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1,000 prisoners and 120 banners were taken. The losses of the English are uncertain, but probably did not amount to more than a few hundreds, the most distinguished of the fallen being the Duke of York.
So ended the great fight which King Harry himself decreed to be called by the name of Agincourt. It sums up in itself all the finest actions of the Edwards, and all the leading features of medieval English tactics; yet it was but the after-glow of the glory of the Plantagenets, not the light of a new sun risen like a giant to run his course. Better far had it been for England if Henry had turned his ambition to Scotland or to Ireland and won a Flodden or a Boyne. Yet Agincourt was no small service. Not for three whole centuries was an English general to rise up of equal fame with King Henry V., but through all that time the tradition remained unbroken that the English must always beat the French; and though the immediate fruit of Marlborough's labours was shamefully given away, yet his victories too served the same purpose, for we have the Empire of the world and the French have it not, and we hold it because we are a great fighting nation. King Harry and his flying column are the true precursors of Craufurd and the Light Division. Discipline was the soul of both. Henry was no brutal martinet: when once he had cast his wild days behind him he never even swore. Impossible,' and 'It must be done,' were his nay and his yea; but he was so feared by his princes and captains that none dared to disobey his orders; and the cause was that if any one transgressed his orders, he punished him at once without favour or mercy.' There were great soldiers before Napoleon, and Englishmen would do well sometimes to forget the little cocked hat and think of the rusted royal helmet that hangs in the Abbey, still dented by the two sword-cuts that were aimed against King Harry at Agincourt. J. W. FORTESCUE.
More correctly Azincourt.
THE SEPOY REVOLT AT DELHI.
A PERSONAL NARRATIVE.
Ir is impossible to describe our feverish state of suspense and expectation as we sat in that lonely spot awaiting the return of Salkeld's servant. In vain we kept straining our eyes from time to time through the moonlight (for I recollect the moon was nearly at the full), momentarily expecting to catch a glimpse of his returning figure; but minute after minute flew by, and still we could see no signs of him we so eagerly awaited. Suspense increased to anxiety, and anxiety gave place to suspicion and alarm. What could have delayed him? As yet he had given us no cause to doubt his fidelity, for he had remained in the Main Guard in charge of his master's loaded gun throughout the tragic events of the day, and, as I have already mentioned, had willingly accompanied us in our headlong flight therefrom, when at any moment he might easily have deserted. A full hour, however, having elapsed since his departure, it seemed only too evident that he had seized the present opportunity to ensure his own safety by taking to flight; so we made up our minds to make for the ford without further delay, and run the risk of discovery.
The ford in question was not more than a few hundred yards distant, and as we stealthily approached its vicinity, the light thrown from the burning bungalows threatened every moment to betray us. The yelling and shouting, too, which had hitherto resembled a hoarse murmur, was now plainly distinguishable above the ceaseless rattle of musketry, and kept ringing in our ears like a death-knell. This incessant discharge of firearms almost tempted us to believe at one time that the European troops had arrived from Meerut; but we soon realised our mistake. With beating hearts we crept along the canal bank, and gradually approached the flaming cantonments; but although the forms of numberless marauders were distinctly visible in the act of plundering the adjacent bungalows, and vociferating at the top of their
voices, we passed on unobserved, and, to our inexpressible relief, found the ford we were in search of without a soul in its immediate vicinity. We at once prepared to cross over, hoping to place some three or four miles between ourselves and cantonments ere morning broke. It was found to be not quite such an easy matter, however, to get the ladies across, as the water was considerably deeper than we had anticipated, and on my first going in, to lead the way, I found it nearly up to my neck. Nevertheless, nothing daunted, we set to work, and in due course safely reached the opposite bank. Our watches now showed it was nearly 3 o'clock A.M.; in less than a couple of hours, therefore, morning would break, and, notwithstanding we had traversed at least three miles since quitting Metcalfe's house, we were still within a very short distance of cantonments. We felt considerably revived, however, by the soaking we got in wading through the canal, and the night air blowing on our dripping clothes made us feel quite chilly, so that we walked on at a brisker pace in order to keep ourselves warm.
Our chief aim now, of course, was to get away as far as possible: from cantonments, but by the waning light of the moon it was impossible to make out the exact direction we were taking. A vast plain stretched before us, for the most part uncultivated at the present season, and with no particular landmark to guide us. The country passed over was exceedingly rough, being composed chiefly of stubble fields and thistles, and the ladies' feet, with their thin shoes, naturally got terribly torn and blistered as we wearily trudged on. In addition, some of them by this time had become faint and exhausted, and poor Forrest himself began to lag behind. The imminent peril, however, to which we were exposed served to keep the poor creatures up, and they toiled on as best they could, in spite of their aching limbs, until another small stream pulled us up. This, fortunately, was not of any great depth, so, rapidly overcoming this obstacle, we continued to walk on for about another mile. It had now become imperative to call a halt, as many of the party were absolutely incapable of proceeding further; so spying a small patch of scrub jungle not far off, we bent our steps thither, purposing to remain there till day should dawn. The cantonments apparently lay about three miles in our rear, and were still enveloped in smoke and flame, though the noise and din were no longer heard. The work of incendiarism, however, still continued, for every now and again we saw a fresh
streak of flame shoot up into the air, as some new bungalow was set on fire, and shared the fate of all the rest.
I will not weary the reader by attempting to describe the harrowing thoughts which possessed our minds as we gazed on such a spectacle, nor enlarge on our feelings as we thought of the possible fate in store for us when morning broke. True we had not so far been followed up by the mutinous sepoys; but this we attributed to the fact that the plunder of the city and the congenial task of demolishing their late officers' quarters had engaged their attention, to the exclusion of all other thoughts. That we should succeed in evading eventual capture seemed to us beyond the bounds of possibility, for we felt convinced that sooner or later a pursuit would surely be organised, and in that case capture and death must inevitably ensue. The utter helplessness of our position will be fully apparent when I mention that the only arms in our possession were three flimsy regimental swords of the old infantry pattern and one double-barrelled gun; and what possible resistance could we hope to make, under such circumstances, against an attack by fully armed sepoys? It seemed thus merely a question of a few hours more or less ere we should fall into the hands of our bloodthirsty foes. Small wonder, then, that thoughts of the gloomiest description reigned uppermost in our minds, and that we gave ourselves up for lost.
Having made our way to the scrub jungle, we all lay down amongst the brushwood, and, worn out with fatigue, I was just on the point of dropping off to sleep, when suddenly some one shook me by the arm, exclaiming the sepoys were upon us. To start to my feet and seize the gun which lay by my side was the work of a second; the next moment served to reveal the peril we were in.
Not a hundred yards distant, and coming in a direct line towards us, we perceived a body of some eight or ten sepoys, two of whom were mounted on ponies. The imperfect light of dawning day was just sufficient to show us they were armed, though only about half were dressed in uniform. They were making apparently for Delhi by a country track, and were bearing down straight for the spot where we lay concealed. This fact showed them to be stragglers from Meerut. We had barely time to creep under the bushes and hide ourselves as well as we could when they were upon us. We watched them in breathless anxiety, not daring to move, and scarcely to breathe. Not for untold wealth would I pass such another moment of agonising
suspense. Now they slowly pass in Indian file within a few feet Surely we must be observed? But no; they are moving on. Can it be that they have not perceived us? Ah! they see us now, for one of them stoops and picks up something from the ground, and whispers to his comrades, and then all come to a sudden halt. Alas! our water-bottle had betrayed us! In our hurry and confusion we had left it lying in the open, and one of them, in stooping to examine it, had undoubtedly caught sight of some of our party as we lay amongst the brushwood. Although upwards of forty years have passed since the incident I am now relating, every movement of those ten sepoys is as clearly impressed upon my memory as if it had occurred but yesterday. They were standing within a few paces only of where I lay concealed, and I watched with an intensity of suspense too acute for words. There was complete silence, broken only by the low mutterings of the sepoys, and we distinctly heard them remark that people were hiding amongst the bushes. I involuntarily cocked my gun, and, filled with apprehension as to what they would do next, I inwardly resolved, in the event of any threatening movement being made towards us, to shoot the foremost man dead. After a brief interval, which in the extreme tension of that supreme moment seemed interminable, and during which I clearly recognised by the gold regulation necklace he was wearing that the party was led by a native officer, we saw them, to our unbounded astonishment, silently moving off, and after proceeding about a hundred yards further come to another halt. They now leisurely seated themselves on the ground, the two mounted men dismounting from their ponies and joining the group. Waiting to look no longer, we hastily rose from our crouching position and fled precipitately in the opposite direction. To our unspeakable relief no attempt was made to follow us, and we could once more breathe freely. Thus again we had providentially escaped from a grave danger, though why no attempt was made to molest us has ever remained a mystery to me. Possibly our immunity was due to the uncertain light, which effectually prevented them from seeing our defenceless condition; or it may be that, less savage and bloodthirsty than the rest, they felt little inclination to imbrue their hands in unnecessary bloodshed.
The situation, however, was still beset with extreme peril, as further bands of mutineers, hastening to rejoin their comrades in Delhi, might cross our path at any moment; besides which, there