Графични страници
PDF файл

we got a number of volunteers from other corps. One of these, by the vanie of Bagshawe, was in the opposite mess to me, and after we had been on board a few days, was detected with having in his possession the saddle-bags and kit belonging to a cornrade, which had been reported lost. From being a volunteer, no one knew much of him, and the fact having been proved he was awarded by the commanding officer* seven days in irons. When he was released, it was discovered that he was an idiot. A guard of a corporal and three men was now detailed daily to watch him, and as he was rather filthy in his habits, no one ever volunteered to go upon that duty, so it went regularly down the roster, to almost every one's dislike. Every thing, however, went along without a hitch until we arrived in these latitudes, where, after being becalmed for four days, we caught the breeze, and with every bit of canvas spread from the lower sails to moon-rakers and sky-scrapers, we sailed onwards. While becalmed, we had plenty of sharks round the vessel, two of which we caught, pulled up on deck, and skivered. Some people may like shark's flesh, but I for one am dead against it, having tried it both boiled, broiled, and frizzled, all the cooking in the world, or sauce either, could not make it palatable. The cnly remarkable matter being the remarkable vitality shown by the heart of the shark until the sun went down. There was one great, tremendous chap of a shark, whom we never could catch, and so he was christened “Port Royal Tom,” after a famous long fellow of the same species which used, I had heard, to keep over the ships at Kingston, in Jamaica. When the breeze came, we slipped smoothly on, with “ Port Royal Tom” following in our wake, and sailors being superstitious, and there being likewise several in the sick-list, they all declared that the shark would follow us until a body was thrown overboard. It was on the 24th of December, 1847, we were cutting along at the rate of eight knots, the men were lounging about the deck - smoking, sleeping, or card-playing, many, doubtless, thinking or dreaming of the happy festivities at home.

Bagsháwe, and the sentry over him, a man named Carpenter, were on the forecastle. I was on the leeward side, with any legs tucked under me like a tailor, sat on the inside ledge of the bulwark, with a rope in one hand, holding in the other a bucket to which the rope was attached. My intention was to draw the latter full of water, but being in no particular hurry I kept throwing it from ine and allowing the rope to run, guess at how fast we were going As the bucket never Glled I had not much difficulty in drawing it back again, and on this occasion had just got it up about three feet out of the water, when a shout from behind caused me to look round inwards as well I could. I did not see what was the matter, but feeling in a minute afterwards a strain opon the rope (which from the time the shout was given had remained in my hands) caused me to look down, and, with both feet in the bucket and with both hands on the rope, ,

* It was discovered afterwards that he had always been a queer subject, but the doctor ought to have discovered that.

there was Bagshawe holding fast. Being a mere skeleton, his weight was trifling; and I commenced—as much as the cramped position I was in allowed me to do—to haul up, but the moment he felt me doing so, threw one foot out of the bucket, and let go of the rope with one hand. I then called to iny comrades about, that “Bagshawe was nearly overboard, and to come and assist me," and they, scarcely believing, laughingly replied, “Oh! a good job too," “No such luck,” &c. Davie Ward, who had been formerly a sailor, happened to pass at the time, and taking in the whole matter at a glance, he made a rope fast, and taking a double-turn of it round bis left hand, slipped through a porthole and managed to get hold of Bagshawe by the fingers of the disengaged hand. Unfortunately, however, in going through the porthole, Ward greased his hand and found that he could not well retain his hold, and when he endeavoured to shift it above Bagshawe's wrist, the latter withdrew his hand, let go the rope with the other, and at the same time dropping out of the bucket, away he went astern. I can see him now, with a red cap on—what some good fellow had made him out of an old scarlet jacket—and with his hands clasped round his knees, and his knees pulled close up to his chin, away he drifted astern like a ball. But he had not gone twenty yards in the ship's wake before he disappeared and was no more seen. It had all passed in much less time than I have taken to relate it. “A man overboard,” was the prompt cry, and in a second, as one might say—the sails were backed to the yards, the ship hove to, two life buoys cut away, and one of the boats on the quarter lowered and manned. What a picture it would have made, the sun going down, casting its golden reflection over the waters—the sails shivering backwards against the masts and the crowd of faces on the leeward side, all turned in the one direction with their eyes peering anxiously downwards, as if they could pierce through the fathomless deep. But what looked best was the boat's crew in search, with Mackenzie, the boatswain standing in the bow, his band shading his eyes, gazing before him, thinking that he might still see a trace of him. Half an hour elapsed, but nothing could be seen in the sea but the fin of “ Port Royal Tom,” who in his sluggish manner kept moving round the ship. As I have already said, it would have made a subject for a picture, termed " A man overboard.” Giving up the search as useless, the boat was hoisted into its place, the sails set to the wind, and away we went on our course, and still followed by “the creature on our lee."

Most were of opinion that Bagshawe had fell into his maw, but then the sailors said, that had such been the case, he would have come no further after us, while others averred, that his viction being only skin and bone, he felt that he had been taken in so far, and so

consequently would follow on, in the hope of a better repast being provided for him. For four days he followed us afterwards, when it was resolved by the captain to heave to and try to capture him, judging rightly that by this time he was pretty hungry, and therefore not over fastidious. A nice joint of pork and an excellent hopk, and a strong line was selected, by which “ Royal Tom” was caught, and after a sharp struggle got on board. On being opened, we had distinct evidence of poor Bagshawe's fate, a few buttons, with “IV L.D.” on them, and some human bones which were found inside of the monster told the tale. The monster was an extraordinary size, and, if I remember right, Captain T—kept the skeleton.

The next one on the left of the narrator being called upon to give his narrative, which he called, How I walked to Poonah for a pair of boxing gloves and

rode back. I have heard it elsewhere observed that those who knock about and take most exercise enjoy the best health in India. And so far as my own experience went I found this to be the case, and it was thought, and it was considered nothing remarkable by the men in the barrack-room, to see me at twelve, noon, on the 17th of June, to walk five miles to the city of Poonah, for the purpose of buying a set of boxing-gloves. On reaching the Sudder Bazaar, I easily found out Mr. Grant's, the only saddler in the place, or within a hundred miles of it, and speedily got suited there with what I wanted, receiving the boxing-gloves in exchange for rupees, eight and a half. As I had walked very sharp over from Kokee I felt as if I could drink a pint of porter, and knowing it was about canteen time, I left the gloves until my return at Mr. Grant's, and walked up to the nearest canteen in the lines occupied by the 2nd Bombay European Light Infantry. Knowing no one personally in that regiment, I went to the canteen by myself, but was there informed that I could not be allowed in, unless my pass was countersigned by their commanding officer.

Rather hard lines, I considered, to be thus refused a pint of porter on paying for the same, by Englishmen in a foreign land. Still, those who refused me were not to blame: it was the system of the country, where even a fiative travelling can purchase refreshment at a Parsee's, but none are allowed to be retailed by them to a soldier, and, as in this instance, even the regimental canteens refuse him sometimes. Kuowing, however, that I could procure what I wanted at the Horse Artillery, I walked up to their canteen and got served at once, and two or three standing at the bar, perceiving I was a stranger, Indian soldier like, would make me go home with them to dinner, and, although I was really anxious to get home, I was in a manner compelled to go, and was treated in a manner that only those who have been abroad can

U.S. Mag. No. 446, Jan. 1866.

[ocr errors]

understand. As I had left the boxing gloves down at Grant's, I was obliged to return via the Sudder Bazaar, and was accompanied on the road by two or three of my new friends. On getting near the bazaar, one of them proposed we should call in at Gunnoo's and get a bottle of brandy. Fearing that it might appear shabby if I refused, I consented without having the slightest idea of the place we were going to. Dodging in and out, we came out at last behind the camel-wallahs lines, and, stopping at a hut with a low door, more resembling a dog.kennel than aught else, we crawled in, and there sat Gunnoo, a most repulsive looking scoundrel, with a scar across the nose from the right eye to the mouth. He, however, could speak English remarkably weli, a quality always to be regarded with suspicion in a native, but his professions of service to us sahibs were loathsome to bear. Crouching down together in this den, we waited while he went and got two bottles of stuff called · brandy,' taking a cheroot in the interim; and all the time I could not help wondering what amusement could be found, or what enjoyment there was, in meeting in such a hole as this was. Gunnoo returned with the sham-shoo, or native brandy, the stench from which was enough to knock any one down. To make it palatable we were obliged to mix it with hot water and sugar, with which ingredients we managed to get through it. Finding it was half-past four, I made my excuse to get away by reminding them I had left a parcel at Grant's. Bidding them a hasty good-bye, I made the best of my way to the saddler's, which I had some difficulty in again finding. When I got there, Mr. Grant was gone out for a walk, but had left the gloves all ready packed to be taken away. The stuff I had been drinking, and sitting in such a close confined place made me feel quite unwell, and I must have looked

[ suppose, for the young man asked me what was the matter. When I told him, he prescribed a drop of brandy and a bottle of soda-water as a sedative. Feeling the better after his prescription, he made me have another, and then proposed that I should have a little sharp exercise with the gloves, promising that he would teach me a trifle, put me up to a dodge, in fact, with them. I, nothing loath, consented; and, after a little mancuvring, and fiddling* about in the room, I got him into the centre, and, when feigning with my left, caught him a flush hit over the eye, which sent him through a glass case, amongst a lot of other soft goods. At this he called a go, saying, “ You have learnt quite enough for one lesson." We now sat down to some more brandy and soda, and got quite comfortable together. It was then past six, and being anxious to get on the road before dark, I put the gloves under my arm, and shaking hands with my late friendly antagonist, started for home. Having never previously been in the Sudder Bazaar, and knowing but little of the country bat,t I was at a loss to find my way, until * Dodging, or what is more properly termed by the Fancy, “ drawing on.”

+ Native language.


perceiving the spire of Poonah church in the distance, and knowing the road to Kirhee was a straight one from there, I took that as my object of direction. Turning neither to right nor left, I marched straight on thus, scaling walls, leaping hedges, crossing compounds, allowing nothing to stay my progress, I had nearly reached my object, when a khansaman* came running after me, with the information that his sahib wished to see me. Being at the time not above speaking to the Governor-General or Commander-in-Chief, I cheerfully retraced my steps back through the compound to the bungalow, where several gentlemen were present playing at billiards. One of them, introducing himself as Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 2nd Fusileers, requested to know by whose authority I walked through his compound. I politely told him that I had no special authority, only that it was my nearest way home. This civil reply appeared only to exasperate, instead of satisfying him, and then followed a volley of abuse, which was wound up by, “ And what have you got under your arm ?” First undoing the parcel, I said, “ Boxing gloves, sir, would you like to try them ?”

You will perceive that I was quite civil and respectful throughout the whole affair, but I found that it had all been thrown away; for at the friendly offer I made he raped and stormed like a madman, at the same time shouting to fetch a corporal and file of the guard. First reminding him that it was customary for the person who was in the wrong not to get out of temper, also that perceiving he was going to take a mean advantage of his position and confine me, which was no argument, one of his friends (they had been laughing all the time), here remarked that he thought it was a clincher—to which I paid no beed, but went on acquainting him that I was not quite such a fool as to wait until the guard arrived, and so retiring with a respectful salaam I continued my march on the church spire, and so little did I think of the officer's threat, that when I saw a corporal and file coming towards ine, all I imagined was, this must be the relief going round. However, very soon I discovered my mistake, when I found myself enclosed by the party, the non-com. falling behind, so I soon got acquainted with my position, viz., a prisoner ; crime, walking through an officer's compound, cheeking them and being probably drunk as well. But to understand the affair thoroughly, I mildly inquired of the corporal,

“ What's your game ?"

“Oh! not much,” he answered, “ you're only confined for being drunk in the officers' lines, 2nd B. E. L. I. 2nd charge for threatening to knock down Lieutenant - &c."

When I wbistles “that's lively, and where are you about to take me to ?

“To the congee houses (cells),” he said. We had now about one hundred yards to go there, and I could see,

* Officer's butler.

« ПредишнаНапред »