Part 3 out of 7
"No, sahib! The Russians also are Mohammedans."
"Whoever told you so lied. The Russians are Christians, like the
But however great his confidence in his master might be in general,
this time Morar Gopal evidently did not believe him.
"If they are Christians, why, then, should they wage war against
Heideck saw that it would be impossible to explain these things,
that were beyond his own comprehension, to the dark-skinned lad.
And only a few hours of the night still remaining for sleep, he
despatched him to bed.
The first rays of the sun had begun to quiver over the wide plain
when the forward march commenced. Heideck, already before dawn of
day, was in the saddle, and found time to exchange a few words with
Colonel Baird before setting out.
The Colonel occupied that day a position of great importance and
responsibility. He commanded a brigade, consisting of two English
and one sepoy regiments, the lancers, and a battery. In addition,
he was in command of the auxiliaries sent by the Maharajah of
Chanidigot, and led by Prince Tasatat, consisting of one thousand
infantry, five hundred cavalry, and one battery. The Prince rode
out magnificently attired and armed; the hilt and scabbard of his
sword sparkled with precious stones, and a cockade of valuable
diamonds flashed from his turban. The bridling and caparison of
his mount, a splendid chestnut, represented alone a small fortune.
His troops were also splendidly equipped, and displayed great
confidence. The horsemen carried long pikes, like the English
lancers, and wore red turbans, striped with blue. But many had
been obliged to enter the lines of infantry in spite of their heavy
boots, since a great number of horses, of the Mohammedan as well as
the English cavalry, had died in consequence of bad fodder and
The movement of the British army was rather complicated. The
English forces were massed in two divisions between Shah Dara and
the park of Shalimar. The first comprised the Indian troops,
officered by Englishmen; the second the English regiments. In this
way seventy-five thousand Indians were to be prevented from running
away. Should the first division be compelled to fall back, it
would be checked by the twenty-five thousand English. The advance
march was commenced in such fashion that the right half of the line
of battle, sweeping far round to the right, executed a left wheel,
and in this way lengthened the front by about one-third; this was
done in order to fill up the gap caused in the centre. The second
division was pushed forward into the first, and now formed the
centre of the line of battle. At the same time a new second
division was formed by leaving in reserve troops of the advancing
divisions and massing them behind the left wing of the entire
position; the English considered their left wing to be most
threatened. Colonel Baird, with his brigade, occupied the centre
of the front line of the main position.
Heideck watched many Indian regiments march past, and he could not
help perceiving the difference of mood and carriage of Mohammedans
and Hindus. Whilst the first maintained a very energetic and very
frequently cheerful attitude, the latter allowed the ends of their
turbans to hang loose, as a sign of their despair, and marched
dejectedly forward, face and head covered with ashes. Morar
Gopal's conception of the fate in store for all Hindus evidently
was shared by all.
The wide plain was covered with marching columns of infantry, hosts
of cavalry, and heavy, thudding artillery. Whilst the English foot
soldiers, in their yellow-brown khaki dress, were hardly
distinguishable from the colour of the ground, the cavalry
regiments and the troops of the Indian princes looked like gaily
coloured islets in the vast and surging sea of the army as it
advanced in two divisions.
In obedience to the Colonel's wish, Heideck kept close to the side
of the Commander-in-Chief, whose numerous staff and retinue of
servants, horses, and carriages allowed him to mix in the crowd
without attracting attention. But the General did not remain long
with the centre. In order to gain a clearer survey of the entire
movement, and to be able to observe the Russian approach, he rode
with his staff and a strong cavalry escort towards the Ravi river.
Heideck, accompanied by his faithful servant, attached himself to
the escort, and thus was soon far in advance of Colonel Baird's
Nothing was as yet to be seen of the Russians, and about three
hours might have passed since the beginning of the advance march,
when lo! the dull, rumbling thunder of the first cannon-shot rolled
over the wide field.
The General reined in, and directed his field-glasses upon the left
wing, where the cannonade increased in violence each minute.
Another half-hour and the sharp rattle of infantry fire mixed with
the heavy rumbling of big guns. No doubt, on the left wing, by
Shah Dara, the battle had commenced. Advancing towards the right
bank of the Ravi, the Russians threatened to attack Lahore.
The Commander-in-Chief despatched two orderly officers to the right
wing and the centre, with the order to accelerate the march. Then
he returned with his suite to his former position.
But Heideck could not at once make up his mind to follow. From the
moment the first shot had been fired the battle fever had seized
him; he was only a soldier now.
He was irresistibly attracted by a building a short distance away,
with a slender minaret, from which he hoped to obtain a better
view. It was the half-decayed mausoleum of some saint, and Heideck
had some trouble to climb up to the top of the minaret, a height of
about twenty feet, whilst his servant waited with the horses down
below. But the exertion was fully rewarded. He overlooked the
flat plains. The sinuous Ravi river was hardly half an English
mile distant. Its banks were covered with high grass and thick
jungle growth; on the other side of the river immense thickly-
packed masses of troops appeared--the advancing Russian army.
Both armies must soon come into collision by the river, for single
English cavalry regiments and horse artillery batteries, advancing
in a long line, were already in its immediate neighbourhood.
Heideck had seen sufficient to be able to judge of the position of
the battle. He climbed down the minaret and mounted his fresh
steed, whilst Morar Gopal sprang into the saddle of his own horse.
They quickly arrived amongst the British cavalry, deploying in
advance of their main army. The advance march was now executed
with greatest rapidity. The English batteries dashed forward at
the fastest pace the soft ground would permit, unlimbered, and
opened fire. Large masses of infantry marched towards the jungle.
But from the other side of the river the lively English fire was
but feebly returned. Only from the direction of the left English
wing, invisible from this point, did the artillery and infantry
fire rage with unabated violence.
In consequence, considerable reinforcements were sent to the
apparently hard-pressed left wing, and a distinct weakening of the
centre took place, without a clear idea having been formed as to
the intention of the Russians. Heideck's conviction was that such
probably had been the Russian tactics. He was of opinion that they
probably raised a great battle din by Shah Dara, in order to direct
the attention of the English to that point, and then deliver their
main attack against the centre. He was right; the main forces of
the Russians were opposed to Colonel Baird.
Another circumstance he could not explain was the curious fact that
the English as well as the Indian infantry regiments halted before
the jungle instead of pushing forward to the river. Not even
riflemen were sent into it, although the bush was by no means too
thick for a chain of riflemen to take cover. The prickly bushes on
the river's bank were sparse enough, and the high grass reaching up
to the mens' shoulders would have made a splendid hiding-place.
By-and-by the English army had executed the movement to the left,
and now stood facing the Russian front. One new regiment after the
other was drawn from the second division and placed on the left
wing, which was believed to be most threatened. The English guns
thundered without interruption, but their position might have been
better; many fired without being able to see the enemy at all
through the thick jungle, and threw away their ammunition
The sun shone brightly in the cloudless sky. A slight north-
westerly breeze coming from the far distant hills blew the smoke of
the powder in clouds back on the English army.
The enemy being thus completely shrouded from view, the infantry
stood motionless. A sullen expectation brooded over the colossal
forces, who realised danger, but were yet condemned to a torturing
inactivity. Suddenly the wild roar of thousands of voices rose
from the river, and hosts of cavalry, which before could have been
held back by English infantry, broke through the jungles like
immense swarms of locusts. Thousands of wild Afghans and warriors
from Bukhara, Samarcand, Khiva, and Semiryechensk, combined in the
Turkestan divisions, had crossed the river and, wildly crying
"Allah! Allah!" hurled themselves upon the English battalions and
batteries. Splendidly trained at firing from the saddle, they were
terrible foes indeed.
Although the English returned the unexpected attack with crackling
volleys, and did not recoil a hair's breadth from their positions,
the Russian lines suffered but small losses in consequence of their
open order. One new swarm after the other broke through the
jungle, and rushed like an army of devils upon the batteries. A
few of these were silenced; the men who served them were killed
before they were able to turn their guns against their assailants,
so wildly rapid had been this surprise rush of the bold horsemen.
The English cavalry, advancing to a magnificent attack, arrived too
late; the weight of the shock was lost, the enemy having already
dispersed in all directions. These men understood how to manage
their small, rapid horses in a marvellous manner. They seemed like
centaurs, and the rapidity with which they broke up their squadron,
in order immediately after to close up again at another place in
dense masses, rendered a counter attack on the part of the serried
ranks of their adversaries almost impossible.
At one time, Heideck, with that part of the staff to which he had
attached himself, had been drawn into the shock of battle. He had
been obliged to shoot an Afghan, who attacked him, down from his
horse, and he would probably, a moment afterwards, have been laid
low by the sabre of another, had not the faithful Morar Gopal, who
displayed extraordinary courage, just at the right moment made the
horseman harmless by a well-directed blow of his sword. The
cavalry engagement was still undecided, when lo! in the grass
before the jungle were seen a number of glittering sparks. The
sharp crack of shots was heard, and their destructive effect showed
how admirably the Russian riflemen, who were gradually advancing
against the British army, knew how to handle their rifles. The
British infantry kept on discharging volleys indefatigably, but no
practical result of all this waste of ammunition was apparent.
Their targets were too small and too scattered, and the mechanical
volleys fired at the word of command had but little effect.
Besides this, the Russians had admirable cover, with the variegated
jungle as a background, whilst the English stood out sharply
against the horizon, and presented an excellent mark. According to
their plan, the Russians first of all directed their fire against
the men who were serving the batteries. Their well-directed
shooting decimated the English artillery to a terrible degree.
Scarcely two minutes had elapsed before the order was given to fall
back with the guns. As far as was possible, the English harnessed
up, and galloped off to take up their position between the infantry
battalions, and from there again to open fire. The advance of the
English artillery, which had taken place contrary to orders, and
which was a result of their over-hasty forward movement, thus
showed itself to have been a most disastrous step.
An even stronger and more damaging effect than that of the attack
itself, was produced by the ceaseless cries of "Allah! Allah!"
which proceeded from the Afghans and the Turkestan cavalry, and
penetrated to the Mohammedans who stood in the British lines.
Heideck saw quite clearly that, here and there, the Indian soldiers
ceased firing as if in obedience to a word of command, and could
distinguish how English officers in their excitement struck the men
with the flat of the sword and threatened them with the revolver.
Obviously, the leaders had lost all influence over the foreign
elements under their command. Close to the Commander-in-Chief an
English captain was bayoneted by an Indian soldier, and there could
be no doubt that similar cases of open mutiny took place amongst
the other Indian troops.
The men, who had only followed the orders of the foreign tyrants
with the utmost reluctance, evidently believed the moment had come
for shaking off the hated yoke, and at the same time the old enmity
between the Mohammedans and Hindus, the rivalry between the two
religions, which often in times of peace occasioned bloody feuds,
burst into open flames. In the midst of the British army duels to
the death were fought out between the irreconcilable adversaries.
Thus it was unavoidable that the entire discipline became shaken
The battlefield was an awful spectacle. Before the front
innumerable wounded, crying out for help, where no help was
possible, were writhing in agony, for the retreat of the English
artillery had had to be executed without thought of those left
behind; wounded horses, wildly kicking to free themselves from
their harness, increased the horror of the terrible scene, whilst
stray divisions of English cavalry riding amongst them were fired
upon by their own infantry out of fear of the advance of the
Russian riflemen. Although in war all battlefields present a
spectacle of the utmost horror, so that only the excitement of the
moment enables human beings to endure it, yet the picture this
battle of the advanced lines presented surpassed all imagination.
The want of discipline amongst the English lines increased more and
more, and the English officers had to fix their whole attention
upon their own troops, instead of upon the movements of the enemy.
The necessity for this was soon evident.
Prince Tasatat was the first to leave Colonel Baird with his entire
force, and openly to march over to the enemy. His example was
decisive for the Indians who were still hesitating, and the number
of those going over to the enemy increased from minute to minute.
A uniform control of the line of battle had long since become
impossible. Colonel Baird gave orders for his guns to open fire
upon Prince Tasatat's company, and, like him, many other commanders
fought their own individual battle just as their own judgment
prompted. Indian regiments dispersed in all directions, because
the men cared less for fighting than for getting booty from the
prisoners and wounded. There were hand-to-hand fights in many
parts of the battlefield, which, owing to the fanatical rage of the
combatants, degenerated into horrible butchery. Those falling into
the hands of the Afghans were most to be pitied. For these devils
in human shape cut off the heads of all their prisoners and all
wounded, whether Mohammedans, Hindus, or English, without any
further ado, and in their rapacity tore the valuables from the
bodies of the dead and wounded.
A line of fugitives, like an immense stream, passed the English
regiments, which still stood firm in serried ranks, making for the
plain of Lahore, in order to find protection behind the walls of
the fortified city.
In Heideck's opinion the day was lost to the English, and he
prepared himself to die a soldier's death, together with the brave
men surrounding him. With feelings of sincerest admiration he
confessed how great was the bravery, and how admirable the
discipline that animated the English-born troops. Those regiments
and batteries in which no native elements were mingled, stood calm
and unshaken amongst all the terrible confusion, and thanks to
their bravery, the battle, which opened in such disorder, began to
present clear features, like those of the sharp peaks of a chain of
mountains appearing above the mist, as it rolls down.
Instead of the semibarbarous horsemen that had opened the attack,
new Russian batteries and colossal masses of infantry, with compact
companies of riflemen, as well as several regiments of dragoons,
now faced the English troops.
The Commander-in-Chief, with about 6,000 men and two batteries, was
with the second English division, which had been greatly reduced in
numbers. It was evidently his object to retire in good order
towards Lahore, and to cover the retreat with his best troops.
He succeeded in withdrawing two smaller bodies from the right and
left wing respectively by despatching orderlies. But the first
division was so closely engaged with Russian infantry that an
orderly retreat was almost impossible.
Notwithstanding this, the Commander was bent on making the attempt
to withdraw also the first division of his army. He despatched one
of his adjutants to Colonel Baird, who still had perhaps about
2,000 men under his command, with the order to break off the battle
and to retire. The young officer saluted with grave face, drew his
sword, and galloped away. But he had only traversed a small part
of his dangerous journey, a distance of about a mile, when he fell
a victim to the call of duty, being attacked and hurled from the
saddle by a body of Cossacks mounted on small, rough-haired, but
very swift steeds.
The General appeared undecided whether to stake another young life
on this hopeless test. Heideck rode up to him and lifted his hand
to his helmet.
"Will Your Excellency allow me to ride? I am a friend of Colonel
Baird and should be glad of the opportunity of showing him my
gratitude for his kindness to me."
The General sharply scrutinised the gentleman who was unknown to
him, who looked like an officer, though not wearing the prescribed
uniform; but he did not take the time to question him.
"Ride!" he said shortly. "The Colonel is no longer to hold out; he
is to march to the right and retreat towards Lahore--if possible."
Heideck saluted and turned his horse. He had replaced his revolver
in his belt, and returned his sword to its sheath.
Not by the aid of weapons, but solely by the rapidity of his horse
could he hope to reach his goal. He gave his steed its head, and
encouraged it by calling to it. The animal did not disappoint the
hopes placed upon it. It seemed to fly, rather than run over the
trampled ground. The Cossacks, who attempted to intercept this
single horseman, were unable to reach him. And of all the shots
aimed at the bold rider not one reached its mark.
The volunteer orderly reached the brigade without harm. But he was
too late; almost at the same moment the collision with the Russian
infantry, which, in spite of their losses, had advanced steadily to
the attack, took place. In order to sell his life and those of his
brave troops as dearly as possible, Colonel Baird had given orders
to form a square, in the midst of which the horsemen and the guns
were placed. Many officers, leaving the saddle, had picked up the
rifles and cartridge-boxes of those that were killed, and,
levelling their bayonets, had taken their places in the front rank
of the square. Breathing heavily, and covered with perspiration
Heideck stopped before the Colonel and made his report.
But the brave Englishman pointed with his hand towards the
"Impossible," he said. "We are destined to die upon this spot."
Then he also dismounted and seized a rifle. From a thousand
British throats a loud "Hurrah!" broke forth, for the Russians had
reached the square, and a hand-to-hand combat took place.
The horror of this terrible struggle at close quarters, the English
fighting with the struggle of despair against a foe outnumbering
them many times, impressed itself indelibly upon the memory of the
young German. He, too, had drawn his sword, but in spite of his
personal relations, his political sympathies were not on the
Suddenly he heard, close to him, a hoarse cry of rage, and, on
turning round, perceived to his boundless surprise the face of
Captain Irwin, terribly distorted by hatred and fury. He had
supposed him to be with the depot in Chanidigot, but Irwin must
have found an opportunity of getting away from that command.
Indeed, under the existing circumstances, it must have seemed
equivalent to a severe censure, and Irwin had attached himself to
the troops taking the field. He was now fighting in this death-
struggle, rifle in hand, like a private soldier. The red blood
staining the point of his bayonet bore eloquent testimony to his
bravery. But in this supreme moment his country's enemies were
forgotten in the sight of the mortal foe, the object of his
personal hate, by whose courageous action the dastardly plot
against Edith had been frustrated. Here were place and opportunity
offered for satisfying the thirst for revenge, which consumed him.
What mattered the death of a single unit in the midst of this great
Before Heideck could divine the intention of the wretched man he
was attacked by his bayonet. It was solely the rearing of a
frightened horse that saved the Captain's life; the thrust of the
bayonet grazed the animal's neck. At the same moment the terrible
sword-cut of a Russian fell upon Irwin's unprotected neck (for he
had lost his helmet), and with such force that, with a hollow cry,
he fell on his face.
Suddenly the curiously altered, now hoarse voice of the Colonel
struck Heideck's ear: "What are you still doing here? Ride, for
Heaven's sake! Ride quickly! If you should see them again, take
my last loving messages to my poor wife and children! Stay by
The blood from a deep wound on his forehead was pouring over his
face, and Heideck saw that only by the greatest exertion of will
could he keep himself on his legs. He wanted to reply, but the
Colonel had already again hurled himself into the tangled throng of
fighters, and a few seconds later fell under the butt-end blows and
sabres of the Russians.
Then Hermann Heideck turned his horse and galloped off.
IN THE PANIC-STRICKEN CITY
As on his ride to Colonel Baird's brigade, so also was Heideck on
his return threatened by manifold forms of death. Although he
successfully and happily avoided all compact bodies of troops on
his way across the bloody battlefield, yet single Russian horsemen
came up close to him and more than once he heard the shrill whistle
of bullets as they whizzed past his head. But in the battle-fever
that had seized him he had no thought of danger: all his thoughts
were solely occupied with the question as to how he should contrive
to arrive at Lahore, in order to fulfil the last request of the
Bleeding from several wounds, his brave stallion put forth his
utmost efforts to carry his rider safely away from the turmoil of
battle. The wounded animal was still able to travel a considerable
distance at full gallop. But suddenly he began to slacken his pace
and to stumble, and Heideck perceived that his strength was
exhausted. He dismounted in order to examine the injuries the
horse had sustained, and at once perceived that he could not expect
further exertion from the poor brute. In addition to a bayonet-
thrust on the neck, it had also a bullet-hole on the left hind
flank, and it was from this wound that the blood was principally
streaming. In stertorous panting the poor beast laid his head on
his master's shoulder, and Heideck stroked and patted his forehead.
"Poor chap--you have done your duty, and I must leave you here
behind." And now, for the first time, the anxious dread overcame
him that he, too, would not escape with his life from this
battlefield, for he perceived a horseman in Indian uniform
approaching him, waving a sword. Heideck drew his revolver from
his belt in order to protect himself against his assailant. But he
immediately recognised in his supposed enemy his faithful boy,
Morar Gopal, who beamed with joy at having by chance again found
his master, whom he had believed to be dead. He wanted at once to
leave Heideck his horse, and to attempt to make his own way on
foot. But the German officer would not accept this unselfish
sacrifice on the part of his servant; but he was relieved of the
necessity of again separating from his faithful henchman by the
fortuitous circumstance that, at that very moment, an English
officer's riderless charger came in sight. The animal, a beautiful
chestnut, was uninjured, and allowed itself to be caught without
trouble. They were now in a position to continue their flight
together, and Heideck resolved to turn towards the left English
wing, because, as it appeared to him, the action was there
proceeding with less ill-fortune than at other parts of the now
totally defeated British army. This was certainly not the shortest
way to reach Lahore, but it would have been a foolhardy enterprise
to join the wild throng of fleeing troops and their pursuers which
was already pouring along the road towards Lahore.
The far-stretching plantations of Shah Dara, lying on both banks of
the Ravi, with the bridge of boats connecting them, were, as a
matter of fact, still occupied by English troops, who had until now
maintained their positions without any severe loss; but they had
been, of course, in superior numbers to the Russians confronting
them. For the attack upon Shah Dara, with which the battle had
opened, had in the main been only a feint; its object being to
force the English centre, against which the main attack was to be
directed, to send out reinforcements, and thereby fatally to weaken
itself. Heideck had seen with his own eyes how completely this
plan had succeeded. Now, however, when the victory they had gained
made their forces in other positions available for the work, the
Russians commenced to attack this position also in superior
numbers. Russian battalions from the reserves were being hurried
up at the double, and new batteries made their appearance, ready to
open fire upon Shah Dara and the mausoleum of Shah Jahangir, which
lay to the south of it.
The English on their side were prudent enough not to engage in a
hopeless battle of sheer desperation, but began their retreat,
whilst they had still time to carry it out in tolerable order.
When Heideck had reached the southern end of the plantations, a
regiment of Bengal cavalry was just crossing the pontoon bridge,
and Heideck joined it. A Russian shell, which burst right in the
middle of the troop, without, however, despite the severe losses it
had caused, interrupting the formation, was a clear proof that the
situation was here also quite untenable.
With comparatively few losses and without having once been drawn
into an engagement, the regiment drew up close under the citadel,
which, in the north of Lahore, lies inside the outer works.
But, with dismay, the hapless lancers perceived that the murderous
shot and shell were pursuing them even here. Yet the bullets were
not intended for them, but for the treacherous Indian troops and
the irregular Russian cavalry, which surged up, in wild panic,
against the walls. The effect of the fire was, however, none the
less disastrous on that account. The English garrison which had
remained in the city had closed all the gates, and appeared to have
made up their minds to let no one in, either friend or foe. All
the same, the commander of the Bengal regiment drew his men
together and with irresistible weight forced his way right through
the confused, huddling mass of men engaged in hand-to-hand combat
beneath the walls. He made straight for one of the gates, and
those within happily understood and anticipated his intentions.
Confident that the weighty blows and thrusts of the cavalry would
beat off the enemy and prevent them from forcing their way in with
them, the garrison opened the gate at the critical moment, and,
together with his regiment, Heideck and his faithful companion
managed to enter the city. The lancers made their way into the
citadel, and Heideck and Morar Gopal, who had followed him like his
shadow, turned their steps towards the Charing Cross Hotel. It
was, however, far from easy to get there; for the streets were
packed with an impenetrable mob of howling and gesticulating
natives, who were manifestly in the greatest state of excitement.
The news that the English had lost the battle had long since
reached the city, and the apprehensions which had long been
entertained that such tidings could not fail to have a disastrously
disquieting effect upon the Indian population, were only too soon
seen to be justified. In all the brown faces which he saw directed
towards him Heideck clearly read detestation and menace. They
naturally regarded him as an Englishman, and it was only his
decided manner and the naked sword in his hand that prevented the
rabble from venting in a personal attack their rage against one of
the hated race of their oppressors.
The door of the hotel was closed, probably because an attack was
feared on the part of the natives; but as soon as a white man, who
was at once regarded as an English officer, demanded admittance, it
was opened. Heideck found most of the officers' wives and
children, who were living in the hotel, assembled in the hall and
the dining-room which led from it. The foreboding of a terrible
disaster and the fear of coming events, which was perpetually
increased by the noise in the streets, did not allow the poor
creatures to rest longer in their rooms. Mrs. Baird and Edith
Irwin were not, however, among those who thronged round Heideck
and, in a hundred confused questions, hoped to obtain from the
dust-begrimed man, who had evidently come from the battlefield,
news as to how matters stood. Heideck said nothing more than that
the army was retreating, bravely fighting the while. It would have
been useless cruelty to increase the terror and despair of these
unhappy creatures by a detailed account of the whole truth. He had
almost to tear himself away by force from this close knot of
inquirers, in order to go up to Mrs. Baird's room. It was the
first joyous feeling that he had experienced throughout this
disastrous day, when in the friendly "Come in," in answer to his
knock, he recognised Edith Irwin's voice. The fear that something
might have happened to her during his absence had unceasingly
tortured him during the last few hours, and for a moment he forgot
all the terrors that surrounded her in the rapture which, as he
entered, her incomparable beauty awoke in him.
She had risen from the sofa in the middle of the room and stood
with a serious, but perfectly composed face, and with bright eyes,
which appeared prepared for even the extremest danger. Mrs. Baird
was, with her two little girls, in a corner on her knees. So
completely was she absorbed in her religious devotions that she had
not heard Heideck's entrance into the room. It was only when Edith
exclaimed, "Here is Mr. Heideck, dear friend; I knew he would
come," that she sprang up in great excitement.
"Thank God! You have come from my husband? How have you left him?
Is he alive?"
"I left the Colonel, as he was defending himself at the head of his
brave troops against the enemy. He bade me give you his love." He
had endeavoured to give a firm tone to his voice. But the sharp
feminine instinct of the unhappy woman guessed what was behind his
words, intended to give comfort.
"Why don't you tell me the truth? My husband is dead!"
"He was wounded, but you need not give up the hope of seeing him
"If he is wounded, I will go to him. You will conduct me, Mr.
Heideck! There must be a possibility of getting to him."
"I earnestly beseech you, my dear Mrs. Baird, to compose yourself.
It is quite natural that your heart should draw you to your
husband's side; but it is quite impossible for you to carry out
your intention. The night is drawing on, and even if it were broad
daylight nobody would be able to get through the confusion of the
retiring army to the place where your husband must be sought."
"The battle is then lost? Our army is in full retreat?"
"The treachery of the Indian troops is to blame for this disaster.
Your countrymen, Mrs. Baird, have fought like heroes, and as a lost
battle does not yet mean a lost campaign, they will perhaps soon
retrieve to-day's disaster."
"But what is to become of us? The wounded will be brought in here,
won't they? Therefore I shall not think of leaving before I see my
Her determination to remain in the panic-stricken city would
certainly have been impossible to shake by any art of persuasion,
but Heideck did not dream of attempting to dissuade Mrs. Baird from
her resolve. It was his firm conviction that the flight to
Amritsar, which the Colonel had advised in case of a defeat, was,
under the present circumstances, quite impracticable. As a matter
of fact, there was scarcely anything else possible but to remain in
the hotel and patiently await the development of events.
It was now quite impossible for white women and children to trust
themselves in the streets in the midst of the excited populace; but
Heideck believed that they were, for the present, quite safe in the
house, thinking that the fanaticism of the natives would not
culminate in an attack upon the hotel so long as any considerable
body of English soldiers remained in the town. But only too soon
he was compelled to admit that he had under-estimated the
seriousness of the situation. A ruddy, flickering flame, which
suddenly lit up the room which had been filled by the dying evening
glow, caused him to rush to the window, when, to his horror, he
perceived that one of the houses on the opposite side of the street
was on fire, and that in the adjacent building the tongues of flame
had caught the wooden pillars of the verandah. There was no doubt
but that the hotel would, within a few minutes, be involved in the
Under these circumstances it was impossible to think of remaining
longer in the hotel. Its massive walls could, perhaps, withstand
the fire for a time, but the biting volumes of smoke, which had
already taken Heideck's breath away when he had opened the window
for a moment, would soon render it impossible for human beings to
stay longer in the heat. All at once came a heavy knocking at the
door, and Morar Gopal, who had been looking for Heideck everywhere
in the hotel, entreated his master to make his escape as quickly as
The German officer was fully convinced that he had now to exchange
one danger for a peril perhaps even greater. But there was no time
for delay or consideration.
"We are in the midst of a fire, Mrs. Baird," he said. "No one in
the general confusion will attempt to stay the raging element, and
if you do not wish to be stifled with your children, you must
follow me. I hope to be able to bring you, without harm, into the
citadel or into some other place of safety."
Edith Irwin had already taken one of the little girls into her
arms; and when the Colonel's wife was looking about her with a wild
expression, as if she wished to try and save some of her precious
valuables, Edith emphatically insisted upon her hurrying. "There
is nothing more precious than the life of your children. Let
everything go, in God's name!"
The poor woman, whose senses now began to fail her in the terrors
of the moment, quietly obeyed the calm instructions of her young
friend. The other residents in the hotel had almost all already
fled; only a few unhappy women, who had completely lost their
heads, wandered about the lower rooms holding all manner of
valueless objects, from which they would not part, in their hands.
Heideck called to them to follow him. But they hardly understood
him, and he had no more time to trouble about the unfortunate
With a bare sabre in his hand the faithful Hindu endeavoured to
make for his master and those under his protection a path through
the crowd which was surging around the burning houses. It was now
quite dark, and only the red flames weirdly lit up the hideous
nocturnal scene. The raging fanaticism of the crowd appeared
during the last half-hour to have increased in vehemence. These
men, at other times so modest, submissive, and amiable, had
suddenly become metamorphosed into a horde of barbarians. Bare
sabres and daggers flashed their menaces on every side, and the air
was rent by a deafening din. Never before had Heideck seen human
beings in such a state of frenzy. With wild gesticulations these
dark-skinned fellows were tossing their arms and legs; they gnashed
their teeth like wild beasts, and inflicted wounds on their own
breasts and limbs in order to intensify their lust of blood by the
sight of it.
The two men, by dint of peremptory commands and vigorous blows with
the naked sword, forced their way step by step through the crowd.
But after a lapse of ten minutes they had scarcely progressed more
than a hundred yards. The surging mob around them became even
denser and more threatening in its attitude, and Heideck saw it
would be impossible to reach the citadel.
With anxious care for the precious human lives entrusted to his
protection, he looked about for another place of safety. But the
Europeans had firmly barricaded their houses, and none of them
would have opened to admit the poor fugitives. On a sudden the
wild cries that had almost terrified the crying children to death
rose to appalling shrieks and ravings, and a mob of demons, incited
by their fanatic passions almost to frenzy, rushed from a side
street straight upon Heideck. They had somewhere on their way been
joined by a large number of other female fugitives; and the sight
of these unhappy creatures made the German officer's blood run cold
in his veins.
The women, among whom were two girls yet on the borders of
childhood, had had their clothes torn from their bodies, and they
were now being hustled along under such constant ill-usage that
they were bleeding from numerous wounds.
Unable further to curb the wrath that rose within him at the sight
of this brutality, Heideck took his revolver from his belt, and
with a well-aimed shot sent one of the howling, fanatic devils to
But his action was not well-advised. Although his martial
appearance had up till then kept this cowardly crew away from acts
of violence against himself and his party, the furious rage of the
mob now knew no bounds.
In the next moment the small party found itself hemmed in by a knot
of raging black devils, and Heideck was no longer in doubt that it
was only a question of bravely fighting to the death. The foremost
of the more violent of their assailants he was able to keep off by
firing at them the last five shots that remained in his revolver.
The last shot snuffed out the light of a black-bearded fellow just
at the very moment when he was attacking Edith Irwin with his
brutal fists. Then Heideck threw his revolver, useless in that he
could not load it afresh, into the face of one of the grinning
fiends, and clasping his left arm, which was now free, round Edith,
and pressing her tightly to him, carried on a desperate struggle
with his sword.
For Mrs. Baird and her children he could do nothing further. Now
that he had seen his faithful Morar Gopal fall under the blows of
some Mohammedans he felt that they were irretrievably lost. He had
seen how the Colonel's wife had had her clothes torn in shreds from
her body; he heard the heartrending cry of anguish with which,
under the blows and thrusts of her inhuman torturers, she called
for her children. But at all events he was spared the agony of
seeing with his own eyes the end of the innocent little girls.
They disappeared from his view in the terrible confusion, and as
they were besides already half dead from terror, Providence would,
at all events, have the pity not to let them feel the tortures of
the death which their unfeeling butchers had prepared for them.
And what of Edith?
She was not in a faint. In her features one could read nothing of
the anguish of horror that overcomes even the bravest in the face
of death. One might imagine that all that was going on around her
had lost its terrors since Heideck's arm held her fast.
But the moment was not favourable for allowing Heideck to feel the
pleasurable bliss of her love. His strength was at an end and,
although with the exception of a slight injury on the shoulder he
was unwounded, he yet felt it intolerably hard to wield the sword
whose heavy blows had hitherto kept their assailants (with the
exception of some adventuresome spirits, who had paid dearly for
their impudence) at a respectful distance. At the very moment that
fatigue compelled him to drop his weapon, Edith and he would be
given over helpless to the devilish cruelty of this horde of human
beasts. That he knew full well, and, therefore, although before
his eyes there floated, as it were, a blood-red mist, he collected
the last remnant of his strength to postpone this terrible moment
yet for a little-- All of a sudden something unexpected, something
wonderful, happened--something that in his present condition he
could not understand at all; innumerable cries of terror and alarm
mingled with the frenzied, triumphant howlings of the rage-
intoxicated Indians. With the irresistible force of a wave the
whole thickly packed swarm of human beings surged forwards and
against the houses on both sides of the street. The trotting of
horses, loud words of command, the sound of slashing blows were
heard, and the bodies of bearded cavalrymen were visible above the
heads of the crowd.
It was a squadron of Cossacks which was mercilessly hewing its way
through the crowd. The town was then actually in the hands of the
Russians, and orders had evidently been given, the better to
prevent further massacre and incendiarism, to clear the street of
the fanatic mob.
So the fierce-looking horsemen then swept the way before them clear
of all obstacles. And they did their business well; for nothing
could withstand the blows from the whips fitted at the end of the
lash with thin hard sticks, which in their hands became terrible
instruments of punishment.
Heideck suddenly saw himself free of his assailants, and as he with
Edith pressed against the wall of a house, they remained happily
safe from the horses' hoofs as well as from the blows of the knout
which were being dealt out wildly around him.
But the keen eyes of a Cossack officer had perceived the little
group amid the great heap of dead and wounded. He rode up to them,
and as he thought he recognised in Heideck's khaki dress the
English uniform, he gave certain orders to his men, the meaning of
which was soon apparent to them both, for they were at once placed
between the horses of two Cossacks, and without knowing whither
they were being taken, passed through the streets lit up by the
flames of the burning houses.
The mausoleum of Anar Kali, a great octagonal building in the
gardens to the south of the town, was the place whither the Russian
prisoners were taken. Heideck and Edith Irwin were not the first
that had found quarters there; for, besides about a hundred
officers, there were already there numberless English ladies and
children whose saviours had appeared in time to rescue them from
the horrible fate of Mrs. Baird and her children. At the open door
of the apartments reserved for the women Heideck and Edith Irwin
had to part. They were not allowed a long time to take leave. But
even if they had been altogether alone they would at this moment
have been scarcely able to find much to say; for after all the
exertions and excitements of the terrible day just ended such heavy
fatigue and exhaustion had overcome them that they could only
mechanically make use of their limbs; and so, instead of the
passions, hopes, and fears, with which they had been moved but a
short time previously, there was now only a dull void in their
brains as in their hearts.
"Au revoir, to-morrow." That was all that passed between them.
Then, as soon as they had conducted him into the room assigned to
him, Heideck threw himself down, as he was, upon the tiles of the
floor, and fell instantaneously into a deep, dreamless sleep.
The glorious Indian sun, which shone through the round opening in
the ceiling down upon his face, woke him the next morning.
His limbs were stiff from his uncomfortable couch, but the short
sleep had invigorated him, and his nerves had completely regained
their old freshness and vigour.
His room-mates must have been taken away early to some other place,
for he found himself quite alone in the lofty room which was only
lighted by the window in the ceiling. The rays of the sun fell
opposite to him upon a tomb of the purest, whitest, marble quite
covered with illegible hieroglyphics. Whilst he was still engaged
in looking at the apparently ancient memorial tablet, he heard
suddenly behind him the light rustling of a woman's dress, and when
he turned round he gazed with pleasurable surprise into Edith
Irwin's pale, fair face.
"How delighted I am to find you still here," she said with a happy
expression. "I was afraid that you had been taken away with the
"As it seems, it was out of consideration for my well-deserved
slumber," he replied, with a slight trace of humour. But then,
remembering the terrible seriousness of the situation, he continued
in altered and hearty tones--
"How have you passed the night, Mrs. Irwin? It appears to me as if
all that I have gone through since my return to Lahore has only
been a dream."
With a painful quiver of the lips she shook her head.
"Unfortunately, there is no room for doubt that it has been hideous
reality. Poor, poor Mrs. Baird! One must almost consider it a
happy dispensation of Providence that her husband did not live to
see the terrible fate of his family."
"What, have you news from the field of battle? Do you then know
that the Colonel is dead?"
"The Colonel is dead; my husband is dead; Captain McGregor, and
many of my friends from Chanidigot, have been left on the field."
She said it calmly; but he read in her eyes the deep sadness of her
Much affected by her heroic strength of character, he bent his head
and kissed her hand. She let him have his way for a moment, but
then withdrew her thin, cool fingers with a beseeching look, the
meaning of which he full well understood.
"The Commander-in-Chief and his staff reached the railway station,"
she continued; "they travelled to Delhi with the last train that
left Lahore, just at the eleventh hour; for immediately afterwards
the Russians entered the town. The wreck of the army is now
marching to Delhi, but their pursuers are close at their heels.
God alone knows what will be the fate of our poor defeated army."
He did not ask her where she had obtained all this information; but
that it was quite correct he was firmly convinced, judging by his
own experience. He did not know what to say to her to encourage
her, he who never had been able to toy with empty phrases. A short
while they remained silent, and their eyes simultaneously fell upon
the sunlit marble tomb before them.
"Have you seen this cenotaph before?" the young lady suddenly
asked, to Heideck's surprise. On his answering in the negative,
she went on--
"This is the famous tomb of Anar Kali, the beloved wife of Sultan
Akbar, who, on account of her beauty, was given the name of
'Pomegranate Blossom.' She probably departed this life in the same
way that we should have done if the daggers of the murderers
yesterday had reached us. She, perhaps, was just as little
conscious of what was happening to her, as we should have been in
this past night."
"Can you read the inscription?" asked Heideck.
"No, but I have had it interpreted to me; for it is one of the most
famous inscriptions in India. The beautiful Anar Kali was once so
foolish as to smile when the son of her lord and master entered the
harem. And in the selfsame hour the jealous sultan had the unhappy
woman executed. But he must have loved her very dearly, for he
erected to her this beautiful memorial, which should hand down to
generations yet unborn the name of Anar Kali. So full of insoluble
riddles is the poor, foolish heart of man."
Jingling footsteps were heard on the flagstones outside, and the
next moment an officer appeared at the door accompanied by several
soldiers. In abrupt, peremptory tones he ordered Heideck to follow
Now, for the first time, the Captain saw in Edith Irwin's face
something like an expression of terror.
"What is the meaning of this?" She turned hastily to the Russian.
"This gentleman is not an Englishman."
The Russian did not understand the question in English; but when
Heideck asked in Russian what they were about to do with him, he
replied, shrugging his shoulders--
"I do not know. Follow me."
"They only want me to prove my identity," said Heideck composedly,
in order to calm the young lady. "I hope that they will let me
free after examining my passports."
"Certainly they must let you go!" she cried, almost passionately.
"It would be against all the laws of nations if they were to do you
any harm. But how shall I endure the uncertainty as to your fate?"
"I shall come back here at once, as soon as it is possible for me
to do so."
"Yes, yes! I beseech you, do not leave me a second longer than you
are obliged. I have not as yet had time to thank you."
The Russian officer showed such manifest signs of impatience that
Heideck no longer hesitated to follow him.
The way that he had to go was not long. He was taken to a house
close by, over whose gate the words "School of Arts" were
sculptured in the stone. He had only to wait a short while in the
hall, when before him there opened the door of a room on the ground
floor, adorned with sculptures, in which a number of officers sat
at a long table. To Heideck it was at once clear that he was to be
tried before a court-martial. A few very downcast-looking men had
just been led out. The officer who presided turned over the papers
which lay before him, and then, casting a sharp look at Heideck,
spoke a few words with his comrades.
"Who are you?" he asked in English, with a decided Russian accent,
which was difficult to understand.
Heideck, who also spoke in English, answered shortly and clearly,
and laid his passport, which he always carried in the breast-pocket
of his coat as his most valuable possession in ease of emergency,
before the Colonel.
As soon as he had read it, the President said in perfect German--
"You are, then, no Englishman, but a German? What are you doing
here in India?"
"I am travelling for the firm of Heideck, in Hamburg."
"In business? Really? Is it part of your business to fight
"No! and I have not done so."
"You deny, then, that you took part in yesterday's battle?"
"As a combatant, yes! There were other reasons which led me to the
"You only went as a spectator? Didn't it occur to you that, under
the circumstances, this might be very dangerous for you?"
"I have personal relations with several gentlemen in the English
army, and these relations made it necessary for me to visit them
during the battle."
The Colonel turned to a young officer standing a little distance
"Lieutenant Osarov, is it true that you recognised in this man,
when he was brought in here last night, a person whom you saw in an
English square during the progress of the battle?"
"Yes, Colonel, I did!" was the decided reply. "I recognise him now
quite clearly. He was riding a black horse, and dashed off when we
broke into the square."
Heideck perceived that it would be useless to deny the fact, in the
face of this direct evidence, and his military honour would, in any
case, not have permitted him to do so.
"What the lieutenant has said is quite correct," he answered,
anticipating the Colonel's question; "but I did not take part in
the fighting. As a friend of Colonel Baird, who was killed, I kept
as long as possible close to him, so as to be able to bring his
relations, who were left behind in Lahore, tidings of his fate and
of the issue of the battle."
"You, a foreigner, were armed in the English square. Since you
confess this much, we need not trouble ourselves with further
proceedings. You, gentlemen, will all agree that we should treat
him, according to martial law, as a traitor?"
The last words were addressed to the other judges, and, with a
silent bow, they declared their assent.
"Since you, a citizen of a nation not at war with us, have fought
in the ranks of our enemies, the Court must therefore sentence you
to death. The judgment of the Court will be at once carried into
effect. Have you anything to say?"
Heideck was as though stunned. It appeared to him as though a
black veil was drawn across the world; and a sharp pang of grief
shot through him as he reflected that he would never see Edith
again, and that she would in vain wait for him for ever.
Then his pride was roused. No one should call him cowardly or
"Is it possible to appeal against the judgment of this court-
martial?" he asked, looking firmly at the Colonel.
"Then I must, of course, submit to your sentence, but I protest
both against the procedure of the Court and against the judgment
you have pronounced."
His protest evidently did not make the slightest impression.
"Have you drawn up the execution warrant?" the Colonel said,
turning to the secretary. He then appended his signature and
handed it to one of the attendant Cossacks.
"Lead the prisoner away."
Two of the soldiers took Heideck between them, and he followed them
with a proud, erect bearing, without saying a word more. Amidst
the rain of bullets on the battlefield he had not felt the least
trace of fear; but the thought of being led like an animal to the
slaughter-house, filled him with horror. All the same a power he
had hitherto not discovered, sustained him. The new danger awoke
in him new vigour of soul and spirit.
The Cossacks conducted him a long way on the road which leads from
Anar Kali to the Meean Meer cantonment. Heideck looked about him
and observed the changes that had taken place in Lahore, just like
a traveller who already in spirit lives in the new world that he
intends to visit and who looks upon familiar objects as something
strange. Everywhere he saw small detachments of cavalry, who were
preserving order. Only faint clouds of smoke still marked the
place of the fire in the city, which had evidently been
extinguished. The splendid gardens of Donald Town, through which
their way led, the agricultural plantations, and Lawrence Park wore
the same aspect as in the time of profoundest peace.
Heideck was not chained, but the Cossacks who walked beside him had
their carbines presented, ready to fire should he attempt to
escape. But how could he escape? Everywhere round and about,
outposts of the Russian cavalry were discernible; behind him a body
of Cossack horse escorted a whole troop of Indians. Probably they
were incendiaries and robbers who were, like him, being led out for
execution; and it did not improve his frame of mind to find himself
on his last road in the company of such a crew.
After a long march they at length reached the encampment which had
been occupied by the English, the barracks and tents of which were
now filled with Russian troops. It was only with difficulty that
his escort could make their way through the crowd that had
assembled; the report that a number of criminals were being brought
into camp must have arrived here before them, for soldiers of all
arms pressed forward inquisitively from all sides, in order to have
a close view of the poor wretches.
Suddenly, Heideck felt the clutch of a small but firm hand upon his
"Oh, master, what is this? Why are they bringing you here like a
At the first word Heideck recognised the soft voice, that in the
excitement had assumed its natural feminine tones. In the same
fantastic page's livery in which he had last seen him in
Chanidigot, the pretended servant of his friend Prince Tchajawadse
here stood quite unexpectedly before him, as though he had suddenly
sprung from the earth, while the most pained consternation showed
itself in his fair, expressive face.
"Is it you, Georgi?" exclaimed Heideck, into whose sadness of heart
the sight of the Circassian brought a faint gleam of hope; "and
your master--the Prince? Is he also close at hand?"
But the Cossacks did not seem inclined to permit their prisoner any
further private conversation.
"Be off with you, young fellow!" one of them exclaimed to the
supposed page; "this is a spy, who is to be shot on the spot; and
no one is allowed to speak to him."
He made a movement as though with a slight motion of his powerful
fist to thrust the slender lithe figure aside, when Georgi
fearlessly pushed back his arm and glared at him with flashing
"Hold your blasphemous tongue, you liar! You are a thousand times
more of a spy than this gentleman. If you do not leave go of him
at once, you will have a knouting that you will not forget until
the end of your life!"
The Cossacks looked at him and laughed. It was only the handsome
face and the aristocratic bearing of the bold young fellow that
prevented their seizing him.
"Take care, little fellow, that you do not first get the stick,"
one of them said good-humouredly; "and be off with you, before we,
by accident, crush you between our finger and thumb."
"Go now, Georgi," Heideck now said, in his turn, on perceiving that
the Circassian was not inclined to obey their orders; "if your
master is near by, go and tell him that I am about to be shot
against all the rules of international law. But tell him to make
haste, if he wants to see me again alive; for it looks as though
his comrades intend to make short work of me."
He did not doubt that the beautiful, hot-blooded daughter of the
mountains had completely understood him. At all events he saw how
she suddenly turned like a flash of lightning, and with the lithe
rapidity of a slender lizard threaded her way through the crowd of
A new hope awoke in Heideck's breast, and he felt himself once more
fettered in a thousand bonds to life, which he just before thought
he had entirely parted from. He endeavoured to walk more slowly,
in order to gain time. But the Cossacks, who had until now treated
him with a certain amount of consideration, appeared to have become
irritated by the scene with the page, for one of them urged the
prisoner in commanding tones to greater haste, while the other
raised his fist in his face with a menacing gesture.
Perhaps he would even have struck him; but the German officer
looked into his face with such a proud, commanding glance that he
let his raised arm sink to his side. The sullen-looking fellow
felt at once that he was not here dealing with an ordinary spy, and
from this moment neither curses nor abuse passed his lips.
The rattle of a rifle volley struck Heideck's ear, and although he
was sufficiently accustomed to the crack of shots, a cold shiver
passed over him. The bullets that had just been fired had--he knew
it well without anyone telling him--been the portion of some poor
devil who had been in the same position as himself. That was why
these rifle shots were so full of a significance for him, quite
different from that caused yesterday by the rattle and the crash of
the raging battle. Truly, one need not be a coward to feel an icy
shudder at the thought of ten or twenty rifle barrels directed at
one's own breast.
And now they had reached the fatal spot which was to be the goal of
all his earthly wanderings. The parade at the rear of the barrack
camp had been selected for the place of execution, and so summarily
was the punishment being dealt out, that no time had been found to
cart away separately the corpses of those who had been shot. They
simply left them lying in the trench before which the delinquents
were posted, probably because burial in a common grave was more
An officer was handed the execution warrant, which had been issued
by the President of the court-martial, and handed over the prisoner
to a non-commissioned officer, who, regarding him with an
expression of pity, bade him in an almost apologetic tone to follow
Only a few minutes after his arrival on the parade ground, Heideck
also was standing before the fatal ditch, and saw a company of
infantry, with their arms at attention, drawn up before him.
He had now abandoned all hope. Since the verdict of the court-
martial only a miracle could have saved him; and this miracle had
not happened. For a few short minutes he had, after the accidental
meeting with the Circassian, been foolish enough to entertain new
hopes of life, but now even those had vanished. Even had she been
animated by the keenest desire to save him, what, after all, could
she do to make the impossible possible? He was sorry now that he
had not confined himself to begging the Prince through her to allow
him decent burial and to send word to the German General Staff.
These last wishes would, perhaps, have not been impossible of
fulfilment, and he did not doubt that his amiable Russian
acquaintance would have gladly rendered him this trifling service.
The word of command rang out, and the soldiers posted opposite to
him had already, with clank and rattle, shouldered arms, when from
the other side a loud peremptory shout reached Heideck's ear, and
he saw a horseman in Russian dragoon's uniform dashing up, in whose
dark red face he immediately recognised the Prince Tchajawadse.
Close before Heideck he reined in his dripping charger and sprang
from the saddle.
"Little brother! little brother!" he cried, quite breathless from
his ride in such hot haste, clasping, with genuine Russian
impetuosity, his friend, whom he had found again under such strange
circumstances, to his breast. "By all the saints--I should think
it was quite time that I came!"
Then, turning to the astonished officer commanding the firing
"There must be a mistake here. No harm must happen to this
gentleman, for he is not only a personal friend of my own, but he
is also a comrade, an officer of the allied German army."
The lieutenant shrugged his shoulders.
"I have to carry out my orders, Colonel! I can undertake no
responsibility for any mistakes on the part of my superior officers
or of the court-martial."
"I take, then, all the responsibility on my own shoulders for
preventing you from carrying out your instructions, lieutenant!
This gentleman will accompany me, and I give my guarantee for him."
He gave his horse to one of the soldiers, linked his arm in that of
Heideck, and took him off to the tent he occupied in the camp,
giving the while most exuberant expression to his delight at having
seen him again. The breakfast, from which Georgi's message had
startled him, was still on the table, and Heideck needed not much
encouragement to partake of it; for only now he properly realised
how much he was in want of bodily sustenance. Prince Tchajawadse
would not hear of any thanks for what he had done; but when Heideck
asked him if he had really correctly understood that the Prince had
spoken of an alliance between the Russian and German armies, the
latter was not slow to give all information on this head.
"Yes! yes!--it is the fact! The German Empire is hand-in-hand with
us. The first piece of good news that I heard on reaching the army
was that William II. had declared war upon England. The world is
in flames. Only Austria and Italy are neutral."
"And I had no notion of it! But, after all, that is easy enough to
explain. All the telegraph cables are in the hands of the English,
and it was easy for them to suppress every unwelcome despatch. The
Indian newspapers are only allowed, of course, to publish what is
agreeable to the Government; but I am burning with curiosity to
learn more. Do you perhaps know how matters have developed as yet,
and in what way Germany thinks of carrying on the war?"
"It appears that an invasion of England is contemplated. Germany
has mobilised one half of her army, and has occupied Holland. The
French troops, on the other hand, have entered Belgium, so that the
two Powers control the whole coast opposite England."
"And has any action taken place at sea as yet?"
"No; at least down to the present no news has reached us of a naval
battle having been fought. Things are evidently still in the stage
of preparation, and nothing has been heard about the movements of
the German and French fleets. However, the latest intelligence
that I have is now fairly old. We with the army only learn the
news that the Cossacks bring us."
Heideck struck his forehead.
"I feel utterly astonished. To comprehend and digest at one time
all that you have told me almost passes the capacity of a single
brain. But pardon me, Prince, if I trouble you, who have already
done so much for me to-day, with a further request. I am in great
anxiety about a lady, the widow of an English officer who fell in
yesterday's battle, and who was committed to my care. I only left
her this morning early, when I was arrested to be taken before the
court-martial, at the mausoleum of Anar Kali, where she had been
interned with other prisoners. Advise me what to do, in order to
send the lady, whose welfare is nearest my heart, a reassuring
message as to my fate, and at the same time shield her from
annoyance and discomfort."
"That is a very simple matter. Do you object to giving me the name
of the lady?"
"Not at all. It is Mrs. Edith Irwin, the widow of Captain Irwin,
whom you also perhaps met in Chanidigot."
"I think I have some recollection. There was something about a
gambling affair, with which he was not very creditably connected--
wasn't it so? Well, then, while you take a good sound sleep in my
tent here I will ride over to Anar Kali, visit the lady, and find
out how she is situated. Be quite sure that no unpleasantness
shall happen to her, if only I succeed in finding her."
"Your kindness puts me quite to shame, Prince. I--"
"You would do precisely the same if fate had happened to have
exchanged our roles. Why, then, waste words about it? I cannot,
unfortunately, offer you a more comfortable couch than my camp-bed
there. But you are a soldier, and I think both of us have, before
now, had a worse shakedown. So, then, pleasant dreams, my friend!
I will take care that you are not disturbed for the next two
Hurriedly, as though to escape all further expressions of
gratitude, the Prince left the tent.
Sound though Heideck's sleep was, the confused din that penetrated
through the sides of the tent would have recalled an unconscious
person to life. Confused and drowsy as he was, he hurried out just
in time to prevent a wild-looking, dark-skinned Indian from dealing
a heavy blow with a thick staff, which he held in his right hand,
upon a thin, black-garbed gentleman, who was surrounded by a whole
band of natives. The European, with his emaciated, beardless face,
looked like a clergyman, and all the greater was Heideck's surprise
that none of the Russian non-commissioned officers and soldiers,
who were spectators of the assault, raised a hand to protect him.
It was certainly not his duty to act in this place as one in
authority, but the danger in which he perceived this perfectly
defenceless man to be, made him forget all personal considerations.
With a menacing shout he drove off the excited Indians, and, taking
the stranger's arm, led him into the tent.
None of the Russian military prevented his doing so. He had been
seen in confidential conversation with the Colonel, and his
position as a friend of the Prince procured him respect.
The stranger, half dead from fear, gratefully accepted the glass of
wine which Heideck poured out for him, and, having recovered
somewhat, thanked his protector in simple, but cordial terms. He
introduced himself as Professor Proctor, of Acheson College, and
explained that he had come to the camp to look after a relation who
had probably been seriously wounded. He had on a sudden found
himself threatened by a band of excited Indians, who were probably
misled by his dress to take him for a cleric.
"You, also, are no Russian, sir. Judging from your accent, I
should take you for a German."
Heideck assented, and narrated his history in a few words. Having
done so, he could not help expressing his amazement at the attack
of which the Professor had been the victim.
"Never during my whole stay in India have I ever before observed
any outburst of hatred on the part of the Indian natives against
the English clergy," he said.
To this the Professor replied: "Even a few days ago not one of them
would, I should think, have had anything to fear; but in the face
of such terrible upheavals as are now taking place all ideas are
thrown into confusion, all slumbering passions are unfettered. I
do not venture to think of the horrors that will take place
throughout the whole of India now that the bridle that curbed the
people has been rent asunder; and the worst of all is that we have
only ourselves to blame."
"Do you mean on account of the carelessness with which the defence
of the country was organised?"
"I do not mean that alone. Our fault is that we have ignored an
eternal truth, the truth that all political questions are only the
external expression, the dress, so to say, of religious questions."
"Pardon me, but I do not quite follow the sense of your words."
"Please consider the slow, steady advance of the Russians in Asia.
Every land that they have brought under their sway--all the immense
territories of Central Asia have become their assured, undisputed
possessions. And why? Because the Russians have known how to win
over the hearts of their subject races, and how to humour their
religious views. The victors and the vanquished thus better
assimilate. The English, on the other hand, have governed India
purely from the political side. The hearts of the various races in
India have remained strange and hostile to us."
"There may be some truth in what you say. But you must allow that
the English have in India substituted a new civilisation in return,
that inculcates a spirit of intellectual progress, and I conceive
that no nation can for any length of time remain blind in the face
of higher ideals. All history forms a continuous chain of evidence
for the truth of this statement."
"The word 'civilisation' has various significations. If it is only
a question of investigating whether the government and
administration of the country have improved, the answer is that the
civilisation we brought to India has, beyond all doubt, made
enormous strides, in comparison with the conditions that obtained
in former centuries. We have broken the despotism of the native
princes, and have put an end to the endless sanguinary wars which
they waged with each other and with their Asiatic neighbouring
despots. We have laid down roads and railways, drained marshes and
jungles, constructed harbours, won great tracts of lands from the
sea, and built protecting dams and piers. The terrible mortality
of the large cities has considerably decreased. We have given them
laws assuring personal security and guaranteeing new outlets for
trade and commerce. But the aspirations of our English Government
have been purely utilitarian, and as regards the deeper-lying
current of development no progress is anywhere perceivable."
"And, pray, what do you exactly mean by this?"
"Your views in this matter are possibly divergent. I discern in
most of our achievements in India only another manifestation of
that materialism which has ever proved the worst obstacle to all
"It appears to me, Mr. Proctor," Heideck interrupted, with a smile,
"that you have become a Buddhist, owing to your sojourn in India!"
"Perhaps so, sir, and I should not be ashamed of such a creed.
Many a one, who on first coming here regarded India with the eyes
of a Christian, has, on nearer acquaintance, become a Buddhist.
Greek wise men once expressed the wish that kings should be chosen
from among the philosophers. That may possibly be an unrealisable
hope, but I do not believe that a ruler who has a contempt for
philosophy will ever properly fulfil the high duties of his
station. A policy without philosophy is, like an unphilosophical
religion, not established on firmer ground than those houses there
on the river Ravi, whose existence is not safe for a single day,
because the river at times takes it into its head to change its
course. A government that does not understand how to honour the
religious feelings of its people, does not stand more securely than
one of those huts. The fate that has now overtaken the English is
the best proof of what I say. We are the only power in Asia that
has not founded its political sway upon the religion of the people.
In our folly we have destroyed the habitual simplicity of a nation,
which, until our coming, had been content with the barest
necessities of life, because for thousands of years past it cared
more about the life after death than for its earthly existence. We
have incited the slumbering passions of this people, and by
offering to their eyes the sight of European luxury and European
over-civilisation, have aroused in them desires to which they were
formerly strangers. Our system of public instruction is calculated
to disseminate among all classes of the Indian race the worthless
materialistic popular education of our own nation. Of all the
governors and inspectors of schools who have been sent hither by
England not a single one has taken the trouble to penetrate beneath
the surface of the life of the Indian people and to fathom the soul
of this religious and transcendentally gifted race. What contrasts
are not the result! Here a holy river, priests, ascetics, yogis,
fakirs, temples, shrines, mysterious doctrines, a manifold ritual;
while side by side, without any transition, are schools wherein
homely English elementary instruction is provided, a State-
supported university with a medical school and Christian churches
of the most varied confessions."
"But how would it have been possible to combine in a school modern
scientific education with Indian fanaticism?"
A superior smile flitted across the professor's intellectual face.
"Compare, I pray you, the tiresome trivialities of English
missionary tracts with the immortal masterpieces of Indian
literature! Then you will understand that the Indian, even when he
approves Christianity as a system of morals, demands a deeper and
wider basis of these morals, and inquires as to the origin of the
Christian doctrine; and then he very soon finds that all light
which has come to Europe started from Asia. Ex oriente lux."
"I am not sufficiently well informed to be able to answer you on
this point. It may very well be that even Christianity was not the
offspring of Judaism alone, but of Buddhism. It may also be the
case that the teachings of our missionaries of to-day are too
insipid for the Indians. But the metaphysical needs of a people
have, after all, little to do with sound policy and good laws.
Think of Rome! The Roman state had most excellent laws, and a
magnificent political force which for centuries kept it in its
predominant position among the nations of the world. But what of
religion and philosophy in Rome? There was no state religion
whatsoever; there was no priestly hierarchy, no strict theological
codex, but only a mythology and worship of gods, which was of an
eminently practical character, and it was owing to their practical
common sense--or, as you would prefer to call it, materialism--that
the Romans were enabled to found an organised society upon purely
human needs and aspirations. And why should what they were enabled
to achieve be impossible again for other nations who have succeeded
them in their world-power? The spirit of the age is ever changing,
yet it is only a regularly recurring return of the same conditions,
just as the planets in the heavens, ever again in their orbit, come
back to their old positions."
"And supposing the 'Zeitgeist,' like many planets, does not move in
a circle but in a spiral line? The British world-sovereignty has,
as we see, taken a higher flight than did the Roman. Could not
this British world-power, by permeating wise diplomacy with the
profound idea of Indian philosophy, have attained to a great
reformation of the whole of the human race? It would have been a
glorious idea, but I have here learnt how far they were from its
"All the same, I do not think that the English army would have been
defeated by the Russian, had they not fought in accordance with the
rules of antiquated tactics."
"Oh, sir, if the Indian troops had fought with their whole soul for
England we should never have sustained this defeat."
"As a soldier, I am inclined to dispute that. The Indians will
never be a match for a well-disciplined European army. The race is
wanting in too great a measure in military qualities."
"The Indian people is, by nature, it is true, gentle and good-
hearted. In order to render it wild and bloodthirsty it must be
wounded in its most sacred feelings."
"Perhaps you judge it rather too mildly. Decided traces of
barbarism still linger in this people, even in its highest circles.
Here is a case in point that I am able to quote of my own personal
knowledge. An Indian prince, before the outbreak of the war,
attempted to carry off, by his servants, an English lady from her
home, and bribed an assassin to poison the English resident, who
rebuked him for his conduct."
The Professor was astounded.
"Is it possible? Can such things be? Have you not perhaps been
deceived by an exaggerated report?"
"I myself was close at hand, and observed all that took place, and
can give you, the names. The lady upon whom this dastardly attempt
was made is Mrs. Edith Irwin, who had followed her husband, a
captain in the lancers, to the camp of Chanidigot."
The astonishment of the Professor visibly increased.
"Mrs. Edith Irwin? Is it possible? The daughter of my old friend,
the excellent Rector Graham? Yes, beyond doubt, it must be the
same, because she was married to a captain in the lancers."
"Since yesterday she is this officer's widow. He fell in the
battle of Lahore, and she herself is among the prisoners interned
in Anar Kali."
"Then I must endeavour to find her, for she has a claim, for her
father's sake, upon my assistance. But, certainly, for the
moment," he observed, with a somewhat melancholy smile, "I am
myself in the greatest need of protection."
"I believe you may be perfectly easy in your mind as to this lady.
My friend, Prince Tchajawadse, has just now ridden over to Anar
Kali in order, at my request, to look after the lady."
He had not concluded the sentence when the tall form of the Prince
made its appearance at the entrance of the tent. His downcast face
presaged no good news. He advanced to Heideck and shook his hand.
"I am not, unfortunately, the bearer of any good news, comrade. I
have not discovered the lady whose guardian you are."
"What! Has she left? And you could not learn whither she is
"All that I have been able to elicit is that she was driven off in
an elegant carriage, in the company of several Indians. An English
lady who saw the occurrence told me this."
A fearful dread overcame Heideck.
"In the company of Indians? And does nobody know whither she was
taken? Did she leave no message for me or anyone else?"
"The lady had no opportunity of speaking to her. She saw the
departure at a distance."
"But she must have noticed whether Mrs. Irwin left the mausoleum of
her own free will or under compulsion?"
The Prince shrugged his shoulders.
"I cannot, unfortunately, say anything about that. My inquiries
were without result. Neither any one of the English prisoners or
of the Russian sentries was able to give me further information."
A meeting of the Cabinet Council was being held at the Foreign
Office in London. With gloomy faces the Ministers were all
assembled. The foreboding of a catastrophe brooded over England
like a black cloud; all manner of rumours of disaster were current
in the land, and coming events were awaited with sickening dread.
"A telegram from the general in command," said the Prime Minister,
opening the paper he held in his hand. A deadly silence fell upon
"With painful emotion, I communicate to His Majesty's Government
the news of a great reverse I suffered the day before yesterday at
Lahore. I have only to-day reached Delhi with the remnant of my
army, which has been pursued by the Russian advance guard. We had
taken up a very favourable position on the left bank of the Ravi
and were on the point of preventing the Russian army from crossing
the river, when unexpectedly a violent onslaught made upon our left
wing at Shah Dara compelled us to send reinforcements to this wing
and thus to weaken the centre. Under the cover of jungle on the
river-bank, the Russian cavalry and the Mohammedan auxiliaries of
the Russian army succeeded in forcing the passage and in throwing
our sepoy regiments into disorder. The troops of the Maharajah of
Chanidigot traitorously went over to the enemy and that decided the
day against us. Had not all the sepoy regiments deserted, I could
have maintained my ground, but the English regiments under my
command were too weak to resist for long the superior numbers of
the enemy. The bravery of these regiments deserves the highest
praise, but after a battle lasting several hours I was compelled to
give the order to retreat. We fell back upon the city of Lahore,
and I contrived to convey a portion of my troops by railway to
Delhi. This city I shall defend to the bitter end. Reinforcements
are being sent from all military stations in the country. The
extent of our losses I am unable to give at the time of writing. I
have been able to bring five thousand troops intact to Delhi."
The reading of this terrible report was succeeded by a chilling
silence. Then the Minister of War arose and said:--
"This despatch certainly comes upon us as a staggering blow. Our
best general and his army, composed of the flower of India's
troops, have been defeated. We may rightly say, however, that our
power is still established on a firm basis, so long as England,
this seagirt isle, is safe from the enemy. No defeat in India or
in any one of our colonies can deal us a death-blow. What we lose
in one portion of the world, we can recover, and that doubly, in
another, so long as we, in our island, are sound in both head and
heart. But that is just what makes me anxious. The security of
Great Britain is menaced when we have almost the whole world in
arms against us. A strong French army is standing ready opposite
Dover to invade us, and a German army is in Holland also prepared
to make a descent on our coasts. I ask what measures have been
taken to meet an attack upon our mother country?"
"The British fleet," replied the First Lord of the Admiralty, "is
strong enough to crush the fleets of our enemies should they dare
to show themselves on the open seas. But the Russian, French, and
German navies are clever enough to remain in harbour under the
cover of the fortifications. We have, too, fleets in the Channel,
one of ten battleships and eighteen cruisers, and the necessary
smaller vessels, told off to engage the German fleet; and a second,
a stronger force, of fourteen battleships and twenty-four cruisers,
destined to annihilate the French fleet. A third fleet is in the
harbour of Copenhagen in order to prevent a union being effected
between the Russian and German fleets. The plan of sailing for
Cronstadt has been abandoned, from the experiences of the Crimean
War and the fear that we should be keeping our naval forces too far
apart. Our admirals and captains will, owing to the Russian
successes, be convinced that England's honour and England's very
existence are now at stake. When in the eighteenth century we
swept the sea power of France from all the seas and vanquished the
fleet of the Great Napoleon, the rule was laid down that every
defeated admiral and captain in our navy should be court-martialled
and shot, and that even where the victory of our ships of war was
not followed up and taken the utmost advantage of, the court-
martial was to remove the commander. The time has now arrived when
those old, strict rules must be again enforced."
"According to the last Admiralty reports," said the First Lord of
the Treasury, "the fleet consists of twenty-seven new ironclads,
the oldest of which is of the year 1895. The ironclads of 1902,
the Albemarle, Cornwallis, Duncan, Exmouth, Montagu, and Russell,
as well as those of 1899, Bulwark, Formidable, Implacable,
Irresistible, London, and Venerable are, as I see from the report,
constructed and armed according to the latest technical principles.
Are all the most recent twenty-seven battleships with the Channel
"No; the Albion, the Ocean, and the Glory are in other waters. The
twelve newest ironclads which your lordship mentioned are included
in both Channel fleets; in addition, several older battleships,
such as the Centurion, Royal Sovereign, and Empress of India are in
the Channel. I may say with truth that both the Channel Squadrons
are fully suited for the tasks before them. We have, besides,
twenty-four ironclads of an older type, all of which are of
excellent value in battle."
"Among these older ironclads are there not many which are equipped
"Yes, but a naval battle has yet to determine whether the general
view that breechloaders are more serviceable in action is correct
or not. In the case of quick-firing guns it is certain that the
breechloader is alone the right construction; but in our heaviest
guns, which have a bore of 30.5 centimetre, and require three to
four minutes to load, the advantage of quick-firing is not
apparent, for here everything depends upon accurate aim, so that
the heavy projectile may hit the right place. For this purpose
clever manoeuvring is everything. Moreover, the battles round Port
Arthur show us the importance of the torpedo and the mine. The
Russian fleet has met with its heaviest losses owing to the clever
manoeuvring and the superior torpedo tactics of the Japanese. It
looks as if in modern naval battles artillery would prove
altogether inferior to mines, and here our superiority in
submarines will soon show itself when we attack the fleets of
Germany and France in their harbours. Only a naval engagement
between our squadrons and those of the French and Germans can teach
us the proper use of modern ships of war. And it will be a lesson,
a proper lesson for those misguided people who dare expose
themselves to the fire of a British broadside and the attack of our
torpedo and submarine boats. Let the steel plating of the vessels
be as it will, the best cuirass of Great Britain is the firm, true
breast of Britons."
"When I hear these explanations," the Colonial Minister
interjected, "I cannot suppress the suspicion, that the whole plan
of our naval strategy is rotten."
"I beg you to give your reasons for your suspicion," the First Lord
of the Admiralty replied, somewhat irritated.
"It has ever been said that England rules the waves. Now the war
has been going on for a considerable time and I perceive nothing of
our boasted supremacy."
"How can you say so? Our enemies' commerce has been completely
paralysed, while our own ships carry on their trade everywhere as
freely as ever."
"That may be the case, but by naval supremacy I mean something
quite different. No naval victory has as yet been gained. The
enemies' fleets are still undamaged: until they are annihilated
there is always a danger that the war may take a turn prejudicial
to us. Only the struggle on the open sea can decide the issue. If
the English fleet is really supreme, she can force the enemies'
ships to a decisive action. Why do we not blockade the French and
German fleets in their harbours, and compel them to give us battle?
Our guns carry three miles, we can attack our enemies in their
harbours. What is the meaning of this division of our fleet into
three squadrons? Our whole fleet ought to be concentrated in the
Channel, in order to deal a crushing blow."
"The right honourable gentleman forgets that a combination of our
fleet would also entail the concentration of our enemies' fleets.
If we leave our position at Copenhagen, a strong Russian fleet will
proceed from Cronstadt and join the German warships in the Baltic.
This united fleet could pass through the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal into
the North Sea. England in its naval preparations has always
adopted the 'two power standard,' and although we have aimed at the
'three power standard,' our resources in money and personnel are
not capable of fitting out a naval force superior to the fleets of
the now three allied Powers. All the same, our own prestige holds
these three Powers so far in check that they dare not attack us on
the open seas. Should we not be hazarding this prestige in
provoking a naval battle without a definite chance of success?
This naval battle will take place, but the favourable moment must
be carefully chosen. Considering the present state of the war, it
would be in the highest degree frivolous to stake all upon one
throw of the dice. Well, that is exactly what we should be doing
were we to force on a naval conflict. If the attack failed, if our
fleet suffered a defeat, England would be then exposed to the
invasion of a Continental army. It is true that our fleet is
weakened by being split up, but the same is also true of the fleets
of our enemies, so that this apparent disadvantage is equalised.
We must keep on the watch for the moment when some alteration of
the present situation permits us to attack our enemies' fleets with
a superior force."
"There might be a way of enticing the German fleet into the open,"
maintained the Colonial Minister. "Let us send an ironclad
squadron to Heligoland and bombard the island and its
fortifications until it crumbles into the sea. The acquisition of
Heligoland was the Emperor William's darling idea, and this monarch
will take good care that Heligoland does not disappear from the
earth's surface. But if, in spite of the bombardment of
Heligoland, the Germans do not come out into the open sea, let us
send our fleet up the Elbe and lay Hamburg in ashes. Let our
warships put to sea from Copenhagen and destroy Kiel harbour and
all the German coast towns on the Baltic. Then the German fleet
will soon enough put out to meet us!"
"This plan has already been considered, and will perhaps be acted
upon. There are, however, two difficulties in the way. First of
all, by the destruction of unfortified towns we should be conjuring
up odium against us, which--"
"Nonsense! there is no 'odium' for a victor! England would never
have attained its present might and grandeur had it allowed itself
to be deterred by a too delicate regard for humanity and the law of
nations from taking practical steps."
"Well, and then there is, at any rate, the second consideration."
"And that is, my lord?"
"A battle of ships, even though they have the finest possible
armour, against land fortifications, is always a hazardous
undertaking, and more especially when the coasts are defended by
innumerable mines and torpedo boats. Moreover, ironclads are very
expensive, and are, in a certain sense, very fragile things."
"The Germans have removed all their light-ships, all their buoys,
and, like the French, the German ports are also defended by mines.
An ironclad, given calm sea, is strong as against another ship, but
the nature of its build makes it weak in a storm and in insecure
waters. An ironclad, owing to its enormously heavy armament, goes
to the bottom very rapidly, as soon as it gets a heavy list either
on the one side or the other. Again, owing to its enormous weight,
it can never ram another vessel for fear of breaking to pieces
itself; if a torpedo strikes its armour, or if the ship runs upon a
mine, the explosion will send it to the bottom with greater ease
than it would a wooden ship of a century ago. And then, if it runs
on a shallow or a rock it cannot be brought off again. Moreover,
its supply of coal requires to be constantly renewed, so that it
cannot be sent on long expeditions. Our ironclads have their own
specific purpose--they are intended for a naval battle. But they
are like giants, are rendered top-heavy by their own weight, and
are thus easily capsized, and the loss of an ironclad battleship,
apart from the effect it might have upon our chances in the war,
entails the loss of more than a million pounds. The cruisers,
again, I would not without urgent necessity expose to the steel
projectiles of a Krupp's coast battery. Let us take care not to
suffer the smallest disaster at sea! It would be as dangerous for
our prestige and for our position as a world-power as a steel shot
would be for the water-line of one of our ships of war."
The Colonial Minister was silent. He had nothing to urge against
"Our Indian troops are greatly in need of reinforcements," began
the Prime Minister again. "We must put English soldiers into the
field, for we cannot rely longer upon the sepoys."
"Certainly," said the Minister of War, "and drafts are constantly
being despatched to Bombay. Forty thousand men have been embarked;
of these more than twenty thousand have been landed in India; the
remainder are still on the sea. A great fleet is on the road, and
eight ironclads are stationed in Aden to meet any attack upon our
transports. But it is really a question whether we are well
advised in still sending more troops to India. My lords! hard as
it is for me to say so, we must be prudent. I should be rightly
accused of having lost my head if I did more than bare prudence
demanded. Great Britain is denuded of troops. Now, I know full
well, and England also knows it full well, that an enemy will never
plant his foot on these shores; for our fleet assures us the
inviolability of our island, but we should not be worthy of our
responsible positions were we to neglect any measure for the
security of our country. Let us, my lords, be cowards before the
battle, provided we are heroes in it! Let us suppose that we had
no fleet, but had to defend England's territory on land. We must
have an army on English soil ready to take the field; failing this,
we are guilty of treason against our country. The mobilisation of
our reserve must be further extended. Ten thousand yeomen, whom we
have not yet summoned to the ranks, are to-day in a position to
bear arms and wave the sword. To-day every capable man must be
enlisted. The law provides that every man who does not already
belong to a regular army or to a volunteer corps can, from eighteen
to fifty years of age, be forced to join the army, and thus a
militia can be formed of all men capable of bearing arms. If His
Majesty will sanction it, I am ready to form a militia army of
150,000 men. I reckon for India 120,000 men, for Malta 10,000, for
Hong Kong 3,500, for Africa 10,000, 3,000 for the Antilles, for
Gibraltar 6,000, and 10,000 more for Egypt, apart from the smaller
garrisons, which must all remain where they are at present; I shall
then hope, after having called up all volunteers and reserves, to
be in a position to place an army of 400,000 men in the field for
the defence of the mother country."
The First Lord of the Treasury shook his head. "Do not let us be
lulled by such figures into false optimism! Great masses without
military discipline, unused to firearms, with newly appointed
officers (and they chosen, moreover, by the men whom they are to
command), troops without any practical intelligence, without any
understanding of the requirements of modern warfare, such are the
men, as I understand, we are to place in the field against such
splendid troops, as are the French and German. Whence should we
get our artillery? In 1871 we saw the result, when masses of men
with muskets were pitted against regularly disciplined troops.
Bourbaki was in command of an army that had been disciplined for
months gone by, and yet his host, although they took the field with
cavalry and artillery, suffered enormous losses on meeting an army
numerically inferior, yet well-organised, and commanded by
scientific and experienced officers. They were pushed across the
frontier into Switzerland, like a great flock of sheep pursued by a
bevy of wolves."
"But they were French, and we are Englishmen!"
"An Englishman can be laid low by a bullet as well as a Frenchman.
The days of the Black Prince are past and gone, no Henry V. is to-
day victorious at Agincourt, we have to fight with firearms and
"The Boers, my lord, showed us what a brave militia is capable of
doing against regular troops."
"Yes, in the mountains. The Tyrolese held out in the same way
against the great Napoleon for a while. But England is a flat
country, and in the plain tactical strategy soon proves its
superiority. No, England's salvation rests entirely on her fleet."
A despatch from the Viceroy of India was handed to the Prime
Minister: "The Viceroy informs His Majesty's Government that the
Commander-in-Chief in Delhi has massed an army of 30,000 men, and
will defend the city. The sepoys attached to his army are loyal,
because they are confined within the fortifications and cannot
flee. The Viceroy will take care that the Mohammedan sepoys shall
all, as far as possible, be brought south, and that only Hindu
troops shall be led against the Russians. Orders have been given
that the treacherous Maharajah of Chanidigot, whose troops in the
battle of Lahore gave the signal for desertion, shall be shot. The
Viceroy is of opinion that the Russian army will have to halt
before Delhi in order to collect the reinforcements which, though
in smaller numbers, are still coming up through Afghanistan. He
does not doubt that the English army, whose numbers are daily
increasing by the addition of fresh regiments, will, when massed in
the northern provinces, deal the Russians a decisive blow. The
Commander-in-Chief will leave to General Egerton the defence of
Delhi, and concentrate a new field army at Cawnpore, with which it
is his intention to advance to Delhi. All lines of railway are now
constantly engaged in forwarding all available troops to Cawnpore."
"This news is, at all events, calculated to inspire new courage,"
said the Prime Minister after reading the telegram, "and we will
not disguise from ourselves the fact, my lords, that we need
courage now more than ever. This new man in Germany, whom the
Emperor has made Chancellor, is arousing the feelings of the
Germans most alarmingly against us. He appears to be a man of the
Bismarck stamp, full of insolent inconsiderateness and of a
surprising initiative. We stand quite isolated in the world;
Russia, France, and Germany are leagued against us. Austria cannot
and will not help us, Italy temporises in reply to our advances,
says neither 'yes' nor 'no,' and seeks an opportunity of allying
herself with France and wresting the remainder of the Italian
territories from Austria and of aggrandising herself at the expense
of our colonies. Yet, whenever England has stood alone, she has
always stood in the halo of glory and power. Let us trust in our
own right hand and in the loyalty of our colonies, who are ready to
come to our aid with money and men, and whom, after our victory, we
will repay with all those good gifts that His Majesty's Government
"Our colonies!" the Minister of the Board of Trade intervened.
"You are right, they are ready to make sacrifices. Only I am
afraid that those sacrifices which the Right Honourable the
Minister for the Colonies demands of them will be too great, and
that, having regard to the tendency of the modern imperialism of
our Government, they will not believe in those rewards that are to
be dangled before their eyes."
"My lord," replied the last speaker, "I am considered an agitator,
and am accused of being responsible for the present perilous
position of England. Well, I will accept that responsibility.
Never in the world's history did a statesman entertain great plans
without exposing his country to certain risks. I remind you how
Bismarck, after the war of 1866 had been fought to a successful
issue, said that the old women would have beaten him to death with
cudgels had the Prussian army been defeated. But it was not
defeated, and he stood before them as a man who had united Germany
and made Prussia great. He exposed Prussia to the greatest risks,
in that by his agitation he made almost the whole world Prussia's
enemy, declared war upon Austria and upon the whole of South
Germany, and forced the latter eventually to engage in the war
against France. England at that time pursued the luckless policy
of observing and waiting for an opportunity, merely because no
agitator conducted its policy. Had England in 1866 declared war
against Prussia, Germany would not to-day be so powerful as to be
able to wage war upon us. Since those days, profound changes have
taken place in England itself, and entirely owing to the growth of
the German power. Since the fall of Napoleon, we have not troubled
ourselves sufficiently about events upon the Continent, but in our
proud self-assurance have thought ourselves so powerful, that we
only needed to influence the decisions of foreign governments, in
order to pursue our own lines of policy. But this self-assurance
suffered a severe shock in the events of 1866 and 1870, and England
has, and rightly enough, become nervous. The Englishman down to
that period despised the forward policy of the Continental powers.
This is no longer the case, but, on the other hand patriotic
tendencies are at work even in England itself, which are branded by
the weak-minded apostles of peace as chauvinistic. Let that pass,
I am proud to call myself a chauvinist in the sense that I do not