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among themselves. Colonel Fraser, indeed, ordered in our detachment of English soldiers that was still on the other side of the Jumna, and he dispatched an express to Colonel Greathed explaining our situation and begging him to come to our assistance. So far as Colonel Fraser had the power, I believe he also ordered him to do so, but beyond this nothing was done. The militia were allowed to remain out at the Metcalfe, and were not even provided with the proper means of defending the position should the rebel army attack it.

As to the whereabouts of that army nothing certain was known, and no sensible means were adopted to ascertain. The Intelligence Department maintained that the rebels were recrossing the Khara Nuddeé, and going off to the Deccan. But then the Department relied entirely on the information supplied by their own agents, and there was reason to fear that their agents, either from ignorance or design, were deceiving them. Many natives, very reliable, had expressed their belief that the rebel force was still on our side the Khara Nuddeé, and much nearer to us than the authorities had any idea of.

These statements were communicated to the Government, but met with no attention, nor was more regard paid to the representations of the officer commanding the militia. This officer bore the highest character for good sense, courage, and knowledge of his profession. He had expressed his opinion that the enemy were near, and that his position was unsafe, and he had supported this opinion by facts that ought to have aroused attention : among others, that strange cavalry had been seen very near the parade ground, and that some of his men when patrolling the Gwalior road, which led to the Khara Nuddeé, had been chased in by them.

Colonel Cotton was brave to rashness, he thoroughly

despised the rebel enemy-despised them to that degree that he thought it unnecessary to adopt any precautions against them. He was also not on very friendly terms with the Commandant of the militia. For one or both of these reasons he paid no attention to his reports or representations.

Things were in this condition when, to the general relief, a dispatch was received from Colonel Greathed to inform us that he was coming, and soon after an officer arrived from his camp and announced that the column would enter Agra the following morning. It was feared, however, that the column had arrived too late to be of any advantage. For the news was at the same time given out by the Government that the rebels had really recrossed the Khara Nuddeé and were making off to the south as fast as they could travel.

CHAPTER XXXI.

THE BATTLE OF AGRA.

THE Column was to enter Agra about eight o'clock, and to encamp on the great parade ground. Long before that hour all the English were assembled at the Ummer Sing gate to see the troops march by, and the same object had brought out half the population of the city. Along the road and on the ravines there was assembled one of the largest crowds I ever beheld. As far as the eye could reach there was a sea of caps and turbans.

There is always a delay in crossing a river. The hour had long passed, and we were beginning to fear the entrance of the column had been postponed, when we noticed a movement among the crowd, and that they were turning their heads towards the city. Looking ourselves in that direction we perceived the long necks and swinging loads of a file of camels just appearing round the furthest bastion. Before them marched a band of soldiers, tall dark men with long beards, and wearing such enormous turbans as nearly concealed their faces. The beards and turbans gave them a very wild and fierce appearance, an appearance quite in harmony with what little we could see of their countenances.

These soldiers we learnt were the famous Sikhs. We regarded them with much curiosity, as also did the native crowd, and apparently with some apprehension as well,

for wonderful tales had been told of their ferocity and habits of plundering.

It would be tedious to describe the march past in detail. There were more Sikhs, whole regiments of them; also Sikh cavalry, who were wilder-looking men than even the infantry. They wore loose flowing robes, and turbans still more enormous. There was a regiment regiment of English

of English foot soldiers, and a Lancers, and very much artillery. The spectacle was imposing from the impression it gave of strength and power, but it had nothing of the show and glitter of a review. The Lancers wore uniforms of plain blue cloth, and the rest, both Sikhs and English, were dressed in drab-coloured cotton. The poles of the lances were of plain ash, and had neither varnish, pennons, nor other decoration. In short, it was the reality of war-not its dress rehearsal. The troops were interspersed with strings of laden camels, and succeeded by a procession of those animals that seemed interminable. We got tired of watching it, and returned to our rooms to breakfast. From our window we could see the road beyond the river for at least two miles, and as far as we could see there was still one continuous line of camels and camp followers.

The troops encamped on the great parade ground. To enable the reader to understand the events that followed, of this parade ground it is necessary for me to give a short description. It was a bare oval plain, perfectly level; on two sides it was bordered by deserted huts of the old Sepoy regiments, and the gardens of some English houses. On the other two sides were open fields. The fields had been sown with a coarse grain much used by the poorer natives, termed Bâjrâ. The crop was nearly ripe, and the stalks formed a continuous green wall, some seven feet high. The gardens of the English

houses were full of trees and tall rank grass, as also was the ground where stood the Sepoy huts. What with the Bâjrâ crop, the grass and the trees, the parade ground was enclosed in a ring of vegetation, through which it was impossible to see, not easy to penetrate.

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A broad straight road ran from the fort to the parade ground, which was distant from the Ummer Sing gateway a little over a mile. And among the fields on the other side of the parade stood a village, and in it a large domed tomb, known as the Tomb of the Wrestler.' The village and the lower part of the tomb were at this time hidden by the tall crop, but the dome formed a conspicuous feature in the landscape. Colonel Greathed was received at the bridge by some of the chief officials. His first inquiry was as to the enemy, from whom he had come to relieve us. He was informed that they had recrossed the river, and were by that time miles beyond it, flying as fast as they could towards the south. Relying on this information he allowed his force to encamp without throwing out pickets or adopting the other usual precautions against a surprise, and he himself came into the fort to breakfast.

It was about eleven o'clock, and I was busy writing, when I heard a noise as if some heavy weight had fallen. Such noises were not uncommon, as the works on the defences were still going on. I gave it no attention, but it was repeated. I stopped writing to listen, the servants were whispering outside; one of them entered, and with a frightened air said he feared something was wrong, for there was a sound of cannon, and our square seemed in confusion.

I ran out, and found everyone hurrying towards the gateway, while from the direction of the parade ground there came the sound of artillery. It was said that the

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