HOW THE SEPOYS GAVE THEMSELVES UP TO THE DEVIL
 "THE reign of the British Raj shall be a hundred years." So ran the prophecy. How it originated—whether Hindú
or Mussulman first uttered it—no man knew. Mysterious and authorless, it had taken root among the
people; to remote distances of the sacred land it had been borne, as it were, upon the wings of the wind, and
all classes of the native community confidently awaited its fulfilment. Plassey, said they, had been fought in
1757; the centenary of this glorious victory should see the downfall of their white rulers. To the native mind
there was nothing improbable in such a proposition. The history of India from its very earliest days had been
a grim record of invasions and conquests, of transient empires and of short-lived dynasties. Why should it be
otherwise with the British? What peculiar virtue was in their sceptre that they should endure whilst others
passed away? To this conundrum the intelligent Hindú could find no satisfactory answer—save in the
ancient prophecy; and dreamily repeating these mystic syllables to
 himself, he was wont to await the future with philosophic calm.
The cycle of years was accomplished. Dawned the year that was to see the end of British rule. And certainly if
ever a year were propitious for the loss of our Indian Empire it was the ill-fated 1857. A multitude of
disintegrating influences were at work. All over the country were murmurs of a vague unrest. It was an era of
change. The old order was passing away and in its place the ideas and civilisation of the West were slowly
taking root. Railways were beginning to link city with city; the telegraph now flashed its messages over the
whole peninsula. It is not altogether to be wondered at if the natives regarded such changes with suspicion.
They were more than content to live and to die as their fathers had lived and died before them. For it was
their great fear that with the customs of the West would come also the religions. They had a horror of being
turned into Christians in spite of themselves, so to speak. And so they had come to regard every change and
innovation as an insidious device to lure them from their creed.
Yet we must not forget that the great Mutiny, when it came, was a purely military revolt. The native princes
stood loyally by us; the people remained wonderfully calm. What it might have developed into had things gone
otherwise it is difficult to say, but certain it is that amongst races so widely separated by language and by
creed there could be no united action. The nations of Europe have far more in common with each
 other than have the dwellers in the provinces of India.
Why did the Sepoys revolt? What was the reason of their mad and fanatical outburst? Perhaps the blind old King
of Delhi supplied the most convincing answer to this query when he remarked, "I don't know; I suppose my
people gave themselves up to the devil!" There were, however, other influences at work. Let us remember that
the Sepoy, or native soldier, is arrogant and superstitious to a degree. He has countless whims and prejudices
connected with his religion, and upon these we were constantly stepping with heavy-footed directness.
Discontent had long been spreading in their ranks. They had conquered India for the British, was their cry;
why should they not conquer it for themselves? From a certain point of view this argument was not without
reason. Thanks to the almost criminal neglect of the military authorities, the Indian army had been reduced to
perilously weak proportions: in the whole of India there were only thirty-eight thousand white soldiers as
compared with two hundred thousand highly trained Sepoys, while in Bengal there were scarcely any white troops
at all. Discipline had been allowed to grow ominously lax. For many months mutiny had been in the air. From
village to village had passed the mysterious chupatti—a small cake of unleavened bread—together
with the sinister message, "Sub lal hojaega" ("Everything will become red"). What precisely was meant by these
chupatties nobody knew. To the headman of each village
 they were sent, and he was enjoined to prepare a similar cake and to forward it to the nearest hamlet. Our
officers smiled scornfully at what they considered a silly and superstitious practice. But it was evident that
some strange secret was in their midst, of which they were entirely in ignorance. The mine had been prepared
and made ready; the tiniest spark would cause it to explode. That spark was supplied by the affair of the
But it is not within the province of this book to set forth a detailed analysis of the various causes which
led up to and produced the great Mutiny. From the vague phantasmagoria of events previous to the outbreak,
three pictures stand out vividly. Like the solemn preliminary chords of an orchestra announcing its theme
before plunging into a tornado of passionate harmonies, they seem to give us a striking insight into what the
Mutiny was, and how it originated.
The first scene shows us the banqueting chamber of the East India Company in London. A great feast is in
progress. It is a farewell dinner to the newly appointed Governor-General before he sets sail for the East.
The superstitious may derive a melancholy satisfaction from the fact that Charles John, Viscount Canning, was
the thirteenth holder of this illustrious office; yet few men have added more lustre to the British name in
The feast is drawing to an end, the familiar toasts have been duly honoured, and the new Governor-General
rises to address the company. It is a wise and statesmanlike speech, but one sentence stands
 out from all others by reason of the emphasis and prophetic fervour with which it is uttered: "I wish," says
Lord Canning, "for a peaceful term of office; but I cannot forget that in the sky of India, serene as it is, a
small cloud may arise, no larger than a man's hand, but which, growing larger and larger, may at last threaten
to burst and overwhelm us with ruin."
A note, ominous in its intensity, has been struck. Almost it seems as if the highly strung, sensitive soul of
the Governor-General has heard from afar the low whispers of corning storm.
Such, then, is our first picture. "The Prophecy" might be its title. But the banqueting chamber with its
lights and glittering splendour quickly fades away, and in its stead a massive edifice, built after the
Oriental manner, arises before us. It is the Artillery Arsenal at Dumdum, near Calcutta. Here cartridges are
busily being manufactured for the new Enfield rifle. For the old infantry musket, "Brown Bess" of glorious
memory, has had its day; an improved firearm with a grooved bore is to take its place. The new weapon requires
a lubricated cartridge, and hundreds of native workmen are being employed in their manufacture.
It is a hot and oppressive day. One of the workmen, a Hindú of low caste, leaves his task in order to quench
his thirst. He sees a Sepoy standing near and addresses him. "Give me, I pray you," he says, "a draught of
water from your lotah" (drinking vessel). But the man addressed is a Brahmin of the highest
class. He looks with contempt upon the workman. "Nay", is his reply; "shall I let my lotah
 be defiled by the lips of one of your lowly caste?" The other flushes angrily. "You think too much of your
caste," he sneers. "But wait a little: the Sáhiblogue will soon make high and low caste on an equality;
cartridges smeared with beef fat and hog's lard are being made up in the magazine, which all Sepoys will be
compelled to use." The Brahmin listens dumfounded. Horror and dismay, for the moment, root him to the ground.
Then with a wild cry of anger he hastens to inform his comrades. Beef fat and hog's lard! Was there ever a
more villainous mixture! To both Hindi and Muhammadan it is equally obnoxious. For to the Hindú all cattle are
sacred; while the Muhammadan regards the pig with loathing and disgust. Like wildfire the news spreads. From
station to station flies the rumour; and at night the Sepoys hold secret meetings to discuss the coming evil.
For if these cartridges come into general use, every Sepoy, be he Hindú or Mussulman, will be inevitably
defiled. "It is another plot," cry the excited soldiery, "to break down the sacred barriers of caste, and to
make us all infidels!"
The cloud, "small as a man's hand," is already darkening the heavens.
The third picture is dated three months later. The scene is the parade ground at Barrackpur, where the men of
the 84th Native Infantry are clustered confusedly together in various stages of undress. All are in a state of
intense excitement, for an extraordinary incident is going forward. About thirty yards in front of the
quarter-guard, which, unlike the rest of the regiment, is drawn up in regular order, struts
 and swaggers a drunken Sepoy. His name, Mungul Pandy, is destined to achieve notoriety, for every mutinous
Sepoy was henceforward dubbed a "Pandy."
"Come out you blackguards," he screams shrilly; "turn out all of you, the English are upon us. Through biting
these cartridges we shall all be made infidels!"
A ripple of excitement goes through the Sepoy ranks and the packed masses sway convulsively to and fro.
Suddenly an English adjutant gallops on to the parade ground. He rides straight at Mungul Pandy, who,
steadying himself with an effort, raises his musket and fires. Horse and rider crash headlong to the ground,
but it is the steed alone that has been hit. The rider struggles dizzily to his feet, only to be cut down by
the mutineer's sword. Now a sergeant appears, red-faced and panting, for he has been running two miles along a
dusty road. He, in his turn, is laid low by Pandy's blade. With what excitement do the Sepoys view the
conflict! Two British officers lie bleeding in the dust, struck down by a comrade's sword. Their emotion is
too deep for words.
But the news of the revolt has spread. Other officers are hastening to the scene. The colonel, not much of a
man in a crisis, blinks at Pandy through his glasses, and orders the quarter-guard to arrest him. Not a man
stirs—they are all in sympathy with the mutineer; and the bewildered officer retires to report the
matter to his superior. But the valiant General Hearsey is already here. Riding on to the parade ground, with
his two sons behind him as aides, he takes in the situation at a glance. Mungul Pandy
 raises his weapon at his approach. "Have a care, general," somebody calls, "his musket is loaded." "Damn his
musket!" is the laconic reply, and the intrepid warrior rides resolutely forward, telling his son to put the
beggar to death somehow if he himself should fall. The officer of the quarter-guard finds himself confronted
by the cocked pistol and gleaming eyes of the general. It is a potent argument. Discipline instinctively
reasserts itself before that terrible gaze, and the guard steps forward as one man. Mungul Pandy looks
despairingly around, at the stern, inexorable face of the general, at his quailing comrades, and recognises
that the game is up. A quick movement of his musket, a hurried thrusting of his naked toe into the trigger,
and he falls self-shot. Seven days later, having partially recovered of his wound, he was hanged.
The pictures vanish; the prelude is ended; and the grim story of the Mutiny is still before us. We have heard
the solemn warning of the statesman, we have marked the uprising of the cloud and its rapid obscuring of the
heavens. Slow, heavy raindrops have begun to fall, but the storm is not yet. Banks of inky vapour are still
piling themselves on the horizon, the atmosphere grows steadily in gloom and oppression, and all nature seems
to hold its breath to await the coming outburst. Fortunate, indeed, was it for us that the Mutiny did not
break out simultaneously all over the country. The Sepoys had planned a general uprising for 31st May, but
owing to the impatience of several regiments this date was anticipated in a number of cases. So that
 instead of one tremendous explosion there were, so to speak, a series of minor ones; and terrible as these
were in their effect, they were not nearly so destructive. The Military Authorities had time, after the first
outbreak, to disband and disarm many suspected regiments, and thus were able to avert not a few, otherwise
inevitable, calamities. This policy of nipping rebellion in the bud might have been rendered much more
effective. But there were many officers who still placed implicit trust in the men they commanded. Whatever
other regiments might mutiny, their men, said they, would ever remain loyal. Alas for such misplaced devotion!
The very officers who so persistently shut their eyes to the coming storm were usually the first to fall
beneath the vengeful daggers of their beloved Sepoys. Thus were many lives wasted, many dreadful tragedies
enacted, which a little prudence, a little foresight, would have most surely prevented.
It was at Meerut that the first real mutiny occurred. There, eighty-five men of the 3rd Native Cavalry
resolutely declined even to touch the cartridges served out to them, and this in spite of the fact that the
cartridges were of the old and familiar pattern. They were tried by court-martial and sentenced to various
terms of imprisonment. A few days later a painful ceremony took place. In front of the whole military force of
the station the men were publicly degraded. Their badges and medals, records of long and faithful service in
the past, were torn off, their uniforms stripped from them, and heavy irons were riveted on to their limbs.
 To the Sepoys, who looked on, these disgraced and manacled men were so many heroes and martyrs; they were
sacrificing themselves for their customs and their creed. Around the camp-fires that night there was much
whispering and muttering. Their comrades' unhappy fate had fired the Sepoys' blood; they thirsted for
immediate vengeance. How could they wait until the thirty-first to mutiny while the eighty-five "martyrs" were
languishing in gaol? Was not the morrow Sunday? Would not the white Sáhibs go unarmed to church? What a
glorious opportunity to murder them all!
It is to be wondered if the men who on that historic Sabbath evening sounded the call to church parade knew
that they were ringing in a great and terrible mutiny. For no sooner had the bells aroused the echoes with
their peaceful chimes than the 3rd Native Cavalry arose in open revolt. With brandished swords and loud
exultant cries they rode tumultuously toward the gaol. Quickly the doors were battered in, and the eighty-five
prisoners triumphantly liberated. Meanwhile the 11th and 20th Native Infantry regiments fell into rank. "For
God's sake, sir," gasped a scared-looking European sergeant to Colonel Finnis, "fly! the men have mutinied!"
Fortunately the commandant of the 11th was built of sterner stuff. Instead of taking the sergeant's advice, he
made a resolute attempt to calm the excited Sepoys. Other officers joined him, and for the space of an hour
this handful of brave men kept the regiment steady. But the shadows of evening were perceptibly lengthening.
 What would happen when darkness fell? Finnis left his own regiment to go to the assistance of the officers of
the 20th. Plainly it was impossible to keep the men in hand much longer. As he leaned forward to address them
a fresh tremor of excitement convulsed the ranks. There were savage calls from the rear, while the men in
front fingered their muskets ominously. Suddenly an irregular volley rang out upon the still night air; a
zigzag sheet of flame leapt from the Sepoys' guns, and valiant Colonel Finnis fell dying to the ground. The
Mutiny had claimed its first victim.
That night pandemonium reigned. It seemed as if all the devils in hell had broken loose in Meerut. The
miserable white residents were dragged from their hiding-places, chased and chivied along the streets, and
barbarously mutilated and slain. Neither age nor sex was spared. The city was turned into a shambles. It was a
truly piteous and tragic spectacle that the sun arose upon next morning. The whole of Meerut was a study in
black and red—black where the raging fires had scorched and charred the dwellings; red where the blood
of murdered Englishmen, their wives and their little ones, had stained it a ghastly hue.
And, oh, the pity of it! It is terrible to think how easily the Mutiny might have been suppressed. Meerut was
the only station in India where the white soldiers actually outnumbered the Sepoys. Yet during the whole of
that dreadful night, with the shrieks of our dying countrymen ringing constantly in our ears, we did nothing.
 it seems! While the European residents were being butchered, General Hewitt, the only man who had the power to
save them, sat inert. The general was equally indolent next day. He made no attempt to punish the mutineers.
He permitted them to march away triumphantly to Delhi. And yet he had ample means at his disposal to scatter
them like chaff before the wind.
In the royal palace at Delhi the last descendant of the great Moghul emperors lived in lonely state. This aged
pensioner of the British—broken, feeble, and infirm—was now made the puppet of the mutineers. They
came galloping up the streets of the city and clamoured at the palace gates. "We have slain all the English at
Meerut," they yelled. "We have come to fight for the Faith." Upon a long pole they brandished a pale and
bloody head—it was that of Mr. Fraser, the Commissioner at Delhi. The old king hesitated and hung back,
then he yielded to their cries. The corpse of a dead dynasty had been galvanised into a ghastly semblance of
There were no white troops in Delhi. The garrison consisted of three Sepoy regiments, who quickly joined the
mutineers. Many of the British officers and residents were murdered, a few escaped to take refuge on the
historic Ridge outside the city. The most heroic incident of the day was the blowing up of the great powder
magazine. It was garrisoned by Lieutenant Willoughby and eight European soldiers. Let us try to conjure up the
scene. As soon as the news of the revolt reaches them, the gallant nine
 close and barricade the gates. Ten pieces of artillery are placed to command the enemy's approach. In the name
of the King of Delhi they are summoned to surrender. Grimly they refuse. Then ensues a fierce assault upon the
walls which the tiny band defend with desperate courage. One by one they fall, and the swarming hordes outside
cannot be kept for ever at bay. Already they are breaking in upon them. But the enemy shall not seize the
magazine—that at all events is certain; Lieutenant Willoughby waves his hand, and a soldier named
Scully, who is standing with a lighted port-fire in his hand, acts fearlessly upon the signal. He touches a
fuse with the flame, and lo! a terrific explosion rends the air. The great magazine has been blown into a
Hundreds of the enemy were slain, but by some miracle Lieutenants Willoughby and Forrest escaped. Scorched and
blackened they managed to make their way to the survivors on the Ridge. History records no more sublime
instance of courage and self-sacrifice than this feat of the dauntless nine.
Outbreaks of mutiny at the various military centres were now fast occurring. Let us turn to Cawnpur, where the
saddest scenes in all the grim drama of the Mutiny were enacted. The station was in charge of Sir Hugh
Wheeler, a gallant soldier, but seriously handicapped by age. No longer did the fiery blood of youth run in
his veins; the caution and timidity which comes with advanced years now impaired his faculty for command. Thus
several fatal mistakes were made which a younger and
 more far-seeing man would most certainly have avoided.
There were four Sepoy regiments stationed at Cawnpur with a mere handful of Englishmen to control them. But it
was not the Sepoys alone that the British had most cause to dread. Not far from the city stood a fair and
stately palace, the residence of a wealthy native prince. Náná Sáhib was the adopted son of the last Peshwá of
the Maráthás. The liberal pension which he had enjoyed during his father's lifetime had ceased on the Peshwá's
death; and for this reason the Náná's heart was black with hatred against the British. Outwardly, however, he
was all smiles and fair words, and so implicitly did Wheeler trust him that when the Mutiny occurred he made
over the treasury to his safe-keeping. General Wheeler was, alas! most weakly credulous. For long he refused
to believe that mutiny was threatening; and when he could no longer shut his eyes to the truth, he devised an
extraordinary scheme for the safeguarding of his countrymen.
Upon the open plain, some six miles distant from the city, he caused some slender mud walls to be erected. Two
fragile buildings were put up within the enclosure, and ten light guns mounted to defend it. This entrenchment
was designed as a refuge if the danger should come. The Náná's minister beheld the building of the shelter
with polite amusement.
"What do you call that place you are making out on the plain?" he inquired of an officer. "You ought to call
it the 'Fort of Despair.'"
 "No, no," was the Englishman's plucky retort; "we'll call it the `Fort of Victory.'"
Had General Wheeler so chosen, he could have occupied a "Fort of Victory" far worthier the name. For the
magazine at Cawnpur was a large and massive enclosure, excellently adapted for defence. It was richly supplied
with guns; it contained an almost inexhaustible supply of ammunition. Yet, for some wholly unaccountable
reason, the general preferred to neglect this stronghold for the miserable mud erection on the plains.
And so the ill-fated white garrison, consisting of four hundred and sixty-five men, seventy of whom were
invalids, with two hundred women and as many children, crept out of the city to take shelter within this
wretched travesty of a fort. They did not even take the trouble to blow up the magazine. The great store of
guns and ammunition was left behind for their enemies to use against them!
On the night of 4th June came the long-expected revolt. The Sepoys rushed wildly to seize the magazine and to
pillage the treasury. In spite of the gallant efforts of their officers to bring them to reason, they plunged
headlong into a fierce carnival of blood. Murder, naked and unashamed, stalked abroad through the streets of
the city. Trembling families who had neglected to take refuge in Wheeler's mud fort were dragged from their
hiding-places and put to shameful deaths. When the mad orgie was over, the Sepoys gathered up their plunder
and marched off, with drums beating and colours flying, to Delhi. Would that they had been allowed
 to reach their destination! It was, however, no part of Náná Sáhib's scheme to accompany the mutineers to
Delhi. He was convinced that the sands of British rule were fast running out. He was determined to raise up
for himself a mighty princedom at Cawnpur. But before he could accomplish this a few preliminaries were
necessary. The entire European garrison must be wholly exterminated, and all symbols of their authority
utterly destroyed. So with bribes and cajolery the Sepoys were persuaded to return. They were promised a
gorgeous feast of blood.
Náná Sáhib appears to have been an authority on the etiquette of murder. His most fiendish cruelties were
invariably graced with the airy politeness of a master of deportment. Now, with a quaint formality, he
informed the white troops that he was about to attack their position. The garrison set their teeth grimly and
waited for him to begin.
Around the frail mud-walls which enclosed the immortal garrison the Sepoys gathered with relentless
determination. They had been paid to do their work thoroughly and well. There was no limit to the guns which
they were able to bring to bear on the position; had they not the whole of the magazine at their disposal! So
began a tornado of shot and shell, which lasted without cessation for twenty-one days. The shells tore through
the defences as if they had been paper. There was no cover, no pretence of shelter, from the constant hail of
lead. Around the well, which constituted the garrison's sole water supply, the Sepoy shot fell
 thickest. To attempt to draw water from it meant almost certain death. Yet, during the long siege, there was
never a lack of volunteers for the perilous task, but scarcely a drop of water was drunk but was stained with
a hero's blood.
How the British defended their position so long is a source of perpetual wonder. But the garrison was made up
of no ordinary men. It was largely composed of officers of the mutinous regiments—men who were
accustomed to face danger and death in their most sinister forms. They were now fighting for their Queen,
their country, and their womenkind—all that life held most dear—and they fought as never men have
fought before or since. There were also eighty Sepoys included in the garrison. For wheresoever the Mutiny
broke forth there was always to be found a small band of loyal soldiers—a faithful few, who, hearkening
not to the fiery words of the agitator, attached themselves with renewed fidelity to their white masters.
We will not dwell too long upon the story of the siege. Who shall describe the unutterable sufferings of the
women during this period? It is well for man that he is a fighting animal, for the zest of conflict will
sustain him in his bitterest hours. But with women it is otherwise. They cannot participate in the martial
ardour of the men. Here, at Cawnpur, they could only cluster miserably together, to suffer in silence the dull
agony of suspense, until such time as the death of their loved ones should render life both meaningless and
void. There were infants born during those terrible days. Poor children!
Un-  happy mothers! What must their agonies have been!
How eagerly the garrison looked out for the help that never came! The days lengthened into weeks, but from the
outside world came no tidings of succour or encouragement. Still the siege went on, still with heroic
fortitude the British clung to their blood-stained patch of earth. But the end could not be long delayed. Food
supplies were entirely exhausted; half the garrison were dead; many were wounded and sick; all were
unspeakably weary. Then it was that Náná Sáhib made his devilish offer. He was, said he, tired of the stubborn
conflict. He bitterly deplored the inconvenience which the British had sustained. He offered all those who
were willing to lay down their arms a safe passage down the river to Allahabad, and ventured politely to
congratulate them that their sufferings were now over.
The men would have liked to fight on to the bitter end. But there were the women and children to be
considered. Death for all was inevitable if the defence were prolonged. Much as they distrusted the Náná,
there was, nevertheless, a slender chance of escape if they accepted his offer. So it was agreed that the
British were to be allowed to march out under arms, with sixty rounds of ammunition to each man, that
carriages were to be provided for the wounded, the women, and the children, and that boats duly stocked with
food were to be supplied for the journey.
Let us try to picture briefly to ourselves the last act of the drama.
 On top of a tiny Hindú temple abutting on the banks of the Ganges sits Tantia Topi, Prime Minister to His
Highness the Náná. The date is the 27th of June 1857. The minister casts a complacent eye upon the elaborate
preparations he has made, and then, turning, gazes expectantly towards the distant plain. Presently a cloud of
dust becomes visible. Ere long it resolves itself into the semblance of marching men and swinging palanquins.
The garrison of four hundred and sixty-five souls has begun its last momentous journey. There is no military
precision in their advance. The men, jaded and ill, stumble along anyhow. Nor is there music to stir their
blood and quicken their steps. No sound is heard save the cries of the native bearers as they groan in
monotonous cadence with each swing of the palanquins. A vast multitude has gathered to watch the march down to
the river—a concourse of silent spectres who await, motionless and impassive, the tragedy's culminating
scene. Presently the procession reaches the river-side, where forty ungainly, straw-roofed boats are moored.
With difficulty the wounded are carried on board, the women and children take their places, and the men
scramble in after them. Thus far Tantia Topi has watched the embarkation in silence. Then he turns and gives a
Suddenly the shrill note of a bugle rings out on the morning air. Ere its last echoes have died away the
river-side scene has undergone a swift and terrible change. The thatched roofs of the boats are blazing
furiously, while from the rebel soldiers,
 concealed in the thick undergrowth, comes a murderous storm of bullets. Náná Sáhib is accomplishing by
treachery what force has failed to effect. Many of the unhappy fugitives are struck dead by the flying shot,
some try to escape by swimming, some stand resolutely and return the enemy's fire. Three of the boats manage
to push out into mid-stream, and drift slowly with the tide. Two are carried by the currents over to the
opposite shore, where a horde of Sepoys are waiting to massacre the crews. The third continues its perilous
course down-stream under a constant hail of lead. Mean-while the Sepoys have ceased their fire, and all who
have survived the massacre—one hundred and twenty-five in number—are roughly dragged ashore.
THE THATCHED ROOFS OF THE BOATS BLAZING FURIOUSLY.
The fate of General Wheeler has been vividly described by a native witness—a half-caste Christian woman:
"General Wheeler," she said, "came last in a palkee. They carried him into the water near the boat. I stood
close by. He said, 'Carry me a little farther towards the boat.' But a trooper said, 'No, get out here!' As
the general got out of the palkee, head foremost, the trooper gave him a cut with his sword through the neck,
and he fell into the water. My son was killed near him. I saw it, alas! alas! Some were stabbed with bayonets,
others cut down. Little infants were torn in pieces. We saw it, we did! and tell you only what we saw. Other
children were stabbed and thrown into the river. The school-girls were burnt to death. I saw their clothes and
hair catch fire."
 But what became of the single drifting boat? It had neither oars nor food; the flying bullets had smashed its
rudder. But by a curious chance it contained all the choicest spirits of the garrison, and it now set off on
one of the strangest and most thrilling voyages that have ever been chronicled. There is no space here to
recount its wild adventures and hairbreadth escapes. Only four out of the hundred passengers survived to tell
the story. The rest, after enduring incredible hardships, fell again into the cruel clutches of Náná Sáhib,
for whose prisoners there was only one fate—and that was death.
The prisoners, who consisted entirely of women and children, were triumphantly inspected by Náná Sáhib and
locked up in a gloomy chamber. There they were kept for several weeks, during which time their numbers were
swelled, by the arrival of fresh prisoners, to a total of two hundred and eighteen in all. The Náná was in no
hurry to slaughter them, but the near approach of the valiant Havelock with an avenging force hastened his
action. On 15th July the edict went forth for massacre. First the men—six in all, including a small boy,
proud for the moment to be numbered with the "men"—were called out and shot. Then the Náná commanded the
Sepoys to shoot through the windows into the closely packed masses of women. But even the Sepoys hardened as
they were to the Náná's atrocities—could not bring themselves to murder the women in cold blood. They
contented themselves with firing a single volley over their heads. Other instruments
 were quickly found. Five brutal-looking natives—each armed with a glittering tulwar—entered the
crowded chamber, closing the door carefully behind them. To the listeners outside came the sound of low
wailings, of running feet, and the dull thuds of the butchers' swords. Presently the door opened, and one of
the murderers came forth brandishing a broken sword. Quickly borrowing a fresh blade, he resumed his ghastly
task. A few minutes later he reappeared, again for the purpose of providing himself with another sword. And so
the work of carnage went on. To picture the terrible scene within the room baffles the imagination. The mind
instinctively recoils from a scene at once so hideous and appalling. It was dark when the five men—their
garments dripping red with their victims' blood—crept shamefacedly from the chamber of horrors. They
locked the door behind them, and went to report to the Náná that his will had been accomplished.
Next morning the bodies were taken out, stripped, and thrown into a well. In many the spark of life still
lingered, but living and dead were remorselessly cast together into the pit. To-day the figure of an angel in
marble keeps guard over this terrible spot. On the pedestal the following inscription may be read:
Sacred to the perpetual memory of the great company of Christian people, chiefly women and children, who, near
this spot, were cruelly massacred by the followers of the rebel Náná Doondoo Punth, of Bithoor, and cast, the
dying and the dead, into the well below, on the 15th day of July, 1857.
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