...- .. :.~~-:,.: ..
';*"; ':' "<"
,:. I ,:- -;.-.
e..-.; ^N^ B-
.. ;;.- '
:r" 7 :
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
MR. HENTY'S HISTORICAL TALES.
Crowon vo, Cloth elegant, Olivine edges. Each Book is
THE CAT OF BUBASTES: A Story of Ancient Egypt. 5s.
THE YOUNG CARTHAGINIAN: A Story of the Times of Hannibal. 6s
FOR THE TEMPLE: A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem. 6s.
THE LION OF ST. MARK: A Story of Venice in the 14th Century. Gs.
THE LION OF THE NORTHI: A Tale of Gustavus Adolphus. 6s.
IN THE REIGN OF TERROR. The French Revolution. 5s.
THE DRAGON AND THE RAVEN: Or, The Days of King Alfred. 5s.
IN FREEDOM'S CAUSE: A Story of Wallace and Bruce. 6s.
ST. GEORGE FOR ENGLAND: A Tale of Cressy and Poitiers. 58.
BY PIKE AND DYKE: A Tale of the Rise of the Dutch Republic. 6s.
UNDER DRAKE'S FLAG: A Tale of the Spanish Main. 6s.
ORANGE AND GREEN: A Tale of the Boyne and Limerick. 5s.
BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE: A Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden. 6s.
THE BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE: Or, With Peterborough in Spain. 5s.
WITH WOLFE IN CANADA: Or, The Winning of a Continent. 6'.
WITH CLIVE IN INDIA: Or, The Beginnings of an Empire. 6s.
TRUE TO TIE OLD FLAG. The American War of Independence. Os.
HELD FAST FOR ENGLAND: A Tale of the Siege of Gibraltar. 5s.
ONE OF THE 28TH: A Story of Waterloo. 5s.
THROUGH TIE FRAY: A Story of the Luddite Riots. 6s.
BY SHEER PLUCK: A Tale of the Ashanti War. 5s.
FOR NAME AND FAME: Or, Through Afghan Passes. 5s.
WITH LEE IN VIRGINIA: A Story of the American Civil War. 6s.
THE DASH FOR KHARTOUM: A Tale of the Nile Expedition. 6s.
LONDON: BLACKIE & SON, LIMITED; GLASGOW AND EDINBURGH
PERCY THREATENS TO SHOOT THE FERRYMEN.
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR:
A TALE OF
THE CONQUEST OF THE PUNJAUB.
G. A. HENTY,
Author of "Beric the Briton;" "The Dash for Khartoum;" "Held Fast for England;"
"With Clive in India;" &c.
WITH TIVELVE ILLUSTRATIONS BY HAL HURST,
AND MAP OF THE PUNJAUB.
BLACKIE & SON, LIMITED, 49 OLD BAILEY, E.C.
GLASGOW, EDINBURGH, AND DUBLIN.
MY DEAR LADS,
Among the many wars by which, province by province,
the Empire of India was won, few, if any, were more brilliant
and hard fought than those which terminated in the annexa-
tion of the Punjaub. It is satisfactory to know that the con-
quest of the Sikhs-a brave and independent race-was not
brought about by any of the intrigues which marred the bril-
liancy of some of our early conquests, or by greed for additional
territory, but was the result of a wanton invasion of the states
under our protection by the turbulent soldiery of the Punjaub,
who believed themselves invincible, and embarked upon the
conflict with a confident belief that they would make them-
selves masters of Delhi, if not drive us completely out of India.
It was fortunate for Britain that the struggle was not delayed
for a few years, and that there was time for the Punjaub to
become well contented with our rule before the outbreak of the
Mutiny; for had the Punjaub declared against us at that critical
period it would assuredly have turned the scale, and the work
of conquering India must needs have been undertaken anew. I
have endeavoured, while keeping my hero well in the fore-
ground, to relate the whole of the leading incidents in the two
G. A. HENTY.
I. EASTWARD Ho! .
II. THE SHADOW OF WAR, .
III. AT THE CASTLE, .
IV. A RAID FROM THE HILLS,
V. RETRIBUTION . .
VI. A SIEGE, ...
VII. STARTLING NEWS,
VIII. IN THE SERVICE,. .
IX. MOODKEE AND FEROZESHAH,
X. ALIWAL AND SOBRAON,. .
XI. AN ABUSH, . .
XII. A PRISONER, . .
XIII. ESCAPE, . .
XIV. TREACHERY, . .
XV. THE NEWS OF THE MASSACRE
XVI. SEVEN HOURS OF SUSPENSE,
XVII. WITH SHER SINGH, .
XVIII. REJOINING . .
XIX. CHILLIANWALLA, .
XX. GUJERAT, . .
XXI. RETIRED, ......
. . 35
. . 69
. . 170
.E, . 256
. . 275
. . 203
. . 365
PERCY THREATENS TO SHOOT THE FERRYMEN, Frontis. 260
PERCY LEARNS THE PUNJAUBI LANGUAGE, . 26
PERCY AND HIS UNCLE ENTER THE ZENANA, . 69
PERCY SHOOTS THE ASSASSIN DURING THE ATTACK ON THE
FORTRESS, .... ..... 121
THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF THANKS PERCY FOR HIS REPORT, 156
PERCY AND HIS FOLLOWERS ARE ATTACKED BY DACOITS,. 199
PERCY AWAKES, TO FIND THAT THE GUARDS ARE VIGILANT, 213
PERCY AND AKRAM ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE FROM PRISON, 226
"Is HE DEAD?" PERCY ASKED AS HE REINED UP HIS IORSE, 249
PERCY IS CARRIED OUT OF THE FIGHT WOUNDED, .. .285
PERCY TAKES PART IN THE BATTLE OF CHILLIANWALLA, 338
PERCY HAS AN INTERVIEW WITH SHER SINGH, ... .358
MAP OF THE PUNJAUB, . . .. .to face p. 10
THROU JTHE SIKH WAR"
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR:
A STORY OF THE CONQUEST OF INDIA.
ROVES, here is a letter for you," Dr. Bubear, the
head-master of a large school at Dulwich, said, as
the boys rose from their places to leave the school-
room at the conclusion of their work. The lad
addressed, a boy of about fifteen, went up to the desk.
"It is from your father's lawyers, Messrs. Sims & Hammond.
I have received one from them myself, I think you will find it
satisfactory," and he nodded kindly. "You had better stop in
here to read it, for it looks somewhat bulky, and I fancy con-
tains an inclosure."
Percy Groves returned to his seat, and did not open the
letter until he was alone in the school-room. It was a long
time since he had received one. Fifteen months before he had
lost his father. Major Groves had returned on half-pay a year
before his death, being obliged to quit the service from the
effects of a severe wound which he received at the storming of
Ghuznee. His regiment had been absent several years from
England, and after he had left the service and taken a house at
Dulwich, he had made but few acquaintances, spending most
of his time at the military club to which he belonged.
12 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
Percy, who was an only child, had been born in India-his
mother dying when he was five years old. His father had kept
him three years longer with him, and had then sent him home
to England to the care of his grandfather, who had, however,
died a year later; and from that time Percy had known no home
but Dr. Bubear's, until his father returned and took up his
residence near the school. A few days before his death Major
Groves had a long talk with his son.
"I am troubled about you, Percy," he said. "Besides my half-
pay I have but three thousand pounds-a sum sufficient indeed
to finish your education, pay your expenses at the University if
you decide to go into one of the learned professions, and to
help you a bit until you make your way. I have written to
three or four of my old friends, who will, when the time comes,
do their best to procure you a commission in the army, in case
you have a fancy then, as I know you have now, for soldiering.
Lastly, there is my brother. We have never kept up much cor-
respondence, but we have always been good friends; he was in the
army himself, but sold out after only serving a year, as he saw
that there was very little chance of active service in Europe.
He knocked about the world for some years and then went
out to India, and the next I heard of him was that he had
entered the service of Runjeet Singh, the leader of the Sikhs,
who had great respect for European troops, and employed a
number of foreign officers-Italian, German, and a few English
-to train his troops on our method.
"I have not heard of him for some three or four years, but
when I did he was still in the Sikh service, and held the rank
of colonel, and was, I heard, high in favour with Runjeet Singh,
and there I have no doubt he is still, that is if he is alive. No
doubt he is married to some dusky princess, and has probably
accumulated a fortune. These adventurers, as Europeans in
the service of native princes are generally called, either get
murdered soon after they get out there, or else accumulate large
fortunes. I have no doubt that if he is alive he will take
charge of you.
"The life is an adventurous one, and I do not say that I
should advise you to adopt it; but in that respect you must
decide for yourself, when you reach the age to do so. If your
uncle is able to push your fortune out there you might do
worse than stay with him; if, on the other hand, when you get to
the age of seventeen or eighteen, you do not care to remain in
India, you must come home and get the officers to whom I have
written to use their influence to obtain a commission for you,
which they will, I have no doubt, be able to do, as the son of
an officer forced to retire from the service in consequence of
wounds is always considered to have a claim.
"In that case the knowledge that you will obtain of Indian
methods and languages would be a very great assistance to
you. But mind, if you do go out to your uncle it will not
be possible for you afterwards to choose one of the learned
professions, for however much you may try to educate yourself
out there, you will not be up to the mark of lads who have
gone through the regular course of schooling here."
"I don't care for that, father; I have always made up my
mind to be a soldier, as you were. I should like very much to
go out to my uncle if he will have me."
The major was silent for a few minutes.
"I don't know that it is a wise step," he murmured to
himself; "but the boy has no friends here-my old comrades will
do what they can for him when the time comes, but until then
he will have but a lonely life.
"Very well, Percy," he went on, turning to his son, "I will
write to your uncle. It may be eighteen months before you get
an answer from him-that is all the better. Work hard at
school, lad, and learn as much as you can, for you will get but
little learning out there. If your uncle does not care to have you,
or thinks that things are too disturbed and unsettled out there
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
for him to undertake the responsibility, you must fall back on
the other plan and remain at Dr. Bubear's until you are seven-
teen. I have written letters to the friends who promised to
see after your commission; you will find them in my desk. Keep
them by you until you are leaving school, and then post them,
that is if your wish to go into the army is unchanged. If it
should be changed, Messrs. Sims & Hammond, my lawyers, will
put you in the way of carrying out your wishes in whatever
direction they may lie."
There had been several such talks between father and son,
and Percy knew that he should not have his father long with
him. He listened, therefore, gravely to his words, but with-
out showing emotion; for although when alone he often gave
way to tears, he knew that the major, himself a quiet and
self-restrained man, was adverse to any display of feeling.
The boy did not think the end was so near, and though pre-
pared in some way for the blow, it was a terrible shock to him
when his father, five days later, expired. He had again become
a boarder at Dr. Bubear's, remaining there during the holidays
as well as in school-time.
Two or three times old friends of his father had come to see
him, and had taken him out for the day. This was the only
change he had had, but he had worked hard and risen con-
siderably in his place in the school. In accordance with
instructions from Messrs Sims & Hammond he had gone
regularly to a riding-school, as the major, knowing the Sikhs
to be a nation of horsemen, had thought it desirable that he
should learn to have a good seat on a horse. The lawyers had
also arranged that he should twice a week have lessons in
Hindustani, and he was allowed to work at this instead of
Greek. His progress was comparatively rapid, as after a time
the language he had heard spoken for the first eight years of his
life came back to him rapidly. He had hardly begun to look
for a reply from his uncle when Dr. Bubear handed him the
letter, which he doubted not contained the answer. He had
hardly hoped that it would be favourable, for during the
intervening time he had learned something of what was going
on in the Punjaub, and knew that since Runjeet Singh's death
there had been many troubles there, and that things were in a
very unsettled state.
This information he had received from one of the boys
whose father was a director of the East India Company. The
doctor's words, however, gave him some hope, and when alone
he opened the letter with less trepidation than he would other-
wise have felt. Messrs. Sims & Hammond wrote as follows:
"We have pleasure in forwarding to you a communication
from Colonel Roland Groves, which was inclosed in one sent
to us. In the latter he expressed his readiness to receive you,
while pointing out that the position of affairs in the Punjaub
was unsettled in the extreme. He doubtless speaks further of
this in his letter to you. As our late client, your father, in-
structed us that we were to be guided entirely by your decision
in the matter, we leave it in your hands, observing, however,
that in the face of your uncle's statements with regard to the
country, it appears to us that to go out to him at present would
be an exceedingly ill-advised and rash step. Should you, how-
ever, decide upon doing so, we will, upon hearing from you, take
the necessary steps for obtaining your outfit and securing your
berth. A client of ours in Calcutta will, we doubt not, arrange
on your arrival there for forwarding you up the country to
Having read this, Percy broke the seal of the inclosure and
read as follows:-
"MY DEAR NEPHEW,-I am filled with grief to learn from a
letter, forwarded to me after his death, that your father is no
more. It is many years since I saw him; but we were always
capital friends, though as unlike in disposition as two brothers
could be. He tells me that he has no friends in England in
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
whose charge he could place you, and asks if I will have you
out with me until you are of an age to enter the army at home,
if, indeed, you do not decide to follow my example and take
service with one of the native princes.
"As far as taking charge of you goes, I am perfectly ready
to do so-indeed more than ready; for it will give me great
pleasure to have poor Hugo's son with me and to treat him as
my own, for I am childless. But the sort of career I have
chosen is pretty nearly closed. The Company have most of
India under their thumb, and allow no English except their
own officials to take service with the protected princes. At
present the Punjaub is independent, but I don't think it can
remain so much longer. Since the death of the Old Lion, as
Runjeet Singh was called, things have gone from bad to worse.
One ruler after another has been set up, and either dethroned or
assassinated. The army is practically master of the country;
and one of its first steps was to demand the dismissal of all
foreign officers, and the greater part of us were accordingly
"Some of them left the country; others, like myself, are
living on the estates granted us by Runjeet Singh, and on the
pickings, which were considerable, that had come to us during
our term of service, and we are waiting to see what may be
the next turn of the wheel. Life here is something like that
of a baron of old in England. My house is, in fact, a fortress
perched on a rock. I have a garrison of several hundred
picked men, and as I am a much easier master than most of
these Sikhs, who wring the last farthing from the cultivators,
I could raise a thousand more at a couple of days' notice. Still
the place is not impregnable; and in the present disturbed
state of the land, where there is practically no law save that of
might, I might be besieged by some powerful Rajah, and in
the event of the place being taken there is no doubt what my
fate would be.
EASTWARD HO !
"However, at present the great men are too intent upon
quarrelling with each other to trouble about me, especially as
they know that the place is not to be taken without hard
knocks. Moreover, although we who take service with foreign
princes have no claim whatever for protection from our own
countrymen, the fact of my being an Englishman is to some
extent a safeguard. However, I want to put the case fairly
before you; and if you come out here I will do my best for
you-I will try to fill, as far as I can, your father's place. At
the same time I warn you that the position here is a perilous
one, and that there is no predicting how matters may turn
out. My own opinion is, however, that our people can never
permit the state of things that prevails here to go on, and
will be forced to interfere before long. The Sikhs think that
they are fully a match for us. I know better. They are brave,
but so impatient of discipline, that although they look well
enough on parade they would become a mere mob when fight-
"I need not say that the annexation of the Punjaub by the
English would suit me admirably, but there will be a time of
great trouble and danger before that can be accomplished. I
daresay you wonder that I do not come home, having made,
as you may suppose, a fortune amply sufficient to live upon
there. But I do not think I shall ever do that; I have lived
too long in India to settle down to English ways. Now that
your poor father has gone I have not a single friend in England,
and the humdrum life would kill me in no time, after having
for four-and-twenty years lived in an atmosphere of intrigue,
excitement, and danger.
"Now you know all about it, Percy, and can judge for your-
self. By the time you get this letter you will be almost fifteen,
and, as your father tells me that he has talked the matter over
with you,. capable of forming some sort of an opinion. As far
as money goes, do not let that influence you one way or the other.
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
The Old Lion was one of the most liberal of paymasters; and
although one spends money freely out here, I took care to
transmit a considerable portion of the presents I received and
the money I earned to a firm who act as my agents in Calcutta,
so as to be in safety if at any time I had to make a bolt of it.
That money will some day be yours whether you come out to
me or not, for I have no one else to leave it to; and I am, by
the same messenger who carries this letter to the British agent
at Loodiana, sending instructions to my agents that in case of
anything happening to me, the money is to be transferred to
your name, and they are to communicate with the firm who
are, as your father tells me, his lawyers in London.
"I don't know whether I am acting altogether wisely in
agreeing to your coming out; and I certainly should not have
done so if it had not been that your father, who must have
been perfectly aware of the disturbed state of this country,
evidently wished that it should be so. Well, if the life has its
dangers, it has its advantages. In our army at home an officer
is but one bit of a great machine; his life is a routine, and in
peace time as dull as ditch-water. Here a man has, every day
and every hour, need of his brains, his courage, quickness, and
spirit. In war-time we fight the enemies of the Maharajah;
in peace we have to combat the intrigues of our enemies and
rivals, to guard against the dangers of assassination, to counter-
mine the approaches of the enemy, to be ready for instant
flight, or sudden favour and promotion.
"It is a man's life, Percy, and to a man of spirit worth
a hundred existences at home. If I knew you personally I
could form a better idea as to whether I ought to say to you,
stay where you are, or, come here. Your father says that
he thinks you have a fair share of pluck and determination,
and that he considers you to be as sharp and shrewd as most
boys of your age. As he was the last man in the world to
speak one word beyond what he considered due, I take it
EASTWARD HO !
that his estimate of your character is in no way too flatter-
Think it over yourself, Percy. Can you thrash most fellows
your own age ? Can you run as far and as fast as most of them?
Can you take a caning-without whimpering over it? Do you
feel, in fact, that you are able to go through fully as much as
any of your companions? Are you good at planning a piece of
mischief, and ready to take the lead in carrying it out? For
though such gifts as these do not recommend a boy to the favour
of his schoolmaster, they are worth more out here than a know-
ledge of all the dead languages. It is pluck and endurance, and
a downright love of adventure and danger, that have made us the
masters of the greater part of India, and will ere long make us
rulers of the whole of it; and it is of no use anyone coming out
here, especially to take service with one of the native princes,
unless he is disposed to love danger for its own sake, and to feel
that he is willing and ready to meet it from whatever quarter it
may come. However, there is no occasion for you to make up
your mind at present upon more than the point whether you
will come out to me for three or four years; when it will be
time enough to make your final decision. In any case you may
always consider me your affectionate uncle, ROLAND."
Percy read the letter through very carefully. It was some-
thing like what he had expected, for his father had in his last
days spoken much to him of his brother.
"He was cut out for the life he has led, Percy," he had said
to him. "He was the leader in all mischief at school; he had any
amount of energy and life. He would not have made a good
officer in the king's service; for he was impatient of authority,
and would have been at loggerheads with the adjutant, and
perhaps with the colonel, in no time. Once he set his mind to
do a thing he would do it, whatever it was; and his straight-
forwardness and loyal nature would certainly win for him the
confidence of any of these Indian princes, accustomed as they
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
are to being surrounded with intriguers ready at all times to
take sides with the most powerful, and to sell themselves to the
highest bidder. He will tell you frankly whether he thinks you
had better come out to him or stay at home. But mind, if you
do go out he will expect a good deal of you, and if you don't do
credit to him as well as to yourself, he will have no hesitation
in packing you off home again at an hour's notice."
Percy was pleased to see that, although he warned him of
the difficulties and dangers of the position, his uncle clearly did
wish him to come out to him, and he had no hesitation what-
ever in making his decision. After reading the letter for the
third time, he placed it in his pocket and went across to the
"I expected you, Groves," the latter said, when he was shown
into his study. "So your uncle is willing to receive you, but
leaves the choice entirely to yourself. That is what Messrs. Sims
& Hammond said in their letter to me. Evidently they think
it a very foolish business, but say that as they are bound by their
instructions they have only to carry them out if you decide to
go, but they hope that I shall use my influence to induce you to
decide upon remaining here. I have no intention of doing so.
It was for your father to make his choice, and he made it. He
knows the country and he knows your uncle's character, and as
he thought the opening a good one for you, I do not feel that
it lies within my province to influence your decision any way.
I need hardly ask what the decision is. I know that you have
been looking forward to the receipt of this letter, and the
ardour with which you have worked at Hindustani, as your
master tells me, shows that your wishes lay in that direction.
So you have made up your mind to go?"
"Yes, sir. My uncle does not try to persuade me to come,
but he says that he will be very glad to have me with him. He
lives in a fortified castle with a lot of retainers, like a feudal
baron, he says."
"Then I am quite sure no more need be said," the doctor
replied smiling; "I don't think any boy could withstand the
prospect of living in a fortified castle. And now I suppose you
want to go and see the solicitors?"
"If you please, sir."
"Very well. I will give you leave off school this afternoon.
If you find that there is a ship sailing shortly you will have
many preparations to make, and as I am quite sure your
thoughts will be too occupied to think of lessons you may
consider them at an end. If, however, you find it will be some
little time before you are able to sail, I shall expect you to put
the matter altogether out of your head until the time ap-
proaches, and to work as hard as you can; though we will give
up Latin, and you can devote yourself entirely to Hindustani.
Let me see you when you return from the lawyer's. You know
the way to London Bridge. You cross that, and anyone you
meet will then direct you to Fenchurch Street. You had
better have your dinner before you start."
Messrs. Sims & Hammond did not conceal from Percy their
opinion that his decision to go out to join his uncle savoured
of lunacy. "We are willing to carry out your father's in-
structions," the senior partner said, shrugging his shoulders.
" We considered it our duty to express our opinion frankly on
the subject to him. Having done that without avail, our
duty in the matter is at an end. We find it a not unusual thing
for our clients to prefer their own opinions to ours, not un-
frequently to their own cost. Since we have received your
uncle's communication yesterday, we have made inquiries as to
the vessels loading for Calcutta, and find that the Indiaman
the Deccan will sail in ten days' time. That will, I take it, be
sufficient time for you to make your preparations. One of our
clerks will at once go with you to take your berth, and then
accompany you to some outfitter's to get all that is requisite.
Your father left with us a list of the clothing and other
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
matters he considered would be required in the event of your
Five minutes later Percy set out in charge of an elderly
clerk, and by the close of the afternoon the passage was taken
and the whole of the outfit ordered, and Percy walked back
to Dulwich quite overwhelmed at the extent of the wardrobe
that his father had deemed necessary for him for the voyage.
Several suits of clothes had, in accordance with the instruc-
tions on the list, been ordered, of a size considerably too large
for him at present. Major Groves had appended a note to the
list, saying that he did not consider it necessary that a large
stock of such clothes should be provided, as there would be no
difficulty in having them made in India, and that, moreover,
Percy would probably, to some extent, wear native attire.
The ten days passed rapidly. Percy, although nominally
free from the school-room, nevertheless worked with ardour at
"You have made great progress, Groves," his teacher said
on the last day. I should advise you strongly to work several
hours a day at it during the voyage. Some of the passengers
who are returning to India are sure to have with them native
servants and ayahs, and you had best take every opportunity
of speaking with them. You must remember that there are a
large number of dialects, and even of distinct languages, in
India; and it is probable that you will find your Hindustani
of little use to you in Northern India. Still, it will greatly
facilitate your learning the other languages, and most of the
educated natives understand it, as, like French on the Conti-
nent, it is the general medium of communication between the
natives of different parts of the country. Possibly you may find
among the servants on board a native of Northern India, and
may be able to commence your study of Punjaubi with him."
Two days before the vessel sailed Percy went by appoint-
ment to the lawyer's office, and Mr. Hammond took him to
the shipping office and introduced him to the captain of the
"I will give in eye to the lad as far as I can, Mr. Ham-
mond," Captain Grierson said; "though, to tell you the truth,
I would almost as lief have a monkey as a boy to look after.
Still I don't feel the responsibility as great as that of my young
lady passengers. Do what I may, they will indulge in flirtation,
and I have to bear the brunt of the anger of the relatives to
whom they are consigned in India, when they discover that
my charges have already disposed of themselves on the voy-
During those last days Percy was the object of the greatest
envy and admiration of his school-fellows. To be going all the
way out to India by himself was in itself splendid; but the idea
that he was to live in a castle with armed retainers, and the
possibility of a siege and all other sorts of unknown dangers,
seemed almost too great a stroke of good fortune to fall to the
lot of anybody. Most of his effects had been sent direct on
board the Deccan, but he had obtained from the store where
they had been deposited, the cases containing his father's rifles,
double-barrelled gun and pistols, and the fact that he was the
possessor of such arms greatly heightened the admiration of his
But even the knowledge that the pistols were in his cabin,
and the other arms stowed below with the greater portion of
his belongings, scarcely sufficed to keep up his spirits as he
stood, a solitary and rather forlorn boy, on the deck of the
great ship as she warped out through the dock-gates.
The doctor had come down early to see him on board, but
had been obliged to return at once to his duties at the school,
and everyone but himself seemed to have friends to see them
off. The entrance to the docks was crowded with people wav-
ing their handkerchiefs and shouting adieux to those on board,
while many who were to land at Gravesend were on deck
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
chatting with their friends. The captain stopped good-
naturedly by his side for a moment as he passed along.
"All alone, Groves, eh ? You will soon make friends, and I
think you are really better off than those who haven't got over
saying their last good-byes yet. I always think it is much
better to finish all that sort of thing at home, instead of
prolonging the pain. Here, Harcourt," he called to a young
fellow about sixteen, in a midshipman's dress, "you haven't
anything to do just at present. Give an eye to this youngster;
he is going out to join an uncle in India, and is all alone on
board. Introduce him to the other midshipmen when you get an
opportunity. I have told the steward to mess him with you;
he will be much more comfortable there than he would be with
the people in the cabin aft. You will like that arrangement,
won't you, Groves ?"
"Very much indeed, sir," Percy said, feeling as if a great
load had been lifted off his mind. Harcourt led him down
between decks to the ward-room, as they called it, where the
third and fourth officers and the four midshipmen messed.
"This is our palace, Groves. A bit of a hole in comparison
with the saloon, but a snug little den, too, when everything is
going on well and everyone is in good temper. I will tell
the others that the skipper has made you free of it. The third
and fourth officers are both good fellows, and I think you will
find it comfortable. If you don't, you have got the saloon to
fall back upon."
"I am sure to find it comfortable," Percy said confidently.
"I have come fresh from school, you know, and am not accus-
tomed to luxuries; I should find it miserable among all those
grown-up people. I only wish I was going out as a midship-
man instead of a passenger, so as to have something to do."
Ah, well, you can talk to the skipper about that. Perhaps
he will put you on a watch if you ask him. I don't say the
work is very lively, for it isn't; but I know that I should be
very sorry to have to make the voyage with nothing to do
but walk about with my hands in my pockets. However, I
must go on deck now. We had our breakfast long ago; we
dine at two bells, that is one o'clock. If you can't hold on
until then I will get our steward to bring you a biscuit."
"I can hold on very well. I had a cup of tea and something
to eat before I left."
Percy followed Harcourt on deck again, and feeling now
more settled as to his position, was able to look on with interest
and pleasure at what was being done around him. The pas-
sengers had settled themselves a little; some had got out their
chairs, and were seated chatting in groups, but the ladies for
the most part were below arranging their cabins. Men in
couples walked up and down the waist smoking, or leaned
against the bulwarks discussing the voyage and their mutual
acquaintances. Most of the sails had now been set, for the
wind was favourable, and the great ship was running fast down
the river and was just passing Woolwich. A sailor, bare-footed
and with his trousers turned up to his knees, was sluicing the
decks with water. Others were coiling up ropes. Others again,
dressed more in accordance with Percy's ideas as to the neatness
of a sailor's costume, were standing at the sheets and braces in
readiness to trim the sails to port or starboard, as the sharp
turns of the river brought the wind on one quarter or the
Percy was surprised at the silence that reigned among so
many men, but he understood the reason when the sharp
orders were shouted from the quarter-deck where the first
officer was standing by the side of the pilot. Then there was a
hauling of ropes and a creaking of blocks, and the towering
pile of yards and sails swung over. Now and then the ship's
course was suddenly changed to avoid some barge or smaller
craft that got in her way, sometimes missing by the smallest
margin running them down. On one or two of these
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
occasions a mate shouted angrily down at those in charge- of
these craft, and these shouted as angrily back again. Once
past Erith the river widened and the dangers of collision
ceased, for the craft were all proceeding in the same direction;
for the stream was now running too strongly for the barges to
attempt to make their way against it, even by hugging the
shore and keeping in back-waters. At twelve o'clock the
luncheon bell rang, and the passengers disappeared from deck.
But Percy was so absorbed in watching the shore that he was
quite surprised when Harcourt touched him on the shoulder
"There are two bells, youngster. You must keep your ears
open or you will be missing your meals; for they do not ring for
us, and anyone who does not turn up to his grub goes without it."
The voyage was a very pleasant one to Percy Groves. The
captain did not allow him to act as a volunteer midshipman;
but it was not long before he ceased to regret this decision, for
he found among the four or five native servants returning to
India with their masters one from the Punjaub. The man's
duties on board occupied but a very small portion of his time,
as he had little to do except wait on his master at meals; and
he was very glad to arrange, for what seemed to Percy a
ridiculously small sum, to spend five or six hours a day in con-
versation with him. Accordingly, after breakfast and dinner
the two took seats up in the bow, Percy on a low stool, the
native squatted beside him, and there spent hours, at first in
learning the Punjaubi equivalents for Hindustani words, and
then, as time went on, in conversation.
The native knew a little Hindustani, and could get on fairly
in English, so that they were able from. the first to compre-
hend each other; .and as Percy's former studies helped him
materially, he picked up Punjaubi quickly, and by the end
of the voyage was able to express himself in it with consider-
able freedom. He was always up early in the morning, and
;k~~ ai~L~. kf~:~~
PERCY LEARNS THE PUNJAUEI LANGUAGE.
~de~pr w V -sffiltb UWE-= ----nowreg
until breakfast-time chatted with any officers or midshipmen
off duty, and sometimes with the early risers among the pas-
sengers-two or three of whom, when they found that the lad
was a first-class passenger on his way out to India to join an
uncle, became very friendly with him, being struck with the
steady way in which he passed the greater portion of the day
in preparing himself, as far as possible, for the life he was
about to lead.
"Why don't you come aft, Groves ?" one of them asked him.
"I should feel altogether strange, sir. The two officers and
the midshipmen are all very kind and friendly, and we live
very well there, and I feel much more at home than I should
do with the ladies. I have not been accustomed to ladies.
I do not remember my mother, and for years I lived altogether
at school. After my father came back, and I lived at home
with him, only gentlemen came to the house. I like it all
very much, and should not like to change. Besides, if I got
to know a good many passengers, I might not be able to
spend so much time in work; and I do so want when I join
my uncle to be able to be useful to him, which I could not be
if I did not know anything of the language."
"Well, I am sure, Groves, your uncle ought to be pleased
when you join him to know how hard you have worked. It
would be a very good thing if every young cadet and writer
who went out would do as you do, and prepare himself for his
work out there, instead of wasting six months in lounging
about, trying to make himself agreeable to the women on board.
He would not only find it very useful out there, but he would
find it very profitable. For a young fellow who, on arrival,
was able to speak one of the languages pretty fluently, would
be certain to attract the notice of the authorities, and would
find himself in a responsible and well-paid berth, while the
others were kept at desks in Calcutta or Bombay, or sent out
as assistants to unimportant posts.
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
"It is my servant who is teaching you, and he tells me that
you are making wonderful progress, and that you already know
as much of the language as many officers who have been in India
for years. I can tell you, too, that you could not have taken
up a more useful dialect than Punjaubi. At present, of course,
the Punjaub is independent, and the consequence is there
are very few officials who have taken the trouble to learn the
language; but no one doubts that the time is not very far dis-
tant when we shall have to interfere there, and in a few years
we may have to take it over altogether. In that case I need
hardly say that there will be a great demand for officials able
to speak the language; and should you enter the Company's
service, you would have every chance of obtaining a post there
of greater importance and profit than you could hope to reach
after years of service under ordinary conditions.
"I myself am stationed in the province south of the Sutlej,
which the Sikhs at any rate consider to be a part of the Pun-
jaub, and am pretty well acquainted with what is going on at
Lahore. I don't know your uncle personally, although of course
I know him well by reputation. He was one of the best of the
European officers in the Sikh service; and although, like all
the others, he was dismissed at the bidding of the mutinous
soldiery, I have always heard him spoken well of. He was
popular among the men of the two regiments that he com-
manded, and bore an excellent reputation among the natives
generally, abstaining from the high-handed exactions by which
some of the foreign officers amassed large sums of money. He
is said to have been prompt in action, to have maintained
excellent order amongst his men, to have protected the natives
against any acts of plundering or misconduct, and the districts
where he was stationed were contented and prosperous.
"Like most of the other foreign officers, he held himself
altogether aloof from court intrigues. Doubtless they were
perfectly right in doing so; but for all that, as matters have
turned out, it might have been better for the Punjaub had
these officers gone beyond their duties and thrown their whole
weight into the scale in favour of some strong man who would
have put a stop to the dissensions that if they continue will
certainly bring ruin upon the country.
"However, their position was a very difficult one. The Sikh
chieftains were always adverse to Runjeet Singh's policy of Euro-
peanizing his army, and were extremely jealous of the favour
he extended to the Europeans in his service; consequently the
position of these officers was, from the moment of his death,
an extremely delicate one. Moreover, it is probable that the
Indian authorities would have viewed with considerable dis-
favour the passing of the affairs of the Punjaub into the hands
of European adventurers, of whom only two or three were Eng-
lish. The foreigners, of course, would have had no sympathy
whatever with our aims, and would indeed have been formid-
able opponents in case of trouble, their interests lying entirely in
the maintenance of the present state of things in the Punjaub.
"You are going out to the most troubled portion of India,
youngster; and I almost wonder at your uncle allowing you to
come, for there will be a great convulsion there before matters
finally settle down."
So he told me when he wrote, sir. I am only going out to
him till I get old enough to either go into the army or to enter
the Company's service, if my father's friends can obtain a com-
mission or a writership for me."
"Get a writership, my boy, if you have the chance. The
civil service is vastly better paid than the military. Well, it
may be that we shall be thrown together again out there. It
is nearly time for our commissioner at Loodiana to go home
for his furlough, and I think it very probable that I shall be
appointed to his post during his absence, in which case I am
pretty certain to be in communication with your uncle; and it
may be that when the time comes I shall be able to lend you a
30 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
helping hand to enter the service. If you stick to work as
you are doing now, I shall certainly feel justified in recommend-
ing you as one who would prove a valuable young officer in
the Punjaub if we become its masters, or on the frontier if
the country still maintains its independence. In the meantime,
if there be trouble in the Punjaub and you have to fly for your
life, remember you will find a hearty welcome at Loodiana."
The voyage was free from any incidents of importance. The
Deccan rounded the Cape without experiencing any unusually
bad weather, and except for one or two minor gales the weather
was fine throughout the voyage.
Most of the passengers were delighted when she dropped
anchor at last in the Hooghly, but much as Percy longed to
see the wonders of India, he was almost sorry when the voy-
age came to an end, for the time had passed very pleasantly to
him. This had been especially the case towards the latter
portion; for his studies had increased in interest as he acquired
a knowledge of the language, and by the end of the voyage he
had come to know a good many of the passengers. His first
friend, Mr. Fullarton, had spoken warmly to others in favour
of the quiet lad, of whom they caught sight when they happened
to stroll forward to smoke a cigar, occupied so intently upon
his conversations with the native beside him.
"I hate book-worms," one of them had said when Mr. Ful-
larton had first spoken to him on the subject. "Give me a
lad with pluck and spirit, and I don't care a snap of the finger
whether he can construe Euripides or solve a problem in high
mathematics. What we want for India are men who can ride
and shoot, who are ready at any moment to start on a hundred-
mile journey on horseback, who will scale a hill fort with a
handful of men, or with half a dozen Sowars tackle a dacoit
and his band. What do the natives care for our learning? It
is our pluck and fighting powers that have made us their
"That is all very true, Lyndhurst, and I thoroughly agree
with you that of all ways of choosing officials for India exami-
nations would be the very worst; but this lad is not a book-
worm at all in your sense of the word.- He knows that it will
be of great advantage to him when he arrives in India to be
able to speak the language, and he has accordingly set himself
to do it with a dogged perseverance that would do credit to a
man. Look how he has utilized the voyage, while the cadets
and ensigns and young civilians have thrown away six months
of their lives in absolute idleness. Besides, I am sure the boy
does not lack either pluck or spirit. I am up a good deal
earlier than you are in the morning, and I see him going about
the rigging like a monkey. He is quite as much at home up
there as are any of the midshipmen, some of whom have been
four or five years at sea. I saw him sky-larking the other
evening with two or three of them, and I can tell you he quite
held his own. He is certainly a favourite with all the officers.
I should be ready to wager that when the time comes he will
turn out well, whatever circumstances he may fall upon. He
is a merry fellow too, and has one of the most infectious laughs
I ever heard; he is no more like your ideal book-worm than
The only time that Percy came aft and mixed with the
other passengers was when they practised rifle or pistol
shooting, sometimes at empty bottles thrown into the sea,
sometimes at bottles swinging from one or other of the yard-
arms. This amusement was practised three or four times a
week, for it was a matter of importance to every man, military
or civilian, to be a good shot. It was useful in the hunting of
tigers and other big game. Life might depend upon proficiency
with a pistol if attacked by a fanatic or in a brush with dacoits,
while for men likely to be engaged with the fierce tribesmen of
the hills, or in conflict with Sikh, Beloochee, Pathan, or Afghan,
a quick eye and a steady hand were essential.
32 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
Encouraged by Mr. Fullarton, Percy got out his pistols on
the first day when the practice began, and never missed an
opportunity afterwards. Never mind the rifle," his friend
said; "you are not likely to do tiger-hunting at present, and you
will have plenty of time and opportunities for that later on.
Stick to your pistol practice; you are going among a wild set of
people, where the knife is readily drawn in a quarrel, and where
men do not hesitate to rid themselves of a foe or a rival by assas-
sination. Practise with your pistols steadily on every occasion
here, and keep it up afterwards; it may be of more use to you
than everything you have learnt at school from the day when
you first went there. You know I approve of your sticking
to your Punjaubi, but you can well spare an hour three or four
times a week; and although it may do you more good in your
future career to be a good linguist than to be a good pistol-
shot, the last may be the means of saving your life, and unless
you can do that, your study of languages will be so much time
And so by the end of the voyage Percy became a very
fair shot with the pistol, and indeed there were few of the
passengers who could break a swinging bottle more frequently
than he. He was surprised, when the anchor dropped, at the
eagerness evinced by the majority of the passengers to get on
shore. He himself looked on quietly, for the captain had said
to him early that morning, "There is no use in your hurrying
ashore, Groves; you know no one there, and an hour earlier or
later will make no difference to you. I shall be going off this
afternoon and will take you with me, and after I have been to
the shipping office I will go with you to the people you have
letters for. I know them personally, and an introduction
from me will probably interest them more in you than will
the formal letter those lawyer fellows are likely to have
The captain's introduction was of great benefit to Percy. The
agent took an interest in him, and put him up at his house for
a fortnight. At the end of that time he arranged for him to
take a passage up country in a native craft that two or three
officers had chartered to convey them to Delhi, beyond which
town there would be no difficulty in hiring a boat to the point
at which he would disembark, and thence travel up by road.
He enjoyed his journey much, although it occupied a consider-
able time. He could have gone very much faster by road;
but time was no particular object, and the agent thought that
he would be cheated right and left in his bargains for vehicles,
and might not improbably have some of his baggage stolen.
Percy greatly preferred the passage by river, and when finally
he had to take to a close vehicle, he congratulated himself that
he had accomplished the greater part of the journey free from
the dust, heat, and inconveniences of land travel. He learned
that he would have done much better had he taken his passage
from England to the other side of India and ascended the
Indus, but he supposed that his uncle had directed him to
come via Calcutta because his own agent was there and could
make the arrangements for him, and he perhaps considered
that the passage thence by water would be much safer than
one through the recently-conquered province of Scinde.
This was indeed, as he afterwards learnt, the reason why
Calcutta had been chosen instead of Bombay. There had,
about the time his uncle wrote, been a number of robberies,
sometimes accompanied by murder, of persons travelling up
the Indus in boat, and it was for this reason the longer and
safer route up the Jumna had been chosen. He left the boat
at Sultanpoor, and had about a hundred miles of travel thence
through Umballah and Sirhind to Loodiana, a station in what
was known as the protected district. Here on the frontier of the
Punjaub were stationed some British troops with a Resident,
whose special duty was to keep the government informed of
what was going on upon the other side of the Sutlej.
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
The agent had advised him on his arrival at Loodiana to go
straight to the Residency.
"It is probable that your uncle will have written to the
Resident about your coming, and that instructions as to the
best course for pursuing your journey may be awaiting you
there. It is a long way from Loodiana to his place, which lies
quite in the north of the Punjaub, and but a short distance
from the Afghan frontier. He will know about what time
you will arrive, and may even have sent down one of his
officers to accompany you on the way. He could not, of course,
guess that you would know any of the languages, and it would
be impossible for you, speaking nothing but English, to make
your way alone through the Punjaub. Even as it is, I should
advise you, should you on arriving at Loodiana find no one
there from your uncle, to send up word that you have arrived,
and to wait quietly, even if it be a month, till you hear from
THE SHADOW OF WAR.
LEAVING the cart with his luggage a short distance away,
Percy entered the office of the Residency, and giving his
name to a clerk said that he was desirous of speaking to the
The clerk on his return from the inner room requested
Percy to follow him. An officer was sitting at a desk. He
looked up with a smile as the lad entered, and Percy was
astonished to see Mr. Fullarton, to whom he had said good-bye
on board the Deccan.
"You did not expect to see me here, Groves ?" he said as he
shook him cordially by the hand.
"No indeed, sir, I had not the slightest idea that you had left
Calcutta. I am glad indeed to see you."
"I only stopped there a few hours," the officer said. "As soon
as I got to Government House I was told that Macpherson was
ill, and that I must travel up at full speed to relieve him, so I
started next morning and travelled as fast as horses could take
me up the country. I have been here for more than three
weeks. I have not forgotten you, and as soon as I arrived here
I sent off a chit to your uncle to tell him that you had landed
at Calcutta, and would probably be here in the course of a fort-
night or three weeks. Two days ago one of his native officers
with an escort of sixteen men turned up here. They are en-
36 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
camped on the plain over there. You will know the tent by a
blue flag flying before it.
"I told your uncle that I had made your acquaintance on
board the ship, and that I thought he would be very well
pleased with you. I did not tell him anything about your
having picked up so much Punjaubi, but left it for you to give
him a pleasant surprise. Of course you will put up here for to-
night. I shall be knocking off work in a quarter of an hour,
and in the meantime you may as well go and have your bath,
after which you will feel more comfortable. I will send a
man across to your fellows to tell them you have arrived, and
will be ready to start in the morning. By the way, I think it
would be as well if you went over there at once; it would
please them, and there is nothing like making a good impression.
My buggy will be at the door in ten'minutes, and I will drive
you out there. So you had better have a preliminary wash
now, and can take your bath after we get back."
Touching the bell a servant entered. Mr. Fullarton gave
him orders to take Percy to a room, to have what boxes he
required carried up there, and to pile the rest in the hall. By
the time Percy had got rid of some of the dust of travel, and
changed his travelling suit for another, the Resident was ready,
and they were soon driving over the sandy plain in a light trap
drawn by a wiry-looking native pony. In a few minutes they
reached a small tent, before which waved a blue flag. As
they approached a stir was seen. A native officer ran out of the
tent, ranged his men in military order, and placing himself in
front of them saluted as the Resident drove up.
"Good afternoon, Nand Chund; I have brought the colonel's
nephew over to see you. He has just arrived, and will be
ready to start with you to-morrow, but even before eating he
wished to see the officer whom his uncle had chosen as his
The Sikh raised his hand to his cap in salute to Percy, and
THE SHADOW OF WAR. 37
said in his native tongue: "All happiness to the nephew of my
Thank you, Nand Chund," Percy replied in the same
tongue, "I am sure that you must be an officer in whom my
uncle has great trust and confidence or he would not have
chosen you for such a mission."
The Sikh looked greatly surprised at being thus answered in
his own language.
"I did not know," he said, "that the young sahib had
acquired our tongue. My lord told me you would not under-
stand me, and that I should have to explain to you by signs
anything that it was necessary for you to know."
"I speak your language but poorly at present, but I hope to
do so well before I have been long with you," Percy answered.
"My uncle was well, I hope, when you left him?"
"He was well, sahib; though much troubled by the machi-
nations of powerful ones who are his enemies; but his heart
was light at the news that you would soon be with him."
After a little further conversation Percy drove off with Mr.
Fullarton, after having, at a hint from the latter, handed to the
officer twenty rupees, to be laid out in providing a feast for the
"They will all be as drunk as hogs to-night," Mr. Fullarton
said; "the Sikhs are one of the few races in India who drink
to excess. They do so from the highest to the lowest. The
Old Lion himself used to be drunk every night. However, as
they will have a good meal before setting-to at the liquor, you
will see that they will all be as fresh and bright in the morning
as if they had touched nothing stronger than tea. They have
wonderful constitutions, and after a few hours' sleep shake off
the effects of a carouse that would make an Englishman ill for
three or four days."
After an hour's drive they returned to the Residency. As
they entered the house Percy was greeted by his former in-
38 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
structor, who had been out when he first arrived, and who now
conducted him to his room.
It is far better here than on board the ship, sahib," he said.
"There Ram Singh was of no account, even the common sailors
pushed and jostled him; here he is Fullarton Sahib's butler, and
gives orders to all the servants."
"No doubt you feel it in that way," Percy laughed. "I feel
it is better because here is a great cool room and quiet, and a bath
ready for me without having to wait for an hour for my turn.
It is certainly very much more comfortable, but there are draw-
backs too. There was no dust on board ship, no occasion for
an armed guard, no fear of disturbance or troubles."
"That is so, sahib; but what would life be worth if some-
times we did not have a change and adventure. As I have
told you, I have had my share of it, and now I am well content
to be the head servant of the Burra-sahib. But my lord is
young, and it is well for him that he should learn to bear
himself as a man, and to face danger."
Well, it may be so, Ram Singh, but just at present it seems
to me that I should prefer a peaceful life for a few years."
"The sooner a cockerel learns to use his spurs, the better
fighting bird he will turn out," the man said sententiously.
"Yes, that is all very well," Percy replied. "But if he gets
badly mauled when he is a cockerel he is likely to shirk fight-
After taking his bath and dressing himself in a suit of white
linen, Percy went down to-dinner. He was pleased to find
himself alone with Mr. Fullarton, who in the course of the
evening told him much more than he had hitherto known of
the state of affairs in the Punjaub.
"Things look very bad," he said. "But it is possible that
they may go on for months and even years before the crisis
comes. As to this, however, your uncle will be able to tell
you more than I can. Mine is, of course, the official view of
THE SHADOW OF WAR. d.
matters, gleaned from the reports of men in our pay at Lahore
and other places in the Punjaub. The reports of such men,
however, are always open to grave suspicion. As they take
bribes from us they may take bribes from others, or may be
are in some way interested in deceiving us. Your uncle will
doubtless be much better informed. Although he has taken no
active part in the plots and conspiracies that have been continu-
ally going on ever since the death of Runjeet Singh, he must
have been more or less behind the scenes throughout, and will
certainly have tried and trusted agents at Lahore.
At present you are only interested in these matters as far
as they concern the safety of your uncle and yourself. Still
it is always useful in a country like this to have an insight
into what is going on around you. Should there be trouble,
remember that the Sikhs value courage, quickness, and decision
above all things. I am not supposing for a moment that you
are likely to show the white-feather, still you may be involved
in danger that would shake the nerves of hardened men. The
thing to remember is always to assume an air of courage and
coolness. To show weakness would forfeit the respect of your
own people, and would in no way alter the fate that would
befall you if you fell into the hands of your foes. You know
the old saying-'Assume a virtue if you have it not.' That
you should be alarmed in such a position would- be only natural,
but you must if possible conceal the fact, and must nerve your-
self to put on as great an air of coolness and indifference as
you can muster. Remember there are very few men who do
not feel horribly uncomfortable when exposed to great dangers,
and that bravery exists not so much in having no feeling of
fear as of concealing all expression of it.
"When you hear a man boasting that he has never felt fear,
and that he enjoys being under fire, take my word for it he is
a liar. In the heat of battle, and especially in the excitement
of a cavalry charge, the sensation of fear is lost; but in the
40 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
preliminary stage I never knew a man yet who, speaking
honestly, would not confess that he felt horribly nervous. I
will not keep you up any longer, you have had a long journey
to-day and must be early in bed. You will be called before
daybreak, for you may be sure your men will be here before
the sun is up, and they will be gratified to find that you are
prepared to be off. I need not repeat now what I told you on
board the ship, that should you have to fly for your life you
will meet with a warm welcome here."
It was still dark when Percy was aroused by Ram Singh.
"It is time to get up, sahib. I have water boiling, and
there will be a cup of tea ready for you as soon as you have
had your bath. The bheesti is outside with the water-skin."
"All right!" Percy said, jumping out of bed. "Send him
Taking a bath consisted of squatting down in the corner of the
room, where the floor was made to slope to a hole which carried
off the water poured from a skin over the head of the bather.
As he dressed, Percy drank a cup of tea and ate a couple of
biscuits, while Ram Singh packed up his trunk again. He had
just finished when he heard the trampling of horses. He at
once went out.
"You are in good time, Nand Chund."
"It would not have done to have kept the sahib waiting,"
the Sikh said, "though we scarce expected to find him ready
for us so soon."
He then ordered the baggage-horses to be brought up, and
four strong ponies were led forward. Percy's trunks, which
had all been made of a size suited to such transport, were firmly
lashed one on each side of each saddle. When this was done
a handsome horse was brought forward for Percy. He was
about to turn to enter the house to say good-bye to Mr.
Fullarton, who had the night before told him he should be up
before he started, when the Resident made his appearance.
THE SHADOW OF WAR.
"I always rise before the sun," he said, "and take a drive or
a ride, and am back before it gets too hot for pleasure. Then
I have a bath, change of clothes, and am ready for my work.
Early morning and evening are the only times that life is
enjoyable here, and unless one takes exercise then one cannot
expect to keep in health. Good-bye, Groves. Tell your uncle
to keep me informed of what is going on whenever he gets an
opportunity. Take care of yourself, and, whatever comes, keep
your head clear and your wits sharpened. Many a life is
thrown away from want of prompt decision at a critical mo-
Percy shook hands with his kind friend, and then leapt
into the saddle without putting his foot into the stirrup, a trick
he had learned at the riding-school. A murmur of approval
ran through the men, who muttered to themselves, "He under-
stands a horse; a brisk young fellow, he will do no discredit
to our lord." Then he took his place by the side of Nand
Chund, waved his hand to Mr. Fullarton, and started. His
companion at once put his horse to a hand-gallop.
Surely you do not mean to travel far at this speed?" Percy
said. "The pack-animals will not be able to keep up with
"They will follow, sahib. You see I have left four men in
charge of them."
"Yes, and you have eight men here. Where are the other
four, for I counted sixteen yesterday?"
"They started before dark, sahib, with the four other bag-
gage animals. Two of them we shall find when we halt for
food, when the sun gets high. They will have pitched a tent
in the shade of some tree, and will have the meal cooked in
readiness for us. The other two will have gone forward to
the point where we shall rest for the night. They have an-
other tent, and will have the evening meal in readiness. So
it will be each day. They will travel by night, we by day. At
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
the end of three days we shall have reached a point where care
will be a necessity, and will then travel in a body."
"But from whom have we reason to fear danger?" Percy
We do not fear danger," the Sikh replied, "but we prepare
to meet it. In the first place there are robbers-bands of men
who acknowledge no master, such as deserters from the army,
fugitives who have excited the enmity of some powerful chief,
and criminals who have escaped justice. Such men form bands,
rob villages, plunder well-to-do peasants, and waylay, rob, and
murder travellers. These are the ordinary foes; all those who
journey have to prepare for them, and they are not really
dangerous to a well-armed party. Then, again, there are the
bands by profession robbers, but who are for the time hired
by some powerful or wealthy sirdar who wishes to gratify a
private spite. Openly perhaps he would not dare to move,
and he therefore remains in the background, and hires bands
of robbers to do his business. Such bands are far more for-
midable than those composed of ordinary marauders, for they
are of a strength proportioned to the object they have to ac-
complish, and may even number hundreds.
It is these against whom we have to take precautions. My
lord your uncle has powerful enemies, and these doubtless em-
ploy spies, and are made aware of all that passes in his strong-
hold. Should they have learned that he was expecting your
arrival, they would of course see that your capture would be a
valuable one, as they could work on him through you. At
any rate the departure of my band is sure to be noticed, and
though we travelled by a circuitous route we may probably
have been tracked to Loodiana. Besides, they might think
that I had some important mission to the British Resident
there, and that I may be the bearer of some letter that might
enable them to work my master's ruin, and so will spare no
pains to wrest it from me.
THE SHADOW OF WAR.
"For the first three days we do not follow the route leading
to my lord's stronghold, consequently there is little fear of an
ambush; but during the last five days of the journey, when
we are making for the fortress, we shall have to sleep with one
eye open, to travel by unfrequented roads, and for the most
part by night. The colonel would have come himself to meet
you, but in the first place his visit to Loodiana would be seized
upon by his enemies as a proof that he was league with the
British, and in the second his presence is required in the castle,
where, so long as he is present, there is little fear of any sudden
surprise or attack, but were he away some traitor might corrupt
a guard or open a gate, and thus let in the troops of an enemy."
"But there is no civil war, Nand Chund. How then could
a chief venture to attack my uncle?"
"There is no war," the Sikh repeated, "but the sirdars
never hesitate to collect their followers and attack a rival when
they have a chance. Even in the days of Runjeet Singh this
was so; for although his hand was a heavy one, it was easy to
bribe those about him to place the matter in a favourable light,
and a handsome present would do the rest. But since the Lion
has passed away there has been no power in the land. The
government has been feeble, and the great sirdars have done as
it pleases them, so there is everywhere rapine and confusion.
Those who are strong take from those who are weak; the
traders who prospered and grew rich in the old days now fly
the land or bury their wealth, and assume the appearance of
poverty; the markets are deserted, and towns flourishing under
Runjeet are now well-nigh deserted."
"But why have they a special animosity against my uncle?"
"First because he is a European, secondly because he is
wealthy, thirdly because those who fly from the extortion or
the tyranny of others find a refuge with him, lastly because the
district under his charge is flourishing and prosperous while
others are impoverished. Merchants elsewhere clamour for the
44 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
rights that he gives those under his protection, and for taxes
as light as those imposed by him in his district."
"But I thought that all Europeans had been deprived of
commands," Percy said.
"That is true, but in this country a man only surrenders a
profitable post when he can no longer hold it. Even Runjeet
Singh's orders to governors to surrender their posts to others
were often disobeyed, and he was obliged to march armies to
enforce them. It is far more so now. Three years ago my
lord was nominally deprived of his command of the district as
well as that of his troops by the orders of the court at Lahore,
but he was too wise to obey. Had he opened the gates he
would assuredly have been taken a prisoner to Lahore, and
there have been put to death; so he held on, and none have
cared to undertake the work of turning him out.
Still the man appointed as his successor is, we may be sure,
only waiting his opportunity. He belongs to the family of
one of the most powerful of the princes-one who could put
ten thousand men in the field; but the colonel has nearly two
thousand good soldiers, and such strong walls that with these
he could repulse an open attack by three times that number.
Besides this all the district is in his favour. They dread
nothing so much as that another should take his place, and
the news that an army was advancing would at once swell his
force by three thousand fighting men. Moreover, he has allies
among the hill tribes who have never, save under the pressure
of force, acknowledged the authority of Lahore. It is not until
his rival's relations have made some compact with another sirdar
equally powerful that they are likely to attack us openly.
"Treachery, however, is always to be feared, and still more
the knife of the assassin. We believe that the soldiers can be
trusted to a man; but who can tell? Gold is very powerful,
and among two thousand there must be some who would sell
their dearest friend were the bribe sufficiently large."
THE SHADOW OF WAR
"But they say that the power of the nobles is broken, and
that it is the army that is master," Percy remarked.
"That is so. The soldiers are the lords of the Punjaub.
Runjeet Singh's policy was to strengthen the army, which
under its foreign officers was always faithful to him. After
his death there was no strong hand, and the force which the
Old Lion had trained to conquer his foes turned upon the
country and became its master. They clamoured for the dis-
missal of all foreign officers, for increase of pay, for the right
to choose their own leaders, and all these things they obtained.
There is no longer discipline or order. They oppress the
people, they dictate terms to the court, they can make or
unmake maharajahs. If at present they are quiet, it is because
they have everything they can ask for. Thus then there is
no one to control the sirdars, who can do as it pleases them,
if only they keep on good terms with the leaders of the army.
That would matter but little, but when they wish to attack
each other they have but to buy the services of a regiment
or two and the thing is done. There lies the danger of our
"Those most hostile to him would not dare to attack with
their own followers, but they will sooner or later obtain the
assistance of some of the military chiefs; the more so that
these are hostile themselves to our lord because he is a
foreigner, and at present the cry is, death to the foreigner. It
is only because the colonel had so good a name in the army,
-for all knew that although nowhere was discipline more
strict, he was always just and kindly, that no man was punished
without cause, that he had no favourites, that he oppressed
none, and used all the influence he possessed with the old
maharajah to obtain the pay for his men regularly,-that the
military chiefs have so far failed to get the soldiers to consent
to any movement against him.
"Besides, the troops are aware that he is a brave leader, and
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
know that his men will die in his defence. Therefore, it would
need a higher bribe than usual to induce them to risk their lives
in a struggle from which they would gain nothing. It is far
easier to revolt for extra pay than to obtain the money by an
attack on the colonel's fortress. Thus, for aught we know, it
may be years before serious trouble comes. It will depend
upon what events occur. At present the soldiers are well
content to do nothing but eat and drink at the expense
of the people. In time they will become restless, and then,
who knows, they may attack and plunder the strong places, or
they may make war upon the English. They believe that
they are invincible. They have an immense number of guns,
and they think that because the Sikhs have conquered Cash-
mere and wrested territory from the Afghans, and hold all
the country north of the Sutlej, nothing can withstand them.
I know nothing, I am but an ignorant man as to all things
outside our country; but I know that the English conquered
Scinde although its sirdars and soldiers were many and brave,
that they made themselves masters of Afghanistan, and even
after their great misfortune there came back and again took
Cabul and punished the Afghans; and I say to myself, Why
should the Sikhs want to fight this people, who do not inter-
fere with them, and who have always respected the treaties
they have made with us?
"The Old Lion, who feared no one and who spread his rule
far and wide, always kept friends with the English, although
most of his chiefs would have taken advantage of their trouble
in Afghanistan to go to war with them. He knew the power
of the foreigners, and was always ready to engage white officers
to teach his soldiers. He had a wiser head than any of the
soldiers who are now ready to raise the cry of war with the
English; and I know our lord's opinion is, that should we en-
gage in a struggle with his people we shall assuredly be beaten.
But what avail are these things with men puffed up with pride,
THE SHADOW OF WAR.
and with the belief that they are invincible. It is certain
that some day or other the army will clamour for war with
the English, and who is there to say them nay? Not the boy,
Maharajah Dhuleep Singh, nor the Ranee, his mother and
guardian. Then we shall see how things will go."
There is no doubt how things will go," Percy said. "The
English will conquer the country, as they have all the other
parts of India that have tried their strength with them."
"They have never fought a country like ours," the officer
said a little proudly. "The army is a hundred and fifty
thousand strong, and the chiefs must all join, so there will be
two hundred thousand at least, and all good fighting men.
They are well armed and have vast stores of guns and ammuni-
tion; they have been taught to fight in European fashion. We
are told that if all the British troops in India came against
them they would number scarce fifty thousand."
"That may be," Percy agreed, "but they would win-they
always have won, and often against odds quite as great.
Besides, when your two hundred thousand men are in the
field you would have your whole fighting power, while if it
were necessary England could send out army after army as
strong as that now in India. How far is it to our first halting-
placel The sun is beginning to get very hot."
"It is three hours' ride from Loodiana. Going at an easy
pace we shall be there in another hour."
Percy was heartily glad when his companion pointed out a
yellow speck under a clump of trees and told him it was the
tent. I brought with us only small tents, such as the soldiers
use on their expeditions," he said, "so as to excite the less
attention; they are mere shelters from the sun and night air."
"That is all we want, Nand Chund."
"They weigh only a few pounds, sahib, and can be carried
by a horseman in addition to his ordinary baggage. We have
three or four of them with us, so that we can at any time pitch
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
one should we arrive at a halting-place before the baggage
A quarter of an hour later Percy was lying under the shade
of the tent, the sides of which were tied up to permit the air
to pass freely through In a short time tiffin was served, con-
sisting of an excellent pillau of fowl, a dish of meat prepared
with savoury condiments, followed by an assortment of delicious
fruit. The drink consisted of water cooled in a porous jar,
flavoured with the juice of a slightly acid fruit.
I would have brought wine," the officer said apologetically,
"but my lord your uncle said that you would not be accus-
tomed to it, and that, riding in the sun, it was better you
should take only cooling liquors. He has sent, however, a tin
filled with an herb that with hot water makes a drink of which
he is very fond; it is sent up to him in a chest from Calcutta.
He said you would know what to do with it. He calls it
"I am glad of that," Percy said. "There is no difficulty in
preparing it. It needs but boiling water poured over it. I
will have some this evening. I. am very fond of it too, but I
am accustomed to drink it with sugar and milk."
"We have sugar," the man said, "but milk will be difficult
to obtain. Our master never uses it with his tea."
"I shall get accustomed to it," Percy said, "though I am sure
I sha'n't like it so well at first. At what time do we move on
"In about six hours, if it so pleases you. It is ten o'clock
now, by four the sun will have lost some of its power."
"How many hours' ride shall we have?"
"Three hours at a canter. We are doing but a short journey
to-day, as it is the first. After this we shall never be less than
eight hours in the saddle; that is, if it is not too much for you."
"Oh, it is not too much," Percy replied, "but I shall feel
rather stiff for the first day or two, after not having ridden for
THE SHADOW OF WAR.
so many months; but I certainly should be glad to travel as
much as possible in the evening."
"We can do that, sahib, for we shall have a moon for the
"How many days will it take us altogether ?"
"We are now but half a mile from Aliwal, where we shall
cross the Sutlej, and shall encamp to-night near Sultanpoor.
As I told you, we are to-day travelling as if going to Lahore.
To-morrow we shall strike north and shall camp near Adinanagar.
The next morning we shall cross the Ravee, and shall then turn
to the north-west, pass by Kailapore and Sealkote, cross the
Chenab and Jhelum rivers, then ride north some forty miles,
where we shall strike the hills and reach our lord's district,
which extends some thirty miles either way among the hills.
This is the route by which I hope to travel, but if I hear of
danger by the way we shall of course strike off to the right or
left as may be most convenient. The journeys are from thirty
to forty miles a day. Our horses could, of course, go much
farther, but we must regulate our speed by that of the baggage
animals. We shall be fully a week upon the road. Coming
down we did it in five days in order to be in time for your
Those eight trunks are not all filled with my things,"
Percy said with a laugh. "You must not think I travel about
with all that luggage. Four of them are mine, the other four
are filled with things my uncle wrote to his agents at home
to get for him and send out with me. I have no idea what
is in them."
"The baggage is nothing if we were travelling in peaceful
times," the Sikh said, "but at present the lighter one goes the
less likelihood of being meddled with. As it is, you will not
know your boxes when we come up with the baggage animals
this evening. It would never have done to be travelling
through the Punjaub at present with boxes of English make;
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
they would be looted by the first party of soldiers who came
across them. I had them measured the evening you came to
my tent, and carpenters were at work all night to make boxes
that would contain them. Then the boxes would be sewn up in
matting before the animals started this morning, and marked with
native marks to the address of a merchant in Jummoo. The
road for the first four days is the same as if we were going there.
Thus if the matting is cut, the native box will be seen inside.
"The four men with them are dismounted, and their horses
led by those who came on here ahead of us. Jummoo was the
safest place that we could choose to address the packages to,
for Ghoolab Singh is one of the most powerful of our chiefs; the
most powerful perhaps. He is brother of Dhyan Singh, who
was Runjeet Singh's chief counsellor, and uncle of Heera Singh,
who succeeded his father after his murder by Ajeet Singh. He
it is who is your uncle's principal enemy, as it is his son who
obtained the appointment of governor of the district. Baggage
directed to a merchant in Jummoo is therefore less likely to be
interfered with than if intended for another town, as com-
plaints laid before Ghoolab by an influential merchant might
cause inquiries to be made and punishment to be dealt out to
those who have interfered with his goods in transit. Ghoolab's
name is still powerful, even with the soldiers, and his influence
among the leaders is quite sufficient to obtain some sort of
redress for injuries committed upon those wealthy enough to
pay' for his protection."
"It seems a curious state of things to anyone coming straight
from England," Percy said, "where the law protects everyone,
and where the richest and most powerful dare not wrong the
"That is good," the Sikh said thoughtfully, twirling his
moustache, "but in that case how can the rich obtain any
advantage from their money? How, indeed, can they become
THE SHADOW OF WAR.
"By the rents they obtain from those who cultivate their
estates; from mines and from money invested in public funds
"And what do they find for their retainers to do?"
"They have no retainers; that is, no armed retainers. Of
course, they have servants who do the service of their houses
and look after the stables and gardens and so on, but they do
not carry arms themselves, nor do any of their servants."
"But if they are wronged by a neighbour, what do they do
"They simply go to the courts of law for redress, just as
anyone else would do. -The cases are heard and the decisions
given by the judges, and the richest man has to obey them
just the same as the poorest."
"It sounds very good," the Sikh said thoughtfully, "but it
seems to me that your country must be a very bad one for
fighting men and those who live by adventure."
Those who want to fight can enter the army and fight the
battles of their country abroad, while those fond of adventure
can go to sea or can visit wild countries, or can go out to the
colonies, where it is a hard, rough life, but where an active
man can acquire wealth."
"Now the sahib had better lie down and get a sleep till
it is time to be moving," Nand Chund said rising. "My men
are all asleep already, it is getting too hot even to talk."
W_ __ _
AT THE CASTLE.
FOR four days the journey was pursued without incident.
They had brought with them a sufficient store of pro-
visions for the journey, and travelled by by-paths, avoiding
villages as much as possible, halting for five or six hours in the
middle of the day, and performing the greater portion of the
distance after sunset. Just as they had started for their even-
ing ride on the fifth day two horsemen overtook them and
reined up as they did so.
"We have missed our path," one said, "can you tell us how
far it is to a place where we can find shelter for the night?"
"Ten miles farther you will find yourselves in the main road,
a mile from Sealkote.
"If you are bound thither we shall be glad to ride with you
for protection," one said. "There are many parties of bud-
mashes about, but they will hardly interfere with so strong and
respectable a company."
"We travel slowly," Nand Chund said, "and shall not reach
Sealkote to-night. When the beasts are tired we shall halt."
"We are in no hurry, and do not care whether we reach the
town to-night or to-morrow morning, therefore if you have no
objection we will share your bivouac. Far better to lose a few
hours than to run the risk of having our throats cut."
"As you will," Nand Chund said. "You are very welcome
to stay with us, if it so pleases you."
AT THE CASTLE.
As they rode the strangers chatted with Nand Chund, Percy
reining back his horse and riding among the men. After travel-
ling about five miles Nand Chund ordered a halt, the baggage
animals were unloaded, a tent pitched, and two of his men began
to prepare a meal, while the others looked to the horses. The two
strangers also dismounted and spoke for a time together, then
one said to the Sikh officer:
"You will think that we do not know our own minds, but
we have concluded that as the moon is bright and our horses
fairly fresh we will push on to Sealkote."
"It is for you to decide," Nand Chund said. "You are wel-
come to stay with us, and free to ride on if you prefer it."
After a few inquiries about the way the two men mounted
and rode on. As soon as the sound of the horses' hoofs became
faint Chund spoke to one of his men, who immediately left the
party and glided away to the right.
"I have sent him to watch them," Nand Chund said to
Percy; "I warrant they will halt before they are gone half a
mile. My man will keep in the fields till he gets near them,
and will bring us word if they move on."
"What do you suspect them to be?"
"I have no doubt they are enemies. They may have been
on our track since we started, or only for the last day's march,
but they are watching us no doubt."
"What makes you think so, Nand Chund?"
"Many things. It was unlikely that they would be upon
this by-path instead of on the main road. That they should
offer to stop with us when they were so well mounted, was
singular, also their change of intentions when they found that
we were going to halt. Their conversation too was not that
of honest men."
"What did they talk about?"
"They said they were coming from Lahore, and talked of
all the doings there."
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
"What was the harm in that?" Percy asked in surprise.
"Only that it was natural when falling in with a party like
ours that they should have asked many questions. Whence
we came, and whither were we going? What merchandise we
carried? Were we trading on our own account, or were we
carrying goods for some trader? How was it that I had such a
strong armed party with me? These,are the questions honest
men would ask, but they spoke only of their own doings and
asked no word about ours. I have no doubt whatever that
they know who I am and who you are, and that all they really
wanted to learn was where we intended to stop. Now they
are, I am certain, watching us, or probably one may have
ridden off to carry the news and fetch their band, while the
other remains to see that we do not move our camp."
"What are you going to do, Nand Chundl"
"I shall wait till Ruzam returns. If they should have ridden
straight on we shall move at once; if they both remain on watch,
and it seems that they are likely to do so till morning, I shall,
when Ruzam returns, go off with four of the men, and making
a circuit come down upon them from behind and despatch
them. If one goes and the other remains on watch, Ruzam
can be trusted to give a good account of him before he returns
"But it would be terrible to kill two men who have not
actually harmed us," Percy said, shocked at this his first
experience of the customs of the Punjaub.
"They have not done us much harm yet," Nand Chund said
grimly; "but they are endeavouring to draw us into an ambush,
which will cost us our lives and you your liberty, and per-
haps our lord his fortress and his life. Therefore I shall have
no more hesitation in killing them than I should in shooting a
Three hours passed, and then Ruzam glided into the camp.
"What is your news, Ruzam?"
AT THE CASTLE.
"They have just left," the man said; "I have been close to
them all the time listening to their talk. They have been
watching you from a spot half a mile away. They would have
come up to hear what you were saying, but neither would stay
behind alone, saying what was true enough, that we also might
be watching them, and if they separated they might be taken
singly. For the same reason neither would stay while the other
rode forward. I could have shot one, but I could not have
been sure of killing the second before he rode off, and so thought
it better to be quiet. At last they concluded that you had
really encamped for the night, and that they could safely ride
off with the news. It was unfortunate that the moonlight was
so bright, for it prevented my crawling up close enough to
attack them before they could mount."
"Did you hear what roads are likely to be beset?"
"No, they did not enter into particulars; but they said that
they would be sure to have you, as there would be parties on
every road. It is the young sahib they are anxious to capture;
and the orders were strict that he was to be taken unharmed,
and that all the rest of us were to be killed or taken prisoners."
"We will delay no longer," Nand Chund said. "We will
leave the tent standing and put some fresh wood on the fire.
They can be at Sealkote in an hour, and perhaps will return
with a party without delay. Load up the horses and let us be
off. Did you hear them say where they have come from,
"Yes, sahib, there were six of them at Loodiana. They must
have got news from someone in the fortress of the object of our
journey, they arrived there on the day after you did. The
morning we started one man was sent off with the news while
the others followed us, not together but singly, so that every
road we could take should be followed and our steps traced.
Each night one man has been despatched with the news of our
56 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
"You see, sahib," Nand Chund said to Percy, "I was not
wrong in saying that our ride would be a dangerous one, and
truly so far our enemies have been more than a match for us;
now we must see if we cannot double upon them."
As soon as the baggage was packed the party mounted, and
to Percy's surprise the officer led the way back along the road
by which they had come.
"It is of no use our going forward," he said. "Doubtless
they will take some little time in getting the members of the
band, who are at Sealkote, together and making a start-we
can calculate on at least an hour for that -but that only gives us
three hours' start. They will, I hope, make sure that we have
continued our journey, and will ride on fast so as to overtake
us before daylight. We will go back for a mile and then
turn off across the fields by some country track, and we may
hope before we have travelled very far to hit upon another
leading in the direction we want to go. We shall have the
moon for another five or six hours, and after that we will
travel by torchlight. We have brought some torches with us.
One will be enough to show us any ditches or nullahs when we
are proceeding across country, when we are on a road we can
do without it."
Two of the men dismounted, and giving their horses to
their comrades went on ahead searching for some track across
the fields. After half an hour's riding one was found, it was
a mere pathway used by peasants, and turning off on it the
party followed it in single file.
"Would it not be better to leave the baggage behind us,"
Percy asked the officer. "Then we could go on at a gallop.
It would be a nuisance to lose all the things, but that would
be of no odds in comparison to our lives."
"No, sahib, the colonel's boxes may be of importance. And
at any rate, it has not come to that yet. If we are attacked and
have to ride for it, of course we must leave them, for whatever
AT THE CASTLE.
may be in the boxes the colonel sets your life at a much
higher value. But I hope now we shall outwit them. The road
we were travelling will be known to them, and it is along
that they will be gathering, therefore we may well give them
the slip. We will cross the Chenab at daylight at Gazerabad,
and cross the Jhelum by boats a few miles below Jetalpore.
They would be on the watch for us there. Then I think we
shall be safe till we get near the colonel's fortress. That of
course will be the most dangerous portion of the journey, since
they will know by whatever road we travel it is for that
point we are making. We will halt in a grove, and I shall
send two of the men off on horseback by different roads. We
may calculate that one of them at least will reach the fortress,
and the colonel will then send out a force sufficient to beat
off any attack likely to be made, for, as our strength is known,
some thirty or forty men will have been considered ample for
"That seems a very good plan," Percy agreed. "I wonder
that they should dare to venture into my uncle's district, where,
as you say, the people are all favourable to him."
"There are many valleys and nullahs in which they could
conceal themselves; besides, much of the country is unculti-
vated, and they could lie hid for a fortnight without much fear
of being discovered if they took provisions with them and
encamped near water."
All night the journey continued. Percy was so sleepy that
he several times dozed off in his seat, and woke with a start,
finding himself reeling in the saddle. At times, however, he
was obliged to pay attention to their course, for it was often a
mere track, that even the men walking ahead had difficulty in
following. There were deep nullahs to be crossed, and once or
twice wide water-courses, dry now, but covered with stones and
boulders. These were, as Nand Chund told him, foaming tor-
rents in the wet season, and at such times quite impassable.
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
Occasionally the track turned off in a direction quite different
to that they were following; and they then directed their course
by the stars, a man going ahead with a torch until they came
again upon cultivated ground and struck upon a path leading
in the right direction.
The two rivers were crossed safely, and they then rode north
for two days.
Percy felt thankful indeed when, after pushing on all that last
night, Nand Chund, upon arriving at a clump of bushes, decided
to halt just as daylight was beginning to break in the east. The
two best-mounted men received their instructions, and at once
rode on at a brisk pace, while the rest entered the bushes and
dismounted, the men with their long knives clearing a space
sufficiently large for the party. A fire was lit and food cooked,
then four men were placed on watch at the edge of the thicket,
and the rest threw themselves down to sleep. It seemed to Percy
that he had hardly closed his eyes, but he knew he must have
slept for some hours, from the heat of the sun blazing down upon
him, when Nand Chund put his hand on his shoulder and said:
"All is well, sahib. A party of horse are approaching, and
I doubt not that the colonel is with them."
Percy leapt to his feet and made his way to the edge of the
"They are our men," Nand Chund said; "they are riding
in regular lines." A minute or two later he added, "There is
the colonel himself at their head-the officer with the white
horse-hair crest to his helmet."
Unless so informed Percy would have had no idea that the tall
bearded man in silk attire was an Englishman, until he leapt
from his horse beside him, exclaiming heartily, "Well, Percy, my
boy, I am glad indeed to see you safe and sound. I have been
in a fidget about you for the last week; for I have had news that
bands of strange horsemen had been seen on the roads, and
there were reports that some of them had entered my district,
AT THE CASTLE.
though where they had gone none knew. However, all is well
that ends well. I was delighted when two fellows rode into
the fortress this morning, within a few minutes of each other,
with the news that you had got thus far, and were hiding here
till I came out to fetch you. You may imagine we were not
long in getting into the saddle. Well, this has been a rough
beginning, lad; but your troubles are at an end now. You
may be sure that there is no foe near at hand who will venture
to try conclusions with four hundred of the best troops in the
Punjaub. I hardly fancied that you would have come, Percy.
I don't know when I have been so pleased as when I received
the letter from Mr. Fullarton at Loodiana, saying that you had
come out with him, and would probably be there in a few
"I was very glad to come, uncle,-very. It did not take me
five minutes to decide about coming after I had read your
"You are something like what I expected you to be, Percy,
although not altogether. I fancied that you would be more
like what your father was at your age. It seems but yesterday
that we were boys together, though it is so many years ago.
But I don't see the likeness-I think you are more like what I
was. Your father, dear good fellow as he was, always looked
as if he had a stiff collar on. Even from a boy he was all for
method and order; and no doubt he was right enough, though
I hated both. Well, you may as well mount, and you can tell
me about your voyage as we ride back. You have done your
work well, Nand Chund. I knew that I could safely trust the
boy in your charge. Have you been troubled by the way?"
"Only once have we absolutely seen them, sahib;" and the
officer gave the colonel a short account of the incident of the
So they were at Loodiana the day after you arrived ? Then
someone must have sent off word of the object of your mission
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
as soon as you started. We must find out these traitors, Nand
Chund, and make an end of them. However, we will talk that
By this time the horses had been led out from the thicket.
The colonel watched Percy critically as he mounted, and
nodded approvingly as he sprang into the saddle.
"That is right, lad; I see that you are at home on a horse.
We shall make a Sikh of you before long. How have you got
on with him, Nand Chundl You must have been quite in a
fog, Percy, as to what was going on. Your tongue must have
had quite a holiday since you left Loodiana."
"The young sahib speaks Punjaubi very fairly, colonel, and
we had no difficulty in understanding each other."
"Speaks Punjaubi!" the colonel repeated. "You must be
dreaming, Nand Chund. How can the boy have learned the
language. I suppose you mean Hindustani-though how he
could have picked that up in an English school is more than
I can understand. There was no such thing heard of when
I was a boy."
"It is Punjaubi he speaks, colonel, though he told me he
could also make himself understood in Hindustani," the officer
said in the native language.
"Nand Chund tells me that you can speak Punjaubi, Percy,
but in truth I can hardly believe him."
"I don't speak it very well yet, uncle, but I can get on with
it. I worked five or six hours a day on the voyage out with
a Punjaubi servant of Mr. Fullarton. I thought it would be
of great use for me to know something of the language when I
arrived. As to the Hindustani, I have had a master at school
twice a week for more than a year before I sailed."
"I am delighted, Percy. You must have worked hard in-
deed to speak as fluently as you do, and it does you tremen-
dous credit. I own I should never have thought of spending
my time on board ship learning a language. You do take after
AT THE CASTLE.
your father more than me, after all; it is just the sort of thing
he would have done. Well, I am pleased, boy,-very pleased.
Mr. Fullarton spoke in very favourable terms about you when
he wrote. I wondered then how he should know anything about
a boy of your age who chanced to be a fellow-passenger, but
thought it was merely a bit of civility on his part, and meant
nothing. I suppose he heard from his servant that you were
working up the language with him, and so came to take an
interest in you. Perhaps you sat near him at table?"
"No, uncle; I took my meals with the second and third
officers and the midshipmen. The captain offered to put me
there; it was so much nicer than going among a lot of grown-
up people, and of course it gave me a great deal more time for
work. But towards the end of the voyage I came to know
most of the passengers. Mr. Fullarton was the first to be kind
to me. He used very often to come forward to where I was
working with Ram Singh-that was the name of his servant,-
and he would explain things about the grammar that I could
not understand and Ram Singh could not tell me, for of course
he didn't know anything about grammar."
"Well, you can ride, you can talk Punjaubi fairly, and you
know something of Hindustani. That is a capital beginning,
Percy. Have you any other accomplishments?"
"Nothing that I know of," Percy laughed, "except that on
the way out I practised pistol-shooting; and before we got to
Calcutta there were not many on board who shot much better.
Mr. Fullarton made me practise from the first, and told me that
to shoot straight was one of the most valuable accomplishments
I could have in India."
"He was perfectly right," the colonel said heartily. "A
quick eye and hand with the pistol are invaluable, especially
in a country like this, where assassination is the most ordinary
way of getting rid of an enemy. My pistol has saved my life
several times, and the fact that I am a dead shot has no doubt
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
saved me from many other such attempts. Even the most
desperate men hesitate at undertaking a job which involves
certain death; for even if they planted a dagger between my
shoulders before I had time to lay hands on the butt of a pistol,
they would be killed to a certainty by my men. You must
keep that up, lad, till you can hit an egg swinging at the end of
a string nine times out of ten at twelve paces. It is very seldom
that you want to use a pistol at a longer range than that.
Now, am I at all like what you expected me to be?"
"I don't think I had formed any distinct idea about you,
uncle. Father said you were taller than he was and bigger,
and of course. I expected you to be very sunburnt and brown,
and that perhaps you would have a beard, as most of the Sikhs
have beards; I thought too, that perhaps you would dress to some
extent like a native; but I did not expect to see you alto-
gether like a Sikh."
"We all adopted the native costume to a great extent," the
colonel said. "Of course there was always a prejudice against
us, and anything like a European dress would have constantly
kept it before the minds of our men that we were foreigners.
The dress, too, was lighter and more easy than our own in a
climate like this, and I don't think anyone could deny for a
moment that it is a good deal more picturesque."
The colonel was indeed in the complete garb of a Sikh
warrior of rank. On his head he wore a close-fitting steel cap,
beautifully inlaid with gold. A slender shaft rose three inches
above the top, and in this was inserted a plume of white horse-
hair, that fell down over the helmet. From the lower edge of the
steel cap fell a curtain of light steel links, covering the forehead
down to the eyebrows, and then falling so as to shield the
cheeks and the neck behind. In front was a steel bar, inlaid
like the helmet. This was now pushed up, but when required
it could be lowered down over the nose almost to the chin,
so as to afford protection against a sword-stroke from the side.
AT THE CASTLE. 63
A robe of thickly-quilted silk fell from the neck to the knees.
Round the body were four pieces of armour, of work similar
to the helmet. One of these formed a back, and the other the
front piece, two smaller plates cut out under the arm connected
Across the back was slung a shield of about eighteen inches
in diameter, also of steel inlaid with gold. In action it was
held in the left hand, and not upon the arm like those in use
in Europe in the middle ages. The arms themselves were
protected by steel pieces from the elbow to the wrist, the
hands being covered by fine but strong link-mail, kept in place
by straps across the palm of the hand. The legs were covered
by long tightly-fitting white trousers reaching to the feet. The
sash of purple with gold embroidery bristled with pistols and
daggers. All the armour, although strong and capable of resist-
ing a sword-cut or a spear-thrust, was very light, the steel
being of the finest temper and quality. The costume was an
exceedingly picturesque one, and showed off the colonel's
powerful figure to advantage.
The officers were very similarly attired. The soldiers were
for the most part dressed in chain-armour, with shields larger
than those of the officers, but of leather with metal bosses;
some wore turbans, others steel caps.
What do you think of my men, Percy?" the colonel asked,
as he reined in his horse and watched the horsemen trot past
"They are fine-looking men," Percy said doubtfully, "but
they would look a great deal better if they were all dressed
Ah! that is your European notion, Percy. No doubt to an
English eye, accustomed to our cavalry, they do look rather a
scratch lot, but dress makes no difference when it comes to
fighting. From the first the Maharajah's European officers
had to abandon the idea of introducing anything like uniform-
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
ity in dress. The men clothe themselves; and in addition to
the expense it would be to them to get new clothes on joining,
their feeling of independence would revolt against any dicta-
tion on such a subject. It has all along been very difficult to
get them to submit to anything like European discipline, but
to attempt to-introduce uniformity of garb would produce a re-
volution among them. There is no such thing as uniformity
even in the attire of the most highly-favoured troops of the
native princes, and the appearance of their escort and retinue
is varied in the extreme.
"Richly-dressed nobles ride side by side with men whose
armour and trappings have come down to them from many
generations. Some carry lances, some matchlocks, some only
swords; some are pretty nearly naked to the waist, others are
swathed up to the eyes in gaudy-coloured robes. So that a
man's arms are serviceable, and he is willing to learn his drill,
is obedient to discipline and of good behaviour, I care nothing
for his clothes; though as far as I can I discourage any from
dressing more showily than the rest, and of course insist that
all are fairly dressed in accordance with their notions. You
must remember that until the days of Marlborough there were
nothing like uniforms in European armies, especially among the
cavalry. And even in his time there was very considerable
latitude in the matter of dress."
"I suppose I shall have to dress in Sikh fashion, uncle?"
"It will be certainly better, lad. Indoors their dress is
easy and flowing, and you will find it comfortable. Your
European dress will at once mark you out, and should there be
troubles your chances of escape would be vastly greater in Sikh
costume, than in anything which would at once point you out
as a European. In the course of a year you will speak the
language like a native, for, as you may suppose, you will hear
nothing else, except when we are alone together. And indeed
to me Punjaubi now comes much more naturally than'English.
AT THE CASTLE.
If it were not that I have always made a point of getting a
box of European books sent up from Calcutta whenever an
opportunity offers, I should almost have forgotten my native
tongue. There, that is the fortress. It looks fairly strong,
does it not?"
They had just ascended a brow, and as they did so the
stronghold came suddenly into view. It stood on a rocky spur,
running out from the hills behind it. This broke suddenly
away at the foot of the walls, and seemed to Percy to be
almost perpendicular on three sides.
It looks tremendously strong, uncle. Surely nobody could
scale those rocks?"
"No; except by treachery it is impregnable on the sides you
see, or at any rate on two of them. On the side facing us it
is very steep, indeed almost inaccessible. There is a footpath
cut for the most part in the rock. It zigzags up the face,
and there is a small gateway, though you can't see it from here,
by which the fortress is entered from this side. There are
three places that can only be climbed by ladders, and when
these are removed nothing, unless provided with wings, could
get up. The weakest side is, of course, that which we don't see,
where the spur runs up to the hills behind. I have taken
every pains to strengthen it there, and have blasted a cut thirty
feet deep and as many wide, at the foot of the wall across the
shoulder. I have, indeed, very largely added to the strength
of the whole place since I was first appointed governor ten
years ago. At that time I only resided here occasionally,
sometimes moving about in the towns and villages, at others
absent, often for months, with my three regiments, on some
military expedition. But I foresaw that there would be
troubles at Runjeet Singh's death, and quietly and steadily
prepared for them.
"I knew the weak points of the place. For when I was
first appointed, my predecessor, as is often the case, declined to
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
hand over the fortress to me, and I had to capture it. It was
no easy matter then, but I managed one night with a hundred
picked men to scale the rock unnoticed, when a storm was
raging. Then we threw up a rope with a grapnel to the top
of the wall, drew up a rope-ladder, and so got a footing; we
crept along the walls with scarcely any opposition, for the
sentries were cowering under shelter of the parapet, and we
reached the gate before the garrison had taken the alarm.
The rest was easy; we threw open the gates, fired a couple of
guns as a signal, and the main body of my troops, who had
moved unperceived to a point a quarter of a mile away,
hurried up, and we were speedily masters of the place. I at
once resolved that I would do my best to avoid being turned
out in so summary a manner. So far I have succeeded.
There have been two or three attempts to take the place, but
none of them were serious, for I take care that my sentries
don't sleep at their posts, and it would need a regular siege by
a large force to take it; I mean, of course, by Sikhs. The
British have proved over and over again that rock fortresses
considered impregnable can be taken without serious difficulty
by determined men."
"How large is it, uncle?"
"It is about a quarter of a mile from end to end, and at the
widest point it is about two hundred and fifty yards from wall
to wall. So there is plenty of room not only for my troops but
for a large number of fugitives from the country round. I have
grain stored away sufficient for a year, even if the strength of
the garrison was doubled. Water was of course the principal
difficulty. There were some large tanks when I took possession,
but I have greatly added to them. Of course all the water
that falls on the roofs in the rainy season is carefully collected
and stored; and in addition, I have constructed troughs to a
streamlet six miles away in the hills. This brings me down
sufficient water for our daily needs without touching the supply
AT THE CASTLE. b'
in the tanks, which is stringently preserved in case of a siege
for, of course, an enemy would as a first step intercept my
supply from the hills.
"The supply in the tanks is certainly ample for many
months, and would of course be replenished in the wet season,
so I have no anxiety on that head. I always keep a consider-
able amount of salt in the magazines, and on the approach
of an enemy, cattle would be driven in, slaughtered, and
salted; but in fact meat is a matter of minor necessity here,
for although the Sikhs have no objection to eat it, they can do
very well without it, and are perfectly content if they can get
plenty of the native grain and a proportion of rice."
The road wound up the valley under the foot of the rock
on which the fortress stood, and then climbed the hill by
zigzags cut at an easy gradient until it reached the level of the
shoulder, which it followed down to the castle, a quarter of a mile
away. The wall on this side was much higher than that on
the other faces. The gate was flanked by two massive stone
towers, and two others rose at the angles. A drawbridge was
lowered as they approached, and over this they crossed the
deep fosse that had been cut by the colonel. Ten cannon
were placed on the wall and four on each of the towers.
"It would be a hard nut to crack, Percy," his uncle said,
as they rode into the gateway.
"It would indeed, uncle. No wonder you have been left
Passing through the gateway they were faced by another
wall, which extended in a semicircle in front of them. Four
cannon frowned down on the gateway from embrasures, and
the parapet, which was very high, was closely loopholed for
musketry. Turning to the right, they rode between the end
of this wall and the main one, and then turning sharply to the
left rode into the town. Percy had expected to find only a
barrack, but there was a main street with shops on either side,
68 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
where commodities of all kinds were sold. Behind these were
the buildings where the troops were lodged, and in the centre
of the town stood a large and handsome stone building, the resi-
dence of the governor. Everything was scrupulously clean and
tidy. Women were drawing water from conduits, children
played about unconcernedly, and everything looked so quiet
and peaceful that Percy wondered vaguely whether the inhabi-
tants shared to any extent in the doubts that his uncle had
expressed to him of his ability to hold the place against such
a force as might possibly be brought against it.
PERCY AND HIS UNCLE ENTER THE ZENANA.
A RAID FROM THE HILLS.
AS the party rode through the street the people looked up
in surprise at the young European riding by the side of
the governor. It was evident that though the secret of his
coming had reached the ear of an enemy, it had been well
preserved in the town.
On his alighting at the entrance to the governor's house the
colonel said, Now I will introduce you to my wife. She is
most anxious to see you, and is quite delighted at the thought
of your coming."
Passing through the great hall, where the colonel received
visitors, listened to complaints, and administered justice, they
passed through a richly-carved doorway into an inner room. Here
was a table and writing-desk, with a large English arm-chair.
"I never could fall into the Eastern custom of sitting
tailor-ways and writing on a pad on my knees, but have
kept, as you see, to a table and comfortable chair. This we
may call my private business sanctum."
Drawing aside a heavy curtain in one corner of the room
he entered an ante-chamber, whose walls were covered with
elaborate carvings. A cushioned divan ran round it, and there
was a thick carpet over the greater part of the marble floor.
Another curtain was drawn aside, and they then entered the
principal room of the zenana. A lady some forty years old
was seated on a divan, and rose at once as they came in.
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
"Welcome back, my lord," she said to the colonel. "I
knew that with the force you took with you there was no
reason for anxiety, but in spite of that I was anxious. I
always am when you go beyond the walls. One can never
say what will happen."
"You are a great deal more nervous for me than you are
for yourself," the colonel said. "This is my nephew, who has
come so many thousand miles to be with us. You can speak
to him in your own tongue, for I find, to my astonishment, that
he has studied it on board ship during the voyage to such good
purpose that he can get along very fairly."
"I am glad of that," she said, holding her hand out to
Percy. "I have been wondering how I should talk with you
when my lord is not here to interpret, and how I should be
able to manage things when you understood nothing that was
said. I am very glad you have come. I have no children,
and hitherto my lord has not cared to follow our custom and
to adopt one. Not that I have been lonely for eight years,
for since the death of Runjeet Singh my lord has always dwelt
with me, and I have never been alone, except when he made
short tours through his district. Now you will be as a son;
and even when he is away I shall feel that there is someone
whom I can trust entirely to look after the defence of the
fortress during his absence."
"I am sure there are numbers of my officers whom you can
trust entirely, Mahtab."
"There are many whom we think we can trust, Roland;
but who can say with certainty ? Have we not seen at Lahore
how one after another proved faithless to their benefactors?
Who can say of another man that he cannot be bought?
Percy is young yet-he is but fifteen, you tell me-but in
another three years he will be grown up, and will become
your right hand, providing he is not tired of our life here."
"Oh, there is no fear of that!" Percy broke in. "There
A RAID FROM THE HILLS.
will be heaps for me to do. In the first place, I have to learn
to speak the language perfectly, then I have to acquire the
manners and customs of the people and how to drill troops.
I hope, uncle, you will begin soon to teach me to ride as well
as the Sikhs do."
"That part is not difficult, Percy. The Sikhs may be
called a nation of horsemen, but it would be more true to
say that they are a nation of men who ride horses. I admit
that they have firm seats, and can sit their horses up and
down hill in the roughest country, but as for taking a leap
either wide or high they would not be in it with English
cavalry-men. What with their peaked-up saddles and their
short stirrups and sharp bits they check a horse's speed and
spoil his temper, while they themselves have no-freedom of
action, and could no more stand up in their saddles to deliver
a downright blow than they could fly. I had a fair seat on
horseback when a boy, and used to ride to hounds, and during
the short time I was in the army rode more than one steeple-
chase, but I was certainly nothing particular as a horseman.
Here I am considered extraordinary. I hope in a short time
to make you as good a rider as I am. Nor will you be long
in learning your drill, for that is simple enough, being little
more than forming from column into line and from line into
"A regiment that can do that is considered as fairly com-
petent. I have got my men to charge in fair order, instead of
each man going off at a bat as fast as his horse can lay foot
to the ground, and with that I am satisfied. It is useless to
teach them skirmishing and outpost work, for these seem to come
naturally to them. Therefore all the drill that there is to be
learnt may be acquired by a sharp fellow in the course of a
week. Indeed, recruits generally take their places in the
ranks at once, and soon get hustled into knowing what they
have got to do.
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
"As to the language, I grant that it will take some hard
work before you learn to speak like a native, still as you will
hear no other tongue you will pick it up naturally and with-
out much regular work except to acquire the niceties of the
language. Nand Chund speaks it very correctly, and I will
give you into his special charge, and if you talk to him and he
corrects you for a couple of hours a day it will be quite enough
in the way of work. You may also, if you like, go on with your
Hindustani. I have a factotum, a sort of secretary and steward
rolled into one, who speaks it fluently; and it would be as well
that you should understand it, for although it would be no use
to you here, it may be valuable if in the future your lot is cast
in other parts of India. You will every day do a little sword
exercise. Nand Chund is a good swordsman. When you have
learnt all he can teach you I will put you on with some others
so that you may learn a trick from one and a trick from another.
Your pistol shooting you will of course keep up."
"And when you have nothing better to do," Mahtab said,
"I shall always be glad to have you here. Two or three of
my maids are wonderful story-tellers, and know among them,
I think, all the stories of the history of the Punjaub. I don't
say that these are all strictly true, but certainly they are all
founded on fact, and as they are all about war, and love, and
stratagems, and wonderful exploits, imprisonments, and escapes,
they will amuse you, and at the same time be good practice."
"I shall like that very much, aunt. Do you speak any
English yourself V"
"A little," Mahtab said. "I can hardly talk it at all, but
my lord taught me so that if he wished to write to me, or I to
him, we could send letters to each other, and should these fall
into others' hands they would not be understood."
We have found it useful several times,' the colonel said.
"She has sent me warnings that have enabled me to avoid fall-
ing into traps; and once, that was before I was governor here,
A RAID FROM THE HILLS.
I was able, when engaged on an expedition three hundred miles
away, to warn her of a plot to seize her in her house. The
messenger I sent was captured, but as there was nothing upon
him save a scrap of paper with a few words they did not under-
stand, they tossed itwith contempt on the ground. My man
was a sharp fellow, and happened to be bare-footed, and presently
he managed to shift his position so as to stand on the piece of
paper and grasp it with his toes. He was led off a prisoner,
but made his escape in the night and brought my chit to my
wife, who, being warned, assembled some friends of mine, and
when the fellows came to carry out their design beat them off
"I can see that it must be very useful in that way, uncle, and
that it would be just the same as a secret code. Does aunt
remain shut up here, or does she go about as ladies do in
"Not quite so freely as that, Percy, but she certainly does
not remain shut up. The Sikh women have much more liberty
than those in other parts of India, and naturally I have per-
suaded her to adopt our customs in that respect to a consider-
able extent. It is true that when she goes out she is always
veiled; but that is a concession to the general feeling. In fact
her veil is no thicker than that worn by English ladies, cer-
tainly no thicker than a widow's, and even that she throws
aside when travelling with me outside a town."
"I am at home in this district," the lady said. "My father
was a rajah, and was lord of this territory until Runjeet
Singh's troops overcame him. He was killed in the defence
of his fortress; not this, but another thirty miles away. Your
uncle was in command of one of the regiments, and my mother
and I were sent to Lahore under his escort. He saw and
took a fancy to me. He was so kind and considerate on the
journey, that in spite of his being an enemy I fell in love with
him. When we arrived in Lahore Runjeet Singh asked him
74 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
what present he should make him for his good services, and
when he said he should choose my hand, Runjeet gave it
willingly, and with it a jaghir-that is," she added, seeing that
Percy looked puzzled, "a grant of land-of a considerable
portion of my father's territory. It was partly on that account
that some years afterwards he was chosen as governor of the
district, and I doubt whether, valiant as he is, he would ever
have taken this fortress, had it not been that two of my
father's old retainers, who had lived here for many years, acted
as guides, and showed him a way up the rock they had been in
the habit of using as boys."
"And now, wife," the colonel broke in, "we are both of us
forgetting that the boy has had nothing to eat this morning,
and I only swallowed a mouthful before starting."
"It is all ready, Roland, though I had forgotten all about it."
She clapped her hands, and on an attendant entering gave
orders that a meal should be served. Four young women
brought in a table, which they placed before her divan. Two
English chairs were set beside it, and in a minute or two a
variety of dishes were placed on the table.
"I suppose you would rather have a cut off a joint, Percy,
than all these messes," the colonel said as they did justice to
"I don't know, uncle. They are very nice, but I don't think
there is so much flavour in the meat as there is in an English
"Certainly there is not, as a rule, in India; but I think that
our sheep, which pasture right up among the hills, make as good
mutton as we have at home. Still I don't pretend to be a judge;
I own that I have quite forgotten the flavour of English meat."
The next six months' life at the fortress was, with one excep-
tion, uneventful. Percy worked steadily at Punjaubi, and had
come to speak so well that he could pass as a native in an ordinary
conversation. He had learnt his drill, and now took his place
A RAID FROM THE HILLS.
regularly in the ranks of the cavalry regiment as an under
officer. An hour a day was devoted to sword exercise and
pistol shooting, and for an hour he worked at Hindustani. The
hot hours of the day were generally spent in Mahtab's company,
talking to her, or listening to the long stories of her attendants.
When it became cool he mounted his horse and rode down to
the plain with his uncle. An escort always accompanied them
to prevent a surprise. There he went through a course of
horsemanship, his uncle teaching him to leap over substitutes
for hurdles, or across a wide trench dug out for the purpose.
After he had taken these obstacles a few times one of the best
Sikh horsemen would take him in hand, and he learnt to
perform the feats of leaning over and picking up a handker-
chief or a javelin from the ground, carrying off a ring hanging
from a string, or lifting a tent-peg from the ground at the
point of his spear.
One day a mounted man rode in at full speed. He dis-
mounted at the door of the colonel's residence, and the ser-
vant took in word that he had brought news of importance
and begged to be allowed to see him at once. The man was
covered with dust, and had a bandage stained with blood
round his head. He made his salaam and then stood waiting
to be questioned.
"Where do you come from?" the colonel asked.
"From the village of Jaegwar, your excellency."
"What has happened there?"
"Last night, sahib, the Turgars from the hills came down
upon us. They burnt the village and killed many. They have
carried off the cattle and the women. Three of the villages
have been destroyed. We did our best, but we were taken by
surprise, and but few of us escaped. I myself got a deep graze
with a bullet as I rode off. I have come to pray for your lord-
ship's protection, and that it will please you to punish these
robbers and to recover the women and stolen property."
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
"I will do what I can," the colonel said quietly, "and can
promise you that I will teach these mountain robbers a lesson.
Whether I can recover what they have carried off is another
matter." He struck the bell and a servant entered.
"Let this man's horse be put in the stable and well fed. See
that he himself has food, and tell the hakim to see to his wound.
Send an orderly to Nand Chund, Sohan Verdi, and Lal Boghra,
and beg them to come here immediately."
"Who are these Turgars, uncle ?"
"They are a tribe of hill robbers on the other side of the
river. The country nominally belongs to Cashmere, but the
government at Sirinagur has no more authority over these hill
tribes than it has over the Highlanders of Scotland. Jaegwar
lies forty miles to the north, and it will be a troublesome
business to punish these beggars, who differ in no respect from
the Pathan hill tribes along the whole range of mountains on
the northern side of the Indus. It is some years since I had
trouble with any of them, for on the last occasion I punished
them so heavily they have been quiet ever since. No doubt
some reports have reached them of the state of confusion in the
Punjaub, and they think to take advantage of it. However,
they will find out their mistake. I am just as much bound to
protect my district as if I were still a dutiful servant of Lahore;
as indeed I am, save in the matter of resigning my governor-
ship, for only ten days since I sent off the annual amount at
which the district was taxed when I took charge of it.
The sum is not a large one; for at that time it was, I should
say, the poorest district in the Punjaub, though now, thanks
to the fact that life and property are both secure here, the
population has increased fourfold, and the revenue tenfold.
Still I have no doubt the amount I send is very useful at
Lahore, where the treasury is said to be empty; and it enables
my agent there to urge that I am faithful to the government,
though I refuse to resign my post, where I was placed by Runjeet
A RAID FROM THE HILLS.
Singh, or to hand over the people he intrusted to my care to
men who seek only to extort their last penny from them and
to grind them into the dust."
The servant now announced that the three officers were in
attendance. They were at once shown in, and the colonel in-
formed them of the news he had received. "These robbers must
be punished, and punished heavily," he went on, "for if they
were permitted to plunder my people without retaliation we
should have half a dozen of these hill clans following their
example. The question is, what force can we send without
unduly weakening the garrison here? Cavalry would be of
little use, but I will take fifty troopers. We may find level
bits of country where they can be made useful. Of course I
will take the four mountain guns and the ten camel guns, and
the 1st Company of Artillery, to whom they belong. But our
chief dependence must be on infantry. I should say we could
spare four hundred very well; that will leave an ample force
against any sudden attack on the place; as to a serious ex-
pedition, I should certainly have warning from Lahore in time
to return before it could arrive here. I shall myself accompany
the expedition, and, Sohan Verdi, you will take the command
of the fort in my absence. I know that I need not tell you
to be vigilant. Nand Chund will go with me in command of
the troop of cavalry, and you, Lal Boghra, of the infantry.
Take No. 1 and 2 Companies of each of the regiments. As
Rundoop Koor commands the Camel Battery, he will of course
be in charge of the guns. Let the troops cook a meal at once
and parade in an hour."
The officers saluted, and were about to retire when he added,
"We will take no tents with us, or baggage of any kind, but I
will see that there is an ample supply of grain and flour. Any-
thing else that we may require we must take from the enemy."
"You will let me go with you, I hope, uncle?" Percy ex-
claimed as soon as the officers had left the room.
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
"Certainly, Percy, it will be a good introduction for you
to mountain warfare."
"Thank you, uncle; it will be a splendid change, and I shall
enjoy it immensely. Can these Turgar fellows fight?"
"They can fight in their way well enough, but they are no
good against disciplined troops."
"What is their way, uncle?"
"Their villages are all fortified, for when they are not en-
gaged in plundering the villages of the plains they are con-
stantly having petty wars with each other. Otherwise their
only idea of fighting is to make sudden rushes down upon a
column or a convoy struggling along some defile or up some
breakneck path. These rushes are formidable enough against
unsteady troops, but disciplined men who keep their heads
and show a bold front can beat them off again easily enough.
I need not say that one has to be careful on these expedi-
tions, for a man who straggled away from the main body, under
the belief that there was no enemy near, would be cut off to
a certainty; so you will be pleased to remember that whatever
happens you are to keep near me. Now I will go and give
orders about the bullock carts and the provisions; there is no
time to be lost. You had better go in and see Mahtab, and
tell her what has happened. Ask her to get us something to
eat before we start, and to see that provisions for our private
consumption are put into the carts."
Percy was' rather nervous at the mission, as he was afraid
that his aunt would be alarmed at the thought of the colonel
going into danger. She, however, took the news very coolly.
"We had many such expeditions when we first came here,"
she said. "Of course there is danger, but it is very slight;
and the colonel has so often been in great danger and has
come out unharmed, that I have ceased to worry about small
things. The cannon generally do the work, and the tribesmen
run before the infantry can attack them. The real danger is
A RAID FROM THE HILLS.
from surprises, and your uncle has had far too much experience
to be caught unawares. But you must be careful, Percy, not to
wander away, or to get excited and dash on ahead; you must
keep near to him."
"So he has ordered me, aunt, and I shall be very careful."
"I hope you will," she said seriously. "There is no glory to
be gained in these hill fights, but foolhardiness may very well
cost anyone his life. These tribesmen have plenty of courage,
and are quite reckless of their lives if they can but cut down an
enemy; they are as patient and watchful as wild beasts in pur-
suit of prey."
The preparations were soon made; the troops who were to
take part in the expedition fell in at the appointed time, and
the colonel, after making a careful inspection of them, placed
himself at their head and led the way through the gate. Percy
rode beside him, and immediately behind came the troop of
cavalry; the artillery followed. The little guns were carried
on the backs of the camels, the four mountain guns each drawn
by as many animals. The infantry followed the battery, twelve
bullock carts bringing up the rear.
"I am going to send the horse straight on, Percy. It is pretty
certain the hillmen will have recrossed the river and be up in
their villages before this; their tactics are always to strike a
blow, collect their plunder, and be off again to the hills long
before a force can be collected to oppose them. Still the cavalry
will give the peasants confidence, and they will return to their
homes when they hear that a force, however small, has arrived
for their protection. They will be there by midnight, and will
be able to gather news from the peasantry as to the villages
these robbers came from, and inquire about roads and guides, so
that when we get there to-morrow night no time need be lost
about those matters. It is an important thing with these hill
tribesmen to strike back as quickly as possible. I found when
I first came here that nothing impressed them so much as the
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
promptitude with which they were chased and punished. It
was so different to the dawdling way in which native operations
are conducted, that it took them completely by surprise. You
know the old saying-he who gives quickly gives twice, and
it is just as true of a blow as it is of money."
Half the journey was accomplished that day. The night was
cold enough to render blazing fires most enjoyable, and Percy
when he lay down felt the comfort of the long Sikh coat made of
sheep-skin with the wool inside, and the outside decorated with
patterns worked in coloured threads. The following evening
they reached Jaegwar, and the colonel took up his quarters in
the principal house in the village, to which some of the inhabi-
tants were now returning. Nand Chund made his report as
they were eating their supper.
There were about five hundred of them came down, colonel,
in seven different parties. As far as I can make out about three
hundred of them were Turgars, and the others were Nagas and
Kotahs. They killed about eighty men and carried off seventy
or eighty women, and four or five hundred head of cattle.
They burned four villages, and set on fire two or three houses
here. Fortunately there was no wind, and the flames did not
"Now as to the road, Nand Chund."
The track, for they say it is nothing more up to the Turgar
villages, crosses the river about two miles north of this place.
There are five villages, all lying within a circle of about three
miles. The nearest of them is six miles beyond the river. The
fighting force is put as from twelve to fifteen hundred, but of
course if the two other tribes aid them it would more than
double that. There are some steep places on the road, and one
very deep and narrow valley, quite a ravine I should say, to be
passed through. If they get to know of our coming that is no
doubt the place where they will fight. If we get through there
before they can gather to oppose us they will, of course, make
A RAID FROM THE HILLS. 81
their stand at their villages, which are all high up on the
"The men have made two marches of twenty miles each,"
the colonel said; "it would be as well that they should have
a day's rest before we advance, for it will be a heavy day's
work. Besides, I would rather that the Turgars should hold
the ravine or any other strong points they may have. Were we
to march through these before they were ready to oppose us,
they would say afterwards that we could never have got through
had they known we were coming, but if we show them that
they can no longer rely upon being able to arrest the advance
of a column, it may be a long time before they venture upon
another raid like this. However strong the place is, you may
be sure we shall be able to turn them out of it. That rocket
tube will astonish them. Besides, however strong the valley
is we ought to be able to outflank it. Another advantage
of a fight there is, that if we turn them out with a good deal of
loss we shall carry the villages more easily, for it will shake
their courage if they find they are unable to hold the place they
had relied on as the main defence of their villages."
Accordingly the force rested the next day, and on the
morning following started before it was light, and reached the
ford across the river just as day was breaking.
"I have no doubt they are prepared for us," the colonel
said, as he watched the troops and guns making their passage.
"They would hardly have expected that a force would make
its appearance here so soon, but they are sure to have placed
scouts on the hills to give them warning."
"It is a wild-looking country," Percy said, as the increasing
light enabled them to see hill rising behind hill.
"Yes. A batteryor two of horse artillery, knowing the country
well and taking post on the hills, would make it very hot for
us. Fortunately there is no fear of anything of that sort. The
wall pieces are all they have, besides muskets and matchlocks.
82 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
The road seems to go straight up the hill and over the
crest," he went on, after examining the ground with his field-
"Ah! I can make out a group of three or four men, just to
the left of that bush there. Do you see the smoke ?-they have
just lighted a fire. That is a signal, I have no doubt; as you
see, the smoke is getting thicker and thicker."
Three or four minutes later two other columns of smoke
were seen rising, one two or three miles to the right, the other
as much to the left.
"Take a dozen of your troopers, Nand Chund, and skirmish
up the hill; a company of infantry shall follow you. If you
find only a handful of men there, drive them off; if they are in
force, get near enough to draw their fire and find out their
strength, and then fall back again upon the supporting company.
We shall not be far behind. But it is hardly likely that you
will be pressed, they will not be able to gather to offer any
serious opposition until we get some miles further."
The little party of cavalry rode on, a company of infantry
following close behind them. Colonel Groves waited until he
saw the rest of the force cross the ford, and then set forward
again. He had handed his glasses to Percy, who sat watching
the advanced party as it ascended the hill. The horsemen had
scattered along the hillside, and were several hundred yards
ahead of the infantry.
"They are firing, uncle," he exclaimed presently. "I don't
see the smoke, but I heard the sound of shots. There! I saw
a puff of smoke just now."
"How many guns did you hear, Percy?"
"Five or six; I should say that is about all there are. I saw
three standing up, and there may have been two or three more
engaged in making the fire."
"It is hardly likely that they would have more than five
or six men on watch. Even if they knew yesterday that we
A RAID FROM THE HILLS.
had come to the village, they would hardly keep more than a
This was evidently the case, as the horsemen were seen to
pass over the crest, and one of them soon reappeared and gal-
loped down the hill.
"Nand Chund reports, Colonel," he said when he arrived at
the head of the column, "there were but four men, they fired a
few shots at us. When we reached the top of the hill they
were half-way down the other side. There is a good deal of
bush and some wood down there. Nand Chund says that he
will not advance further till the company in support joins him,
as there might be a force hidden there."
Quite right. Tell him that at any rate he is not to mount
the next hill until we come up."
When the force arrived at the crest they saw Nand Chund
and the footmen drawn up beyond the bush in the hollow.
"It is a good deal steeper beyond, uncle."
"Yes, a great deal steeper. There will be some little diffi
culty in getting our guns up; and if I mistake not, there is a
body of men on the opposite crest."
A trooper was sent on to Nand Chund telling him to advance
no farther until the whole force came up. When the force was
united the colonel said: "This hill is too steep for you to act
with effect, Nand Chund. Ride along the valley with the troop
for a mile or so, climb the hillside, and then come back along
the crest till within a quarter of a mile of them, and as soon as
you see them begin to fall back before our advance, charge and
take them in flank if they are not too strong, and chase them
down the other side, but do not pursue too far."
The cavalry at once rode off. Two companies of infantry
were then thrown forward in skirmishing order, the rest
of the force followed two or three hundred yards behind
them. When the skirmishers were half-way up the hill the
enemy opened fire. Orders had been given to them to pay no
84 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
attention to this, but to keep their muskets slung behind them,
and to press forward. When they arrived within a hundred
yards of the enemy they were to lie down and return their fire
until the column came up. The order was carried out; but
just as the colonel reached their line he saw Nand Chund's
horsemen coming along the top at full speed. "Forward, men,
at the double!" lie shouted; and the troops, leaping to their
feet, climbed rapidly up the hill. But it was over before they
reached the top. The hillmen had not awaited the arrival of
the cavalry, but had fled down the hill behind, the sowars pur-
suing them and cutting down several before they reached some
very broken ground at its foot; from this they opened a sharp
fire, and the cavalry at once retired up the hill again. The
track now, instead of ascending the next rise, followed the
"You see," the colonel said when he reached the crest, "the
valley makes a sharp bend half a mile down. No doubt that
defile lies up there. You can see that the next hill is very
much more lofty and rugged-looking. Well, Nand Chund,
what force was there?"
Somewhere about a hundred, Colonel. I should hot have
charged them, but I saw they were beginning to make off."
"They are gathering like a snowball," the colonel remarked.
"I expect that when we reach the defile we shall find their
whole force there."
For another two miles they followed the valley, which grew
narrower as they advanced, the sides being more and more
precipitous. Parties of men had been seen moving about
higher up, and presently a scattering fire was opened. The
colonel ordered two parties, each a hundred strong, to make
their way up the hill on either side and then to advance along
it, keeping abreast of the column.
If the opposition is serious," he said, "I will aid you with
A RAID FROM THE HILLS.
In a short time the hillsides were dotted with puffs of smoke.
Little could be seen of the enemy, who lay behind rocks, oc-
casionally running back and then dropping again behind fresh
shelter as the troops advanced. The fire on both sides momen-
tarily became hotter. The four mountain guns now opened
fire, throwing shell high up on the hillside. The natives could
be seen bolting from their shelters, and the two flanking com-
panies, which had been almost brought to a standstill, resumed
The valley narrowed more and more until it was but some ten
or twelve yards wide at the bottom. The sides were covered
with great boulders and jagged rocks, with bush growing up
between them; from these a fierce fire was opened. The four
mountain guns had been left behind at the spot where they
could still assist the flanking companies; but the camel guns,
guarded by the cavalry, advanced along the bottom, keeping up
a rapid fire against the invisible foe. The infantry were directed
to clear the rocks on either side. The fire was very brisk, and
the reports being echoed and re-echoed from the hills, the sound
It was evident that the enemy were far superior in number,
and progress was very slow until the two flanking companies ap-
peared high up on the hills, and advancing along them opened
fire on the enemy below, who, although hidden from those in
front of them, could be seen from above. The effect was
immediate. The fire slackened, and the force pushed forward
as rapidly as the nature of the ground would permit, and in a
quarter of an hour issued out at the other end of the ravine.
Numbers of men could be seen ascending a hill in front of
them, and on this, as the colonel had learnt before starting, the
first of their villages was situated. There was a halt until the
troops were again assembled and the mountain guns came up
The advance was then renewed.
UPON resuming his march the colonel divided the infantry
into three bodies of equal strength. The first, which was
accompanied by the guns, was to move by the path straight
up the hill; the others, between whom the cavalry force was
divided, were to ascend it a few hundred yards to the right
and left of the central column, so as to flank the village on
either side. For a time the enemy kept up a fire from the brow
of the hill, but this died away as the troops, pressing rapidly
forward, neared them, and in a short time the top of the hill
was gained. The village stood a quarter of a mile away. It
was surrounded by a high wall, above which could be seen
the tower of the chief's fortalice.
"These little four-pounders will not be of much good in
breaching that wall," the colonel said. We must attack by the
gate and batter that down. Percy, do you ride round to the
column on the left, and see if there is any gate on that side.
Do you, Nand Chund, do the same on the right. If there are
gates there I will send some of the camel guns to try and beat
them down. If they can't do it the gates must be blown in, there
are men with powder-bags in each column. Let the cavalry
work round behind the village, and see what the ground is like
there. It looked to me as if it broke away on that side. If
there are no gates in the side walls, let the right column move
round to assist the cavalry to cut off the enemy's retreat. Let
the infantry of the left column join us here for the attack on
this gate. The fellows are evidently in strong force."
Indeed the wall was fringed with smoke, and the bullets
were pattering round thick and fast. The men, however, had
at once been placed in shelter behind a stone wall, and remained
inactive for half an hour. When Percy and Nand Chund rode
back within a minute or two of each other, their reports were
similar. There were no gates in the side walls, while behind
the wall on the other side there was a deep precipitous ravine,
with but a few feet between its upper edge and the wall. The
colonel gave the order that fifty of the infantry should remain
on either side to fire down into the ravine as the enemy retired
across it, and the rest should join him. The cavalry were to
take post just out of fire on both flanks, to cut off any fugitives
who might drop from the walls, and endeavour to escape from
the top of the hill.
The time had not been lost, for the four mountain guns had
kept up a steady fire at the gates in front, which were, when the
two bodies of infantry came up, already torn and splintered,
one of them being evidently thrown off its hinges. Then two of
the companies advanced through the inclosures in skirmishing
order, and when within fifty yards of the wall opened fire at
its defenders, aided by the whole of the guns. After waiting
for five minutes to allow the fire to have its effect, the colonel
gave the word and the column ran forward towards the gate.
A heavy fire was opened through the broken planks.
"Don't wait to return it," the colonel, who was riding at
the head of column, shouted. "Throw yourselves against the
gate, your weight will burst it down."
With a cheer the men rushed on, and as they reached the
gate there was a crash. The shattered gate fell, and they
poured into the village.
The resistance was slight, for as soon as the column began
to advance the fire from the wall had suddenly ceased. Ten
88 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
or twelve men were shot or bayoneted at the gates, but as the
troops spread through the village they met with no more
antagonists. The doors of the houses stood open, but the
hearths were cold, and the women and children had evidently
been sent away early in the morning. As soon as he entered
the gate and saw that resistance was over, the colonel shouted
to the men behind to follow him, and rode straight through
the village for the gate behind. He was, however, only in
time to see the last of a crowd of men hurrying out through
it; but an outbreak of firing both to the right and left showed
that the parties posted there were harassing the fugitives in
As soon as the men behind him came up he led them through
the gate, bade them spread along the edge of the ravine and
to open fire on the tribesmen, parties of whom were already
beginning to mount the opposite side of the ravine. The fire
was maintained with considerable effect until all were out of
range, then the various detachments were called in by the
sound of the bugle, and the troops ordered to cook a meal.
While this was being done a thorough search was made through
the village. In the chief's tower a considerable quantity of
gunpowder was found stored, and as soon as the troops had
finished their dinner fire was applied to every house in the
village, and a length of fuse thrust into the powder. As they
marched out through the gates by which the enemy had re-
treated, there was a heavy explosion, and the tower fell in ruins.
They then moved towards the next village, in which direction
the enemy had retreated. They crossed the ravine, and then
kept along a valley to the foot of the hill on which the village
stood. The ground was covered with scrub and bush, and they
were half-way up when there was a tremendous yell, and on
either side a great number of half-naked figures sprang up,
poured in a volley of matchlock balls, arrows, and spears, and
then flung themselves upon the column.
Against younger troops the sudden assault might have been
successful, but Colonel Groves' men were all old soldiers, and
though taken by surprise faced both ways without confusion,
and poured withering volleys into the enemy. Many fell, but
the rest came on, and for a minute or two there was a fierce
fight-bayonet against sword or spear; but the tribesmen in
vain attempted to break the lines,'and soon, in obedience to a
shout from their leader, sprang away and threw themselves
down among the bushes, vanishing almost as suddenly as they
had appeared. The troops now assumed the offensive, and
pouring volleys into the bushes as they advanced, swept through
them, bayoneting all they found, until the Turgars again leapt
to their feet and fled. The march was now resumed up the
hill, and the village, which was found deserted, was taken pos-
session of. Here the colonel determined to halt for the night.
Sentries were placed at the gates and on the walls, and the
troops fell out and scattered among the houses.
I fancy that there will be no more fighting," Colonel Groves
said to his nephew, who had ridden close beside him throughout
the day. They have had a tremendous lesson. I counted over
fifty bodies as I crossed the ravine, and at least three times
that number must have fallen in the attack upon us. We have
destroyed one of their villages, and this is in our hands, and
they must see that, unless they submit, the others will share
the same fate. They have done their utmost and failed. I
think they have had enough of it."
Late in the afternoon, indeed, a mounted man, accompanied
by two foot-men, one of whom carried a white flag, was seen
approaching the walls. Colonel Groves ordered them to be
admitted, and they were brought before him.
"We don't want to fight any more," the chief said.
"I daresay not," the colonel replied, "but we are perfectly
ready to go on fighting. You began it, and we have no inten-
tion of stopping yet."
90 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
"What conditions will you give?" the chief asked.
The only conditions I will grant are these-the return of
all the captives taken away, of every head of cattle, and of all
articles stolen; the payment of a fine of five hundred cattle;
and the delivery into my hands of the eldest sons of your
twelve principal chiefs to hold as hostages for your good be-
haviour in the future. If these conditions are not accepted
I shall burn your villages, and destroy your plantations and
We have not got all the prisoners," the chief said; "there
were others with us who have taken their share."
"I shall reckon with them afterwards. I am only asking
you to give up the prisoners and spoil you have in your
hands. I shall find, when I have punished the other two tribes
that were engaged with you, what captives they have, and if
any are missing I shall return here and burn your villages over
"We cannot pay five hundred cattle."
"Oh, yes, you can! I know pretty well how many you
have, and five hundred will not leave you altogether without
some. I will not abate one from my demand, but I will con-
sent to take the value of any deficiency in gold and silver
ornaments, taken at their weight in metal. Those are my
first conditions and my last, and you can carry them back to
"The three principal chiefs are killed," the man said, "but
I will take your message back to my tribe."
"You had best return with an answer to-night, for at day-
break we shall fire this place and advance against the other
"Will they agree, do you think?" Percy asked when the
"They will agree," the colonel replied confidently. "The
threat of destroying their plantations will induce them to yield.
Their houses they can soon build up again, but, with the
greater part of their cattle gone, the destruction of their
plantations would mean starvation to all."
The colonel was not mistaken. There was no reply that
night, but at daybreak on the following morning a procession
was seen approaching the village. It consisted of more than
half of the women who had been carried off, four hundred
cattle from the plains, and five hundred of the little hill cattle.
There were also twelve lads, a few of whom were almost men,
while others were but four or five years old. Ambassadors
soon arrived from the Naga and Kotah tribes. These had, as
the colonel learnt from a captured native, sent contingents
who had taken part in the fight on the previous day. Similar
conditions to those imposed on the Turgars were demanded,
except that the fine for each tribe was fixed at three hundred
head of cattle only, the colonel knowing that they were poorer
in this respect than the Turgars.
For two days messengers went and came, and it was only
when at last the troops were upon the point of starting against
them that they yielded, and on the following morning the cap-
tives, hostages, and cattle arrived at the village. The chiefs of
all three tribes were ordered to attend that afternoon. The
colonel addressed them, and severely admonished them as to
their behaviour in the future. "If again," he said, "there is
any outrage whatever upon your peaceable neighbours on the
other side of the river, I warn you that no mercy will be shown
you. Your villages will be destroyed, your plantations rooted
up, your crops burned, and your country made desert from
end to end. I punished your neighbours ten years ago, and
I have punished you now. The next time I have to bring a
force across the river I will root you out altogether."
The chiefs all gave the most solemn assurances that they
would in future abstain from forays across the river, and in
order to mingle clemency with justice, and to disembarrass him-
THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
self of the trouble of looking after a number of prisoners, he
restored to each of the tribes eight out of the twelve hostages
that had been handed over, retaining only the sons of four
leading chiefs. Upon the following morning the expedition
marched back, two companies of the infantry and the guns
forming the column, while the cavalry and the rest of the
infantry looked after the great herd of cattle that had been
collected, and escorted the rescued women, many of whom were
completely prostrated by what they had gone through. The
total loss of the column was but fifteen killed and fifty-three
"I am glad to be back again," the colonel said as they rode
across the river. "It has been a very successful little expedi-
tion, and the lesson has been so severe that I do not think we
are likely to have any more frontier trouble for some time.
The other tribesmen will all be awed at the punishment we
"What will you do with the hostages, uncle?"
"I shall keep them for three or four months, and then send
them back with a message to the effect that, feeling the tribes
have been sufficiently punished, and being assured that they
can now be relied upon to abstain from giving trouble, I am
willing to trust them, and will therefore no longer deprive the
chiefs of their children. Such clemency will aid the effect of
the sharp lesson we have administered."
The joy of the villagers at the return of their wives, daughters,
and cattle was unbounded, and blessings were showered on
the governor, who had shown himself so zealous and powerful
in protecting those under his rule.
Another two days' journey took them to the fortress, where
their arrival with the eleven hundred captured cattle was hailed
with lively satisfaction by the garrison.
Things returned to their normal state. Percy studied, rode,
and drilled during the day, and spent his evenings in the zenana
with his uncle and aunt, and from the former received a detailed
account of the course of Sikh politics since the death of Run-
Up to the time of the death of the maharajah in 1839 the
most friendly relations had been maintained between the Pun-
jaub and the British. He was succeeded by his son, Khurruk
Singh. He was a weak man, who possessed neither the firmness
nor ambition of his father, and the real power was in the hands
of Nonehal Singh, his son. He was a fiery young man, and
shared to the full the hostility felt toward the British by most
of the Sikh chiefs. His father died, and there was a general
idea that the young rajah would speedily declare war against
the English. He was, however, killed on his return from his
father's funeral, by the elephant on which he was riding running
against a beam supporting some stonework, which fell and
killed both Nonehal and another prince who was riding with
There was little doubt that the affair was not an accident,
but that the mahoot had been bribed by the adherents of
Shere Singh, a reputed son of Runjeet Singh, who had many
powerful supporters in his claim to the throne. The chief of
these was Dhyan Singh, the prime minister of Runjeet, who
had been removed from his office by Khurruk Singh, and who,
with his two brothers, had been all-powerful during the later
years of the Lion. A number of the chiefs, however, were by
no means disposed to again submit to what was practically the
rule of Dhyan and his brothers. Shere Singh had the advantage
that, like Nonehal, he was very popular with th army, and for
the moment he obtained possession of Lahore. He was, how-
ever, expelled by the mother of the late Nonehal, an able and
ambitious woman. She, however, made the mistake of re-
fusing Dhyan any employment, and the ex-vizier soon or-
ganized a party sufficiently strong to recall Shere Singh.
The ranee ordered the gates to be shut, but General Ventura
94 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
ordered the soldiers to open them, and the ranee fled. As soon
as Shere Singh was seated on the throne, he handed over the
entire management of business to Dhyan Singh, and gave him-
self up to hunting, and drinking, and other pleasures. Dhyan
was greatly offended at the conduct of the prince, who owed
his elevation to the throne to him, and endeavoured to persuade
him to act in a manner more worthy of his position, assuring
him that the Sikhs would never submit to be governed by a
prince who neglected all public affairs, and was habitually
drunk. The prince was offended at the remonstrances of his
minister. His boon companions fanned the flame of anger, and
persuaded him while in a fit of drunkenness to sign an order
for the execution of Dhyan Singh. The latter, however, was
kept well informed by his agents in the maharajah's household
of what was going on, and saw that his only hope of safety was
in striking the first blow. He therefore gave orders to Ajeet
Singh that the rajah should be killed. The officer was more
rapid than the agents of Shere Singh, and the latter was shot
immediately, and his son was at the same time murdered.
Ajeet, however, either from disappointment at not receiving
from Dhyan a reward equal to his expectations, or from some
other cause, shot him in the back, and he fell dead a few hours
after the murder of the maharajah.
Heera Singh, Dhyan's son, a great favourite with the troops,
knew that the death of the maharajah had been determined
upon by his father, and had left the city and gone to the
camp of General Avitabile, another of the European officers
of the Punjauh army. When the messenger arrived with the
news that his father too was dead, he was in the act of
haranguing the troops and preparing them for the news of
the death of Shere Singh. Heera ascended to the flat roof of
Avitabile's house, and sent messengers to all the sirdars who
happened to be in Lahore, begging them to come to him. On
their arrival he unbuckled his sword and handed it to them,
saying, "I am left alone and fatherless, and I throw myself on
your protection. Either kill me or give me your support."
The sirdars at once declared that they would follow him.
Heera then harangued the soldiers, and offered them an in-
crease of three rupees a month in their pay if they would
declare for him. Ventura and Avitabile both espoused his
cause, and with their troops marched against Lahore, where
Ajeet Singh had caused Dhuleep Singh, a child of four years
old, and the only lineal descendant of Runjeet left alive, to be
proclaimed maharajah, and himself vizier. It was night when
Heera arrived in Lahore. His guns blew open the Delhi gate of
the town, and then a desperate battle commenced in the streets.
Both sides had artillery, and the battle raged until the morning
with terrible slaughter. Heera's troops were victorious; the
fort was stormed, and Ajeet killed by a soldier as he tried to
escape. Every man in the fort was killed and the city given
up to plunder, and horrible cruelties perpetrated upon the con-
nections and friends of Ajeet Singh.
Heera had no intention of grasping the dangerous position
of maharajah, and as soon as the fighting was over he went and
saluted the child Dhuleep as maharajah, assuming himself the
position of prime minister his father had occupied. This was
in 1843. At that time the British were occupied in conquering
Gwalior, and the signal overthrow of the Mahrattas on the
fields of Maharajaypoor and Punniar served for the moment to
abate the eagerness of the army for a war against them. They
were, however, as usual, mutinous and clamorous for still
further increases in their pay, and the treasury at Lahore being
empty, Heera Singh had the greatest difficulty in complying
with their demands, and in order to do so he caused an uncle,
who like Dhyan and Ghoolab had amassed enormous possessions,
to be murdered, and used his wealth as a means of quieting the
troops. These, however, soon advanced fresh demands, and
Heera being unable to satisfy them was murdered.
96 THROUGH THE SIKH WAR.
At his death Dhuleep Singh's mother appointed her brother
Juwaheer as vizier. The choice was not pleasing to the
soldiers, who invaded the palace and murdered him before the
eyes of his sister and her child. Ghoolab Singh, the last sur-
vivor of the three great brothers, was invited to take the office
of vizier, but he wisely declined the dangerous post. His pos-
sessions were vast, and his power almost equal to that of the
ruler of the Punjaub. He was virtually supreme in all the
northern territories that had been conquered in the time of
Runjeet, and from his residence at Jummoo ruled over all
Cashmere, together with the country stretching up to the
borders of Afghanistan.
He it was who was the mover in the intrigues against Colonel
Groves. One of the first demands made by the soldiers upon the
accession of Heera Singh to power had been the immediate dis-
missal of all the foreign officers in his service, and greatly against
his inclination, for he knew that these men alone had the power
of keeping the mutinous soldiery in any degree of order, he had
been forced to accede to it. Most of them had left the country
at once, knowing that murder would speedily follow dismissal;
but Colonel Groves having, since the death of Runjeet, success-
fully defeated all attempts to turn him out of his governorship
and fortress, had determined to await the end, being sure that
ere long the hatred of the Sikhs against the British would bring
about a war that might entirely change the position.
It was a few months after Percy's arrival that Ghoolab
refused to accept the post of vizier.
"That is good news, uncle, is it not?" he asked, when a
messenger arrived bearing a letter containing the news, from a
member of the court at Lahore who was in the colonel's pay
"I don't know, Percy; I rather think it would have been
better if he had accepted the post. In the first place he
would have had his hands so full that he would not have had
time to give much attention to my affairs. Then if he had
sent strong bodies of troops to attack this place, as likely as
not they would have said that they were being sacrificed in
his interest, and it would have been an occasion for a fresh
mutiny. And lastly, the viziership has of late been fatal to its
holders, and Ghoolab might have formed no exception, and I
might have been freed from my most dangerous enemy. Now
he will be able to carry on his intrigues from Jummoo without
interruption. Since the death of Runjeet his hands have been
tied to a certain extent, first by his brother Dhyan, and then by
Heera being prime minister, and he had to take care that no
movement of his endangered their popularity or position. Now
that his two brothers and his nephew have gone, he need
consult only what he thinks is his own interest, and it is dis-
tinctly his interest that his son should be governor of this
district, which is flourishing and capable of being squeezed to
a large extent, and which lies so close to his own territories."
"Is it only on account of this that he is your enemy, uncle?"
"No, the matter is of much longer standing. It began at one
of the battles against the Afghans. The sirdars and their troops
commanded by Ghoolab did very badly, and had it not been
for the courage and obstinacy of my three regiments and those
of Portalis we should have been defeated. Runjeet always
managed to keep himself thoroughly well acquainted with
what was going on, and Ghoolab was for a time in considerable
disgrace, while very handsome presents were made to Portalis
and myself, and three months' pay given to each of our officers
and soldiers. I warned Portalis that Ghoolab would not for-
give us, but he was a little headstrong and scoffed at the
danger. Three months after, he fell by the knife of an assassin.
He was a good comrade and friend of mine, and was indeed
the only man among the European officers I really cared for,
and I did not hesitate to denounce Ghoolab to Runjeet in open
durbar as the author of his assassination. Of course T could