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other side of the city. By the side of the high road there was a small bungalow, erected for the accommodation of the road overseer. In it I found Captain Nixon and his officers assembled, and also all the rest of our party who were to accompany the force. The bungalow consisted of a single room and some closets. The room was small, the inmates many, the heat overwhelming. We were glad when the sun sank low enough to permit us to throw open the doors and sit outside on the plain and in the verandah. We dined at evening in the State tent, a fine double-poled one belonging to the Rajah. We were a large party, and, for that night at least, a cheerful one; for we were all full of anticipation of a triumphal march to Delhi, to be followed by the glory of assisting at its capture. Dinner over, we sat outside; some smoked, some chatted. At an early hour we retired to rest. Our beds were arranged under large canopies, open on all sides, and which are termed by the natives 'Shameanahs.'
We did not continue our march the next day, as all the cannon had not arrived; nor the day after, in consequence of the absence of the head chief, and without him the other chiefs declined to move. In the course of the afternoon of the third day this chief made his entry, and there being now no further reason for a delay, Captain Nixon proposed that we should resume our progress. The chiefs made no objection, and orders were issued that the army should march the next morning. At sunset Captain Nixon held a durbar. He had, indeed, held one every evening, but this being preparatory to the march, was to be of more than usual solemnity. All the chiefs attended, as also at Captain Nixon's request did we English, such of us at least as occupied positions of importance.
The durbar was held under an immense canopy erected in front of the State tent, carpets were spread beneath the canopy, and chairs arranged in a semicircle. Captain Nixon took his seat in the centre, two men holding silver-handled fans stood behind him. The company seated themselves on either side, we English occupying the chairs to the right, the chiefs those on the left, taking their positions according to their rank.
The proceedings commenced by Captain Nixon addressing the chief next him, who was the one last arrived, and making inquiries after his health; for it seemed he had been ill. The chief replied, expressing his gratification at the interest Captain Nixon took in his welfare, and his regret that his illness should have put us to the inconvenience of the delay. An interchange of remarks about the heat of the weather, the news from Delhi, and other ordinary topics then ensued; and these disposed of, Captain Nixon addressed the chief next beyond, and afterwards each of the others in turn. A general conversation followed, in which the speakers were Captain Nixon and three or four of the chiefs of the highest rank, the others observing a respectful silence.
Being the highest English official, I threw in an occasional remark, as etiquette demanded, but I mostly occupied myself in watching the proceedings, which had for me all the interest of novelty. The chief who sat next to Captain Nixon, though thin and sallow from the effects of his late illness, had a countenance expressive of much character, which, together with his superior rank, accounted, perhaps, for his influence. His manners were polished and dignified, which was more than could be said of those of most of the rest. With a very few exceptions, they were a heavy-looking, uncouth set of men. If their countenances had any particular expres
sion, it was that of sensuality. In looking at them I was struck with their resemblance to each other, and also to the pictures on the walls of the tombs at Goverdhun, representing their ancestors the courtiers of the ancient rajahs of Bhurtpore.
I found that the durbar was regarded as the most important part of the administration of the State, so much so that the army could not have been kept together had it ceased to be held. Nevertheless, nothing but the most ordinary topics were discussed, and the greater part of the proceedings consisted in the passing of compliments. After half-an-hour had been so spent, Captain Nixon informed the chiefs that the army would march before dawn the following morning, and requested them all to be ready with their troops. The assembly then broke up.
During the durbar an incident occurred that greatly amused us English. By some oversight, one chair too few had been placed on the side occupied by the chiefs. The two chiefs of the lowest rank had in consequence to place themselves on the same seat. The chair was small, they were fat, and did not appear to be overfriendly. During the whole ceremony each had to keep a vigilant watch, lest he should be shoved off by the other. Once or twice this accident nearly occurred. The one that Captain Nixon addressed was obliged by etiquette to lean forward as he replied. His companion took advantage of his doing so to get a little more room for himself. The annoyance of the other, his efforts to conceal it, and the difficulty he had in conversing with Captain Nixon, and at the same time maintaining his balance, all this formed a picture so ridiculous that we English had the greatest difficulty in restraining our laughter. But neither the other chiefs nor the native
spectators evinced by sign or look that they saw in the situation anything the least amusing. But this was the result of politeness, not at all from want of perception of the humorous; for the natives are more quick to notice absurdities and cleverer in afterwards describing them than are the majority of Englishmen.
For the exercise of their talents in this direction one of my native clerks had in the course of the afternoon afforded them a fine opportunity. He was a young man of the name of Bycunt, a Bengalee by birth, and attached to the English department of the office. From the day of his joining the camp he had been uneasythe possibility of meeting the mutineers had filled him with apprehension. His terror at length increased to a degree that incapacitated him for work. On discovering this I gave him permission to return to the station. But then a fresh difficulty arose. Short as the distance was, he was afraid to traverse it alone. When told that he must then accompany the army his nerves altogether gave way. He threw himself on the ground, screamed, and, to excite compassion, shed an abundance of tears. Finally, I had to procure from Captain Nixon an escort of four soldiers to convey him to Muttra. I had heard much of the cowardice of the Bengalees, but till I witnessed Bycunt's behaviour I had never realised its extent.
THE MARCH TO DELHI.
ABOUT two o'clock the next morning I was awoke by the sound of a bugle; I dressed, and went over to the bungalow, where I found Captain Nixon and some of our party already assembled. The rest soon dropped in the servants brought tea; while we were drinking it the chiefs presented themselves, and reported that their men were ready. A second bugle sounded, and the chiefs took their departure. Presently a noise of rumbling and trampling came from the direction of the camp. Soon after another chief entered, and announced that the army had commenced its march. We waited till it had got well away, and then we entered our carriage and followed.
We had driven an hour and more, going only at a walk, when the day dawned, and we found ourselves. proceeding along a straight road, bordered by avenues of trees, and running through a level plain, thickly dotted with groves and villages. We presently came up to the army, and I had for the first time an opportunity of well observing it. The army marched in several divisions, the spaces between were filled with carts and animals, and such a mob of camp followers as accompany only an Indian army. At the head of the force came a regiment of cavalry. It had originally belonged to our