Part 6 out of 6
"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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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."
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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