Author · James Malcolm Rymer
Editor · Rebecca Nesvet
Editor · Rae X. Yan
Technical Editor · Adam McCune

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Chapter I: The Assembly Room at Cawnpore
Chapter II: The Midnight Revel of Nana Sahib

Saturday, February 13, 1858

begin page 81

THE SEPOYS; OR, HIGHLAND JESSIE.

A TALE OF THE PRESENT INDIAN REVOLT.

BY M. J. ERRYM.

AUTHOR OF "JANE BRIGHTWELL," "THE SNOW-DRIFT," ETC.

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[Giving a faithful Account of the Perils and Adventures of Two Families in India—the Hawkins's and the Hopes--Private and Public life of Nana Sahib, and numerous romantic Episodes of Rebellion, from authentic and exclusive sources.]

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The romantic and exciting character of the events in India, both public and private, are here woven into a narrative, which, while it borrows little from imagination, presents in a more personal shape than the records of history, events and occurrences which far transcend all that the pages of old romance could hope to present to its readers. The political and public incidents of the Indian Revolt will be the stream, in the current of which will be carried forward the individuals whose adventures we shall pourtray. The names we introduce are not the names of the actual parties, for obvious reasons; but the incidents themselves are derived from the most veritable sources; and it is presumed that so deeply interesting a leaf from the great volume of existence never yet spread its regard before human gaze.

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CHAPTER I.

THE ASSEMBLY ROOM AT CAWNPORE.

CLINGING to each other with the frantic grasp of despair—-uncertainty and fear upon every countenance—-blanched cheeks and trembling limbs, bespeaking the terror of those throbbing hearts—-eyes quivering through tears of agonised apprehension, as they cast their hurried glances from door to window, and then from face to face of the poor horror-stricken throng; listening with an agony of dread for any sound from without, striving with a preternatural eagerness to separate the sobs and moans of children from all extraneous noises-—silent and hopeless, with the slant begin page 82 beams of an Indian moon tipping with silver the torn apparel, and giving a spiritual character to the wan faces—-stood, sat, and clung, breast to breast, or knelt apart and prayed, the throng of victims in the Assembly Room at Cawnpore, on the eve of that awful day when Hindoo treachery had gathered back its victims after the capitulation of the few and faint defenders of Cawnpore.

There crouched the mother—-clasping to her heart the little ones wailing for food, and dabbled with the blood of the father who had fallen in their defense—despair on her face, terror of yet unheard-of horrors to come, in her eyes.

There the maiden in the first flush and pride of her girlish beauty, so pale and wan, the very fount of tears dried up with the wild terror of the past, and the dread of the still more terrible future! Where are the fond hearts that love her? where the tender arms that would enfold her from even the winds of heaven, should they visit her cheek too roughly? where is the gallant lover who has looked to her as the star in the East, by the light of which he hoped to march to glory and renown? Not there! not there!—-where she like a pale spectre, with those clasped hands and that faint moaning sound from her lips, awaits her dreadful doom.

Wives—-sisters—-gentle little ones, who have but yet, through their blue eyes, peeped at the great world, which so soon for them is to pass away for ever;—-young, fair children, with the sweet cherub faces of English youth, and the soft voices of our own happy clime—beings of love, and to be beloved, with all the wild idolatry of human passion;—beauty, gentleness—every charm that, in the fairest and the tenderest portion of humanity, graces nature,—all are there—picturesque, yet awful in their despair!

Do not pitying angels crowd those latticed casements and gaze with the ineffable love of a higher state on these poor victims? Is there no cheering murmur from a world to come, whence cruelty and oppression are unknown, since all hope is quenched in this? Oh! it was a sight to make angels weep, if tears are still the inheritance of the starry host!

And higher, and higher still, rose in the soft blue of that Indian sky, the full, round moon, and a flood of silvery light glistened upon the tears of those who had them to shed; and the murmured prayer, yet faintly uttered, seemed as though it took that moonlight path to heaven.

"Hush! What sound is that?"

A shrill, clarion-like burst of eastern music. The clash of cymbals, and the whirr of the many-stringed eeda , with the hoarse rattle of drums, comes on the soft night air.

Nana Sahib holds high revel in his gorgeous halls at Cawnpore.

Then, the mothers clasp their little ones yet closer to their hearts. Then the young maidens sink to the floor, their breath coming short and thick; and there is wringing of hands, and there are frantic prayers, and cries of help, where help there is none—-for mercy, which comes not.

Loudly clash the cymbals again! The monotonous beat of the Indian drum falls as though each tap was on some poor victim's heart! A blaze of yellow light mingles with the moonbeams, and the shouts of many voices awaken echo in the blood-stained streets of the city.

"Death! Death to the Feringhee!" is the cry. "Long life to the lord of the earth—the conqueror of nations—-Nana Sahib!"

Then, with the bray of trumpets —- the confused clatter of arms—-the crashing of the cymbals-—the jingle of the silver-belled chunar, and the tap! tap! of the drums—there sweeps past the Assembly House, bearing hundreds of torches, a confused mass of the Sepoy guard of Nana Sahib, bent on a visit, propitiatory and thankful, to one of the Hindoo temples in the vicinity.

And now, as the rabble band neared the prison-house of these sad victims we have fairly touched upon there is one who, in her despair—-for she thinks the destroyer is at hand—-shrieks aloud. Another, in vain, tries to take her own life—-for death, simply death, has lost its horrors in higher horrors still. A third bemoans her fate, in bitter anguished words, which keep up a strange cadence with the clash of barbarous sounds without.

"Oh, mercy, heaven! Why is all this? What have we done, to be so lost? So happy were we in our dear home—-kind kindred about us—-every word a sound of true affection—-life so dear, so beautiful to us all! The earth so beautiful—-the sky so blue and fair! Each day but the harbinger of new happiness!—-and now, death! death!—-worse than death! Help! help!—-mercy! help! Father!—-mother!—-brother! In mercy help me!—-save me! Will you all leave me here to die? Help—-Oh, help!"

The intellect had tottered and fallen, and the young girl—-for such she was—-screamed with the wild energy of a maniac.

Then another sat mute and smiled; she was mad! Before her eyes a father and two brothers had fallen, and heaven spared her further woe. She was weaving a strange kind of chapel from some Indian grasses that, by chance, were in the place; but one glance at those cold, stony-looking eyes were enough to freeze the heart.

The music still sounded, but more remotely, although the tramp of feet continued. Suddenly, then, there was a crashing sound, and some splinters of the jalousies of the windows were scattered into the room, and several shots plunged into the wall and ceiling.

In wanton mischief, as they passed, some of the Sepoys had fired into the Assembly Room, where they knew the English prisoners were confined.

And now all crouched low down, as by an instinct which teaches that death, however inevitable it may seem, is yet to be avoided, if possible, to the last. All was still, too, except the moaning of some children, and the painful throbbing of every heart there. Another—-yet another shot, and the splinters from the windows flew about the room. Another yet—-and there is a faint cry. All eyes are turned in that direction, and in the moonbeams they see a stream of blood. The bullet has found its home in one fair breast, and soon death is an inhabitant of that fearful place.

Then broke forth the cries that will no longer be suppressed, and there is a rush to the doors of the apartment. They are fast, and the Sepoy guard without laugh at the puny efforts to force them. But still the very walls shake with the frantic efforts of so many hands, and then one of the guards fires a shot through the door, and it wounds two of the victims fearfully. They recoil from the door, and as a young mother finds blood upon her child, she shrieks aloud for the aid, and makes frantic efforts to stanch the stream of life which is flowing fast.

Then from a remote corner, where they had stood clasped in each other's arms, come forward two sisters. The eldest is but on the verge of womanhood, although the wife of a Major Fletcher, who is with the army; a young child of three years of age is clinging around her neck. Her sister, Bessie Hope—-on whose fair brow but sixteen summer had shone—-clings closely to her, and with gasping sobs rather strives to keep her back then aid her in making her way to the centre of the desolate throng, which seems to be Mrs. Fletcher's object. The latter, however, perseveres, and although tears are streaming from her eyes, and she is half-choked by emotions, she speaks.

"Dear friends, all!—-dear in misfortune, and dearer still in this dreadful time—-oh! be patient! Do not—-oh! do not let us abandon ourselves, if we have no hope elsewhere! What but more certain and dreadful destruction can we expect by clamour and by resistance here? Oh, be still and patient! I cannot—-will not think we are wholly lost! The retribution for any ill that could be done to us will surely make even Nana Sahib tremble to corresplect upon. Oh! be hopeful, and do not let us exhaust our poor hearts in useless efforts! We are not lost yet, for we live!"

These words spread a calm over the troubled souls there present. They were spoken with such a holy sweetness, and they came from one whom they all knew suffered much and had much at stake. The screams and cries ceased, and many a mother strove to hush her little ones to rest.

Then Bessie Hope, as she sobbed upon her sister's breast, murmured to her, "Oh, Annie! Annie! you know that—that our foes are not all cruel, not all so barbarous and vengeful. There is one in whom, could he but know of our abandonment, we might yet have hope."

"Hush, sister, hush! Do not sob so!"

"But, dear Annie, you know who I mean! It is strange that his name and the thought of him has ever been on this dreadful eve uppermost in my mind."

"You mean Jeffur Ahib, the young chivalrous chieftain from the mountains?"

"Ah, yes!"

"Alas, my poor Bessie, he is of different mould to these Sepoys, who are working all this ruin!"

"But yet is with them! Oh, Annie! I thought I saw his plume in the throng, and as I looked I saw a confusion on the shore when many were firing at the boats, and it was he who pressed aside the weapons, and I saw him striving to stop the carnage. He has some wild notions of the deliverance of India from all foreign rule, and that will place him in the ranks against us; but his noble heart will make him the sworn foe to all cruelty and bloodshed. Listen, sister—-I have yet hope in him!"

"Alas! alas! my poor Bessie! What hope?"

"He loves me!"

Mrs. Fletcher clasped closer to her side her young sister, and wept.

"Yes, he loves me!" sobbed Bessie Hope. "You know our poor father thought much of him, and had him often to the bungalow, and did you not see how he would sit and gaze at me, with such love in his dark eyes, that I was fain to leave the room to recover their ardent gaze? Oh, yes, he loves me! and he is no coward, cruel Sepoy! He belongs to a different race, as we have often heard our dear father say! Listen! you have seen him on his horse, have you not, with his chain-mail glittering in the sun? Oh, Annie! Annie! if we could only let him know—-if he could but guess that we—-I was here, he would save us yet! Yes, dear Annie, he would save us yet!"

"Hush! oh, hush, Bessie! How you sob! Be calm! be calm, for the love of heaven! I would fain hope with you, if I had dared; but, alas! how is one arm to save us, even if it wished, with thousands raised against us?"

"Oh, but he is so brave, so food, so true!"

Annie bent down her head, and kissed her sister through her tears.

"My poor, poor Bessie! may heaven keep you!"

"Hush! Ah, what is that?—this way! Listen! Oh, Annie, God is good and merciful! If I could only speak—-speak, for tears! This way, to the window, here! I heard something!"

"What? Oh, what!"

"Hush!—-hush!—-hush!"

Bessie Hope was too agitated to say more; but she led her sister to a corner of the large apartment, where a window, latticed with thin jalousies, let in the slant rays of the moon. None were at that part of the room but themselves; and when they reached it, Annie heard the faint tickle of one of those small Indian lutes that are in use all over Hindostan.

Bessie clung to her sister with a clutch that was painful, and she sobbed now as though her heart would break.

"Bessie, dear Bessie, what is it? Oh, what is it?"

"He—-he!—-God bless and aid him!—-Jeffur—-'tis he! He will save us yet! He is so good, so—-so noble, and he loves me!"

The soft tinkle of the lute came quickly on the night air, and then it paused, and a few words in different English were spoken from without in a low soft voice.

"Is the English angel of the wild heart of the song of the mountains here, or in the paradise of the blessed and the good!"

"'Tis he!" gasped Bessie, with a half shriek of delight. "Oh, Annie, we shall see them all again! Our mother—-your dear EdwardAdrian—-all friends! We are saved!"

The lute again was gently touched.

The prospect of deliverance now indeed began to dawn on the hopes of Mrs. Fletcher, and the mother's first impulse was to cover her child with tears and kisses. "Sister—sister!" said Bessie, "how shall I let him know that I am here?—-that we are here? Oh, yes—yes! I know now! Hush!—-be still! Oh, I know he loves me! You have a small knife with you, Annie! Give it me! That is well! Oh, Annie, these are tears of joy now! I remember once he said my hair was like the clear sunlight of his native hills. He will know it well—-he will be sure to know it! We must not cry out, for he would be in danger. One tender, good heart among a thousand fiends! He will know this!—-he will know this!"

The young girl severed from her head one of the long tresses of her beautiful hair, and with trembling fingers she thrust it through the narrow crevices of the jalousies at the window. Then there was a slight cry without of surprise and joy, and they heard fervent kisses bestowed upon the lock of hair. The lute was struck just for a few seconds in a joyous strain, and then all was still.

The sisters knelt by the window in intense listening; not another sound came to their ears from without.

"All is lost!" sighed Mrs. Fletcher. "He cannot help us!"

"He will help us," said Annie, "for he loves me!"

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CHAPTER II.

THE MIDNIGHT REVEL OF NANA SAHIB.

IN the great hall of the palace at Cawnpore, beneath a canopy of state, and surrounded by all the gorgeous pomp of eastern magnificence, hastily collected and so strangely intercomingled that the place looked like a plundered bazaar, sat Nana Sahib.

Rich cloths covered the floor. The plunder of the Residency, in the shape of plate, uniforms, arms, and European luxuries lay strewn about in confusion. The extemporaneous canopy at one end of the apartment was supported by tall spears, and formed of shawls and tapestries of rare beauty, and cost. Beneath was a wilderness of embroidered cushions, forming a huge divan, on which, with the favorites of the hour, sat the arch-spirit of cruelty. His dress was blazing with begin page 83 jewels, and the splashes of blood were on every article of his apparel; his bloodshot eyes looked implacable as a tiger's in their rage; his naked scimetar lay before him, and an European pair of richly mounted pistols was in his girdle. Close to his right hand lay a revolver of the highest finish, which had been found in the Residency.

Reposing on the cushions about him, and which straggled over a third portion of the hall, were his officers, arrayed partly in European spoils. All were fully armed, and at the feet of most of them lay a pile of weapons, which ever and anon they fingered and examined with interest and attention.

A vast throng of soldiers of all conditions filled up the lower portion of the hall, and the rattle of arms and the din of vices, above which could now and then be heard the cry of "Long live the Sahib!" were incessant.

Close behind the Nana were several attendants, bearing rich wines on golden salvers, to which he frequently appealed, generally flinging the goblet or crystal from which he drank far down the hall, or over his head among those behind him. A blaze of light was produced from a hundred torches of scented wood; and now and then, on a sign from Loll Tall, the present minister of the petty satrap, a clangour of wild music would fill the air, and the clash of the cymbal with the roll of the European drum made up a most martial discord.

The scene was, in truth, a strange and a gorgeous one of wild barbaric pomp. The flashing of the flambeaux on the arms and jewels—-the hum of the multitude—the crashing sound of the music—the glitter of arms and accoutrements, and the flutter and sparkling beauty of the rich Oriental hangings—-all made a semblance to the past magnificence of old India in the height of her native power and glory.

And evidences, too, were there of the recent battle, in which the troops of the Nana had been worsted by Havelock, and forced, flying and disordered, back to Cawnpore but a few short hours before. There were drops of blood upon many a gorgeous vest, and bound-up heads and arms, and blanched faces even among those immediately surrounding the Chief. But wine had done much of its work, and was doing more. A wild revel—-the last in Cawnpore before its evacuation—-was on hand, and with all the rage of recent defeat and present semi-intoxication, Nana Sahib presided at the fell orgies of the night.

"Wine! wine!" he cried. "Death to the Feringhee! Blood shall flow till the sacred Ganges is tinted with the crimson life-stream! Wine, I say! more wine!"

The startled attendance who was nearest to him presented, tremblingly, the salver with a golden goblet on it; but his foot caught slightly in one of the fusions of the divan, and in his stumble he spilt some of the wine on the Nana.

With a howl of rage, the latter seized the scimitar at his feet, and made a furious slash at the peon.

"Chor (thief)!" he said; and the sword drunk deep of the life-blood of the gasping wretch, who rolled back among his fellows.

"Wine, I say! wine! Ah! 'tis well! This is new blood!"

He drained the goblet to the bottom that was now presented to him, and then drawing a long breath, he glanced around him ere he flung it furiously at the figure of a crouching Hindoo, who was apparently muttering his prayers.

"Dog!" he cried, "bring me the goblet back again, and let me fill it with your blood!"

A gaunt figure, the upper portion of which was entirely nude, strode forward with the goblet, and making a low salaam, said, "I am your highness's dog, but I bite others!"

"Ah! the executioner of Cawnpore! Is it not so?"

"Even so, Light of my Eyes, and Terror of the World!"

"More sport!" shrieked the Nana, "more sport! We have no dancing fair ones to night! Ha! ha! The war has scared the bright eyes and the supple limbs, but there is other sport! Sit thou there, friend! We shall want thy cunning hand! Wine here! said I not wine? Ah, that is rich and rare! Why, there is blood upon my caftan! It looks well, too! Defeated—-defeated, are we? Well, well! such defeats are costly to the Feringhee! Ah, the foe! But yet, ere I go, a deed!—-a deed! Ha! ha! there will be tears yet—-tears of blood! Loll Tall?

"Ay, my good lord!"

"The Feringhee women!—-eh?"

He jerked his head in the direction of the Assembly House.

"Safely confined," whispered the minister.

The Nana drew a long breath. "'Tis well! These that can get there will sup to-morrow in Paradise!"

The cymbals and the drums again struck up their wild music, and the wine circulated still more freely! The Sepoys at the lower pat of the hall uttered loud shouts, and now and then, one more intoxicated than his fellows would sally out and fire his musket in the streets. Still, the Nana drunk deeply; and after a potation, he suddenly fixed his eyes upon the youthful and handsome countenance of a splendidly-attired warrior in the fanciful costume of the hill tribes, with his buckler slung at his back, who had approached close to the divan.

"Ah! I should have known thee!—-I saw thy plume in the fight!"

"Sahib! I am Jeffur Ahib, son of the chief of the Dooctees of the hills! I have fought for you!"

"By our beard, yes! Wine, wine here, for our good soldier! Death to the Feringhee!"

"To India!" cried Jeffur, as he partook sparingly of the cup presented to him. "Sahib, all should revel alike. Shall I relieve the guard at the Assembly Room, where lie the Feringhee women and children, prisoners?"

The young chief trembled slightly as he spoke, and the reeling eyes of the Nana glared upon him. The suspicious character of the savage was aroused at he knew not what. Moreover he was asked to do something which should have been his own thought, and therefore it was not to be done.

"No, no! Great is the valor of our friend from the hills, and we love to have him near us! There is room on our divan for a warrior. Sit with us!"

The parted lips and the show of teeth from the Nana belied his hospitable words, and to those who knew him well betokened anything but good to the chivalric Jeffur, who, in the name of India alone, had taken up arms, and who was so ill-suited for companionship with those around him, who fought for plunder and revenge.

"The Sahib's words are good!" said the young chief, as he calmly and gracefully reclined on the cushions near the Nana. But there was trouble in the eye of the young man, and there was sadness at his heart! How to save her he loved, was the anxious question of his soul. Had he succeeded in obtaining the command of the relief guard over the prisoners, all would have been easy; but now his powers of action were more restricted than before, and his heart felt faint and fluttering as he clasped his hand with a nervous clutch upon the bullion tassel of the velvet cushion on which he half reclined.

Nana Sahib looked at him with a searching glance, and then, as his head reeled to and fro in incipient intoxication, he whispered, as he thought, but, in reality, spoke sufficiently aloud for all near at hand to hear, to Loll Tall, "Double the guard on the prisoners! Fire on all who approach without the watchword! The dawn will come!—the dawn will come!"

"And the watchword, Light of the World?" said Loll Tall.

The young mountain chief strained his sense of hearing to the utmost; but Nana Sahib grabbed Loll Tall by the neck, and said a word in his ear, which the nicest attention of the young man could not catch.

"It is well!" said the Loll Tall. "Words of wisdom fall like pearls from my lord's lips."

The Nana burst into a hideous laugh, and then he called for more wine, and glanced at Jeffur, as he yelled, "Who held back vengeance from the sons of India? Ah! what say you?"

The executioner had whispered something close to the ear of the Nana, and the countenance of the latter literally flushed through the dark skin with pleasure.

"Say you so? Prisoners! Nay!"

"Even so, my good lord."

He clapped his hands loudly, and, in a yelling voice, shouted, "More lights! more music! more revelling! more wine! more blood! Ha! ha! Prisoners? We live, and some of the hated race live! By the Grand Laama, the air is impure in Cawnpore while the breath of the Feringhee taints it! Bring in the prisoners! A hunt!--a hunt! Better than the wild haunts of the jungle will be the halls of Cawnpore! Better the game than the tiger or the jackal! Bring in the prisoners! we hold a feast to-night, and we invite the Feringhee! Ha! ha! We have had the pale devil before in our halls! The prisoners! Bring in the prisoners! Why, we are conquerors, yet!"

Amid the bray of wind instruments--the clash of cymbals, and the beat of drums--while countless flambeaux, lit from all quarters, made the hall a dazzling scene of light--an English officer, his uniform torn, and dabbled in blood, was thrust from the lower part of the hall towards Nana Sahib.

"Wretch!" shrieked the Nana. "Know ye your fate? Know you your judge? On your knees, Feringhee! On your knees, and beg the life--you shall not get!" he added, in a hoarse whisper.

The officer looked calmly and proudly in the face of the Nana. He pointed with his outstretched hand at the guilty wretch, and there was an awe-struck stillness in the hall as he spoke.

"Perjured villain!--double-dyed murderer!--wretch without human heart or human feeling!--I, unarmed and helpless, in the name of my country and my kindred, yet defy you! Beware, Nana Sahib! for the hour of retribution will come! Treacherous as the tiger--more loathsome than the serpent--"

The Nana sprung to his feet with a roar of rage, and then fell back again on the cushions. He grasped the revolver, and, without the slightest regard to those in the background of the hall, he fired at the officer two shots, in rapid succession. Cries and shouts from those hit--for both the bullets missed their intended victim--mingled with the concussion of the reports, and the clang of the cymbals. The fire of desperation flashed from the eyes of the officer, and he sprung upon a gigantic Sepoy guard, and wrested from him his tulwar. To cut down two men who opposed him, and to rush towards the Nana, was the work of a moment. Fifty swords sprung from their scabbards, and such a clash of weapons around one man never yet startled the night air. The Nana rolled backward over the pile of cushions, and then discharged both his pistols from his gorgeous sash right into the middle of the throng at a venture, for he had dropped the revolver.

The the clash of swords ceased. There was a parting of the mob of Sepoy officers and soldiers; and four bodies lay on the blood-stained hall--while some half-dozen others, dropping blood as they went, tottered to the embrasures of the windows, and the cushions that strewed the place.

The officer lay still in death, with fifty mortal wounds upon him, and a sad, calm smile upon his face.

The Nana crouched upon the cushions, like some wild animal of his native jungles, preparing for a spring. His hand clutched deeply the velvet, and his bleared and bloodshot eyes glared over the blazing gold edges of the richly embroidered divan.

"Away with the carrion!" he roared. "Away with it! More spoil to-night! The last in Cawnpore! Curses on them all! Are you women, that you are nearly beaten by a single man? Cowards! More prisoners--more prisoners! Bring in more!--slay! I--I--Stay, yet a moment. By Vishnu, we are all mortal! Arms! arms! That is well-well! Our life is that of India! We have yet work to do!"

Some ten or twelve pistols were reverently handed to the Nana, who formed before him a sort of breast-work of the embroidered cushions, on which he laid them, and then trying--with his vision imperfect from his deep potations--to pierce the distance, he waited the approach of the other prisoners.

A private, in a regiment of the line, was, with kicks and cuffs, forced into the hall.

"Silence, all! Cease the music!" shouted Nana Sahib; and then, seeing the rank of his prisoner, he seemed to fancy that, before ordering him to death, it might be possible to extract valuable information from him.

"Dog!" he cried, "approach!"

The prisoner did not move; and when the Sepoys urged him forward, he cried out in unmistakable brogue, "Arrah, thin, it's one of ye's the ould sinner is after wanting, for it's dog he says, says he! And mighty bad-looking curs you are!"

"Approach, villain!" yelled the Nana.

"There, now," said the Irishman, "did ye hear the likes o' that, now? There's so many of ye, that it must be the biggest blackguard of the whole lot he's after wanting."

Kicked, and cuffed, and, indeed, wounded by spears and tulwars, the poor soldier was forced forward to the front of the divan; and then, Nana Sahib, with a loaded pistol in each hand, showed all his teeth, like an enraged wolf, as he said, in what he intended should be encouraging accents, "You want your life? Answer me what I ask. You want to live?"

"Faith, thin, we all live till we die, any way."

"A wise speech! What shall we do for you?"

"Do for me? It's pretty well done for, I take it, myself is at this present time of asking; but a male of victuals, a small taste of whisky, a good-bye to you, and the likes of you, would be mighty agreeable!"

"Give him bang"--(an intoxicating liquor made from hemp). "Give him bang--and his tongue will loosen."

"bang, is it? It's a mighty lot of bangs and whacks, too, you and your heathens have been after giving me already! Twenty Donnybrook fairs is a fool to it, all rolled into one! Oh, it's something to drink, is it? And it's this you call bang? Well, here's mighty bad luck to the whole of you, and may the devil fly away wid you to the place that isn't glory, as soon as his honour has time to do it! bang, is it? Ah! it's mighty poor drink, it is--a trifle better than nothing at all!"

"Speak now!" said the Nana. "How many soldiers has your general? Havelock they call him!"

"Dennis, my mon," said a voice from the lower end of the hall, in the national vernacular of Scotland--,begin page 84 "you'll no be for telling the brute onything about the force, you ken!"

"Is it myself, Sandy M'Laren, that's a goose on a common?" said Dennis.

"Who spoke there?" growled the Nana.

"Lord of the World, the other prisoner," said an officer.

"Shoot him! Clear a space down yonder, and shoot him in the hall! Then fling out the body to the vultures!"

The Nana himself began to handle his pistols so suspiciously, that an open space down the hall was cleared in a moment, in which stood a Highland soldier, in a torn and blood-stained uniform. The attitude of the man was proud and defiant.

"Fire," he cried, "if you dare, ye black-looking, ill-faured loons; but you dare not do it!"

"Fire!" shouted the Nana.

There was a miscellaneous discharge of fire-arms, and when the smoke cleared away, the Highland soldier lay motionless on the floor of the hall. A sign from an officer, and a couple of Sepoys bore out the body and cast it into a hollow at the back of the compound. They had not left him above two minutes, when the supposed dead Highlander sat up, and giving a rub to the top of his head, he said, "'Deed, then, that was a close touch! It's weel to go doon before you are hit, when you can! The chiel that fights and get's awa', is good to fight among them a'!"

With this remark, the Highlander bent double, to avoid being seen by the Sepoy sentinels, and ran along the covered way in the direction of the British lines.

Little suspecting the escape of one of his victims, the Nana, in a soft, persuasive voice, although thickened by his deep potations, proceeded to question poor Dennis.

"Tell me," he said, "and spare your own life: how many men and guns has your chief?"

"It's how many?"

"Yes--how many?"

"The number you want to know?"

"Wretch! Yes--the number?"

"It's rank and file what the boys all comes to when tould off?"

"Dog!"

"Oh, by the saints! it's his dog he has lost, after all! What's his name, ould gentleman, and I'll whistle for him? Is it Snap, or Pincher?"

The Nana half rose from the divan, and deliberately placing a pistol within two feet of Dennis's head, he said, through his clenched teeth, "Answer me, or I fire!"

"Hould hard!" cried Dennis; "an', if I tell yer, will you swear, by the bad saints of Ingy, that you'll be peaceful, and not be blazing away the mother's son of me?"

"By Vishnu! Dowga! Siva!--by Kalee and by Budda, I swear!"

"It's a mighty big oath to hear," said Dennis, "Well, this I'll tell ye. There's four hundred and seventy thousand and twenty-seven, all from the Emerald Isle; and a big gun to every twenty-one men as knows how to fire it off any way."

At this moment the sullen boom of cannon in the distance came upon the night air. Nana Sahib let his arm slowly drop, and listened.

"What was that?"

"Some o' the big guns I made bould to spake of," said Dennis.

"Silence, on your life! Remove him!--remove him, I say! We have sworn not to kill him with our own hand! We--ha! ha!--Remove him!"

The Sepoy guard crowded round Dennis, and he was hustled from the hall. The executioner, with a lounging step, followed.

The Nana now passed his hand across his brow, as though he would fain dissipate the fumes of the wine which had mounted to his brain, and he struggled to his feet. Again, the sullen sound of cannon shook the air, and his face turned a shade darker, as he leant heavily on the shoulder of the Loll Tall.

"They come! they come!" he said, "Blood tracks their path and mine! War to the death! They or I! They come!--the avenging band!--and, as they think, to deliver and to rescue. Ha! ha! they chase us from Cawnpore--they press onward to victory! But India is large, and has he forests and her hills--her morasses and her arid plains--her gods and her temples--her vengeful hearts and sharp swords! They will enter Cawnpore, but not as deliverers! They will chase me from the city, but not as saviours of the lives of those they seek! Blood shall be found, but not running vital through human veins. Stagnant all--and staining the walls and floors of the prison-house! Revenge! revenge! That shall be the Hindoo watchword! Loll Tall!"

"My gracious lord."

"Ha! ha! ha!"

The laugh was a hideous contortion.

"Loll Tall!"

"Light of the Earth!"

"I--ha! ha!--I have prisoners in the Assembly House. Women--helpless women--mere helpless children--ha! ha! Loll Tall--my friend!"

He clutched the minister by the neck and whispered to him. Loll Tall's knees shook as he gasped, "All? all?"

"All!" screamed the Nana; and then, in a deep guttural voice, he added, "Remember! by the first light! The well! the well! the well!"

Loll Tall salaamed low.

The boom of the cannon again sounded.

"Jeffur!" said the Nana: "where is Jeffur?"

All looked around him; but the young mountain chief had disappeared amid the smoke and tumult of the firing at the Highland soldier.

(To be continued in our next.

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Chapter I: The Assembly Room at Cawnpore
Chapter II: The Midnight Revel of Nana Sahib