Rujub, the Juggler by G. A. Henty
While Bathurst was busying himself completing his preparations for the attempt, Rabda came in with her father.
"My lord," she said, "I tremble at the thought of your venturing your life. My life is of no importance, and it belongs to you. What I would propose is this. My father will go to Bithoor, and will obtain an order from one of the Nana's officers for a lady of the zenana to visit the prisoners. I will go in veiled, as I was on the day I went there. I will change garments with the lady, and she can come out veiled, and meet you outside."
"I would not dream of such a thing, Rabda. You would be killed to a certainty when they discovered the trick. Even if I would consent to the sacrifice, Miss Hannay would not do so. I am deeply grateful to you for proposing it, but it is impossible. You will see that, with the aid of your father, I shall succeed."
"I told her that would be your answer, sahib," Rujub said, "but she insisted on making the offer."
It was arranged that they were to start at nine o'clock, as it was safer to make the attempt before everything became quiet. Before starting, Rabda was again placed in a trance. In reply to her father's questions she said that Mary Hunter was dead, and that Isobel was lying down. She was told to tell her that in an hour she was to be at the window next to the door.
Rujub had found that the men inside the prison were those who had been employed as warders at the jail before the troubles began, and he had procured for Bathurst a dress similar to that which they wore, which was a sort of uniform. He had offered, if the attempt was successful, to conceal Isobel in his house until the troops reached Cawnpore, but Bathurst preferred to take her down the country, upon the ground that every house might be searched, and that possibly before the British entered the town there might be a general sack of the place by the mob, and even if this did not take place there might be desperate house to house fighting when the troops arrived. Rujub acknowledged the danger, and said that he and his daughter would accompany them on their way down country, as it would greatly lessen their risk if two of the party were really natives. Bathurst gratefully accepted the offer, as it would make the journey far more tolerable for Isobel if she had Rabda with her.
She was to wait a short distance from the prison while Bathurst made the attempt, and was left in a clump of bushes two or three hundred yards away from the prison. Rujub accompanied Bathurst. They went along quietly until within fifty yards of the sentry in the rear of the house, and then stopped. The man was walking briskly up and down. Rujub stretched out his arms in front of him with the fingers extended. Bathurst, who had taken his place behind him, saw his muscles stiffen, while there was a tremulous motion of his fingers. In a minute or two the sentry's walk became slower. In a little time it ceased altogether, and he leaned against the wall as if drowsy; then he slid down in a sitting position, his musket falling to the ground.
"You can come along now," Rujub said; "he is fast asleep, and there is no fear of his waking. He will sleep till I bid him wake."
They at once moved forward to the wall of the house. Bathurst threw up a knotted rope, to which was attached a large hook, carefully wrapped in flannel to prevent noise. After three or four attempts it caught on the parapet. Bathurst at once climbed up. As soon as he had gained the flat terrace, Rujub followed him; they then pulled up the rope, to the lower end of which a rope ladder was attached, and fastened this securely; then they went to the inner side of the terrace and looked down onto the courtyard. Two men were standing at one of the grated windows of the prison room, apparently looking in; six others were seated round a fire in the center of the court.
Bathurst was about to turn away when Rujub touched him and pointed to the two men at the window, and then stretched out his arms towards them. Presently they turned and left the window, and in a leisurely way walked across the court and entered a room where a light was burning close to the grate. For two or three minutes Rujub stood in the same position, then his arms dropped.
"They have gone into the guard room to sleep," he said; "there are two less to trouble you."
Then he turned towards the group of men by the fire and fixed his gaze upon them. In a short time one of them wrapped himself in his cloth and lay down. In five minutes two others had followed his example. Another ten minutes passed, and then Rujub turned to Bathurst and said, "I cannot affect the other three; we cannot influence everyone."
"That will do, Rujub, it is my turn now."
After a short search they found stairs leading down from the terrace, and after passing through some empty rooms reached a door opening into the courtyard.
"Do you stay here, Rujub," Bathurst said. "They will take me for one of themselves. If I succeed without noise, I shall come this way; if not, we will go out through the gate, and you had best leave by the way we came."
The door was standing open, and Bathurst, grasping a heavy tulwar, went out into the courtyard. Keeping close to the house, he sauntered along until he reached the grated windows of the prison room. Three lamps were burning within, to enable the guard outside to watch the prisoners. He passed the two first windows; at the third a figure was standing. She shrank back as Bathurst stopped before it.
"It is I, Miss Hannay--Bathurst. Danger threatens you, and you must escape at once. Rabda is waiting for you outside. Please go to the door and stand there until I open it. I have no doubt that I shall succeed, but if anything should go wrong, go and lie down again at once."
Without waiting for an answer, he moved towards the fire.
"Is that you, Ahmed?" one of the warders said. "We all seem sleepy this evening, there is something in the air; I felt half inclined to go off myself."
"It is very hot tonight," Bathurst replied.
There was something in his voice unfamiliar to the man, and with an exclamation, "Who is it?" he sprang to his feet. But Bathurst was now but three paces away, and with a bound was upon him, bringing the tulwar down with such force upon his head that the man fell lifeless without a groan. The other two leaped up with shouts of "Treachery!" but Bathurst was upon them, and, aided by the surprise, cut both down after a sharp fight of half a minute. Then he ran to the prison door, turned the key in the lock, and opened it.
"Come!" he exclaimed, "there is no time to be lost, the guards outside have taken the alarm," for, by this time, there was a furious knocking at the gate. "Wrap yourself up in this native robe."
"But the others, Mr. Bathurst, can't you save them too?"
"Impossible," he said. "Even if they got out, they would be overtaken and killed at once. Come!" And taking her hand, he led her to the gate.
"Stand back here so that the gate will open on you," he said. Then he undid the bar, shouting, "Treachery; the prisoners are escaping!"
As he undid the last bolt the gate opened and the soldiers rushed in, firing at random as they did so. Bathurst had stepped behind the gate as it opened, and as the soldiers ran up the yard he took Isobel's hand, and, passing through the gate, ran with her round the building until he reached the spot where Rabda was awaiting them. Half a minute later her father joined them.
"Let us go at once, there is no time for talking," he said. "We must be cautious, the firing will wake the whole quarter;" for by this time loud shouts were being raised, and men, hearing the muskets fired, were running towards the gate. Taking advantage of the shelter of the shrubbery as much as they could, they hurried on until they issued into the open country.
"Do you feel strong enough to walk far?" Bathurst asked, speaking for the first time since they left the gate.
"I think so," she said; "I am not sure whether I am awake or dreaming."
"You are awake, Miss Hannay; you are safe out of that terrible prison."
"I am not sure," the girl said, speaking slowly; "I have been strange since I went there. I have seemed to hear voices speaking to me, though no one was there, and no one else heard them; and I am not sure whether all this is not fancy now."
"It is reality, Miss Hannay. Take my hand and you will see that it is solid. The voices you heard were similar to those I heard at Deennugghur; they were messages I sent you by means of Rujub and his daughter."
"I did think of what you told me and about the juggler, but it seemed so strange. I thought that my brain was turning with trouble; it was bad enough at Deennugghur, but nothing to what it has been since that dreadful day at Bithoor. There did not seem much hope at Deennugghur. But somehow we all kept up, and, desperate as it seemed, I don't think we ever quite despaired. You see, we all knew each other; besides, no one could give way while the men were fighting and working so hard for us; but at Cawnpore there seemed no hope. There was not one woman there but had lost husband or father. Most of them were indifferent to life, scarcely ever speaking, and seeming to move in a dream, while others with children sat holding them close to them as if they dreaded a separation at any moment. There were a few who were different, who moved about and nursed the children and sick, and tried to comfort the others, just as Mrs. Hunter did at Deennugghur. There was no crying and no lamenting. It would have been a relief if anyone had cried, it was the stillness that was so trying; when people talked to each other they did it in a whisper, as they do in a room where someone is lying dead.
"You know Mary Hunter died yesterday? Well, Mrs. Hunter quite put aside her own grief and tried to cheer others. I told her the last message I received, and asked her to go with me if it should be true. She said, 'No, Isobel; I don't know whether this message is a dream, or whether God has opened a way of escape for you--if so, may He be thanked; but you must go alone--one might escape where two could not. As for me, I shall wait here for whatever fate God may send me. My husband and my children have gone before me. I may do some good among these poor creatures, and here I shall stay. You are young and full of life, and have many happy days in store for you. My race is nearly run--even did I wish for life, I would not cumber you and your friends; there will be perils to encounter and fatigues to be undergone. Had not Mary left us I would have sent her with you, but God did not will it so. Go, therefore, to the window, dear, as you were told by this message you think you have received, but do not be disappointed if no one comes. If it turns out true, and there is a chance of escape, take it, dear, and may God be with you.' As I stood at the window, I could not go at once, as you told me, to the door; I had to stand there; I saw it all till you turned and ran to the door, and then I came to meet you."
"It was a pity you saw it," he said gently.
"Why? Do you think that, after what I have gone through, I was shocked at seeing you kill three of those wretches? Two months ago I suppose I should have thought it dreadful, but those two months have changed us altogether. Think of what we were then and what we are now. There remain only you, Mrs. Hunter, myself, and your letter said, Mr. Wilson. Is he the only one?"
"Yes, so far as we know."
"Only we four, and all the others gone--Uncle and. Mary and Amy and the Doolans and the dear Doctor, all the children. Why, if the door had been open, and I had had a weapon, I would have rushed out to help you kill. I shudder at myself sometimes."
After a pause she went on. "Then none of those in the other boat came to shore, Mr. Bathurst, except Mr. Wilson?"
"I fear not. The other boat sank directly. Wilson told me it was sinking as he sprang over. You had better not talk any more, Miss Hannay, for you are out of breath now, and will need all your strength."
"Yes, but tell me why you have taken me away; you said there was great danger?"
"Our troops are coming up," he said, "and I had reason to fear that when the rebels are defeated the mob may break open the prison."
"They surely could not murder women and children who have done them no harm!"
"There is no saying what they might do, Miss Hannay, but that was the reason why I dared not leave you where you were. I will tell you more about it afterwards. Now, please take my arm, we must be miles away from here before morning. They will find out then that you have escaped, and will no doubt scour the country."
They had left the road and were passing through the fields. Isobel's strength failed rapidly, as soon as the excitement that had at first kept her up subsided. Rujub several times urged Bathurst to go faster, but the girl hung more and more heavily on his arm.
"I can't go any farther," she said at last; "it is so long since I walked, and I suppose I have got weak. I have tried very hard, but I can scarcely drag my feet along. You had better leave me; you have done all you could to save me. I thank you so much. Only please leave a pistol with me. I am not at all afraid of dying, but I will not fall into their hands again."
"We must carry her, Rujub," Bathurst said; "she is utterly exhausted and worn out, and no wonder. If we could make a sort of stretcher, it would be easy enough."
Rujub took the cloth from his shoulders, and laid it on the ground by the side of Isobel, who had now sunk down and was lying helpless.
"Lift her onto this, sahib, then we will take the four corners and carry her; it will be no weight."
Bathurst lifted Isobel, in spite of her feeble protest, and laid her on the cloth.
"I will take the two corners by her head," Bathurst said, "if you will each take one of the others."
"No, sahib, the weight is all at the head; you take one corner, and I will take the other. Rabda can take the two corners at the feet. We can change about when we like."
Isobel had lost greatly in weight since the siege of Deennugghur began, and she was but a light burden for her three bearers, who started with her at a speed considerably greater than that at which she had walked.
"Which way are you taking us, Rujub?" Bathurst asked presently; "I have lost my bearings altogether."
"I am keeping near the river, sahib. I know the country well. We cannot follow the road, for there the Rajah's troops and the Sepoys and the Oude men are gathered to oppose your people. They will fight tomorrow at Dong, as I told you, but the main body is not far from here. We must keep far away from them, and if your people take Dong we can then join them if we like. This road keeps near the river all the way, and we are not likely to meet Sepoys here, as it is by the other road the white troops are coming up."
After four hours' walking, Rujub said, "There is a large wood just ahead. We will go in there. We are far enough off Cawnpore to be safe from any parties they may send out to search. If your people take Dong tomorrow, they will have enough to think of in Cawnpore without troubling about an escaped prisoner. Besides," he added, "if the Rajah's orders are carried out, at daybreak they will not know that a prisoner has escaped; they will not trouble to count."
"I cannot believe it possible they will carry out such a butchery, Rujub."
"We shall see, sahib. I did not tell you all I knew lest we should fail to carry off the lady, but I know the orders that have been given. Word has been sent round to the butchers of the town, and tomorrow morning soon after daybreak it will be done."
Bathurst gave an exclamation of horror, for until now he had hardly believed it was possible that even Nana Sahib could perpetrate so atrocious a massacre. Not another word was spoken until they entered the wood.
"Where is the river, Rujub?"
"A few hundred yards to the left, sahib; the road is half a mile to the right. We shall be quite safe here."
They made their way for some little distance into the wood, and then laid down their burden.
They had taken to the spot where Rabda remained when the others went forward towards the prison a basket containing food and three bottles of wine, and this Rujub had carried since they started together. As soon as the hammock was lowered to the ground, Isobel moved and sat up.
"I am rested now. Oh, how good you have all been! I was just going to tell you that I could walk again. I am quite ready to go on now."
"We are going to halt here till tomorrow evening, Miss Hannay; Rujub thinks we are quite beyond any risk of pursuit now. You must first eat and drink something, and then sleep as long as you can. Rabda has brought a native dress for you and dye for staining your skin, but there is no occasion for doing that till tomorrow; the river is only a short distance away, and in the morning you will be able to enjoy a wash."
The neck was knocked off a bottle. Rabda had brought in the basket a small silver cup, and Isobel, after drinking some wine and eating a few mouthfuls of food, lay down by her and was soon fast asleep. Bathurst ate a much more hearty meal. Rujub and his daughter said that they did not want anything before morning.
The sun was high before Bathurst woke. Rujub had lighted a fire, and was boiling some rice in a lota.
"Where is Miss Hannay?" Bathurst asked, as he sat up.
"She has gone down to the river with Rabda. The trees hang down well over the water, and they can wash without fear of being seen on the opposite shore. I was going to wake you when the lady got up, but she made signs that you were to be allowed to sleep on."
In half an hour the two girls returned. Isobel was attired in a native dress, and her face, neck, arms, feet, and ankles had been stained to the same color as Rabda's. She came forward a little timidly, for she felt strange and uncomfortable in her scanty attire. Bathurst gave an exclamation of pain as he saw her face.
"How dreadfully, you have burnt yourself, Miss Hannay; surely you cannot have followed the instructions I gave you."
"No; it is not your fault at all, Mr. Bathurst; I put a great deal more on than you said, but I was so anxious to disfigure myself that I was determined to do it thoroughly; but it is nothing to what it was. As you see, my lips are getting all right again, and the sores are a good deal better than they were; I suppose they will leave scars, but that won't trouble me."
"It is the pain you must have suffered that I am thinking of," he replied. "As to the scars, I hope they will wear out in time; you must indeed have suffered horribly."
"They burnt dreadfully for a time," the girl answered; "but for the last two or three days I have hardly felt it, though, of course, it is very sore still."
"Do you feel ready for breakfast, Miss Hannay?"
"Quite ready, and for a walk as long as you like afterwards. I feel quite another creature after my dip. That was one of the worst things in the prison. We had scarcely water enough to drink, and none to wash with, and, of course, no combs nor anything."
They sat down together and ate the cold food they had brought, while Rabda and her father made their breakfast of rice.
"What has become of Mr. Wilson?" Isobel asked suddenly. "I wondered about him as I was being carried along last night, but I was too tired to talk afterwards."
"I hope he is either safe at Allahabad by this time, or is with the troops marching up. The Zemindar's son, who came down with us as an escort, and one of his men got safely to shore also, and they went on with Wilson. When he found I was going to stay at Cawnpore to try and rescue you, he pleaded very hard that I should keep him with me in order that he might share in the attempt, but his ignorance of the language might have been fatal, and his being with me would have greatly added to the difficulty, so I was obliged to refuse him. It was only because I told him that instead of adding to, he would lessen your chance of escape, that he consented to go, for I am sure he would willingly have laid down his life to save yours."
"I am very glad he is safe; he is very kind hearted and nice, Mr. Bathurst, and a thoroughly natural, unaffected young fellow, very loyal and stanch. I am quite sure he would have done anything he could, even at the risk of his life."
"I like him very much, too, Miss Hannay. Before the siege I thought him a careless, happy go lucky lad, but as I got to know him well, I found he was much more than that, and he will make a good man and an excellent officer one of these days if he is spared. He is thoroughly brave without the slightest brag--an excellent specimen of the best class of public school boy."
"And who are the troops coming up, Mr. Bathurst? How strong are they? I have heard nothing about them."
"About twelve hundred white troops and four or five hundred Sikhs; at least that is what the natives put them at."
"But surely they will never be able to fight their way to Cawnpore, where there are the mutineers and Nana Sahib's troops and the Oude men and the people of the town. Why, there must be ten to one against them."
"Not far short of that, I think, but I feel sure our men will do it. They know of the treachery of the Nana, they know of the massacre by the river, and they know that the women and children are prisoners in his hands, and do you think that men who know these things can be beaten? The Sepoys met them in superior force and in a strong position at Futtehpore, and they drove them before them like chaff. They will have harder work next time, but I have no shadow of fear of the result."
Then their talk went back to Deennugghur and of their friends there --the Doolans, the Hunters, the Rintouls, and others--and Isobel wept freely over their fate.
"Next to my uncle I shall miss the Doctor," she said.
"He was an awfully good fellow," Bathurst said, "and was the only real friend I have had since I came to India, I would have done anything for him."
"When shall we start?" Isobel asked presently.
"Directly the sun goes down a little. You would find it terribly hot now. I have been talking it over with Rujub, and he says it is better not to make a long journey today. We are not more than twenty miles from Dong, and it would not do to move in that direction until we know how things have gone; therefore, if we start at three o'clock and walk till seven or eight, it will be quite far enough."
"He seems a wonderful man," said Isobel. "You remember that talk we had at dinner, before we went to see him at the Hunters!"
"Yes," he said. "As you know, I was a believer then, and so was the Doctor. I need not say that I believe still more now that these men do wholly unaccountable feats. He put the sentry outside the walls of your prison and five out of your eight warders so sound asleep that they did not wake during the struggle I had with the others. That, of course, was mesmerism. His messages to you were actually sent by means of his daughter. She was put in a sort of trance, in which she saw you and told us what you were doing, and communicated the message her father gave her to you. He could not send you a message nor tell me about you when you were first at Bithoor, because he said Rabda was not in sympathy with you, but after she had seen you and touched you and you had kissed her, she was able to do so. There does not appear to me to be anything beyond the powers of nature in that, though doubtless powers were called into play of which at present we know nothing. But we do know that minds act upon each other. Possibly certain persons in sympathy with each other may be able to act upon each other from a distance, especially when thrown into the sort of trance which is known as the clairvoyant state. I always used to look upon that as humbug, but I need hardly say I shall in future be ready to believe almost anything. He professes to have other and even greater powers than what we have seen. At any rate, he can have no motive in deceiving me when he has risked his life to help me. Do you know, Rabda offered to go into the prison--her father could have got her an order to pass in--and then to let you go out in her dress while she remained in your stead. I could not accept the sacrifice even to save you, and I was sure had I done so you yourself would have refused to leave."
"Of course. But how good of her. Please tell her that you have told me, and how grateful I am for her offer."
Bathurst called Rabda, who was sitting a short distance away.
She took the hand that Isobel held out to her and placed it against her forehead.
"My life is yours, sahib," she said simply to Bathurst. "It was right that I should give it for this lady you love."
"What does she say?" Isobel asked.
"She says that she owed me her life for that tiger business, you know, and was ready to give it for you because I had set my mind on saving you."
"Is that what she really said, Mr. Bathurst?" Isobel asked quietly, for he had hesitated a little in changing its wording.
"That was the sense of it, I can assure you. Not only was she ready to make the sacrifice, but her father consented to her doing so. These Hindoos are capable of gratitude, you see. There are not many English who would be ready thus to sacrifice themselves for a man who had accidentally, as I may say, saved their lives."
"Not accidentally, Mr. Bathurst. Why do you always try to run yourself down? I suppose you will say next you saved my life by an accident."
"The saving of your life is due chiefly to these natives."
"But they were only your instruments, Mr. Bathurst; they had no interest in saving me. You had bought their services at the risk of your life, and in saving me they were paying that debt to you."
At three o'clock they prepared for the start. Bathurst had exchanged the warder's dress for one of a peasant, which they had brought with them. The woods were of no great width, and Rujub said they had better follow the road now.
"No one will suspect us of being anything but what we seem," he said. "Should we meet any peasants, their talk will be with you and me. They will ask no questions about the women; but if there is a woman among them, and she speaks, Rabda will answer her."
For hours they had heard dull sounds in the air, which Bathurst had recognized at once as distant artillery, showing that the fight was going on near Dong.
"The Sepoys are making a stout resistance, or the firing would not last so long," he said to Rujub, as they walked through the wood towards the road.
"They have two positions to defend, sahib. The Nana's men will fight first at a strong village two miles beyond Dong; if they are beaten there, they will fight again at the bridge I told you of."
"That would partly account for it; but the Sepoys must be fighting much better than they did at Futtehpore, for there, as you said, the white troops swept the Sepoys before them."
When they reached the edge of the wood Bathurst said, "I will see that the road is clear before we go out. If anyone saw us issuing out of the wood they might wonder what we had been after."
He went to the edge of the bushes and looked down the long straight road. There was only a solitary figure in sight. It seemed to be an old man walking lame with a stick. Bathurst was about to turn and tell the others to come out, when he saw the man stop suddenly, turn round to look back along the road, stand with his head bent as if listening, then run across the road with much more agility than he had before seemed to possess, and plunge in among the trees.
"Wait," he said to those behind him, "something is going on. A peasant I saw in the road has suddenly dived into the wood as if he was afraid of being pursued. Ah!" he exclaimed a minute later, "there is a party of horsemen coming along at a gallop--get farther back into the wood."
Presently they heard the rapid trampling of horses, and looking through the bushes they saw some twenty sowars of one of the native cavalry regiments dash past.
Bathurst went to the edge of the wood again, and looked out. Then he turned suddenly to Isobel.
"You remember those pictures on the smoke?" he said excitedly.
"No, I do not remember them," she said, in surprise. "I have often wondered at it, but I have never been able to recollect what they were since that evening. I have often thought they were just like dreams, where one sees everything just as plainly as if it were a reality, and then go out of your mind altogether as soon as you are awake."
"It has been just the same with me," replied Bathurst, "except that once or twice they have come back for a moment quite vividly. One of them I have not thought of for some days, but now I see it again. Don't you remember there was a wood, and a Hindoo man and woman stepped out of it, and a third native came up to them?"
"Yes, I remember now," she said eagerly; "it was just as we are here; but what of that, Mr. Bathurst?"
"Did you recognize any of them?"
"Yes, yes, it all comes back to me now. It was you and the Doctor, certainly, and I thought the woman was myself. I spoke to the Doctor next day about it, but he laughed at it all, and I have never thought of it since."
"The Doctor and I agreed, when we talked it over that evening, that the Hindoo who stepped out of the wood was myself, and thought that you were the Hindoo girl, but of that we were not so sure, for your face seemed not only darkened, but blotched and altered--it was just as you are now--and the third native was the Doctor himself; we both felt certain of that. It has come true, and I feel absolutely certain that the native I saw along the road will turn out to be the Doctor."
"Oh, I hope so, I hope so!" the girl cried, and pressed forward with Bathurst to the edge of the wood.
The old native was coming along on the road again. As he approached, his eye fell on the two figures, and with a Hindoo salutation he was passing on, when Isobel cried, "It is the Doctor!" and rushing forward she threw her arms round his neck.
"Isobel Hannay!" he cried in delight and amazement; "my dear little girl, my dear little girl, thank God you are saved; but what have you been doing with yourself, and who is this with you?"
"You knew me when you saw me in the picture on the smoke, Doctor," Bathurst said, grasping his hand, "though you do not know me in life."
"You, too, Bathurst!" the Doctor exclaimed, as he wrung his hand; "thank God for that, my dear boy; to think that both of you should have been saved--it seems a miracle. The picture on the smoke? Yes, we were speaking of it that last night at Deennugghur, and I never have thought of it since. Is there anyone else?"
"My friend the juggler and his daughter are with us, Doctor."
"Then I can understand the miracle," the Doctor said, "for I believe that fellow could take you through the air and carry you through stone walls with a wave of his hand."
"Well, he has not exactly done that, but he and his daughter have rendered us immense service. I could have done nothing without them."
The two natives, seeing through the bushes the recognition that had taken place, had now stepped forward and salaamed as the Doctor spoke a few hearty words to them.
"But where have you sprung from, Doctor? How were you saved?"
"I jumped overboard when those scoundrels opened fire," the Doctor said. "I kept my wits about me, and said to myself that if I were to swim for the opposite shore the chances were that I should get shot down, so I made a long dive, came up for air, and then went down again, and came up the next time under some bushes by the bank; there I remained all night. The villains were only a few yards away, and I could hear every word they said. I heard the boat come ashore, and although I could have done no good by rushing out, I think I should have done so if I had had any weapon about me, and have tried to kill one or two of them before I went down. As it was, I waited until morning. Then I heard the rumble of the guns and the wagons, and knew that they were off. I waited for another hour to make sure, and then stepped ashore. I went to the boat lying by the bank. When I saw that Isobel and the other two ladies were not there, I knew that they must have been carried off into Cawnpore. I waited there until night, and then made my way to a peasant's house a mile out of the town. I had operated upon him for elephantiasis two years ago, and the man had shown himself grateful, and had occasionally sent me in little presents of fowls and so on. He received me well, gave me food, which I wanted horribly, stained my skin, and rigged me out in this disguise. The next morning I went into the town, and for the last four or five days have wandered about there. There was nothing I could do, and yet I felt that I could not go away, but must stay within sight of the prison where you were all confined till our column arrived. But this morning I determined to come down to join our people who are fighting their way up, little thinking that I should light upon you by the way."
"We were just going to push on, Doctor; but as you have had a good long tramp already, we will stop here until tomorrow morning, if you like."
"No, no, let us go on, Bathurst. I would rather be on the move, and you can tell me your story as we go."