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have said, the musnuds or general officers were seated), and I arrived within speaking distance of Holkar, who instantly asked me news of the success of my mission : the impetuous old man thereon poured out a multitude of questions: “how many men are there in the fort?” said he:-“how

many women ? is it victualled ? have they ammunition ? did you see Gahagan Sahib, the commander ? did you kill him ?”—All these questions Jeswunt Row Holkar puffed out with so many whiffs of tobacco.

Taking a chillum myself, and raising about me such a cloud, that, upon my honour as a gentleman, no man at three yards' distance could perceive anything of me except the pillar of smoke in which I was encompassed, I told Holkar, in Oriental language, of course, the best tale I could with regard to the fort.

“Sir,” said I, to answer your last question first—that dreadful Gujputi I have seen—and he is alive; he is eight feet, nearly, in height; he can eat a bullock daily (of which he has seven hundred at present in the compound, and swears that during the siege he will content himself with only three a-week): he has lost, in battle, his left eye; and what is the consequence ? O Ram Gunge, (O thou-with-theeye-as-bright-as-morning-and-with-beard-as-black-as-night), Goliah Gujputi— NEVER SLEEPS !"

“Ah, you Ghorumsang" (you thief of the world), said the Prince Vizier, Saadut Allee Beg Bimbukchec—“it's joking you are;”—and there was a universal buzz through the room at the announcement of this bouncer.

By the hundred and eleven incarnations of Vishnou,” said I, solemnly (an oath, which no Indian was ever known to break), “ I swear that so it is; so at least he told me, and I have good cause to know his power. Gujputi is an enchanter, he is leagued with devils, he is invulnerable. Look," said I, unsheathing my dagger, and every eye turned instantly towards me—“thrice did stab him with this steel in the back, once-twice right through the heart; but he only laughed me to scorn, and bade me tell Holkar that the steel was not yet forged which was to inflict an injury upon him.” I never saw a man in such a rage as Holkar was when I


him this somewhat imprudent message.

“Ah, lily-livered rogue!" shouted he out to me, “milk-blooded unbeliever! pale-faced miscreant! lives he after insulting thy master in thy presence? In the name of the Prophet, I spit on thee, defy thee, abhor thee, degrade thee! Take that, thou liar of the universe! and that—and that—and that!”

Such are the frightful excesses of barbaric minds! every time this old man said “ Take that,” he flung some article near him at the head of the undaunted Gahagan-his dagger, his sword, his carbine, his richly-ornamented pistols, his turban, covered with jewels, worth a hundred thousand crores of rupees—finally, his hookah, snake, mouthpiece, silver-bell, chillum and all-which went hissing over my head, and flattening into a jelly the nose of the grand vizier.

“Yock muzzee !” “ my nose is off,” said the old man mildly; "will you have my life, O Holkar ? it is thine likewise !" and no other word of complaint escaped his lips.

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Of all these missiles, though a pistol and carbine had gone off as the ferocious Indian Aung them at my head, and the naked scinitar, fiercely but unadroitly thrown, had lopped off the limbs of one or two of the musnuds as they sat trembling on their omrahs, yet, strange to say, not a single weapon had hurt me. When the hubhub ceased, and the unlucky wretches who had been the victims of this fit of rage had been removed, Holkar’s good-humour somewhat returned, and he allowed me to continue my account of the fort; which I did, not taking the slightest notice of his burst of impatience, as indeed would have been the height of impoliteness to have done, for such accidents happened many times in the day.

“ It is well that the Bobbachy has returned,” snuffled out the poor Grand Vizier, after I had explained to the council the extraordinary means of defence possessed by the garrison. “ Your star is bright, O Bahawder! for this very night we had resolved upon an escalade of the fort, and we had sworn to put every one of the infidel garrison to the edge of the sword.”

“But you have no battering-train," said I.

“ Bah! we have a couple of ninety-six pounders, quite sufficient to blow the gates open; and then, hey for a charge !" said Loll Mahommed, a general of cavalry, who was a rival of Bobbachy's, and contradicted therefore every word I said. “In the name of Juggernaut, why wait for the heavy artillery? Have we not swords ? have we not hearts ? Mashallah! Let cravens stay with Bobbachy, all true men will follow Loll Mahommed! Allahhumdillah, Bismillah, Barikallah !"* and drawing his scimitar he waved it over his head, and shouted out his cry of battle. It was repeated by many of the other omrahs; the sound of their cheers was carried into the camp, and caught up by the men; the camels began to cry, the horses to prance and neigh, the eight hundred elephants set up a scream, the trumpeters and drummers clanged away at their instruments. I never heard such a din before or after. How I trembled for my little garrison when I heard the enthusiastic cries of this innumerable host ! There was but one way for it. Sir,”

.” said I, addressing Holkar, go out to-night, and you go to certain death. Loll Mahommed las not seen the fort as I have.

Pass the gate if you please, and for what? to fall before the fire of a hundred pieces of artillery; to storm another gate, and then another, and then to be blown up with Gahagan's garrison in the citadel. Who talks of courage ? Were I not in your august presence, O star of the faithful, I would crop Loll Mahommed's nose from his face, and wear his ears as an ornament in my own pugree ! Who is there here that knows not the difference between yonder yellowskinned coward and Gahagan Khan Guj-I mean Bobbachy Bahawder? I am ready to fight one, two, three, or twenty of them, at broad-sword, small-sword, single-stick, with fists, if you please; by the holy piper, fighting is like mate and dthrink to Ga-to Bobbachy, I mane-whoop! come on you divvle, and I'll bate the skin off your ugly bones.”

* The Major has put the most approved language into the mouths of his Indian characters. Bismillah, Barikallah, and so on, according to the novelists, form the very essence of Eastern conversation.

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This speech had very nearly proved fatal to me, for, when I am agitated, I involuntarily adopt some of the phraseology peculiar to my own country; which is so uneastern, that, had there been any suspicion as to my real character, detection must indubitably have ensued. As it was, Holkar perceived nothing, but instantaneously stopped the dispute. Loll Mahommed, however, evidently suspected something, for, as Holkar, with a voice of thunder, shouted out, “ Tomasha,” silence, Loll sprung forward and gasped out

“My Lord ! my Lord! this is not Bob

But he could say no more. “ Gag the slave!” screamed out Holkar, stamping with fury; and a turban was instantly twisted round the poor devil's jaws.

Ho, Furoshes! carry out Loll Mahommed Khan, give him a hundred dozen on the soles of his feet, set him upon a white donkey, and carry him round the camp, with an inscription before him —'This is the way that Holkar rewards the talkative.''

I breathed again; and ever as I heard each whack of the bamboo, falling on Loll Mahommed's feet, I felt peace returning to my mind, and thanked my stars that I was delivered of this danger.

“ Vizier,” said Holkar, who enjoyed Loll's roars amazingly, “I owe you a reparation for your nose: kiss the hand of your Prince, O Saadat Allee Beg Bimbukchee! be from this day forth Zoheir u Dowlut!”

The good old man's eyes filled with tears. “I can bear thy severity, O Prince,” said he, “ I cannot bear thy love. Was it not an honour that your highness did me just now, when you condescended to pass over the bridge of your slave's nose ?”

The phrase was by all voices pronounced to be very poetical. The Vizier retired crowned with his new honours to bed. Holkar was in high good humour.

“Bobbachy,” said he, “thou, too, must pardon me ;-à-propos--I have news for thee. Your wife, the incomparable Puttee-Rooge, (white and red rose,) has arrived in camp.”

“My wife, my Lord !” said I, aghast.

“Our daughter, the light of thine eyes! Go, my son; I see thou art wild with joy. The Princess's tents are set up close by mine, and I know thou longest to join her.”

My wife! here was a complication truly !



I found Puneeree Muckun, with the rest of my attendants, waiting at the gate, and they immediately conducted me to my own tents in the neighbourhood. I have been in many dangerous predicaments before that time and since, but I don't care to deny that I felt in the present instance such a throbbing of the heart as I never have experienced when leading a forlorn hope, or marching up to a battery.

As soon as I entered the tents a host of menials sprung forward, some to case me of my armour, some to offer me refreshments, some with hookahs, attar of roses (in great quart bottles), and the thousand delicacies of Eastern life. I motioned them away. “I will wear my armour," said I; "I shall go forth to-night: carry my duty to the Princess, and say I grieve that to-night I have not the time to see her Spread me a couch here, and bring me supper here; a jar of Persian wine well cooled, a lamb stuffed with pistachio-nuts, a pilaw of a couple of turkeys, a curried kid-anything. Begone! Give me a pipe; leave me alone, and tell me when the meal is ready."

I thought by these means to put off the fair Puttee Rooge, and hoped to be able to escape without subjecting myself to the examination of her curious eyes. After smoking for a while, an attendant came to tell me that my supper was prepared in the inner apartment of the tent (I suppose that the reader, if he be possessed of the commonest intelligence, knows that the tents of the Indian grandees are made of the finest Cashmere shawls, and contain a dozen rooms at least, with carpets, chimneys, and sash windows complete). I entered, I say, into an inner chamber, and there began with my fingers to devour my meal in oriental fashion, taking every now and then a pull from the wine-jar which was cooling deliciously in another jar of snow.

I was just in the act of despatching the last morsel of a most savoury stewed lamb and rice, which had formed my meal, when I heard a scuffle of feet, a shrill clatter of female voices, and, the curtain being flung open, in marched a lady accompanied by twelve slaves, with moonfaces and slim waists, lovely as the houris in Paradise.

The lady herself, to do her justice, was as great a contrast to her attendants as could possibly be; she was crooked, old, of the complexion of molasses, and rendered a thousand times more ugly by the tawdry dress and the blazing jewels with which she was covered. A line of yellow chalk drawn from her forehead to the tip of her nose (which was further ornamented by an immense glittering nose-ring), her eye-lids painted bright red, and a large dab of the same colour on her chin, showed she was not of the Mussulman, but the Brahmin faith—and of a very high caste; you could see that by her eyes. My mind was instantaneously made up as to my line of action.

The male attendants had of course quitted the apartment, as they heard the well-known sound of her voice. It would have been death to them to have remained and looked in her face. The females ranged themselves round their mistress, as she squatted down opposite to me.

“And is this,” said she," a welcome, O Khan! after six months' absence, for the most unfortunate and loving wife in all the world--is this lamb, O glutton! half so tender as thy spouse? Is this wine, O sot! half so sweet as her looks ?

I saw the storm was brewing—her slaves, to whom she turned, kept up a kind of chorus:

“O the faithless one!” cried they ;“O the rascal, the false one, who has no eye for beauty, and no heart for love, like the Khanum's !”

“A lamb is not so sweet as love,” said I, gravely; "but a lamb has a good temper; a wine-cup is not so intoxicating as a woman—but a wine-cup has no tongue, O Khanum Gee!” and again I dipped my nose in the soul-refreshing jar.

The sweet Puttee Rooge was not, however, to be put off by my repartees; she and her maidens recommenced their chorus, and chattered and stormed until I lost all patience.

“Retire, friends," said I, “and leave me in peace.


“Stir, on your peril!” cried the Khanum.

So, seeing there was no help for it but violence, I drew out my pistols, cocked them, and said :-"O houris! these pistols contain each two balls: the daughter of Holkar bears a sacred life for me—but for by all the saints of Hindoostan, four of ye shall die if you stay a moment longer in my presence !” This was enough-the ladies gave a shriek, and skurried out of the apartment like a covey of partridges on the wing:

Now then was the time for action—my wife, or rather Bobbachy's wife, sate still, a little flurried by the unusual ferocity which her lord had displayed in her presence. I seized her hand, and, gripping it close, whispered in her ear, to which I put the other pistol—“0 Khanum, listen and scream not; the moment you scream, you die!" She was completely beaten : she turned as pale as a woman could in her situation, and said, “Speak Bobbachy Bahawder, I am dumb.”

“Woman,” said I, taking off my helmet, and removing the chain cape which had covered almost the whole of my face—I am not thy husband-I am the slayer of elephants-the world-renowned GAHAGAN!”

As I said this, and as the long ringlets of red hair fell over my shoulders (contrasting strangely with my dyed face and beard), I formed one of the finest pictures that can possibly be conceived, and I recommend it as a subject to Mr. Heath, for the next “Book of Beauty."

“ Wretch !” said she; “ what wouldst thou ?”

“You black-faced fiend,” said I, “raise but your voice, and you are dead!” And afterwards," said she,

you suppose that

you l can escape ?the torments of hell are not so terrible as the tortures that Holkar will invent for thee.”

“ Tortures, Madam,” answered I, coolly, “ fiddlesticks! You will neither betray me, nor will I be put to the torture: on the contrary, you will give me your best jewels and facilitate my escape to the fort. Don't grind your teeth and swear at me. Listen, Madam ; you know this dress and these arms, they are the arms of your husband, Bobbachy Bahawder-my prisoner : he now lies in yonder fort, and, if I do not return before daylight, at sunrise he dies ; and then, when they send his corpse back to Holkar, what will you, his widow, do ?” “O!” said she, shuddering,

spare me, spare me!” “I'll tell you what you will do. You will have the pleasure of dying along with him--of being roasted, Madam--an agonising death, from which your father cannot save you, to which he will be the first man to condemn and conduct you. Ha! I see we understand each other, and you will give me over the cash-box and jewels.” And so saying I threw myself back with the calmest air imaginable, flinging the pistols over to her. “ Light me a pipe, my love,” said I, “and then go and hand me over the dollars; do you hear ?" You see I had her in my power -up a tree, as the Americans say—and she very humbly lighted my pipe for me, and then departed for the goods I spoke about.

What a thing is luck! if Loll Mahommed had not been made to take that ride round the camp, I should infallibly have been lost.

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