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Soubahdar said he was authorized, under such circumstances, to engage a hackery at the company's expense, to carry them till they were fit to march. He mentioned this in consequence of my offering them a lift on a camel, which they were afraid of trying.
* Another sepoy, a very fine young fellow, called on me this evening to beg permission to go to see a brother who was with some companies cantoned at a little frontier post, eight coss to our left hand, the name of which I forget. He said that as he was to go into Rajapootana, he did not know when he should meet him again ; and added, that he could easily travel the eight coss that night, and would rejoin me at Shahjehanpoor. I told him not to hurry himself to do so, but to take the straight northern road to Bareilly, by which means he might fall in with me before I reached that city, and that I would give him a pass for four days. He was much delighted ; and I mention the circumstance chiefly to show the falsehood of the common notion, that these poor people will take no trouble for the sake of their kindred.'-
I went in the afternoon to the hospital to see the sepoy and cameldriver. The former I found in much distress and depression of spirits, from being in a strange place and without a nurse. Being a Brahmin, he could only receive nourishment, and particularly water, from one of his own caste, and there was no such person attached to the hospital. He was quite sensible, but very feverish, and seemed to think himself left to die. I encouraged him as well as I could, and wrote a note to Mr Simms, begging him to get a Brahmin for him, which he might easily do from the regiment quartered in the place. The poor camel-driver thought himself better, his fever having intermitted. The hospital is a very comfortable one for this climate, a large thatched bungalow, all in one room like a barn, with sufficient air, and very well verandah'd round. The beds were clean and comfortable, and there seemed no want of any thing, but that peculiar attendance which the prejudices of the Hindoos require, and which, I was given to understand, would on my application be immediately supplied.'-
‘One of the Raja's soldiers sate down on the parapet of a deep and broad well or “ boolee," with a wide flight of steps down to the water's edge. Here he either fell asleep or was seized with a fit; at all events he rolled over, fell at least forty feet on the stone staircase, and was dashed to pieces. He had no wife, but left two children, one a boy in service, the other a little girl of eight years old. Her uncle brought this child to me in consequence of my inquiries, and the interest which I took in the business; the poor little thing seemed hardly to understand what had happened, except that something dismal had befallen her father; and her blubbered checks, her great black eyes, which were fixed on me between fear and astonishment, and her friendless state, affected me much. I gave her money enough to burn the dead body, and leave her something over for her own immediate maintenance, and recommended her to the care of her uncle, wko confessed himself to be her natural guardian.'
I had a singular instance this evening of the fact how mere children all soldiers, and I think particularly sepoys, are, when put a little out of their usual way. On going to the place where my escort was hutted, I found that there was not room for them all under its shelter, and that four were preparing to sleep on the open field. Within a bundred yards stood another similar hut unoccupied, a little out of repair, but tolerably tenantable. « Why do you not go thither?" was my question. “We like to sleep altogether," was their answer. “ But why not bring the branches here, and make your own hut larger ? see, I will show you the way." They started up immediately, in great apparent delight; every man brought a bough, and the work was done in five minutes, being only interrupted every now and then by exclamations of “ Good, good, poor man's provider !"
"A little before five in the morning, the servants came to me for directions, and to say that the good careful old Soubahdar was very ill and unable to leave his tent. I immediately put on my clothes and went down to the camp, in my way to which they told me, that he had been taken unwell at night, and that Dr Smith had given him medicine. They had none of them, however, seen him since. I therefore wakened Dr Smith to ask him what was the matter, and was informed that his illness was slight, and that he would be able to set off at his usual time. I thought it best to go to his tent, and ask him how he was, to which he answered that he felt well. I told him, however, that he had better remain quiet, and that his tent and bed might perfectly well go on iu the course of the day. As he was returning to his tent he had fallen down, and I found him in the arms of two of his men, apparently in a swoon, but making a faint moaning noise. I made them loosen the cloth which was wrapped round his head and throat, and bid them sprinkle his face with water, while I ran for Dr Smith, who bad been already alarmed, and came immediately. He opened a vein, and, with much humane patience, continued to try different remedies while any chance remained; but no blood flowed, and no sign of life could be detected from the time of his coming up, except a feeble flutter at the heart, which soon ceased. He was at an advanced age, at least for an Indian, though apparently hale and robust. I felt it a comfort that I had not urged him to any exertion, and that in fact I had endeavoured to persuade him to lie still till he was quite well. But I was necessarily much shocked by the sudden end of one who had travelled with me so far, and whose conduct bad, in every instance, given me satisfaction. Nor, while writing this, can I recollect without a real pang, his calm countenance and grey hairs, as he sate in his tent door, telling his beads in an afternoon, or walked with me, as he seldom failed to do, through the villages on an evening, with his own silver-hilted sabre under his arm, his loose cotton mantle folded round him, and his golden necklace and Rajpoot string just visible above it.'
The death of the poor Soubahdar led to the question, whether there would be still time to send on the baggage. All the Mussulmans pressed our immediate departure, while the Hindoos begged that they might be allowed to stay, at least, till sunset. I determined on remaining, not only as, in my opinion, more decent and respectful to the memory of a good and aged officer, but because the things being already packed up and ready to put on the camels, it would be easy to send them off at midpight, and run the two first stages towards Nussecrabad into one.'
In the way, at Futtehgunge, I passed the tents pitched for the large party which were to return towards Cawnpoor next day, and I was much pleased and gratified by the Soubahdar and the greater number of the sepoys of my old escort running into the middle of the road to bid me another farewell, and again express their regret that they were not going on with me “ to the world's end." They who talk of the ingratitude of the Indian character, should, I think, pay a little more attention to cases of this sort. These men neither got nor expected any thing by this little expression of good-will. If I had offered them money, they would have been bound, by the rules of the service, and their own dignity, not to take it. Sufficient civility and respect would have been paid if any of them who happened to be near the road had touched their caps, and I really can suppose them actuated by no motive but good-will. It had not been excited, so far as I know, by any particular desert on my part; but I had always spoken to them civilly, had paid some attention to their comforts in securing them tents, firewood, and camels for their knapsacks, and had ordered them a dinner, after their own fashion, on their arrival at Lucknow, at the expense of, I believe, not more than four rus pees ! Surely if good-will is to be bought by these sort of attentions, it is a pity that any body should neglect them.'—
Here I remained the whole of the next day, being too ill to move. At the time that I gave orders for this halt, I know not why, but the whole caravan seemed to be convinced that I was not long for this world. Abdullah worried me a good deal with his lamentations on my premature end in the wilderness, recommending all manner of unattainable or improper remedies, and talking all sorts of absurd wisdom, at the same time that his eyes were really full of tears. The poor sirdar said nothing, but showed a most pitiful face every ten or twelve minutes through the tent door. The “ goomashta,” or master of the camels, the old Soubahdar, the Allmeen, and many others, came to offer up their good wishes and prayers for my recovery; and, perhaps, the best and most useful proof of their good-will was, that I heard no needless noise in the camp the whole day; and, if a voice were raised, “ chup! chup!" “ silence ! si. lence !” followed immediately. Abdullah offered to push on with the camels to procure assistance ; and I promised him that, if I were not beta ter next morning, I would send him or some other messenger. But through the mercy of God, the remedies I took, almost in utter ignorance, proved successful, and I found myself so much better on the morna ing of Saturday, November the 6th, as to be enabled to perform my day's journey with ease in the palanquin ; and I received the felicitations of all the elders of the camp on my recovery.
In crossing a nuddee, which from a ford had become a ferry, we saw some characteristic groups and occurrences; the price of passage in the boat was only a few cowries, but a number of country folk were assembled, who could not, or would not, pay, and were now sitting patiently by the brink, waiting till the torrent should subside, or, what was far less likely to happen, till the boatmen should take compassion on them. Many of these poor people came up to beg me to make the boatmen take them over, one woman pleading that her “malik our bucher,” (literally master, or lord, and young one) had run away from her, and she wanted
to overtake them ; another that she and her two grandchildren were folo lowing her son, who was a Havildar in the regiment which we had passed just before ; and some others, that they had been intercepted the previous day by this torrent, and had neither money nor food till they reached their homes. Four anas purchased a passage for the whole crowd, of perhaps thirty people, and they were really very thankful. I bestowed two anas more on the poor deserted woman, and a whimsical scene ensued. She at first took the money with eagerness, then, as if she recollected herself, she blushed very deeply, and seemed much confused, then bowed herself to my feet, and kissed my hands, and at last said, in a very modest tone,“ it was not fit for so great a man as I was, to give her two anas, and she hoped that I and the chota Sahib, (little lord) would give her a rupee each !" She was an extremely pretty little woman, but we were inexorable; partly I believe, in my own case at least, because we had only just rupees enough to take us to Čawnpoor, and to pay for our men's provisions ; however, I gave her two more anas, my sole remaining stock of small change.
These few traits will do, we believe; but we must add a few more, to let the reader fully into the noble humanity and genuine softness of this man's heart.
la the course of this evening a fellow, who said he was a gao-wala brought me two poor little leverets, which he said he had just found in a field. They were quite unfit to eat, and bringing thein was an act of cruelty of which there are few instances among the Hindoos, who are generally humane to wild animals. In this case, on my scolding the man for bringing such poor little things from their mother, all the crowd of camel-drivers and camp-followers, of whom no inconsiderable number were around us, expressed great satisfaction and an entire concurrence in my censure. It ended in the man promising to take them back to the very spot (which he described) where he had picked them up, and in my promising him an ana if he did so. To see him keep his word two stout waggoner's boys immediately volunteered their services, and I have no doubt kept him to his contract.'
• The same adviser wanted me to take off a joint of Câbul's tail, under the hair, so as not to injure his appearance. “ It was known," he said, " that by how much the tail was made shorter, so much the taller the horse grew." I said, “ I could not believe that God gave any animal a limb too much, or one which tended to its disadvantage, and that as He had made my horse, so he should remain." This speech, such as it was, seemed to chime in wonderfully with the feelings of most of my hearers, and one old man said, that “ during all the 22 years that the English had held the country, he had not heard so grave and godly a saying from any of them before." I thought of Sancho Panza and his wise apophthegmsi but I regretted that, without doing more harm than good, I could not, with my present knowledge of Hindoostanee, tell them any thing which was really worth their hearing.
* One poor old woman, to whom I gave half a rupee on account of her great age and infirmities, was, after I had passed, thrown down, trampled on, and her hands, arms, and breast, dreadfully pinched and bruised, to compel her to unlock her grasp of the money. The Resident's people rescued her, or she probably would have been killed. I observed, by the way, that my chobdar and the rest of my escort, seemed to think that it was strange to give more to a woman than to most of the men; and I had noticed, on many occasions, that all through India any thing is thought good enough for the weaker sex, and that the roughest words, the poorest garments, the scantiest alms, the most degrading labour, and the hardest blows, are generally their portion. The same chuprassee who, in clearing the way before a great man, speaks civilly enough to those of his own sex, cuffs and kicks any unfortunate female who crosses his path without warning or forbearance. Yet to young children they are all gentleness and indulgence. What riddles men are! and how strangely do they differ in different countries An idle boy in a crowd would infallibly, in England, get his head broken, but what an outcry would be raised if an unoffending woman were beaten by one of the satellites of authority! Perhaps both parties might learn something from each other ; at least I have always thought it very hard to see beadles, in England, lashing away children on all public occasions, as if curiosity were a crime at an age in which it is, of all others, most natural.'
"Our elephants were receiving their drink at a well, and I gave the largest some bread, which, before my illness, I had often been in the habit of doing. “ He is glad to see you again," observed the goomashta, and I certainly was much struck by the calm, clear, attentive, intelligent eye which he fixed on me, both while he was eating, and afterwards, while I was patting his trunk and talking about him. He was, he said, a fine-tempered beast, but the two others were “ great rascals.” One of them had once almost killed his keeper. I have got these poor beasts' allowance increased in consideration of their long march; and that they may not be wronged, have ordered the mohout to give them all their gram in presence of a sentry. The gram is made up in cakes, about as large as the top of a hat-box, and baked on an earthen pot. Each contains a seer, and sixteen of them are considered as sufficient for one day's food for an elephant on a march. The suwarree elephant had only twelve, but I ordered him the full allowance, as well as an increase to the others. If they knew this, they would indeed be glad to see me.'
• The morning was positively cold, and the whole scene, with the exercise of the march, the picturesque groups of men and animals round me,—the bracing air, the siuging of birds, the light mist hanging on the trees, and the glistening dew, had something at once so Oriental and so English, I have seldom found any thing better adapted to raise a man's animal spirits, and put him in good temper with himself and all the world. How I wish those I love were with me! How much my wife would enjoy this sort of life, its exercise, its cleanliness, and purity; its constant occupation, and at the same time its comparative freedom from form, care, and vexation! At the same time a man who is curious in his eating, had better not come here. Lamb and kid (and we get no other flesh) most people would soon tire of. The only fowls which are attainable are as tough and lean as can be desired; and the milk and butter are generally seasoned with the never-failing condiments of Hindostan,