Imagens das páginas

had it not been familiar to us, we might Jogies, who are distinguished from the have questioned its claims to humanity. others by the burial instead of the burning But for the ten days before, the Suniassie, of their dead. The Suniassie, who is the who now leaped forwards uttering the most unworthy hero of my present sketch, had frightful yells and imprecations, had fol- appeared suddenly in our camp; where he lowed our camp. I have since then fre- was an object of fear to the generality of quently lamented that the art of the pain- our sepoys, who were neither allied to him ter was not mine, for the whole scene would by country nor connexion, for he was a nahave made a striking picture. The Suni- tive of Bengal. More than once he had inassie was a gaunt, muscular man, in the terfered in disputes with which he had decline of life; wrapped in a scanty, but nothing in common, and had been ordered close-fitted tunic, of many-colored patch- from the camp in consequence of his insowork, which extended scarcely to his lent and malignantly-expressed detestation knees, leaving his nether limbs entirely na- of the English. ked; his long grizzled hair, matted in greasy folds, fell down his shoulders to the waist, from which, tied by a girdle of rope, hung a gourd to hold his arms, while in his hand he carried a bunch of peacock feathers. His face was smeared with white ashes, and his natural ugliness was increased by the deformity of a nose which had been slit-whether in penance, or as a punishment for some former offence, is unknown.

Pointing to the still quivering body of the monkey, he poured forth the grossest revilings of which the Hindostani language is capable, against the English in general, and my friend in particular. Flinging his arms up to the sky, he called down curses upon the destroyer of the monkey, which made the dogboy cower in very terror; and while we stood gazing in silence, as we might have done at a play, he sprang suddenly towards the shrine, lifted a huge stone, dipped it in the blood of the animal, and ere we could fathom his intent, flung it with all his force at the head of Calvert. It struck him on the temple, and he fell, stupified for the moment, but not materially injured. In my rage I darted towards the Suniassie, but ere I could reach him he plunged amid the ruins of the pagoda, and in another moment was seen high up on the crumbling parapet, whence, shouting the words, "Dawa! Dawa!"* he disappeared.

The revengeful nature of the Hindoo religious mendicant is well known; but though frequently displayed in the upper provinces of India, is seldom outwardly expressed nearer to the seat of government. Of these hypocritical and bigoted beggars there are four sects; consisting of the Gosains, or Suniassies, who are followers of Siva; the Byragees, disciples of Vishnu; Udassies, attached to the Seik creed; and

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Meanwhile Calvert Montford recovered to feel little ill effects from a blow which had been too slight to cause other results than a headache and a bruise; but as he had so often incurred the reprimands of his commanding officers for offending the superstitions of the natives, the death of the monkey, and its attendant punishment, were concealed from Major Beckett until after many days, when, having seen nothing more of the Suniassie, the whole matter was freely talked over at the mess-table. A general laugh was raised at the expense of Calvert Montford by the juniors, but there were others who expressed astonishment that no complaint had been made about the destruction of the sacred monkey, while the disappearance of the mendicant served equally to puzzle all.

"I am glad he is no longer with us," observed the major; "but, young man, should you meet him again, excite not his ire, he is a dangerous playfellow, and it is seldom that such creatures forego their purposes of vengeance."

We had been about nine months at Chanda-a dreary old city, some eighty miles south of Nagpore, surrounded by woods which were infested by tigers, and in the unwholesome fastnesses of which, bidding defiance to malaria and fever-mist, Montford found frequent relief from the ennui which is almost sure to assail the tedious hours of an inert military life. Chanda, with its ruinous ramparts, six miles in circumference, its heterogeneous population of Mahomedans, Mahrattas, and Brahmins, of all denominations, contained no Europeans but the officers of our own regiment, and at that period we had not a married man amongst us; so that the charms of female society being denied us, alack for him who found not in his gun or his book, his pen or his pencil, that relaxation which, in sta

He was a fine, venerable old man, on the verge of eighty; and, in answer to my queries, declared that he was convinced his daughter-his sweet Azeeza-had been carried off by the Bustar Goands for their annual human sacrifice.

tions less lonely, he looks for in the social in the house or garden, and the old woman, circles and the crowded company. Several who had fainted in her terror, could only of the officers, too, were detached, and I recollect that, amongst the party who tore was ordered to Wurra, a village some the poor girl from her arms, there was one twelve miles from Chanda, where my du- in the garb of a common Hindoo mendities were to protect it and the adjoining cant. Interested by Ali's recital, at my dehamlets from the aggressions of bands of sire he introduced me to his new acquaintmarauders, then ravaging the whole country ance. on the banks of the river Wurda, close to which my little party were pleasantly encamped. Montford, at the same time, obtained a month's leave to roam the jungles, and spent two days with me; after which, crossing the Wurda, and attended by his "I dare not utter such words aloud, three servants and a favorite sepoy, in plain Maharajah,' said he, for there is neither clothes, he commenced his knight-errantry. law nor learning, faith nor fidelity, in this The month had nearly slipped by, when one idolatrous country of Satan; but this atromorning, as my solitary drum and fife were cious custom prevails here as surely as Mablending their reveillée sounds with the low-homed is the prophet of Alla! Every one ing of a newly-roused kine, the crowing of knows, though none dare say, that the Gococks, and the tinkling bells of a flock of sains and Jogies of Bustar offer a human sheep, I was surprised by the appearance of a doly, or litter, such as is used by the better class of natives up country, which, attended by a horseman, was fording the stream in front of my tent.

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Dekho, jee!" cried a sepoy near me; Montford sahib ata hie;" (look, sir, Mr. Montford is coming;) and so it was. another moment we were shaking hands, and my eyes were asking a hundred questions about the doly before my tongue had uttered one. But I will skip the unlading of the sweet freight which that vehicle bore, the arrangements made for its comfortable accommodation, and proceed to give my friend's narrative in, as nearly as may be, his own words.

being in annual sacrifice to the goddess Kali; and of all others they prefer one who does not belong to their own accursed creed.'

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"Horrorstruck, I asked him if he had no friends in authority, no kindred from whom to demand counsel in such a strait. 'None, sahib,' he answered; nor is there any course to pursue but to sit silently on the musnud of submission, and weep over the invisible ashes of my lost child. I have no relative here, and had gone to make arrangements at Chanda for a removal thither, when the rose of my life was taken from me by those infidel dogs. May their graves be defiled!'

"But can nothing be done to save her?' cried I, indignant at his passive submission to what he called destiny.

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'Nay,' returned I, 'lead me to the suspected spot, provide me and my attendant with such disguises as you may deem most likely to favor such an enterprise, and let me try what can be done.'

"After I left you, I had a glorious week's sport before I reached Dewelmurry, where in my perambulations, I learned that far- "Alla Kereem! God is merciful, but ther on, at Bustar, the Goands were at such what can I do?' was the reply. The sahot feud with each other, that it would be crifice always takes place at the new moon folly to visit the place. I liked the neigh-in three days I shall be childless.' borhood of Dewelmurry, but fate would have it that, in spite of all my resolutions, I should be enticed some twenty miles nearer Bustar than I intended. Ali Homed (the sepoy before alluded to) is a fine intelligent fellow, and by him I was informed "The old Mussulman clutched at the that he had made dowstee' (formed friend- unexpected hope which my words conveyed, ship) with an old Puthan in the town, with a desperate joy; but Ali, knowing my whose only child, a young and lovely girl, rashness, and alarmed for the consequences had lately been dragged from their cottage of such an undertaking, endeavored to readuring his temporary absence, the only per- son us out of it. But the strong desire I son who was with her at the time being a had to fathom the whole affair, to satisfy decrepid old woman, their servant. That my doubts regarding the mystery of human plunder was not the object of her abduc- sacrifice, and to restore a child to her fators was evident, for nothing was touched ther's arms, stimulated me to higher

thoughts; and, for once in my life, I re- with our swords hidden below our robes, solved on adopting as my coadjutors Cau- and a torch in case of need, we reached tion and Prudence, two assistants in the the pagoda. We soon got rid of the lime pursuit of adventure which the boldest man and clay that jammed up the wicket, which, may wisely enlist. Suffice it to say that when wrenched open, admitted us to a small the venerable Puthan, Meer Khan, myself, vaulted cell. A glimmering light, shining and Ali, reached a public choultry, or cara- through a crevice in one corner, warned us vanserai, in the dense woods that surround of more habitable places in our vicinity; Bustar, on the very day before the new and as Meer Khan, who had advanced moon. We were disguised as soldiers toward it, stooped down and looked through of the Nizam, and it was not long ere we it, he saw that which proved too great a discovered the principal pagoda of the trial for his shattered nerves, for, with a place, which was situated in a thick grove groan that terrified us for the results, he of banyan, peepul, and date-trees. Meer fainted. I whispered Ali to remove him Khan felt assured that the interior of this into the open air, and there to detain him temple was the place allotted for the sacri- till I gave a certain signal. No sooner had fice; nor was it with any difficulty we they left me than I applied my eye to the learned, by mingling with the crowds that aperture, and beheld the most lovely creaattended a haut (fair) in the town, that a ture I ever looked upon. A young and great festival was to be solemnized at mid- graceful girl, whose beauty shone in the night in the pagoda. glare of many torches, stuck in the walls of an immense saloon, lay bound hand and foot on a mat.

"Constructed with a power of resistance that would have repelled an army, the temple was to us a destruction of almost all hope. What, then, could we do? nothing. But fortune, chance, Providence did all. I had left the old Puthan sitting in despair beneath a tamarind tree, near which Ali was cooking an extempore currie, and as the twilight began to creep greyly over the earth, sauntered around the pagoda. As I stooped to pick up a wild flower that sprung from a heap of stones, a large snake, alarmed at my approach, issued from behind the tuft of datura that covered the rubbish, and directing its progress towards the wall of the temple, entered a fissure where it disappeared. What induced me to pursue it I know not, for I have an unconquerable terror of serpents, but I did so; and with my stick strove to guage the depths of the aperture, which was larger than I at first apprehended. The stick struck against some substance which emitted a metalic sound, and on approaching closer to examine it, I found that there was a small wicket, deeply buried in the stonework of the wall. I could perceive that, with slight toil, the mortar and rubbish which now almost curtained it from sight, might be cleared away, and, this effected, I had not a doubt but that an entrance to some part of the pagoda could be obtained. I flew rather than ran to the tamarind-tree, and related my discovery; nor lost we a moment before we acted upon it with the expedition and resolution that are sometimes engendered by despair.

"There was not a creature in sight, as,

"In one corner was a huge image of Vishnu, at least seven feet high, with a pyramidal cap, closed eyes, and canopy overhead of seven-hooded snakes, peculiar to that deity; in another, with its sepulchral garland of skulls round the neck, was the hideous idol of Kali; and in the centre of this large, and, no doubt, interior chamber of the temple, a group of Brahmins, almost naked, with shaven heads and sacerdotal cords flung across their shoulders, Jogies, Suniassies, and grotesquely-attired Udassies, were busily engaged in chanting a lugubrious chorus around a blazing fire. I could not hear a word that was uttered, though I could plainly distinguish the most remote nook; but I cared not, even at that moment, to keep my eyes from that sweet and beautiful creature, who lay, panting in her pallid fear, almost within reach of me. A heavy smell of frankincense, aloes, and benzoin, penetrated to where I knelt, and I felt that the moment was at hand when she was to be saved or I was to perish.

"Suddenly an overwhelming noise of gongs, kulera horns, tom-toms, and bells struck up outside the chamber, and the whole mass of bigots withdrew. At that moment I could have willingly cut off my hand for admittance to that hall of sacrifice, but I saw no means of entering it. I ran round the little stifling vault that held me

I heard the hiss of the startled snake, yet paused not-I felt every crevice and cranny with my fingers-and, at length, when in utter despair, I was mad enough

to dash my fist against the opposing wall, a bolt, or a bar, or a secret spring, had given way, and down I fell on my face within three paces of the victim. For the first time I heard her voice-she uttered a faint shriek-but the continued din without prevented its being heard. In five minutes she was free from cord and chain-in five more she was in her father's arms-and ere half as many hours had passed we were on our way to Dewelmurry.

"But we did not leave Dewelmurry next morning unnoted. Meer Khan and Ali were in advance of me as we left the town, and as the old man had resolved on preceeding us to Chanda, he was bidding his dear restored treasure farewell, when out from the jungle started an odious-looking creature, who, giving one keen glance at the terrified Azeeza, and a vengeful look at me, retreated to the woods, while the word 'Dawa!' yelled out, recalled a hated voice. It was no other than the Suniassie! And Azeeza remembered him well, as being one of the foremost among her tormenters."



always, and necessarily, a matter of haste in India-were completed. Azeeza was led to her own range of apartments, whilst I saw him dressed for the grave, and helped to carry his corpse, extended on the couch on which he had ceased to breathe, to a small bungalo which stood unoccupied at the bottom of the garden, whence the funeral procession might pass, on the morrow, unnoted by the mourning Mussulmans. Early in the morning the coffin was brought; so, leaving the body in that lonely room, after lighting the lamps which hung round it, fastening the window, and locking the door, we withdrew. I returned to the house, placed a guard of sepoys over the store-rooms; and, determining to pass part of the night in sealing up the letters and papers of my friend which had been consigned to me for that purpose, I called for lights, dismissed the servants, and seated myself in his room.

The casements were all thrown open to admit the cool air of evening, which, sweetened by the rich odors it had collected from a clump of henna* close by, breathed reDo we not sometimes, in our wanderings, freshingly upon me. I was sorrowfully exfall upon certain spots which, without pos- amining a sketch, the work of my friend, sessing any striking beauties of scenery, when a soft, stealthy footstep aroused me. have yet a power of arresting the attention, I turned round and beheld Azeeza standing -a fascination constrains us to linger between me and the window; the moonthere, nor seek for brighter vistas beyond? light which fell in silvery showers upon her Do we not pause there, where the grass is person, giving her almost a spectral appearof dearest Leigh Hunt's sort, lie-down-ance; her veil was flung back, and her hair, able;' where the buttercups smear the usually cared for with that classic taste land with splendor;' where there is a bird's which is evinced by most Mahomedan wosong on a green bough, but no human men of a certain rank, in the arrangement voice; a flower's breath, but nothing less of their tresses, was unbraided, falling in sweet: do we not pause, and fear to go on, rich, wild masses, over her finely formed lest by losing these we lose all that is love-neck and shoulders.

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ly? So it is with me in my tale. I care "Friend of the dead one!" said she, in not to proceed. I care not to leave the a low, calm voice, that yet sounded as if it short year of quiet, dreamy loveliness which were full of tears, "I must see him once rewarded Calvert Montford for his preserv-more ere he is wedded to the worm !" ation of Azeeza's life by that most sweet "Azeeza," I cried, "you cannot mean creature's clinging affection! I care not it! You could not bear it."

to overstep that tranquil space to recount, “Hush, hush, sahib! you were his friend as I must now do, her worthy old father's-you are mine; I am not a woman to quail death, our subsequent march to Nagpore; at the sight of him, lifeless, whom I loved and at Nagpore the sudden illness and, must living! Lead me to the dead, and leave I say, death of Montford? So unexpect-me with it for one brief hour." edly fell this stroke upon his gentle companion, that for several hours she could not credit that life was extinct; and so quietly, after a short fit of heavy agony, had the life-want" crept over him, even in her very arms, that the medical man at first supposed he had only fainted. But a day passed, and the preparations for burial-men tinge their nails.

I saw that there was a fixedness of purpose in her that would admit of no denial, nor, indeed, did I deem it kind to oppose her wishes; so, making her wrap a veil around her, I led her unobserved to the

Henna, the Lawsonia inermis, whose leaves contain the pink dye with which the Indian wo


Be-wukoof! (fool!) whilst you utter such loads of filth I pant for the Feringhy's flesh. Twice he has foiled me living; he shall not foil me dead. Dawa! Dawa!"

bungalo, and, unlocking the door, left her | proverb says, 'Juhan khār wuhan mår' " with the dead, promising to return in an (Where there is a brake there may be a hour. The lights which burned in the snake). death-chamber shone through the venetians as I passed; and I would have looked within, but a feeling that told me it would be a species of profanation, withheld me. As I sauntered round to that side of the building which was the most remote from the entrance, I came upon a little door which led to a bath-room attached to the bungalo, and which we had entirely forgotten. This bath-room opened into the corpse-chamber, and I now remembered that we had neglected to look into it, or fasten the door. Afraid of alarming the mourner by the noise it might occasion, I refrained from examining the place until she had departed, and was moving away, when a sound of feet and the whispering of voices near me, on the other side of a thick and almost impassable hedge of aloes and cactus which divided Montford's compound* from a tope or grove of wild date-trees, arrested my attention. I listened, and presently heard two voices, whilst I could understand that the owners of them were debating on the feasibility of overcoming the fence.

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And the last two muttered words betrayed the speaker. It was the Suniassie! But ere they had managed to penetrate one fourth of a high and thick barrier, spiky with frightful thorns, I had planned and acted on my plans. I rushed to the door of the bungalow, gave a warning knock, and entered. Azeeza was rising from her knees; I interrupted her as she was about to remonstrate against my quick return, and in a brief whisper explained the matter to her. With that mute masterdom over her feelings which only the strongminded woman can command, she acted according to my wishes without a word. I conducted her out, and in less space than it takes to tell it, I had placed six sepoys behind the bungalow, ready at a moment to fall upon the intruders when my signal -a pistol fired off-should terrify them into flight from the death-chamber.

* By Nanuck Sha!" said one, whose exclamation proved him to be a Seik, "if you lead me into any accursed Feringhy (European) trouble I'll slay you with my chuk


Now I was aware that the chukkur was a sort of quoit sharpened to the keeness of a razor, and employed in warfare by the Seiks.

"Idiot!" answered the other, "they have abandoned their dead to the care of four walls and four lamps. If you now retract, the curse of Kali will blench your flesh with leprosy till you become as white as the moorda (corpse) of the sahib. The holy unguent must be ready by the new moon, and within our reach is the only ingredient that is now wanting to make it fit for the purposes of the pagoda. My knife is keen, and you have but to remain silent whilst I repeat the muntrum (incantation), and to hold the body firmly while I cut the heart from its side."

"And the entrance?"

"Is through a bath-room, which must be close to us. Wrap the leather well about your legs and thighs, and mind not a few thorns."

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All was silent around the couch of the dead, as I entered the large empty room, in which, with the exception of an old palanquin and a chair or two, there was not an article of furniture. Behind the palanquin, which stood near the door and opposite to the bath-room, I contrived to crouch down, and had barely done so, before, stealthily and softly, from the expected quarter, crept the squalid figures of the Suniassie and his accomplice. The eyes of my forbidding acquaintance glared like a tiger-cat's, as, with fiendish delight, they rested upon the lonely corpse of my friend; and giving a quick, sharp glance round the apartment, he muttered,

Udassie-jee, speak not; but when I have recited the muntrum, seize the hound's body, and hold it firmly." Drawing a large knife, two-edged and bright of polish, from his vest, he knelt down, sprinkled some ashes, taken from his gourd, upon the floor, and commenced a sort of low chant, in a dialect to which I was a stranger.

Narrowly I watched his movements, in readiness to discharge over his head the signal pistol, when, as he motioned his comrade to advance towards the body, and arose himself, knife in hand, to commence the horrible deed, my arm, raised in act to fire, was

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