Part 2 out of 7
certain if the Maharajah's infatuation will then have really ceased
to exist. My Indian handmaid has been told by one of her
countrymen to warn me of a danger that threatens me. The man did
not tell her wherein this danger consists, but I am at a loss to
know from what quarter it should threaten, if not from the
Heideck shook his head incredulously.
"You have certainly nothing to fear in that quarter; he knows full
well that he would have the whole of the British power against him
dared he only--be it with one word--attempt to wrong the wife of an
English officer. He would be a sheer madman to allow things to
come to that pass."
"Well, after all, he may have some despotic insanity in him. We
must not forget that the time is not so far distant when all these
tyrants disposed absolutely of the life and death and body and soul
of their subjects. Who knows, too, what my husband-- But perhaps
you are right. It may only be a foolish suspicion that has upset
me; and it is just for this reason that I did not wish to speak
about it to any of my husband's messmates. I have opened my heart
to you alone. I know that you are an honourable man, and that
nobody will learn from your mouth what we have spoken about during
this past hour."
"I am very much indebted to you, Mrs. Irwin, for your confidence,
and should be only too willing to do what I could to relieve your
anxiety and trouble. You are apprehensive of some unknown danger,
and you are this night, in your husband's absence, without any
other protection but that of your Indian servants. Would you
permit me to remain close by, until tomorrow daybreak?"
With a blush that made her heart beat faster, Edith Irwin shook her
"No! no! that is impossible; and I do not think that here, in the
protection of my house and among my own servants, any mishap could
befall me. Only in case that something should happen to me at
another time and at another place, I would beg of you to acquaint
Colonel Baird with the subject of our conversation this evening;
people will then perhaps better understand the connexion of
And now Heideck perfectly understood why she had chosen to make
him, a stranger, her confidant; and he thought that he understood
also that it was not so much of an attempt on the part of the
Maharajah as of her own husband's villainy that the unhappy young
wife was afraid. But his delicate feelings restrained him from
saying in outspoken language that he had comprehended what she
wished to convey. It was after all enough that she knew she could
rely upon him; and of this she must have been already sufficiently
convinced, although it was only the fire of his eyes that told her
so, and the long, warm kiss that his lips impressed upon the small,
icy-cold hand which the poor young lady presented to him at
"You will permit me to pay you another call tomorrow, will you
"I will send you word when I expect you. I should not care for you
to meet my husband; perhaps he has some idea that you are friendly
inclined towards me; and that would be sufficient to fill him with
suspicion and aversion towards you."
She clapped her hands, and as the Indian handmaid entered the room
to escort the visitor to the door, Heideck had to leave her last
remark unanswered. But, as on the threshold he again turned to bow
his farewell, his eyes met hers, and though their lips were dumb,
they had perhaps told one another more in this single second than
during the whole time of their long tete-a-tete.
When Heideck stepped into the garden he was scarcely able to find
his way, but having taken a few steps his eyes had become
accustomed to the gloom, and the pale light of the stars showed him
The garden was surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of cactus
plants, low enough to allow a tall man to look over. On having
closed the wooden gate behind him, Heideck stood and gazed back at
the brightly illuminated windows of the house. In the presence of
the charming woman he had manfully suppressed his feelings. No
rash word, betraying the tempest that this nocturnal conversation
had left surging in his bosom, had escaped his lips. He had not
for a moment forgotten that she was the wife of another, and it
would be an infamy to covet her for his wife so long as she was
tied to that other. But he could not disguise from himself the
fact that he yearned towards her with a passionate love. He was
to-day, for the first time, conscious that he loved this woman with
a passion that he had never before felt for another; but there was
nothing intoxicating or pleasurable in this self-confession. It
was rather a feeling of apprehension of coming difficulties and
struggles that would beset him in his passion for this charming
creature. Had she not needed his protection, and had he not
promised to remain on the spot to assist her, he would have escaped
in rapid flight from this struggle within him. Yet, under the
existing circumstances, there could be no question of his doing
this. He had only himself to blame for having given her the right
to count upon his friendship; and it was a behest of chivalry to
deserve her confidence. Incapable of tearing himself from the
place, where he knew his loved one remained, Heideck must have
stayed a quarter of an hour rooted to the spot, and just when he
had resolved--on becoming conscious of the folly of his behaviour--
on turning homewards, he perceived something unusual enough to
cause him to stay his steps.
He saw the house-door, which the Indian maid had a short time
before closed behind him, open, and in the flood of light which
streamed out into the darkness, perceived that several men dressed
in white garments hurried, closely following each other, up the
Remembering Mrs. Irwin's enigmatical references to a danger which
possibly threatened her, and seized by a horrible dread of
something about to happen, he pushed open the garden gate and
rushed towards the house.
He had not yet reached it, when the shrill cry of a woman in
distress fell upon his ear. Heideck drew the revolver he always
carried from his pocket and sprang up the steps at a bound. The
door of the drawing-room, where he had shortly before been in
conversation with the Captain's wife, was wide open, and from it
rang the cries for help, whose desperate tones brought home to the
Captain the certainty that Edith Irwin was in the gravest peril.
Only a few steps, and he saw the young English lady defending
herself heroically against three white-dressed natives, who were
evidently about to carry her off. Her light silk dress was torn to
shreds in this unequal struggle, and so great was Heideck's
indignation at the monstrous brutality of the assailants that he
did not for a moment hesitate to turn his weapon upon the tall,
wild-looking fellow, whose brown hands were roughly clutching the
bare arms of the young lady.
He fired, and with a short, dull cry of pain the fellow reeled to
the ground. The other two, horror-stricken, let go their victim.
One of them drew his sabre from the sheath and rushed upon the
German. Heideck could not fire a second time, being afraid of
harming Edith, and so he threw the revolver down, and with a rapid
motion, for which his adversary was fully unprepared, caught the
arm of the Indian which was raised to strike. Being much more than
his match in physical strength, he wrested the sabre with a quick
jerk from his grasp. The man, now defenceless, gave up the
struggle and like his companion, who had already in silent, cat-
like bounds made his escape, hurried off as fast as his legs would
Heideck did not pursue him. His only thoughts were for Edith, and
his fears were that she had perhaps received some hurt at the hands
of these bandits. In the same moment that the violent hands of the
Indians had let her loose, she had fallen down on the carpet, and
her marble-pale face looked to Heideck as that of a dead person.
Whilst, curiously enough, neither Edith's screams for help nor the
crack of the shot had had the effect of summoning any one of her
servants to her aid, now, when the danger was over, all of a sudden
a few scared brown faces peered in through the open door; and the
peremptory order that Heideck addressed in English to the terrified
maid brought her back to her sense of duty to her mistress.
With her assistance, Heideck carried the fainting woman to a couch,
and perceiving one of the little green flasks of lavender water,
which are never wanting in an English house, on the table, he
employed the strong perfume as well as he was able, whilst the
Indian maid rubbed the soles of her young mistress' feet, and
adopted divers other methods, well known among the natives, of
Under their joint attentions, Edith soon opened her eyes, and gazed
with bewildered looks around her. But on seeing lying on the floor
the corpse of the Indian whom Heideck had shot, her consciousness
returned with perfect clearness.
Shaking off the last traces of faintness with a firm will, she got
"It was you who saved me, Mr. Heideck! You risked your life for
me! How can I thank you enough?"
"Solely, madam, by allowing me to conduct you at once to the
Colonel's house, whose protection you must necessarily claim until
your husband's return. Whoever may have been the instigator of
this hellish plot--whether these rogues were common thieves or
whether they acted on orders, I do not feel myself strong enough,
single-handed, to accept the responsibility for your security."
"You are right," Edith replied gently. "I will get ready at once
and go with you--but this man here," she added, shivering, "is he
dead, or can something be done for him?"
Heideck stooped down and regarded the motionless figure. A single
look into the sallow, drawn face, with the dilated, glassy eyes,
sufficed to assure him that any further examination was useless.
"He has got his reward," he said, "and he has no further claim upon
your generous compassion; but is there no one to help me get the
"They are all out," said the maid; "the butler invited them to
spend a jolly evening with him in the town."
Edith and Heideck exchanged a significant look; neither of them now
doubted in the least that the audacious attack had been the result
of a plot to which the Indian servants were parties, and each
guessed that the other entertained the same suspicion as to who was
the instigator of the shameful outrage.
But they did not utter a syllable about it. It was just because
they had been brought as near to each other by the events of this
night as fate can possibly bring two young beings of different sex,
that each felt almost instinctively the fear of that first word
which probably would have broken down the last barrier between
them. And Captain Irwin's name was not mentioned by either.
It was noon the next day when Captain Irwin stepped out of the
Colonel's bungalow and turned towards home. The interview with his
superior officer appeared to have been serious and far from
pleasant for him, for he was very pale. Red spots were burning on
his cheeks, and his deep-set eyes flashed darkly, as though with
suppressed wrath. A few minutes later the Colonel's horse was led
to the door, and a company of lancers under the command of a
sergeant rode into the courtyard.
The commander came out in full uniform, and, placing himself at the
head of the company, galloped towards the Maharajah's palace.
The cavalry drew up before the palace gates, and Colonel Baird
shouted out in a loud commanding voice to the servants lounging at
the door that he wished to speak to the Maharajah.
A few minutes passed, and a gorgeously attired palace official made
his appearance with the answer that His Highness could not receive
at present; the Colonel would be informed as soon as the audience
could be granted.
The commander leapt from the saddle, and with jingling spurs walked
firmly into the palace, trailing his sword noisily over the marble
"Tell the Prince I desire to see him at once," he called out in a
threatening voice to the palace officials and servants who followed
him in evident embarrassment. It was evident that no one dare
disobey such a peremptory command. All gates flew open before the
Englishman, and he had hardly to wait a minute in the anteroom
before the Prince consented to receive him. On a small high-raised
terrace of the ground floor the Maharajah sat at luncheon. He
purposely did not change his easy attitude when the English
resident approached, and the glaring look which his dark eyes cast
at the incomer was obviously intended to intimidate.
With his helmet on his head and his hand resting on his sword the
Colonel stood straight before the Prince.
"I desire to have a few words with you, Maharajah!"
"And I have instructed my servants to inform you that I am not at
your service. You see I am at luncheon!"
"That, in your case, is no reason for refusing to receive the
representative of His Britannic Majesty. The message you sent me
was an insult, which, if repeated, will have to be punished."
In a transport of rage the Prince sprang up from his chair. He
hurled an abusive epithet into the Colonel's face, and his right
hand sought the dagger in his belt. The attendant, who was about
to serve up to his master a ruddy lobster on a silver dish,
recoiled in alarm. But the Colonel, without moving an inch from
his place, placed the silver hunting whistle that hung from his
shoulder to his mouth. Two shrill calls, and at once the trotting
of horses and the rattle of arms was audible. The high, blue-
striped turbans of the cavalry and the pennons of their lances made
their appearance under the terrace.
"Call my bodyguard!" cried the Prince, with a voice hoarse with
But in a voice of icy calm the Colonel retorted, "If you summon
your bodyguard, Maharajah, you are a dead man. That would be
rebellion; and with rebels we make short shrift."
The Prince pressed his lips together; the rage he had with the
greatest difficulty suppressed caused his body to quiver as in a
paroxysm of fever, but he had to realise that he was here the
weaker, and without a word more he fell back again into his chair.
The Colonel stepped to the balcony of the terrace.
"Sergeant Thomson!" he called down into the park.
Heavy steps were heard on the marble stairs, and the man summoned,
followed by two soldiers, stood at attention before his superior
"Sergeant, do you know the gentleman sitting at that table?"
"Yes, sir! It is His Highness the Maharajah."
"If I gave you orders to arrest this gentleman and bring him to
camp, would you hesitate to obey?"
The sergeant regarded his superior officer as if the doubt of his
loyal military obedience astonished him. He at once gave the two
soldiers who were with him a nod and advanced a step further
towards the Prince, as though at once to carry out the order.
"Stop, sergeant!" cried the Colonel. "I hope that His Highness
will not let matters go as far as that. You are perhaps ready now,
Maharajah, to receive me?"
The Indian silently pointed to the golden chair at the other end of
the table. At a sign from the Colonel the sergeant and the two
"I have a very serious question to put to you, Maharajah."
"Last evening, during Captain Irwin's absence, several rascals
entered his house with the intention of committing an act of
violence on the person of the Captain's wife. What do you know
about the matter, Maharajah?"
"I do not understand, Colonel. What should I know?"
"Perhaps you would be well advised to try and remember. Do you
mean to tell me that you now hear of this business for the first
"Certainly! I have not heard a word about it until now."
"And you have not been told that one of the assailants who was
killed on the spot was one of your servants?"
"No. I have a great many servants, and I am not responsible for
their actions, if they are not done by my orders."
"But this is exactly what I believe to have been the case. You
will hardly expect me to believe that one of your servants would
have dared to make such an attack on his own initiative.
Unfortunately, the other villains have escaped, but one of them
left behind him a sabre belonging to a man in your bodyguard."
It was evident that the Maharajah had a hard struggle to keep his
composure. Endeavouring to conceal his rage behind a supercilious
smile, he answered--
"It is beneath my dignity, Colonel, to answer you."
"There can be no question of dignity justifying you in a refusal to
answer the British resident, when he demands it. You are dealing
not with an ordinary British officer, but with the representative
of His Majesty the Emperor of India. It is your duty to answer, as
it is mine to question you. A refusal might have the most serious
consequences for Your Highness; for the Government Commissioners
that would be despatched from Calcutta to Chanidigot on my report
might be but little impressed by your dignity."
The Indian set his teeth and a wild passionate hate flashed from
his eyes, but, at the same time, he probably reflected that he
would not have been the first of the Indian princes to be deprived
of the last remnant of sham sovereignty for a paltry indiscretion.
"If you consider it necessary to make a report to Calcutta, I
cannot prevent your doing so; but I should think that the Viceroy
would hesitate before giving offence to a faithful ally of England,
and at the very moment when he has to ask him to despatch his
contingent of auxiliary forces."
"Since you refer to this matter--whom have you appointed to command
"My cousin, Tasatat Maharajah."
"And when will he start?"
"In about four weeks, I hope."
The officer shook his head.
"That would be much longer than we can allow. Your force is to
join my detachment, and I am starting at latest in a fortnight from
"You are asking what is impossible. At present we have not a
sufficient number of horses, and I do not know where to procure two
thousand camels in such a short time; and I have not nearly enough
ammunition for the infantry."
"The requisite ammunition can be provided by the arsenal at Mooltan
and debited to your account, Highness. As for the horses and
camels, you will, no doubt, be able to furnish them in time, if you
take the trouble. I repeat that in a fortnight all must be ready.
Do not forget that the punctual execution of these orders is in a
way an earnest of your fidelity and zeal. Every unwarranted delay
and all equivocation on your part will be fatal to you."
The emphasis with which these words were spoken showed how
seriously they were meant, and the Maharajah, whose yellow skin had
for a moment become darker, silently inclined his head.
Colonel Baird rose from his seat.
"As to the affair touching Mrs. Irwin, I demand that a thorough
investigation shall be immediately set on foot, and require that it
shall be conducted with unsparing rigour, without any underhand
tricks and quibbles. The insult that has been offered by some of
your subjects to an officer of His Majesty and a British lady is so
heinous that not only the criminals themselves, but also the
instigators of the crime, must be delivered up to suffer their
well-merited punishment. I allow you twenty-four hours. If I do
not receive a satisfactory report from you before the expiry of
this time, I shall myself conduct the inquiry. You may rest
assured that the information required will then be obtained within
the shortest space of time."
He made a military bow and descended the steps of the terrace, this
time taking the shortest way. The cavalry dashed off amid a
jingling of swords and accoutrements. The Maharajah followed their
departure with lowering, flashing eyes. He then ordered his
servant to fetch his body physician, Mohammed Bhawon. And when, a
few minutes later, the lean, shrivelled little man, with his
wrinkled brown face and penetrating black eyes, dressed entirely in
white muslin, was ushered into his presence, he beckoned to him
graciously, inviting him to be seated by him on the gold-
A second imperious wave of the hand dismissed the attendant.
Placing his arm confidentially round the neck of the physician, the
Maharajah talked long and intimately to him in carefully hushed
tones--but in a friendly and coaxing manner, as one talks to
someone from whom one demands something out of the way, his eyes
flashing the while with passionate rage and deadly hate.
In vain did Heideck, on the day following the night-attack, wait
for a message from Edith, giving him an opportunity of seeing her
again. He was prepared to be taken to task by Irwin on account of
his evening visit at the villa. But the Captain did not show
In the early morning Heideck had been summoned to the Colonel to
report on the incident of the preceding night. The conversation
had been short, and Heideck gained the impression that the Colonel
observed a studied reserve in his questions.
He evidently desired the German to believe that in his own
conviction they had only to deal with bold burglars, who had acted
on their own responsibility. He mentioned quite incidentally that
the dead man had been recognised as one of the Maharajah's
bodyguard. To Heideck's inquiry whether the killing of the man
could involve him in difficulties with the civil authorities, the
Colonel answered with a decisive--
"No. You acted in justifiable self-defence in shooting the fellow
down. I give you my word, you will neither be troubled about it by
the authorities nor by the Maharajah."
His inquiry after Mrs. Irwin's health was also satisfactorily
"The lady, I am glad to say, is in the best of health," said the
Colonel. "She has admirable courage."
The next morning again, Captain Irwin neither made his appearance
nor sent any message. Heideck and Prince Tchajawadse were sitting
in their bungalow at breakfast discussing the important
intelligence brought by the morning papers.
The India Times declared that Russia had infringed the treaties of
London by her invasion of Afghanistan, and that England was thus
justified, nay compelled, to send an army to Afghanistan. It was
earnestly to be hoped that peaceful negotiations would succeed in
averting the threatened conflict. But should the Russian army not
return to Turkestan, England also would be obliged to have recourse
to strong measures. An English force would occupy Afghanistan, and
compel the Ameer, as an ally of the Indian Government, to fulfil
his obligations. To provide for all contingencies, a strong fleet
was being fitted out in the harbours of Portsmouth and Plymouth to
proceed to the Baltic at the right moment.
"Still more significant than this," said Heideck, "is the fact that
the two and a half per cent. Consols were quoted at ninety
yesterday on the London Exchange, while a week ago they stood at
ninety-six. The English are reluctant to declare openly that war
has already commenced."
"War without a declaration of war," the Prince agreed. "In any
case we must hurry, if we are to get over the frontier. I should
be sorry to miss the moment when fighting begins in Afghanistan."
"I can feel with you there. But there really is no time to lose."
"If you agree, we will start this very day. At midnight we shall
arrive at Mooltan, and at noon to-morrow in Attock. To-morrow
night we can be in Peshawar. There we must get our permits to
cross the Khyber Pass. The sooner we get through the Pass the
better, for later we might have difficulties in obtaining
"I hope you are carrying nothing suspicious about you--charts,
drawings, or things of that sort."
The Russian smilingly shook his head. "Nothing but Murray's Guide,
the indispensable companion of all travellers; I should take good
care not to take anything else. As for you, of course you need not
be so careful."
"Because you are a German. There is no war with Germany, but I
should at once be in danger of being arrested as a spy."
"I really believe that neither of us need fear anything, even if we
were recognised as officers. I should think that there are quite
as many English officers on Russian territory at this very moment
as Russian officers here in India."
"As long as war has not been actually declared, it is customary to
be civil to the officers of foreign Powers, but, under the
circumstances, I would not rely upon this. The possibility of
being drumhead court-martialled and shot might not be remote.
Luckily, not even Roentgen rays could discover what a store of
drawings, charts, and fortress plans I keep in my memory. But you
have not answered my question yet, comrade!--are you prepared to
"I am sorry, but I must ask you not to count upon me; I should
prefer to stay here for the present."
On noting the surprise of the Russian he continued: "You yourself
said just now that I, as a German, am in a less precarious
position. Even if I am recognised as an officer, it is hardly
probable that I should find myself in serious difficulties. At
least, not here, where there is nothing to spy into."
He did not betray that it was solely the thought of Mrs. Irwin that
had suddenly made him change his plans. And the Russian evidently
did not trouble further about his motives.
"Do you know what my whole anxiety is, at this moment?" he asked.
"I am afraid of Germany seizing the convenient opportunity, and
attacking us in our rear. Your nation does not love ours; let us
make no mistake about it. There was a time when Teutonism played a
great role in our national life. But all that has changed since
the days of Alexander the Third. We also cannot forget that at the
Berlin Congress Master Bismarck cheated us of the prize of our
victory over the Turks."
"Pardon me, Prince, for contradicting you on this point. The fault
was solely Gortchakow's in not understanding how to follow up his
opportunity. The English took advantage of that. No doubt
Bismarck would have agreed to every Russian demand. But I can
assure you that there is no question of national German enmity
against Russia, in educated circles especially."
"It is possible, but Russia will always consider this aversion as a
factor to be taken into account at critical moments, otherwise the
treaty with France would probably never have been made. I, for
one, can hardly blame your nation for entertaining a certain degree
of hostility towards us. We possess diverse territories
geographically belonging more naturally to Germany. If your
country could take eight million peasants from your superfluous
population and settle them in Poland it would be a grand thing for
her. Were I at the head of your Government I should, first, with
Austria's consent, seize Russian Poland, and then crush Austria,
annex Bohemia, Moravia, Carinthia, Styria and the Tyrol as German
territory, and limit the Austrian dynasty to Transleithania."
Heideck could not help smiling.
"Those are bold fancies, Prince! Rest assured that nobody in
Germany seriously entertains such plans."
"Strange, if that is so. I should think it would seem the most
natural thing for you. What, then, do you mean by a German Empire,
if the most German countries do not belong to it? Do you not
consider the population of Austria's German provinces is more
closely related to you than that of North-East Prussia? But
possibly you are too conscientious and too treaty-abiding to carry
out a policy of such dimensions."
Heideck, not unintentionally, turned the conversation back to the
original subject of discussion.
"Which route do you intend taking? Have you decided for Peshawar,
or are you also taking Quetta into your consideration?"
"I have not as yet quite made up my mind. In any case, I mean to
take the shortest way back to our army."
"If that is so, I would suggest Quetta. Most probably the Russian
main army will turn southwards. Their first objective will
probably be Herat. The best roads from the north and north-west
converge on that point. It is the meeting-place of the caravan
roads from India, Persia, and Turkestan. In Herat a large army can
be concentrated, for it is situated in fertile country. Once your
advance guard is firmly established, 60,000 men can be conveyed
there in a relatively short time. If the English advance to
Kandahar the collision between the forces will take place at that
point. But the Russians will outnumber the English so greatly that
the latter will hardly venture the march upon Kandahar. Reinforced
by the Afghan forces, General Ivanov, with 100,000 men, can push on
without hindrance to the Bolan Pass."
"If he should succeed," said the Prince, "the way would then be
open for him to the valley of the Indus. For England would be
unable to hold the Pass against such a force."
"Is it really so difficult to cross the Pass, as it is said to be?"
"The Pass is about fifty versts in length. In 1839 the Bengal
corps of the Indus army advanced through it against the Afghan
army, and managed without difficulty to take with them twenty-four-
pound howitzers as well as eighteen-pound field guns."
"If I remember rightly they arrived, without having met with any
opposition worth mentioning, at Kandahar, and occupied the whole of
Afghanistan. But, in spite of this, they finally suffered a
disastrous defeat. Of their 15,000 men only 4,500 succeeded in
returning in precipitate flight through the Khyber Pass back to
Prince Tchajawadse laughed ironically.
"Fifteen thousand? Yes, if one can trust English sources of
information! But I can assure you, according to better
information, that the English in 1839 advanced upon Afghanistan
with no less than 21,000 combatants and a transport of 70,000 men
and 60,000 camels. They marched through the Bolan Pass, took
Kandahar and Ghazni, entered Cabul, and placed Shah Shuja upon the
throne. They did not suffer any decisive defeat in battle, but a
general insurrection of the Afghans drove them from their positions
and entirely wiped out their force."
"I admire your memory, Prince!"
"Oh! all this we are obliged to have off by heart in the General
Staff College, if we are not to be miserably ploughed in
examination. In November, 1878, we were rather weak in Central
Asia through having to devote all our resources to bringing the war
with Turkey to a close, and so the English again entered
Afghanistan. They meant to take advantage of our embarrassments to
bring the country entirely under their suzerainty. They advanced
in three columns by way of the Bolan Pass, the Kuram Valley, and
the Khyber Pass. But on this occasion too they were unable to
stand their ground, and had to retire with great loss. No Power
will ever be able to establish itself in Afghanistan without the
sympathies of the natives on its side. And the sympathies of the
Afghans are on our side. We understand how to manage these people;
the English are solely infidels in their eyes."
"Do you believe that Russia merely covets the buffer-state
Afghanistan, or do its intentions go further?"
"Oh, my dear comrade, at present we mean India. For more than a
hundred years past we have had our eye on this rich country. The
final aim of all our conquests in Central Asia has been India. As
early as 1801 the Emperor Paul commanded the Hetman of the army of
the Don, Orlov, to march upon the Ganges with 22,000 Cossacks. It
is true that the campaign at that time was considered a far simpler
matter than it really is. The Emperor died, and his venturesome
plan was not proceeded with. During the Crimea General Kauffmann
offered to conquer India with 25,000 men. But nothing came of this
project. Since then ideas have changed. We have seen that only a
gradual advance can lead us to our objective. And we have not lost
time. In the west we have approached Herat, until now we are only
about sixty miles away, and in the east, in the Pamirs, we have
pushed much nearer still to India."
"It is most interesting to hear all this. I have done my best to
get at the lie of the land, but till now the Pamir frontiers have
always been a mystery to me."
"They mystify most people, you will find. Only a person who has
been there can understand the situation. And he who has been there
does not know the frontier line either, for there is, in fact, no
exact boundary. The Pamir plateau lies to the north of Peshawar,
and is bounded in the south by the Hindu-Kush range. The
territorial spheres of government are extremely complicated. The
Ameer of the neighbouring country of Afghanistan claims the
sovereignty over the khanates Shugnan and Roshan, which form the
larger portion of the Pamirs. Moreover, he likewise raises
pretensions to the province of Seistan, which is also claimed by
Persia. Now this province is of peculiar importance, because the
English could seize it from Baluchistan without much difficulty,
and, if so, they would obtain a strong flank position to the south
of our line of march, Merv-Herat, by way of Kandahar-Quetta."
"The conditions are, certainly, very complicated."
"So complicated, indeed, that for many years past we have had
differences with the English touching the frontier question. Our
British friends have over and over again forced the Ameer of
Afghanistan to send troops thither; an English expedition for the
purpose of frontier delimitation has been frequently camped on the
Pamir Mountains. Of course, in this respect, we have not been
behindhand either. I myself have before now taken part in such a
"And it really was merely a scientific expedition?"
"Let us call it a military scientific excursion!" replied the
Prince, smiling. "We had 2,000 Cossacks with us, and got as far as
the Hindu-Kush--the Baragil Pass and another, unnamed, which we
called, in honour of our colonel, the Yonov Pass. There we were
confronted by Afghan troops, and defeated them at Somatash. By
order of the English, who were paying him subsidies, Ameer Abdur-
Rahman was obliged to resent this and petition their assistance.
An English envoy arrived in Cabul, and negotiations were entered
into, which we contrived to spin out sufficiently to gain time for
the erection of small forts in the Pamirs. Finally an arrangement
was arrived at in London to the effect that the Pench should be the
boundary between Russia and Afghanistan in the Pamir territory. A
few months later we were met by an English expedition on the
Sarykul; we were to determine the exact boundary-line together. It
was great fun; our English comrades tried hard not to let us see
that they had orders to be complacent. We had soon discovered it,
and drew the line just as we pleased. The upshot was that only a
very narrow strip of land between Bukhara and the Indian border
remained to the Ameer, and that he had to undertake neither to
station troops there nor to erect fortifications. Our territory
had been pushed forward up to within about twelve miles of English
territory. It is there that we are closest to India, and we can,
if we choose, at any time descend from the passes of the Hindu-Kush
to the Chitral Valley, within the British sphere of influence."
A servant, bringing an invitation to Heideck from Mrs. Baird to
dine with them that evening, interrupted the conversation. The
Captain was scarcely able to disguise his pleasure; he had no doubt
that this invitation was due to Edith, and was happy in the
prospect of seeing her again.
"You are on good terms with the Colonel," said the Prince, as soon
as the servant had left with Heideck's letter of acceptance. "This
can be of the greatest assistance to you under present
circumstances. Do make him give you a passport and come with me."
"I am sorry, Prince! I should be delighted to travel in such
pleasant company, but business keeps me here a little longer for
"Well--as you please--I must not try to over-persuade you; but I
will not abandon the hope that we shall meet again, and it is
unnecessary to assure you that you can count upon me in any
situation in which you may find yourself."
THE GERMAN EMPEROR
The German Emperor was paying his annual visit to the moors at
Springe. But this year he had little time to spare for the noble
sport which usually brought him fresh vigour and recreation in the
refreshing solitude of the forest. The telegraph was busy without
interruption, and statesmen, diplomats, and high officers arrived
daily at the hunting-box, and held long conferences with the
Emperor. The windows of his study were lit up till late at night,
and the early morning generally found the monarch again at his
After a night half spent at work, to-day the yearning for a breath
of fresh air had taken the Emperor at early dawn into the silent
A light hoar-frost had fallen during the night, covering the ground
with fine white crystals. The shadows of dawn still lingered
between the tree-trunks. But in the east a glowing light suffused
the pale, greyish-blue sky.
The Emperor directed his gaze in that direction. He halted under a
tall, ancient fir-tree, and his lips moved in silent prayer. He
asked for counsel and strength from Him who decides the fate of
nations, to enable him to arrive at his weighty and difficult
decision at this grave crisis. Suddenly, the sound of human voices
struck his ear. He perceived two men, evidently unaware of his
presence, coming towards him hard by, on the small huntsman's track
in the wood, engaged in lively conversation. The Emperor's keen
huntsman's eye recognised in one of the two tall gentlemen his
Master of Horse, Count Wedel. The other was a stranger to him.
It was the stranger who now said--
"It is a great pleasure to me, at last, to be able to talk to you
face to face. I have deeply mourned the rift in our old friendship
and fellowship. On my side, the irritation is long since past. I
did not wish to enter the Prussian service at that time, because I
could not bear the thought of our old, brave Hanoverian army having
ceased to exist, and I was angry with you, my dear Ernest, because
you, an old Hanoverian Garde du Corps officer, appeared to have
forgotten the honour due to your narrower Fatherland. But the
generous resolution of the Emperor to revive Hanoverian traditions,
to open a new home to our old corps of officers, and to inscribe
our glorious emblems upon the flags and standards of these new
regiments, has made everything right. I hope the time is not far
distant when also those Hanoverians, who still hold aloof in anger,
will allow that a war lord of such noble disposition is the chosen
shepherd and leader of the universal Fatherland."
"Well, I have never misjudged you and your iron will. Meanwhile,
you have thoroughly made acquaintance with the world, and since you
are a merchant prince of Hamburg, I suppose you are the possessor
of a large fortune."
"My life has been both interesting and successful, but I have not
got what is best after all. I long for a sphere of activity in
keeping with my disposition. I am a soldier, as my forbears have
been for centuries before me. Had I entered the Prussian army in
1866, I might to-day be in command, and might perhaps in a short
time have the honour to lead my corps into the field under the eyes
of our Emperor himself."
"You believe Germany will be brought into this war? Against whom
should we fight?"
"If our Emperor is really the sharp-sighted and energetic spirit
for which I take him--"
The monarch did not care to let the gentlemen talk on longer in
ignorance of his presence.
"Hallo! gentlemen!" he called out merrily. "Do not betray your
secrets without knowing who is listening!"
"His Majesty!" the Count said under his breath, taking off his hat
and bowing low. His companion followed his example, and as the
Emperor looked at him with a questioning glance, said--
"At your Majesty's command; Grubenhagen, of Hamburg."
The monarch's eyes travelled over the tall, broad-shouldered figure
of the fine man, and he asked smilingly--
"You have been in the service?"
"Yes, your Majesty--as lieutenant in the Royal Hanoverian Garde du
"There were then commoners as officers in that regiment."
"May it please your Majesty, my name is Baron von Grubenhagen, but
the 'Baron' was in the way of the merchant."
The open and manly bearing of the Baron, combined with the
deference due to his sovereign, appeared to please the Emperor. He
gazed long into the clear-cut, energetic face, with its bold and
"You have seen much of the world?"
"Your Majesty, I was in America, and for many years in England,
before entering business."
"A good merchant often sees more than a diplomatist, for his view
is unbiassed, and freer. I love your Hamburg; it is a loyal city,
full of intelligence and enterprise."
"The Alster people would reckon themselves happy to hear your
Majesty say so."
"Do not the Hamburgers suffer great losses from the war?"
"Many people in Hamburg think as I do, your Majesty."
"And what is your opinion?"
"That, under the glorious reign of your Majesty, all Germans on the
Continent will be united to one whole grand nation, to which all
Germanic races of the north will be attracted by the law of
gravitation--Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians."
"You have the courage of your opinions."
"Your Majesty, we live in an age, the characteristic of which is
the formation of great empires."
The monarch interrupted him with a friendly movement of his hand.
"Let us go in to breakfast, gentlemen. Baron von Grubenhagen, you
are my guest. I shall be interested to hear more of your bold
Immediately after his return to the hunting-box, the Imperial
Chancellor, who had arrived from Berlin by a night train, had been
announced to the Emperor. With the monarch's suite he also was
present at the breakfast-table, probably not a little surprised to
find a strange guest in the company of the Emperor, who was
evidently very kindly disposed to him.
After breakfast, when the company were seated around the table in
the smoke-room, and when, upon a sign from the Emperor, the aide-
de-camp du jour had ordered the servants to withdraw, the Emperor
William turned with a grave face to Baron von Grubenhagen.
"And now let us hear, openly and without reserve, how, according to
your observation, the German nation regards the possibility of a
The Baron raised his fine, characteristic head. Looking openly and
naturally into the Emperor's eyes, he replied--
"Your Majesty, no one is in doubt that it would, on the one hand,
be a fatal step to declare war. By it many thousands will be sent
to an early grave, lands devastated, and commerce perhaps ruined
for many long years to come; and countless tears are the inevitable
concomitants of war. But there is a supreme law, to which all
others must yield--the commandment to preserve honour unsullied. A
nation has its honour, like the individual. Where this honour is
at stake, it must not shrink from war. For the conservation of all
other of this world's goods is dependent upon the conservation of
the national honour; where peace has to be preserved at any price,
even at the price of national honour, all the benefits and
blessings of peace will by degrees be lost, and the nation falls a
prey to its neighbours. Iron is more precious than gold, for it is
to iron we owe all our possessions. What use would be our army and
navy? They are the outward sign of the political truth, that only
courage and power are guarantees for the continuance and prosperity
of a nation. Russia and France have joined hands to fight England.
And the German nation feels it is time to take its share in these
struggles. But nowhere is there any uncertainty as to which side
Germany ought to join. Our nation has for a long time past been
exasperated by English intrigues and encroachments. The human
heart knows no other feeling so profound and powerful as the sense
of justice, and the sense of justice has constantly been wounded by
England's policy. Only one word from the Emperor is needed to
strike the deepest chords in the German soul, and to raise a flame
of enthusiasm that will swallow up all internal dissension and all
party quarrels. We must not ask what might possibly happen; we
must obey the dictates of the hour. If Germany fights with the
whole of her strength, she must be victorious. And victory is
always its own justification."
FIVE LAKHS OF RUPEES
At noon Prince Tchajawadse departed northwards accompanied by his
page Georgi and his Indian servant. Heideck had observed great
reserve during the short time he had known the beautiful
Circassian, and had never betrayed that he had guessed the secret
of her disguise. She seemed to be grateful, for although they
never had exchanged words, she smiled at him and gave him very
friendly glances at their chance meetings. There could be no doubt
concerning the relation of the beautiful page and his master.
Heideck may have felt some jealousy--he hardly ever had seen a more
charming girl than this Circassian beauty in her picturesque dress;
but all his thoughts were with Edith. The Russian was indeed a
lucky fellow to have found such a charming travelling companion.
She never forgot her assumed part of the page, when strangers were
near, and yet it was clear to Heideck that she in truth was master.
A single glance of her flashing eyes was sufficient to keep the
Prince in order, when under the influence of intoxicants he would
have otherwise given way to his brutal instincts. In her presence
he never dared to use ambiguous and frivolous language.
With sincere regret Heideck saw the Prince depart. He did not
share the hope, which the latter expressed to him, that they would
meet again. But he remembered him as one of his most interesting
acquaintances and a very charming comrade notwithstanding those
little foibles he had noticed.
. . . . . . .
It struck seven o'clock when Heideck in full evening dress entered
the Colonel's drawing-room. He felt a wave of keen joy surging
through him when he noticed that it was empty, except for Edith
Irwin. The horrible events she had passed through had left her a
little pale. To him she seemed more beautiful than ever. She met
him with a smile and gave him her hand, which he kissed with great
"Mrs. Baird and the Colonel beg to be excused for a quarter of an
hour," said she. "The Colonel has still much to do with the
preparations for the mobilisation. Mrs. Baird is suffering from
one of her bad attacks of headache and has had to lie down for a
Heideck's face told Edith clearly enough that he gladly forgave his
host and hostess this little impoliteness. After having taken a
chair opposite hers, he began--
"I hope most sincerely, Mrs. Irwin, that you have had no annoyance
on account of my late call. All day long yesterday this was on my
With a sad smile she replied, "No, no. On the contrary, my husband
has asked me to tell you that he is very sorry not to be able to
thank you personally for your heroic behaviour. He hopes to be
able to do so later on. He has been ordered to go to Lahore in
great haste and for an indefinite period. There was not time for
him to see you, in order to thank you."
Heideck imagined that he knew what this order meant. But he only
asked: "And are you going to stay on here under the protection of
"Nothing definite has been arranged as yet. Nobody knows what may
happen to-morrow. It is certain that extraordinary events are in
preparation. In case of war, we poor women have to do as we are
told, you know."
"And the Maharajah? You have not heard about him?"
"Colonel Baird saw the Prince officially yesterday; but I do not
know anything more; I had not the courage to ask. It seems to me
quite certain that the Maharajah is hostilely disposed towards the
Colonel. The event which happened here to-day is, I think,
immediately to be connected with the Maharajah. I know the ways of
these Indian despots!"
"May I venture to ask what has happened?"
"An attempt to poison the Colonel at his own table."
"To poison the Colonel?" asked Heideck surprised.
"Yes. Colonel Baird's habit is to drink a tumbler of ice-water
before each meal. To-day, at tiffin, the Indian butler gave it him
as usual. The water appeared to him rather cloudy. He did not
drink it at once, and after a few minutes he noticed distinctly a
white sediment at the bottom of the tumbler. When he called for
the Indian butler, the man had disappeared, and has not been found
yet. That increased our suspicion that an attempt at poisoning had
been made. A small quantity of the fluid had been put into a dish
which contained the food for the dogs. It was then placed into a
rat-trap which contained five or six of these ravenous beasts. Ten
minutes later they were dead. The remains of the water have been
given to Doctor Hopkins. He is going to make a chemical analysis,
and to tell us about it at dinner-time."
Before Heideck could find the time again to resume the discussion
of Edith's personal affairs, Mrs. Baird came in, accompanied by the
Colonel and his adjutant. They all shook hands with him in the
most charming way, and after Doctor Hopkins had also arrived, a
small man with a very vivacious manner, they went in to dinner.
Perhaps the Colonel would have preferred that nothing should be
said in Heideck's presence about the poisoning attempt. His wife's
impatience and excitement, however, could not he restrained.
"Well, Doctor Hopkins," she asked, "and what have you found?"
The Doctor evidently had been waiting for this.
"One of the most deadly poisons the Indians know," he answered.
"The diamond powder. There is no antidote for it, and it is
impossible to trace it in the body of the poisoned person, because
it is of vegetable nature, and gets absorbed in the tissues."
A cry of horror escaped Mrs. Baird. She covered her eyes with her
Mr. Hopkins continued: "I have never before come across the diamond
powder, notwithstanding its use is said not to be uncommon. The
preparation of it is a secret, anxiously guarded by the Indian
physicians. It seems to play the same part at the Courts of the
Indian princes that the celebrated 'aqua tuffana' did in the Middle
Ages amongst the Italian despots."
These learned explanations of Doctor Hopkins were not adapted to
raise the spirits of the company. Everyone remembered that this
horrible attempt had only been frustrated by a lucky chance. The
Colonel, who seemed to feel very uncomfortable on listening to the
Doctor's conversation, gave a sign to his wife to rise, rather
sooner than usual.
Tea and drinks cooled in ice were served in the verandah,
charmingly illuminated by coloured lamps. Heideck had only had
eyes for Edith all the evening. But he had avoided anxiously
everything which might have betrayed his feelings. And, even now,
he would not have dared to join her in the half-dark corner of the
verandah, where she had seated herself, unless she had called out
to him asking him to take the empty seat at her side.
"Mr. Heideck, here is another chair," she said, in a perfectly
natural voice, drawing aside the pleats of her foulard skirt in
order to let him pass. Again their eyes met unnoticed by the
others. The violent beating of his heart would have told him that
he was entirely in the thraldom of this beautiful young woman had
he not known it already.
Suddenly the well-known shouts and cries of Indian drivers were
heard. The conversation stopped and everybody looked and observed
with astonishment the curious procession of waggons which they
could see approaching, as the night was pretty clear. The Colonel
excepted, no one understood the meaning of this spectacle. There
were five waggons drawn by richly harnessed bullocks and escorted
by a bodyguard of the Maharajah on horseback. Their captain rode
till close to the verandah, then dismounted, and went up the steps.
His mien was distinguished, and at the same time dignified. He was
young and handsome, with Greek features and big, melancholy eyes.
He wore a blouse of yellow silk, held around the waist by a shawl
of violet silk, English riding-breeches, and high, yellow boots. A
string of pearls was laid round his turban of violet-striped silk,
and diamonds, large as hazel-nuts, sparkled on his breast as they
caught the light of the lamp.
"That is Tasatat Rajah, the cousin and favourite of the Prince,"
whispered Edith, in answer to a question which she read in
Heideck's face. "No doubt the Maharajah is sending him with a
The Colonel had risen and gone to meet his visitor, but he neither
shook hands with him nor asked him to be seated.
"Greetings, long life and happiness, sahib, to you in the name of
His Highness," he began with that noble air peculiar to the high-
born Indian. "In token of his friendship and his respect he is
sending you a small gift. He hopes you will accept it as a proof
that you have forgotten the conversation which you had yesterday
with His Highness in consequence of an unfortunate
"His Highness is very kind," was the Colonel's answer, in a voice
rather formal, "may I ask in what consists the present he is
"Every one of these five waggons, sahib, contains a hundred
"That is as much as five lakhs?"
"It is so. And I ask you once more kindly to favour His Highness
with a reply."
The Colonel considered a moment, and then answered with the same
quiet demeanour and impenetrable expression, "Thanks to you,
Prince. Have the contents of these waggons carried into the hall.
The Viceroy will decide what is to be done with it later on."
The Prince's face clearly showed his disappointment. For a little
while he remained there standing as if considering what to do. But
recognising that the Englishman wished to end the conversation, he
touched the middle of his forehead with his right hand and
descended the steps of the verandah. With the assistance of
English soldiers a great many small casks were carried into the
hall. The procession moved on again with the same cries and shouts
which had accompanied its approach and soon disappeared.
A smile flitted across the Colonel's face, erstwhile so
unemotional, as he turned towards his guests, probably feeling that
some sort of explanation for his attitude was due to them.
"I consider this half-million a very desirable acquisition towards
the war expenses of my detachment. But these Orientals never can
understand our way of thinking, and our ideas of honour will always
remain an insoluble riddle to them. With a present, that he, of
course, has meant for me personally, this despot believes he has
smoothed over everything that could possibly spell trouble for him-
-the plot against Mrs. Irwin as well as the diamond powder
business. For, of course, he has already been informed by the
butler who has disappeared of the failure of his plot, and he is
well aware of what is in store for him if I report the scandalous
story to Calcutta."
It was the first time the Colonel had openly declared his
conviction that the Maharajah was the author of both plots. No
doubt he had especial reasons for this, and Heideck fancied he had
fathomed them, when, in reply to the question of the regimental
surgeon as to his intention of sending in such a report, the
"I do not know--I really do not know yet. According to the
principle, fiat justitia, pereat mundus, I ought to do so, no
doubt. But the pereat mundus is, after all, a debatable point.
Probably war is imminent, and I am afraid the Viceroy would not be
grateful to me were I to add fresh cares to all his other
anxieties. At present these Indian princes are indispensable to
us. They have to place their troops at our disposal, and we must
not have any enemies in the rear when our army is engaged in
Afghanistan. A harsh procedure against one of them, and all these
princes might revolt. And a single defeat, or even only the false
report of one, might entail incalculable consequences."
Doctor Hopkins assented without further discussion, and also the
other officers present shared the opinion of their chief. As
usual, during these last days a lively discussion had arisen as to
the probabilities of war, and as to the probable course events
would take. Heideck, certain of learning nothing new from the
mouths of these gentlemen, all so confident of victory, utilised
the opportunity afforded by the noisy conversation to ask Edith, in
a low voice--
"Not only political considerations, but also your wishes, have
prevented the Colonel from reporting the outrage of the other night
to Calcutta--is it not so?"
"Yes, I begged him not to do so," she answered in the same low
whisper. "But to-day, after the abominable plot upon his life, I
told him that I do not ask any longer for any consideration to be
shown me, or my--husband."
"You seriously think it possible that Captain Irwin--"
"Pray do not let us talk about it now, and not here, Mr. Heideck,"
she begged, raising her eyes to him imploringly. "You cannot have
any idea how terribly I suffer from these dreadful thoughts. I
feel as if before me lay only dark, impenetrable night. And when I
reflect that some day I may be again forced--"
She did not finish her sentence, but Heideck knew well enough what
she had omitted to say. An irresistible impulse made him answer--
"You must not allow yourself to be driven to take any course
repugnant to your heart, Mrs. Irwin. And who is there who would
dare to attempt to force you?"
"Oh, Mr. Heideck, you have no idea what regard for so-called 'GOOD
FORM' means for us English people. No scandal--for Heaven's sake,
no scandal! That is the first and prime law of our Society. Kind
as the Colonel and his wife have been to me until now, I am very
much afraid they would drop me, without question of my guilt or
innocence, if I should allow anything to take place which they
consider a scandal."
"And yet you must obey solely your own feeling--only the commands
of your heart and conscience, Mrs. Irwin; not the narrow views of
the Colonel or any other person. You must not become a martyr to a
prejudice--I simply cannot hear the idea. And you must promise me--"
He stopped short. A sudden lull in the general conversation caused
him to be silent also. And he fancied he saw the intelligent and
penetrating eyes of Mrs. Baird directed upon himself with an
expression of mistrust. He was displeased with himself.
Displeased, because the intoxicating proximity of the adored being,
and his aversion for her husband, that had almost increased to
passionate hatred, had led him into the danger of compromising her.
But when, soon afterwards, he took his leave, together with the
other guests, a soft pressure of Edith's hand gave him the
delightful assurance that she was far from being angry with him.
Every day now brought fresh news, and the threatening spectre of
war drew nearer and nearer. The order for mobilisation had been
given. The field-troops were separated from the depot, destined to
remain in Chanidigot. The infantry were provided with ammunition,
and were daily exercised in firing and bayonet drill. Horses were
bought up and a transport organised, which comprised an enormous
number of camels. The commissariat stores were replenished, and
the officers eagerly studied the maps of Afghanistan.
According to Heideck's ideas of mobilisation progress was much too
slow, and the Maharajah appeared still less in a hurry with the
equipment of his auxiliary troops.
Military trains from the South passed without cessation through
Chanidigot, carrying horses and troops further north. Their
immediate goal was Peshawar, where Lieutenant-General Sir Bindon
Blood, Commander-in-Chief of the Punjab Army Corps, had
concentrated a large field-army. Heideck noticed with surprise
that the regiments which were being hurried up had been drafted
from the most heterogeneous corps, so that, therefore, the tactical
union of these corps, as well as their organisation, had been
destroyed. No doubt the Government wished, at any cost, to mass
large bodies of troops as rapidly as possible on the frontier, and
to this end left all calculation of later events out of
consideration. Viscount Kitchener, the Commander-in-Chief of
India, as well as the Viceroy and the Cabinet Ministers in London,
seemed to entertain no doubt that the English army would be
victorious from the very beginning, and could not possibly be
forced to retire to the fortresses of the North-west provinces.
The contempt with which the officers in Chanidigot talked about the
Russian army and the Afghans sufficiently confirmed this general
At last it was clear that war had become a fait accompli. On the
tenth day after the announcement of the Russian invasion of
Afghanistan uncertainty was at an end.
The Cabinet in London had inquired in St. Petersburg as to the
meaning of that invasion, and it received the answer that Russia
felt compelled to come to the rescue of the Ameer at his request,
for the Afghan ruler was anxious for his independence, in view of
the measures which were taken by England. Nothing was further
removed from the intention of the Russian Government than to
challenge England, but she felt it impossible to look on at the
embarrassment of the Ameer with equanimity, and so determined to
fight for the independence of Afghanistan.
Thereupon England declared war, and Lieutenant-General Blood
received the order immediately to advance through the Khyber Pass
into Afghanistan. Further, Lieutenant-General Hunter, the
Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army Corps, was ordered to march
with an army from Quetta towards Kandahar. At the same time an
English fleet was to leave Portsmouth.
Although the English papers published in India had evidently been
instructed to maintain silence about matters which might place
England in an unfavourable light, they furnished a good deal of
news which gave the intelligent reader all manner of clues as to
the present warlike situation. It could be seen that England was
also arming against France. Only as to the attitude of Germany in
the universal war that threatened every clue was wanting.
The intention of removing the families of the military and civil
officers, stationed in Chanidigot, south to Bombay, or to Calcutta
in the east, had soon been dropped. The spreading of the plague in
both cities and the difficulties of the journey were against it;
for the railways were completely given over to the transport of
troops. It was determined that the women and children should, for
the time being, remain with the depot in Chanidigot. Captain
Irwin, who had returned from Lahore and who, apart from his duty,
in which he displayed an almost feverish zeal, led the life of a
hermit, was appointed to command this depot. But his wife, whom he
had not yet once met since his arrival, was not to be placed with
the others under his charge. Colonel Baird, who had given way to
his wife's urgent entreaties to be allowed with her children to
accompany him to Quetta, had asked Edith Irwin to join them.
Orders had been given that the detachment should start in
conjunction with the forces of the Maharajah of Chanidigot.
Heideck had obtained permission to accompany it. The Colonel was
well disposed towards him, and it was evidently pleasant for the
former to have about him, as protector to the ladies, such a
chivalrous man, upon whom he could always implicitly rely when his
military duties prevented him from looking after them. On the day
preceding the start Heideck was at tiffin with the Colonel, and
coming events were being discussed in a serious manner, when from
outside the dull screech of an automobile's horn caught their ears.
Two minutes later, covered with dust and with his face a dark red
from the heat, an officer appeared on the verandah who introduced
himself as Captain Elliot, General Blood's adjutant.
"The General," he said, adopting the proper military attitude, "has
sent me to report that all the plans have been altered. Your
orders are not to march to Quetta, but to hasten your preparations
and start as soon as possible for Mooltan."
"And what is the reason for this change of orders?" asked the
"The Russians are coming down from the Hindu-Kush, and are marching
down the valley of the Indus, thus taking our army in the rear.
General Blood is marching south, so as not to be cut off. I am
sent round to direct all detachments upon Mooltan."
"No! is that possible? Is there not perhaps some mistake? How can
the Russians cross the Hindu-Kush?"
"I have myself seen Russian infantry in the gorges of the Indus
Valley, Colonel. The march upon Herat and the occupation of Cabul
under General Ivanov were mainly blinds. Ivanov, with twenty
thousand men under his command, and reinforced by a like number of
Afghans, is advancing from Cabul upon the Khyber Pass. But the
main attack will be made from the Pamirs in the direction of Rawal-
Pindi and Lahore."
"Rawal-Pindi?" exclaimed the Colonel. "If the Russians come down
the Indus, they will first of all arrive at Attock, and this strong
fortress will check their advance long enough."
"Let us hope so, but we must not absolutely reckon upon it. The
strength of the Russian army is not at present known to us; but
their advance has evidently been magnificently planned. Their
engineers must have done perfect wonders in the difficult passes of
the Hindu-Kush; and these Russian soldiers are like iron."
"Well," said the Colonel, "we will soon show them that we are of
The adjutant handed over the written instructions, and after having
read them, the Colonel replied--
"To-morrow morning early I start for Mooltan, and expect to arrive
there with my detachment by tomorrow evening. The commissariat and
ammunition columns will, of course, not be able to get there until
a few days later, and then only in part. What in all the world can
have possessed the General not to meet the enemy in Rawal-Pindi?
That town is fortified and surrounded by strong forts; it is one of
the greatest depots in India. Why must the General retire so far
back, so far as Mooltan?"
"The General is expecting a decisive battle, and intends for the
purpose to co-operate with the army of General Hunter. But both
armies are, at present, equidistant from Mooltan, and the Russians
would, the General thinks, hesitate to advance so far, from fear of
having their left flank attacked from Lahore. In Lahore there is
at present a force of ten thousand men, which is being reinforced
every day from Delhi."
With the departure of the adjutant, who, owing to the exigencies of
duty, was obliged to decline the Colonel's offer of a seat at
table, the luncheon-party broke up, and the Colonel made apologies
to his guest for being unable, under existing circumstances, to
devote more time to him. His officers accompanied him, and soon
after Mrs. Baird was also called away. Quite unexpectedly Heideck
and Edith Irwin found themselves alone.
For a few moments neither spoke, as though neither wished to give
expression to the feelings that filled their hearts. The young
wife first broke silence.
"You were intending to go with us into the field, Mr. Heideck, and
I know that your decision was prompted by a desire to assist us
women with your protection. But now all the arrangements are
altered, and I beg of you to abandon your intention."
He looked at her surprisedly. "What, Mrs. Irwin? do you intend to
deprive me of the pleasure I had looked forward to of accompanying
you, and being your protector? And why?"
"You also have just heard that all the arrangements are altered.
Had we gone to Quetta, then, as soon as our army had crossed the
frontier, you would have been easily able to find another place;
but if the battle takes place on Indian soil you will find yourself
in constant danger."
"In my quality as foreigner? Certainly. I should, under the
circumstances, be exposed to much unpleasantness, but before I
change my plans, I should like to hear from you if you, too, intend
to remain with the troops under these altered conditions?"
"Since Mrs. Baird has given me permission to accompany her, yes."
"And you believe that I shall show less courage than you, who will
also certainly be exposed to serious risks?"
"How could I doubt your courage, Mr. Heideck? But that is, after
all, something quite different. The place of us soldiers' wives is
at the side of our husbands, whom we have followed to India. And,
moreover, we are, perhaps, nowhere safer than with the army. But
you have no concern with this war and with our army. If you, now,
were to leave here to take up your quarters in one of the hill
stations far from the seat of war, and where you were not exposed
to the risks of battle and the plague, you would be certainly
allowed, as a German merchant, to remain there unmolested."
"And why do you not yourself go to such a hill station, Mrs. Irwin?
I should suggest Simla, if it were not so near to the seat of war.
But do, pray, go to Poona, or into one of the other mountain
stations in the south."
The young lady shook her head.
"I expect that that would be going straight to destruction."
"And what, may I ask, makes you think this?"
"I have already told you that in case of war English women are,
here in India, only tolerably safe when in the immediate
neighbourhood of soldiers. If we were to be defeated, the revenge
the people would take on its oppressors would be terrible. Are you
aware of the cruel instincts which slumber in these men, apparently
so polite and submissive? The defenceless women and children
would, without doubt, be their first victims. It was so in the
Mutiny of 1857, and so it will be again under similar conditions.
Nana Sahib and his crew wallowed at that time in the fiendish
tortures of white women and children, and shed streams of innocent
blood. And the civilisation of the lower classes has certainly
since then not improved."
"You speak as if you considered a defeat of your army probable."
"I cannot get rid of my melancholy forebodings. And you, yourself,
Mr. Heideck--please be straightforward with me! When the adjutant
was standing there a little while ago, and when every one of his
words showed the want of circumspection in our generals, I watched
your face, and I read more from its expression than you have any
idea of. I will not try to enter into your secrets, but I should
be grateful if you would be candid with me. You are not the person
for whom you here give yourself out."
He did not hesitate for a moment to confess to her the truth.
"No, I am a German officer, and have been sent here by my superiors
to study the Anglo-Indian army."
Edith's surprise was evidently not great.
"I had an inkling of it. And now please answer my question quite
as straightforwardly. Do you believe that the British army will be
"I would not permit myself to give an opinion on this point, Mrs.
"But you must have an idea. And I would give a great deal to know
what it is."
"Well, then--I believe in English bravery, but not in English
She heaved a deep sigh, but she nodded her head in assent, as if he
had only expressed her own conviction. Then she gave him her hand
and said softly--
"I thank you for your confidence, and as a matter of course no one
shall ever learn from me who you are. But now I must insist more
than ever that you leave us for your own safety's sake."
"And if I were to refuse? Supposing that in my position as soldier
I were to consider it to be my duty not to leave you in the lurch?
Would you be angry with me? Would you no longer permit me to enjoy
the happiness of your society?"
Her breast heaved, but she bowed her head and was silent. Heideck
plainly saw the glistening tears which stole from under her
eyelids, and slowly rolled down her delicate cheek.
That was answer enough for him. He bowed, and kissing both her
"I knew that you would not be so cruel as to drive me from you.
Wherever fate may lead me, it will find me at your side as long as
you require my protection."
For a few seconds she let him keep her hand. She then gently
withdrew it from his grasp.
"I know that I ought to forbid you for your own safety to follow
me; but I have not the strength to do so. Heaven grant that you
may never reproach me for having acted as I have done."
THE CAMP OF LAHORE
An unusually beautiful and dry spring favoured the advance of the
Russian army through the mountains. In the north of India the
temperature kept at an average of 68 degrees F., and day after day
the sun streamed down from a cloudless blue sky upon the broad
plains of the Punjab, through the bright green of which the Russian
troops, in their white summer uniforms, pushed on like long streaks
Everything pointed to the fortune of war being on their side, for
they had overcome the difficult and dreaded passage at Attock with
The commander of this lofty fortress received orders not to break
down the bridge across the Indus until General Blood's army, which
was directed to hold Peshawar and the Khyber Pass, had effected its
retreat and had to the last man passed the river.
The bridge at Attock, which is a high structure built across the
narrow bed of the Indus, which here foams down with swirling
swiftness, is considered a masterpiece of engineering. It is built
in two tiers, the upper of which carries the railway, while the
lower forms a road for carriages, beasts of burden, and foot-
passengers. On either side of the river is a fortified gate. The
English commander of Attock trusted to the strength of the forts
standing some 800 feet above the river, and imagined the Russians
to be still far away.
The Russian vanguard had crossed the river Cabul, which joins the
Indus at Attock, at a point a few miles above the city, and thus
appeared simultaneously with General Blood's troops before the
Blood's troops were passing the bridge in endless long columns.
Their movement was often checked by blocks, caused by the
dislocation of the several units, and so it came about that, in the
early morning, a superior Russian force had, unperceived by the
English, reached the northern end of the bridge just as a gap had
been caused in the English columns.
The thick fog of the morning had hidden the approach of the
Russians from the English outposts. The Russians at once occupied
the bridge, and so cut off the remainder of the English that were
on the northern bank from their main body that had already crossed
the bridge. The commander of the Russian advance guard was himself
quite astounded at the success that the fortune of war had thrown
into his lap: had not the fog rendered the scouting on both sides
illusory, and had not chance allowed him to fall in with this gap
in the English columns, the chances would, considering the
narrowness of the road, have been much more favourable to the
English than for him, and the battle would probably have ended with
the defeat of his forces. As it was, General Ivanov, who had
crossed the Khyber Pass, came upon the English rearguard, and five
thousand men of the Anglo-Indian troops had to surrender after a
short struggle. Two thousand English and three thousand
Mohammedans fell into the hands of the Russians. As soon as the
Mohammedan-Indians were informed by the victors that they were
fighting for the true faith against the infidels, they went over
without more ado to the Russian side.
The commander at Attock refused to surrender the fortress, and
trained his guns upon the Russian columns; but, in consequence of
the fog, the batteries did not inflict much damage upon the
Russians, who being now in possession of the bridge continued their
advance to the south.
But, however, before the march that had thus been so successfully
begun was continued, the Russian commander-in-chief collected, not
far from Attock, all the troops that had crossed the Hindu-Kush in
small detachments, and united them with the army corps advancing
from Afghanistan, so that he now disposed of an army of seventy
It was a blood-stained road upon which this host travelled behind
the retreating English army. This was the road upon which
Alexander the Great in days of yore entered India. Here, at the
beginning of the sixteenth century, the Afghan sovereign Ibrahim
Lodi had fought with the Grand Mogul Baber; here, a few decades
later, Mohammed Shah Adil, the generallissimo of the Afghans, when
at the head of fifty thousand horse, five hundred elephants, and
innumerable infantry, was defeated by the youthful Grand Mogul
Akbar. Still more bloody was the battle, which about the middle of
the eighteenth century the Afghan Sultan Ahmed Shah Durani fought
with the great Mahratha princes, Holkar Sindhia, Gaekwar and the
Peschwas; and here, once again, all the horrors of war raged, when
in the year 1857, the English Generals Havelock, Sir James Outram,
Sir Colin Campbell, Sir Hugh Rose, Sir John Lawrence, and Sir
Robert Napier, crushed with pitiless severity the dangerous sepoy
mutiny. East and West had, in gigantic struggles, fought together
on this spot so full of legends, this the cradle of mankind.
Hundreds of thousands of human lives had been sacrificed on this
blood-drenched soil, and yet again was a decisive battle impending,
destined to be engraved with a steel pencil on the tablets of the
The movements of the Russian army had upset the plan of the English
generals. The English corps which had collected at Mooltan were
quickly pushed on to Lahore, as soon as the Russians' intention to
proceed to the south-east became clear. The time which General
Ivanov required for concentrating his troops at Attock rendered it
possible for the English to reach Lahore. Here their forces were
considerably increased by the strong garrison, and each day new
regiments came in from Delhi and Lucknow, which brought the
strength of the army commanded by Sir Bindon Blood up to the number
of one hundred thousand combatants.
The English prepared for a decisive battle, for already the head of
the Russian columns was no further than ten English miles north of
the mausoleum of the Emperor Jahangir at Shah Dara, a military
station scarcely eight English miles north-west of Lahore.
The English troops advanced in their concentrated formation in
single line; their left wing occupied the Shah Dara plantations and
the pontoon bridge across the river Ravi that flows close to
Lahore. It extended thence five English miles further eastwards to
a canal which flows past the Shalimar Park towards the south. This
park and a place called Bhogiwal, lying next to it, formed the
right wing. Before their front stretched a tributary of the
sinuous Ravi with its marshy banks. To the rear of their position
lay the fortress of Lahore with its brick wall, fifteen feet in
height, pierced by thirteen gates.
The Ravi, a tributary of the Indus, had at this time but little
water. The bed of the river was for the most part dry, and only
consisted of rapid, irregular rivulets, which here and there
exposed between them larger and smaller, but for the most part,
muddy islands. The bed of this river formed the chief obstacle to
the Russian attack, for they had to pass it before reaching the
English front and the city of Lahore.
Heideck occupied a small tent that he had brought with him from
Chanidigot. Morar Gopal's horse had carried it on its back during
the march from Mooltan to Lahore, for the lancers, whom Heideck had
joined as being a friend of their officers, had not covered the
distance by railway. They were now encamped in the Shalimar Park,
an extensive enclosure surrounded by a wall and full of the most
beautiful mango trees, and among them many small fountains and
pretty pavilions. As Heideck wore a khaki suit and a cork helmet,
he looked, in spite of his having no distinctive military dress,
quite like an English officer, the resemblance being increased by
his martial bearing.
During the march and during his stay in the camp he had had an
opportunity of closely observing the British system of campaigning.
But he took good care not to mention it to the English officers,
for they were not very favourable conclusions at which he had
arrived. He had gained the impression that the troops were neither
well led, nor displayed any special knowledge of campaigning. The
men both in bivouac and in camp were often in want, and, indeed,
frequently suffered real distress, because the necessary material
was not always at hand, and their food was not regularly supplied;
the greatest confusion reigned in the commissariat department.
Not alone there, but also in the tactical units serious confusion
was everywhere apparent, in consequence of the unpractical and
heterogeneous composition of the detachments. First of all, the
regiments which were to make up the army corps in Peshawar and
Quetta were all jumbled up together, because as soon as ever they
appeared to be ready to march, they were separately taken away from
their garrisons and placed upon the railway. Concentration upon
Mooltan and the hurried march to Lahore had resulted in downright
Heideck found himself in the middle of an army which had never
engaged in a great war and certainly never in one against regular
troops. It is true that the English were accustomed to fighting,
for they had been constantly obliged to measure themselves with
barbarous and semibarbarous peoples. They had made expensive
expeditions and gained dearly purchased victories; but it was
always the undisciplined, dark-skinned, and black hordes with whom
they had had to deal. The experiences of the Boer War had not
entered into the flesh and blood of the troops. The personal
bravery of the individual had almost always been regarded as the
main thing, and it was easy to understand why all the officers
should be puffed up with vanity. They looked down with contempt
upon all foreigners, because they had, as a matter of fact, almost
always gained their victories over superior numbers.
Heideck noticed with astonishment that the tactical rules and
instructions in the British army were still often at variance with
modern armament, particularly in the case of the infantry; volley
firing was habitually employed as the general way of engaging the
enemy. The men were drilled at the word of command to open and
keep up a steady even fire and then in close ranks to rush with the
bayonet on the enemy. This powerful nation was, in fact, too
listless to utilise the most modern experiences of the science of
war: proud Albion blindly believed everything English to be good
and despised everything new and foreign. Or did the English
perhaps only avoid advancing in loose order in action because they
were afraid that they would otherwise not be able to control their
The environs of Lahore, particularly to the north of the city
between the wall and the camp, presented a very lively scene. The
innumerable camels which had served as baggage animals and formed
the major portion of the transports afforded a very peculiar
spectacle. They were either lying on the ground closely packed
together or solemnly paced along, while the shrill yells of the
drivers filled the air. Moreover, there was here congregated a
huge crowd of men belonging to the army in one or other capacity
without being combatants, and the eye fond of picturesque
impressions could feast with delight on the gay, ever-changing
kaleidoscopic effects of the wide plain; while the distant scenery
was also interesting enough in itself. Between the widely
scattered villages and suburbs of the city, which contained 180,000
inhabitants, beautiful parks and gardens shone in fresh green
foliage, mostly surrounding the burial-place of a sultan or a
famous Mohammedan saint. Towards the south-east there stretched
away the great encampments of the cavalry and artillery in which
were included many elephant batteries.
The city itself was choked full of military and the families of the
officers. Almost all the women and children of the garrisons lying
to the north-west of Lahore had fled here at the advance of the
troops. Mrs. Baird, too, with her two little daughters and Mrs.
Irwin were also in the city, where they were lodged in the Charing
Cross Hotel. Although the city was packed to a most alarming
degree and the military situation was decidedly critical, Heideck
did not anywhere observe any particular excitement.
The English preserved their peculiarly calm demeanour, and the
natives kept silence out of fear: upon the latter the fully
unexpected and incomprehensible change in the situation had
probably had a certain bewildering effect.
When Heideck, shortly before sunset, went from the camp to the city
to visit the ladies, he only became more firmly convinced, as he
passed through the surging crowd outside the walls, that the
position of the army had been very badly selected. Far too large a
number of men and animals had been crowded within a comparatively
small space. If Russian shrapnel were to fall among this dense
mass a terrible panic was inevitable. The proximity of the
fortified city was sure to induce the soldiers to take refuge
behind its walls. Heideck had hitherto not gained the impression
that resolute courage was to be expected of the native soldiers.
In the street which led from the Shalimar Park to the railway
station in the suburb of Naulakha, Heideck had constantly to go out
of his way to allow the long columns of heavily laden camels and
ox-waggons which came towards him to pass, and he therefore took
nearly two hours to reach his goal. The Charing Cross Hotel was
full up to the attics, and the two ladies had, with the children,
to be content with a small room on the third floor which had been
let to them at an enormous price.
Mrs. Baird, a lady of small, delicate build, but of energetic
spirits and genuine English pride, appeared perfectly collected and
confident. She did not utter a single word about her own evidently
very uncomfortable position and of the privations which, under the
existing circumstances, her children had to suffer, but only about
the victory of the British arms, that she was convinced would
immediately take place. The march from Mooltan to Lahore was, in
her eyes, an advance, and she did not entertain the smallest doubt
that the Russian insolence would in a short time meet with terrible
"It is terrible to think," she said to Heideck, "that a nation that
calls itself Christian should dare attack us in India. What was
this unhappy land before we took pity on it? England has freed it
from the hands of barbarous despots and brought it happiness! The
Indian cities have grown in prosperity because our laws have paved
the way for free development of commerce and intercourse. It is in
the highest sense of the word a mission of civilisation that our
nation has here fulfilled. If Heaven gives Russia the victory,
this now so happy land will be hurled back into the blackness of
barbarism." She appeared to wait for a word of assent from Mrs.
Irwin, but the latter sat in serious silence.
"You ought not to be so silent, dearest Edith, and ought not to
pull such a melancholy face," said the Colonel's wife, turning to
her with a gentle reproach. "I perfectly understand that the sad
events of your private life are distressing you. But all personal
sorrow should now be merged into the general grief. What is the
fate of the individual, when his country is exposed to such danger?
I know that you are as good a patriot as any Englishwoman, but it
appears to me that it is necessary to prove it in these hours of
danger. Anxiety and moroseness have at such times upon one's
surroundings the effect of a contagious disease."
"But possibly I am not the good patriot you take me for."
"Ah! What do you mean by that?"
"I cannot look at wars from your point of view, dear Mrs. Baird.
It almost seems to me that there is not a very great difference
between men and brute beasts, who fight each other out of hunger,
or jealousy, and all kinds of low instincts."
"Oh, what a comparison to draw!"
"Well, it is true we know better how to wage war. We invent
complicated instruments wherewith to destroy our fellow-beings in
enormous numbers, whilst animals are limited to their own natural
weapons. But do we, therefore, know better what we are doing than
the animals? Don't you think that, when hosts of ants, or bees, or
weasels, or fishes in the sea sally forth to destroy other
creatures of their species, they may be guided perhaps by the same
instincts that govern us also?"
"I cannot follow you there, Mrs. Irwin," the little lady replied,
with a shade of irritation in her voice. "Human beings are endowed
with reason, and are conscious of their aims and actions."
"Is it really so reasonable when peasants and labourers go to war
as soldiers? Are they really led by a conscious purpose within
them? None of them has anything to gain. They are compelled by
others to allow themselves to be maimed and killed, and to kill
their fellow-beings. And the survivors are in no respects better
off, after gaining a victory, than they were before. And the
leaders themselves? In the morals of Christian faith honours,
orders, and endowments are only idle toys. Let us be honest, Mrs.
Baird. Did England conquer India in order to propagate the
Christian gospel? No! We have shed rivers of blood solely in
order to spread our commerce, and in order to increase the wealth
of a few, who themselves wisely remained at a safe distance from
the fray, in the possession of luxury beyond the dreams of
"It is sad to hear such words from the mouth of an Englishwoman."
The conversation was in danger of taking a critical turn, as the
Colonel's wife felt seriously annoyed and wounded by Edith's words.
Heideck turned the discussion into a less dangerous channel. Soon
afterwards the Colonel arrived; he occupied a tent further away in
the camp, and only rarely found time to look after his family.
He simulated an air of gaiety and composure which he was far from
feeling, and he was too indifferent an actor to succeed in his
"I am sorry, but I can only stay a very short time," he said, when
he had caressed and kissed the little girls, whom he loved so
tenderly, with still greater affection than usual. "My chief
object in coming was to instruct you, dear Ellen, what you have to
do in case we have to retire."
"To retire--? For Heaven's sake--I hope there is no question of
The Colonel smiled, though not quite naturally.
"Of course, we cannot reckon with certainty upon victory. He would
be a bad general who did not consider the possibility of defeat.
During the last few hours all our dispositions have been altered.
We are on the point of starting to attack the Russians."
"That is right!" cried Mrs. Baird, with bright eyes. "A British
army must not wait for the enemy, but go and meet him."
"We shall march out at early dawn to try and prevent the Russians
from crossing the Ravi. The engineers leave to-night in advance to
destroy the bridges, if it is not already too late. The army has
to execute a considerable movement to the left about, in order to
reach the right position. At the same time the front has to be
extended and lengthened to the right. The left wing remains at
Shah Dara and the pontoon bridge."
"Is it not possible for us to come out also and look on at the
battle?" inquired Mrs. Baird. But her husband shook his head in
"For you, dearest Ellen, our trustworthy Smith will have a cart,
with two strong oxen, ready here in the hotel. That is to provide
for all eventualities. Should you receive news that the army is
retreating upon Lahore--which the Lord forbid--you must lose not a
minute, but drive as quick as possible, before the crush at the
gates and in the streets begins, through the Akbari gate over the
canal bridge leading to the Sadrbazar, and so to Amritsar, where
you may be able to take the railway to Goordas. All other lines
are closed for other than military purposes. Panic will not extend
so far as that, and there, in any small hill station, you will find
a safe resting-place for the present. And now, Mr. Heideck, may I
trouble you by asking a great favour of you?"
"I am entirely at your disposal, Colonel."
"Stop here in the hotel--try to obtain the latest intelligence as
to the course of events, and act as protector to the ladies and
children until they are in security. If you will permit me to hand
you a cheque--"
"Please leave that for the present, Colonel," Heideck replied. "I
am provided with plenty of money and will render you an account
later. I promise to protect your family and Mrs. Irwin as well as
I can. But I think it would be better for me not to remain in the
town, but to accompany the troops. I will return as soon as
possible should events take an unfavourable turn. The anxiety of
the ladies would be unnecessarily increased, and I myself should be
uncertain as to what to do if we received unreliable news here in
the hotel as to the position of affairs."
"You are right," said the Colonel, after a moment's hesitation.
"Already now the most absurd rumours are flying about. Leaflets
have been distributed amongst our Mohammedan troops inciting them
with the maddest and most deceitful promises to desert from the
British army. A few persons, taken whilst distributing such
leaflets, have been already shot without more ado. I leave
everything to your circumspection and decision. In any case, it
will be best for you to keep as near to the Commander-in-Chief as
possible. My permit will open the road to you everywhere. I will
thank you later on."
He shook Heideck's hand warmly, and embraced his wife and his
children once more, and the two men turned to leave. The dull
foreboding that it was a parting for ever lay heavily upon all of
As Heideck returned to the camp, the road was lit up by the red
glare of innumerable fires. On the wide plain, stretching between
the town and river, work was going on in feverish haste. Rations
and ammunition were being dealt out, and long lines of beasts of
burden were in motion. Thousands of hands were busily employed in
trying to facilitate the passage of the troops across the shallow
tributary of the Ravi. The boggy places were made firm by a
covering of palm branches and leaves; and logs of wood were got
ready in hot haste for the artillery. Heideck could not help
wondering why it was that the army had not been concentrated from
the first at the point the battle was to take place. The approach
through the difficult tract of land, in connexion with the
contemplated movement to the left, made calls upon the endurance of
the troops that could not but have the most detrimental effect upon
the issue of the battle.
He met his Indian boy, evidently in great excitement, in front of
"When we start to-morrow we shall leave the tent with everything in
it," said Heideck. "You will ride my horse and I shall take
Morar Gopal was a Hindu from the south, almost as black as a
nigger, a small, agile little man, weighing scarcely eight stone.
It was in order to save his own horse for the later exertions of
the day that Heideck wanted his boy to ride him at first.
Only now he perceived that his servant, contrary to his usual
habit, was armed. He carried a sword buckled round his waist, and
when asked the reason, the Indian answered, with a certain amount
"All Hindus will die to-morrow, but I at least will defend myself
"What makes you believe that all Hindus must die to-morrow?"
"Oh, sahib! me know it well. The Mohammedans hate the Hindus, and
they will kill all of us tomorrow."
"But this is nonsense. Mohammedans and Hindus will unite as one
man to fight the Russians to-morrow."
The Indian shook his head.