundred and twenty-three miles northwest of
Allahabad, and was at the time of our story a large straggling town,
extending nearly five miles along the river. It stands on a sandy
plain, intensely hot and dusty in summer, and possesses no fort or
other building such as proved the safety of the Europeans in Agra and
Allahabad. The force stationed there at the first outbreak of the
mutiny consisted of the First, Fifty-third, and Fifty-sixth Native
Regiments, the Second Regiment of Bengal Cavalry, and about fifty
European invalid artillerymen. When the news of the revolt at Meerut
reached Cawnpore, and it was but too probable that the mutiny would
spread to all the native regiments throughout the country, Sir Hugh
Wheeler, who was in command, at once set to work to prepare a fortified
position, in which to retire with the European residents in case of
necessity. To this end he connected with breastworks a large unfinished
building intended as a military hospital, with the church and some
other buildings, all standing near the center of the grand parade, and
surrounded the whole with an intrenchment. Within these lines he
collected ammunition, stores and provisions for a month's consumption
for a thousand persons, and having thus, as he hoped, prepared for the
worst, he awaited the event.

Although there was much uneasiness and disquietude, things went on
tolerably well up to the middle of May. Then Sir Hugh Wheeler sent to
Lucknow, forty miles distant, to ask for a company of white troops, to
enable him to disarm the Sepoys; and he also asked aid of Nana Sahib,
Rajah of Bithoor, who was looked upon as a stanch friend of the
English. On the 22d of May fifty-five Europeans of the Thirty-second
Regiment, and two hundred and forty native troopers of the Oude
irregular cavalry, arrived from Lucknow, and two guns and three hundred
men were sent in by the Rajah of Bithoor.

Nana Sahib was at this time a man of thirty-two years of age, having
been born in the year 1825. He was the son of poor parents, and had at
the age of two years and a half been adopted by the Peishwa, who had no
children of his own. In India adoption is very common, and an adopted
son has all the legal rights of a legitimate offspring. The Peishwa,
who was at one time a powerful prince, was dethroned by us for having
on several occasions joined other princes in waging war against us, but
was honorably treated, and an annuity of eighty thousand pounds a year
was assigned to him and his heirs. In 1851 the Peishwa died, leaving
Nana Dhoondu Pant, for that was the Nana's full name, his heir and
successor. The Company refused to continue the grant to Nana Sahib, and
in so doing acted in a manner at once impolitic and unjust. It was
unjust, because they had allowed the Peishwa and Nana Sahib, up to the
death of the former, to suppose that the Indian law of adoption would
be recognized here as in all other cases; it was impolitic, because as
the greater portion of the Indian princes had adopted heirs, these were
all alarmed at the refusal to recognize the Nana, and felt that a
similar blow might be dealt to them.

Thus, at this critical period of our history, the minds of the great
Indian princes were all alienated from us, by what was in their eyes at
once a breach of a solemn engagement, and a menace to every reigning
house. Nana Sahib, however, evinced no hostility to the English rule.
He had inherited the private fortune of the Peishwa, and lived in great
state at Bithoor. He affected greatly the society of the British
residents at Cawnpore, was profuse in his hospitality, and was regarded
as a jovial fellow and a stanch friend of the English. When the mutiny
broke out, it proved that he was only biding his time. Nana Sahib was
described by an officer who knew him four years before the mutiny, as
then looking at least forty years old and very fat. "His face is round,
his eyes very wild, brilliant and restless. His complexion, as is the
case with most native gentlemen, is scarcely darker than that of a dark
Spaniard, and his expression is, on the whole, of a jovial, and indeed,
somewhat rollicking character." In reality, this rollicking native
gentleman was a human tiger.

On the very night that the men of the Thirty-second came in from Oude,
there was an alarm of a rising, and the ladies and children of the
station took refuge in the fortified post prepared for them; and from
that time the sufferings of the residents commenced, although it was
not for a fortnight afterward that the mutiny took place; for the
overcrowding and the intense heat at once began to affect the health of
those huddled together in ill-ventilated rooms, and deprived of all the
luxuries which alone make existence endurable to white people in Indian
cities on the plains during the heats of summer. Scarce a day passed
without news of risings at other stations taking place, and with the
receipt of each item of intelligence the insolence displayed by the
Sepoys increased.

A few English troops arrived from Allahabad and at midnight upon the
4th of June, when the natives broke into revolt, there were in the
intrenchments of Cawnpore eighty-three officers of various regiments,
sixty men of the Eighty-fourth Regiment, and seventy of the
Thirty-second, fifteen of the First Madras Fusiliers, and a few invalid
gunners; the whole defensive force consisting of about two hundred and
forty men, and six guns. There were under their charge a large number
of ladies and children, the wives and families of the officers and
civilians at the station, sixty-four women and seventy-six children
belonging to the soldiers, with a few native servants who remained
faithful. The total number of women, children, and non-effectives
amounted to about eight hundred and seventy persons.

During the night of the 4th of June the whole of the native troops
rose, set fire to all the European residences outside the
intrenchments, and marched to Nawabgunge, a place four miles away. A
message was sent by them to Nana Sahib, to the effect that they were
marching to Delhi, and inviting him to assume the command. This he at
once assented to, and arrived at Nawabgunge a few hours later, with six
hundred troops and four guns; and his first act was to divide the
contents of the English treasury there, which had been guarded by his
own troops, among the mutineers.

Having destroyed the European buildings, the force marched to
Kulleanpore, on its way to Delhi; but on its reaching this place the
same evening, Nana Sahib called together the native officers, and
advised them to return to Cawnpore and kill all the Europeans there.
Then they would be thought much of when they arrived at Delhi. The
proposal was accepted with acclamation, and during the night the rebel
army marched back to Cawnpore, which they invested the next morning;
the last message from Sir Hugh Wheeler came through on that day,
fighting having begun at half-past ten in the morning.

The first proceeding of the mutineers was to take possession of the
native town of Cawnpore, where the houses of the peaceable and wealthy
inhabitants were at once broken open and plundered, and many
respectable natives slaughtered.

The bombardment of the British position began on the 6th, and continued
with daily increasing fury. Every attempt to carry the place by storm
was repelled, but the sufferings of the besieged were frightful. There
was but one well, in the middle of the intrenchments, and upon this by
night and by day the enemy concentrated their fire, so that it might be
said that every bucket of water cost a man's life. After four or five
days of incessant bombardment, the enemy took to firing red-hot shot,
and on the 13th the barracks were set on fire, and, a strong wind
blowing, the fire spread so rapidly that upward of fifty sick and
wounded were burned. The other buildings were so riddled with shot and
shell that they afforded scarcely any shelter. Many of the besieged
made holes in the ground or under the banks of the intrenchments; but
the deaths from sunstroke and fever were even more numerous than those
caused by the murderous and incessant fire.

In the city a reign of terror prevailed. All the native Christians were
massacred, with their wives and families; and every white prisoner
brought in--and they were many--man, woman, or child, was taken before
the Nana, and murdered by his orders.

Day by day the sufferings of the garrison in the intrenchments became
greater, and the mortality among the woman and children was terrible.
Every day saw the army of the Nana increasing, by the arrival of
mutineers from other quarters, until it reached a total of over twelve
thousand men, while the fighting force of the garrison had greatly
decreased; yet the handful of Englishmen repulsed every effort of the
great host of assailants to carry the fragile line of intrenchments.

When Ned and Dick Warrener, having carried out the instructions given
by the ranee, arrived next morning at her house at Cawnpore, Ahrab at
once led them to a small apartment.

"I have much news to tell you. The fighting is over here. The Nana sent
in a messenger to the English sahibs, to say that if they would give up
the place, with the guns and treasure, he would grant a free passage
for all; and the Nana and his Hindoo officers have sworn the sacred
oath of our religion, and the Mohammedans have sworn on the Koran, that
these conditions shall be observed. Boats are to be provided for them
all. They leave to-morrow at dawn. Her highness the ranee will shelter
you here if you like to stay; but if you wish it you can go at daybreak
and join your countrymen."

With many thanks for the ranee's offer, the boys at once decided to
join their countrymen; and accordingly next morning after a kind
farewell from their protectress, they started before daybreak under
charge of their driver of the day before, and, still in their disguises
of native women, made their way to a point on the line of route outside
the town. There were but few people here, and, just as day broke the
head of the sad procession came along. The women and children, the sick
and wounded--among the latter Sir H. Wheeler, the gallant commander of
the garrison--were in wagons provided by the Nana; the remnant of the
fighting men marched afterward. Hastily dropping their women's robes,
the boys slipped in among the troops, unnoticed by any of the guards of
Nana's troops who were escorting the procession.

A few words explained to their surprised compatriots that they were
fugitives who had been in shelter in the town, and many a word of
welcome was muttered, and furtive handshakes given. In return the boys
were able to give the news of the arrival of the British before Delhi,
and the commencement of the siege, all of which was new to the
garrison, who had been for twenty-two days without a word from the
outer world. At last the column reached the ghat, or landing-place,
fixed upon for their embarkation.

Here seventeen or eighteen boats were collected. The way down to the
river was steep, for the bank of the Ganges is here rather high, and
covered with thick jungle. At the top of the ghat is a small Hindoo
temple. The wounded and sick were carried down the bank and placed in
the boats, the ladies and children took their places, the officers and
men then followed. When all was ready, the Nana's officer suddenly
called the native boatmen to come ashore to receive their wages for the
passage down to Benares.

Then, as if by magic, from out the thick jungle on both sides of the
path to the ghat, hundreds of Sepoys rushed; while at the same moment
lines of bushes fell to the ground, and showed a number of cannon, all
placed in position. In a moment a tremendous fire was opened upon the
unhappy fugitives. Numbers of them were at once killed in the boats;
some jumped into the water, and, pushing the boats afloat, made for the
opposite shore; while others leaped into the river on the deeper side
and tried to escape by swimming. But upon the other shore were enemies
as bloodthirsty as those they left behind, for there the Sepoys of the
Seventeenth Native Regiment, who had mutinied at Azimghur, were posted,
and these cut off the retreat of the fugitives there. Then all the
boats, with the exception of two or three which had drifted down
stream, followed by bands of Sepoys with cannon on either bank, were
brought back to the starting-place, which is known, and will be known
through all time, as "the slaughter ghat." There all the men still
alive were taken on shore and shot; while the women and children, many
of them bleeding from wounds, were taken off to a house formerly
belonging to the medical department of the European troops, called the
Subada Khotee.

Dick and Ned Warrener were in one of the boats which were still ashore
when the treacherous Sepoys burst from their hiding-place. "The
scoundrels!" burst from Ned indignantly; while Dick, seeing at a glance
the hopelessness of their position, grasped his brother's arm.

"We must swim for it, Ned, Take a long dive, and go under again the
moment you have got breath."

Without an instant's delay the brothers leaped into the water, as
dozens of others were doing; and although each time their heads came up
for an instant the bullets splashed around them, they kept on untouched
until they reached the center of the stream. They were still within
musket range, but the distance was sufficient to render them pretty
safe except against an accidental shot. They looked back and saw the
Sepoys had many of them entered the river up to their shoulders, to
shoot the swimmers: others on horseback had ridden far out, and were
cutting down those who, unable to swim far, made again toward shallow
water; while cannon and muskets still poured in their fire against the
helpless crowds in the boats.

"Look, Ned, it is of no use making for the other shore," Dick said;
"there is another body of the wretches there; we must simply float down
the stream in the middle. If we keep on our backs, and sink as low as
we can, so as to show only our noses and mouths above water, they may
fire for a week without hitting us. There, give me your hand, so that
we may float together; I will look up from time to time to see that we
are floating pretty fairly in the middle, I will do it quickly, so as
not to be seen, for if we lie still on our backs they won't watch us
after a time, but will take us for two drifting dead bodies. Now, old
boy!" So saying, the lads turned on their backs, and occasionally
giving a quiet stroke with their legs, or paddling with their hands,
drifted down stream, showing so little of their faces above water that
they could scarcely have been seen from the shore.

Both the lads were good swimmers, but Dick was perfectly at home in the
water; and Ned, knowing his own inferiority in this respect, left
himself entirely in his brother's hands. Soon Dick, in his quick
glances to note their position, perceived that three boats alone of all
the number had got fairly away down stream--that their occupants had
got out oars and were quickly coming up to the swimmers; but he saw,
too, that on both banks the Sepoy guns kept abreast of them, and that a
fire of artillery and musketry was maintained. For a moment he thought
of being taken on board; but their chance of escaping the fire centered
upon them seemed hopeless, and he judged it was better to keep on in
the water. He accordingly paddled himself out of the center of the
stream, so as to give the boats a wide berth, trusting that the
attention of the enemy would be so much directed at the boats that the
floating bodies would be unnoticed. As to keeping afloat for any time,
he had no fear whatever. The water of Indian rivers in the heat of
summer is so warm that swimmers can remain in them for many hours
without any feeling of chill or discomfort.

An hour later Dick lifted his head and looked forward. The firing was
two miles ahead now. But one boat of the three still floated, and Dick
congratulated himself that he had decided not to join his fate to that
of those on board. Hour after hour passed, and still the boys floated
on, until at last the sun went down, dusk came and went, and when all
was dark they turned on their faces and swam quietly down the stream.
For many hours, alternately swimming and floating, they kept their
course down the river, until toward morning they gently paddled ashore,
crept into the thick jungle of the bank, and fell asleep almost
instantly.

It was dusk again before they awoke. They were desperately hungry, but
they agreed to spend one more night in the river before searching for
food, so as to put as much distance as possible between themselves and
Cawnpore. They had been twenty hours in the water before, and allowing
two miles an hour for the current, and something for their swimming,
they calculated that Cawnpore must be forty-six or forty-seven miles
behind. Eight hours' more steady swimming added twenty to this, and
they landed again with a hope that Nana Sahib's ferocious bands must
have been left behind, and that they had now only the ordinary danger
of travel in such times, through a hostile country, to face.

It yet wanted an hour or so of daybreak, and they struck off at right
angles to the river, and walked till it became light, when they entered
a small wood near to which was a hut. Watching this closely, they saw
only an old man come out, and at once made to it, and asked him for
food and shelter. Recovered from his first surprise, he received them
kindly, and gave them the best which his hut, in which he lived alone
with his wife, afforded. A meal of cakes and parched grain greatly
revived them, and, after a long sleep, they started again at nightfall,
with enough food for the next two days' supply. That they were not
ahead of all their foes was certain, from the fact that the peasant
said that he had heard firing on the river bank on the previous day.
They knew by this also that the one boat ahead of them had at any rate
escaped its perils of the first day.

For two more nights they walked, passing one day in a thick wood, the
other in a ruined temple, their hopes rising; for, as they knew, the
further they got from Cawnpore the loss likely the country people were
to be hostile.

The third morning they again entered a hut to ask for food.

"I will give you food," the peasant said, "but you had better go to the
rajah's, his house is over there, half an hour's walk. He has four
Englishmen there who came from the river, and he is the friend of the
Feringhees."

Delighted at the news, the boys went forward. As they entered the
courtyard of the house they were greeted with a hearty salutation in
English, and their hands were clasped a moment afterward by Lieutenant
Delafosse, an officer who had greatly distinguished himself in the
defense of Cawnpore, and was one of the few survivors. He took them in
to the rajah, who received them most kindly, and after they had been
fed Lieutenant Delafosse told them how he and his three comrades had
escaped.

The boat had, although many on board had been hit by rifle balls,
escaped the first day. She was crowded, and very low in the water,
having on board most of those who had been in the two boats sunk by the
enemy. The next day they were again fired at without effect by
artillery, infantry accompanying the boat all day, and keeping up an
incessant fire. On the third day the boat was no longer serviceable,
and grounded on a sand-bank. Then the enemy's infantry fired so heavily
that those still able to carry arms, fourteen in number, made for the
shore and attacked their foes. These fell back, and the handful of
Englishmen followed them. Great numbers of the enemy now came up, and
the English took refuge in a little temple; here they defended
themselves till the enemy piled bushes at the entrance, and set them on
fire. Then the English burst through the flames, and made again for the
river. Seven out of the twelve who got through the fire reached the
river, but of these two were shot before they had swum far. Three miles
lower down, one of the survivors, an artilleryman, swimming on his
back, went too near the bank and was killed. Six miles lower down the
firing ceased, and soon afterward the four survivors were hailed by
natives, who shouted to them to come ashore, as their master, the
rajah, was friendly to the English. They did so, and were most kindly
received by him.

An abundant meal and another good sleep did wonders for the young
Warreners, and the next morning they determined to set out to join
their countrymen at Allahabad, where they expected to find their father
and his troops. The rajah and their fellow-countrymen endeavored in
vain to dissuade them, but the former, finding that they were
determined, gave them dresses as native women, furnished them with a
guide, and sent them across the river in a boat--for they were on the
Oude side--with a message to a zemindar there to help them forward.



CHAPTER XI

RETRIBUTION BEGINS.


The zemindar to whom the Warreners' guide conducted them, after
crossing the Ganges, received them kindly, and told them that the
safest way would be for them to go on in a hackery, or native cart, and
placed one at once at their disposal, with a trusty man as a driver,
and another to accompany them in the hackery. He told them that British
troops were, it was said, arriving fast at Allahabad, and that it was
even reported that an advance had already taken place. Nana Sahib
would, it was said, meet them at Futtehpore, a place forty-eight miles
from Cawnpore, and seventy-five from Allahabad. As yet, however, none
of his troops had reached Futtehpore, which was fortunate, for the main
road ran through that place, which was but twenty miles from the point
where they had crossed the Ganges; and although they would keep by a
road near the river, and so avoid the town, the Nana's troops would be
sure to be scouring the country. This news decided them not to accept
the zemindar's invitation to stay the night and start the next morning
early. It was still but little past noon, and they might do many miles
before darkness.

Before they halted the party had made fifteen miles, and in passing
through a village learned the welcome news that a small English force
had advanced to Synee, some ten miles only beyond Futtehpore. This
force had, it was said, met with little resistance as yet, and the
country people were full of stories of the manner in which the Sepoys
and others who had been engaged with them were, as soon as captured,
hung up in numbers. Already, in the minds of the peasantry, the idea
that the British would be the final conquerors in the strife was
gaining ground; and as the whole country had suffered from the
exactions and insolence of the triumphant Sepoys, and life and property
were no longer safe for a moment, the secret sympathy of all those who
had anything to lose was with the advancing British force.

The next day the party followed the road near the river all day, as
they feared to fall either into the hands of Sepoys retiring before the
English, or of those coming down from Cawnpore. They halted for the
night at a village whence a road ran direct to Synee, which was about
eight miles distant. The villagers repeated that the Sepoys had all
fallen back, and that there would be a great fight at Futtehpore. The
English force was small, but a large body were on their way up from
Allahabad.

The boys started at daybreak, and had proceeded about three miles when
a body of cavalry were seen rapidly approaching.

The driver of the hackery put his head inside the leather curtain of
the vehicle.

"English," he said. The boys looked out, and gave a shout of joy as
they saw the well-known uniforms; and, regardless of their women's
robes, they leaped out and ran to meet them. The advanced guard of the
cavalry stopped in surprise.

"Halloo! what is up? who are you?"

"Why, Dunlop, don't you know us?" the boys shouted.

"The Warreners!" exclaimed Captain Dunlop, leaping from his horse and
seizing them by the hand. "My dear boys, this is joy."

The men set up a cheer, which was caught up by the main body as they
came up, and in another minute the boys were in their father's arms.

The young Warreners had been mourned as dead, for no one doubted that
they had been carried to Cawnpore, and had shared the fate of the
garrison of that place; and the joy of their father therefore was
intense, while the whole corps, with whom the boys were general
favorites, were delighted.

After the first rapturous greeting Major Warrener took off his cap
reverently, and said a few words of deep gratitude to God, the men all
baring their heads as he did so. Then Captain Kent said:

"Shall I push on to the Ganges, major, with my troop? or perhaps your
sons can tell us what we are ordered to find out?"

"What is it?" Ned asked.

"Whether there are any bodies of troops pushing down by the river. It
would not do for them to get behind us, and threaten our
communications."

The boys were able to affirm that there was no body of mutineers near
the Ganges below Futtehpore, as they had just come down that way.

"Then we can ride back at once," Major Warrener said. "Major Renaud was
on the point of marching when we started, and he will be glad to have
us back again. First, though, what have these natives done for you?"

Ned in a few words explained that they came by the instruction of their
master, and had been with them for three days.

The major made them a handsome present, and sent a message to the
zemindar, to the effect that his kindness would be reported to
government; and Dick scribbled a few words to Lieutenant Delafosse,
with the news of the British advance, and a kind message to the rajah.

"Now, Dick, you jump up behind me," his father said. "Dunlop can take
you, Ned; and you can give us a short account of what has befallen you
as we ride back. We must get you a couple of horses of some kind or
another at Synee. Can't you cast off these women's clothes?"

"We have got nothing to speak of underneath," Dick laughed; "we got rid
of our uniforms in the Ganges, and want a rig out from top to toe."

"Well, we must see what we can do for you tonight. And now," he asked,
as they trotted along at the head of the column, amid the smiles of the
men at the appearance of their commanding officer carrying, as it
seemed, a native woman _en croupe_, "how did you escape, boys? We did
not miss you until we halted for half an hour at midnight. Then six of
us rode back ten miles, but could find no trace of you, and we gave you
up as lost; so we rode on till we met Major Renaud's force coming up,
when we sent our rescued friends on to Allahabad, and turned back with
just a shadow of hope that we might yet find you alive somewhere or
other."

Dick then told the story of the intervention of the tiger in their
behalf, and said that afterward an Indian lady had succored them,
hinting that at the end of the war it was probable that Ned would
present his father with a daughter-in-law.

"That's all very well," Ned laughed. "If Dick had understood the
language, I should have been nowhere. You should have seen him kiss her
hand."

"Well, anyhow," Dick said, "she was a brick, father, and no mistake."

By this time Synee was reached. In spite of Major Warrener's liberal
offers, no horses or even ponies were forthcoming, so completely had
the Sepoys stripped the country, most of the villages having been
burned as well as plundered by them. From the valises of the troop
various articles of clothing were contributed, which enabled the lads
again to take their places in the ranks, but riding as before _en
croupe_. In two hours after their arrival at Synee they were moving
forward again at a trot, and in four hours came up with Major Renaud's
force, encamped for the day.

They were glad to get in, for the rain, since they left Synee, had been
falling in sheets. The force was fortunately moving now along the grand
trunk road, a splendid piece of road-making, extending from Calcutta to
Peshawur, for already the country roads would have been almost
impassable.

"Do we halt here for the day?" Ned asked his father, as they drew rein
in the camp.

"Yes, Dick, the enemy are in force at Futtehpore, which is only some
fourteen miles away. Havelock is coming up by double marches. He halted
last night fifteen miles the other side of Synee. To-day he will reach
Synee; will bivouac there for a few hours, and will march on here in
the night. We are to be under arms by the time he will arrive, and the
whole of us will push forward to Khaga, five miles this side of
Futtehpore. So Havelock's men will have marched twenty-four miles
straight off, to say nothing of the fifteen to-day. The troops could
not do it, were it not that every one is burning to get to Cawnpore, to
avenge the murder of our comrades and to rescue the women and children,
if it be yet time."

The boys were at once taken by their father to Major Renaud, who
welcomed them warmly. This officer had under his command a force of
four hundred British, and four hundred and twenty native troops, with
two pieces of cannon.

After being introduced to Major Renaud the boys went to the tents
allotted to their corps, which were already pitched, and Major Warrener
asked the officers, and as many of the volunteers as his tent would
hold, to listen to the account of the massacre of Cawnpore, which was
now for the first time authentically told; for hitherto only native
reports had come down from the city. Great was the indignation and fury
with which the tale of black treachery and foul murder was heard; and
when the story was told it had to be repeated to the officers of the
other corps in camp.

The terrible tale soon spread through the camp; and men gnashed their
teeth in rage, and swore bitter oaths--which were terribly kept--to
avenge the deeds that had been committed. Uppermost of all, however,
was the anxiety about the women and children; for the boys had heard,
when staying at the friendly rajah's, that near one hundred and twenty
of these unfortunates--the survivors of the siege, and of the river
attack--had been shut up in a room in the Cawnpore lines.

At three o'clock next morning--the 11th of July--the troops were under
arms, the tents struck, and all in readiness for an advance. Presently
a dull sound was heard; it grew louder, and the head of General
Havelock's column came up.

There was a short halt while Major Renaud reported to the general the
state of affairs in front, as far as he knew them. He mentioned, too,
that two survivors of the Cawnpore massacre had that day come in, and
that four others were in shelter with a native rajah on the Oude side
of the Ganges. The general at once requested that the Warreners should
be brought up to him; and the lads were accordingly presented to the
man whose name, hitherto unknown outside military circles, was--in
consequence of the wonderful succession of battles and of victories, of
which that date, the 12th of July, was to mark the first--to become a
household word in England.

"The column had better move forward, Major Renaud; your division will
lead. If you will ride by me, gentlemen, you can tell me of this
dreadful business as we go."

Fortunately there were several horses in Major Renaud's camp, which had
been taken from men of the enemy's cavalry who had been surprised in
the upward march, and two of them had been assigned to the boys, so
that they were able to feel once more as soldiers.

On arriving at Khaga, an insignificant village, General Havelock said
to the lads:

"Thank you very much for your information. You have behaved with great
coolness and courage, and Major Warrener, your father, has every reason
to be proud of you. I am short of aids-de-camp, and shall be glad if
you will act as my gallopers"--an honor which, it need hardly be said,
the boys joyfully accepted.

The following was the total force under General Havelock's command when
he commenced the series of battles which were finally to lead him to
Lucknow: Seventy-six men of the Royal Artillery, three hundred and
seventy-six of the Madras Fusiliers, four hundred and thirty-five of
the Sixty-fourth Regiment, two hundred and eighty-four of the
Seventy-eighth Highlanders one hundred and ninety men of the
Eighty-fourth Regiment, twenty-two men of the Bengal Artillery. Total
of British regular troops, thirteen hundred and eighty-three, with
eight guns. Besides these he had Warrener's Horse. Of natives he had
the Ferozepore Regiment (Sikhs), four hundred and forty-eight strong,
ninety-five men of the native irregular cavalry, who were worse than
useless, and eighteen mounted native police.

The order for a halt was welcome indeed to the troops. Havelock's
column had marched twenty-four miles without resting or eating, and
fires were speedily lighted, and preparation made for breakfast. Major
Tytler, quartermaster-general to the force, had, on arriving at the
halting-place, taken twenty of Warrener's Horse, and had gone forward
to reconnoiter. The water was growing hot, and the tired soldiers as
they lay on the ground, pipes in mouths, were thinking that breakfast
would soon be ready, when there was an exclamation:

"Here come the Horse! Something's up!"

The reconnoitering party were seen galloping back at full speed, and a
minute or two later a large body of the enemy's cavalry in rapid
pursuit emerged from a tope on the edge of the plain. The bugles
sounded to arms, and the men grasped their fire-arms and fell in, but
not without many a muttered exclamation of disgust.

"Confound them! they might have given us time for breakfast!"

"They need not be in such a hurry; the day's long enough."

"I thought I hated them fellows as bad as a chap could do; but I owe
them another now."

A laugh was raised by a young officer saying cheerily to his men,
"Nevermind, lads, we'll return good for evil. They won't let us have
enough to eat, and we are going to give them more than they can digest."

In a very short time a considerable force of the enemy's infantry
appeared, following the cavalry, and with them were some guns, which at
once opened on the British force.

Hitherto General Havelock had made no move. He knew that his men
urgently needed rest and food. The sun had come out, and was blazing
fiercely; and it was of great importance that the troops should eat
before undertaking what could not but be a heavy morning's work; but
the enemy, who believed that they had only Major Renaud's weak force
before them, pressed forward so boldly that there was no refusing the
challenge so offered. The order was given to advance, and the men, with
a hearty cheer, moved forward against the enemy, whose force consisted
of fifteen hundred Sepoys, fifteen hundred Oude tribesmen, and five
hundred rebel cavalry, with twelve guns. Their position was a strong
one, for on each side of the road the plain was a swamp, and in many
places was two and even more feet under water. In front, on a rising
ground, were some villages with gardens and mango-groves, and behind
this Futtehpore itself, with gardens with high walls, and many houses
of solid masonry.

It may, however, be said that the fight was decided as soon as begun.
The British artillery silenced that of the enemy; the British rifles
drove their infantry before them. Warrener's Horse and the irregular
cavalry moved on the flank, the infantry marched straight the swamps,
and while some of the guns kept on the solid road, others had to be
dragged and pushed with immense labor through the morass. As the
British advanced the enemy fell back, abandoning gun after gun. The
general of the Sepoy force was on an elephant, on rising ground in the
rear of his troops, and Captain Maude, who commanded the artillery, by
a well-aimed shot knocked the elephant over, to the great delight of
the gunners. After that the rebels attempted no further resistance, and
fled to Futtehpore. There they prepared to make a stand in the houses
and gardens; but our men, whose blood was now thoroughly up, and who
were disgusted at their failure to get at their foe, went forward with
a rush, and the enemy fled without hesitation.

The streets of Futtehpore were absolutely choked with the baggage train
of the defeated rebels, and the discovery of many articles of attire of
English ladies and children raised the fury of the troops to the
highest point. Pursuit of the enemy was, however, impossible. The
troops were utterly exhausted, and officers and men threw themselves
down where-ever a little shade could be found. At three o'clock the
baggage came up, and by the forethought of the commissariat officer in
charge some camels laden with rum and biscuit came up with it, so that
the men were able to have a biscuit and a little spirits and water,
which revived them; for whatever be the demerits of spirits upon
ordinary occasions, on an emergency of this kind it is a restorative of
a very valuable kind.

Singularly enough, in this battle, in which thirty-five hundred men
were defeated and twelve guns captured, not a single British soldier
was killed, the enemy never waiting until fairly within shot. Twelve
soldiers, however, fell and died from sunstroke during the fight.

On the 13th the troops halted to rest. The guns taken from the enemy
were brought in, and the great baggage train captured in the town
organized for our own service.

On the 14th the force again advanced along a road literally strewn with
arms, cartridges, chests of ammunition, shot, clothing, and tents,
abandoned in their flight by the insurgents. The most welcome find to
the army were forty barrels of English porter, part of the Sepoys' loot
at one of the scenes of mutiny. That night the force encamped at
Kulleanpore, twenty-seven miles from Cawnpore.

"So far it has been easy work, except for the legs," Major Warrener
said, as he sat with his sons and his officers on the evening of the
13th; "but it will be very different work now. These scoundrels are
fighting with ropes round their necks; they know that every Cawnpore
Sepoy who falls into our hands will have but a short shrift, and they
can't help fighting. Altogether, they have something like five times
our force; and as they have all been most carefully drilled and trained
by ourselves, the scoundrels ought to make a good fight of it."

"I don't mind the fighting," Ned said, "so much as the heat; it is
awful."

"It is hot, Ned," Captain Dunlop said; "but at rate it is better for us
who sit on horseback than for the men who have to march, and carry a
rifle and ammunition."

"Do you think we shall have fighting to-morrow, father?" Dick asked.

"We are certain to do so. The pandies have been intrenching themselves
very strongly at Dong, which is five miles from here. But this is not
the worst part. We know they have placed two heavy guns on the other
side of the Pandoo Nuddee, which is a large stream three miles beyond
Dong. These guns will sweep not only the bridge, but the straight road
for a mile leading to it. The bridge, too, has, we know, been mined;
and our only chance is to go on with the mutineers, so as to give them
no time to blow it up."

The work of the 14th, however, was less severe than was expected. The
enemy fought stoutly at the village, advancing beyond the inclosures to
meet our troops. Our superior rifle and artillery fire, however, drove
them back, and then they clung stubbornly to the village and
inclosures, our advance being retarded by the threatening attitude of
large bodies of the enemy's cavalry, who moved upon the flanks and
menaced the baggage. The force under Havelock being so weak in
cavalry--for the native irregulars had been disarmed and dismounted for
their bad conduct--there remained only Warrener's Horse, who were known
in the force as the "volunteers." These covered the baggage, and
executed several brilliant charges on parties of the enemy's cavalry
who came too boldly forward; but the artillery had to be brought from
the front, and to open upon the heavy masses of the enemy's cavalry,
before they would fall back. Then the column pressed forward again,
captured Dong, with two guns placed there, and drove the enemy out in
headlong flight.

Then the force moved forward to the capture of the Pandoo bridge. As
the artillery, who were at the head of the column, debouched from a
wood into the straight bit of road leading to the bridge two puffs of
smoke burst from a low ridge ahead, followed by the boom of heavy guns,
and the twenty-four pound shot, splendidly aimed, crashed in among the
guns, bullocks, and men. Again and again the enemy's guns were fired
with equal accuracy. Our light guns were at the distance no match for
these twenty-four pounders, and Captain Maude ordered two guns to
advance straight along the road until within easy practice distance,
and two others to go across the country to the right and left, so as to
take the bridge, which stood at the extremity of a projecting bend of
the river, or, as it is called in military parlance, a salient angle,
in flank.

The Madras Fusiliers, in skirmishing line, preceded the guns, and their
Enfield fire, as soon as they were within range, astonished the enemy.
Then the artillery opened with shrapnel, and nearly at the first round
silenced the enemy's guns by killing the majority of the gunners and
smashing the sponging rods. Then the infantry advanced at a charge, and
the enemy, who were massed to defend the bridge, at once lost heart and
fled. They tried to blow up the bridge, but in their haste they
blundered over it; and while the parapets were injured, the arches
remained intact.

After all this fighting, the British loss was but six killed and
twenty-three wounded--among the latter being that brave officer Major
Renaud, whose leg was broken by a musket shot while leading the Madras
Fusiliers.

Finding that the resistance was becoming more and more obstinate,
General Havelock sent off a horseman to Brigadier General Neil at
Allahabad, begging him to send up three hundred more British troops
with all speed. On receiving the message General Neil sent off two
hundred and twenty-seven men of the Eighty-fourth Regiment in bullock
vans, with orders to do twenty-five miles a day, which would take them
to Cawnpore in less than five days. He himself came on with the
reinforcements, Allahabad being by this time quiet and safe.

At daybreak next morning the troops marched fourteen miles, halted, and
cooked their food; after which, at one o'clock, they prepared to attack
the enemy, who were, our spies told us, in a position extremely strong
in the front, but capable of being attacked by a flank movement. In the
burning heat of the sun, with men falling out fainting at every step,
the troops, under a heavy artillery fire of the enemy, turned off the
road and swept round to execute the flank movement as calmly and
regularly as if on parade.

When they reached the points assigned to them for the attack they
advanced; and then, while the skirmishers and the artillery engaged the
enemy, who were strongly posted in the inclosures of a village, the
main body lay down. The enemy's guns were, however, too strongly posted
to be silenced, and the Seventy-eighth were ordered to take the
position by assault. The Highlanders moved forward in a steady line
until within a hundred yards of the village; then at the word "Charge!"
they went at it with a wild rush, delighted that at last they were to
get hand to hand with their foe. Not a shot was fired or a shout
uttered as they threw themselves upon the mutineers; the bayonet did
its work silently and thoroughly.

A breach once made in the enemy's line, position after position was
carried--Highlanders, Sixty-fourth men, and Sikhs vieing with each
other in the ardor with which they charged the foe, the enemy
everywhere fighting stubbornly, though vainly.

At last, at six in the evening, all opposition ceased, and the troops
marched into the old parade ground of Cawnpore, having performed a
twenty-two miles' march, and fought for five hours, beneath a sun of
tremendous power.



CHAPTER XII.

DANGEROUS SERVICE.


On the morning of the 17th of July the troops rose with light hearts
from the ground where they had thrown themselves, utterly exhausted,
after the tremendous exertions of the previous day. Cawnpore was before
them, and as they did not anticipate any further resistance--for the
whole of the enemy's guns had fallen into their hands, and the Sepoys
had fled in the wildest confusion at the end of the day, after fighting
with obstinacy and determination as long as a shadow of hope of victory
remained--they looked forward to the joy of releasing from captivity
the hapless women and children who were known to have been confined in
the house called the Subada Khotee, since the massacre of their
husbands and friends on the river.

Just after daybreak there was a dull, deep report, and a cloud of gray
smoke rose over the city. Nana Sahib had ordered the great magazine to
be blown up, and had fled for his life to Bithoor. Well might he be
hopeless. He had himself commanded at the battle of the preceding day,
and had seen eleven thousand of his countrymen, strongly posted,
defeated by a thousand Englishmen. What chance, then, could there be of
final success? As for himself, his life was a thousandfold forfeit; and
even yet his enemies did not know the measure of his atrocities. It was
only when the head of the British column arrived at the Subada Khotee
that the awful truth became known. The troops halted, surprised that no
welcome greeted them. They entered the courtyard; all was hushed and
quiet, but fragments of dresses, children's shoes, and other
remembrances of British occupation, lay scattered about. Awed and
silent, the leading officers entered the house, and, after a glance
round, recoiled with faces white with horror. The floor was deep in
blood; the walls were sprinkled thickly with it. Fragments of clothes,
tresses of long hair, children's shoes with the feet still in them--a
thousand terrible and touching mementos of the butchery which had taken
place there met the eye. Horror-struck and sickened, the officers
returned into the courtyard, to find that another discovery had been
made, namely, that the great well near the house was choked to the brim
with the bodies of women and children. Not one had escaped.

On the afternoon of the 15th, when the defeat at Futtehpore was known,
the Nana had given orders for a general massacre of his helpless
prisoners. There, in this ghastly well, were the remains, not only of
those who had so far survived the siege and first massacre of Cawnpore,
but of some seventy or eighty women and children, fugitives from
Futteyghur. These had, with their husbands, fathers and friends, a
hundred and thirty in all, reached Cawnpore in boats on the 12th of
July. Here the boats had been fired upon and forced to put to shore,
when the men were, by the Nairn's orders, all butchered, and the women
and children sent to share the fate of the prisoners of Cawnpore.

Little wonder is it that the soldiers, who had struggled against heat
and fatigue and a host of foes to reach Cawnpore, broke clown and cried
like children at that terrible sight; that soldiers picked up the
bloody relics--a handkerchief, a lock of hair, a child's sock sprinkled
with blood--and kept them to steel their hearts to all thoughts of
mercy; and that, after this, they went into battle crying to each other:

"Remember the ladies!" "Remember the babies!" "Think of Cawnpore!"
Henceforth, to the end of the war, no quarter was ever shown to a Sepoy.

One of the first impulses of the Warreners, when the tents were pitched
in the old cantonments, and the troops were dismissed, was to ride with
their father to the house of the ranee. It was found to be
abandoned-as, indeed, was the greater part of the town--and an old
servant, who alone remained, said that two days previously the ranee
had left for her country abode. Major Warrener at once drew out a
paper, saying that the owner of this house had shown hospitality and
kindness to English fugitives, and that it was therefore to be
preserved from all harm or plunder; and having obtained the signature
of the quartermaster-general in addition to his own, he affixed the
paper to the door of the dwelling. The next day he rode out with his
sons and twenty of his men to the house where the boys had first been
sheltered. The gates were opened at his summons by some trembling
retainers, who hastened to assure them that the ranee, their mistress,
was friendly to the English.

"Will you tell her that there is no cause for alarm, but that we desire
an interview with her?" the major said, dismounting.

In a minute the servant returned, and begged the major to follow him,
which he did, accompanied by his sons. They were shown into a grand
reception room, where the ranee, thickly veiled, was sitting on a
couch, surrounded by her attendants, Ahrab standing beside her.

The ranee gave a little cry of pleasure on recognizing the boys, and
Ahrab instantly signed to the other attendants to retire. Then the
ranee unveiled, and the major, who had remained near the entrance until
the attendants had left, came forward, the boys kissing the hands that
the ranee held out to them.

"I have mourned for you as dead," she said. "When the news of that
horrible treachery came, and I thought that I had let you go to death,
my heart turned to water."

"This is our father, dear lady," Ned said; "he has come to thank you
himself for having saved and sheltered us."

The interview lasted for half an hour; refreshment being served, Ned
recounted the particulars of their escape. Major Warrener, on leaving,
handed the ranee a protection order signed by the general, to show to
any British troops who might be passing, and told her that her name
would be sent in with the list of those who had acted kindly to British
fugitives, all of whom afterward received honors and rewards in the
shape of the lands of those who had joined the mutineers. Then, with
many expressions of good-will on both sides, the major and his sons
took their leave, and, joining the troops below, rode back to Cawnpore.

For three days after his arrival at Cawnpore General Havelock rested
his troops, and occupied himself with restoring order in the town.
Numbers of Sepoys were found in hiding, and these were, as soon as
identified, all hung at once. On the third day Brigadier-General Neil
arrived, with the two hundred and twenty men of the Eighty-fourth, who
had been hurried forward-a most welcome reinforcement, for Havelock's
force was sadly weakened by loss in battle, sunstroke, and disease. On
the 20th the army marched against Bithoor, every heart beating at the
thought of engaging Nana Sahib, who, with five thousand men and a large
number of cannon, had made every preparation for the defense of his
castle. At the approach of the avenging force, however, his courage,
and the courage of his troops, alike gave way, and they fled without
firing a shot, leaving behind them guns, elephants, baggage, men, and
horses, in great numbers. The magazine was blown up, and the palace
burned, and the force, with their captured booty, returned to Cawnpore.

During the advance to Cawnpore the zeal and bravery of the young
Warreners had not escaped the notice of the general, who had named them
in his official report as gentlemen volunteers who had greatly
distinguished themselves. On the return from Bithoor, on the evening of
the 20th, he turned to them as he dismounted, and said, "Will you come
to my tent in two hours' time?"

"Young gentlemen," he said, when they presented themselves, and had at
his request seated themselves on two boxes which served as chairs, "in
what I am going to say to you, mind, I express no wish even of the
slightest. I simply state that I require two officers for a service of
extreme danger. I want to send a message into Lucknow. None of the
officers of the English regiments can speak the language with any
fluency, and those of the Madras Fusiliers speak the dialects of
Southern India. Therefore it is among the volunteers, who all belong to
the northwest, that I must look. I have no doubt that there are many of
them who would undertake the service, and whose knowledge of the
language would be nearly perfect, but there are reasons why I ask you
whether you will volunteer for the work. In the first place, you have
already three times passed, while in disguise, as natives; and in the
second, your figures being slight, and still a good deal under the
height you will attain, render your disguise far less easy to be
detected than that of a full-grown man would be. If you undertake it,
you will have a native guide, who last night arrived from Lucknow with
a message to me, having passed through the enemy's lines. You
understand, young gentlemen, the service is one of great honor and
credit if accomplished, but it is also one of the greatest risk. I
cannot so well intrust the mission to the native alone, because I dare
not put on paper the tidings I wish conveyed, and it is possible,
however faithful he may be, that he might, if taken and threatened with
death, reveal the message with which he is charged. I see by your faces
what your answer is about to be, but I will not hear it now. Go first
to your father. Tell him exactly what I have told you, and then send me
the answer if he declines to part with you--bring it me if he consents
to your going. Remember that in yielding what I see is your own
inclination, to his natural anxiety, you will not fall in the very
least from the high position in which you stand in my regard. In an
hour I shall expect to hear from you. Good-night, if I do not see you
again."

"Of course father will let us go," Dick said when they got outside the
tent. Ned did not reply.

"Dick, old boy," he said presently, as they walked along, "don't you
think if I go alone it would be better. It would be an awful blow to
father to lose both of us."

"No, Ned," Dick said warmly, "I hope he will not decide that. I know I
can't talk the lingo as you can, and that so I add to your danger;
still sometimes in danger two can help each other, and we have gone
through so much together--oh, Ned, don't propose that you should go
alone."

Major Warrener--or Colonel Warrener as he should now be called, for
General Havelock had given him a step in rank, in recognition of the
most valuable service of his troop during the battles on the road to
Cawnpore--heard Ned in silence while he repeated, as nearly as possible
word for word, the words of the general. For some time he was silent,
and sat with his face in his hands.

"I don't like you both going, my boys," he said huskily.

"No, father," Dick said, "I feared that that was what you would say;
but although in some respects I should be a hindrance to Ned from not
speaking the language, in others I might help him. Two are always
better than one in a scrape, and if he got ill or wounded or anything I
could nurse him; and two people together keep up each other's spirits.
You know, father, we have got through some bad scrapes together all
right, and I don't see why we should not get through this. We shall be
well disguised; and no end of Sepoys, and people from Cawnpore, must be
making their way to Lucknow, so that very few questions are likely to
be asked. It does not seem to me anything like as dangerous a business
as those we have gone through, for the last thing they would look for
is Englishmen making their way to Lucknow at present. The guide who is
going with us got out, you know; and they must be looking out ten times
as sharp to prevent people getting out, as to prevent any one getting
in."

"I really do not think, father," Ned said, "that the danger of
detection is great-certainly nothing like what it was before. Dick and
I will of course go as Sepoys, and Dick can bind up his face and mouth
as if he had been wounded, and was unable to speak. There must be
thousands of them making their way to Lucknow, and we shall excite no
attention whatever. The distance is not forty miles."

"Very well, boys, so be it," Colonel Warrener said. "There is much in
what you say; and reluctant as I am to part with you both, yet somehow
the thought that you are together, and can help each other, will be a
comfort to me. God bless you, my boys! Go back to the general, and say
I consent freely to your doing the duty for which he has selected you.
I expect you will have to start at once, but you will come back here to
change."

General Havelock expressed his warm satisfaction when the boys returned
with their father's consent to their undertaking the adventure. "I
understand from Colonel Warrener," he said, addressing Ned, "that you
are intended for the army. I have deferred telling you that on the day
of the first fight I sent your name home, begging that you might be
gazetted on that date to a commission in the Sixty-fourth. Your name
will by this time have appeared in order. There are only two ensigns
now in the regiment, and ere I see you again there will, I fear, be
more than that even of death vacancies, so that you will have got your
step. I will do the same for you," he said, turning to Dick, "if you
like to give up your midshipman's berth and take to the army."

"No, thank you, sir," Dick said, laughing. "By the time this is over, I
shall have had enough of land service to last my life."

"I have already sent down a report to the admiral of your conduct,"
General Havelock said; "and as a naval brigade is coming up under
Captain Peel, you will be able to sail under your true colors before
long. Now for your instructions. You are to inform Colonel Inglis, who
is in command since the death of Sir H. Lawrence, that, although I am
on the point of endeavoring to push forward to his rescue, I have no
hope whatever of success. Across the river large forces of Oude
irregulars, with guns, are collected, and every step of the way will be
contested. I must leave a force to hold Cawnpore, and I have only
eleven hundred bayonets in all. With such a force as this it is
impossible, if the enemy resists as stubbornly as may be expected, for
me to fight my way to Lucknow, still more to force my way through the
city, held by some ten or fifteen thousand men, to the Residency, I may
say that I have no hope of doing this till I am largely reinforced.
Still, my making a commencement of a march, and standing constantly on
the offensive, will force the enemy to keep a large force on the road
to oppose me, and will in so far relieve the Residency from some of its
foes. You see the importance of your message. Did the enemy know my
weakness, they would be able to turn their whole force against the
Residency. Tell our countrymen there that they must hold out to the
last, but that I hope and believe that in a month from the present time
the reinforcements will be up, and that I shall be able to advance to
their rescue. Colonel Inglis says that their stores will last to the
end of August, and that he believes that he can repel all attacks. The
native who goes with you bears word only that I am on the point of
advancing to the relief of the garrison. So if the worst happens, and
you are all taken, his message, if he betrays it, will only help to
deceive the enemy. You will start tonight if possible. I leave it to
you to arrange your disguises, and have ordered the guide to be at your
father's tent at nine o'clock--that is, in an hour and a half's
time--so that if you can be ready by that time, you will get well away
before daybreak. There is a small boat four miles up the river, that
the guide crossed in; he hid it in some bushes, so you will cross
without difficulty; and even if you are caught crossing, your story
that you are Sepoys who have been hiding for the last few days will
pass muster. Now, good-by, lads, and may God watch over you and keep
you!"

Upon their return to Colonel Warrener's tent they found their friends
Captains Dunlop and Manners, and two or three of the officers most
accustomed to native habits and ways, and all appliances for disguise.
First the boys took a hearty meal; then they stripped, and were sponged
with iodine from head to foot; both were then dressed in blood-stained
Sepoy uniforms, of which there were thousands lying about, for the
greater portion of the enemy had thrown off their uniforms before
taking to flight. Ned's left arm was bandaged up with bloody rags, and
put in a sling, and Dick's head and face were similarly tied up, though
he could not resist a motion of repugnance as the foul rags were
applied to him. Both had a quantity of native plaster and bandages
placed next to the skin, in case suspicion should fall upon them and
the outside bandages be removed to see if wounds really existed; and
Dick was given a quantity of tow, with which to fill his mouth and
swell out his cheeks and lips, to give the appearance which would
naturally arise from a severe wound in the jaw. Caste marks were
painted on their foreheads; and their disguise was pronounced to be
absolutely perfect to the eye. Both were barefooted, as the Sepoys
never travel in the regimental boots if they can avoid it.

At the appointed time the guide was summoned, an intelligent-looking
Hindoo in country dress. He examined his fellow-travelers, and
pronounced himself perfectly satisfied with their appearance.

Outside the tent six horses were in readiness. Colonel Warrener, and
his friends Dunlop and Manners, mounted on three, the others were for
the travelers; and with a hearty good-by to their other friends in the
secret, the party started.

Half an hour's riding took them to the place where the boat was
concealed in the bushes; and with a tender farewell from their father,
and a hearty good-by from his companions, the three adventurers took
their places in the boat and started.

Noiselessly they paddled across the Ganges, stepped out in the shallow
water on the other side, turned the boat adrift to float down with the
stream, and then struck across the country toward Lucknow.

They were now off the main road, on which the Oude mutineers collected
to oppose the advance of General Havelock were for the most part
stationed. Thus they passed village after village, unchallenged and
unquestioned, and morning, when it dawned, found them twenty miles on
the road toward Lucknow. Then they went into a wood and lay down to
sleep, for even if any one should enter accidentally and discover them,
they had no fear of any suspicion arising. They were now near the main
road, and when they started--just as it became dusk--they met various
parties of horse and foot proceeding toward Cawnpore; sometimes they
passed without a question, sometimes a word or two were said, the guide
answering, and asking how things went at Lucknow.

The subject was evidently a sore one; for curses on the obstinate
Feringhee dogs, and threats as to their ultimate fate, were their only
reply.

Eighteen miles' walk, and a great black wall rose in front of them.

"That is the Alumbagh," the guide said; "the sahibs will have a big
fight here. It is a summer palace and garden of the king. Once past
this we will leave the road. It is but two miles to the canal and we
must not enter the city--not that I fear discovery, but there would be
no possibility of entering the Residency on this side. Our only chance
is on the side I left it; that is by crossing the river. We must work
round the town."

"How far are we from the Residency now? I can hear the cannon very
clearly;" and indeed for the last two hours of their walk the booming
of guns had been distinctly audible.

"It is about five miles in a straight line, but it will be double by
the route we must take."

Turning to the right after passing the dark mass of the Alumbagh, the
little party kept away through a wooded country until another great
building appeared in sight.

"That is the Dilkouska," the guide said. "Now we will go half a mile
further and then sleep; we cannot get in to-night."

In the afternoon they were awake again, and took their seats on a bank
at a short distance from any road, and looked at the city.

"What an extraordinary view!" Ned said. "What fantastic buildings! What
an immense variety of palaces and mosques! What is that strange
building nearest to us?" he asked the guide.

"That is the Martinière. It was built many years ago by a Frenchman in
the service of the king of Oude. Now it is a training college. All the
pupils are in the Residency, and are fighting like men. Beyond, between
us and the Residency, are several palaces and mosques. That is the
Residency; do you not see an English house with a tower, and a flag
flying over it, standing alone on that rising ground by the river?"

"And that is the Residency!" the boys exclaimed, looking at the
building in which, and the surrounding houses, a handful of Englishmen
were keeping at bay an army.

"That is the Residency," their guide said; "do you not see the circle
of smoke which rises around it? Listen; I can hear the rattle of
musketry quite distinctly."

"And how are we to get there?" the boys asked, impatient to be at work
taking part in the defense.

"We will keep on here to the right; the river is close by. We will swim
across after it gets dark, make a wide sweep round, and then come down
to the river again opposite the Residency, swim across, and then we are
safe."



CHAPTER XIII.

LUCKNOW.


Lucknow, although the capital of Oude, the center of a warlike people
smarting under recent annexation, had for a long time remained tranquil
after insurrection and massacre were raging unchecked in the northwest.
Sir Henry Lawrence, a man of great decision and firmness united to
pleasant and conciliating manners, had, when the Sepoys began to hold
nightly meetings and to exhibit signs of recklessness, toward the end
of April, telegraphed to government for full power to act; and having
obtained the required authorization, he awaited with calmness the first
sign of insubordination. This was exhibited by the men of the Seventh
Oude Irregular Infantry, who on the 3d of May endeavored to seduce the
men of the Forty-eighth Native Regiment from its allegiance, and broke
out into acts of open mutiny. Sir Henry Lawrence the same evening
marched the Thirty-second Foot and and a battery of European artillery,
with some native regiments to their lines, three miles from the city,
surrounded and disarmed them, and arrested their ringleaders. After
this act of decision and energy, Lucknow had peace for some time. The
native troops, awed and subdued, remained tranquil, and on the 27th of
May Lucknow still remained quiet, whereas every other station in Oude,
except Cawnpore, was in the hands of the rebels.

At the same time every preparation had been made for the struggle which
all regarded as inevitable. The houses which formed two sides of the
large irregular square in the center of which stood the Residency were
connected by earthworks, and a breastwork, composed of sandbags and
fascines, surrounded the other sides. Stores of provisions were
collected, cattle driven in, and every preparation made for a
lengthened defense. The cantonments were three miles distant from the
Residency, and were occupied by the Thirteenth, Forty-eighth, and
Seventy-first Native Infantry and Seventh Native Cavalry. Her majesty's
Twenty-second Regiment, a battery of European artillery, and a small
force of native horse.

On the evening of the 30th of May the revolt broke out. It began in the
lines of the Seventy-first, and spread at once to the other native
regiments, who took up arms, fired the bungalows, and killed all the
officers upon whom they could lay hands. Happily all was in readiness,
and a company of European troops, with two guns, took up their post on
the road leading to the city, so as to bar the movement of the
mutineers in that direction. Nothing could be done till morning, when
Sir Henry Lawrence, with a portion of the Thirty-second, and the guns,
moved to attack the mutineers. The British were joined by seven hundred
men of the various regiments, who remained true to their colors, and
the mutineers at once fled, with such rapidity that, although pursued
for seven miles, only thirty prisoners were taken.

The troops then marched quickly back to the Residency, where their
presence was much needed, as there was great excitement in the town,
and a good deal of fighting between the police and the roughs of the
city, who endeavored to get up a general rising and an indiscriminate
plunder of the town. Sir Henry Lawrence upon his return restored order,
erected a large gallows outside the fort and hung some of the rioters,
executed a dozen of the mutinous Sepoys, rewarded those who had
remained faithful, and for a time restored order. All the European
residents in Lucknow were called into the lines of the Residency, the
small European force being divided between that post and the Mutchee
Bawn, a strong fort three-quarters of a mile distant, and the remnant
of the native infantry regiments who had so far remained true, but who
might at any moment turn traitors, were offered three months' leave to
go home to their friends. Many accepted the offer and left, but a
portion remained behind, and fought heroically through the siege by the
side of the whites. Thus one source of anxiety for the garrison was
removed; and safe now from treachery within, they had only to prepare
to resist force from without.

So determined was the front shown by the little body of British that
Lucknow, with its unruly population of over a quarter of a million,
remained quiet all through the month of June. It was not until the last
day of the month that the storm was to burst. On the 30th a body of
insurgent Sepoys, some seven or eight thousand strong, having
approached to Chinhut, within a few miles of the town, Sir Henry
Lawrence, with two companies of the Thirty-second, eleven guns, some of
them manned by natives, and eighty native cavalry, went out to give
them battle.

The affair was disastrous; the native cavalry bolted, the native
gunners fled, and after a loss of sixty men, three officers, and six
guns, the British troops with difficulty fought their way back to the
Residency. The rebels entered the town in triumph, and the city at once
rose, the respectable inhabitants were killed, the bazaar looted, and
then, assured of success, the enemy prepared to overwhelm the little
British garrison.

Immediately upon the return of the defeated column, it became evident
that the weakened force could not hold the two positions. Accordingly
the Mutchee Bawn was evacuated, its great magazine, containing two
hundred and forty barrels of powder and six hundred thousand rounds of
ammunition, was blown up, and the British force was reunited in the
Residency.

In order that the position of affairs in this, perhaps the most
remarkable siege that ever took place, should be understood, it is as
well to give a full description of the defenses. The Residency and its
surroundings formed an irregular, lozenge-shaped inclosure, having its
acute angles nearly north and south, the southern extremity being
contiguous to the Cawnpore Road, and the northern point approaching
near to the iron bridge over the river Goomtee. Near the south point of
the inclosure was the house of Major Anderson, standing in the middle
of a garden or open court, and surrounded by a wall; the house was
defended by barricades, and loopholed for musketry, while the garden
was strengthened by a trench and rows of palisades. Next to this house,
and communicating with it by a hole in the wall, was a newly
constructed defense work called the Cawnpore Battery, mounted with
guns, and intended to command the houses and streets adjacent to the
Cawnpore Road. The house next to this, occupied by a Mr. Deprat, had a
mud wall, six feet high and two and a half thick, built along in front
of its veranda, and this was continued to the next house, being raised
to the height of nine feet between the houses, and loopholed for
musketry. This next house was inhabited by the boys from the Martinière
School. It was defended by a stockade and trench, both of which were
continued across a road which divided this house from the next, which
stood near the western angle, and was the brigade messhouse. This house
had a lofty and well-protected terrace, commanding the houses outside
the inclosure. In its rear were a number of small buildings, occupied
by officers and their families.

Next to the brigade messhouse were two groups of low buildings, called
the Sikh Squares, and on the flat roofs of these buildings sandbag
parapets were raised. Next to this, at the extreme western point, stood
the house of Mr. Gubbins, the commissioner, a strong building, defended
with stockades, and having at the angle a battery, called Gubbins'
Battery. Along the northwestern side were a number of yards and
buildings, the racket-court, the sheep-pens, the slaughter-house, the
cattle-yard, a storehouse for the food for the cattle, and a
guardhouse; and behind them stood a strong building known as Ommaney's
house, guarded by a deep ditch and cactus hedge, and defended with two
pieces of artillery. A mortar battery was planted north of the
slaughter-house. Next along the line was the church, converted now into
a granary, and in the churchyard was a mortar battery. Next came the
house of Lieutenant Innis, a weak and difficult post to hold, commanded
as it was by several houses outside the inclosure. Commanding the
extreme north point, which was in itself very weak, was the Redan
Battery, a well-constructed work. From this point, facing the river,
was a strong earthwork, and outside the sloping garden served as a
glacis, and rendered attack on this side difficult. Near the eastern
angle stood the hospital, a very large stone building, formerly the
banqueting-hall of the British residents at the court of Oude. Near the
hospital, but on lower ground, was the Bailey Guard. Dr. Fayrer's
house, south of the hospital, was strongly built, and from its terraced
roof an effective musketry fire could be kept up on an enemy
approaching on this side. Next to it came the civil dispensary, and
then the post office, a strong position, defended by a battery. Between
this and the south corner came the financial office, Sago's house, the
judicial office, and the jail. The Residency, a spacious and handsome
building, stood in the center of the northern portion of the inclosure,
surrounded by gardens. It was on elevated ground, and from its terraced
roof a splendid view of the city and surrounding country could be
obtained. The begum's khotee, or ladies' house, stood near the center
of the inclosure; it was a large building, and was used as a
commissariat store and for the dwellings of many officers' families.
Thus it will be seen that the Residency at Lucknow, as defended against
the insurgents, comprised a little town grouped round the dwelling of
the Resident.

In this little circle of intrenchments were gathered, on the 1st of
July, when the siege began, over a thousand women and children,
defended by a few hundred British troops and civilians, and about a
hundred and fifty men remaining faithful from the Sepoy regiments. Upon
that day the enemy opened fire from several batteries. A shell
penetrated the small room in the Residency in which Sir Henry Lawrence
was sitting, and passed between him and his private secretary, Mr.
Cowper. His officers begged him to change his room, but he declined to
do so, saying laughingly that the room was so small that there was no
chance of another shell finding its way in. He was, however, mistaken,
for the very next day a shell entered, and burst in the room, the
fragments inflicting a mortal wound upon Sir Henry, who died a few
hours afterward. The loss was a heavy one indeed, both to the garrison,
to whom his energy, calmness, and authority were invaluable, and to
England, who lost in him one of her noblest and most worthy sons. On
his death the command of the defense devolved upon Colonel Inglis, of
the Thirty-second Regiment, a most gallant and skillful officer. After
this, day after day the fighting had continued, the enemy ever gaining
in numbers and in strength, erecting fresh batteries, and keeping up a
ceaseless fire night and day upon the garrison.

The Warreners with their guide experienced the difficulties which this
increased activity of the attack caused to emissaries trying to enter
or leave the Residency. After it had become dark they swam the Goomtee,
and made a wide circuit, and then tried to approach the river again
opposite the Residency. Several batteries, however, had been erected on
this side since the guide had left, five days before, and these were
connected by a chain of sentries, so closely placed that it would have
been madness to endeavor to pass them unseen. It was clear that the
mutineers were determined to cut off all communication to or from the
garrison. The little party skirted the line of sentries, a line
indicated clearly enough by the bivouac fires on the near side of them.
Round these large numbers of mutineers were moving about, cooking,
smoking, and conversing.

"It is hopeless to attempt to get through here," said Ned.

"We will go on to the road leading to the iron bridge," the guide
replied; "we can follow that to the river and then slip aside."

Here, however, they were foiled again, as fires were lighted and there
were sentries on the road to forbid all except those on business to
pass. Presently a body of men came along, bearing shell upon their
heads for the service of the batteries on the other side of the river.

"Whence are they fetching these?" Ned asked the guide.

"From the king's magazine, a quarter of a mile away to the right. They
are taking ammunition, now, for the bridge is within four hundred yards
of the Redan battery, and they cannot cross at daylight under fire."

"Here is a party coming back," Ned said; "let us fall in behind them,
go to the magazine and get shell, and then follow back again till we
are close to the bridge, and trust to luck in getting clear."

The guide assented, and they followed the Sepoys down to the magazine,
keeping a little behind the others, and being the last to enter the
yard where the loaded shell were standing.

Each took a shell and followed closely upon the heels of the party. In
the dark no one noticed the addition to their number, and they passed
the sentries on the road without question. Then they fell a little
behind. The natives paused just before they reached the bridge; for the
British knowing that ammunition was nightly being carried over, fired
an occasional shot in that direction. The party halted under shelter of
a house until a shot flew past, and then hurried forward across the
exposed spot. As they did so, the Warreners and their guide placed the
shells they were carrying on the ground, turned off from the road,
climbed a garden wall, and in a minute were close to the river.

"Go silently," the guide said; "there are some more sentries here."

Stealing quietly along, for they were all shoeless, they could see
crouching figures between them and the water, every twenty yards apart.

"We shall have to run the gantlet, Ned," Dick said. "Our best chance
will be to shove one of these fellows suddenly into the water, jump in
and dive for it. You and I can dive across that river, and we shall
come up under the shadow of the opposite bank."

Ned spoke to the guide.

"The water is shallow for the first few yards, sahib, but we shall get
across that into two feet, which is deep enough for us, before the
sentries have recovered from their surprise. They are sure to fire at
random, and we shall be out of the water on the other side before they
have loaded again."

The plan agreed to, they stripped off their uniforms, and crept quietly
along until they were close to a sentry. Then with a bound they sprang
upon him, rolled him over the bank into the shallow water, and dashed
forward themselves at the top of their speed.

So sudden was their rush that they were knee-deep before the nearest
sentry fired, his ball whizzing over their heads as they threw
themselves face downward in the stream, and struck out under water.

Even when full the Goomtee is not more than ninety yards wide, and from
the point where they started to equally shallow water on the other side
was now not more than forty. The boys could both dive that distance;
but their guide, although a good swimmer, was a less expert diver, and
had to come twice to the surface for breath. He escaped, however,
without a shot; for, as they had expected, the report of the musket was
followed by a general volley in the direction of the splash, by all the
sentries for some distance on either side. Therefore, when the party
rose from the water, and dashed up the other bank, not a shot greeted
them. It was clear running now, only a hundred yards up the slope of
the garden, to the British earthwork.

"We are friends!" the boys shouted as they ran, and a cheer from the
men on watch greeted them. A few shots flew after them from the other
side of the river, but these were fired at random, and in another
minute the party had scrambled over the earthwork and were among
friends.

Hearty were the hand-shakes and congratulations bestowed upon them all;
and as the news that messengers had arrived flew like wild-fire round
the line of trenches, men came running down, regardless of the bullets
which, now that the enemy were thoroughly roused up, sang overhead in
all directions.

"We won't ask your message," was the cry, "till you have seen the
colonel; but do tell us, is help at hand?"

"English general coming," the native guide said.

"Yes," Ned said, as delighted exclamations at the news arose; "but not
yet. Do not excite false hopes among the ladies; some time must pass
before help arrives. I must not say more till I have seen Colonel
Inglis; but I should be sorry if false hopes were raised."

Cloaks were lent to the boys, and they were taken at once to the
Residency, and along passages thronged with sleepers were conducted to
Colonel Inglis' room. He had already heard that the native messenger
had returned, with two Englishmen in disguise, and he was up and ready
to receive them--for men slept dressed, and ready for action at a
moment's call.

"Well done, subadar," he exclaimed, as the native entered; "you have
nobly earned your step in rank and the five thousand rupees promised to
you. Well, what is your message?"

"The General Sahib bids me say that he is coming on to Lucknow with all
speed. Cawnpore was taken four days before I left. The Nana has fled
from Bithoor, and all goes well. These officers have further news to
give you."

"I am indeed glad to see you, gentlemen," Colonel Inglis said, warmly
shaking them by the hand. "Whom have I the pleasure of seeing, for at
present your appearance is admirably correct as that of two Sepoys?"

"Our name is Warrener," Ned said; "we are brothers. I have just been
gazetted to the Sixty-fourth; my brother is a midshipman. We have a
message for your private ear, sir; and if I might suggest, it would be
better to keep our native friend close by for a few minutes, lest his
news spread. You will see the reason when we have spoken to you."

Colonel Inglis gave the sign, and the other officers retired with the
guide.

"Our message, sir, is, I regret to say, far less favorable than that
transmitted by the subadar, and it was for that reason that General
Havelock sent us with him. If taken, he would have told his message,
for the general had ordered him to make no secret of his instructions
if he fell into the enemy's hands, as it was desirable that they should
believe that he was about to advance, and thus relieve the pressure
upon you by keeping a large force on the road up from Cawnpore. But in
fact, sir, General Havelock bids us tell you that he cannot advance. He
has but a thousand bayonets fit for service. He must hold Cawnpore, and
the force available for an advance would be hopelessly insufficient to
fight his way through Oude and force a road through the city. The
instant he receives reinforcements he will advance, and will in the
meantime continue to make feints, so as to keep a large force of the
enemy on the alert. He fears that it may be a month before he will be
able to advance to your aid with a chance of success."

"A month!" Colonel Inglis said; "that is indeed a long time, and we had
hoped that already help was at hand. Well, we must do our best. We are
even now sorely pressed; but I doubt not we can hold out for a month.
General Havelock cannot accomplish impossibilities, and it is wonderful
that he should have recaptured Cawnpore with so small a force."

"We thought it better to give you this news privately, colonel, in
order that you might, should you think fit, keep from the garrison the
knowledge that so long a time must elapse without succor."

"You were quite right, sir," Colonel Inglis said; "but the truth had
better be made public. It is far better that all should know that we
are dependent upon our own exertions for another month than that they
should be vainly looking for assistance to arrive. And now, gentlemen,
I will call my officers in, and you shall get some clothes. Unhappily,
death is so busy that there will be no difficulty in providing you in
that respect. You must want food, too, and that, such as it is, is in
plenty also."

The other officers were now called in, and the commandant told them the
news that he had received from the Warreners. There was a look of
disappointment for a moment, and then cheering answers that they were
all good for another month's fighting were made.

"I know, gentlemen," Colonel Inglis said, "our thoughts are all the
same. We are ready to fight another month, but we dread the delay for
the sake of the women and children. However, God's will be done. All
that men can do, this garrison will, I know, do; and with God's help, I
believe that whether aid comes a little sooner or later, we shall hold
these battered ruins till it arrives. Captain Fellows, will you get
these officers something to eat, and some clothes? Then, if they are
not too tired, they will perhaps not mind sitting up an hour or two and
giving us the news from the outside world."

Daylight was breaking before Ned and Dick--who had, at Colonel Inglis'
suggestion separated, Ned going to the colonel's room, while Dick
formed the center of a great gathering in a hall below, in order that
as many might hear the news as possible--brought to a conclusion the
account of Havelock's advance, of the awful massacre of Cawnpore, of
the fresh risings that had taken place in various parts of India, of
the progress of the siege of Delhi, and the arrival of reinforcements
from China and England. With daybreak, the cannon, which had tired at
intervals through the night, began to roar incessantly, and shot and
shell crashed into the Residency.

"Is this sort of thing always going on?" Dick asked in astonishment.

"Always," was the answer, "by day, and four nights out of five. We have
not had so quiet a time as last night for a week. Now I will go and ask
the chief to which garrison you and your brother are to be assigned."



CHAPTER XIV.

THE BESIEGED RESIDENCY.


The Warrener's were taken to Gubbins' house, or garrison, as each of
these fortified dwellings was now called; and the distance, short as it
was, was so crowded with dangers and disagreeables that they were
astonished how human beings could have supported them for a month, as
the garrison of Lucknow had done. From all points of the surrounding
circle shot and shell howled overhead, or crashed into walls and roofs.
Many of the enemy's batteries were not above a hundred yards from the
defenses, and the whistling of musket-balls was incessant.

Here and there, as they ran along, great swarms of flies, millions in
number, rose from some spot where a bullock, killed by an enemy's shot,
had been hastily buried, while horrible smells everywhere tainted the
air.

Running across open spaces, and stooping along beneath low walls, the
Warreners and their conductor, Captain Fellows, reached Gubbins' house.
Mr. Gubbins himself--financial commissioner of Oude, a man of great
courage and firmness--received them warmly.

"You will find we are close packed," he said, "but you will, I am sure,
make the best of it. I am glad to have you, for every man is of value
here; and after the bravery you have shown in coming through the
enemy's lines you will be just the right sort of men for me. I think
you will find most room here; I lost two of my garrison from this room
on the 20th, when we had a tremendous attack all round."

The room was small and dark, as the window was closed by a bank of
earth built against it on the outside. It was some fourteen feet by
eight, and here, including the newcomers, eight men lived and slept.
Here the Warreners, after a few words with those who were in future to
be their comrades, threw themselves down on the ground, and, in spite
of the din which raged around them, were soon fast asleep.

It was nearly dark when they awoke, and they at once reported
themselves to Mr. Johnson--a police magistrate, who was the senior
officer of the party in the room--as ready to begin duty.

"You will not be on regular duty till to-night," he replied.
"Altogether, there are about forty men in the garrison. Eight are
always on duty, and are relieved every four hours. So we go on every
twenty hours. Only half our set go on duty together, as that gives room
for those who remain. Two came off duty at eight this morning, four are
just going on. You will go on with the two who came off this morning,
at midnight. Besides their sentry work, of course every one is in
Readiness to man the walls at any moment in case of alarm, and a good
deal of your time can be spent at loopholes, picking off the enemy
directly they show themselves. One of the party, in turn, cooks each
day. Besides the fighting duty, there is any amount of fatigue work,
the repairing and strengthening of the defenses, the fetching rations
and drawing water for the house, in which there are over fifty women
and children, the burying dead cattle, and covering blood and filth
with earth. Besides defending our own post, we are, of course, ready to
rush at any moment to assist any other garrison which may be pressed.
Altogether, you will think yourself lucky when you can get four hours'
sleep out of the twenty-four."

"Are our losses heavy?" Ned asked.

"Terribly heavy. The first week we lost twenty a day shot in the
houses; but now that we have, as far as possible, blocked every
loophole at which a bullet can enter, we are not losing so many as at
first, but the daily total is still heavy, and on a day like the 20th
we lost thirty. The enemy attacked us all round, and we mowed them down
with grape; we believe we killed over a thousand of them.
Unfortunately, every day our losses are getting heavier from disease,
foul air, and overcrowding; the women and children suffer awfully. If
you are disposed to make yourselves useful when not on duty, you will
find abundant opportunity for kindness among them. I will take you
round the house and introduce you to the ladies, then you can go among
them as you like."

First the Warreners went to what, in happier times, was the main room
of the house, a spacious apartment some thirty-five feet square, with
windows opening to the ground at each end, to allow a free passage of
air. These, on the side nearest the enemy, were completely closed by a
bank of earth; while those on the other side were also built up within
a few inches of the top, for shots and shell could equally enter them.
The Warreners were introduced to such of the garrison as were in, the
greater part being at work outside the house repairing a bank which had
been injured during the day. Then Mr. Johnson went to one of the rooms
leading off the main apartment. A curtain hung across it instead of a
door, and this was now drawn aside to allow what air there was to
circulate.

"May I come in?" he asked.

"Certainly, Mr. Johnson," a lady said, coming to the entrance.

"Mrs. Hargreaves, let me introduce the Messrs. Warreners, the gentlemen
who have so gallantly come through the enemy's lines with the message.
They are to form part of our garrison."

The lady held out her hand, but with a slight air of surprise.

"I suppose our color strikes you as peculiar, Mrs. Hargreaves," Ned
said, "but it will wear off in a few days; it is iodine, and we are
already a good many shades lighter than when we started."

"How silly of me not to think of that," Mrs. Hargreaves said; "of
course I heard that you were disguised. But please come in; it is not
much of a room to receive in, but we are past thinking of that now. My
daughter, Mrs. Righton; her husband is with mine on guard at present.
These are my daughters, Edith and Nelly; these five children are my
grandchildren. My dears, these are the Messrs. Warreners, who brought
the news from General Havelock. Their faces are stained, but will be
white again in time."

The ladies all shook hands with the Warreners, who looked with surprise
on the neatness which prevailed in this crowded little room. On the
ground, by the walls, were several rolls of bedding covered over with
shawls, and forming seats or lounges. On the top of one of the piles
two little children were fast asleep. A girl of six sat in a corner on
the ground reading. There were two or three chairs, and these the
ladies, seating themselves on the divan, as they called the bedding,
asked their visitors to take.

Mrs. Hargreaves was perhaps forty-five years old, with a pleasant face,
marked by firmness and intelligence. Mrs. Righton was twenty-five or
twenty-six, and her pale face showed more than that of her mother the
effects of the anxiety and confinement of the siege. Edith and Nelly
were sixteen and fifteen respectively, and although pale, the siege had
not sufficed to mar their bright faces or to crush their spirits.

"Dear me," Nelly said, "why, you look to me to be quite boys; why, you
can't be much older than I am, are you?"

"My dear Nelly," her mother said reprovingly; but Dick laughed heartily.

"I am not much older than you are," he said; "a year, perhaps, but not
more. I am a midshipman in the Agamemnon. My brother is a year older
than I am, and he is gazetted to the Sixty-fourth; so you see, if the
times were different, we should be just the right age to be your
devoted servants."

"Oh, you can be that now," Nelly said. "I am sure we want them more
than ever; don't we, mamma?"

"I think you have more than your share of servants now, Nelly," replied
her mother. "We are really most fortunate, Mr. Johnson, in having our
ayah still with us; so many were deserted by their servants altogether,
and she is an admirable nurse. I do not know what we should do without
her, for the heat and confinement make the poor children sadly
fractious. We were most lucky yesterday, for we managed to secure a
dobee for the day, and you see the result;" and she smilingly indicated
the pretty light muslins in which her daughters were dressed. "You see
us quite at our best," she said, turning to the boys. "But we have,
indeed," she went on seriously, "every reason to be thankful. So far we
have not lost any of our party, and there are few indeed who can say
this. These are terrible times, young gentlemen, and we are all in
God's hands. We are exceptionally well off, but we find our hands full.
My eldest daughter has to aid the ayah with the children; then there is
the cooking to be done by me, and the room to be kept tidy by Edith and
Nelly, and there are so many sick and suffering to be attended to. You
will never find us all here before six in the evening; we are busy all
day; but we shall always be glad to see you when you can spare time for
a chat in the evening. All the visitors we receive are not so welcome,
I can assure you;" and she pointed to three holes in the wall where the
enemy's shot had crashed through.

"That is a very noble woman," Mr. Johnson said, as they went out. "She
spends many hours every day down at the military hospital where, the
scenes are dreadful, and where the enemy's shot and shell frequently
find entry, killing alike the wounded and their attendants. The married
daughter looks after her children and the neatness of the rooms. The
young girls are busy all day about the house nursing sick children, and
yet, as you see, all are bright, pleasant, and the picture of neatness,
marvelous contrasts indeed to the disorder and wretchedness prevailing
among many, who might, by making an effort, be as bright and as
comfortable as they are. There are, as you will find, many brilliant
examples of female heroism and self-devotion exhibited here; but in
some instances women seem to try how helpless, how foolish a silly
woman can be. Ah," he broke off, as a terrific crash followed by a loud
scream was heard, "I fear that shell has done mischief."

"Mrs. Shelton is killed," a woman said, running out, "and Lucy Shelton
has had her arm cut off. Where is Dr. Topham?"

Mrs. Hargreaves came out of her door with a basin of water and some
linen torn into strips for bandages just as the doctor ran in from the
Sikh Square, where he had been attending to several casualties.

"That is right," he nodded to Mrs. Hargreaves; "this is a bad business,
I fear."

"All hands to repair defenses!" was now the order, and the boys
followed Mr. Johnson outside.

"The scoundrels are busy this evening," he observed.

"It sounds like a boiler-maker's shop," Dick said; "if only one in a
hundred bullets were to hit, there would not be many alive by to-morrow
morning."

"No, indeed," Mr. Johnson replied; "they are of course firing to some
extent at random, but they aim at the points where they think it likely
that we may be at work, and their fire adds greatly to our difficulty
in setting right at night the damage they do in the daytime."

For the next four hours the lads were hard at work with the rest of the
garrison. Earth was brought in sacks or baskets and piled up, stockades
repaired, and fascines and gabions mended. The work would have been
hard anywhere; on an August night in India it was exhausting. All the
time that they were at work the bullets continued to fly thickly
overhead, striking the wall of the house with a sharp crack, or burying
themselves with a short thud in the earth. Round shot and shell at
times crashed through the upper part of the house, which was
uninhabited; while from the terraced roof, and from the battery in the
corner of the garden, the crack of the defenders' rifles answered the
enemy's fire.

By the time that the work was done it was midnight, and the Warreners'
turn for guard. They had received rifles, and were posted with six
others in the battery. There were three guns here, all of which were
loaded to the muzzle with grape; three artillerymen, wrapped in their
cloaks, lay asleep beside them, for the number of artillerymen was so
small that the men were continually on duty, snatching what sleep they
could by their guns during the intervals of fighting. The orders were
to listen attentively for the sound of the movement of any body of men,
and to fire occasionally at the flashes of the enemy's guns. The four
hours passed rapidly, for the novelty of the work, the thunder of
cannon and crackling of musketry, all round the Residency, were so
exciting that the Warreners were surprised when the relief arrived.
They retired to their room, and were soon asleep; but in an hour the
alarm was sounded, and the whole force at the post rushed to repel an
attack. Heralded by a storm of fire from every gun which could be
brought to bear upon the battery, thousands of fanatics rushed from the
shelter of the houses outside the intrenchments and swarmed down upon
it. The garrison lay quiet behind the parapet until the approach of the
foe caused the enemy's cannon to cease their fire. Then they leaped to
their feet and poured a volley into the mass. So great were their
numbers, however, that the gaps were closed in a moment, and with yells
and shouts the enemy leaped into the ditch, and tried to climb the
earthwork of the battery. Fortunately at this moment the reserve of
fifty men of the Thirty-second, which were always kept ready to launch
at any threatened point, came up at a run, and their volley over the
parapet staggered the foe. Desperately their leaders called upon them
to climb the earthworks, but the few who succeeded in doing so were
bayoneted and thrown back into the ditch, while a continuous musketry
fire was poured into the crowd. Over and over again the guns, charged
with grape, swept lines through their ranks, and at last, dispirited
and beaten, they fell back again to the shelter from which they had
emerged. The Thirty-second men then returned to the brigade messroom,
and the garrison of the fort were about to turn in when Mr. Gubbins
said cheerfully:

"Now, lads, we have done with those fellows for to-day, I fancy. I want
some volunteers to bury those horses which were killed yesterday; it's
an unpleasant job, but it's got to be done."

The men's faces testified to the dislike they felt for the business;
but they knew it was necessary, and all made their way to the yard,
where, close by the cattle, the horses were confined. The boys
understood at once the repugnance which was felt to approaching this
part of the fort. The ground was covered deep with flies, who rose in a
black cloud, with a perfect roar of buzzing.

Lucknow was always celebrated for its plague of flies, but during the
siege the nuisance assumed surprising proportions. The number of cattle
and animals collected, the blood spilled in the slaughter-yard, the
impossibility of preserving the cleanliness so necessary in a hot
climate, all combined to generate swarms of flies, which rivaled those
of Egypt. The garrison waged war against them, but in vain. Powder was
plentiful, and frequently many square yards of infected ground, where
the flies swarmed thickest, would be lightly sprinkled with it, and
countless legions blown into the air; but these wholesale executions,
however often repeated, appeared to make no impression whatever on the
teeming armies of persecutors.

Their task finished, the fatigue party returned to their houses, and
then all who had not other duties threw themselves down to snatch a
short sleep. In spite of a night passed without rest, sleep was not
easily wooed. The heat in the open air was terrific, in the close
little room it was stifling; while the countless flies irritated them
almost to madness. There was indeed but the choice of two evils: to
cover closely their faces and hands, and lie bathed in perspiration; or
to breathe freely, and bear the flies as best they might. The former
alternative was generally chosen, as heat, however great, may be
endured in quiet, and sleep may insensibly come on; but sleep with a
host of flies incessantly nestling on every exposed part of the face
and body was clearly an impossibility.

That day was a bad one for the defenders of Gubbins' garrison, for no
less than twelve shells penetrated the house, and five of the occupants
were killed or wounded. The shells came from a newly erected battery a
hundred and fifty yards to the north. Among the killed was one of Mrs.
Righton's children; and the boys first learned the news when, on rising
from a fruitless attempt to sleep, they went to get a little fresh air
outside. Edith and Nelly Hargreaves came out from the door, with jugs,
on their way to fetch water.

The Warreners at once offered to fetch it for them, and as they spoke
they saw that the girls' faces were both swollen with crying.

"Is anything the matter, Miss Hargreaves?" Ned asked.

"Have you not heard," Edith said, "how poor little Rupert has been
killed by a shell? The ayah was badly hurt, and we all had close
escapes; the shells from that battery are terrible."

Expressing their sorrow at the news, the boys took the jugs, and
crossing the yard to the well, filled and brought them back.

"I wish we could do something to silence that battery," said Dick; "it
will knock the house about our ears, and we shall be having the women
and children killed every day."

"Let's go and have a look at it from the roof," replied Ned.

The roof was, like those of most of the houses in the Residency, flat,
and intended for the inmates to sit and enjoy the evening breeze. The
parapet was very low, but this had been raised by a line of sandbags,
and behind them five or six of the defenders were lying, firing through
the openings between the bags, in answer to the storm of musketry which
the enemy were keeping up on the post.

Stooping low to avoid the bullets which were singing overhead, the
Warreners moved across the terrace, and lying down, peered out through
the holes which had been left for musketry. Gubbins' house stood on one
of the highest points of the ground inclosed in the defenses, and from
it they could obtain a view of nearly the whole circle of the enemy's
batteries. They were indeed higher than the roofs of most of the houses
held by the enemy, but one of these, distant only some fifty yards from
the Sikh Square, dominated the whole line of the British defenses on
that side, and an occasional crack of a rifle from its roof showed that
the advantage was duly appreciated.

"What do they call that house?" Ned asked one of the officers on the
terrace.

"That is Johannes' house," he answered. "It was a terrible mistake that
we did not destroy it before the siege began; it is an awful thorn in
our side. There is a black scoundrel, a negro, in the service of the
king of Oude, who has his post there; he is a magnificent shot, and he
has killed a great number of ours. It is almost certain death to show a
head within the line of his fire."

"I wonder we have not made a sortie, and set fire to the place," said
Ned.

"The scoundrels are so numerous that we could only hope to succeed with
considerable loss, and we are so weak already that we can't afford it.
So the chief sets his face against sorties, but I expect that we shall
be driven to it one of these days. That new battery is terribly
troublesome also. There, do you see, it lies just over that brow, so
that the shot from our battery cannot touch it, while it can pound away
at our house, and indeed at all the houses along this line."

"I should have thought," Dick said, "that a rush at night might carry
it, and spike the guns."

"No; we should be certain to make some sort of noise, however quiet we
were. There are six guns, all loaded at nightfall to the muzzle with
grape; we know that, for once they fancied they heard us coming, and
they fired such a storm of grape that we should have been all swept
away; besides which, there are a large number of the fellows sleeping
round; and although sometimes the battery ceases firing for some hours,
the musketry goes on more or less during the night."

The Warreners lay wistfully watching the battery, whose shots
frequently struck the house, and two or three times knocked down a
portion of the sandbag parapet--the damage being at once repaired with
bags lying in readiness, but always under a storm of musketry, which
opened in the hopes of hitting the men engaged upon the work; these
were, however, accustomed to it, and built up the sandbags without
showing a limb to the enemy's shot.

"There were two children killed by that last shot," an officer said,
coming up from below and joining them; "it made its way through the
earth and broke in through a blocked-up window."

"We must silence that battery, Ned, whatever comes of it," Dick said in
his brother's ear.

"I agree with you, Dick; but how is it to be done? have you got an
idea?"

"Well, my idea is this," the midshipman said. "I think you and I might
choose a dark night, as it will be to-night. Take the bearings of the
battery exactly; then when they stop firing, and we think the gunners
are asleep, crawl out and make for the guns. When we get there we can
make our way among them, keeping on the ground so that the sentry
cannot see us against the sky; and then with a sponge full of water we
can give a squeeze on each of the touchholes, so there would be no
chance of their going off till the charges were drawn. Then we could
make our way back and tell Gubbins the guns are disabled, and he can
take out a party, carry them with a rush, and spike them permanently."

"Capital, Dick; I'm with you, old boy."

"Now let us take the exact bearings of the place. There was a lane, you
see, before the houses were pulled down, running along from beyond that
corner nearly to the guns. When we get out we must steer for that,
because it is comparatively clear from rubbish, and we ain't so likely
to knock a stone over and make a row. We must choose some time when
they are pounding away somewhere else, and then we shan't be heard even
if we do make a little noise. We will ask Mrs. Hargreaves for a couple
of pieces of sponge; we need not tell her what we want them for."

"And you think to-night, Dick?"

"Well, to-night is just as likely to succeed as any other night, and
the sooner the thing is done the better. Johnson commands the guard
from twelve to four, and he is an easy-going fellow, and will let us
slip out, while some of the others wouldn't."



CHAPTER XV.

SPIKING THE GUNS.


As soon as night fell a little procession with three little forms on
trays covered with white cloths, and two of larger size, started from
Gubbins' house to the churchyard. Mr. and Mrs. Hargreaves, and Mrs.
Righton and her husband, with two other women, followed. That morning
all the five, now to be laid in the earth, were strong and well; but
death had been busy. In such a climate as that, and in so crowded a
dwelling, no delay could take place between death and burial, and the
victims of each day were buried at nightfall. There was no time to make
coffins, no men to spare for the work; and as each fell, so were they
committed to the earth.

A little distance from Gubbins' house the procession joined a larger
one with the day's victims from the other parts of the garrison--a
total of twenty-four, young and old. At the head of the procession
walked the Rev. Mr. Polehampton, one of the chaplains, who was
distinguished for the bravery and self-devotion with which he labored
among the sick and wounded. The service on which they were now engaged
was in itself dangerous, for the churchyard was very exposed to the
enemy's fire, and--for they were throughout the siege remarkably
well-informed of what was taking place within the Residency--every
evening they opened a heavy fire in the direction of the spot where
they knew a portion of the garrison would be engaged in this sad
avocation. Quietly and steadily the little procession moved along,
though bullets whistled and shells hissed around them. Each stretcher
with an adult body was carried by four soldiers, while some of the
little ones' bodies were carried by their mothers as if alive. Mrs.
Hargreaves and her daughter carried between them the tray on which the
body of little Rupert Righton lay. Arrived at the churchyard, a long
shallow trench, six feet wide, had been prepared, and in this, side by
side, the dead were tenderly placed. Then Mr. Polehampton spoke a few
words of prayer and comfort, and the mourners turned away, happily
without one of them having been struck by the bullets which sang
around, while some of the soldiers speedily filled in the grave.

While the sad procession had been absent, the boys had gone to Mrs.
Hargreaves' room. The curtain was drawn, and they could hear the girls
sobbing inside.

"Please, Miss Hargreaves, can I speak to you for a moment?" Ned said.
"I would not intrude, but it is something particular."

Edith Hargreaves came to the door.

"Please," Ned went on, "will you give us two good-sized pieces of
sponge? We don't know any one else to ask, and--but you must not say a
word to any one--my brother and myself mean to go out to-night to
silence that battery which is doing such damage."

"Silence that battery!" Edith exclaimed in surprise. "Oh, if you could
do that; but how is it possible?"

"Oh, you dear boy," Nelly, who had come to the door, exclaimed
impetuously, "if you could but do that, every one would love you. We
shall all be killed if that terrible battery goes on. But how are you
going to do it?"

"I don't say we are going to do it," Ned said, smiling at the girl's
excitement, "but we are going to try to-night. We'll tell you all about
it in the morning when it is done; that is," he said seriously, "if we
come back to tell it. But you must not ask any questions now, and
please give us the pieces of sponge." Edith disappeared for a moment,
and came back with two large pieces of sponge.

"We will not ask, as you say we must not," she said quietly, "but I
know you are going to run some frightful danger. I may tell mamma and
Carrie when they come back that much, may I not? and we will all keep
awake and pray for you tonight--God bless you both!" And with a warm
clasp of the hands the girls went back into their room again.

"I tell you what, Ned," the midshipman said emphatically, when they
went out into the air, "if I live through this war I'll marry Nelly
Hargreaves; that is," he added, "if she'll have me, and will wait a
bit. She is a brick, and no mistake. I never felt really in love
before; not regularly, you know."

At any other time Ned would have laughed; but with Edith's farewell
words in his ear he was little disposed for mirth, and he merely put
his hand on Dick's shoulder and said:

"There will be time to talk about that in the future, Dick. There's the
battery opening in earnest. There! Mr. Gubbins is calling for all hands
on the roof with their rifles to try and silence it. Come along."

For an hour the fire on both sides was incessant. The six guns of the
battery concentrated their fire upon Gubbins' house, while from the
walls and houses on either side of it the fire of the musketry flashed
unceasingly, sending a hail of shot to keep down the reply from the
roof.

On their side the garrison on the terrace disregarded the musketry
fire, but, crowded behind the sandbags, kept up a steady and
concentrated fire at the flashes of the cannon; while from the battery
below, the gunners, unable to touch the enemy's battery, discharged
grape at the houses tenanted by the enemy's infantry. The Sepoys,
carefully instructed in our service, had constructed shields of rope to
each gun to protect the gunners, but those at the best could cover but
one or two men, and the fire from the parapet inflicted such heavy
losses upon the gunners that after a time their fire dropped, and an
hour from the commencement of the cannonade all was still again on both
sides. The Sepoy guns were silenced.

It was now ten o'clock, and the Warreners went and lay down quietly for
a couple of hours. Then they heard the guard changed, and after waiting
a quarter of an hour they went out to the battery, having first filled
their sponges with water. There they joined Mr. Johnson.

"Can't sleep, boys?" he asked; "those flies are enough to drive one
mad. You will get accustomed to them after a bit."

"It is not exactly that, sir," Ned said, "but we wanted to speak to
you. Dick and I have made up our minds to silence that battery. We have
got sponges full of water, and we mean to go out and drown the priming.
Then when we come back and tell Mr. Gubbins, I dare say he will take
out a party, make a rush, and spike them."

"Why, you must be mad to think of such a thing!" Mr. Johnson said in
astonishment.

"I think it is easy enough, sir," Ned replied; "at any rate, we mean to
try."

"I can't let you go without leave," Mr. Johnson said.

"No, sir, and so we are not going to tell you we are going," Ned
laughed. "What we want to ask you is to tell your men not to fire if
they hear a noise close by in the next few minutes, and after that to
listen for a whistle like this. If they hear that they are not to fire
at any one approaching from the outside. Good-by, sir."

And without waiting for Mr. Johnson to make up his mind whether or not
his duty compelled him to arrest them, to prevent them from carrying
out the mad scheme of which Ned had spoken, the Warreners glided off
into the darkness.

They had obtained a couple of native daggers, and took no other arms.
They did not take off their boots, but wound round them numerous strips
of blanket, so that they would tread noiselessly, and yet if obliged to
run for it would avoid the risk of cutting their feet and disabling
themselves in their flight. Then, making sure that by this time Mr.
Johnson would have given orders to his men not to fire if they heard a
noise close at hand, they went noiselessly to the breastwork which ran
from the battery to the house, climbed over it, and dropped into the
trench beyond.

Standing on the battery close beside them, they saw against the sky the
figure of Mr. Johnson.

"Good-by, sir," Ned said softly; "we will be back in half an hour if we
have luck."

Then they picked their way carefully over the rough ground till they
reached the lane, and then walked boldly but noiselessly forward, for
they knew that for a little way there was no risk of meeting an enemy,
and that in the darkness they were perfectly invisible to any native
posted near the guns. After fifty yards' walking, they dropped on their
hands and knees. Although the guns had been absolutely silent since
their fire ceased at ten o'clock, a dropping musketry fire from the
houses and walls on either side had, as usual, continued. This
indicated to the boys pretty accurately the position of the guns.
Crawling forward foot by foot, they reached the little ridge which
sheltered the guns from the battery in Gubbins' garden.

The guns themselves they could not see, for behind them was a house,
and, except against the sky line, nothing was visible. They themselves
were, as they knew, in a line between Gubbins' house and any one who
might be standing at the guns, so that they would not show against the
sky. They could hear talking among the houses on either side of the
guns, and could see the light of fires, showing that while some of
their enemies were keeping up a dropping fire, others were passing the
night, as is often the native custom, round the fires, smoking and
cooking. There was a faint talk going on ahead, too, beyond the guns;
but the enemy had had too severe a lesson of the accuracy of the
English rifle-fire to dare to light a fire there.

Having taken in the scene, the boys moved forward, inch by inch.
Presently Ned put his hand on something which, for a moment, made him
start back; an instant's thought, however, reassured him; it was a man,
but the hardness of the touch told that it was not a living one.
Crawling past it, the lads found other bodies lying thickly, and then
they touched a wheel. They had arrived at the guns, and the bodies were
those of the men shot down a few hours before in the act of loading.

Behind the guns a number of artillerymen were, as the boys could hear,
sitting and talking; but the guns themselves stood alone and unguarded.
A clasp of the hand, and the boys parted, one going, as previously
arranged, each way. Ned rose very quietly by the side of the gun,
keeping his head, however, below its level, and running his hand along
it until it came to the breech. The touch-hole was covered by a wad of
cloth to keep the powder dry from the heavy dew. This he removed, put
up his hand again with the wet sponge, gave a squeeze, and then
cautiously replaced the covering.

Dick did the same with the gun on the right, and so each crept along
from gun to gun, until the six guns were disabled. Then they crawled
back and joined each other.

A clasp of the hands in congratulation, and then they were starting to
return, when they heard a dull tramp, and the head of a dark column
came along just ahead of them. The boys shrank back under the guns, and
lay flat among the bodies of the dead. The column halted at the guns,
and a voice asked:

"Is the colonel here?"

"Here am I," said a voice from behind the guns, and a native officer
came forward.

[Illustration: THE WARRENERS DROWNING THE PRIMING OF THE SEPOY GUNS.]

"We are going to make an attack from the house of Johannes. We shall be
strong, and shall sweep the Kaffirs before us. It is the order of the
general that you open with your guns here, to distract their attention."

"Will it please you to represent to the general that we have fought
this evening, and that half my gunners are killed. The fire of the sons
of Sheitan is too strong for us. Your excellency will see the ground is
covered with our dead. Bring fire," he ordered, and at the word one of
the soldiers lighted a torch made of straw, soaked in oil, which threw
a lurid flame over the ground. "See, excellency, how we have suffered."

"Are they all dead?" asked the officer, stepping nearer.

The boys held their breath, when there was a sharp cracking of
musketry, the man with the torch fell prostrate, and several cries
arose from the column. The watchers on the roof of Gubbins' house had
been quick to discern their enemy.

"Move on, march!" the officer exclaimed hastily, "double. Yes, I see,
it is hot here; but when we have attacked, and their attention is
distracted, you may do something."

So saying, he went off at a run with his regiment.

The boys lost no time in creeping out again, and making the best of
their way back; once fairly over the crest, they rose to their feet and
ran down toward the intrenchment. As they neared this Ned whistled
twice. The whistle was answered, and in a minute hands were stretched
down to help them to scramble over the earthwork.

"All right," Ned said to Mr. Johnson; "the guns are useless, and weakly
guarded. There are lots of infantry on both sides, but some of them
will be drawn off, for they are going to make an attack from Johannes'
house. Where is Mr. Gubbins?"

"He has just made his rounds," Mr. Johnson said; "I will take you to
him."

Mr. Gubbins was astonished when he heard from the boys that they had
been out, and rendered the guns temporarily useless. "You were wrong to
act without orders," he said, "but I can't scold you for such a gallant
action. We must act on it at once. I would send for a reinforcement,
but we must not lose a moment. If the attack from Johannes' house
begins before our attack, the artillerymen will prepare for action, and
may discover that the breeches of their guns are wet. Call up every man
at once, Mr. Johnson, and let them fall in on the battery; and do you,"
he turned to another, "run down to the Sikh Square and Martinière
garrison, and warn them that a great attack is just going to be made.
Tell them that we are making a sortie, and ask them to bring every
rifle to bear on the houses to the left of the guns, so as to keep down
the infantry fire there."

In two minutes every man of the garrison was assembled in the battery,
even those from the roof being called down.

"Bring a dark lantern," Mr. Gubbins said; "it may be useful. Now, lads,
we are going to spike the guns; they have been rendered useless, so we
have only got to make a dash for them. The moment they are in our
possession, you, Mr. Johnson, with ten men, will clear the house
immediately behind it, and look for the magazine. Mr. Leathes, you,
with fifteen men, will move to the right a little; and you, Mr.
Percival, with your command, to the left. Do not go far, but each carry
a house or two, set them on fire, and fall back here when you hear the
bugle. I have got the hammer and spiking nails. Now, as quietly as you
can till you hear that we are discovered, and then go with a rush at
the guns."

In fact, they had gone very few paces before there was a shout in the
enemy's line. The noise of so many men stumbling over the _débris_ of
leveled houses was heard in an instant in the night air.

"Forward!" Mr. Gubbins shouted; "don't fire, give them the bayonet."

At a charge the little party rushed along. They were in the lane now,
and were able to run fast. The shout had been followed by a shot, then
by a dozen others, and then a rapid fire broke out from the houses and
walls in front.

They were still invisible, however, and the balls whistled overhead.
They heard the voice of the officer at the guns shout to his men:

"Steady; don't fire till they are on the crest, then blow them into
dust."

They topped the crest and rushed at the guns.

"Fire!" shouted the officer, but a cry of dismay alone answered his
words, and in a moment the British rushed on to the guns, and bayoneted
the astonished and dismayed enemy.

Then they separated each to the work assigned to them, while Mr.
Gubbins, with a man with the lantern, went from gun to gun and drove a
nail down the touchhole of each. Then he followed into the house
behind. Here a short but furious fight had taken place. The Sepoys
lodged there fought desperately but unavailingly. A few leaped from the
windows, but the rest were bayoneted. The fight was stern and silent;
no words were spoken, for the Sepoys knew that it was useless to ask
for quarter; the clashing of sabers against muskets, an occasional
sharp cry, and the sound of the falling of heavy bodies alone told of
the desperate struggle.

It ended just as Mr. Gubbins entered.

"Look about," he said; "they must have a magazine somewhere here;
perhaps a large one."

There was a rapid search.

"Here it is," Ned said, as he looked into a large outhouse behind the
building. "There are some twenty barrels of powder and a large quantity
of shot and shell."

"Break open a barrel, quick!" Mr. Gubbins said. "Mr. Johnson, I will do
this with the Warreners. Do you line that low wall, and keep back the
pandies a minute or two; they will be on us like a swarm of bees. Run
into the house," he said to Dick, as Mr. Johnson led his men forward to
the wall, "you will see a bucket of water in the first room. Bring it
here quick. Now then," he said, "empty this barrel among the others;
that's right, smash in the heads of three or four others with this
hammer. That's right," as Dick returned with the water. "Now fill your
cap with powder."

Dick did so, and Mr. Gubbins poured some water into it, stirred them
together till the powder was damped through, and with this made a train
some five feet long to the dry powder.

The party at the wall were now hotly engaged with a mass of advancing
enemy.

"Fall back, Mr. Johnson, quickly. Sound the retreat, bugler. Go along,
lads; I'll light the train."

He waited until the last man had passed, applied a lighted match to the
train, which began to fizz and sputter, and then ran out and followed
the rest, shutting the door of the magazine as he went out, in order
that the burning fuse should not be seen.

By this time the houses on either side were alight, and the whole party
were returning at a double toward the intrenchments.

As they neared the lines the enemy swarmed out from their cover, and
the head of the reinforcements were pouring out through the house into
the battery, when the earth shook, a mighty flash of fire lit the sky;
there was a roar like thunder, and most of the retreating party were
swept from their feet by the shock, while a shower of stones and timber
fell in a wide circle. They were soon up again, and scrambled over the
earthworks.

For a minute the explosion was succeeded by a deathlike stillness,
broken only by the sound of the falling fragments; then from the whole
circle of the British lines a great cheer of triumph rose up, while a
yell of fury answered them from the enemy's intrenchments.

"Any loss?" was Mr. Gubbins' first question.

"No one killed," was the report of the officers of the three sections.

"Any wounded?"

Four of the men stepped forward; two were slightly wounded only; two
were seriously hit, but a glance showed that the wounds were not of a
nature likely to be fatal.

"Hurrah! my lads," Mr. Gubbins said cheerily; "six guns spiked, our
garrison freed from that troublesome battery, a lesson given to the
enemy, and I expect a few hundred of them blown up, and all at the cost
of four wounded."

"Well done, indeed," a voice said; and General Inglis, with two or
three of his officers, stepped forward. "Gallantly done; but how was it
that the guns were silent? you could hardly have caught them asleep."

"No, sir," Mr. Gubbins said; "the gentlemen who brought in the message
from General Havelock, two days ago, went out on their own account, and
silenced the guns by wetting the priming."

A suppressed cheer broke from the whole party; for until now only Mr.
Johnson and those on guard with him knew what had happened, and the
silence of the guns had been a mystery to all.

"Step forward, young gentlemen, will you?" General Inglis said. "You
have done a most gallant action," he went on, shaking them by the hand,
"a most gallant action; and the whole garrison are greatly indebted to
you. I shall have great pleasure in reporting your gallant conduct to
the commander-in-chief, when the time comes for doing so. I will not
mar the pleasure which all feel at your deed by blaming you for acting
on your own inspiration, but I must do so to-morrow. Good fortune has
attended your enterprise, but the lives of brave men are too valuable
to allow them to undertake such risks as this on their own account. And
now that I have said what I was obliged to say, I ask you all to give
three cheers for our gallant young friends."

Three hearty cheers were given, and then the general hurried off to
superintend the preparations for the defense of the quarter threatened
by the attack from Johannes' house, if indeed that attack should not be
postponed, owing to the discouragement which the blow just inflicted
would naturally spread. Surrounded by their comrades, the Warreners
re-entered the house.

"What was that terrible explosion?" "What has happened?" was asked by a
score of female voices as they entered.

"Good news," Mr. Gubbins said; "you can sleep in peace. The guns of the
battery which has annoyed us are all spiked, and their magazine blown
up, and all this without the loss of a man, thanks to the Warreners,
who went out alone and disabled all the guns, by wetting the primings.
All your thanks are due to them."

There was a general cry of grateful joy; for since the battery had
begun to play upon the house, no one had felt that his own life or the
lives of those dearest to him were safe for a moment. All were dressed,
for in these times of peril no one went regularly to bed; and they now
crowded round the boys, shaking them by the hand, patting them on the
shoulders, many crying for very joy and relief.

Mrs. Hargreaves was standing at the door, and the boys went up to her.
She drew back the curtain for them to enter; for, sure that the boys
intended to carry out some desperate enterprise, none of her family had
even lain down. Mr. Hargreaves and Mr. Righton followed them in.

"We were all praying for you," she said simply, "as if you had been my
own sons; for you were doing as much for me and mine as my own could
have done;" and she kissed both their foreheads.

"I think, Mrs. Hargreaves," said Dick, with the demure impudence of a
midshipman, "that that ought to go round."

"I think you have fairly earned it, you impudent boy," Mrs. Hargreaves
said, smiling.

Mrs. Righton kissed Dick tearfully, for she was thinking that, had the
battery been silenced only one day earlier, her little one would have
been saved. Edith glanced at her mother, and allowed Dick to kiss her;
while Nelly threw her arms round his neck and kissed him heartily,
telling him he was a darling boy.

Ned, who possessed none of the impudence of his brother, and who was
moreover at the age when many boys become bashful with women, contented
himself with shaking hands with Mrs. Righton and Edith, and would have
done the same with Nelly, but that young lady put up her cheek with a
laugh.

"I choose to be kissed, sir," she said; "it is not much kissing that we
get here, goodness knows."



CHAPTER XVI.

A SORTIE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.


The night passed off without the expected attack from Johannes' house,
the rebels being too much disconcerted by the destruction of the
battery, and the loss of so many men, to attempt any offensive
operations. The destruction of the house behind the guns, and of all
those in its vicinity, deterred them from re-establishing a battery in
the same place, as there would be no shelter for the infantry
supporting the guns; and after the result of the sortie it was evident
to them that a large force must be kept in readiness to repel the
attacks of the British.

For a few days life was more tolerable in Gubbins' garrison; for
although shot and shell frequently struck the house, and batteries
multiplied in the circle around, none kept up so deadly and accurate a
fire as that which they had destroyed.

The Warreners took their fair share in all the heavy fatigue work, and
in the picket duty in the battery or on the roof; but they enjoyed
their intervals of repose, which were now always spent with Mr.
Hargreaves' family.

Mr. Hargreaves was collector of a district near Lucknow, and was high
in the Civil Service. He was a fit husband for his kindly wife; and as
Mr. Righton was of a cheerful and hopeful disposition, the boys found
themselves members of a charming family circle. Often and often they
wished that their father, sister, and cousin could but join them; or
rather, as Ned said, they could join the party without, for no one
could wish that any they loved should be at Lucknow at that time.

One evening late they were sitting together in a group outside the
house, the enemy's fire being slack, when Mr. Johnson came up from the
battery to Mr. Gubbins, who formed one of the party.

"I am afraid, sir, they are mining again; lying on the ground, we think
we can hear the sound of blows."

"That is bad," Mr. Gubbins said; "I heard this afternoon that they
believe that two mines are being driven from Johannes' house in the
direction of the Martinière, and the brigade messhouse; now we are to
have our turn, eh? Well, we blew in the last they tried, and must do it
again; but it is so much more hard work. Now, gentlemen, let us see who
has the best ears. Excuse us, Mrs. Hargreaves, we shall not be long
away."

On entering the battery they found the men on guard all lying down
listening, and were soon at full length with their ears to the ground.
All could hear the sound; it was very faint, as faint as the muffled
tick of a watch, sometimes beating at regular intervals of a second or
so, sometimes ceasing for a minute or two.

"There is no doubt they are mining," Mr. Gubbins said; "the question
is, from which way are they coming."

None could give an opinion. The sound was so faint, and seemed to come
so directly from below, that the ear could not discriminate in the
slightest.

"At any rate," Mr. Gubbins said, "we must begin at once to sink a
shaft. If, when we get down a bit, we cannot judge as to the direction,
we must drive two or three listening galleries in different directions.
But before we begin we must let Major Anderson, of the Royal Engineers,
know, and take his advice; he is in command of all mining operations."

In ten minutes Major Anderson was on the ground.

"The fellows are taking to mining in earnest," he said; "this is the
third we have discovered to-day, and how many more there may be,
goodness only knows. I think you had better begin here," he said to Mr.
Gubbins. "You have got tools, I think. Say about six feet square, then
two men can work at once. I will be here the first thing in the
morning, and then we will look round and see which is the likeliest
spot for the fellows to be working from. Will you ask your sentries on
the roof to listen closely to-night, in order to detect, if possible, a
stir of men coming or going from any given point."

Picks and shovels were brought out, the garrison told off into working
parties of four each, to relieve each other every hour, and the work
began. Well-sinking is hard work in any climate, but with a thermometer
marking a hundred and five at night, it is terrible; and each set of
workers, as they came up bathed in perspiration, threw themselves on
the ground utterly exhausted. Mr. Hargreaves and a few of the elders of
the garrison were excused this work, and took extra duty on the terrace
and battery.

The next day it was decided that the enemy were probably working from a
ruined house near their former battery, and a gallery was begun from
the bottom of the shaft. This was pushed on night and day for three
days, the workers being now certain, from the rapidly increasing sound
of the workers, that this was the line by which the enemy was
approaching. The gallery was driven nearly twenty yards, and then three
barrels of powder were stored there, and the besieged awaited the
approach of the rebels' gallery.

The Sepoys had now erected batteries whose cross fire swept the ground
outside the intrenchments, so that a sortie could no longer be carried
out with any hope of success. Had it been possible to have attempted
it, a party would have gone out, and driving off any guard that might
have been placed, entered the enemy's gallery and caught them at their
work. A sentry was placed continually in the gallery, and each hour the
sound of the pick and crowbar became louder.

On the fifth day the engineers judged that there could not be more than
a yard of earth between them. The train was laid now, and a cautious
watch kept, until, just at the moment when it was thought that an
opening would be made, the train was fired. The earth heaved, and a
great opening was made, while a shower of stones flew high in the air.
The enemy's gallery was blown in, and the men working destroyed, and a
loud cheer broke from the garrison at the defeat of another attempt
upon them.

The month of August began badly in Lucknow. Major Banks, the civil
commissioner named by Sir Henry Lawrence to succeed him, was shot dead
while reconnoitering from the top of an outhouse. The Reverend Mr.
Polehampton, who had been wounded at the commencement of the siege, was
killed, as were Lieutenants Lewin, Shepherd, and Archer.

On the 8th large bodies of Sepoys were observed to enter the city, and
on the 10th a furious attack was made all round the British line. Every
man capable of bearing arms stood at his post, and even the sick and
wounded crawled out of hospital and took posts on housetops wherever
they could fire on the foe. The din was prodigious--the yells of the
enemy, their tremendous fire of musketry, the incessant roar of their
cannon, but they lacked heart for close fighting.

Frequently large bodies of men showed from behind their shelter, and,
carrying ladders, advanced as if with the determination of making an
assault. Each time, however, the withering fire opened upon them from
the line of earthworks, from the roof of every house, and the storm of
grape from the batteries, caused them to waver and fall back. Each
fresh effort was led by brave men, fanatics, who advanced alone far in
front of the rest, shrieking, "Death to the infidel!"

But they died, and their spirit failed to animate their followers. Only
once or twice did the assailing parties get near the line of
intrenchments, and then but to fall back rapidly after heavy loss.

Day after day the position of the besieged grew more unendurable. The
buildings were crumbling away under the heavy and continued fire; and
as one after another became absolutely untenable, the ladies and
children were more closely crowded in those which still offered some
sort of shelter. Even death, fearful as were its ravages, did not
suffice to counteract the closeness of the packing. Crowded in dark
rooms, living on the most meager food--for all the comforts, such as
tea, sugar, wine, spirits, etc., were exhausted, and even the bread was
made of flour ground, each for himself, between rough stones--without
proper medicines, attendance, or even bedding; tormented by a plague of
flies, sickened by disgusting smells, condemned to inaction and
confinement, the women and children died off rapidly, and the men,
although better off with regard to light and air, sickened fast. Half
the officers were laid up with disease, and all were lowered in health
and strength.

On the 18th, as the Warreners had just returned from a heavy night's
work, strengthening the defenses, and burying horses and cattle, a
great explosion was heard, and one of those posted on the roof ran down
shouting:

"To arms! they have fired a mine under the Sikh Square!"

Every man caught up his rifle and rushed to the spot. The mine had
carried away a portion of the exterior defense, and the enemy, with
yells of triumph, rushed forward toward the opening. Then ensued a
furious _mêlée_; each man fought for himself, hand to hand, in the
breach; Mussulmen and Englishmen struggled in deadly combat; the crack
of the revolver, the thud of the clubbed guns, the clash of sword
against steel, the British cheer and the native yell, were mingled in
wild confusion. While some drove the enemy back, others brought boxes
and beams, fascines and sandbags, to repair the breach. The enemy were
forced back, and the British poured out with shouts of triumph.

Our men's blood was up, and they followed their advantage. Part of the
engineers, ever on the alert, joined the throng with some barrels of
powder, and the enemy were pushed back sufficiently far to enable some
of the houses, from which we had been greatly annoyed by the enemy's
sharpshooters, to be blown up.

This success cheered the besieged, and on the 20th, when it was
discovered that the enemy were driving two new mines, a fresh sortie
was determined upon.

The garrison of Gubbins' house had now less cover than before, for the
building had been reduced almost to a shell by the enemy's fire, and
all the women and children had the day before been removed to other
quarters. The Residency itself was a tottering mass of ruins, and this
also had been emptied of its helpless ones, who were crowded in a great
underground room in the Begum Khotee. It is difficult to form an idea
of the storm of shot and shell which swept the space inclosed within
the lines of defense, but some notion may be obtained from the fact
that an officer had the curiosity to count the number of cannon balls
of various sizes that fell on the roof of the brigade messhouse in one
day, and found that they amounted to the almost incredible number of
two hundred and eighty. Living such a life as this, the Warreners were
rejoiced when they received orders, with ten of the other defenders of
the ruins of Gubbins' house, to join in the sortie on the 20th of
August. About a hundred of the garrison formed up in the Sikh Square,
and at the word being given dashed over the stockade and intrenchment,
and made a charge for Johannes' house. This had throughout the siege
been the post from which the enemy had most annoyed them, the king of
Oude's negro in particular having killed a great many of our officers
and men. It was from this point that the mines being driven, and it was
determined at all hazards to destroy it.

The rush of the British took the enemy by surprise. Scarce a shot was
fired until they had traversed half the distance, and then a heavy fire
of musketry opened from all the houses held by the enemy. Still the
English pushed on at full speed, without pausing to return a shot. With
a cheer they burst into the inclosure in which the house stood, and
while half the party entered it and engaged in a furious combat with
those within, the others, in accordance with orders, pressed forward
into the houses beyond, so as to keep the enemy from advancing to the
assistance of their friends, thus caught in a trap. The Warreners
belonged to the party who advanced, and were soon engaged in a
hand-to-hand fight with the enemy. Scattering through the houses, they
drove the Sepoys before them. The Warreners were fighting side by side
with Mr. Johnson, and with him, after driving the enemy through the
next house, they entered an outhouse beyond it.

Mr. Johnson entered first, followed by Ned, Dick being last of the
party. Dick heard a sudden shout and a heavy blow, and rushed in. Mr.
Johnson lay on the ground, his skull beaten in with a blow from the
iron-bound staff of a dervish, a wild figure with long hair and beard
reaching down to his waist. Dick was in time to see the terrible staff
descend again upon Ned's head. Ned guarded it with his rifle, but the
guard was beaten down and Ned stretched senseless on the ground. Before
the fakir had time to raise his stuff again, Dick drove his bayonet
through his chest, and the fakir fell prostrate, his body rolling down
some steps into a cellar which served as a woodstore.

As he fell Dick heard a fierce growl, and a bear of a very large size,
who was standing by the fakir, rose on his hind legs. Fortunately
Dick's rifle was still loaded, and, pointing it into the fierce beast's
mouth, he fired, and the bear rolled down the wooden steps after his
master. Throwing aside his rifle, Dick turned to raise his brother. Ned
lay as if dead.

Dick leaped to his feet, and ran out to call for succor. He went into
the house, but it was empty. He rushed to the door, and saw the rest of
the party in full retreat. He shouted, but his voice was lost in the
crackle of musketry fire. He ran back to Ned and again tried to lift
him, and had got him on his shoulders, when there was a tremendous
explosion. Johannes' house had been blown up.

Following close upon the sound came the yells of the enemy, who were
flocking up to pursue the English back to their trenches. Escape was
now hopeless. Dick lowered Ned to the ground, hastily dragged the body
of Mr. Johnson outside the door, and then, lifting Ned, bore him down
the steps into the cellar into which the fakir and the bear had fallen.
He carried him well into the cellar, took away the wooden steps, and
then, with great difficulty, also dragged the bodies of the fakir and
the bear further in, so that any one looking down into the hole from
the outside would observe nothing unusual.

Then, as he lay down, faint from his exertions, he could hear above the
tread of a great number of men, followed by a tremendous musketry fire
from the house. Once or twice he thought he heard some one come to the
door of the outhouse; but if so, no one entered.

Beyond rubbing Ned's hands, and putting cold stones to his forehead,
Dick could do nothing; but Ned breathed, and Dick felt strong hopes
that he was only stunned. In a quarter of an hour he showed signs of
reviving, and in an hour was able to hear from Dick an account of what
had happened, and where they were.

"We are in a horrible fix this time, Dick, and no mistake; my head
aches so, I can hardly think; let us be quiet for a bit, and we will
both try to think what is best to be done. There is no hurry to decide.
No one is likely to come down into this place, but we may as well creep
well behind this pile of wood and straw, and then we shall be safe."

Dick assented, and for an hour they lay quiet, Ned's regular breathing
soon telling his brother that he had dropped off to sleep. Then Dick
very quietly crept out again from their hiding-place.

"It is a grand idea," he said to himself; "magnificent. It's nasty,
horribly nasty; but after three weeks of what we have gone through in
the Residency one can see and do things which it would have made one
almost sick to think of a month back; and as our lives depend upon it
we must not stand upon niceties. I wish, though, I had been brought up
a red Indian; it would have come natural then, I suppose."

So saying, he took out his pocket-knife, opened it, and went to the
body of the dead fakir. He took the long, matted hair into his hand
with an exclamation of disgust, but saw at once that his idea was a
feasible one. The hair was matted together in an inextricable mass, and
could be trusted to hang together.

He accordingly set to work to cut it off close to the head; but
although his knife was a sharp one it was a long and unpleasant task,
and nothing but the necessity of the case could have nerved him to get
through with it.

At last it was finished, and he looked at his work with complacency.

"That's a magnificent wig," he said. "I defy the best barber in the
world to make such a natural one. Now for the bear."

This was a long task; but at last the bear was skinned, and Dick set to
to clean, as well as he could, the inside of the hide. Then he dragged
into a corner and covered up the carcass of the bear and the body of
the fakir, having first stripped the clothes off the latter, scattered
a little straw over the bear's skin, and then, his task being finished,
he crept behind the logs again, lay down, and went off to sleep by the
side of Ned. It was getting dark when he awoke. Ned was awake, and was
sitting up by his side. Outside, the din of battle, the ceaseless crack
of the rifle, and the roar of cannon was going on as usual, without
interruption.

"How do you feel now, Ned?" Dick asked.

"All right, Dick. I have got a biggish bump on the side of my head, and
feel a little muddled still, but that is nothing. I can't think of any
plan for escaping from this place, Dick, nor of getting hold of a
disguise; for even if we could get out of this place and neighborhood
we must be detected, and in this town it is of no use trying to beg for
shelter or aid."

"It is all arranged," Dick said cheerfully. "I have got two of the best
disguises in the world, and we have only to dress up in them and walk
out."

Ned looked at Dick as if he thought that he had gone out of his mind.

"You don't believe me? Just you wait, then, two minutes, till I have
dressed up, and then I'll call you;" and without waiting for an answer,
Dick went out.

He speedily stripped to the waist, rubbed some mud from the damp floor
on his arms, wound the fakir's rags round his body with a grimace of
disgust, put the wig on his head--his hair, like that of all the
garrison, had been cut as close to the head as scissors would take
it--shook the long, knotted hair over his face and shoulders--behind it
hung to the waist--took the staff in his hand, and called quietly to
Ned to come out. Ned crept out, and remained petrified with
astonishment.

"The fakir!" he exclaimed at last. "Good heavens, Dick! is that you?"

"It's me, sure enough," Dick said, taking off his wig. "Here is a wig
in which the sharpest eyes in the world could not detect you."

"But where--" began Ned, still lost in surprise.

"My dear Ned, I have borrowed from the fakir. It was not quite a nice
job," he went on, in answer to Ned's astonished look, "but it's over
now, and we need not say any more about it. The hair and rags are
disgustingly filthy, there is no doubt about that. Their late owner
never used a comb, and was otherwise beastly in his habits; still, old
man, that cannot be helped, and if you like, when we once get out of
the town, we can put them in water for twenty-four hours, or make a
sort of oven, and bake them to get rid of their inhabitants. Our lives
are at stake, Ned, and we must not mind trifles."

"Right, old boy," Ned said, making a great effort to overcome his first
sensation of disgust. "As you say, it is a trifle. You have hit upon a
superb idea, Dick, superb; and I think you have saved our lives from
what seemed a hopeless scrape. But what is your other disguise?"

"This," Dick said, lifting the bear's skin. "I can get into this, and
if we travel at night, so that I can walk upright, for I never could
travel far on all-fours, I should pass well enough, as I could lie
curled up by your side in the daytime, and no one will ask a holy fakir
any troublesome questions. I don't think you could get into the skin,
Ned, or I would certainly take the fakir for choice; for it will be
awfully hot in this skin."

"I don't mind doing the fakir a bit," Ned said. "Fortunately the sun
has done his work, and the color of our skins can be hidden by a good
coat of dirt, which will look as natural as possible. Now let us set
about it at once."

It took an hour's preparation; for, although Ned's toilet was quickly
made, needing in fact nothing but a coating of mud, it took some time
to sew Dick up in the skin, the opening being sewn up by means of the
small blade of the knife and some string. It was by this time quite
dark, and the operation had been completed so perfectly that once Ned
was dressed they had no fear whatever of interruption.

"Now, Ned, before we go I will set fire to the straw. I don't suppose
any one will go down and make any discoveries, but they may be looking
for wood, so it's as well to prevent accidents. We will throw that big
piece of matting over the opening in the floor, so the light won't show
till we get well away."

He ran down the ladder, struck a match, lit the straw, and then ran
quickly up again. The mat was dragged across the opening, and then the
boys went boldly out into the yard, Ned striding along, and Dick
trotting on all-fours beside him. The night was dark, and although
there were many men in the yard, sitting about on the ground round
fires, no one noticed the boys, who, turning out through a gateway,
took the road into the heart of Lucknow.



CHAPTER XVII.

OUT OF LUCKNOW.


One hundred yards or so after starting the disguised fakir and his bear
entered a locality teeming with troops, quartered there in order to be
close at hand to the batteries, to assist to repel sorties, or to join
in attacks. Fortunately the night was very dark, and the exceedingly
awkward and unnatural walk of the bear passed unseen. Over and over
again they were challenged and shouted to, but the hoarse "Hoo-Hac,"
which is the cry of the fakirs, and the ring of the iron-bound staff
with its clanking rings on the ground, were a sufficient pass.

Ned guessed, from the fact of their having been met with so close to
the fort, that the fakir and his bear would be well known to the
mutineers; and this proved to be the case.

Several of the men addressed him, but he waved his arm, shook his head
angrily, and strode on; and as fakirs frequently pretend to be absorbed
in thought, and unwilling to converse, the soldiers fell back. Beyond
this, the streets were deserted. The most populous native quarter lay
far away, and few of the inhabitants, save of the lowest classes, cared
to be about the streets after nightfall.

The instant that they were in a quiet quarter Dick rose on to his feet.

"My goodness," he whispered to Ned, "that all-fours' work is enough to
break one's back, Ned."

They now struck sharply to the left, presently crossed the wide street
leading from the Cawnpore Bridge, and kept on through quiet lanes until
they came to the canal. This would be the guide they wanted, and they
followed it along, taking nearly the route which General Havelock
afterward followed in his advance, until they came to a bridge across
the canal. Once over, they were, they knew, fairly safe. They kept on
at a rapid walk until well in the country, and then sat down by the
roadside for a consultation as to their best course of proceeding. The
lads were both of opinion that the dangers which would lie in the way
of their reaching Cawnpore would be very great. This road was now
occupied by great numbers of troops, determined to bar the way to
Lucknow against General Havelock. They had advanced without question,
because it was natural that Sepoys should be making their way from
Cawnpore to Lucknow; but it would not be at all natural that a fakir
should at this time be going in the opposite direction. Moreover--and
this weighed very strongly with them--they knew that General Havelock
would advance with a force wholly inadequate to the task before him;
and they thought that even should he succeed in getting into Lucknow,
he would be wholly unable to get out again, hampered, as he would be,
with sick, wounded, women, and children. In that case he would have to
continue to hold Lucknow until a fresh relieving force arrived, and the
lads had already had more than enough of the confinement and horrors of
a siege such as that of Cawnpore.

Animated by these considerations, they determined to push to Delhi,
where they hoped that they might arrive in time to see the end of the
siege, at whose commencement they had been present.

No suspicion would be likely to be excited by their passage through
that line of country, which, indeed, would be found altogether denuded
of the enemy's troops, for all the regiments that had mutinied along
this line had marched off, either to Delhi or Lucknow, and the country
was in the hands of the zemindars, who would neither suspect nor molest
a wandering fakir. It certainly was unusual for a fakir to be
accompanied by a bear, but as the fakir they had killed had a bear with
him, it was clearly by no means impossible. Dick protested that it was
absolutely essential that they should walk at night, for that he would
be detected at once in the day.

"I vote that we walk all night, Ned, and make our thirty-five or forty
miles, then turn in, hide up all day. In the evening when it gets quite
dusk, we can go into the outskirts of a village. Then you will begin to
shout, and I will lie down, as if tired, by you. They will bring you
lots of grub, under the idea that you will give them charms, and so on,
next day. When the village is asleep, we will go on. You can easily ask
for cloth--I am sure your rags are wretched enough--and then I can
dress at night, after setting out from each village, in native dress,
for it would be awful to walk far in this skin; besides, my feet are as
uncomfortable as possible."

This plan was agreed upon, and they struck across country for the main
Delhi road, Dick slipping out of his bear's skin, and simply wearing it
wrapped loosely round him.

The Warreners had been accustomed to such incessant labor at Lucknow
that they had no difficulty in keeping going all night. As day was
breaking they retired into a tope of trees and threw themselves down,
Dick first taking the precaution to get into the bear's skin and lace
it up, in case of surprise. It was of course hot, but at least it kept
off flies and other insects; and as it was quite loose for him, it was
not so hot as it would have been had it fitted more tightly. The lads
were both utterly fatigued, and in a very few minutes were fast asleep.

It was late in the afternoon before they awoke, and although extremely
hungry, they were forced to wait until it became dusk before proceeding
on their way.

At the first village at which they arrived they sat down near the first
house, and Ned began to strike his staff to the ground and to shout
"Hoo-Hac" with great vehemence. Although the population were for the
most part Mussulmen, there were many Hindoos everywhere scattered
about, and these at once came out and formed a ring round the holy man.
Some bore torches, and Dick played his part by sitting up and rocking
uneasily, in the manner of a bear, and then lying down and
half-covering his face with his paw, went apparently to sleep.

"The servant of Siva is hungry," Ned said, "and would eat. He wants
cloth;" and he pointed to the rags which scarce held together over his
shoulder. Supplies of parched grain and of baked cakes were brought
him, and a woman carried up a sick child and a length of cloth. Ned
passed his hand over the child's face, and by that and the heat of her
hand judged that she had fever. First, after the manner of a true
fakir, he mumbled some sentence which no one could understand. Then in
silence he breathed a sincere prayer that the child might be restored
to health. After this he bade the mother give her cooling drinks made
of rice water and acid fruit, to keep her cool, and to damp her hands
and face from time to time; and then he signified by a wave of his hand
that he would be alone.

The villagers all retired, and the lads made a hearty meal; then taking
what remained of the food, they started on their night's journey,
pausing in a short time for Dick to get out of his skin, and to wrap
himself from head to foot in the dark blue cotton cloth that the woman
had given.

"I felt like an impostor, getting that cloth under false pretenses,
Dick."

"Oh, nonsense," Dick said. "The woman gave it for what the fakir could
do, and I am sure your advice was better than the fakir would have
given, so she is no loser. If ever we come on one of these sort of
trips again we will bring some quinine and some strong pills, and then
we really may do some good."

Dick took no pains about coloring his face or hands, for both were
burned so brown with exposure to the sun that he had no fear that a
casual glance at them at night, even in torchlight, would detect that
he was not a native.

"Now, Ned, I promised to stop for twenty-four hours, if you liked, to
soak that head of hair in a pond; what do you say?"

"No," Ned said; "it is terribly filthy, but we will waste no time.
To-morrow, when we halt, we will try and make an oven and bake it. I
will try to-morrow to get a fresh cloth for myself, and throw these
horrible rags away. Even a fakir must have a new cloth sometimes."

They made a very long march that night; and had the next evening a
success equal to that of the night before. Another long night-tramp
followed, and on getting up at the end of the day's sleep Ned collected
some dry sticks and lit a fire. Then he made a hole in the ground, and
filled it with glowing embers. When the embers were just extinct he
cleared them out, took off his wig, rolled it up, and put it into the
hot oven he had thus prepared, and covered the top in with a sod. Then
carefully looking to see that no natives were in sight, he threw away
his old rags, and Dick and he enjoyed a dip in a small irrigation tank
close to the wood. After this Ned again smeared himself over with mud,
and sat down in the sun to dry. Then he dressed himself in the cloth
that had been given him the night before, opened his oven, took out the
wig, gave it a good shake, and put it on, saying, "Thank God, I feel
clean again; I have had the horrors for the last three days, Dick."

In the three nights' journey the boys had traveled a hundred and eleven
miles, and were now close to Ferruckabad, a town of considerable size.
They pursued their usual tactics--entered it after dusk, and sat down
near the outskirts. The signal calls were answered as before, and a
number of the faithful gathered round with their simple offerings of
food.

As they began stating their grievances, Ned as usual warned them off
with a brief "to-morrow" when he saw outside the group of Hindoos two
or three Mussulman troopers.

These moved closely up, and contemplated the wild-looking fakir, with
his tangled hair and his eyes peering out through the tangle. One of
them looked at the bear for some time attentively, and then said:

"That is no bear; it is a man in a bear's skin."

Ned had feared that the discovery might be made, and had from the first
had his answer ready.

"Fool," he said in a loud, harsh voice, "who with his eyes in his head
supposed that it was a bear? It is one who has sinned and is under a
vow. Dogs like you know naught of these things, but the followers of
Siva know."

"Do you call me a dog?" said the Mussulman angrily, and strode forward
as if to strike; but Ned leaped to his feet, and twirling his staff
round his head, brought it down with such force on the soldier's wrist
that it nearly broke the arm. The Hindoos began to shout "Sacrilege!"
as the Mussulman drew his pistol. Before he could fire, however, his
comrades threw themselves upon him. At this time it was the policy of
Hindoos and Mussulmans alike to drop all religious differences, and the
troopers knew that any assault upon a holy fakir would excite to
madness the Hindoo population.

The furious Mohammedan was therefore dragged away by his fellows, and
Ned calmly resumed his seat. The Hindoos brought a fresh supply of food
for the holy man expiating his sin in so strange a way, and then left
the fakir to his meditation and his rest.

Half an hour later the Warreners were on their way, and before morning
congratulated themselves upon having done more than half of the two
hundred and eighty miles which separate Lucknow from Delhi. The
remaining distance took them, however, much longer than the first part
had done, for Dick cut his foot badly against a stone the next night,
and was so lamed that the night journeys had to be greatly shortened.
Instead, therefore, of arriving in eight days, as they had hoped, it
was the 3d of September--that is, thirteen days from their
start--before they saw in the distance the British flag flying on the
watch tower on the Ridge. They had made a long detour, and came in at
the rear of the British position. On this side the country was
perfectly open, and the villagers brought in eggs and other produce to
the camp.

Upon the 25th of August the enemy had sent a force of six thousand men
to intercept the heavy siege train which was on its way to the British
camp from the Punjaub. Brigadier-General Nicholson, one of the most
gallant and promising officers of the British army, was sent out
against them with a force of two thousand men, of which only one-fourth
were British. He met them at Nujufghur and routed them, capturing all
their guns, thirteen in number. A curious instance here occurred of the
manner in which the least courageous men will fight when driven to bay.
The army of six thousand men had made so poor a fight that the British
loss in killed and wounded amounted to only thirty-three men. After it
was over it was found that a party of some twenty rebels had taken
shelter in a house in a village in the British rear. The Punjaub
infantry was sent to drive them out, but its commanding officer and
many of its men were killed by the desperate handful of mutineers. The
Sixty-first Queen's was then ordered up, but the enemy was not
overpowered until another officer was dangerously wounded and many had
fallen. Altogether the victory over this little band of men cost us
sixteen killed and forty-six wounded--that is to say, double the loss
which had been incurred in defeating six thousand of them in the open.
The result of this engagement was that the road in the rear of the
British camp was perfectly open, and the Warreners experienced no
hindrance whatever in approaching the camp.

Dick had, after crossing the Oude frontier, left his bear's skin behind
him, and adopted the simple costume of a native peasant, the blue cloth
and a white turban, Ned having begged a piece of white cotton for the
purpose. Traveling only at night, when the natives wrap themselves up
very much, there was little fear of Dick's color being detected; and as
he kept himself well in the background during the short time of an
evening when Ned appeared in public, he had passed without attracting
any attention whatever.

The Warreners' hearts leaped within them on beholding, on the afternoon
of the 3d of September, a party of British cavalry trotting along the
road, two miles from camp.

"It is the Guides," Ned said. "We know the officer, Dick. Keep on your
disguise a minute longer; we shall have some fun."

Ned accordingly stood in the middle of the road and shouted his
"Hoo-Hac!" at the top of his voice.

"Get out of the way, you old fool," the officer riding at its head
said, as he drew up his horse on seeing the wild figure, covered with
shaggy hair to the waist, twirling his formidable staff.

Ned stopped a moment. "Not a bit more of an old fool than you are
yourself, Tomkins," he said.

The officer reined his horse back in his astonishment. He had spoken in
English unconsciously, and being answered in the same language, and
from such a figure as this, naturally petrified him.

"Who on earth are you?" he asked.

"Ned Warrener; and this is my brother Dick;" and Ned pulled off his wig.

"By Jove!" the officer said, leaping from his horse; "I am glad to see
you. Where on earth have you come from? Some one who came up here from
Allahabad had seen some fellow there who had come down from Cawnpore,
and he reported that you had gone on into Lucknow in disguise, and that
news had come you had got safely in."

"So we did," Ned said; "and as you see, we have got safely out again.
We left there on the night of the 20th."

"And what was the state of things then?" Lieutenant Tomkins asked. "How
long could they hold out? We know that it will be another three weeks
before Havelock can hope to get there."

"Another three weeks!" Ned said. "That is terrible. They were hard
pushed indeed when we left; the enemy were driving mines in all
directions; the garrison were getting weaker and weaker every day, and
the men fit for duty were worked to death. It seems next to impossible
that they could hold out for another four or five weeks from the time
we left them; but if it can be done, they will do it. Do you happen to
have heard of our father?"

"The man that brought the news about you said he was all right and
hearty, and the troop was doing good work in scouring the country round
Cawnpore. Now will you ride back and report yourself to General
Wilson?" So saying, he ordered two of the troopers to dismount and walk
back to camp.

Ned had thrown down the wig when he took it off; but before mounting
Dick picked it up, rolled it up into a little parcel, and said:

"It is my first effort in wig-making, and as it has saved our lives
I'll keep it as long as I live, as a memento; besides, who knows? it
may be useful again yet."

Quite an excitement was created in the camp behind the Ridge by the
arrival of the Guide cavalry with two Englishmen in native dress, and
the news that they were officers from Lucknow quickly spread.

The cavalry drew up at their own lines, and then dismounting,
Lieutenant Tomkins at once sent an orderly to the general with the
news, while the boys were taken inside a tent, and enjoyed the luxury
of a bath, and a message was sent round to the officers of the
regiment, which rapidly resulted in sufficient clothes being
contributed to allow the boys to make their appearance in the garb of
British officers.

A curry and a cup of coffee were ready for them by the time they were
dressed, and these were enjoyed indeed after a fortnight's feeding upon
uncooked grain, varied only by an occasional piece of native bread or
cake. The hasty meal concluded, they accompanied Lieutenant Tomkins to
the general's tent.

They were most cordially received by General Wilson; and omitting all
details, they gave him an account of their having been cut off during a
successful sortie from Lucknow, and having made their way to Delhi in
disguise. Then they proceeded to describe fully the state of affairs at
Lucknow, a recital which was at once interesting and important,
inasmuch as though several native messengers had got through from
Lucknow to General Havelock, as none of them carried letters--for these
would have insured their death if searched--they had brought simply
messages from General Inglis asking for speedy help, and their stories
as to the existent state of things in the garrison were necessarily
vague and untrustworthy.

The most satisfactory portion of the boys' statement was, that although
the garrison were now on short rations, and that all the comforts, and
many of what are regarded as almost the necessaries of life, were
exhausted, yet that there was plenty of grain in the place to enable
the besieged to exist for some weeks longer.

"The great fear is that some essential part of the defense may be
destroyed by mines," Ned concluded. "Against open attacks I think that
the garrison is safe; but the enemy are now devoting themselves so much
to driving mines that however great the care and vigilance of the
garrison, they may not be always able to detect them, or, even if they
do so, to run counter-mines, owing to the numerical weakness of our
force."

"Thanks for your description, gentlemen; it throws a great light upon
the state of affairs, and is very valuable. I will at once telegraph a
_resumé_ of it to the central government and to General Havelock. The
pressing need of aid will no doubt impress the Calcutta authorities
with the urgent necessity to place General Havelock in a position to
make an advance at the earliest possible moment. He will, of course,
communicate to Colonel Warrener the news of your safe arrival here. You
have gone through a great deal indeed since you left here, while we
have been doing little more than hold our own. However, the tide has
turned now. We have received large reinforcements and our siege train;
and I hope that in the course of a fortnight the British flag will once
again wave over Delhi. In the meantime you will, at any rate for a few
days, need rest. I will leave you for a day with your friends of the
Guides, and will then attach you to one of the divisional staffs. I
hope that you will both dine with me to-day."

That evening at dinner the Warreners met at the general's table General
Nicholson, whose chivalrous bravery placed him on a par with Outram,
who was called the Bayard of the British army. He was short of staff
officers, and did not wish to weaken the fighting powers of the
regiments of his division by drawing officers from them. He therefore
asked General Wilson to attach the Warreners to his personal staff.
This request was at once complied with. Their new chief assured them
that for the present he had no occasion for their services, and that
they were at liberty to do as they pleased until the siege operations
began in earnest. The next few days were accordingly spent, as Dick
said, in eating and talking.

Every regiment in camp was anxious to hear the tale of the siege of
Lucknow, and of the Warreners' personal experience in entering and
leaving the besieged Residency; and accordingly they dined, lunched, or
breakfasted by turns with every mess in camp. They were indeed the
heroes of the day; and the officers were much pleased at the simplicity
with which these gallant lads told their adventures, and at the entire
absence of any consciousness that they had done anything out of the
way. In fact, they rather regarded the whole business as two schoolboys
might regard some adventure in which they had been engaged, Dick, in
particular, regarding all their adventures, with the exception only of
the sufferings of the garrison of Lucknow, in the light of an "immense
lark."

In the meantime, the troops were working day and night in the trenches
and batteries, under the directions of the engineer officers; and every
heart beat high with satisfaction that, after standing for months on
the defensive, repelling continual attacks of enormously superior
numbers, at last their turn had arrived, and that the day was at hand
when the long-deferred vengeance was to fall upon the bloodstained city.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE STORMING OF DELHI.


On the morning of the 8th of September the battery, eight hundred yards
from the Moree gate of Delhi, opened fire, and sent the first battering
shot against the town which had for three months been besieged.
Hitherto, indeed, light shot, shell, and shrapnel had been fired at the
gunners on the walls to keep down their fire, and the city and palace
had been shelled by the mortar batteries; but not a shot had been fired
with the object of injuring the walls or bringing the siege to an end.

For three months the besiegers had stood on the offensive, and the
enemy not only held the city, but had erected very strong works in the
open ground in front of the Lahore gate, and had free ingress and
egress from the town at all points save from the gates on the north
side, facing the British position on the Ridge. During these three long
months, however, the respective position of the parties had changed a
good deal. For the first month the mutineers were elated with their
success all over that part of India. They were intoxicated with treason
and murder; and their enormous numbers in comparison with those of the
British troops in the country made them not only confident of success,
but arrogant in the belief that success was already assured. Gradually,
however, the failure of all their attempts, even with enormously
superior forces, to drive the little British force from the grip which
it so tenaciously held of the hill in front of Delhi, damped the ardor
of their enthusiasm. Doubts as to whether, after all, their mutiny and
their treachery would meet with eventual success, and fear that
punishment for their atrocities would finally overtake them, began for
the first time to enter their minds.

Quarrels and strife broke out between the various leaders of the
movement, and pitched battles were fought between the men of different
corps. Then came pestilence and swept the crowded quarters. A reign of
terror prevailed throughout the city; the respectable inhabitants were
robbed and murdered, shops were burst open and sacked, and riot and
violence reigned supreme.

The puppet monarch, terrified at the disorder that prevailed, and
finding his authority was purely nominal--the real power resting in the
hands of his own sons, who had taken a leading share in getting up the
revolt, and in those of the Sepoy generals--began to long for rest and
quiet. The heavy shell which from time to time crashed into his palace
disturbed his peace, and, through his wives, he secretly endeavored to
open negotiations with the British. These overtures were, however,
rejected. The king had no power whatever, and he and his household were
all concerned in the massacres which had taken place in the palace
itself.

It was then, by an army which, however small, was confident of victory,
against one which, however large, was beginning to doubt that final
success would be theirs, that the siege operations began on the morning
of the 8th of September. Thenceforth the besiegers worked night and
day. Every night saw fresh batteries rising at a distance of only three
hundred yards from the walls; fifteen hundred camels brought earth;
three thousand men filled sandbags, placed fascines, and erected
traverses for the guns. The batteries rose as if by magic. The besieged
viewed these preparations with a strange apathy. They might at the
commencement of the work have swept the ground with such a shower of
grape and musketry fire that the erection of batteries so close to
their walls would have been impossible; but for the first three nights
of the work they seemed to pay but little heed to what we were doing,
and when at last they awoke to the nature of our proceedings, and began
a furious cannonade against the British, the works had reached a height
that afforded shelter to those employed upon them. Each battery, as
fast as the heavy siege guns were placed in position, opened upon the
walls, until forty heavy guns thundered incessantly.

The enemy now fought desperately. Our fire overpowered that of the guns
at the bastions opposed to them; but from guns placed out in the open,
on our flank, they played upon our batteries, while from the walls a
storm of musketry fire and rockets was poured upon us. But our gunners
worked away unceasingly. Piece by piece the massive walls crumbled
under our fire, until, on the 13th, yawning gaps were torn through the
walls of the Cashmere and Water bastions. That night four engineer
officers--Medley, Long, Greathead, and Home--crept forward and examined
the breaches, and returned, reporting that it would be possible to
climb the heaps of rubbish and enter at the gaps in the wall. Orders
were at once issued for the assault to take place at daybreak next
morning.

The assaulting force was divided into four columns; the first, composed
of three hundred men of the Seventy-fifth Regiment, two hundred and
fifty men of the First Bengal Fusiliers, and four hundred and fifty men
of the Second Punjaub Infantry--in all one thousand men, under
Brigadier-General Nicholson, were to storm the breach near the Cashmere
bastion. The second column, consisting of two hundred and fifty men of
the Eighth Regiment, two hundred and fifty men of the Second Bengal
Fusiliers, and three hundred and fifty men of the Fourth Sikh Infantry,
under Colonel Jones, Q.B., were to storm the breach in the Water
bastion. The third column, consisting of two hundred men of the
Fifty-second Regiment, two hundred and fifty men of the Ghoorka Kumaan
battalion, and five hundred men of the First Punjaub Infantry, under
Colonel Campbell, were to assault by the Cashmere gate, which was to be
blown open by the engineers. The fourth column, eight hundred and sixty
strong, was made up of detachments of European regiments, the Sirmoor
battalion of Ghoorkas, and the Guides. It was commanded by Major Reed,
and was to carry the suburb outside the walls, held by the rebels,
called Kissengunge, and to enter the city by the Lahore gate. In
addition to the four storming columns was the reserve, fifteen hundred
strong, under Brigadier Longfield. It consisted of two hundred and
fifty men of the Sixty-first Regiment, three hundred of the Beloochee
battalion, four hundred and fifty of the Fourth Punjab Infantry, three
hundred of the Jhind Auxiliary Force, and two hundred of the Sixtieth
Rifles, who were to cover with their fire the advance of the storming
column, and then to take their places with the reserves. This body was
to await the success of the storming column, and then follow them into
the city, and assist them as required. The cavalry and the rest of the
force were to cover the flank and defend the Ridge, should the enemy
attempt a counter attack.

Precisely at four o'clock on the morning of the 14th, the Sixtieth
Rifles dashed forward in skirmishing order toward the walls, and the
heads of the assaulting columns moved out of the batteries, which had
until this moment kept up their fire without intermission.

The Warreners were on duty by the side of General Nicholson; and
accustomed as they were to danger, their hearts beat fast as they
awaited the signal. It was to be a tremendous enterprise--an enterprise
absolutely unrivaled in history--for five thousand men to assault a
city garrisoned by some thirty thousand trained troops, and a fanatical
and turbulent population of five hundred thousand, all, it may be said,
fighting with ropes round their necks.

As the Rifles dashed forward in front, and the head of the column
advanced, a terrific fire of musketry broke out from wall and bastion,
which the British, all necessity for concealment being over, answered
with a tremendous cheer as they swept forward. Arrived at the ditch
there was a halt. It took some time to place the ladders, and officers
and men fell fast under the hail of bullets. Then as they gathered in
strength in the ditch there was one wild cheer, and they dashed up the
slope of rubbish and stones, and passed through the breach.

The entrance to Delhi was won.

Scrambling breathlessly up, keeping just behind their gallant general,
the Warreners were among the first to win their way into the city.

An equally rapid success had attended the assault upon the breach in
the Water bastion by the second column. Nor were the third far behind
in the assault through the Cashmere gate, But here a deed had first to
be done which should live in the memories of Englishmen so long as we
exist as a nation.

As the head of the assaulting column moved forward a little party
started at the double toward the Cashmere gate. The party consisted of
Lieutenants Home and Salkeld, of the Royal Engineers, and Sergeants
Smith and Carmichael, and Corporal Burgess, of the same corps; Bugler
Hawthorne of the Fifty-second regiment; and twenty-four native sappers
and miners under Havildars Mahor and Tilluh Sing. Each of the sappers
carried a bag of powder, and, covered by such shelter as the fire of
the Sixtieth skirmishers could give them, they advanced to the gate.
This gate stands close to an angle in the wall, and from the parapets a
storm of musketry fire was poured upon them. When they reached the
ditch they found the drawbridge destroyed, but crossed in single file
upon the beams on which it rested. The gate was of course closed, but a
small postern-door beside it was open, and through this the mutineers
added a heavy fire to that which streamed from above. The sappers laid
their bags against the gate, and slipped down into the ditch to allow
the firing party to do their work. Many had already fallen. Sergeant
Carmichael was shot dead as he laid down his powder bag; Havildar Mahor
was wounded. As Lieutenant Salkeld tried to fire the fuse he fell, shot
through the arm and leg; while Havildar Tilluh Sing, who stood by, was
killed, and Ramloll Sepoy was wounded. As he fell Lieutenant Salkeld
handed the slow match to Corporal Burgess, who lit the fuse, but fell
mortally wounded as he did so. Then those who survived jumped, or were
helped, into the ditch, and in another moment a great explosion took
place, and the Cashmere gate blew into splinters, killing some forty
mutineers who were behind it. Then Lieutenant Home, seeing that the way
was clear, ordered Bugler Hawthorne to sound the advance, and the
assaulting column came rushing forward with a cheer, and burst through
the gateway into the city.

Of the six Englishmen who took part in that glorious deed only two
lived to wear the Victoria cross, the reward of valor. Two had died on
the spot, and upon the other four General Wilson at once bestowed the
cross; but Lieutenant Salkeld died of his wounds, and Lieutenant Home
was killed within a week of the capture of the city. Thus only Sergeant
Smith and Bugler Hawthorne lived to wear the honor so nobly won.

General Nicholson, who was in general command of the whole force,
concentrated the two columns which had entered in a wide open space
inside the Cashmere gate, and then swept the enemy off the ramparts as
far as the Moree bastion, the whole of the north wall being now in the
possession of our troops. Then he proceeded to push on toward the
Lahore gate, where he expected to meet Major Reed with, the fourth
column. This column had, however, failed even to reach the Lahore gate,
the enemy's position in the suburb beyond the wall proving so strong,
and being held by so numerous a force, that, after suffering very
heavily, the commander had to call back his men, his retreat being
covered by the cavalry.

Thus, as General Nicholson advanced through the narrow lane between the
wall and the houses, the column was swept by a storm of fire from
window, loophole, and housetop--a fire to which no effective reply was
possible. Then, just as he was in the act of cheering on his men, the
gallant soldier fell back in the arms of those behind him, mortally
wounded. He was carried off by his sorrowing soldiers, and lingered
until the 26th of the month, when, to the deep grief of the whole army,
he expired.

It being evident that any attempt to force a path further in this
direction would lead to useless slaughter, and that the place must be
won step by step, by the aid of artillery, the troops were called back
to the bastion.

A similar experience had befallen the third column, which had, guided
by Sir T. Metcalfe, who knew the city intimately, endeavored to make a
circuit so as to reach and carry the Jumma Musjid, the great mosque
which dominated the city. So desperate was the resistance experienced
that this column had also to fall back to the ramparts. The reserve
column had followed the third in at the Cashmere gate, and had, after
some fighting, possessed itself of some strong buildings in that
neighborhood, most important of which was a large and commanding house,
the residence of Achmed Ali Khan; and when the third column fell back
Skinner's house, the church, the magazine, and the main-guard were
held, and guns were planted to command the streets leading thereto. One
cause of the slight advance made that day was, that the enemy, knowing
the weakness of the British soldier, had stored immense quantities of
champagne and other wines, beer, and spirits in the streets next to the
ramparts, and the troops--British, Sikhs, Beloochees, and Ghoorkas
alike--parched with thirst, and excited by the sight of these long
untasted luxuries, fell into the snare, and drank so deeply that the
lighting power of the force was for awhile very seriously impaired.

On the 15th the stubborn fighting recommenced. From house to house our
troops fought their way; frequently, when the street was so swept by
fire that it was impossible to progress there, making their way by
breaking down the party walls, and so working from one house into
another. During this day guns and mortars were brought into the city
from our batteries, and placed so as to shell the palace and the great
building called the Selimgur.

The next morning the Sixty-first Regiment and the Fourth Punjaub Rifles
made a rush at the great magazine, and the rebels were so stricken by
their rapidity and dash that they threw down their portfires and fled,
without even once discharging the cannon, which, crammed to the muzzle
with grape, commanded every approach. Here one hundred and twenty-five
cannon and an enormous supply of ammunition fell into our hands, and a
great many of the guns were at once turned against their late owners.

So day by day the fight went on. At night the sky was red with the
flames of burning houses, by day a pall of smoke hung over the city.
From either side cannon and mortars played unceasingly, while the
rattle of musketry, the crash of falling houses, the shrieks of women,
the screams of children, and the shouting of men mingled in a chaos of
sounds. To the credit of the British soldier be it said, that
infuriated as they were by the thirst for vengeance, the thought of the
murdered women, and the heat of battle, not a single case occurred, so
far as is known, of a woman being ill-treated, insulted, or fired
upon--although the women had been present in the massacres, and had
constantly accompanied and cheered on the sorties of the mutineers. To
the Sepoys met with in Delhi no mercy was shown; every man taken was at
once bayoneted, and the same fate befell all townsmen found fighting
against us. The rest of the men, as well as the women and children,
were, after the fighting was over, permitted to leave the city
unmolested, although large numbers of them had taken share in the sack
of the white inhabitants' houses, and the murder of every Christian,
British or native, in the town. It would, however, have been impossible
to separate the innocent from the guilty; consequently all were allowed
to go free.

From the time that the British troops burst through the breaches, an
exodus had begun from the gates of the town on the other side, and
across the bridge over the Jumna. Our heavy guns could have destroyed
this bridge, and our cavalry might have swept round the city and cut
off the retreat on the other side; but the proverb that it is good to
build a bridge for a flying foe was eminently applicable here. Had the
enemy felt their retreat cut off--had they known that certain death
awaited them unless they could drive us out of the city, the defense
would have been so desperate that it would have been absolutely
impossible for the British forces to have accomplished it. The defense
of some of the Spanish towns in the Peninsular war by the inhabitants,
lighting from house to house against French armies, showed what could
be effected by desperate men lighting in narrow streets; and the loss
inflicted on our troops at Nujufghur by twenty Sepoys was another
evidence of the inexpediency of driving the enemy to despair. As it
was, the rebels after the first day fought feebly, and were far from
making the most of the narrow streets and strongly-built houses. No one
liked to be the first to retreat, but all were resolved to make off at
the earliest opportunity. Men grew distrustful of each other, and day
by day the desertions increased, the resistance diminished, and the
districts held by the rebels grew smaller and smaller. It is true that
by thus allowing tens of thousands of rebels to escape we allowed them
to continue the war in the open country, but here, as it afterward
proved, they were contemptible foes, and their defeat did not cost a
tithe of the loss which would have resulted in their extermination
within the walls of Delhi.

Up to the 20th the palace still held out. This was a fortress in
itself, mounting many cannon on its walls, and surrounded by an open
park-like space. On that morning the engineers began to run a trench,
to enable a battery to be erected to play upon the Lahore gate of the
palace. Before, however, they had been long at work, a party of men of
the Sixty-first, with some Sikhs and Ghoorkas, ran boldly forward, and
taking shelter under a low wall close to the gate, opened fire at the
embrasures and loopholes. The answering fire was so weak that Colonel
Jones, who was in command of the troops in this quarter--convinced that
the report that the king with his wives and family, and the greater
part of the garrison of the palace, had already left was
true--determined upon blowing in the gate at once. Lieutenant Home was
appointed to lead the party told off for the duty, which was happily
effected without loss. The British rushed in, and found three guns
loaded to the muzzle placed in the gateway, but fortunately the Sepoys
who should have fired them had fled.

The news that the palace was taken spread rapidly, and there was a rush
to share in the spoil. But few of the enemy were found inside; these
were at once bayoneted, and then a general scramble ensued. The order
had been given that no private plundering should be allowed, but that
everything taken should be collected, and sold for the general benefit
of the troops. Orders like this are, however, never observed, at any
rate with portable articles; and Sikhs, Ghoorkas, and British alike,
loaded themselves with spoil. Cashmere shawls worth a hundred pounds
were sold for five shillings, silk dresses might be had for nothing,
and jewelry went for less than the value of the setting.

The same day the headquarters of the army were removed to the palace of
Delhi. As the Union Jack of England ran up the flagstaff on the palace
so lately occupied by the man crowned by the rebels Emperor of India,
the seat and headquarters of the revolt which had deluged the land with
blood, and caused the rule of England to totter, a royal salute was
fired by the British guns, and tremendous cheers arose from the troops
in all parts of the city.

The raising of that flag, the booming of those guns, were the signal of
the deathblow of the Indian mutiny. Over one hundred thousand rebels
were still in arms against the British government, but the heart of the
insurrection was gone. It was no longer a war, it was a rebellion.
There was no longer a head, a center, or a common aim. Each body of
mutineers fought for themselves--for life rather than for victory. The
final issue of the struggle was now certain; and all the native princes
who had hitherto held aloof, watching the issue of the fight at Delhi,
and remaining neutral until it was decided whether the Sepoys could
pluck up the British flag from the Ridge, or the British tear down the
emblem of rebellion from above the palace of Delhi, hesitated no
longer, but hastened to give in their allegiance to the victorious
power.

Nothing has been said as to the part the Warreners bore in that fierce
six days' fighting. They did their duty, as did every other man in the
British army, but they had no opportunity for specially distinguishing
themselves. As staff officers, they had often to carry messages to
troops engaged in stubborn fight, and in doing so to dash across open
spaces, and run the gantlet of a score of musket balls; both, however,
escaped without a scratch. They had not been present on the occasion of
the taking of the palace, for they had been at early morning on the
point of going in to the headquarters for orders, when Captain Hodgson
came out. They had dined with him on the day previous to the assault,
and he came up them now.

"Now," he said, "I am just going on an expedition after your own
hearts, lads. We have news that the king and queen have stolen away,
and have gone to the palace at the Kotub Minar. I am going with my
troops to bring them in. Would you like to go?"

"Oh, yes, of all things," the Warreners exclaimed. "But we have no
horses."

"Oh, I can mount you," he said. "Several of my fellows slipped into the
town in hopes of getting some loot, and three or four were shot; so if
the general will give you leave, I will take you."

The Warreners at once went in to Brigadier-General Jones, to whom they
had been attached since the fall of General Nicholson. As they were
supernumeraries on his staff, the general at once gave them leave, and
in high delight they followed their friend--a most gallant and fearless
officer, who had greatly distinguished himself by the dashing exploits
which he had executed with his troop of irregular horse--to his camp
outside the walls. Half an hour later they were riding at a trot toward
the spot where the ex-emperor had taken refuge. Their route lay across
ground hitherto in possession of the enemy, and they rode past
thousands of armed budmashes, or blackguards, of Delhi, who had left
the city, and were making their way to join some of the rebel leaders
in the field. These scowled and muttered curses as the little troop
rode by; but the blow which had just been dealt was so crushing, the
dread inspired by British valor so complete, that although apparently
numerous enough to have destroyed the little band without difficulty,
not a man dared raise his voice or lift a weapon.

"What are all these wonderful ruins?" Dick asked Captain Hodgson, by
whose side they were riding.

"This is where old Delhi stood. These great buildings are tombs of
kings and other great men; the smaller houses have gone to dust
centuries ago, but these massive buildings will remain for as many
centuries more. Wait till you see Kotub Minar; in my opinion there is
nothing in India or in the world to equal it."

Another half-hour's riding brought them into sight of a magnificent
shaft of masonry, rising far above the plain.

"That is the Minar," Captain Hodgson said; "it is the same word as
minaret. Is it not magnificent?"

The Kotub Minar is an immense shaft tapering gradually toward the top.
It is built in stages, with a gallery round each. Each stage is
different. In one it is fluted with round columns like a huge mass of
basalt. In another the columns are angular; and in the next, round and
angular alternately. The highest stage is plain. The height is very
great, and the solidity of execution and the strength of the edifice
are as striking as its height and beauty.

They were not, however, to go so far as the Kotub, for, questioning
some peasants, they learned that the king had halted at a building
called Durzah-Nizam-oo-deen. The gates were shut, and it was certain
that the king would have a large body of retainers with him. Matchlock
men showed at the windows and on the roof, and things looked awkward
for the little troop of cavalry. Captain Hodgson rode forward, however,
without hesitation, and struck on the great gate. A window by the side
of the gate opened, and he was asked what was wanted.

"I am come to take, and to carry into Delhi, the ex-king and his
family. It is better to submit quietly, for if I have to force my way
in, every soul in the place will be put to the sword."

In two minutes the postern opened, and a closely veiled figure made her
appearance.

"I am the Begum," she said. And Captain Hodgson bent in acknowledgment
that the favorite wife of the man who was yesterday regarded as the
emperor of India, stood before him.

"The king will surrender," she said, "if you will promise that his life
shall be spared; if not, he will defend himself to the last, and will
die by his own hand."

"Defense would be useless," Captain Hodgson said. "The force I have
would suffice amply to carry the place; and if it did not, in three
hours any reinforcements I could ask for would be here. I have no
authority to give such a promise."

"If you give the promise it will be kept," the Begum said. "If you
refuse, the king will shoot himself when the first soldier passes the
gate."

Captain Hodgson hesitated. It was true that he had no authority to make
such a promise; but he felt that government would far rather have the
king a captive in their hands than that he should excite a feeling of
regret and admiration among the people by dying by his own hand in
preference to falling into those of the British.

"I agree," he said after a pause. "I promise that the king's life shall
be spared."

In a minute the gate was thrown back, and an aged man came out,
followed by several women. The age of the king was nearly eighty-five,
and he was from first to last a mere puppet in the hands of others. In
no case would he have been executed by the government, since the old
man was clearly beyond any active participation in what had taken place.

The litter in which the king and his wives had been conveyed from Delhi
was again brought into requisition, and the party were soon _en route_
for Delhi. The royal palace had been but a few hours in our hands
before the ex-king was brought in, a prisoner where he had so lately
reigned. He was lodged with his women in a small building in the
palace, under a strong guard, until it should be decided what to do
with him.

"I shall go out to-morrow to try and catch some of the sons of the old
man. They are the real culprits in the matter. If you like to go out
again, and can get off duty, well and good," Captain Hodgson said.

The boys, who were very pleased at having been present at so historical
an event as the capture of the king of Delhi, warmly thanked Captain
Hodgson; and, having again obtained leave, started with him on the
following morning at daybreak. Some of the princes a spy had reported
to Captain Hodgson as being at Humayoon's tomb, a large building near
the Kotub Minar. They rode in the same direction that they had gone out
on the preceding day, but proceeded somewhat further.

"That is Humayoon's tomb," Captain Hodgson said, pointing to a large
square building with a domed roof and four lofty minarets, standing
half a mile off the road.

The troop rode up at a gallop, and, surrounding the building,
dismounted. Soldiers were placed at all the various doors of the
building, with orders to shoot down any one who might come out, and
Captain Hodgson sent a loyal moulvie, named Rujol Ali, who had
accompanied him, into the building, to order the princes there to come
out. Then arose within the building a great tumult of voices, as the
question whether they should or should not surrender was argued.
Several times the moulvie returned, to ask if any conditions would be
given; but Hodgson said sternly that no conditions whatever would be
made with them.

At last, after two hours' delay, two of the sons and a grandson of the
king, all of whom had been leaders in the mutiny, and authors of
massacres and atrocities, came out and surrendered. They were
immediately placed in a carriage which had been brought for the
purpose, a guard was placed over them, and ordered to proceed slowly
toward the city.

Then Hodgson, accompanied by the Warreners, entered the inclosure which
surrounded the tomb. Here from five to six thousand of the refuse of
the city, many of them armed, were assembled. A yell of hate arose as
the little band entered; guns were shaken defiantly; sabers waved in
the air. The odds were tremendous, and the Warreners felt that nothing
remained but to sell their lives dearly.

"Lay down your arms!" Captain Hodgson shouted in a stentorian voice.

Eight or ten shots were fired from the crowd, and the bullets whistled
over the heads of the horsemen, but fortunately none were hit.

"Lay down your arms!" he shouted again. "Men, unsling your carbines.
Level."

As the carbines were leveled, the bravery of the mob evaporated at
once. Those nearest threw down their arms, and as with leveled guns the
horsemen rode through the crowd, arms were everywhere thrown down, and
resistance was at an end. Over a thousand guns, five hundred swords,
and quantities of daggers and knives were collected; and a number of
elephants, camels, and horses were captured.

Ordering the native lieutenant to remain with the troop in charge of
these things until some carts could be sent out for the arms, Captain
Hodgson, accompanied by the boys, rode off after the carriage, which
had started two hours before.

They rode rapidly until they neared Delhi, when they saw the carriage,
surrounded by a great mob. Captain Hodgson set spurs to his horse and
galloped forward at full speed, followed by the boys. They burst
through the crowd, who were a large body of ruffians who had just left
the city, where the fighting was even now not over, and who were all
armed. A defiant cry broke from them as the three horsemen rode up to
the carriage, from which with the greatest difficulty the guard had so
far kept the crowd.

There was not a moment for hesitation. Captain Hodgson raised a hand,
and a momentary silence reigned.

"These men in the carriage," said he in loud tones, "have not only
rebelled against the government, but have ordered and witnessed the
massacre and shameful treatment of women and children. Thus, therefore,
the government punishes such traitors and murderers!"

Then drawing his revolver, before the crowd could move or lift a hand
he shot the three prisoners through the head. The crowd, awed and
astonished, fell back, and the carriage with the dead bodies passed
into the city.



CHAPTER XIX.

A RIOT AT CAWNPORE.


While the guns of Delhi were saluting the raising of the British flag
over the royal palace, General Havelock and his force were fighting
their way up to Lucknow. On the 19th of September he crossed the
Ganges, brushed aside the enemy's opposition, and, after three days'
march in a tremendous rain, found them in force at the Alumbagh. After
a short, sharp fight they were defeated, and the Alumbagh fell into our
hands. All the stores and baggage were left here, with a force strong
enough to hold it against all attacks; and after a day to rest his
troops, General Havelock advanced on the 22d, defeated the enemy
outside Lucknow, and then, as the direct route was known to be
impassable, he followed the canal as far as the Kaiserbagh, and there
turning off, fought his way through the streets to the Residency, where
he arrived only just in time, for the enemy had driven two mines right
under the defenses, and these would, had the reinforcements arrived but
one day later, have been exploded, and the fate of the garrison of
Cawnpore might have befallen the defenders of Lucknow.

The desperate street fighting had, however, terribly weakened the
little force which had performed the feat. Out of fifteen hundred men
who had entered the city, a third were killed or wounded, among the
former being the gallant Brigadier-General Neil.

With so weak a force it was evident that it would be hopeless to
endeavor to carry off the sick, the wounded, the women, and children
through the army of rebels that surrounded them, and it was therefore
determined to continue to hold the Residency until further aid arrived.
The siege therefore recommenced, but under different conditions, for
the increased force enabled the British to hold a larger area; and
although the discomforts and privations were as great as before--for
the reinforcements had brought no food in with them--the danger of the
place being carried by assault was now entirely at an end.

One noble action connected with the relief of Lucknow will never be
forgotten. Before General Havelock started up from Cawnpore, General
Sir James Outram, his senior officer, arrived, with authority to take
the command. Upon his arrival, however, he issued a general order, to
say that to General Havelock, who had done such great deeds to relieve
Lucknow, should be the honor of the crowning success; and that he
therefore waived his seniority, and would fight under General Havelock
as a volunteer until Lucknow was relieved. A more generous act of
self-negation than this was never accomplished. To the man who relieved
Lucknow would fall honor, fame, the gratitude of the English people,
and all this General Outram of his own accord resigned. He was worthy
indeed of the name men gave him--the "Bayard of India."

The news that Lucknow was relieved caused almost as much delight to the
troops at Delhi as their own successes had given them, for the anxiety
as to the safety of the garrison was intense. To the Warreners the news
gave an intense pleasure, for the thought of the friends they had left
behind in that terrible strait had been ever present to their mind. The
faces of the suffering women, the tender girls, the delicate children,
had haunted them night and day; and their joy at the thought that these
were rescued from the awful fate impending over them knew no bounds.

It was not at Delhi, however, that the Warreners heard the news; for on
the 23d, only three days after the occupation of the city, they left
with the flying column of Colonel Greathead, which was ordered to march
down to Agra, clearing away the bands of mutineers which infested the
intervening country, and then to march to Cawnpore, to be in readiness
to advance on Lucknow. The boys had no difficulty in obtaining leave to
accompany this column, as Ned would naturally on the first opportunity
rejoin his regiment, which was at Cawnpore, while Dick was longing to
form one of the naval brigade, which, under Captain Peel, was advancing
up the country.

The rebels were found in force at Allyghur, and were defeated without
difficulty; and after several minor skirmishes the force marched
hastily down to Agra, which was threatened by a large body of the
enemy. Without a halt they marched thirty miles to Agra, and encamped
in the open space outside the fort.

Just as they were cooking their meals a battery of artillery opened
upon them, an infantry fire broke out from the surrounding houses, and
a large body of cavalry dashed in among them.

For a moment all was confusion; but the troops were all inured to war;
with wonderful rapidity they rallied and attacked the enemy, who were
over five thousand strong, and finally defeated them with great
slaughter, and captured fourteen guns. Agra saved, the column started
two days later for Cawnpore; upon the way it defeated bodies of rebels,
and punished some zemindars who had taken part against us, and arrived
at Cawnpore on the 26th of October.

At Majupoorie, halfway up from Agra, the force had been joined by a
brigade under Colonel Hope Grant, who, as senior officer, took the
command of the column. They marched into Cawnpore three thousand five
hundred strong, all troops who had gone through the siege of Delhi; and
Ned at once joined his regiment, where he was warmly received.

On the following day the Ninety-third Highlanders and a part of the
naval brigade, two hundred strong, arrived; and Dick's delight as the
column marched in was unbounded. He reported himself for duty at once,
and, as among the officers were some of his own shipmates, he was at
once at home.

There was little sleep in the tents of the junior officers of the
brigade that night. Dick's name had been twice mentioned in dispatches,
and all sorts of rumors as to his doings had reached his comrades. The
moment, therefore, that dinner was over, Dick was taken to a tent,
placed on a very high box on a table, supplied with grog, and ordered
to spin his yarn, which, although modestly told, elicited warm applause
from his hearers.

On the 30th Colonel Grant's column moved forward, and arrived after
three days' march within six miles of the Alumbagh. They had with them
a great convoy of siege material and provisions, and these were next
day escorted safely into the Alumbagh, where the little garrison had
held their own, though frequently attacked, for six weeks. The
Sixty-fourth Regiment had already done so much fighting that it was not
to form part of the advance. The naval brigade was increased on the 1st
of November by the arrival of Captain Peel himself, with two hundred
more sailors and four hundred troops. They had had a heavy fight on the
way up, and had protected the convoy and siege guns of which they were
in charge, and had defeated the enemy, four thousand strong, and
captured all his guns, but with a loss to themselves of nearly one
hundred men. Soon after the commencement of the engagement, Colonel
Powell, who was in command of the column, was killed; and Captain Peel
then took command of the force, and won the victory.

The astonishment of the people of Cawnpore at the appearance of the
brawny tars was unbounded. The sailors went about the streets in knots
of two or three, staring at the contents of the shops, and as full of
fun and good humor as so many schoolboys. Greatly delighted were they
when the natives gave them the least chance of falling foul of
them--for they knew that the people of the town had joined the
mutineers--and were only too glad of an excuse to pitch into them. They
all carried cutlasses, but these they disdained to use, trusting, and
with reason, to their fists, which are to the natives of India a more
terrible, because a more mysterious weapon than the sword. A sword they
understand; but a quick hit, flush from the shoulder, which knocks them
off their feet as if struck by lightning, is to them utterly
incomprehensible, and therefore very terrible.

One day the Warreners were strolling together through the town, and
turned off from the more frequented streets, with a view of seeing what
the lower-class quarters were like. They had gone some distance, when
Ned said:

"I think we had better turn, Dick. These scowling scoundrels would be
only too glad to put a knife into us, and we might be buried away under
ground in one of these dens, and no one be ever any the wiser for it. I
have no doubt when we have finished with the fellows, and get a little
time to look round, there will be a clear sweep made of all these
slums."

The lads turned to go back, when Dick said, "Listen!"

They paused, and could hear a confused sound of shouting, and a noise
as of a tumult. They listened attentively.

"Ned," Dick exclaimed, "I am sure some of those shouts are English.
Some of our fellows have got into a row; come on!"

So saying, he dashed off up the narrow street, accompanied by his
brother. Down two more lanes, and then, in an open space where five or
six lanes met, they saw a crowd. In the midst of it they could see
sabers flashing in the air, while British shouts mingled with the yells
of the natives.

"This is a serious business," Ned said, as they ran; "we are in the
worst part of Cawnpore."

Three or four natives, as they approached the end of the lane, stepped
forward to prevent their passage; but the lads threw them aside with
the impetus of their rush, and then, shoulder to shoulder, charged the
crowd.

Expecting no such assault, the natives fell aside from the shock, and
in a few seconds the boys stood by their countrymen. There were six in
all--sailors, as the boys had expected. The fight had evidently been a
sharp one. Four or five natives lay upon the ground, and two of the
sailors were bleeding from sword-cuts. The tars gave a cheer at the
sight of this reinforcement, especially as one of the newcomers was a
naval officer--for Dick had bought the uniform of a naval officer
killed in the fight of the 1st.

The infuriated crowd drew back for a moment; but seeing that the
reinforcement consisted only of two lads, again attacked fiercely. The
boys had drawn their swords, and for a minute the little party fought
back to back. It was evident, however, that this could not last, for
every moment added to the number of their foes, the budmashes flocking
down from every quarter.

"Now, lads," Ned shouted, "get yourselves ready, and when I say the
word make a dash all together for that house at the left corner. The
door is open. Once in there, we can hold it till help comes. Press them
a bit first, so as to scatter them a little, and then for a rush. Are
you all ready? Now!"

With a cheer the sailors hurled themselves upon the crowd in a body.
The surprise, added to the weight and force of the charge, was
irresistible; the natives were sent flying like ninepins, and before
the enemy quite understood what had happened, the whole party were safe
in the house, and the door slammed-to and bolted.

"See if there are any windows they can get in at."

The men ran into the two rooms of which, on the ground floor, the house
consisted; but the windows in these, as is often the case in Indian
towns, were strongly barred. There was a furious beating at the door.

"It will give in a minute," Dick said. "Upstairs, lads; we can hold
them against any number."

"It's lucky they did not use their pistols," Ned said, as they gathered
in the upper room; "we should have been polished off in no time had
they done so."

"I expect they made sure of doing for us with their swords and knives,"
Dick replied, "and did not like to risk calling attention by the sound
of pistol-shots. Now, lads, how did you get into this row?"

"Well, your honor," said one of the tars, "we were just cruising about
as it might be, when we got down these here lanes, and lost our
bearings altogether. Well, we saw we had fallen among land pirates, for
the chaps kept closing in upon us as if they wanted to board, and
fingering those long knives of theirs. Then one of them he gives a push
to Bill Jones, and Bill gives him a broadside between the eyes, and
floors him. Then they all begins to yell, like a pack o' they jackals
we heard coming up country. Then they drew their knives, and Bill got a
slash on his cheek. So we, seeing as how it were a regular case of an
engagement all along the line, drew our cutlasses and joins action.
There were too many of them, though, and we were nigh carried by the
pirates, when you bore up alongside."

At this moment a crash was heard below; the door had yielded, and the
crowd rushed into the lower part of the house. When it was found to be
empty there was a little delay. No one cared to be the first to mount
the stairs, and encounter the determined band above. Dick stepped
forward to glance at the state of things below, when half a dozen
pistol-shots were fired. One inflicted a nasty cut on his cheek, and
another struck him on the hand.

"Are you hurt, Dick?" Ned said, as his brother leaped back.

"No, nothing to speak of; but it was a close shave. Perkins, pick up my
sword, will you? I didn't think of their firing."

"Being indoors, they are not afraid of the pistols being heard any
distance," Ned said. "Keep a sharp lookout, lads, in case they make a
rush upstairs, while I tie up my brother's hand and face."

"They are coming, sir," the sailors cried, as the house shook with the
rush of a body of men up the stairs.

"Stand well back, lads, and cut them down as they enter the door."

Pushed from behind, five or six of the enemy burst simultaneously into
the room; but ere they could fire a pistol, or even put themselves into
an attitude of defense, they were cut down or run through the body.
Then a tremendous crash and a wild cry was heard.

"Hurrah!" Dick shouted, "the staircase has given way."

Many groans and shrieks were heard below; then there was a sound of
persons being carried out, and for awhile, quiet below, while outside
the hubbub became greater.

"What is going on outside?" Ned said, and Dick and he peered through
the closed jalousies into the street.

A number of budmashes were bringing bundles of bamboos from a
basket-maker's shop opposite; some of the crowd were opposing them.

"They are going to fire the house," Dick exclaimed. "The people
opposing are the neighbors, no doubt. They'll do it, though," he added,
as the fiercer spirits drove the others back. "What's best to be done,
Ned?"

Ned looked round, and then up.

"Let us cut through the bamboo ceiling, Dick; there must be a space
between that and the roof. The wall won't be thick between that and the
next house, and we can work our way from house to house; and if the
flames gain--for they are sure to spread--we can but push off the tiles
and take to the roofs, and run the gantlet of their pistols and
muskets. Their blood's up now, and they will shoot, to a certainty. Do
you think that the best plan?"

"That's it. Now, lads, two of you stand close together; now, Perkins,
you jump on their shoulders and cut a hole through the bamboos with
your cutlass. Quick, lads, there's no time to lose;" for they could
hear the tramping of feet below, and the sound as the bundles of bamboo
were thrown down.

"Now, lads," Dick went on--for as a naval officer he was naturally in
command of the men--"take two or three of those rugs on that couch
there, and knot them together. Shut the door, to keep the smoke out.
There, they've lit it!"--as a shout of pleasure rose from below.

The bamboos were tough, and Perkins could not use his strength to
advantage. Smoke curled up through the crevices of the floor, and all
watched anxiously the progress made.

"That's big enough," Dick cried at last; "we have not a moment to lose,
the flames are making through the floor. Now, Perkins, climb through
the hole; now, lads, follow in turn."

Four of the sailors were rapidly through the hole.

"Now, lads, one of you two; don't waste time. Now, Ned, catch hold of
this man's legs and give him a hoist; that's right. Now drop that rope,
lad. Now, Ned, I'm in command; go on. Now, lads, catch this bundle of
rugs; that's right. Give me one end. There we are. Now spread one of
those rugs over the hole, to keep the smoke out. Now, lads, how is the
wall?"

"Quite soft, your honor; we'll be through in a minute."

In accordance with orders, those first up had begun at once with their
cutlasses to pick a hole through the mud wall which formed the
partition between the houses. Although thicker below, the divisions
between what may be called the lofts of the houses were made but of a
single brick of unbaked clay or mud, and as Dick clambered up through
the hole, the sailors had already made an opening quite large enough to
get through. All crept through it, and again Dick hung a rug over the
hole to keep out the smoke.

"Now, lads, attack the next wall again; but don't make more noise about
it than you can help. The people below will be removing what things
they can, and making a row; still, they might hear us; and it is as
well they should think us burned in the house where we were. But you
must look sharp, lads, for the fire spreads through these dried-up
houses as if they were built of straw."

The sailors labored hard, and they worked their way from house to
house; but the flames followed as fast; and at last, almost choked by
smoke and dust, Dick said:

"Quick, my men, knock off some tiles, and get on the roof, or we shall
be burned like rats in a trap. This side, the furthest from the street."

The tiles gave way readily; and each man thrust his head out through
the hole he had made, for a breath of fresh air. In a minute all were
on the roof.

"Crouch down, lads; keep on this side of the roof; people are not
likely to be looking out for us this side, they will be too busy moving
their furniture. Move on, boys; the fire is spreading now pretty nearly
as fast as we can scramble along."

It was already a great fire; down both the lanes at whose junction the
house first fired stood, the flames had spread rapidly, and leaping
across the narrow streets had seized the opposite houses. Already fifty
or sixty houses were in a blaze, although it was not five minutes from
the beginning of the fire.

"There is a cross lane about ten houses ahead, Dick," Ned said.

"We will stick on the last house as long as we can, Ned, and then slide
down by the rope on to that outhouse. They are too busy now with their
own affairs to think about us; besides, they suppose we are dead long
ago, and the fellows who are at the head of it will have made off to
look after their own houses, for the wind is blowing fresh, and there
is no saying how far the fire may spread. Besides, we shall have our
fellows up in a few minutes. Directly the fire is seen, they are sure
to be sent down to preserve order."

They were soon gathered on the roof of the last house in the lane, and
three minutes later were driven from it by the flames. One by one they
scrambled down by the aid of the rope on to the outhouse, and thence to
the ground. Then they passed through the house into the lane beyond.
Looking up the lane, it was an arch of fire; the flames were rushing
from every window and towering up above every roof, almost meeting over
the lane. Upon the other hand, all was wild confusion and terror; men
were throwing out of upper windows bedding and articles of furniture;
women laden with household goods, and with children in their arms and
others hanging to their clothes, were making their way through the
crowd; bedridden people were being brought out; and the screams,
shrieks, and shouts mingled with the roaring of flames and the crashes
of falling roofs. As in great floods in India, the tiger and the
leopard, the cobra and the deer, may all be seen huddled together on
patches of rising ground, their mutual enmity forgotten in the common
danger, so no one paid the slightest attention to the body of
Englishmen who so suddenly joined the crowd.

"Sheathe your cutlasses, my lads," Dick said. "There's no more fighting
to be done. Lend a hand to help these poor wretches. There, two of you
take up that poor old creature; they have carried her out, and then
left her; take her on till you find some open space to set her down in.
Now, Ned, you take a couple of men and work one side of the lane, I
will take the opposite side with the others. Let us go into every room
and see that no sick people or children are left behind. There, the
flames have passed the cross lane already; the corner house is on fire."

For quarter of an hour the tars labored assiduously; and many a
bedridden old woman, or a forgotten baby, did they bring out.
Fortunately at the end of the lane was an open space of some extent,
and here piles of household goods and helpless people were gathered.

At the end of a quarter of an hour they heard a deep tramp, and the
naval brigade, led by Captain Peel, filed up through the lane. The
sailors burst into a cheer as they saw their friends arrive, and these
responded upon seeing some of their comrades at work carrying the sick
and aged. Dick at once made his way to Captain Peel, and reported
briefly that the fire was in the first place lighted with the purpose
of burning him and his party; but that they had escaped, and had since
been at work helping the inhabitants.

"Very well," Captain Peel said. "You can give details afterward; at
present we have got to try and stop the flames. It seems a large block
of fire."

"It is, sir. It extends across several lanes; there must be a couple of
hundred houses in flames, and I fear, from what we have seen in the
lane we have been working in, a considerable loss of life."

"Mr. Percival," Captain Peel said to one of his officers, "take your
company and knock down or blow up all the houses on this side of that
lane there. Mr. Wilkinson, you take number two company, and do the same
with the lane to the right. The rest follow me. March!"

In five minutes all the tars and the Highlanders--who arrived on the
ground immediately after the sailors--were at work pulling down houses,
so as to arrest the progress of the flames by isolating the burning
block. Upon three sides they succeeded, but upon the other the fire,
driven by the wind, defied all their efforts, and swept forward for
half a mile, until it burned itself out when it had reached the open
country. In its course it had swept away a great part of the worst and
most crowded quarters of Cawnpore.

All through the evening and night the troops and sailors toiled; and
morning had broken before all danger of any further extension was over;
the men were then ordered home, a fresh body of troops coming up to
preserve order, and prevent the robbery, by the lawless part of the
population, of the goods which had been rescued from the flames. Then,
after a ration of grog had been first served out to each man, and
breakfast hastily cooked and eaten, all sought their tents, exhausted
after their labors.

It was not until evening that signs of life were visible in the camp.
Then men began to move about; and an orderly presently came across to
request the Warreners to go to Captain Peel's quarters to report the
circumstances through which the fire arose.

The lads related the history of the affair from the time when they had
come upon the scene, and Captain Peel expressed himself in terms of
warm laudation of their gallantry, quickness, and presence of mind.
Then the sailors were called up, and their story, although longer and
more diffuse than that told by the Warreners, was yet substantially the
same, and Captain Peel told the men that they ought not to have
wandered in that way into the slums of Cawnpore, but that beyond that
indiscretion they had acted, as reported by Mr. Warrener, with great
courage, coolness, and good discipline. Then the Warreners went back to
their tent, and had to go through their yarn again with great
minuteness and detail.

"I do think," said Rivers, a midshipman of some two years older
standing than Dick, "that you are the luckiest youngster in the
service. It is not one fellow in a hundred thousand who has such
chances."

"That is so, Rivers," one of the lieutenants answered; "but it is not
one in a hundred thousand who, having gone through such adventures,
would have been alive to tell them at the end. The getting into these
scrapes may be luck, but the getting out of them demands courage,
coolness, and quickness of invention, such as not one lad in a thousand
possesses. Now, Rivers, tell me honestly whether you think that, had
you been cut off as he was in that sortie at Lucknow, you would ever
have thought of robbing that old fakir of his wig?"

"No," Rivers said; "I am quite sure it would never have occurred to me.
Yes, as you say, sir, Dick Warrener has no end of luck, but he
certainly deserves and makes the best of it."



CHAPTER XX.

THE RELIEF OF LUCKNOW.


On the 6th of November Captain Peel, with five hundred of his gallant
bluejackets, marched from Cawnpore, taking with them the heavy siege
guns. Three days later they joined General Grant's column, which was
encamped at a short distance from the Alumbagh, and in communication
with the force holding that position. On the 9th Sir Colin Campbell,
who had come out from England with all speed to assume the chief
command in India, arrived in camp, and his coming was hailed with
delight by the troops, who felt that the hour was now at hand when the
noble garrison of Lucknow were to be rescued.

The total force collected for the relief were: Her Majesty's Eighth,
Fifty-third, Seventy-fifth, and Ninety-third regiments of infantry; two
regiments of Punjaub infantry; and a small party of native sappers and
miners. The cavalry consisted of the Ninth Lancers, and detachments of
Sikh cavalry and Hodgson's Horse. The artillery comprised Peel's naval
brigade, with eight heavy guns, ten guns of the Royal Horse Artillery,
six light field guns, and a heavy battery of the Royal Artillery. A
total of about twenty-seven hundred infantry and artillery, and nine
hundred cavalry.

On the morning of the 10th Mr. Kavanagh, a civilian, came into camp. He
had, disguised as a native, started the evening before from the
Residency with a native guide, named Kunoujee Lal, had swum the
Goomtee, recrossed by the bridge into the city, passed through the
streets, and finally made his way in safety. He was perfectly
acquainted with the city, and brought plans from Sir James Outram for
the guidance of the commander-in-chief in his advance.

After an examination of the plans Sir Colin Campbell determined that,
instead of forcing his way through the narrow streets as General
Havelock had done, he would move partly round the town, and attack by
the eastern side, where there was much open ground, sprinkled with
palaces and mosques and other large buildings. These could be attacked
and taken one by one, by a series of separate sieges, and thus the
Residency could be approached with far less loss than must have taken
place in an attempt to force a way through the crowded city.

On the 15th the troops marched to the Alumbagh, defeating a small rebel
force which attempted to stop their way.

At the Alumbagh Dick Warrener--for Ned was with his regiment, which, to
his great disgust, had remained at Cawnpore--had the joy of meeting his
father again, as Warrener's Horse had not shared in Havelock's advance
to the Residency, but had remained as part of the garrison of the
Alumbagh. It is needless to tell of the delight of that meeting after
all that the lads had gone through since they parted from their father,
nearly four months before, at Cawnpore. Colonel Warrener had heard of
the safe arrival of his sons at Delhi before he marched up from
Cawnpore, but since then no word had reached him. Captains Dunlop and
Manners were also delighted to meet him again; and the whole of the
troop vied with each other in the heartiness of the welcome accorded to
him. Disease and death had sadly lessened the ranks; and of the one
hundred men who had volunteered at Meerut to form a body of horse, not
more than fifty now remained in the ranks. It was very late at
night--or rather, early in the morning--before the party assembled in
Colonel Warrener's tent separated, to seek a few hours' sleep before
the _réveillé_ sounded for the troops to rise and prepare for the
advance.

Soon after daybreak the column were under arms. The Seventy-fifth
Regiment, to its intense disappointment, was ordered to stay and guard
the Alumbagh, with its immense accumulation of stores and munitions;
and the rest of the troops, turning off from the direct road and
following the line the boys had traversed when they made their way into
the Residency, marched for the Dil Koosha, a hunting-palace of the late
king of Oude.

The enemy, who had anticipated an advance by the direct line taken by
Havelock, and who had made immense preparations for defense in that
quarter, were taken aback by the movement to the right, and no
opposition was experienced until the column approached the beautiful
park, upon an elevated spot in which the Dil Koosha stood.

Then a brisk musketry fire was opened upon them. The head of the column
was extended in skirmishing order, reinforcements were sent up, and,
firing heavily as they advanced, the British drove the enemy before
them, and two hours after the first shot was fired were in possession
of the palace. The enemy fled down the slope toward the city; but the
troops pressed forward, and, with but slight loss, carried the strong
position of the Martinière College, and drove the enemy across the
canal. By this time the enemy's troops from the other side of the city
were flocking up, and prepared to recross the canal and give battle;
but some of the heavy guns were brought up to the side of the canal,
and the rebels made no further attempt to take the offensive.

The result of the day's fighting more than answered the
commander-in-chief's expectations, for not only had a commanding
position, from which the whole eastern suburb could be cannonaded, been
obtained, but a large convoy of provisions and stores had been safely
brought up, and a new base of operations obtained.

The next day, the 15th of November, is celebrated in the annals of
British military history as that upon which some of the fiercest and
bloodiest fighting which ever took place in India occurred. At a short
distance beyond the canal stood the Secunderbagh (Alexander's garden),
a building of strong masonry, standing in a garden surrounded by a very
high and strong wall. This wall was loopholed for musketry; the gate,
which led through a fortified gateway, had been blocked with great
piles of stones behind it, and a very strong garrison held it. In
front, a hundred yards distant, was a fortified village, also held in
great force. Separated from the garden of the Secunderbagh only by the
road was the mosque of Shah Nujeeff. This building was also situated in
a garden with a strong loopholed wall, and this was lined with the
insurgent troops; while the terraced roof of the mosque, and the four
minarets which rose at its corners, were crowded with riflemen.

The column of attack was commanded by Brigadier Hope; and as it crossed
the bridge of the canal and advanced, a tremendous musketry fire was
opened upon it from the village which formed the advanced post of the
enemy. The column broke up into skirmishing line and advanced steadily.

"The guns to the front!" said an aide-de-camp, galloping up to the
naval brigade.

With a cheer the sailors moved across the bridge, following the Horse
Artillery, which dashed ahead, unlimbered, and opened fire with great
rapidity. It took somewhat longer to bring the ponderous
sixty-eight-pounders of the naval brigade into action; but their deep
roar when once at work astonished the enemy, who had never before heard
guns of such heavy metal.

The rebels fought obstinately, however; but Brigadier-General Hope led
his troops gallantly forward, and after a brief, stern fight the enemy
gave way and fled to the Secunderbagh.

The guns were now brought forward and their fire directed at the strong
wall. The heavy cannon soon made a breach and the assault was ordered.
The Fourth Sikhs had been directed to lead the attack, while the
Ninety-third Highlanders and detachments from the Fifty-third and other
regiments were to cover their advance, by their musketry fire at the
loopholes and other points from which the enemy were firing.

The white troops were, however, too impatient to be at the enemy to
perform the patient role assigned to them, and so joined the Sikhs in
their charge. The rush was so fierce and rapid that a number of men
pushed through the little breach before the enemy had mustered in force
to repel them. The entrance was, however, too small for the impatient
troops, and a number of them rushed to the grated windows which
commanded the gates. Putting their caps on the ends of the muskets,
they raised them to the level of the windows, and every Sepoy at the
post discharged his musket at once. Before they could load again the
troops leaped up, tore down the iron bars, and burst a way here also
into the garden.

[Illustration: THE RUSH WAS SO FIERCE, THAT A NUMBER OF MEN PUSHED
THROUGH THE LITTLE BREACH BEFORE THE ENEMY COULD REPEL THEM.]

Then ensued a frightful struggle; two thousand Sepoys held the garden,
and these, caught like rats in a trap, fought with the energy of
despair. Nothing, however, could withstand the troops, mad with the
long-balked thirst for vengeance, and attacked with the cry--which in
very truth was the death-knell of the enemy--"Remember Cawnpore!" on
their lips. No quarter was asked or given. It was a stubborn, furious,
desperate strife, man to man--desperate Sepoy against furious
Englishman. But in such a strife weight and power tell their tale, and
not one of the two thousand men who formed the garrison escaped; two
thousand dead bodies were next day counted within the four walls of the
garden.

The battle had now raged for three hours, but there was more work yet
to be done. From the walls and minarets of the Shah Nujeeff a terrible
fire had been poured upon the troops as they fought their way into the
Secunderbagh, and the word was given to take this stronghold also. The
gate had been blocked up with masonry. Captain Peel was ordered to take
up the sixty-eight-pounders and to breach the wall. Instead of halting
at a short distance, the gallant sailor brought up his guns to within
ten yards of the wall, and set to work as if he were fighting his ship
broadside to broadside with an enemy. It was an action probably
unexampled in war. Had such an attack been made unsupported by
infantry, the naval brigade would have been annihilated by the storm of
fire from the walls, and Dick Warrener's career would have come to a
close. The Highlanders and their comrades, however, opened with such a
tremendous fire upon the points from which the enemy commanded the
battery, and at every loophole in the wall, that the mutineers could
only keep up a wild and very ineffectual fire upon the gunners. The
massive walls crumbled slowly but surely, and in four hours several
gaps were made.

Then the guns ceased their fire, and the infantry with a wild cheer
burst into the garden of the Shah Nujeeff, and filled the mosque and
garden with the corpses of their defenders. The loss of the naval
brigade in this gallant affair was not heavy, and Dick Warrener escaped
untouched.

Evening was approaching now, and the troops bivouacked for the night.
The Ninetieth and that portion of the Fifty-third not engaged in the
assault of the Secunderbagh and Shah Nujeeff were now to have their
turn as leaders of the attack.

The next point to be carried was the messhouse, a very strong position,
situated on an eminence, with flanking towers, a loopholed mud wall,
and a ditch. The naval guns began the fray, and the heavy shot soon
effected a breach in the wall. The defenders of the post were annoyed,
too, by a mortar battery in an advanced post of the British force in
the Residency--for the space between the garrison and the relieving
force was rapidly lessening. The word was given, and the Ninetieth,
Fifty-third, and Sikhs dashed forward, surmounted all obstacles, and
carried the position with the bayonet; and the observatory, which stood
behind it, was soon afterward most gallantly carried by a Sikh regiment.

In the meantime the garrison of the Residency was not idle. On the day
of the arrival of the British at Dil Koosha flag-signals from the
towers of that palace had established communication with the Residency,
and it was arranged that as soon as the relieving forces obtained
possession of the Secunderbagh the troops of the garrison should begin
to fight their way to meet them.

Delighted at taking the offensive after their long siege, Havelock's
troops, on the 16th, attacked the enemy with fury, and carried two
strong buildings known as Hern Khana and engine-house, and then dashed
on through the Chuttur Munzil, and carried all before them at the point
of the bayonet.

All the strongholds of the enemy along this line had now fallen; and on
the 17th of March Sir Colin Campbell met Generals Outram and Havelock,
amid the tremendous cheers of British troops, which for awhile drowned
the heavy fire which the enemy was still keeping up.

The loss of the relieving column during the operations was far less
than that which had befallen Havelock's force in its advance--for it
amounted only to one hundred and twenty-two officers and men killed,
and three hundred and forty-five wounded. The loss of the enemy
considerably exceeded four thousand. The relieving force did not
advance into the Residency, but were stationed along the line which
they had conquered between the Dil Koosha and the Residency, for the
enemy were still in enormously superior force, and threatened to cut
the line by which the British had penetrated.

The first operation was to pour in a supply of luxuries from the stores
at the Dil Koosha. White bread, oranges, bananas, wine, tea, sugar, and
other articles were sent forward; and these, to those who had for
nearly six months existed on the barest and coarsest food, were
luxuries indeed. An even greater pleasure was afforded by sending in
the mails which had accumulated, and thus affording the garrison the
intense delight of hearing of those loved ones at home from whom they
had been so long cut off.

The day that the junction was made Dick obtained leave for a few hours
to visit his friends in the Residency. It was singular to the lad to
walk leisurely across the open space of the Residency garden, where
before it would have been death to show one's self for a minute, and to
look about rather as an unconcerned spectator than as formerly, with
nerves on strain night and day to repel attack, which, if successful,
meant death to every soul in the place.

In the battered walls, the shattered roofs, the destruction everywhere
visible, he saw how the terrors of the siege had increased after he had
left; and in view of the general havoc that met his view Dick was
astonished that any one should have survived the long-continued
bombardment. In some respects the change had been favorable. The
accession of strength after the arrival of General Havelock's force had
enabled great and beneficial alteration to be made in the internal
arrangements, and the extension of the lines held had also aided in
improving the sanitary condition. But the change in the appearance of
the place was trifling in comparison with that in the faces of the
defenders. These were, it is true, still pinched and thin, for the
supply of food had been reduced to a minimum, and the rations had been
lowered almost to starvation point. But in place of the expression of
deep anxiety or of stern determination then marked on every face, all
now looked joyous and glad, for the end to the terrible trials had
arrived.

As he moved along men looked at the midshipman curiously, and then, as
the lad advanced with outstretched hands, greeted him with cries of
astonishment and pleasure; for it was naturally supposed in the
garrison that the Warreners had fallen in the sortie on Johannes'
house. Very hearty were the greetings which Dick received, especially
from those whom he met who had fought side by side with him at Gubbins'
house. This pleasure, however, was greatly dashed by the answers to his
questions respecting friends. "Dead," "dead," "killed," were the
replies that came to the greater part of the inquiries after those he
had known, and the family in whom he was chiefly interested had
suffered heavily. Mr. Hargreaves was killed; Mr. and Mrs. Ritchie and
all their children had succumbed to the confinement and privation; but
Mrs. Hargreaves and the girls were well. After briefly telling how they
had escaped in disguise, after having been cut off from falling back
after the successful sortie, Dick Warrener hurried off to the house
where he heard that his friends were quartered.

It was outside the bounds of the old Residency, for the ground held
had, since the arrival of Havelock's force, been considerably extended,
and the ladies had had two rooms assigned to them in a large building.
Dick knocked at the door of the room, and the ayah opened it--looked at
him--gave a scream, and ran back into the room, leaving the door open.
Dick, seeing that it was a sitting-room, followed her in. Mrs.
Hargreaves, alarmed at the cry, had just risen from her chair, and
Nelly and Edith ran in from the inner room as Dick entered. A general
cry of astonishment broke from them.

"Dick Warrener!" Mrs. Hargreaves exclaimed. "Is it possible? My clear
boy, thank God I see you again. And your brother?"

"He escaped too," Dick said.

Mrs. Hargreaves took him in her arms and kissed him as a dear relative
would have done; for during the month they had been together the boys
had become very dear to her, from their unvarying readiness to aid all
who required it, from their self-devotion and their bravery. Nor were
the girls less pleased, and they warmly embraced the young sailor, whom
they had come to look upon as if he had been a member of the family,
and whom they had wept as dead.

For a time all were too much moved to speak more than a few disjointed
words, for the sad changes which had occurred since they had last met
were present in all their thoughts. Nelly, the youngest, was the first
to recover, and wiping away her tears, she said, half-laughing,
half-crying:

"I hate you, Dick, frightening us into believing that you were killed,
when you were alive and well all the time. But I never quite believed
it after all. I said all along that you couldn't have been killed;
didn't I, mamma? and that monkeys always got out of scrapes somehow."

Mrs. Hargreaves smiled.

"I don't think you put it in that way exactly, Nelly; but I will grant
that between your fits of crying you used to assert over and over again
that you did not believe that they were killed. And now, my dear boy,
tell us how this seeming miracle has come about."

Then they sat down quietly, and Dick told the whole story; and Mrs.
Hargreaves warmly congratulated him on the manner in which they had
escaped, and upon the presence of mind they had shown. Then she in turn
told him what they had gone through and suffered. Edith burst into
tears, and left the room, and her mother presently went after her.

"Well, Nelly, I have seen a lot since I saw you, have I not?"

"Yes, you are a dear, brave boy, Dick," the girl said.

"Even though I am a monkey, eh?" Dick answered. "And did you really cry
when you thought I was dead?"

"Yes," the girl said demurely; "I always cry when I lose my pets. There
was the dearest puppy I ever had--"

Dick laughed quietly. "Who is the monkey now?" he asked.

"I am," she said frankly; "but you know I can't help teasing you, Dick."

"Don't balk yourself, Nelly, I like it. I should like to be teased by
you all my life," he said in lower tones.

The girl flushed up rosy red. "If you could always remain as you are
now," she said after a little pause, "just an impudent midshipman, I
should not mind it. Do you know, Dick, they give terriers gin to
prevent their growing; don't you think you might stop yourself? It is
quite sad," she went on pathetically, "to think that you may grow up
into a great lumbering man."

"I am quite in earnest, Nelly," Dick said, looking preternaturally
stern.

"Yes," Nelly said, "I have always understood midshipmen were quite in
earnest when they talked nonsense."

"I am quite in earnest," Dick said solemnly and fixedly again.

"No, really, Dick, we are too old for that game," Nelly said, with a
great affectation of gravity. "I think we could enjoy hide-and-seek
together, or even blindman's buff; but you know children never play at
being little lovers after they are quite small. I remember a dear
little boy, he used to wear pinafores----"

Here Mrs. Hargreaves again entered the room, and Dick, jumping up
suddenly, said that it was quite time for him to be off. "I shall only
just have time to be back by the time I promised."

"Good-by, Dick. I hope to see you again tomorrow."

Edith came in, and there was a hearty shake of the hand all round,
except that Dick only touched the tips of Nelly's fingers, in a manner
which he imagined betokened a dignified resentment, although as he
looked up and saw the girl's eyes dancing with amusement, he could
scarcely flatter himself that it had produced any very serious effect.
Dick returned in an indignant mood to the naval brigade, which was
quartered in the Shah Nujeeff's mosque and gardens.

"You are out of sorts to-night, Dick," one of his brother midshipmen
said, as they leaned together upon the parapet of the mosque, looking
down on the city; "is anything the matter?"

"Were you ever in love, Harry?"

"Lots of times," Harry said confidently.

"And could you always persuade them that you were in earnest?" Dick
asked.

Harry meditated. "Well, I am not quite sure about that, Dick; but then,
you see, I was never quite sure myself that I was in earnest, and
that's rather a drawback, you know."

"But what would you do, Harry, supposing you were really quite in
earnest, and she laughed in your face and told you you were a boy?"
Dick asked.

"I expect," the midshipman said, laughing, "I should kiss her straight
off, and say that as I was a boy she couldn't object."

"Oh, nonsense," Dick said testily; "I want advice, and you talk bosh!"

The midshipman winked confidentially at the moon, there being no one
else to wink at, and then said gravely:

"I think, Dick, the right thing to do would be to put your right hand
on your heart, and hold your left hand up, with the forefinger pointing
to the ceiling, and to say, 'Madam, I leave you now. When years have
rolled over our heads I will return, and prove to you at once my
affection and my constancy.'"

Dick's eyes opened to their widest, and it was not until his friend
went off in a shout of laughter that he was certain that he was being
chaffed; then, with an exclamation of "Confound you, Harry!" he made a
rush at his comrade, who dodged his attack, and darted off, closely
pursued by Dick. And as they dashed round the cupola and down the
stairs their light-hearted laughter--for Dick soon joined in the laugh
against himself--rose on the evening air; and the tars, smoking their
pipes round the bivouac fires below, smiled as the sound came faintly
down to them, and remarked, "Them there midshipmites are larking, just
as if they were up in the maintop."



CHAPTER XXI.

A SAD PARTING.


Sir Colin Campbell had considered it possible that the enemy would,
upon finding that the Residency was relieved, and the prey, of whose
destruction they had felt so sure, slipped from between their fingers,
leave the city and take to the open, in which case he would, after
restoring order, have left a strong body of troops in the city, and
have set off in pursuit of the rebels.

It soon became apparent, however, that the enemy had no intention of
deserting their stronghold. Lucknow abounded with palaces and mosques,
each of which had been turned into a fortress, while every street was
barricaded, every wall loopholed. As from forty thousand to fifty
thousand men, including many thousands of drilled soldiers, stood ready
to defend the town, foot by foot, it was clear that the fighting force
at Sir Colin Campbell's command was utterly inadequate to attempt so
serious an operation as the reduction of the whole city. To leave a
portion of the force would only have submitted them to another siege,
with the necessity for another advance to their relief. The
commander-in-chief therefore determined to evacuate the Residency and
city altogether, to carry off the entire garrison, and to leave Lucknow
to itself until the reinforcements from England should arrive, and he
should be able to undertake the subjugation of the city with a force
adequate for the purpose.

His intention was kept a secret until the last moment, lest the news
might reach the enemy, who, from the batteries in their possession,
could have kept up a terrible fire upon the road along which the women
and children would have to pass, and who would have attacked with such
fury along the whole line to be traversed, that it would have been next
to impossible to draw off the troops.

In order to deceive the enemy, guns were placed in position to play
upon the town, and a heavy fire was opened against the Kaiserbagh, or
King's Palace, a fortress of great strength. In the meantime
preparations for retreat were quietly carried on. Bullock hackeries
were prepared for the carriage of the ladies and children; and on the
morning of the 23d of November the occupants of the Residency were
informed that they must prepare to leave that afternoon, and that no
luggage beyond a few personal necessaries could be carried.

The order awakened mingled emotions--there was gladness at the thought
of leaving a place where all had suffered so much, and round which so
many sad memories were centered; there was regret in surrendering to
the foe a post which had been so nobly defended for so many months.
Among many, too, there was some dismay at the thought of giving up all
their movable possessions to the enemy. One small trunk was all that
was allowed to each, and as each tried to put together the most
valuable of his or her belongings, the whole of the buildings occupied
were littered, from end to end, with handsome dresses, silver plate,
mirrors, clocks, furniture, and effects of all kinds. A short time
since every one would have gladly resigned all that they possessed for
life and liberty; but now that both were assured, it was felt to be
hard to give up everything.

Dick went in to Mrs. Hargreaves' to see if he could be of any service,
but there was comparatively little to do, for that lady had lost all
her portable property in the destruction of the bungalow on the estate
owned by her husband, and had come into Lucknow shortly before the
outbreak, when the cloud began to lower heavily, with but a small
amount of baggage. Dick had not been able to see them since his first
visit, being incessantly on duty.

"I was so sorry I could not come up before," he explained; "but each of
the officers has been up to have a look at the Residency; and as we may
be attacked at any moment, Captain Peel expects them all to be on the
spot with their men."

"Shall we get away without being fired at?" Nelly asked.

"I am afraid you will have to run the gantlet in one or two places,"
Dick said. "The enemy keep up an almost incessant fire; and although,
we must hope, they will not have an idea that any number of people are
passing along the road, and their fire will therefore be only a random
one, it may be a little unpleasant; but you are all accustomed to that
now. I must be off again, Mrs. Hargreaves; I really only came to
explain why I did not come yesterday, and only got leave for an hour,
so I have come at a trot all the way."

And so Dick made off again; and as he shook hands with them, he could
feel that Nelly had not yet forgiven the coldness of his last good-by.

Upon the previous day all the sick and wounded had been moved to the
Dil Koosha; that done, the very large amount of money, amounting to
nearly a quarter of a million, in the government treasury, was removed,
together with such stores as were required. Then the guns were silently
withdrawn from the batteries, and at half-past four in the afternoon
the emigration of the women and children commenced. All had to walk to
the Secunderbagh, along a road strewn with _débris_, and ankle deep in
sand, and in some places exposed to a heavy fire. At one of these
points a strong party of seamen were stationed, among whom Dick was on
duty. As each party of women arrived at the spot they were advised to
stoop low, and to run across at full speed, as the road being a little
sunk, they thus escaped observation by the enemy, whose battery was at
some little distance, but the grape whistled thickly overhead, and
several were wounded as they passed.

Dick had been on the lookout for the Hargreaves party, and came forward
and had a talk with them before they started across the open spot. He
had quite recovered from Nelly's attack upon his dignity as a man and a
naval officer, and the pair as usual had a wordy spar. Dick was,
however, rather serious at the prospect of the danger they were about
to run.

"Will you let me cross with you one at a time?" he asked.

"Certainly not, Dick," Mrs. Hargreaves said. "You could do us no good,
and would run a silly risk yourself. Now, girls, are you ready?"

"Stoop low, for heaven's sake!" Dick urged.

Mrs. Hargreaves started at a run, accompanied by Alice. Nelly was a
little behind. Dick took her hand and ran across, keeping between her
and the enemy.

"Down low!" he cried, as, when they were half across, a heavy gun
fired. As he spoke, he threw his arms round Nelly, and pulled her to
the ground. As he did so a storm of grape swept just above them,
striking the wall, and sending a shower of earth over them. Another
half-minute and they were across on the other side.

"Good-by," he said to them all; "you are over the worst now."

"Good-by, my dear boy. Mind how you cross again. God bless you." And
Mrs. Hargreaves and Alice shook his hand, and turned to go. Nelly held
hers out to him. He took it and clasped it warmly; he was loosening his
hold when the girl said: "You have saved my life, Dick."

"Oh, nonsense," he said.

"You did, sir, and--yes, I am coming, mamma"--in answer to a word from
her mother. "Oh, how stupid you are, Dick!" she cried, with a little
stamp of her foot; "don't you want to kiss me?"

"Of course I do," Dick said.

"Then why on earth don't you do it, sir?--There, that is enough. God
bless you, dear Dick;" and Nelly darted off to join her mother.

Then he returned to his post, and the ladies went on to the
Secunderbagh. Here a long halt was entailed, until all were gathered
there, in order that they might be escorted by a strong guard on to the
Dil Koosha. Then came an anxious journey--some in bullock-carts, some
in doolies, some on foot. The Hargreaves walked, for the anxiety was
less when moving on foot than if shut up in a conveyance. Several times
there were long halts in expectation of attack; and a report that a
great movement could be heard among the enemy at one time delayed them
until reinforcements could be sent for and arrived. But about midnight
all reached the Dil Koosha, where a number of tents had been erected,
and refreshments prepared for the many fugitives.

Later on the troops came tramping in, having gradually, and in regular
order, evacuated their posts, leaving their fires burning and moving in
absolute silence, so that it was not until next morning that the enemy
awoke to the knowledge that the Residency was deserted, and that their
expected prey had safely escaped them.

The next day was spent quietly, all enjoying intensely the open air,
the relief from the long pressure, and the good food, wine, and other
comforts now at their disposal. Dick brought Colonel Warrener to make
the acquaintance of his friends, and a pleasant afternoon was spent
together. On the 25th a heavy gloom fell upon all, for on that day the
gallant General Havelock, worn out by his labors and anxieties, was
seized with dysentery, and in a few hours breathed his last. He was a
good man as well as a gallant soldier, and his death just at the moment
when the safety of those for whom he had done so much was assured cast
a gloom not only over his comrades and those who had fought under him,
but on the whole British nation. All that day the great convoy had been
on the move between the Dil Koosha and the Alumbagh. Half the fighting
force served as an escort, the other half stood in battle order between
them and Lucknow, in case the enemy should come out to the attack. The
whole road between the two stations was throughout the day covered by a
continuous stream of bullock carts, palanquins, carts, camels,
elephants, guns, ammunition carts, and store wagons.

Mrs. Hargreaves and her daughters were on an elephant, with their ayah;
and as the Warreners had placed in the howdah a basket of refreshments,
the long weary march was borne, not only without inconvenience, but
with some pleasure at the novelty of the scene and the delight of air
and freedom.

Sir Colin Campbell had intended to allow a halt of seven days at the
Alumbagh, but on the 27th of May a continuous firing was heard in the
direction of Cawnpore. Fearful for the safety of that all-important
post, the commander determined to push forward his convoy at once. On
the morning of the 28th they started. Dick had come soon after daybreak
to the tents where the Hargreaves were, with many others, sleeping.

"There is bad news from Cawnpore," he said, "and you will have to push
on. I expect that it will be a terrible two days' march with all this
convoy. Pray take enough provisions with you for the two days in the
howdah, and some blankets and things to make a cover at night. I am
sure that the tents will not be got up, and the confusion at the
halting-place will be fearful; but if you have everything with you, you
will be able to manage."

It was well that they were so prepared, for the first march, owing to
the immense length of the convoy, lasted until long past dark; then
there was a halt for a few hours, and then a thirty miles' journey to
the bridge of boats on the Ganges.

The naval brigade accompanied the convoy, but Dick had seen nothing of
his friends. Colonel Warrener, however, who with his troop had moved
along the line at intervals, spoke to them, and was able at the
halting-place to assist them to make a temporary shelter, where they
snatched a few hours' sleep.

The news that had caused this movement was bad indeed. General Wyndham,
in command at Cawnpore, had been defeated by the Gwalior rebel
contingent, aided by the troops of Nana Sahib and those of Koer Sing, a
great Oude chief, and part of the town had been taken. Sir Colin
himself pushed forward at all speed with a small body of troops and
some heavy guns, so as to secure the safety of the bridge of boats; for
had this fallen into the hands of the enemy the situation of the great
convoy would have been bad indeed. However, the rebels had neglected to
take measures until it was too late, and the approaches to the bridge
on either side were guarded by our guns. The passage of the convoy then
began, and for thirty-nine hours a continuous stream passed across the
river.

The whole force which had accomplished the relief of Lucknow had not
returned, as it was considered necessary to keep some troops to command
the town, and prevent the great body of mutineers gathered there from
undertaking expeditions. The Alumbagh was accordingly held by the
Fifth, Seventy-eighth, Eighty-fourth, and Ninetieth Foot, the Madras
Fusiliers, the Ferozepore Sikhs, and a strong artillery force, the
whole under the command of Sir James Outram.

As the long day went on, and the thunder of the guns at Cawnpore grew
louder and louder, Sir Colin Campbell took the naval brigade and the
greater portion of the fighting troops, and pushed forward. The
regiments as they arrived were hurried across the bridge, to take part
in the defense of the position guarding the bridge, where General
Wyndham's troops were defending themselves desperately against immense
forces of the enemy.

"What has happened?" was the question the officers of the naval brigade
asked those of the garrison when they first met.

"Oh, we have been fearfully licked. A series of blunders and
mismanagement. We have lost all the camp equipage, all the stores--in
fact, everything. It is the most disgraceful thing which has happened
since the trouble began. We lost heavily yesterday, frightfully to-day.
They say the Sixty-fourth is cut to pieces."

It had indeed been a wretched business, and was the only occasion when
British troops were, in any force, defeated throughout the mutiny. The
affair happened in this way. The British force at Cawnpore were
stationed in an intrenched position, so placed as to overawe the city,
and to command the river and bridge of boats, which it was
all-important to keep open. The general in command received news that
the mutinous Gwalior contingent, with several other rebel bodies, was
on its way to Cawnpore. Unfortunately, they were approaching on the
opposite side of the city to that upon which the British intrenchments
were situated, and the general therefore determined to leave a portion
of his force to protect the intrenchments and bridge, while with the
rest he started to give battle to the enemy in the open at a distance
on the other side of the city, as it was very important to prevent
Cawnpore from again falling into their hands. He advanced first to
Dhubarlee, a strong position on the canal, where a vigorous defense
could have been made, as a cross canal covered our flank.
Unfortunately, however, the next day he again marched forward eight
miles, and met the advanced guard of the enemy at Bhowree. The British
force consisted of twelve hundred infantry, made up of portions of the
Thirty-fourth, Eighty-second, Eighty-eighth, and Rifles, with one
hundred native cavalry, and eight guns. The troops advanced with a
rush, carried the village, defeated the enemy, and took two guns, and
then pressing forward, found themselves in face of the main body of the
enemy's army. Then for the first time it appears to have occurred to
the general that it was imprudent to fight so far from the city. He
therefore ordered a retreat, and the British force fell back, closely
followed by the enemy. Had he halted again at Dhubarlee, he might still
have retrieved his error; but he continued his retreat, and halted for
the night on the plain of Jewar, a short distance from the northeast
angle of the city.

No preparations appear to have been made in case of an attack by the
enemy, and when in the morning they came on in immense force, the
British position was seriously threatened on all sides. For five hours
the troops held their ground nobly, and prevented the enemy advancing
by a direct attack. A large body, however, moved round to the flank and
entered the city, thus getting between the British forces and their
intrenchments. The order was therefore given to retire, and this was
carried out in such haste that the whole of the camp equipage,
consisting of five hundred tents, quantities of saddlery, uniforms for
eight regiments, and a vast amount of valuable property of all kinds,
fell into the hands of the mutineers. All these stores had been placed
in a great camp on the plain outside the fortified intrenchments. It
was a disastrous affair; and Cawnpore blazed with great fires, lighted
by the triumphant mutineers.

During the retreat a gun had been capsized and left in one of the lanes
of the town, and at dead of night one hundred men of the Sixty-fourth,
accompanied by a detachment of sailors, went silently out, and
succeeded in righting the gun, and bringing it off from the very heart
of the city.

The next day the whole force moved out, and took up their position to
prevent the enemy from approaching the intrenchments. The mutineers,
commanded by Nana Sahib in person, advanced to the attack. One British
column remained in reserve. The column under Colonel Walpole succeeded
in repulsing the body opposed to it, and captured two of its
eighteen-pounder guns. The column under General Carthew maintained its
position throughout the day, but fell back toward the evening--a
proceeding for which the officer in command was severely censured by
the commander-in-chief, who, riding on ahead of his convoy, with a
small body of troops, reached the scene of action just at nightfall.

But it was the division under Brigadier-General Wilson, colonel of the
Sixty-fourth, that suffered most heavily. Seeing that General Carthew
was hardly pressed, he led a part of his own regiment against four guns
which were playing with great effect. Ned Warrener's heart beat high as
the order to charge was given, for it was the first time he had been in
action with his gallant regiment. With a cheer the little body, who
numbered fourteen officers and one hundred and sixty men, advanced.
Their way led along a ravine nearly half a mile long; and as they moved
forward a storm of shot, shell, and grape from the guns was poured upon
them, while a heavy musketry fire broke out from the heights on either
side. Fast the men fell, but there was no wavering; on at the double
they went, until within fifty yards of the guns, and then burst into a
charge at full speed.

Ned, accustomed as he was to fire, had yet felt bewildered at the iron
storm which had swept their ranks. All round him men were falling; a
bullet knocked off his cap, and a grape-shot smashed his sword off
short in his hand. The Sepoy artillerymen stood to their guns and
fought fiercely as the British rushed upon them. Ned caught up the
musket of a man who fell dead by his side, and bayoneted a gunner; he
saw another man at four paces off level a rifle at him, felt a stunning
blow, and fell, but was up in a minute again, having been knocked down
by a brick hurled by some Sepoy from a dwelling close behind the
guns--a blow which probably saved his life. Two of the guns where
spiked while the hand-to-hand conflict raged.

Major Stirling fell dead, Captain Murphy and Captain Macraw died
fighting nobly beside him, and the gallant Colonel Wilson received
three bullets through his body. From all sides masses of the enemy
charged down, and a regiment of Sepoy cavalry swept upon them. Captain
Sanders was now in command, and gave the word to fall back; and even
faster than they had approached, the survivors of the Sixty-fourth
retreated, literally cutting their way through the crowds of Sepoys
which surrounded them.

Ned was scarcely conscious of what he was doing; and few could have
given a detailed account of the events of that most gallant charge. The
men kept well together; old veterans in fight, they knew that only in
close ranks could they hope to burst through the enemy; and striking,
and stabbing, and always running, they at last regained the position
they had quitted. Of the fourteen officers, seven were killed and two
wounded; of the one hundred and sixty men, eighteen killed and fifteen
wounded; a striking testimony to the valor with which the officers had
led the way. Such slaughter as this among the officers is almost
without parallel in the records of the British army; and lads who went
into the fray low down on the list of lieutenants came out captains.
Among them was Ned Warrener, who stood fifth on the list of
lieutenants, and who, by the death vacancies, now found himself a
captain.

It was not until they halted, breathless and exhausted, that he
discovered that he had been twice wounded; for in the wild excitement
of the fight he had been unconscious of pain. A bullet had passed
through the fleshy part of his left arm, while another had cut a clean
gash just across his hip. Neither was in any way serious; and having
had them bound up with a handkerchief, he remained with his regiment
till nightfall put an end to the fighting, when he made his way to the
hospital. This was crowded with badly wounded men; and Ned seeing the
pressure upon the surgeons, obtained a couple of bandages, and went
back to his regiment, to have them put on there. As he reached his
camp, Dick sprang forward.

"My dear old boy, I was just hunting for you. We crossed to-night, and
directly we were dismissed I rushed off, hearing that your regiment has
suffered frightfully. I hear you are hit; but, thank God! only
slightly."

"Very slightly, old boy; nothing worth talking about. It has been an
awful business, though. And how are you? and how is father?"

"Quite well, Ned. Not a scratch either of us."

"And the Hargreaves?"

"Mrs. Hargreaves and the girls are all right, Ned, and will be in
to-morrow; all the rest are gone."

"Gone! dear, dear! I am sorry. Now, Dick, come to the fire and bandage
up my arm; and you must congratulate me, old boy, for by the slaughter
to-day I have my company."

"Hurrah!" Dick exclaimed joyfully. "That is good news. What luck! not
eighteen yet, and a captain."

It was only on the 1st of December that the whole of the convoy from
Lucknow were gathered in tents on the parade-ground at Cawnpore, and
all hoped for a short period of rest.

On the morning of the 3d, however, notice was issued that in two hours
the women, children, and civilians of Lucknow would proceed to
Allahabad, under escort of five hundred men of the Thirty-fourth
Regiment. It would be a long march, for the convoy would be incumbered
by the enormous train of stores and munitions of war, while a large
number of vehicles were available for their transport.

Colonel Warrener heard the news early, and knowing how interested his
sons were in the matter, he rode round to their respective camps and
told them. Leaving them to follow, he then rode over to the Hargreaves'
tent.

They had just heard the news, and short as the time was, had so few
preparations to make that they were ready for a start. A dawk-garry, or
post-carriage, was allotted to them, which, the ayah riding outside,
would hold them with some comfort, these vehicles being specially
constructed to allow the occupants, when two in number only, to lie
down at full length. It would be a close fit for the three ladies, but
they thought that they could manage; and it was a comfort to know that,
even if no tents could be erected at night, they could lie down in
shelter.

The young Warreners soon arrived, and while their father was discussing
the arrangements with Mrs. Hargreaves, and seeing that a dozen of
claret which his orderly had at his orders brought across, with a
basket of fruit, was properly secured on the roof, they sauntered off
with the girls, soon insensibly pairing off.

"It will be two years at least before I am home in England, Nelly,"
Dick said, "and I hope to be a lieutenant soon after, for I am certain
of my step directly I pass, since I have been mentioned three times in
dispatches. I know I am a boy, not much over sixteen, but I have gone
through a lot, and am older than my age; but even if you laugh at me,
Nelly, I must tell you I love you."

But Nelly was in no laughing mood.

"My dear Dick," she said, "I am not going to laugh; I am too sad at
parting. But you know I am not much over fifteen yet, though I too feel
older--oh, so much older than girls in England, who are at school till
long past that age. You know I like you, Dick, very, very much. It
would be absurd to say more than that to each other now. We part just
on these terms, Dick. We know we both like each other very much. Well,
yes, I will say 'love' if you like, Dick; but we cannot tell the least
in the world what we shall do five years hence. So we won't make any
promises, or anything else; we will be content with what we know; and
if either of us change, there will be no blame and misery. Do you agree
to that, Dick?"

Dick did agree very joyfully, and a few minutes later the pair, very
silent now, strolled back to the tent. Ned and Edith were already
there, for Ned had no idea of speaking out now, or of asking Edith to
enter into an engagement which she might repent when she came to enter
society in England; and yet, although he said nothing, or hardly
anything, the pair understood each other's feelings as well as did Dick
and Nelly.

All was now ready for the start, everything in its place, and the ayah
on the seat with the driver. Then came the parting--a very sad one.
Mrs. Hargreaves was much moved, and the girls wept unrestrainedly,
while Colonel Warrener, who had made his adieus, and was standing a
little back, lifted his eyebrows, with a comical look of astonishment,
as he saw the farewell embraces of his sons with Edith and Nelly.

"Humph!" he muttered to himself. "A bad attack of calf love all round.
Well," as he looked at the manly figures of his sons, and thought of
the qualities they had shown, "I should not be surprised if the boys
stick to it; but whether those pretty little things will give the
matter a thought when they have once come out at home remains to be
seen. It would not be a bad thing, for Hargreaves was, I know, a very
wealthy man, and there are only these two girls."



CHAPTER XXII.

THE LAST CAPTURE OF LUCKNOW.


The women and children brought from Lucknow once sent off from the
British camp, the commander-in-chief was able to direct his attention
to the work before him--of clearing out of Cawnpore the rebel army,
composed of the Gwalior contingent and the troops of Koer Sing and Nana
Sahib, in all twenty-five thousand men. Against this large force he
could only bring seventy-five hundred men; but these, well led, were
ample for the purpose.

The position on the night of the 5th of December was as follows. The
British camp was separated from the city by a canal running east and
west. The enemy were entirely on the north of this canal, their center
occupying the town. Outside the city walls lay the right of the rebel
army, while his left occupied the space between the walls and the
river. In the rear of the enemy's left was a position known as the
Subadar's Tank. The British occupied as an advanced post a large bazaar
on the city side of the river.

The operations of the 6th of December were simple. A demonstration was
made against the city from the bazaar, which occupied the attention of
the large force holding the town. The main body of the British were
quietly massed on its left, and, crossing three bridges over the canal,
attacked the enemy's right with impetuosity. These, cut off by the city
wall from their comrades within, were unable to stand the British
onslaught and the thunder of Peel's guns, and fled precipitately,
pursued by the British for fourteen miles along the Calpee Road. Every
gun and ammunition wagon of the mutineers on this side fell into the
hands of the victors.

As the victorious British force swept along past the city, Sir Colin
Campbell detached a force under General Mansfield to attack and occupy
the position of the Subadar's Tank--which was captured after some hard
fighting. Thus the British were in a position in rear of the enemy's
left. The mutineers, seeing that their right was utterly defeated, and
the retreat of their left threatened, lost all heart, and as soon as
darkness came on, fled, a disorganized rabble, from the city they had
entered as conquerors only six days before. The cavalry started next
day in pursuit, cut up large numbers, and captured the greater part of
their guns.

The threatening army of Gwalior thus beaten and scattered, and Cawnpore
in our hands, Sir Colin Campbell was able to devote his whole attention
to clearing the country in his rear, and in preparing for the great
final campaign against Lucknow, which, now that Delhi had fallen, was
the headquarters of the mutiny.

The next two months were passed in a series of expeditions by flying
columns. In some of these the Warreners took part, and both shared in
the defeats of the Sepoys and the capture of Futtyghur and
Furruckabad--places at which horrible massacres of the whites had taken
place in the early days of the mutiny. During these two months large
reinforcements had arrived; and Jung Bahadoor, Prince of Nepaul, had
come down with an army of ten thousand Ghoorkas to our aid.

On the 15th of February the tremendous train of artillery, ammunition
and stores, collected for the attack upon the city, began to cross the
river; and upon the 26th of the month the order was given for the army
to move upon the following day.

The task before it was a difficult one. From all the various points
from which the British had driven them--from Delhi, from Rohilcund, and
the Doab, from Cawnpore, Furruckabad, Futtyghur, Etawah, Allyghur,
Goruckpore, and other places--they retreated to Lucknow, and there were
now collected sixty thousand revolted Sepoys and fifty thousand
irregular troops, besides the armed rabble of the city of three hundred
thousand souls. Knowing the storm that was preparing to burst upon
their heads, they had neglected no means for strengthening their
position. Great lines of fortifications had been thrown up; enormous
quantities of guns placed in position; every house barricaded and
loopholed, and the Kaiserbagh transformed into a veritable citadel. In
hopes of destroying the force under General Sir James Outram, at the
Alumbagh--which had been a thorn in their side for so long--a series of
desperate attacks had been made upon them; but these had been uniformly
defeated with heavy loss by the gallant British force. On the 3d of
March the advanced division occupied the Dil Koosha, meeting with but
slight resistance; and the commander-in-chief at once took up his
headquarters here. The next three days were spent in making the
necessary disposition for a simultaneous attack upon all sides of the
town--General Outram on one side, Sir Hope Grant upon another, Jung
Bahadoor, with his Nepaulese, on the third, and the main attack, under
Sir Colin Campbell himself, on the fourth.

Great was the excitement in the camp on the eve of this tremendous
struggle. Colonel Warrener and his sons met on the night before the
fighting was to begin.

"Well, boys," he said, after a long talk upon the prospects of the
fighting, "did you do as you talked about, and draw your pay and get it
changed into gold?"

"Most of it," Ned said; "we could not get it all; and had to pay a
tremendous rate of exchange for it."

"Here are the twenty pounds each, in gold, lads," Colonel Warrener
said, "that I told you I could get for you. Now what do you want it
for? You would not tell me at Cawnpore."

"Well, father, at Delhi there was lots of loot taken, quantities of
valuable things, and the soldiers were selling what they had got for
next to nothing. I had some lovely bracelets offered me for a few
rupees, but no one had any money in their pockets. So Dick and I
determined that if we came into another storming business, we would
fill our pockets beforehand with money. They say that the palaces, the
Kaiserbagh especially, are crowded with valuable things; and as they
will be lawful loot for the troops, we shall be able to buy no end of
things."

Colonel Warrener laughed.

"There is nothing like forethought, Ned, and I have no doubt that you
will be able to pick up some good things. The soldiers attach no value
to them, and would rather have gold, which they can change for spirits,
than all the precious stones in the world. I shall be out of it, as, of
course, the cavalry will not go into the city, but will wait outside to
cut off the enemy's retreat."

The fighting began with General Outram's division, which worked round
the city, and had on the 7th, 8th, and 9th to repulse heavy attacks of
the enemy.

On the 9th Sir Colin Campbell advanced, took the Martinière with but
slight opposition, crossed the canal, and occupied the
Secunderbagh--the scene of the tremendous fighting on the previous
advance. The Begum's palace, in front of Bank House, was then attacked,
and after very heavy fighting, carried. Here Major Hodgson, the captor
of the king of Delhi, was mortally wounded. General Outram's force had
by this time taken up a position on the other side of the river, and
this enabled him to take the enemy's defenses in flank, and so greatly
to assist the advancing party.

Day by day the troops fought their way forward; and on the 14th the
Imaumbarra, a splendid palace of the king of Oude, adjoining the
Kaiserbagh, was breached and carried. The panic-stricken defenders fled
through the court and garden into the Kaiserbagh, followed hotly by the
Sikhs, Ghoorkas, and Highlanders. Such was the terror which their
appearance excited that a panic seized also the defenders of the
Kaiserbagh, and these too fled, deserting the fortifications raised
with so much care, and the British poured into the palace. For a few
minutes a sharp conflict took place in every room, and then, the Sepoys
being annihilated, the victors fell upon the spoil. From top to bottom
the Kaiserbagh was crowded with valuable articles, collected from all
parts of the world. English furniture, French clocks and
looking-glasses, Chinese porcelain, gorgeous draperies, golden thrones
studded with jewels, costly weapons inlaid with gold, enormous
quantities of jewelry--in fact, wealth of all kinds to an almost
fabulous value. The wildest scene of confusion ensued. According to the
rule in these matters, being taken by storm, the place was lawful
plunder. For large things the soldiers did not care, and set to to
smash and destroy all that could not be carried away. Some put on the
turbans studded with jewels; others hung necklaces of enormous value
round their necks, or covered their arms with bracelets. None knew the
value of the costly gems they had become possessed of; and few indeed
of the officers could discriminate between the jewels of immense value
and those which were mere worthless imitations.

As soon as the news spread that the Kaiserbagh was taken the guns fired
a royal salute in honor of the triumph; and all officers who could
obtain an hour's leave from their regiments hurried away to see the
royal palace of Oude.

The Warreners were both near the spot when the news came; both were
able to get away, and met at the entrance to the palace. Already
soldiers, British and native, were passing out laden with spoil.

"What will you give me for this necklace, sir?" a soldier asked Ned.

"I have no idea what it's worth," Ned said.

"No more have I," said the soldier; "it may be glass, it may be
something else. You shall have it for a sovereign."

"Very well," Ned said; "here is one."

So onward they went, buying everything in the way of jewels offered
them, utterly ignorant themselves whether the articles they purchased
were real gems or imitation.

Penetrating into the palace, they found all was wild confusion.
Soldiers were smashing chandeliers and looking-glasses, breaking up
furniture, tumbling the contents of chests and wardrobes and caskets
over the floors, eager to find, equally eager to sell what they had
found.

Bitter were the exclamations of disappointment and disgust which the
Warreners heard from many of the officers that they were unprovided
with money--for the soldiers would not sell except for cash; but for a
few rupees they were ready to part with anything. Strings of pearls,
worth a thousand pounds, were bought for a couple of rupees--four
shillings; diamond aigrettes, worth twice as much, went for a
sovereign; and the Warreners soon laid out the seventy pounds which
they had between them when they entered the palace; and their pockets
and the breasts of their coats were stuffed with their purchases, and
each had a bundle in his handkerchief.

"I wonder," Dick said, as they made their way back, "whether we have
been fools or wise men. I have not a shadow of an idea whether these
things are only the sham jewels which dancing girls wear, or whether
they are real."

"It was worth running the risk, anyhow; for if only half of them are
real they are a big fortune. Anyhow, Dick, let's hold our tongues about
it. It's no use making fellows jealous of our good luck if they turn
out to be real, or of getting chaffed out of our lives if they prove
false. Let us just stow them away till it's all over, and then ask
father about them."

It was calculated that twenty thousand soldiers and camp-followers
obtained loot of more or less value, from the case of jewelry, valued
at one hundred thousand pounds, that fell into the hands of an officer,
to clocks, candelabra, and articles of furniture, carried off by the
least fortunate. The value of the treasure there was estimated at ten
millions of money at the lowest computation.

The fall of the Kaiserbagh utterly demoralized the enemy; and from that
moment they began to leave the town by night in thousands. Numbers were
cut off and slaughtered by our cavalry and artillery; but large bodies
succeeded in escaping, to give us fresh trouble in the field.

Day by day the troops fought their way from palace to palace and from
street to street. Day and night the cannon and mortar batteries
thundered against the districts of the city still uncaptured; and great
fires blazed in a dozen quarters, until gradually the resistance ceased
and Lucknow was won.

It was not until a week after the storming of the Kaiserbagh--by which
time everything had settled down, order was restored, and the
inhabitants were, under the direction of the military authorities,
engaged in clearing away rubbish, leveling barricades, and razing to
the ground a considerable portion of the city--that Colonel Warrener
and his sons met. The troops were now all comfortably under canvas in
the cantonments, and were enjoying a well-earned rest after their
labors.

"Well, boys," he said, "have you heard Warrener's Horse is to be broken
up? The officers have all been appointed to regiments, the civilians
are anxious to return to look after their own affairs. I am to go up to
take the command of a newly-raised Punjaub regiment. Dunlop goes with
me as major. Manners has been badly hit, and goes home. The greater
part of the naval brigade march down to Calcutta at once. The force
will be broken up into flying columns, for there is much to be done
yet. The greater portion of these scoundrels have got away; and there
are still considerably more than one hundred thousand of the enemy
scattered in large bodies over the country. I am going to Delhi,
through Agra, with Dunlop; I accompany a detachment of fifty irregular
Punjaub horse, who are ordered down to Agra. Then I shall go up to
Meerut, and have a week with the girls; and do you know I have seen
Captain Peel and your colonel, Ned, and have got leave for you both for
a month. Then you will go down to Calcutta, Dick, and join your ship;
Ned will of course, rejoin his regiment."

The lads were delighted at the prospect of again seeing their sister
and cousin; and Dick indulged in a wild dance, expressive of joy.

"Well, boys, and how about loot; did you lay out your money?"

"We laid it out, father; but we have not the least idea whether we have
bought rubbish or not. This black bag is full of it."

So saying, Ned emptied a large handbag upon the top of a barrel which
served as a table. Colonel Warrener gave a cry of astonishment, as a
great stream of bracelets, necklaces, tiaras, aigrettes, and other
ornaments, poured out of the bag.

"Good gracious, boys! do you mean to say all these are yours?"

"Ours and yours, father; there were forty pounds of your money, and
thirty-five of ours. Do you think they are real?"

Colonel Warrener took one or two articles from the flashing heap of
diamonds, emeralds, rubies, opals, and pearls.

"I should say so," he said; "some of them are certainly. But have you
any idea what these are worth?"

"Not the least in the world," Ned said; "if they are real, though, I
suppose they are worth some thousands of pounds."

"My boys, I should say," Colonel Warrener replied, turning over the
heap, "they must be worth a hundred thousand if they are worth a penny."

The boys looked at each other in astonishment:

"Really, father?"

"Really, my boys."

"Hurrah," Dick said. "Then you can give up the service when this war is
over, father, and go home and live as a rich man; that will be
glorious."

"My dear boys, the prize is yours."

"Nonsense, father!" exclaimed the boys together. And then began an
amicable contest, which was not finally concluded for many a long day.

"But what had we better do with all these things, father?" Dick said at
last.

"We will get a small chest and put them in, boys. I will give it to the
paymaster--he is sending a lot of treasure down under a strong
escort--and will ask him to let it go down with the convoy. I will
direct it to a firm at Calcutta, and will ask them to forward it to my
agent at home, to whom I will give directions to send it to a
first-class jeweler in London, to be by him opened and valued. I will
tell the Calcutta firm to insure it on the voyage as treasure at twenty
thousand pounds. Even if some of them turn out to be false, you may
congratulate each other that you are provided for for life."

"And when do we set out, father?" Ned asked, after they had talked for
some time longer about their treasure.

"In three days' time. We shall accompany a flying column for the first
two days' march, and then strike across for Agra."

The next two days the Warreners spent in investigating the town, in
wandering through the deserted palaces, and admiring their vast extent,
and in saying good-by to their friends. A great portion of the teeming
population of Lucknow had fled, and the whole city outside the original
town was to be cleared away and laid out in gardens, so that henceforth
Lucknow would be little more than a fifth of its former size. The
ruined Residency was to be cleared of its _débris_, replanted with
trees, and to be left as a memorial of British valor. The entire
district through which Havelock's men had fought their way was to be
cleared of its streets, and the palaces only were to be left standing,
to be utilized for public purposes. The whole of the remaining male
population of Lucknow was set to work to carry out these alterations.
The scene was busy and amusing, and the change from the fierce fight,
the din of cannon, and the perpetual rattle of musketry, to the order,
regularity, and bustle of work, was very striking. Here was a party of
sappers and miners demolishing a row of houses, there thousands of
natives filling baskets with rubbish and carrying them on their heads
to empty into bullock carts, whence it was taken to fill up holes and
level irregularities. Among the crowd, soldiers of many
uniforms--British infantry, Rifles, Highlanders, artillery and cavalry,
sinewy Sikhs, and quiet little Nepaulese--wandered at will or worked in
fatigue parties.

The three days past, Colonel Warrener, his sons, and Major Dunlop took
their places on horseback with the troop of irregular cavalry commanded
by Lieutenant Latham, and joined the flying column which was setting
out to attack a large body of the enemy, who were reported to be
gathering again near Furruckabad, while simultaneously other columns
were leaving in other directions, for broken at Lucknow, the rebels
were swarming throughout all Oude. The day was breaking, but the sun
was not yet up, when the column started--for in India it is the
universal custom to start very early, so as to get the greater part of
the march over before the heat of the day fairly begins--and the young
Warreners were in the highest spirits at the thought that they were on
their way to see their sister and cousin, and that their nine months of
marching and fighting were drawing to a close, for it is possible to
have too much even of adventure. At ten o'clock a halt was called at
the edge of a large wood, and after preparing breakfast there was a
rest in the shade until four in the afternoon, after which a two hours'
march took them to their halting-place for the night. Tents were
pitched, fires lighted, and then, dinner over, they made merry groups,
who sat smoking and chatting until nine o'clock, when the noise ceased,
the fires burned down, and all was quiet until the _réveillé_ sounded
at four o'clock, after which there was an hour of busy work, getting
down, rolling up, and packing the tents and baggage in the wagons.

Another day's march and halt, and then Colonel Warrener and his friends
said good-by to their acquaintances in the column, and started with the
troop of cavalry for Agra. Unincumbered by baggage, and no longer
obliged to conform their pace to that of the infantry, they trotted
gayly along, and accomplished forty miles ere they halted for the night
near a village. The country through which they had passed had an almost
deserted appearance. Here and there a laborer was at work in the
fields, but the confusion and alarm created by the bodies of mutineers
who had swept over the country, and who always helped themselves to
whatever pleased them, had created such a scare that the villagers for
the most part had forsaken their abodes, and driven their animals, with
all their belongings, to the edge of jungles or other unfrequented
places, there to await the termination of the struggle.

At the end of the day's journey they halted in front of a great
mosque-like building with a dome, the tomb of some long dead prince.
The doors stood open, and Colonel Warrener proposed that they should
take up their quarters for the night in the lofty interior instead of
sleeping in the night air, for although the temperature was still high,
the night dews were the reverse of pleasant. It was evident by the
appearance of the interior that it had been used as the headquarters
and storehouse of some body of the enemy, for a considerable quantity
of stores, military saddles, harness, coils of rope, and barrels of
flour were piled against the wall. A space was soon swept, and a fire
lighted on the floor. Outside the troopers dismounted, some proceeded
to a wood at a short distance off to fetch fuel, others took the horses
to a tank or pond to drink. It was already getting dusk, and inside the
great domed chamber it was nearly dark.

"The fire looks cheerful," Colonel Warrener said, as, after seeing that
the men had properly picketed their horses, and had made all their
arrangements, the little group of officers returned to it. A trooper
had already prepared their meal, which consisted of kabobs, or pieces
of mutton--from a couple of sheep, which they had purchased at a
village where they halted in the morning--a large bowl of boiled rice,
and some chupatties, or griddle cakes; a pannikin of tea was placed by
each; and spreading their cloaks on the ground, they set to with the
appetite of travelers. Dinner over, a bottle of brandy was produced
from one of Major Dunlop's holsters, the pannikin was washed out, and a
supply of fresh water brought in, pipes and cheroots were lighted, and
they prepared for a cheerful evening.

"I am very sorry Manners is not here," Dick said; "it would have been
so jolly to be all together again. However, it is a satisfaction to
know that his wound is doing well, and that he is likely to be all
right in a few months."

"Yes," Colonel Warrener said, "but I believe that he will have to leave
the service. His right leg will always be shorter than the left."

"I don't suppose he will mind that," Ned said. "I should think he must
have had enough of India to last for his life."

"Mr. Latham," Dick said presently to the officer in command of the
cavalry, "will you tell us your adventures? We know all about each
other's doings."

So they sat and talked until ten o'clock, when Mr. Latham went round to
see that the sentries were properly placed and alert. When he returned
the door was shut, to keep out the damp air, and the whole party,
rolling themselves in their cloaks, and using their saddles for
pillows, laid up for the night. Dick was some time before he slept. His
imagination was active; and when he at last dozed off, he was thinking
what they had best do were they attacked by the enemy.

It was still dark when with a sudden start the sleeping party in the
tomb awoke and leaped to their feet. For a moment they stood
bewildered, for outside was heard on all sides the crack of volleys of
musketry, wild yells and shouts, and the trampling of a large body of
cavalry.

"Surprised!" exclaimed the colonel. "The sentries must have been
asleep!"

There was a rush to the door, and the sight that met their eyes showed
them the extent of the disaster. The moon was shining brightly, and by
her light they could see that a large body of rebel cavalry had fallen
upon the sleeping troopers, while the heavy musketry fire showed that a
strong body of infantry were at work on the other side of the mosque.
Lieutenant Latham rushed down the steps with his sword drawn, but fell
back dead shot through the heart.

"Back, back!" shouted Colonel Warrener. "Let us sell our lives here!"



CHAPTER XXIII.

A DESPERATE DEFENSE.


In an instant the door was closed and bolted, and the four set to work
to pile barrels and boxes against it. Not a word was spoken while this
was going on. By the time they had finished the uproar without had
changed its character; the firing had ceased, and the triumphant shouts
of the mutineers showed that their victory was complete. Then came a
loud thundering noise at the door.

"We have only delayed it a few minutes," Colonel Warrener said. "We
have fought our fight, boys, and our time has come. Would to God that I
had to die alone!"

"Look, father," Dick said, "there is a small door there. I noticed it
last night. No doubt there is a staircase leading to the terrace above.
At any rate, we may make a good fight there."

"Yes," Major Dunlop said, "we may fight it out to the last on the
stairs. Run, Dick, and see."

Dick found, as he supposed, that from the door a narrow winding
staircase led to the terrace above, from which the dome rose far into
the air. The stairs were lit by an occasional narrow window. He was
thinking as he ran upstairs of the ideas that had crossed his brain the
night before.

"It is all right," he said, as he came down again. "Look, father, if we
take up barrels and boxes, we can make barricades on the stairs, and
defend them for any time almost."

"Excellent," the colonel said. "To work. They will be a quarter of an
hour breaking in the door. Make the top barricade first, a few feet
below the terrace."

Each seized a box or barrel, and hurried up the stairs. They had a
longer time for preparation than they expected, for the mutineers,
feeling sure of their prey, were in no hurry, and finding how strong
was the door, decided to sit down and wait until their guns would be up
to blow it in. Thus the defenders of the tomb had an hour's grace, and
in that time had constructed three solid barricades. Each was placed a
short distance above an opening for light, so that while they
themselves were in darkness, their assailants would be in the light.
They left a sufficient space at the top of each barricade for them to
scramble over, leaving some spare barrels on the stairs above it to
fill up the space after taking their position.

"Now for the remains of our supper, father," Dick said, "and that big
water jug. I will carry them up. Ned, do you bring up that long coil of
thin rope."

"What for, Dick?"

"It may be useful, Ned; ropes are always useful. Ah, their guns are up."

As he spoke a round shot crashed through the door, and sent splinters
of casks and a cloud of flour flying.

"Now, Ned, come along," Dick said; and followed by Colonel Warrener and
Major Dunlop, they entered the little doorway and ran up the narrow
stairs.

At the first barricade, which was some thirty steps up, the officers
stopped, and proceeded to fill up the passage hitherto left open, while
the boys continued their way to the terrace.

"Let us have a look round, Ned; those fellows will be some minutes
before they are in yet; and that barricade will puzzle them."

Day was breaking now, and the lads peered over the parapet which ran
round the terrace.

"There are a tremendous lot of those fellows, Dick, four or five
thousand of them at least, and they have got six guns."

"Hurrah, Ned!" Dick said, looking round at the great dome; "this is
just what I hoped."

He pointed to a flight of narrow steps, only some twelve inches across,
fixed to the side of the dome, which rose for some distance almost
perpendicularly. By the side of the steps was a low hand-rail. They
were evidently placed there permanently, to enable workmen to ascend to
the top of the dome, to re-gild the long spike which, surmounted by a
crescent, rose from its summit, or to do any repairs that were needful.

"There, Ned, I noticed these steps on some of the domes at Lucknow.
When the worst comes to the worst, and we are beaten from the stairs,
we can climb up that ladder--for it's more like a ladder than
stairs--and once on the top could laugh at the whole army of them. Now,
Ned, let us go down to them; by that cheering below, the artillery has
broken the door open."

The mutineers burst through the broken door into the great hall with
triumphant yells, heralding their entrance by a storm of musketry fire,
for they knew how desperately even a few Englishmen will sell their
lives. There was a shout of disappointment at finding the interior
untenanted; but a moment's glance round discovered the door, and there
was a rush toward it, each longing to be the first to the slaughter.
The light in the interior was but faint, and the stairs were pitch
dark, and were only wide enough for one man to go up with comfort,
although two could just stand side by side. Without an obstacle the
leaders of the party stumbled and groped their way up the stairs, until
the first came into the light of a long narrow loophole in the wall.
Then from the darkness above came the sharp crack of a revolver, and
the man fell on his face, shot through the heart. Another crack, and
the next shared his fate. Then there was a pause, for the spiral was so
sharp that not more than two at a time were within sight of the
defenders of the barricade.

The next man hesitated at seeing his immediate leaders fall; but
pressed from behind he advanced, with his musket at his shoulder, in
readiness to fire when he saw his foes; but the instant his head
appeared round the corner a ball struck him, and he too fell. Still the
press from behind pushed the leaders forward, and it was not until six
had fallen, and the narrow stairs were impassable from the dead bodies,
that an officer of rank, who came the next on the line, succeeded by
shouting in checking the advance. Then orders were passed down for
those crowding the doorway to fall back, and the officer, with the men
on the stairs, descended, and the former reported to the leader that
six men had fallen, and that the stairs were choked with their bodies.
After much consultation orders were given the men to go up, and keeping
below the spot at which, one after another, their comrades had fallen,
to stretch out their arms and pull down the bodies. This was done, and
then an angry consultation again took place. It was clear that, moving
fast, only one could mount the stairs at a time, and it seemed equally
certain that this one would, on reaching a certain spot, be shot by his
invisible foes. Large rewards and great honor were promised by the
chief to those who would undertake to lead the assault, and at last
volunteers were found, and another rush attempted.

It failed, as had the first. Each man as he passed the loophole fell,
and again the dead choked the stairs. One or two had not fallen at the
first shot, and had got a few steps higher, but only to fall back dead
upon their comrades. Again the assault ceased, and for two or three
hours there was a pause. The officers of the mutineers deliberated and
quarreled; the men set-to to prepare their meal. That over, one of the
troopers went in to the officers and proposed a plan, which was at once
approved of, and a handsome reward immediately paid him. Before
enlisting he had been a carpenter, and as there were many others of the
same trade, no time was lost in carrying out the suggestion. Several of
the thick planks composing the door remained uninjured. These were cut
and nailed together, so as to make a shield of exactly the same width
as the staircase, and six feet high; on one side several straps and
loops were nailed, to give a good hold to those carrying it; and then
with a cheer the Sepoys again prepared for an attack. The shield was
heavy, but steadily, and with much labor, it was carried up the stairs
step by step, by two men, others pressing on behind.

When they reached the loophole the pistol shots from above again rang
out; but the door was of heavy seasoned wood, three inches thick, and
the bullets failed to penetrate. Then the shield ascended step by step,
until it reached the barrier. There it stopped, for the strength that
could be brought to bear upon it was altogether insufficient to move in
the slightest the solid pile, and after some time spent in vain
efforts, the shield was taken back again, as gradually and carefully as
it had been advanced, until out of the range of the pistols of the
defenders.

"What will be the next move, I wonder?" Colonel Warrener said, as the
little party sat down on the stairs and waited for a renewal of the
attack.

"I don't like that shield," Major Dunlop remarked; "it shows that there
is some more than usually intelligent scoundrel among them, and he will
be up to some new trick."

An hour passed, and then there was a noise on the stairs, and the
shield was again seen approaching. As before, it advanced to the
barrier and stopped. There was then a sort of grating noise against it,
and the door shook as this continued.

"What on earth are they up to now?" Major Dunlop exclaimed.

"Piling fagots against it," Dick said, "or I am mistaken. I have been
afraid of fire all along. If they had only lit a pile of damp wood at
the bottom of the stairs, they could have smoked us out at the top; and
then, as the smoke cleared below, they could have gone up and removed
the barricade before the upper stairs were free enough from smoke for
us to come down. There, I thought so! Make haste!" and Dick dashed up
the stairs, followed by his friends, as a curl of smoke ascended, and a
loud cheer burst from the Sepoys below.

Quickly as they ran upstairs, the smoke ascended still more rapidly,
and they emerged upon the terrace half-suffocated and blinded.

"So ends barricade number one," Major Dunlop said, when they had
recovered from their fit of coughing. "I suppose it will be pretty
nearly an hour before the fire is burned out."

"The door would not burn through in that time," said Major Warrener;
"but they will be able to stand pretty close, and the moment the fagots
are burned out they will drag the screen out of the way, and, with long
poles with hooks, or something of that sort, haul down the barricade.
Directly the smoke clears off enough for us to breathe, we will go down
to our middle barricade. They may take that the same way they took the
first, but they cannot take the last so."

"Why not, father?" Ned asked.

"Because it's only ten steps from the top, Ned; so that, however great
a smoke they make, we can be there again the instant they begin to pull
it down."

It was now past midday, and the party partook sparingly of their small
store of food and water. The smoke continued for some time to pour out
of the door of the stairs in dense volumes, then became lighter.
Several times the lads tried to descend a few steps, but found that
breathing was impossible, for the smoke from the green wood was
insupportable. At last it became clear enough to breathe, and then the
party ran rapidly down to their second barricade. That, at least, was
intact, but below they could hear the fall of heavy bodies, and knew
that the lower barricade was destroyed.

"I don't suppose that screen of theirs was burned through, father, so
very likely they will try the same dodge again. Of course they don't
know whether we have another barricade, or where we are, so they will
come on cautiously. It seems to me than if you and Dunlop were to take
your place a bit lower than this, stooping down on the stairs, and then
when they come were boldly to throw yourselves with all your weight
suddenly against the shield, you would send it and its bearers headlong
downstairs, and could then follow them and cut them up tremendously."

"Capital, Dick! that would be just the thing; don't you think so,
Dunlop? If they haven't got the shield, we can shoot them down, so
either way we may as well make a sortie."

"I think so," Major Dunlop said. "Here goes, then."

Halfway down they heard the trampling of steps again. The Sepoys had
extinguished the fires with buckets of water, had put straps to the
door again, and were pursuing their former tactics. The two officers
sat down and awaited the coming of their foes. Slowly the latter
ascended, until the door was within two steps of the Englishmen. Then
the latter simultaneously flung all their weight against it.

Wholly unprepared for the assault, the bearers were hurled backward,
with the heavy shield upon them, knocking down those behind them, who,
in turn, fell on those below. Sword in hand, Colonel Warrener sprang
upon the hindmost of the falling mass, while, pressing just behind him,
and firing over his shoulder, Major Dunlop followed.

Shrieks of dismay rose from the Sepoys who crowded the stairs, as the
bodies of those above were hurled upon them; flight or defense was
equally impossible; turning to descend, they leaped upon their comrades
below. A frightful scene ensued--such a scene as has sometimes been
seen on the stairs of a theater on fire. What was the danger above,
none thought; a wild panic seized all; over each other they rolled,
choking the stairs and obstructing all movement, until the last twenty
feet of the stairs were packed closely with a solid mass of human
beings, lying thickly on each other, and stifling each other to death.
On reaching this mass Colonel Warrener and his friend paused. There was
nothing more to be done. Over fifty human beings lay crushed together;
those on the top of the heap were shot, and then the officers retraced
their steps. Many lay on the stairs, but Major Dunlop had passed his
sword through their bodies as he passed them. Four muskets were picked
up, and all the ammunition from the pouches; and then, with the boys,
who had followed closely behind them, they again ascended to the
terrace and sat down.

"We are safe now for some time," Colonel Warrener said. "It will take
them a long time to clear away that heap of dead, and they won't try
the shield dodge again."

It was indeed late in the afternoon before the Sepoys made any fresh
move against the defenders of the stairs. The time, however, had not
passed idly with the latter. One of them keeping watch at the barrier,
the others had maintained a steady musketry fire through the open work
of the parapet upon the enemy below. The Sepoys had answered with a
scattering fire; but as the defenders were invisible behind the
parapet, and could move from one point to another unobserved, there was
but little fear of their being hit; while their steady fire did so much
execution among the throng of Sepoys that these had to move their
camping ground a couple of hundred yards back from the tomb.

It was nearly dark, when several men, bearing large bundles of straw
and bamboos, ran across the open ground and entered the mosque, and the
besieged guessed that another attempt was to be made to smoke them out.
There had been much consultation on the part of the enraged mutineers,
and this time two men, with their muskets leveled at their shoulders,
led the advance. Very slowly they made their way up, until a pistol
shot rang out, and one of the leaders, discharging his musket before
him, fell. Then there was a halt. Another Sepoy, with fixed bayonet,
took the place in front, and over the shoulders of him and his comrade
those behind threw bundles of straw mixed with wet leaves; a light was
applied to this, and with a sheet of flame between themselves and the
besieged, they had no fear. Now they pressed forward, threw on fresh
straw, and then, knowing that the besieged would have fled higher,
reached through the flames with a pole with a hook attached to it, and
hauled down the barricade. The moment the fire burned a little low, two
men lighted fresh bundles, and, stamping out the fire, advanced up the
stairs, carrying before them the blazing bundles like torches, the
volumes of smoke from these of course preceding them.

The party on the terrace had noticed the smoke dying down, and had
prepared to descend again, when a fresh addition to the smoke convinced
them that the enemy were still piling on bundles, and that there was
nothing to fear. So they sat, quietly chatting until Ned, who was
sitting next to the door, exclaimed:

"Listen! They are pulling down our top barricade."

Sword in hand, he rushed down, the others closely following him. Just
as he turned the spiral which would bring him in sight of the upper
barricade a musket was fired, and Ned would have fallen forward had not
Major Dunlop seized him by the collar, and pulled him backward.

"Hold the stairs, colonel!" he said; "they are at the barricade, but
are not through yet; I will carry Ned up. He's hit in the shoulder."

Major Dunlop carried Ned to the platform, and, laying him down, for he
had lost consciousness, rushed back to assist to hold the stairs, for
the crack of Colonel Warrener's and Dick's revolvers could be heard.
The advantage, however, was so great with them, standing above the
others, and so placed as to be able to fire the instant that their foes
came round the corner, that the Sepoys, after losing several of their
number, ceased their attack.

The defenders hurried up to Ned, confident that the enemy would not
renew the assault again for the moment, as they could not tell whether
there was yet another barrier to be stormed. Dick stood sentry at the
door, and the colonel and Major Dunlop examined Ned's wound. It was a
serious one; the ball had entered the chest below the collarbone; had
it been fired from a level it would have been fatal; but the Sepoy
having stood so much below it had gone out near the neck, smashing the
collar-bone on its way. Ned had become unconscious from the shock to
the system.

"We must take to the dome at once," Colonel Warrener said. "The next
assault those fellows will gain the terrace. I will carry Ned up."

"No, colonel, I will take him," Major Dunlop said. "I can carry him
over my shoulders as easily as possible."

"Well, Dunlop, you are the younger man, so I will hand him over to you.
I will put this coil of rope round my neck, and will take the water and
food. It is so dark now that they will not see us from below. If those
fellows had but waited half an hour we could have gained the top
without this sad business. Will you go first, Dunlop?"

Major Dunlop, who was a very powerful and active man, lifted Ned on his
shoulders, and began to ascend the narrow steps to the dome. It was
hard work at first, but as he got on the ascent became less steep, and
the last part was comparatively easy. Colonel Warrener mounted next,
also heavily laden. Dick remained on guard at the door until he saw his
father pass the shoulder of the dome, out of sight from those on the
terrace; he then slung two muskets and cartridge pouches on his
shoulders, briskly climbed the steps, and was soon by his father.

In three minutes the party were gathered round the central spike of the
dome. Suddenly a loud cheer was heard from below.

"They are out on the terrace," Dick said. "I will go down a bit to
guard the steps; you will be more use with Ned than I should."

The shouts on the terrace were answered by a great cheer of exultation
from the Sepoy host around, who had been chafed almost to madness at
the immense loss which was being caused by three or four men, for they
knew not the exact strength of the party. The shouts of exultation,
however, were silenced when, rushing round the terrace, the Sepoys
found that their foes had again evaded them. There was no other door,
no hiding-place, nowhere, in fact, that the besieged could have
concealed themselves; but the ladder-like steps soon met the eye of the
searchers. A yell of anger and disappointment arose. Not even the
bravest among them thought for a moment of climbing the stairs, for it
Would indeed have been clearly impossible for men forced to climb in
single file to win their way against well-armed defenders, who would
simply shoot them down from above as fast as a head appeared over the
shoulder of the dome.

The position was indeed practically impregnable against assault,
although exposed to artillery fire, and to distant musketry. It was for
this reason that the defenders of the stairs had not taken to it at
once. They felt confident in their ability to defend the stair all day,
and to inflict heavy loss upon the enemy; whereas, by climbing up the
dome in daylight, they would have been a target to all those below
while climbing, and would have been exposed all day to a distant fire.
That they would have to support it for two or three days was nearly
certain, but clearly the less time the better.

The enemy, consoling themselves with the thought that on the morrow
their cannon would finish the contest which had thus far cost them so
dearly, placed a guard of fifty men on the terrace at the foot of the
steps, lighted a large fire there, in order that they could see any one
attempting to descend long before he reached the level, and then
retired below.

By this time Ned had recovered consciousness, and having taken a drink
of water, was able to understand what had happened. His father had cut
his uniform off his shoulder and arm, and having also cut off one of
his own shirt sleeves, had soaked it in water, and applied it as a
bandage on the wound.

"I am very glad we had agreed that only Dick should go," Ned said,
"otherwise I should have blamed myself for keeping you here."

"No, we could not have gone in any case," Colonel Warrener said, "as
there would have been no one to have lowered the rope here; besides
which, it is only a sailor or a practiced gymnast who can let himself
down a rope some eighty feet."

"When will Dick try?"

"As soon as the camp gets quiet. The moon will be up by twelve o'clock,
and he must be off before that. Are you in much pain, old boy?"

"Not much, father; I feel numbed and stupid."

"Now, Dunlop," Colonel Warrener said, "will you relieve Dick on guard
at the steps? You may as well say good-by to him. It is about eight
o'clock now, and in a couple of hours he will be off. After he has gone
I will relieve you. Then a four hours' watch each will take us to
daylight; there won't be much sleeping after that."

By ten o'clock the noise in the rebel camp had nearly ceased. Groups
still sat and talked round the campfires, but the circle was pretty
large round the tomb, for the Sepoys had fallen back when the musketry
fire was opened upon them from the parapet, and had not troubled to
move again afterward.

"Now," Dick said, "it is time for me to be off. I have got a good
seventy miles to ride to Lucknow. It is no use my thinking of going
after the column, for they would be some fifty miles away from the
place where we left them by to morrow night. If I can get a good horse
I may be at Lucknow by midday to-morrow. The horses have all had a rest
to-day. Sir Colin will, I am sure, send off at once, and the troops
will march well to effect a rescue. They will make thirty-five miles
before they halt for the night, and will be here by the following
night."

"We must not be too sanguine, Dick. It is just possible, dear boy, that
if all goes well you may be back as you say, in forty-eight hours, but
we will make up our minds to twice that time. If you get here sooner,
all the better; but I don't expect that they will hit us, and after
tiring a bit the chances are they will not care to waste ammunition,
and will try to starve us out."



CHAPTER XXIV.

BEST AFTER LABOR.


With a tender farewell of his father and brother, the midshipman
prepared for his expedition. One end of the rope had been fastened
round the large mast which rose from the dome. Holding the coil over
his shoulder, Dick made his way down the dome, on the side opposite
that at which they had ascended, until it became too steep to walk;
then he lay down on his back, and paying the rope out gradually, let
himself slip down. The lower part of the descent was almost
perpendicular; and Dick soon stood safely on the terrace. It was, as he
expected confidently that it would be, quite deserted on this side.
Then he let go of the rope, and Major Warrener, who was watching it,
saw that the strain was off it, pulled it up a foot to make sure, and
then untied the knot. Dick pulled it gently at first, coiling it up as
it came down, until at last it slid rapidly down. He caught it as well
as he could, but he had little fear of so slight a noise being heard on
the other side of the great dome; then he tied the rope to the parapet,
lowered it carefully down, and then, when it was all out, swung himself
out over the parapet, and slid down the rope. The height was over
eighty feet; but the descent was a mere nothing for Dick, accustomed to
lark about in the rigging of a man-o'-war.

He stood perfectly quiet for a minute or two after his feet touched the
ground, but outside everything was still. Through the open-carved
stonework of a window he could hear voices inside the tomb, and had no
doubt that the leaders of the enemy's force were there.

From the parapet, in the afternoon, he had gained an accurate idea of
the position of the cavalry, and toward this he at once made his way.
He took off his boots and walked lightly until he approached the
enemy's bivouac. Then he went cautiously. The ground was covered with
sleeping figures, all wrapped like mummies in their clothes; and
although the night was dusk, it was easy in the starlight to see the
white figures. Even had one been awake, Dick had little fear, as,
except near a fire, his figure would have been indistinguishable. There
was no difficulty, when he neared the spot, in finding the horses, as
the sound of their pawing the ground, eating, and the occasional short
neigh of two quarreling, was clearly distinguishable.

Their position once clear, Dick moved round them. He had noticed that
four officers' horses were picketed further away, beyond the general
mass of the men's, and these could therefore be more easily removed,
and would, moreover, be more likely to be fast and sound. They had,
too, the advantage of being placed close to the road by which the
English force had marched on the day before.

Dick was some time in finding the horses he was on the lookout for; but
at last he heard a snorting at a short distance off, and on reaching
the spot found the horses he was in search of. They were all saddled,
but none had bridles. It would be, Dick knew, useless to look for them,
and he felt sure that the halter would be sufficient for well-trained
horses.

Before proceeding to work he reconnoitered the ground around. He found
the way to the road, which was but twenty yards distant, and discovered
also that the syces, or grooms, were asleep close by the horses; a
little further off were a party of sleeping troopers. Dick now cut off
the heel ropes by which two of the horses were picketed, and then,
leading them by the halters, moved quietly toward the road. To get upon
this, however, there was a ditch first to be passed, and in crossing it
one of the horses stumbled.

"What is that?" exclaimed one of the syces, sitting up. "Halloo!" he
continued, leaping up; "two of the horses have got loose."

The others leaped to their feet and ran in the direction whence came
the noise which had awakened them, thinking that the horses had drawn
their picket pegs.

By this time Dick was in the saddle, and giving a kick with his heels
to the horse he was on, and striking the other with the halter which he
held in his hand, dashed off into a gallop.

A shout burst from the syces, and several of the troopers, springing to
their feet and seizing their arms, ran up to know what was the matter.

"Some thief has stolen the colonel's horse," exclaimed one of the syces.

The troopers did not like to fire, as it would have alarmed the camp;
besides, which a random fire in the darkness would be of no avail; so,
grumbling that the syces would have to answer for it in the morning,
they went off to sleep again; while the men in charge of the two horses
which had been taken after some consultation decided that it would be
unsafe to remain to meet the anger of the officers in the morning, and
so stole off in the darkness and made for their native villages.

Dick, hearing that he was not pursued, pulled up in a half a mile, and
gave a loud, shrill "cooey," the Australian call. He knew that this
would be heard by his father, sitting listening at the top of the dome,
and that he would learn that so far he had succeeded. Then he set the
horses off again in a hand gallop and rode steadily down the road.
Every hour or so he changed from horse to horse, thus giving them a
comparative rest by turns. Occasionally he allowed them to walk for a
bit to get their wind, and then again rode on at a gallop. It was about
eleven o'clock when he started on his ride. By four in the morning he
was at the spot where the party had separated from the column, having
thus made forty miles. After that he went more slowly; but it was a
little past nine when, with his two exhausted horses, he rode into the
camp at Lucknow, where his appearance created quite an excitement.

Dick's story was briefly told; and the two horses, which were both
splendid animals, were taken off to be fed and rubbed down; while Dick,
accompanied by the colonel of the cavalry regiment where he had halted,
went at once to the camp of the commander-in-chief.

Sir Colin listened to Dick's story in silence.

"This will be the band," he said, "that Colonel Lawson's column went to
attack; they must have altered their course. Something must be done at
once. There shall be no delay, my lad; a force shall be ready to start
in an hour. I suppose you will want to go with them. I advise you to go
back to Colonel Harper's tent, get into a bath, and get a couple of
natives to shampoo you. That will take away all your stiffness. By the
time that's over, and you have had some breakfast, the troops will be
in readiness."

Dick left Sir Colin, but delighted at the readiness and promptness of
the fine old soldier; while Sir Colin called his military secretary,
and at once arranged for the dispatch of a body of troops.

"There must be no delay," the commander-in-chief said. "If
possible--and it is possible--these scoundrels must be attacked at
daylight to-morrow morning. They will see the rope the lad escaped by,
but they will not dream of an attack so early, and may be caught
napping. Besides, it is all important to rescue those officers, whom
they will have been making a target of all day, especially as one is
badly wounded, and will be in the full blaze of the sun. See that a
wagon and an ambulance accompany the column. Send a regiment of Punjaub
horse, three field guns, and three hundred infantry in light marching
order. Let gharries be got together at once to take the infantry forty
miles, then they will start fresh for a thirty-mile march. The cavalry
and guns can go on at once; let them march halfway, then, unsaddle and
rest. If they are off by half-past ten, they can get to their
halting-place by five. Then if they have five hours' rest they will
catch the infantry up before daybreak, and attack just as it gets
light. Those light Punjaub horse can do it. Now, which regiments shall
we send?"

A quarter of an hour later bugles were blowing, and by ten o'clock
three hundred British infantry were packed in light carts, and the
cavalry and guns were drawn up in readiness. Dick took his place in the
ambulance carriage, as, although greatly refreshed, he had had plenty
of riding for a time, and in the ambulance he could lie down, and get
through the journey without fatigue. Sir Colin himself rode up just as
they were starting, and shook hands with Dick, and expressed his warm
hope that he would find his friends safe at the end of the journey, and
then the cavalry started.

Dick has always asserted that never in his life did he make such a
short journey as that. Worn out by the excitement and fatigue of the
preceding thirty hours, he fell fast asleep in the ambulance before he
had gone a mile, and did not awake until the surgeon shook him by the
shoulder.

"Halloo!" he cried, leaping up; "where are we?"

"We are, as far as we can tell, about half a mile from the tomb. I
would not wake you when we halted, Warrener. I thought you wanted sleep
more than food. We have been halting half an hour here, and the cavalry
have just come up. It is about an hour before daybreak. The colonel
wants you to act as guide."

"All right," Dick said, leaping out; "just to think that I have been
asleep for eighteen hours!"

A hasty council was held, and it was determined that as the country was
somewhat wooded beyond the tomb, but perfectly open on that side, the
cavalry and artillery should remain where they were; that the infantry
should make a _détour_, and attack at daybreak from the other side; and
that as the enemy fell back, the artillery and cavalry should deal with
them:

Not a moment was lost. The infantry, who were sitting down after their
long tramp, got cheerily on to their feet again, for they knew that
they were going to attack the enemy; and Dick led them off the road by
a considerable _détour_, to come upon the enemy from the other side. By
the moonlight the tomb was visible, and served as a center round which
to march; but they were too far off to enable Dick to see whether any
damage had been done to the dome.

Day was just breaking when the infantry gained the desired position;
then throwing out two hundred men in skirmishing order, while the other
one hundred were kept in hand as a reserve, the advance began. It was
not until they were within three hundred yards of the enemy that they
were perceived by the sentries. The challenge was answered by a musket
shot, and as the rebels sprang to their feet a heavy fire was poured in
upon them. In an instant all was wild confusion. Taken completely by
surprise, and entirely ignorant of the strength of the enemy, the
natives, after a wild fire in the direction of the advancing foe, fled
precipitately. Their officers tried to rally them, and as the smallness
of the force attacking them became visible, the Sepoys with their old
habit of discipline began to draw together. But at this moment the
guns, loaded with grape, poured into their rear, and with a cheer the
Punjaub cavalry burst into their midst.

Thenceforth there was no longer any idea of fighting; it was simply a
rout any a pursuit. The rebels' own guns fell at once into the hands of
the infantry, and were quickly turned upon the masses of fugitives,
who, mown down by the fire of the nine guns, and cut up by the cavalry
who charged hither and thither among them, while volleys of musketry
swept through them, threw away their arms and fled wildly. Over a
thousand of them were left dead on the plain, and had not the horses of
the cavalry been too exhausted to continue the pursuit, a far greater
number would have fallen.

Dick took no part in their fighting; a company, fifty strong, with an
officer, had been told off to attack and carry the tomb, under his
guidance. Disregarding all else, this party with leveled bayonets had
burst through the throng, and made straight for the door of the tomb.
Many of the enemy's troops had run in there, and for a minute or two
there was a fierce fight in the great hall; then, when the last foe had
fallen, Dick led the men to the stairs, up which many of the enemy had
fled.

"Quick," he shouted, "follow them close up!"

Some of them were but a few steps ahead, and Dick, closely followed by
his men, burst on to the terrace at their very heels. It was well that
he did so; for the guard upon the terrace, seeing that all was lost
below, were preparing to sell their lives dearly, and to make a long
resistance at the top of the stairs. Dick and his men, however, rushed
so closely upon the heels of their own comrades from below that they
were taken completely by surprise. Some turned at once to fly, others
made an effort to oppose their enemy; but it was useless. Two or three
of the Sepoy leaders, calling to their men to follow them, made a rush
at the British, and Dick found himself engaged in a hand-to-hand
contest with Aboo Raab, the rebel leader. He was a powerful and
desperate man, and with a swinging blow he beat down Dick's guard and
inflicted a severe wound on his head; but Dick leaped forward and ran
him through the body, just as the bayonet of one of the British
soldiers pierced him in the side.

For a minute or two the fight was fierce, but every moment added to the
avenging force, and with a cheer the soldiers rushed at them with the
bayonet. In five minutes all was over. Many of the Sepoys leaped over
the parapet, and were dashed to pieces, preferring that death to the
bayonet; while on the terrace no single Sepoy at the end of that time
remained alive.

When all was over Dick gave a shout, which was answered from above.

"Are you all right, Dunlop?"

"Yes, thank God; but Ned is delirious. Send some water up at once."

Dick was too much shaken by the severe cut he had received in the head
to attempt to climb the ladder, but the officer in command of the
company at once offered to ascend. Several of the men had a little
water left in their water-bottles, and from them one was filled, and
slung over the officer's neck.

"I have some brandy in my flask," he said, and started up the steps.

In a few minutes he descended again.

"Your brother is wildly delirious," he said; "they have bound his
injured arm to his side with a sash, but they cannot leave him. How is
he to be got down?"

"There is plenty of rope and sacking down below," Dick said, after a
moment's thought. "I think that they had better wrap him up in sacking,
so that he cannot move his arms, tie a rope round him, and lower him
down close by the side of the steps, my father coming down side by side
with him, so as to speak to him and tranquillize him."

A soldier was sent below for the articles required, and with them the
officer, accompanied by a sergeant to assist him in lowering Ned from
above, again mounted. In a few minutes Dick's plan was carried out, and
Ned was lowered safely to the terrace. Then four soldiers carried him
below, and he was soon laid on a bed of sacks in the great hall, under
the care of the surgeon, with cold-water bandages round his head.

Then Dick had time to ask his father how the preceding day had passed.

"First tell me, Dick, by what miracle you got back so soon. To-morrow
morning was the very earliest time I thought that relief was possible!"

Dick told his story briefly; and then Colonel Warrener related what had
happened to them on the dome during the day.

"As soon as day broke, Dick, they opened a heavy musketry fire at us,
but they were obliged to go so far off to get a fair view of us that
the smooth-bore would hardly carry up, and even had we been hit, I
question if the balls would have penetrated, though they might have
given a sharp knock. Half an hour later the artillery fire began. We
agreed that Dunlop and I should by turns lie so as to command the
stairs, while the other kept with Ned on the other side of the dome.
The enemy divided their guns, and put them on each side also. Lying
down, we presented the smallest possible mark for them; but for some
hours it was very hot. Nine out of ten of their shot, just went over
the dome altogether. The spike was hit twenty or thirty times, and
lower down a good many holes were knocked in the dome; but the shots
that struck near us all glanced and flew over. They fired a couple of
hundred shot altogether, and at midday they stopped--for dinner, I
suppose--and did not begin again. I suspect they were running short of
ammunition. Once, when the firing was hottest, thinking, I suppose, to
catch us napping, an attempt was made to climb the ladder; but Dunlop,
who was on watch, put a bullet through the first fellow's head, and by
the yell that followed I suspect that in his fall he swept all the
others off the ladder. Anyhow, there was no repetition of the trial.
The heat was fearful, and Dunlop and I suffered a good deal from
thirst, for there was not much water left in the bottle, and we wanted
that to pour down Ned's throat from time to time, and to sop his
bandages with. Ned got delirious about eleven o'clock, and we had great
trouble in holding him down. The last drop of water was finished in the
night, and we should have had a terrible day of it if you had not
arrived. And now let us hear what the surgeon says about poor Ned."

The doctor's report was not consoling; the wound was a very severe one,
the collar-bone had been smashed in fragments; but the high state of
fever was even a more serious matter than the wound.

"What will you do, father?"

"I must carry out my orders, Dick. Dunlop and I must go on to Agra, and
then on to join our regiment. Ned will, of course, be taken back to
Lucknow, and you must give up your trip, and stay and nurse him. Of
course, if he gets over it, poor boy, he will be invalided home, and
you can travel with him down to Calcutta. I shall send the girls home
by the first opportunity. India will be no place for ladies for some
time. We shall have months of marching and fighting before we finally
stamp out the mutiny. There will be sure to be convoys of sick and
wounded going down, and a number of ladies at Meerut who will be
leaving at the first opportunity. It is very sad, old boy, leaving you
and Ned at such a time; but I must do my duty, whatever happens." The
British force encamped for that day and the next around the tomb which
had been the scene of so much fierce fighting; for the animals were so
much exhausted by their tremendous march that it was thought better to
give them rest. Ned continued delirious; but he was more quiet now, as
his strength diminished. Fortunately, the ambulance was well supplied;
and cooling drinks were given to him, and all was done that care and
attention could suggest. There were three other wounded in addition to
Dick, all men who had taken part in the fight on the terrace; none had
been killed. Elsewhere no casualty had happened in the force.

Early on the third morning the column was again in motion. The forty
miles to the crossroads were done in two days, and here Colonel
Warrener and Major Dunlop parted from Dick, going on with a small
escort of cavalry to Agra.

It was a sad parting; and it is doing no injustice to Dick's manhood to
say that he shed many tears. But his father promised that if the
Lucknow jewels turned out to be real, he would leave the service, and
come back to England at the end of the war.

The gharries were all in waiting at the crossroad, and another day
brought them to Lucknow, where the news of the defeat and dispersion of
the rebel force had already been sent on by a mounted orderly.

For a week Ned lay between life and death; then the fever left him, and
the most critical point of his illness was reached. It was for days a
question whether he had strength left to rally from his exhaustion. But
youth and a good constitution triumphed at last, and six weeks from the
day on which he was brought in, he started in a litter for Calcutta.

Dick had telegraphed to Captain Peel, and had obtained leave to remain
with his brother, and he now started for the coast with Ned. He himself
had had a sharp attack of fever--the result of his wound on the head
and the exertion he had undergone; but he was now well and strong
again, and happy in Ned's convalescence.

The journey was easy and pleasant. At Benares they went on board a
steamer, and were taken down to Calcutta. By the time they reached the
capital, Ned was sufficiently recovered to walk about with his arm in
Dick's. The use of his left arm was gone, and it was a question whether
he could ever recover it.

At Calcutta the Warreners had the delight of meeting their sister and
cousin, who had arrived there the week previous. The next four days
were happy ones indeed, and then there was another parting, for the
girls and Ned sailed in a Peninsular and Oriental steamer for England.
Dick remained a fortnight at Calcutta, until a sloop-of-war sailed to
join the China fleet, to which his ship was now attached.

It was two years later when the whole party who had been together in
the bungalow at Sandynuggher when the mutiny broke out met in London,
on the return of Dick's ship from the East. The Lucknow jewels had
turned out to be of immense value; and Messrs. Garrard, to whom they
had been sent, had offered one hundred and thirty thousand pounds for
them. The offer had been at once accepted; and the question of the
division had, after an endless exchange of letters, been finally left
by Colonel Warrener to the boys. They had insisted that Colonel
Warrener should take fifty thousand pounds, and the remainder they had
divided in four equal shares between themselves, their sister and
cousin, whom they regarded as one of themselves. This had enabled the
latter to marry, without delay, Captain Manners, whose wound had
compelled him to leave the service; while Miss Warrener had a few
months later married Major Dunlop.

Ned, too, was no longer a soldier. He had, when he arrived in England,
found that his name had been included in the brevet rank bestowed upon
all the captains of his regiment for distinguished service. He had a
year's leave given him; but at the end of that time a medical board
decided that, although greatly recovered, it would be years before he
thoroughly regained his strength; and he therefore sold his commission
and left the service.

Dick had passed as a lieutenant, and had immediately been appointed to
that rank, with a fair prospect of getting his commander's step at the
earliest possible date, as a reward for the distinguished services for
which he had been several times mentioned in dispatches at the time of
the mutiny.

General Sir Henry Warrener--for he received a step in rank, and
knighthood, on retiring from the service--had renewed his acquaintance
with Mrs. Hargreaves immediately on his return to England; and Dick, to
his intense astonishment and delight, on arriving home--for he had
received no letters for many months--found his old friend installed at
the head of his father's establishment as Lady Warrener.

The daughters were of course inmates of the house; and Dick was not
long in getting Nelly to acknowledge that so far she had not changed
her mind as expressed at Cawnpore. More than that he could not get her
to say. But when, three years later, he returned with commander's rank,
Nelly, after much entreaty, and many assertions that it was perfectly
ridiculous for a boy of twenty-one to think about marrying, consented;
and as Ned and Edith had equally come to an understanding, a double
marriage took place.

General Warrener and his wife are still alive. Major Warrener has a
seat in Parliament; and Captain Warrener, who never went to sea after
his marriage, lives in a pretty house down at Ryde, where his yacht is
known as one of the best and fastest cruisers on the coast.

At Christmas the whole party--the Dunlops, Manners and Warreners--meet;
and an almost innumerable troop of children of all ages assemble at the
spacious mansion of General Warrener in Berkeley Square, and never fail
to have a long talk of the adventures that they went through in the
TIMES OF PERIL.



THE END.





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