Conclusion of The Surgeon's Daughter (1827)
by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
(the last two chapters, in which Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan appear as characters)
CHAPTER THE THIRTEENTH.
It appears that the jealous and tyrannical Begum did not long suspend her purpose of agonizing her rival by acquainting her with her intended fate. By prayers or rewards, Menie Gray prevailed on a servant of Ram Sing Cottah, to deliver to Hartley the following distracted note:--
"All is true your fears foretold-- He has delivered me up to a cruel woman, who threatens to sell me to the tyrant, Tippoo. Save me if you can-- if you have not pity, or cannot give me aid, there is none left upon earth.--M. G."
The haste with which Dr. Hartley sped to the Fort, and demanded an audience of the Governor, was defeated by the delays interposed by Paupiah.
It did not suit the plans of this artful Hindoo, that any interruption should be opposed to the departure of the Begum and her favourite, considering how much the plans of the last corresponded with his own. He affected incredulity on the charge, when Hartley complained of an Englishwoman being detained in the train of the Begum against her consent, treated the complaint of Miss Gray as the result of some female quarrel unworthy of particular attention, and when at length he took some steps for examining further into the matter, he contrived they should be so tardy, that the Begum and her retinue were far beyond the reach of interruption.
Hartley let his indignation betray him into reproaches against Paupiah, in which his principal was not spared. This only served to give the impassable Bramin a pretext for excluding him from the Residency, with a hint, that if his language continued to be of such an imprudent character, he might expect to be removed from Madras, and stationed at some hillfort or village among the mountains, where his medical knowledge would find full exercise in protecting himself and others from the unhealthiness of the climate.
As he retired, bursting with ineffectual indignation, Esdale was the first person whom Hartley chanced to meet with, and to him, stung with impatience, he communicated what he termed the infamous conduct of the Governor's Dubash, connived at, as he had but too much reason to suppose, by the Governor himself; exclaiming against the want of spirit which they betrayed, in abandoning a British subject to the fraud of renegades, and the force of a tyrant.
Esdale listened with that sort of anxiety which prudent men betray when they feel themselves like to be drawn into trouble by the discourse of an imprudent friend.
"If you desire to be personally righted in this matter," said he at length, "you must apply to Leadenhall Street, where I suspect-- betwixt ourselves-- complaints are accumulating fast, both against Paupiah and his master."
"I care for neither of them," said Hartley; "I need no personal redress-- I desire none-- I only want succour for Menie Gray."
"In that case," said Esdale, "you have only one resource-- you must apply to Hyder himself"--
"To Hyder-- to the usurper-- the tyrant?"
"Yes, to this usurper and tyrant," answered Esdale, "you must be contented to apply. His pride is, to be thought a strict administrator of justice; and perhaps he may on this, as on other occasions, choose to display himself in the light of an impartial magistrate."
"Then I go to demand justice at his footstool," said Hartley.
"Not so fast, my dear Hartley," answered his friend; "first consider the risk. Hyder is just by reflection, and perhaps from political considerations; but by temperament, his blood is as unruly as ever beat under a black skin, and if you do not find him in the vein of judging, he is likely enough to be in that of killing. Stakes and bowstrings are as frequently in his head as the adjustment of the scales of justice."
"No matter-- I will instantly present myself at his Durbar. The Governor cannot for very shame refuse me letters of credence."
"Never think of asking them," said his more experienced friend; "it would cost Paupiah little to have them so worded as to induce Hyder to rid our sable Dubash, at once and for ever, of the sturdy free-spoken Dr. Adam Hartley. A Vakeel, or messenger of government, sets out to-morrow for Seringapatam; contrive to join him on the road, his passport will protect you both. Do you know none of the chiefs about Hyder's person?"
"None, excepting his late emissary to this place, Barak el Hadgi," answered Hartley.
"His support," said Esdale, "although only a Fakir, may be as effectual as that of persons of more essential consequence. And, to say the truth, where the caprice of a despot is the question in debate, there is no knowing upon what it is best to reckon.-- Take my advice, my dear Hartley, leave this poor girl to her fate. After all, by placing yourself in an attitude of endeavouring to save her, it is a hundred to one that you only ensure your own destruction."
Hartley shook his head, and bade Esdale hastily farewell; leaving him in the happy and self-applauding state of mind proper to one who has given the best advice possible to a friend, and may conscientiously wash his hands of all consequences.
Having furnished himself with money, and with the attendance of three trusty native servants, mounted like himself on Arab horses, and carrying with them no tent, and very little baggage, the anxious Hartley lost not a moment in taking the road to Mysore, endeavouring, in the meantime, by recollecting every story he had ever heard of Hyder's justice and forbearance, to assure himself that he should find the Nawaub disposed to protect a helpless female, even against, the future heir of his empire.
Before he crossed the Madras territory, he overtook the Vakeel, or messenger of the British Government, of whom Esdale had spoken. This man, accustomed for a sum of money to permit adventurous European traders who desired to visit Hyder's capital, to share his protection, passport, and escort, was not disposed to refuse the same good office to a gentleman of credit at Madras; and, propitiated by an additional gratuity, undertook to travel as speedily as possible. It was a journey which was not prosecuted without much fatigue and considerable danger, as they had to traverse a country frequently exposed to all the evils of war, more especially when they approached the Ghauts, those tremendous mountain-passes which descend from the table-land of Mysore, and through which the mighty streams that arise in the centre of the Indian peninsula, find their way to the ocean.
The sun had set ere the party reached the foot of one of these perilous passes, up which lay the road to Seringapatam. A narrow path, which in summer resembled an empty water-course, winding upwards among immense rocks and precipices, was at one time completely overshadowed by dark groves of teak-trees, and at another, found its way beside impenetrable jungles, the habitation of jackals and tigers.
By means of this unsocial path the travellers threaded their way in silence, --Hartley, whose impatience kept him before the Vakeel, eagerly enquiring when the moon would enlighten the darkness, which, after the sun's disappearance, closed fast around them. He was answered by the natives according to their usual mode of expression, that the moon was in her dark side, and that he was not to hope to behold her bursting through a cloud to illuminate the thickets and strata of black and slaty rocks, amongst which they were winding. Hartley had therefore no resource, save to keep his eye steadily fixed on the lighted match of the Sowar, or horseman, who rode before him, which, for sufficient reasons, was always kept in readiness to be applied to the priming of the matchlock. The vidette, on his part, kept a watchful eye on the Dowrah, a guide supplied at the last village, who, having got more than halfway from his own house, was much to be suspected of meditating how to escape the trouble of going further. [Footnote: In every village the Dowrah, or Guide, is an official person, upon the public establishment, and receives a portion of the harvest or other revenue, along with the Smith, the Sweeper, and the Barber. As he gets nothing from the travellers whom it is his office to conduct, he never scruples to shorten his own journey and prolong theirs by taking them to the nearest village, without reference to the most direct line of route, and sometimes deserts them entirely. If the regular Dowrah is sick or absent, no wealth can procure a substitute.]
The Dowrah, on the other hand, conscious of the lighted match and loaded gun behind him, hollowed from time to time to show that he was on his duty, and to accelerate the march of the travellers. His cries were answered by an occasional ejaculation of Ulla from the black soldiers, who closed the rear, and who were meditating on former adventures, the plundering of a Kaffila (party of travelling merchants) or some such exploit, or perhaps reflecting that a tiger, in the neighboring jungle, might be watching patiently for the last of the party, in order to spring upon him, according to his usual practice.
The sun, which appeared almost as suddenly as it had left them, served to light the travellers in the remainder of the ascent, and called forth from the Mahomedans belonging to the party the morning prayer of Alla Akber, which resounded in long notes among the rocks and ravines, and they continued with better advantage their forced march until the pass opened upon a boundless extent of jungle, with a single high mud fort rising through the midst of it. Upon this plain rapine and war had suspended the labours of industry, and the rich vegetation of the soil had in a few years converted a fertile champaign country into an almost impenetrable thicket. Accordingly, the banks of a small nullah, or brook, were covered with the footmarks of tigers and other animals of prey.
Here the travellers stopped to drink, and to refresh themselves and their horses; and it was near this spot that Hartley saw a sight which forced him to compare the subject which engrossed his own thoughts, with the distress that had afflicted another.
At a spot not far distant from the brook, the guide called their attention to a most wretched looking man, overgrown with hair, who was seated on the skin of a tiger. His body was covered with mud and ashes, his skin sunburnt, his dress a few wretched tatters. He appeared not to observe the approach of the strangers, neither moving nor speaking a word, but remaining with his eyes fixed on a small and rude tomb, formed of the black slate stones which lay around, and exhibiting a small recess for a lamp. As they approached the man, and placed before him a rupee or two, and some rice, they observed that a tiger's skull and bones lay beside him, with a sabre almost consumed by rust.
While they gazed on this miserable object, the guide acquainted them with his tragical history. Sadhu Sing had been a Sipahee, or soldier, and freebooter of course, the native and the pride of a half-ruined village which they had passed on the preceding day. He was betrothed to the daughter of a Sipahee, who served in the mud fort which they saw at a distance rising above the jungle. In due time, Sadhu, with his friends, came for the purpose of the marriage, and to bring home the bride. She was mounted on a Tatoo, a small horse belonging to the country, and Sadhu and his friends preceded her on foot, in all their joy and pride. As they approached the nullah near which the travellers were resting, there was heard a dreadful roar, accompanied by a shriek of agony. Sadhu Sing, who instantly turned, saw no trace of his bride, save that her horse ran wild in one direction, whilst in the other the long grass and reeds of the jungle were moving like the ripple of the ocean, when distorted by the course of a shark holding its way near the surface. Sadhu drew his sabre and rushed forward in that direction; the rest of the party remained motionless until roused by a short roar of agony. They then plunged into the jungle with their drawn weapons, where they speedily found Sadhu Sing holding in his arms the lifeless corpse of his bride, where a little farther lay the body of the tiger, slain by such a blow over the neck as desperation itself could alone have discharged. --The brideless bridegroom would permit none to interfere with his sorrow. He dug a grave for his Mora, and erected over it the rude tomb they saw, and never afterwards left the spot. The beasts of prey themselves seemed to respect or dread the extremity of his sorrow. His friends brought him food and water from the nullah, but he neither smiled nor showed any mark of acknowledgment, unless when they brought him flowers to deck the grave of Mora. Four or five years, according to the guide, had passed away, and there Sadhu Sing still remained among the trophies of his grief and his vengeance, exhibiting all the symptoms of advanced age, though still in the prime of youth. The tale hastened the travellers from their resting-place; the Vakeel because it reminded him of the dangers of the jungle, and Hartley because it coincided too well with the probable fate of his beloved, almost within the grasp of a more formidable tiger than that whose skeleton lay beside Sadhu Sing.
It was at the mud fort already mentioned that the travellers received the first accounts of the progress of the Begum and her party, by a Peon (or foot-soldier) who had been in their company, but was now on his return to the coast. They had travelled, he said, with great speed, until they ascended the Ghauts, where they were joined by a party of the Begum's own forces; and he and others, who had been brought from Madras as a temporary escort, were paid and dismissed to their homes. After this, he understood it was the purpose of the Begum Mootee Mahul, to proceed by slow marches and frequent halts, to Bangalore, the vicinity of which place she did not desire to reach until Prince Tippoo, with whom she desired an interview, should have returned from an expedition towards Vandicotta, in which he had lately been engaged.
From the result of his anxious enquiries, Hartley had reason to hope, that though Seringapatam was seventy-five miles more to the eastward than Bangalore, yet, by using diligence, he might have time to throw himself at the feet of Hyder, and beseech his interposition, before the meeting betwixt Tippoo and the Begum should decide the fate of Menie Gray. On the other hand, he trembled as the Peon told him that the Begum's Bukshee, or General, who had travelled to Madras with her in disguise, had now assumed the dress and character belonging to his rank, and it was expected he was to be honoured by the Mahomedan Prince with some high office of dignity. With still deeper anxiety, he learned that a palanquin, watched with sedulous care by the slaves of Oriental jealousy, contained, it was whispered, a Feringi, or Frankish woman, beautiful as a Houri, who had been brought from England by the Begum, as a present to Tippoo. The deed of villany was therefore in full train to be accomplished; it remained to see whether by diligence on Hartley's side, its course could be interrupted.
When this eager vindicator of betrayed innocence arrived in the capital of Hyder, it may be believed that he consumed no time in viewing the temple of the celebrated Vishnoo, or in surveying the splendid Gardens called Loll-bang, which were the monument of Hyder's magnificence, and now hold his mortal remains. On the contrary, he was no sooner arrived in the city, than he hastened to the principal Mosque, having no doubt that he was there most likely to learn some tidings of Barak el Hadgi. He approached accordingly the sacred spot, and as to enter it would have cost a Feringi his life, he employed the agency of a devout Mussulman to obtain information concerning the person whom he sought. He was not long in learning that the Fakir Barak was within the Mosque, as he had anticipated, busied with his holy office of reading passages from the Koran, and its most approved commentators. To interrupt him in his devout task was impossible, and it was only by a high bribe that he could prevail on the same Moslem whom he had before employed, to slip into the sleeve of the holy man's robe a paper containing his name, and that of the Khan in which the Vakeel had taken up his residence. The agent brought back for answer, that the Fakir, immersed, as was to be expected, in the holy service which he was in the act of discharging, had paid no visible attention to the symbol of intimation which the Feringi Sahib [European gentleman] had sent to him. Distracted with the loss of time, of which each moment was precious, Hartley next endeavoured to prevail on the Mussulman to interrupt the Fakir's devotions with a verbal message; but the man was indignant at the very proposal.
"Dog of a Christian!" he said, "what art thou and thy whole generation, that Barak el Hadgi should lose a divine thought for the sake of an infidel like thee?"
Exasperated beyond self-possession, the unfortunate Hartley was now about to intrude upon the precincts of the Mosque in person, in hopes of interrupting the formal prolonged recitation which issued from its recesses, when an old man laid his hand on his shoulder, and prevented him from a rashness which might have cost him his life, saying, at the same time, "You are a Sahib Angrezie, [English gentleman;] I have been a Telinga [a private soldier] in the Company's service, and have eaten their salt. I will do your errand for you to the Fakir Barak el Hadgi."
So saying, he entered the Mosque, and presently returned with the Fakir's answer, in these enigmatical words: --"He who would see the sun rise must watch till the dawn."
With this poor subject of consolation, Hartley retired to his inn, to meditate on the futility of the professions of the natives, and to devise some other mode of finding access to Hyder than that which he had hitherto trusted to. On this point, however, he lost all hope, being informed by his late fellow-traveller, whom he found at the Khan, that the Nawaub was absent from the city on a secret expedition, which might detain him for two or three days. This was the answer which the Vakeel himself had received from the Dewan, with a farther intimation, that he must hold himself ready, when he was required, to deliver his credentials to Prince Tippoo, instead of the Nawaub; his business being referred to the former, in a way not very promising for the success of his mission.
Hartley was now nearly thrown into despair. He applied to more than
one officer supposed to have credit with the Nawaub, but the slightest
hint of the nature of his business seemed to strike all with terror. Not
one of the persons he applied to would engage in the affair, or even consent
to give it a hearing; and the Dewan plainly told him, that to engage in
opposition to Prince Tippoo's wishes, was the ready way to destruction,
and exhorted him to return to the coast. Driven almost to distraction by
his various failures, Hartley betook himself in the evening to the Khan.
The call of the Muezzins thundering from the minarets, had invited the
faithful to prayers, when a black servant, about fifteen years old, stood
before Hartley, and pronounced these words, deliberately, and twice over,
--"Thus says Barak el Hadgi, the watcher in the Mosque: He that would see
the sun rise, let him turn towards the east." He then left the caravanserai;
and it may be well supposed that Hartley, starting from the carpet on which
he had lain down to repose himself, followed his youthful guide with renewed
vigour and palpitating hope.
CHAPTER THE FOURTEENTH.
'Twas the hour when rites unholy
Call'd each Paynim voice to prayer,
And the star that faded slowly,
Left to dews the freshened air.
Day his sultry fires had wasted,
Calm and cool the moonbeams shone;
To the Vizier's lofty palace
One bold Christian came alone.
THOMAS CAMPBELL. (Quoted from memory.)
The twilight darkened into night so fast, that it was only by his white dress that Hartley could discern his guide, as he tripped along the splendid Bazaar of the city. But the obscurity was so far favourable, that it prevented the inconvenient attention which the natives might otherwise have bestowed upon the European in his native dress, a sight at that time very rare in Seringapatam.
The various turnings and windings through which he was conducted, ended at a small door in a wall, which, from the branches that hung over it, seemed to surround a garden or grove.
The postern opened on a tap from his guide, and the slave having entered, Hartley prepared to follow, but stepped back as a gigantic African brandished at his head a scimetar three fingers broad. The young slave touched his countryman with a rod which he held in his hand, and it seemed as if the touch disabled the giant, whose arm and weapon sunk instantly. Hartley entered without farther opposition, and was now in a grove of mango-trees, through which an infant moon was twinkling faintly amid the murmur of waters, the sweet song of the nightingale, and the odours of the rose, yellow jasmine, orange and citron flowers, and Persian narcissus. Huge domes and arches, which were seen imperfectly in the quivering light, seemed to intimate the neighbourhood of some sacred edifice, where the Fakir had doubtless taken up his residence.
Hartley pressed on with as much haste as he could, and entered a side-door and narrow vaulted passage, at the end of which was another door. Here his guide stopped, but pointed and made indications that the European should enter. Hartley did so, and found himself in a small cell, such as we have formerly described, wherein sate Barak el Hadgi, with another Fakir, who, to judge from the extreme dignity of a white beard, which ascended up to his eyes on each side, must be a man of great sanctity, as well as importance.
Hartley pronounced the usual salutation of Salam Alaikum in the most modest and deferential tone; but his former friend was so far from responding in their former strain of intimacy, that, having consulted the eye of his older companion, he barely pointed to a third carpet, upon which the stranger seated himself cross-legged, after the country fashion, and a profound silence prevailed for the space of several minutes. Hartley knew the Oriental customs too well to endanger the success of his suit by precipitation. He waited an intimation to speak. At length it came, and from Barak.
"When the pilgrim Barak," he said, "dwelt at Madras, he had eyes and a tongue; but now he is guided by those of his father, the holy Scheik Hali ben Khaledoun, the superior of his convent."
This extreme humility Hartley thought inconsistent with the affectation of possessing superior influence, which Barak had shown while at the Presidency; but exaggeration of their own consequence is a foible common to all who find themselves in a land of strangers. Addressing the senior Fakir, therefore, he told him in as few words as possible the villanous plot which was laid to betray Menie Gray into the hands of the Prince Tippoo. He made his suit for the reverend father's intercession with the Prince himself, and with his father the Nawaub, in the most persuasive terms. The Fakir listened to him with an inflexible and immovable aspect, similar to that with which a wooden saint regards his eager supplicants. There was a second pause, when, after resuming his pleading more than once, Hartley was at length compelled to end it for want of matter.
The silence was broken by the elder Fakir, who, after shooting a glance at his younger companion by a turn of the eye, without the least alteration of the position of the head and body, said, "The unbeliever has spoken like a poet. But does he think that the Nawaub Khan Hyder Ali Behauder will contest with his son Tippoo the victorious, the possession of an infidel slave?"
Hartley received at the same time a side glance from Barak, as if encouraging him to plead his own cause. He suffered a minute to elapse, and then replied,--
"The Nawaub is in the place of the Prophet, a judge over the low as well as high. It is written, that when the Prophet decided a controversy between the two sparrows concerning a grain of rice, his wife Fatima said to him, 'Doth the Missionary of Allah well to bestow his time in distributing justice on a matter so slight, and between such despicable litigants?' --'Know, woman,' answered the Prophet,'that the sparrows and the grain of rice are the creation of Allah. They are not worth more than thou hast spoken; but justice is a treasure of inestimable price, and it must be imparted by him who holdeth power to all who require it at his hand. The Prince doth the will of Allah, who gives it alike in small matters as in great, and to the poor as well as the powerful. To the hungry bird, a grain of rice is as a chaplet of pearls to a sovereign.' --I have spoken."
"Bismallah! --Praised be God! he hath spoken like a Moullah," said the elder Fakir, with a little more emotion, and some inclination of his head towards Barak, for on Hartley he scarcely deigned even to look.
"The lips have spoken it which cannot lie," replied Barak, and there was again a pause.
It was once more broken by Scheick Hali, who, addressing himself directly to Hartley, demanded of him, "Hast thou heard, Feringi, of aught of treason meditated by this Kafr [infidel] against the Nawaub Behander?"
"Out of a traitor cometh treason," said Hartley, "but, to speak after my knowledge, I am not conscious of such design."
"There is truth in the words of him," said the Fakir, "who accuseth not his enemy save on his knowledge. The things thou hast spoken shall be laid before the Nawaub; and as Allah and he will, so shall the issue be. Meantime, return to thy Khan, and prepare to attend the Vakeel of thy government, who is to travel with dawn to Bangalore, the strong, the happy, the holy city. Peace be with thee! --Is it not so, my son?"
Barak, to whom this appeal was made, replied, "Even as my father hath spoken."
Hartley had no alternative but to arise and take his leave with the usual phrase, "Salam-- God's peace be with you!"
His youthful guide, who waited his return without, conducted him once more to his Khan, through by-paths which he could not have found out without pilotage. His thoughts were in the mean time strongly engaged on his late interview. He knew the Moslem men of religion were not implicitly to be trusted. The whole scene might be a scheme of Barak, to get rid of the trouble of patronizing a European in a delicate affair; and he determined to be guided by what should seem to confirm or discredit the intimation which he had received.
On his arrival at the Khan, he found the Vakeel of the British government in a great bustle, preparing to obey directions transmitted to him by the Nawaub's Dewan, or treasurer, directing him to depart the next morning with break of day for Bangalore.
He expressed great discontent at the order, and when Hartley intimated his purpose of accompanying him, seemed to think him a fool for his pains, hinting the probability that Hyder meant to get rid of them both by means of the freebooters, through whose countries they were to pass with such a feeble escort. This fear gave way to another, when the time of departure came, at which moment there rode up about two hundred of the Nawaub's native cavalry. The Sirdar who commanded these troops behaved with civility, and stated that he was directed to attend upon the travellers, and to provide for their safety and convenience on the journey; but his manner was reserved and distant, and the Vakeel insisted that the force was intended to prevent their escape, rather than for their protection. Under such unpleasant auspices, the journey between Seringapatam and Bangalore was accomplished in two days and part of a third, the distance being nearly eighty miles.
On arriving in view of this fine and populous city, they found an encampment already established within a mile of its walls. It occupied a tope or knoll, covered with trees, and looked full on the gardens which Tippoo had created in one quarter of the city. The rich pavilions of the principal persons flamed with silk and gold; and spears with gilded points, or poles supporting gold knobs, displayed numerous little banners inscribed with the name of the Prophet. This was the camp of the Begum Mootee Mahul, who, with a small body of her troops, about two hundred men, was waiting the return of Tippoo under the walls of Bangalore. Their private motives for desiring a meeting the reader is acquainted with; to the public the visit of the Begum had only the appearance of an act of deference, frequently paid by inferior and subordinate princes to the patrons whom they depend upon.
These facts ascertained, the Sirdar of the Nawaub took up his own encampment within sight of that of the Begum, but at about half a mile's distance, despatching to the city a messenger to announce to the Prince Tippoo, as soon as he should arrive, that he had come hither with the English Vakeel.
The bustle of pitching a few tents was soon over, and Hartley, solitary and sad, was left to walk under the shade of two or three mango-trees, and looking to the displayed streamers of the Begum's encampment, to reflect that amid these insignia of Mahomedanism Menie Gray remained, destined by a profligate and treacherous lover to the fate of slavery to a heathen tyrant. The consciousness of being in her vicinity added to the bitter pangs with which Hartley contemplated her situation, and reflected how little chance there appeared of his being able to rescue her from it by the mere force of reason and justice, which was all he could oppose to the selfish passions of a voluptuous tyrant. A lover of romance might have meditated some means of effecting her release by force or address; but Hartley, though a man of courage, had no spirit of adventure, and would have regarded as desperate any attempt of the kind.
His sole gleam of comfort arose from the impression which he had apparently made upon the elder Fakir, which he could not help hoping might be of some avail to him. But on one thing he was firmly resolved, and that was not to relinquish the cause he had engaged in whilst a grain of hope remained. He had seen in his own profession a quickening and a revival of life in the patient's eye, even when glazed apparently by the hand of Death; and he was taught confidence amidst moral evil by his success in relieving that which was physical only.
While Hartley was thus meditating, he was roused to attention by a heavy firing of artillery from the high bastions of the town; and turning his eyes in that direction, he could see advancing, on the northern side of Bangalore, a tide of cavalry, riding tumultuously forward, brandishing their spears in all different attitudes, and pressing their horses to a gallop. The clouds of dust which attended this vanguard, for such it was, combined with the smoke of the guns, did not permit Hartley to see distinctly the main body which followed; but the appearance of howdahed elephants and royal banners dimly seen through the haze, plainly intimated the return of Tippoo to Bangalore; while shouts, and irregular discharges of musketry, announced the real or pretended rejoicing of the inhabitants. The city gates received the living torrent, which rolled towards them; the clouds of smoke and dust were soon dispersed, and the horizon was restored to serenity and silence.
The meeting between persons of importance, more especially of royal rank, is a matter of very great consequence in India, and generally much address is employed to induce the person receiving the visit, to come as far as possible to meet the visitor. From merely rising up, or going to the edge of the carpet, to advancing to the gate of the palace, to that of the city, or, finally, to a mile or two on the road, is all subject to negotiation. But Tippoo's impatience to possess the fair European induced him to grant on this occasion a much greater degree of courtesy than the Begum had dared to expect, and he appointed his garden, adjacent to the city walls, and indeed included within the precincts of the fortifications, as the place of their meeting; the hour noon, on the day succeeding his arrival; for the natives seldom move early in the morning, or before having broken their fast. This was intimated to the Begum's messenger by the Prince in person, as, kneeling before him, he presented the nuzzar, (a tribute consisting of three, five, or seven gold Mohurs, always an odd number,) and received in exchange a khelaut, or dress of honour. The messenger, in return, was eloquent in describing the importance of his mistress, her devoted veneration for the Prince, the pleasure which she experienced on the prospect of their motakul, or meeting, and concluded with a more modest compliment to his own extraordinary talents, and the confidence which the Begum reposed in him. He then departed; and orders were given that on the next day all should be in readiness for the Sowarree, a grand procession, when the Prince was to receive the Begum as his honoured guest at his pleasure-house in the gardens.
Long before the appointed hour, the rendezvous of Fakirs, beggars, and idlers, before the gate of the palace, intimated the excited expectations of those who usually attend processions; while a more urgent set of mendicants, the courtiers, were hastening thither, on horses or elephants, as their means afforded, always in a hurry to show their zeal, and with a speed proportioned to what they hoped or feared.
At noon precisely, a discharge of cannon, placed in the outer courts, as also of match-locks and of small swivels, carried by camels, (the poor animals shaking their long ears at every discharge,) announced that Tippoo had mounted his elephant. The solemn and deep sound of the naggra, or state drum, borne upon an elephant, was then heard like the distant discharge of artillery, followed by a long roll of musketry, and was instantly answered by that of numerous trumpets and tom-toms, (or common drums,) making a discordant, but yet a martial din. The noise increased as the procession traversed the outer courts of the palace in succession, and at length issued from the gates, having at their head the Chobdars, bearing silver sticks and clubs, and shouting, at the pitch of their voices, the titles and the virtues of Tippoo, the great, the generous, the invincible-- strong as Rustan, just as Noushirvan-- with a short prayer for his continued health.
After these came a confused body of men on foot, bearing spears, match-locks, and banners, and intermixed with horsemen, some in complete shirts of mail, with caps of steel under their turbans, some in a sort of defensive armour, consisting of rich silk dresses, rendered sabre proof by being stuffed with cotton. These champions preceded the Prince, as whose body guards they acted. It was not till after this time that Tippoo raised his celebrated Tiger-regiment, disciplined and armed according to the European fashion. Immediately before the Prince came, on a small elephant, A hard-faced, severe-looking man, by office the distributor of alms, which he flung in showers of small copper money among the Fakirs and beggars, whose scrambles to collect them seemed to augment their amount; while the grim-looking agent of Mahomedan charity, together with his elephant, which marched with half angry eyes, and its trunk curled upwards, seemed both alike ready to chastise those whom poverty should render too importunate.
Tippoo himself next appeared, richly apparelled, and seated on an elephant, which, carrying its head above all the others in the procession, seemed proudly conscious of superior dignity. The howdah, or seat which the Prince occupied, was of silver, embossed and gilt, having behind a place for a confidential servant, who waved the great chowry, or cow-tail, to keep off the flies; but who could also occasionally perform the task of spokesman, being well versed in all terms of flattery and compliment. The caparisons of the royal elephant were of scarlet cloth, richly embroidered with gold. Behind Tippoo came the various courtiers and officers of the household, mounted chiefly on elephants, all arrayed in their most splendid attire, and exhibiting the greatest pomp.
In this manner the procession advanced down the principal street of the town, to the gate of the royal gardens. The houses were ornamented by broad cloth, silk shawls, and embroidered carpets of the richest colours, displayed from the verandahs and windows; even the meanest hut was adorned with some piece of cloth, so that the whole street had a singularly rich and gorgeous appearance.
This splendid procession having entered the royal gardens, approached, through a long avenue of lofty trees, a chabootra, or platform of white marble, canopied by arches of the same material, which occupied the centre. It was raised four or five feet from the ground, covered with white cloth and Persian carpets. In the centre of the platform was the musnud, or state cushion of the prince, six feet square, composed of crimson velvet, richly embroidered. By special grace, a small low cushion was placed on the right of the Prince, for the occupation of the Begum. In front of this platform was a square tank, or pond of marble, four feet deep, and filled to the brim, with water as clear as crystal, having a large jet or fountain in the middle, which threw up a column of it to the height of twenty feet.
The Prince Tippoo had scarcely dismounted from his elephant, and occupied the musnod, or throne of cushions, when the stately form of the Begum was seen advancing to the place of rendezvous. The elephant being left at the gate of the gardens opening into the country, opposite to that by which the procession of Tippoo had entered, she was carried in an open litter, richly ornamented with silver, and borne on the shoulders of six black slaves. Her person was as richly attired as silks and gems could accomplish.
Richard Middlemas, as the Begum's General or Bukshee, walked nearest to her litter, in a dress as magnificent in itself as it was remote from all European costume, being that of a Banka, or Indian courtier. His turban was of rich silk and gold, twisted very hard and placed on one side of his head, its ends hanging down on the shoulder. His mustaches were turned and curled, and his eyelids stained with antimony. The vest was of gold brocade, with a cummerband, or sash, around his waist, corresponding to his turban. He carried in his hand a large sword, sheathed in a scabbard of crimson velvet, and wore around his middle a broad embroidered sword-belt. What thoughts he had under this gay attire, and the bold bearing which corresponded to it, it would be fearful to unfold. His least detestable hopes were perhaps those which tended to save Menie Gray, by betraying the Prince who was about to confide in him, and the Begum, at whose intercession Tippoo's confidence was to be reposed.
The litter stopped as it approached the tank, on the opposite side of which the Prince was seated on his musnud. Middlemas assisted the Begum to descend, and led her, deeply veiled with silver muslin, towards the platform of marble. The rest of the retinue of the Begum followed in their richest and most gaudy attire, all males, however; nor was there a symptom of woman being in her train, except that a close litter, guarded by twenty black slaves, having their sabres drawn, remained at some distance in a thicket of flowering shrubs.
When Tippoo Saib, through the dim haze which hung over the Waterfall, discerned the splendid train of the Begum advancing, he arose from his musnud, so as to receive her near the foot of his throne, and exchanged greetings with her upon the pleasure of meeting, and enquiries after their mutual health. He then conducted her to the cushion placed near to his own, while his courtiers anxiously showed their politeness in accommodating those of the Begum with places upon the carpets around, where they all sat down cross-legged-- Richard Middlemas occupying a conspicuous situation.
The people of inferior note stood behind, and amongst them was the Sirdar of Hyder Ali, with Hartley and the Madras Vakeel. It would be impossible to describe the feelings with which Hartley recognized the apostate Middlemas and the Amazonian Mrs. Montreville. The sight of them worked up his resolution to make an appeal against them in full Durbar, to the justice which Tippoo was obliged to render to all who should complain of injuries. In the meanwhile, the Prince, who had hitherto spoken in a low voice, while acknowledging, it is to be supposed, the service and the fidelity of the Begum, now gave the sign to his attendant, who said, in an elevated tone, "Wherefore, and to requite these services, the mighty Prince, at the request of the mighty Begum, Mootee Mahul, beautiful as the moon, and wise as the daughter of Giamschid, had decreed to take into his service the Bukshee of her armies, and to invest him, as one worthy of all confidence, with the keeping of his beloved capital of Bangalore."
The voice of the crier had scarce ceased, when it was answered by one as loud, which sounded from the crowd of bystanders, "Cursed is he who maketh the robber Leik his treasurer, or trusteth the lives of Moslemah to the command of an apostate!"
With unutterable satisfaction, yet with trembling doubt and anxiety, Hartley traced the speech to the elder Fakir, the companion of Barak. Tippoo seemed not to notice the interruption, which passed for that of some mad devotee, to whom the Moslem princes permit great freedoms. The Durbar, therefore, recovered from their surprise; and, in answer to the proclamation, united in the shout of applause which is expected to attend every annunciation of the royal pleasure.
Their acclamation had no sooner ceased than Middlemas arose, bent himself before the musnud, and, in a set speech, declared his unworthiness of such high honour as had now been conferred, and his zeal for the Prince's service. Something remained to be added, but his speech faltered, his limbs shook, and his tongue seemed to refuse its office.
The Begum started from her seat, though contrary to etiquette, and said, as if to supply the deficiency in the speech of her officer, "My slave would say, that in acknowledgment of so great an honour conferred on my Bukshee, I am so void of means, that I can only pray your Highness will deign to accept a lily from Frangistan, to plant within the recesses of the secret garden of thy pleasures. Let my lord's guards carry yonder litter to the Zenana."
A female scream-- was heard, as, at the signal from Tippoo, the guards of his seraglio advanced to receive the closed litter from the attendants of the Begum. The voice of the old Fakir was heard louder and sterner than before. --"Cursed is the Prince who barters justice for lust! He shall die in the gate by the sword of the stranger."
"This is too insolent!" said Tippoo. "Drag forward that Fakir, and cut his robe into tatters on his back with your chabouks." [Footnote: Long whips.]
But a scene ensued like that in the hall of Seyd. All who attempted to obey the command of the incensed despot fell back from the Fakir, as they would from the Angel of Death. He flung his cap and fictitious beard on the ground, and the incensed countenance of Tippoo was subdued in an instant, when he encountered the stern and awful eye of his father. A sign dismissed him from the throne, which Hyder himself ascended, while the official menials hastily disrobed him of his tattered cloak, and flung on him a robe of regal splendour, and placed on his head a jewelled turban. The Durbar rung with acclamations to Hyder Ali Khan Behauder, "the good, the wise, the discoverer of hidden things, who cometh into the Divan like the sun bursting from the clouds."
The Nawaub at length signed for silence, and was promptly obeyed. He looked majestically around him, and at length bent his look upon Tippoo, whose downcast eyes, as he stood before the throne with his arms folded on his bosom, were strongly contrasted with the haughty air of authority which he had worn but a moment before. "Thou hast been willing," said the Nawaub, "to barter the safety of thy capital for the possession of a white slave. But the beauty of a fair woman caused Solomon ben David to stumble in his path; how much more, then, should the son of Hyder Naig remain firm under temptation! --That men may see clearly, we must remove the light which dazzles them. Yonder Feringi woman must be placed at my disposal."
"To hear is to obey," replied Tippoo, while the deep gloom on his brow showed what his forced submission cost his proud and passionate spirit. In the hearts of the courtiers present reigned the most eager curiosity to see the denouement of the scene, but not a trace of that wish was suffered to manifest itself on features accustomed to conceal all internal sensations. The feelings of the Begum were hidden under her veil; while, in spite of a bold attempt to conceal his alarm, the perspiration stood in large drops on the brow of Richard Middlemas. The next words of the Nawaub sounded like music in the ear of Hartley.
"Carry the Feringi woman to the tent of the Sirdar Belash Cassim, [the chief to whom Hartley had been committed.] Let her be tended in all honour, and let him prepare to escort her, with the Vakeel and the Hakim Hartley, to the Payeen-Ghaut, [the country beneath the passes,] answering for their safety with his head." The litter was on its road to the Sirdar's tents ere the Nawaub had done speaking. "For thee, Tippoo," continued Hyder," I am not come hither to deprive thee of authority, or to disgrace thee before the Durbar. Such things as thou hast promised to this Feringi, proceed to make them good. The sun calleth not back the splendour which he lends to the moon; and the father obscures not the dignity which he has conferred on the son. What thou hast promised, that do thou proceed to make good."
The ceremony of investiture was therefore recommenced, by which the Prince Tippoo conferred on Middlemas the important government of the city of Bangalore, probably with the internal resolution, that since he was himself deprived of the fair European, he would take an early opportunity to remove the new Killedar from his charge; while Middlemas accepted it with the throbbing hope that he might yet outwit both father and son. The deed of investiture was read aloud-- the robe of honour was put upon the newly created Killedar, and a hundred voices, while they blessed the prudent choice of Tippoo, wished the governor good fortune, and victory over his enemies.
A horse was led forward as the Prince's gift. It was a fine steed of the Cuttyawar breed, high-crested, with broad hind-quarters; he was of a white colour, but had the extremity of his tail and mane stained red. His saddle was red velvet, the bridle and crupper studded-- with gilded knobs. Two attendants on lesser horses led this prancing animal, one holding the lance, and the other the long spear of their patron. The horse was shown to the applauding courtiers, and withdrawn in order to be led in state through the streets, while the new Killedar should follow on the elephant, another present usual on such an occasion, which was next made to advance, that the world might admire the munificence of the Prince.
The huge animal approached the platform, shaking his large wrinkled head, which he raised and sunk, as if impatient, and curling upwards his trunk from time to time, as if to show the gulf of his tongueless mouth. Gracefully retiring with the deepest obeisance, the Killedar, well pleased the audience was finished, stood by the neck of the elephant, expecting the conductor of the animal would make him kneel down, that he might ascend the gilded howdah, which awaited his occupancy.
"Hold, Feringi," said Hyder. "Thou hast received all that, was promised thee by the bounty of Tippoo. Accept now what is the fruit of the justice of Hyder."
As he spoke, he signed with his finger, and the driver of the elephant instantly conveyed to the animal the pleasure of the Nawaub. Curling his long trunk around the neck of the ill-fated European, the monster suddenly threw the wretch prostrate before him, and stamping his huge shapeless foot upon his breast, put an end at once to his life, and to his crimes. The cry which the victim uttered was mimicked by the roar of the monster, and a sound like an hysterical laugh mingling with a scream, which rung from under the veil of the Begum. The elephant once more raised his trunk aloft, and gaped fearfully.
The courtiers preserved a profound silence; but Tippoo, upon whose muslin robe a part of the victim's blood had spirted, held it up to the Nawaub, exclaiming in a sorrowful, yet resentful tone, --"Father-- father-- was it thus my promise should have been kept?"
"Know, foolish boy," said Hyder Ali, "that the carrion which lies there was in a plot to deliver Bangalore to the Feringis and the Mahrattas. This Begum [she started when she heard herself named] has given us warning of the plot, and has so merited her pardon for having originally concurred in it, --whether altogether out of love to us we will not too curiously enquire. --Hence with that lump of bloody clay, and let the Hakim Hartley and the English Vakeel come before me."
They were brought forward, --while some of the attendants flung sand upon the bloody traces, and others removed the crushed corpse.
"Hakim," said Hyder, "thou shalt return with the Feringi woman, and with gold to compensate her injuries, --wherein the Begum, as is fitting, shall contribute a share. Do thou say to thy nation, Hyder Ali acts justly." The Nawaub then inclined himself graciously to Hartley, and then turning to the Vakeel, who appeared much discomposed, "You have brought to me," he said, "words of peace, --while your masters meditated a treacherous war. It is not upon such as you that my vengeance ought to alight. But tell the Kafr [or infidel] Paupiah and his unworthy master, that Hyder Ali sees too clearly to suffer to be lost by treason the advantages he has gained by war. Hitherto I have been in the Carnatic as a mild Prince-- in future I will be a destroying tempest! Hitherto I have made inroads as a compassionate and merciful conqueror-- hereafter I will be the messenger whom Allah sends to the kingdoms which he visits in judgment!"
It is well known how dreadfully the Nawaub kept this promise, and how
he and his son afterwards sunk before the discipline and bravery of the
Europeans. The scene of just punishment which he so faithfully exhibited
might be owing to his policy, his internal sense of right, and to the ostentation
of displaying it before an Englishman of sense and intelligence, or to
all of these motives mingled together-- but in what
proportions it is not for us to distinguish.
Hartley reached the coast in safety with his precious charge, rescued from a dreadful fate when she was almost beyond hope. But the nerves and constitution of Menie Gray had received a shock from which she long suffered severely, and never entirely recovered. The principal ladies of the settlement, moved by the singular tale of her distress, received her with the utmost kindness, and exercised towards her the most attentive and affectionate hospitality. The Nawaub, faithful to his promise, remitted to her a sum of no less than ten thousand gold Mohurs, extorted, as was surmised, almost entirely from the hoards of the Begum Mootee Mahul, or Montreville. Of the fate of that adventuress nothing was known for certainty; but her forts and government were taken into Hyder's custody, and report said, that, her power being abolished and her consequence lost, she died by poison, either taken by herself, or administered by some other person.
It might be thought a natural conclusion of the history of Menie Gray, that she should have married Hartley, to whom she stood much indebted for his heroic interference in her behalf. But her feelings were too much and too painfully agitated, her health too much shattered, to permit her to entertain thoughts of a matrimonial connexion, even with the acquaintance of her youth, and the champion of her freedom. Time might have removed these obstacles, but not two years after their adventures in Mysore, the gallant and disinterested Hartley fell a victim to his professional courage, in withstanding the progress of a contagious distemper, which he at length caught, and under which he sunk. He left a considerable part of the moderate fortune which he had acquired to Menie Gray, who, of course, did not want for many advantageous offers of a matrimonial character. But she respected the memory of Hartley too much, to subdue in behalf of another the reasons which induced her to refuse the hand which he had so well deserved-- nay, it may be thought, had so fairly won.
She returned to Britain-- what seldom occurs-- unmarried though wealthy; and, settling in her native village, appeared to find her only pleasure in acts of benevolence which seemed to exceed the extent of her fortune, had not her very retired life been taken into consideration. Two or three persons with whom she was intimate, could trace in her character that generous and disinterested simplicity and affection, which were the ground-work of her character. To the world at large her habits seemed those of the ancient Roman matron, which is recorded on her tomb in these four words,
DOMUM MANSIT--LANAM FECIT.