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FOR the first few days after our entering it the fort had resembled a disturbed ants' nest. The courts and squares were filled with people asking and telling news, or bustling about with no definite object. We had now quieted down, and fallen into a sort of life very like that on board ship during a long voyage. There was the same monotony, the same sociability; I am sorry to add, also, the same gossip and quarrelling.

Through Colonel Fraser's kindness we had obtained better quarters; they were in a small pavilion of white marble overlooking the river—a fantastic little structure, surmounted by an oblong dome, thickly overlaid with gold. It was situated in an enclosure paved with white marble, and was separated from the rest of the square by a screen of tall slabs of the same material. In ancient times it had been the residence of some princess, and for such no doubt was well adapted. For an English family it was less suitable; it contained but three rooms, in size mere closets-two were assigned to us, the third was given to a lady from Gwalior, one of the many whom the mutiny had made widows. The heat of the rooms. was beyond words, and the polished marble of the pavement reflected an almost blinding glare. To these discomforts were added a very plague of flies, and what

in such a building would not have been expected, of fleas also. The flies and the glare we managed in some degree to exclude by hanging curtains and erecting a verandah of reeds and thatch. But the fleas we could neither get rid of nor diminish-they were as numerous and annoying the last day of our residence as on the first. Where they came from was a mystery, as also was where they hid in the solid masonry, and on what they subsisted previous to our entrance.

But let me describe our life. We all rose early. Those who had horses or vehicles rode or drove-never, however, venturing far from the fort; the rest strolled about the squares or walked on the ramparts. By seven o'clock most of us had returned, by eight o'clock the palace had subsided into the sleepy quiet it maintained for the remainder of the day.

About four we dined, and dinner over, we rolled up the curtains and sat by the window till the diminishing glare enabled us to take our evening stroll.

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From our window we looked on the river. Swollen by the rains, it resembled a broad, long lake; below the fort the stream made so sharp a curve that the bank remained in sight for a considerable distance. It was lined with the ruins of what had once been palaces, but were now mere masses of shapeless masonry. Amid them, pure white and glistening, rose the Taj.' Contrasted with the mouldering walls beside it, it seemed the embodiment of youth and freshness, suggesting the idea of life amid decay. It was more than a mile from where we sat, but so clear was the atmosphere that every detail of its architecture was distinctly visible. We could see the delicate cupolas that cluster around the central dome, the coloured mosaics that adorn the walls, even the marble traceries that fill the windows. Beyond the river

was a green expanse of grass and rising crops, interspersed with groves of trees.

On one side of us was the marble hall, on the other rose the great mass of the octagon tower. We looked down some sixty feet on a wilderness of stone walls, gateways, ditches, and ramparts. It was a curious sensation, thus living perched on the battlements. It seemed almost as if time had gone back, and we were denizens of some mediæval castle.

Occasionally, towards sunset, the sky would be filled with rainbow tints, the white marble of the Taj would assume a rosy hue, the dull ruins be bathed in a purple light, and the river lie before us like a sheet of gold. But these beautiful effects were rare, the declining sun did not generally do more than suffuse a richer shade over the landscape and the sky.

We now drove out or strolled on the ramparts, and the garden of our square became filled with children. They had not the merriment or the rosy cheeks that in England we associate with infancy. Yet, sitting with their Ayahs by the fountain, or playing on the marble paths, they made a pretty sight; but a sight that raised sad reflections. Most of the little arms were encircled with a strip of black, a strip that proclaimed a loss of which the wearers were all unconscious; and the fate that had befallen parents, sisters, and brothers might be in store for them.

At dark the Ayahs led off their charges, and we, the elders, took their places. Chairs were placed on the terraces and tables arranged, charcoal fires began to glimmer, kettles to boil, and soon the square presented the appearance of a great tea garden. This was our time for social intercourse and enjoyment. simple as the invitations, and each guest brought his

The fare was as

contribution, very often also his chair. Very charming were those evening gatherings, very pleasant they arise to memory. We talked, we chatted, often we sat silent, enjoying the slight coolness that the night had brought, gazing on the delicious moonlight. The Indian moonlight is always beautiful, but never before or since did its loveliness so impress me. It bathed the marble hall, the trees, and the buildings around, concealing all the marks of the ravages of time, all the present disorder, hiding them in one soft mysterious glow. When there was no moon our tables were lighted by little coloured lamps, and the square glistened with all the rich tints of a cathedral window.

Our talk usually commenced with the topics of the day; it often lapsed into subjects more interesting, more serious. We had flocked into the fort, from all parts of the country the communications had been so interrupted, that each knew but little of what had befallen the rest. We met like travellers in a fairy tale, like them we told our past adventures. We speculated on what in the future might befall us. As we talked, our conversation, our surroundings seemed to lift us above the petty cares, the dull routine of ordinary life, into a region of poetry and romance.

One thing I noticed-those that had been exposed to dangers or suffered hardships, privations, and loss of property, were ready enough to describe what they had gone through. But those who endured deeper sorrows rarely or never alluded to them.

We kept early hours; at nine o'clock the gun fired, soon after we retired to our rooms.

The reader may imagine that we must have been a sad party within the fort, and I suppose a novelist would so represent us. For danger hung over us all, and

many had endured much suffering and the loss of those nearest and dearest; and yet on the whole we were far from sad; on the contrary, rather cheerful. Our cheerfulness did not arise from insensibility. It was the result of the excitement of the time, and of the public life we were compelled to lead. None could be much alone to nurse their griefs, and the recollections of the past were dulled by the continued incidents of the present, and the anticipations of the future. So much had since happened, that even recent bereavements appeared remote.

But occasionally, often unexpectedly, one became aware of sad tragedies, of which those around were the survivors. Of the many such histories I learnt I will

relate one.

I was strolling one morning near the armoury square, when I met an Ayah leading a little English girl dressed in deep mourning; the child was so excessively pretty that I stopped to ask her name; I afterwards learnt her story. Her father was an officer in the Gwalior contingent, a Captain Stuart I think; he and his wife were both murdered on the night of the mutiny. The child escaped by an extraordinary accident. In the confusion a lady carried her away in mistake for one of her own children. There was a brother still younger; his native nurse had concealed him on the flat roof of the house, and there he was forgotten. At morning he awoke, and began to cry. His cries attracted the Sepoys. They amused themselves by firing at the child as he ran round peeping through the balustrades, and calling for his nurse and his mamma, till a bullet ended his terror and their enjoyment.

The lady who told me the story shed tears as she related it. I met the little girl once more, never again. I

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