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ARMY BROKEN UP.

15

and Pollock had joined us, exceeded forty thousand men; and thus the nations of the East were shown that Afghanistan was not abandoned owing to any weakness in a military point of view.

After two reviews of the army on the frontier, at which some of the Sikh Durbar were present, in the beginning of January, 1843, the army was broken

up,

and marched to their cantonments in Bengal.

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All chance of active service in India being apparently over, I availed myself of leave of absence, and began preparations for my journey towards Bombay. The route through central India, from Delhi or Agra, was at that time rarely travelled, and presented numerous attractions from the accounts I had read of its wild country and inhabitants. I was fortunate enough to find four acquaintances, who were also about to proceed homewards, and desirous of taking the nearest road, as the season was now far advanced, and

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the heat a little later becomes severe. Having appointed Agra as our rendezvous, I proceeded, with my

valued friend L... in advance. Our marching establishment to Delhi consisted of our riding-ponies and three camels, to carry our baggage, which, on arrival at that city, we agreed to reduce to the least possible compass. Having traversed the rich tract of country lying between Kurnaul and Delhi, we arrived on the fourth morning at that city. We now reduced our baggage to a pair of light boxes each; and leaving our tents, ponies, and other encumbrances, got into our palanquins, and at the usual rate of about four miles an hour, were jolted into Agra, and safely deposited under the verandah of our hospitable entertainer, Mr. A. Plowden, of the civil service.

During my sojourn in India, I had hitherto had no opportunity of visiting Agra, much and anxiously as I had wished to see its numerous objects of interest, but above all, the far-famed Taj Mahal.

The town itself presented little to interest the traveller; and having ridden through its narrow

18

SUMMIT OF THE TAJ.

bazaars, we made a point, during the remainder of our stay, to avoid their unalluring precincts, even at the expense of an extra mile or two of ground.

The second evening of our residence, we petitioned our friend to delay no longer the visit to the Taj; and in accordance with our request, the dog-cart made its appearance, and I mounted beside our host, while L... took up his place behind, to take charge, as he professed, of the whole concern. As we wound about the rocks in the suburbs of the city, the Jumna lay winding its tortuous course beneath us, and the summit of the glorious Taj suddenly opened on our view from amongst its graceful garland of thick cypress groves.

We had no time to express our admiration of the sight, for L ..., who had been, as usual, overflowing with spirits the whole way, now exclaimed, as we were tearing along towards the monument at a pace which did credit to our little hack, “ It matters more to you men of weight, physically speaking, than to me; but I do think

LAUGHABLE DISASTER.

19

there ought to be a linch-pin in the wheels of this uneasy machine.”

Our host was turning round to make some rejoinder, when away spun the wheel in right earnest, and each occupant took involuntarily a line of country of his own. Fortunately for us, the road was some two feet deep in very

fine dust, and we rested unharmed, though rather bewildered, on its woolly surface. After a few seconds, we all wheeled about, and meeting face to face, burst into laughter at each other's ludicrous appearance.

In the midst of our merriment, a britzka drove rapidly round the corner, and pulled up beside us, when we were rejoiced to find that its fair tenant was

our hostess.

Having committed the damaged cart to the charge of two sable attendants, we proceeded to our destination in the britzka, though not before L... had carefully inspected the linch-pins of the carriage.

The shades of evening were thickening fast around us as we drew up at the archway, where it is necessary to dismount, and proceed on foot

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