« PreviousContinue »
yards he ran, thirty, forty, In the meantime the raiders fifty, and still no sign. Then seemed in no hurry to begin the three shots rang out in quick fight, and Haider guessed that succession, and the flying figure they had not yet located him. turned abruptly to the left, ran The minutes passed and time a few paces in a semicircle, was in Haider's favour. Haider blundered straight against &
wound his shoulder-cloth tightly rock, and collapsed into a round his loins, and removed formless heap.
some cartridges from his ban“Pidar sukhtah !” (Son of a dolier, laying them ready to burnt father) exclaimed Hai- his hand. der, who recognised the sign, Presently it began. From “he is shot through the heart a spur on the other side of the for certain. He has destroyed narrow valley rose a puff of himself by his goat-heartedness smoke, and a bullet struck the [cowardice) and me also.” ground a
a few yards above And yet was it cowardice Haider, showing that his posithat brought the Clerk to his tion had become death? Was it not rather the Haider was fairly sheltered by result of his upbringing in the the rocks from the firing across civilised environment of Delhi, the valley, and the distance where words were everything was too great for accurate and acts nothing, where ab- shooting. What he had to stract notions of rights and fear was an attack under cover liberties were eagerly assimi- of the rocks below him, and lated and the corresponding the possibility of some of the obligations, moral and physi- raiders working round to the cal, neglected ? It is not to hillside behind him, but to do be wondered at that, suddenly that they would have to cross put to the touchstone of action, the open where the Clerk’s the Clerk failed, failed as dis- body lay. astrously as the Subedar would Something slate-grey moved have done, with his belief in in the rocks below, and Haider's cold iron as the solvent of life's rifle rang out for the first time, problems, had he been put to and the crisp report of the Leethe test in the Clerk's native Enfield was at once recognised environment.
by the raiders. They were still The Subedar's position was cautious, for Haider might have indeed desperate. There was
others concealed with him. no possibility of extricating In the meantime the fire himself from the trap he was from the other side of the in, and the only chance of life valley increased, and the rocks lay in being able to defend sheltering the Subedar were himself under cover of the fairly splattered with lead. rocks until relieved by his own This betokened advance party, who would march to the from the rocks below him, and sound of firing, if it was heard. Haider redoubled his vigilance But the chance was faint. in that direction. One man
VOL CLXXXVI.-NO. MCXXX.
had crept to the shelter of a blades of a defenceless man rock one hundred yards from than attack him, however him, and another ran across a superior in numbers, in the piece of open ground and open. And it is not through dropped behind the same cover. any lack courage :
the Haider got in a shot as he ran, former method is considered but quick shooting is difficult artistio, the other mere brutal lying down, and Haider missed bungling. him. A third tried the cross- So now
pause ensued, ing, but he fell, either killed or broken only by desultory firing wounded, as he started. from across the valley, and
For the time, then, it became Haider guessed some fresh a duel between Haider and the manoeuvre was hatching. Sudtwo men behind the advanced denly a rush was made from rock, with the on the the rocks below, and
the opposite side of the valley Subedar in his effort to stop covering their attack and con- it exposed himself. Evidently fusing Haider's aim. Full a marksman had joined the forty rifles were concentrated party on the spur opposite, on him, but Haider was fairly for à bullet caught Haider confident as long as the attack on the outside of the right was confined to those two sides. thigh, broke the bone, and Of the two men in front of out the artery. Haider knew him, one had to fire round the that his end had come, but all left side of the rock, and to was not over yet. Wrapping do so had to expose himself, his bandolier twice round his while his fellow firing round thigh, he pulled it as tight as the right side was fairly he could with the buckle, and covered.
Haider devoted his then exposed himself recklessly attention to the former, and to shoot at the men in the was shortly rewarded by a rocks below. Life and strength clear shot at the shoulder. The were ebbing from him, but he man lurched forward and lay managed to drag himself partly clear of the rock, but against the rock for support. as he was pulled under cover The bullets which had rained by his comrade three on the rocks round Haider dashed simultaneously across suddenly ceased, for Haider, the open and gained the shelter intent on the rocks below him, of the rock, and Haider, who had neglected to watch his was intent on trying to dis- flank. He heard his name cover the effect of his shot, called close behind him, and missed the opportunity of turned painfully to find himstopping them.
self looking down the barrel It would now seem that a of a rifle. Muhammad Jan, rush by numbers would settle the cattle - thief, had crawled the matter. That is not the unnoticed to a rock not five custom of the tribesmen, who yards behind the Subedar, and would much rather plant a now covering him with knife between the shoulder
“Da’us !” cried Muhammad like a covey of partridges, and Jan, “your end has come to the Militia swept down the you," and with that he pressed valley.
Five minutes later the trigger. A dull click was
A dull click was O'Hara was gazing at the heard as the striker struck the bodies. He picked up Haider's cap of the cartridge, but no rifle and the knife, and noticed explosion followed. Involun- the fresh cut on the stock. tarily Muhammad Jan looked His eye travelled from the rifle in astonishment at the bolt of to Muhammad Jan's body, and his rifle, and took his eyes off he understood. A nick of wood Haider. For a moment the flew from the stock as O'Hara cattle-thief was off his guard, made a stroke with the knife, but that moment was enough and the twenty-seventh notch for the Subedar. With a last stood out raw and clean beside effort Haider swung his rifle the others.
bullet crashed Meanwhile Havildar Hussein through the cattle-thief's brain. Ali, who had watched O'Hara's Help was near Haider, but actions with approval, picked Haider was past caring; slowly up the cattle-thief's rifle and he drew out a knife and opened jerked open the breech, throwit. Dragging his rifle towards ing out the unfired cartridge. him he cut once, sidewise and “Look, Sahib," he exclaimed deep, into the polished stock; to O'Hara, “here is a strange then his strength failed, and thing! The striker has hit rifle and knife clattered from the cap true enough, yet the his grasp. With his
his last cartridge was not fired. It breath Subedar Haider spoke is Government ammunition, too, the Muhammadan viaticum: which the Subedar sent as a “There is no God but God, and present to yonder son of a dog. Muhammad is His Prophet.” The powder must be wet.”
Saying this Hussein Ali O'Hara had found the body screwed out the bullet and of the postal runner bound up poured the contents of the in telegraph wire and brutally case into his hand. murdered, and had met the "Allah Akbar" (God is the Dozak party from whom he Great One), he cried, “this is learnt the direction the Subedar a miracle ! the powder has had taken. With the com. been changed to earth.” The bined force he hurried in men crowded round to see the pursuit of the raiders. He was marvel, but O'Hara, who knew not far off when the fight of the Subedar's gift to began, and made at once to Muhammad Jan, kept his conthe
sound of the firing. jectures to himself. O'Hara and his men topped the pass at the head of the Subedar Haider and Abdul valley as the Subedar's rifle Aziz, the telegraph clerk, lie rang out for the last time, buried side by side at the and the raiders, taken in the Dozak Post, and the Governrear, scattered over the hills ment of India has written their
epitaph in a despatch which, Year by year the tomb gains while deploring the loss of two & yard in length, and the valuable servants killed in the legend connected with it beexecution of their duty, and
more miraculous. It sanctioning a pension to the has already absorbed the adfamily of the Clerk, was careful jacent tomb of the Clerk, of to point out that the Subedar's which no trace remains, and family was entitled to nothing Haider is within measurable at all: he was merely an officer distance of becoming a saint, of the local militia, so that his and his tomb a ziarat (shrine). case came neither within the As for the pension, did not provisions of the Civil Service Haider's son, aged fifteen, reregulations nor those of the turn home from an interview regular Army.
with O'Hara carrying a rifle The Militia Mullah arrived with twenty-seven notches on at a different conclusion as to the stock wherewith to carry the respective merits of the on the family feuds and tradi
From the miraculous cir- tions, and is not the possession cumstances attending Haider's of one Government Lee-Enfield death, it was obvious that rifle worth the fattest of penthe Subedar was a Shahid (a sions to an honest family across Martyr), and his tomb is al- the Border ? ready an object of veneration.
“A MAN remarkable in body but weapons more lethal. Not and in mind, of a stature above a day did he allow to pass, the ordinary ; his head large says his biographer with proper and his deportment royal; un- pride, without an affray, either wearied in study, and passing with swords or, if no swords fourteen hours a - day (as he were handy, then fists. And told me) in reading; distin- so it was that as Johnson was guished for acuteness but still the terror of overweening pubmore for memory, so that he lishers, so Dempster became said at times he knew not " formidable to all pedawhat it was to forget. Rugged gogues.” in manner he was, but open, Twenty-fourth in a family of and unskilled in dissimulation, twenty-nine children, and one so that whether he loved of triplets at that,-80 does man or hated him 'twas equally Thomas announce himself to plain: most lively in conver- the world. In that
of sation, ever ready to serve a horoscopes and “houses" friend, but a good hater.” The the planets it was a common gentle reader will at once con- thing for the aspirant to fame jecture this to be an apprecia- to endeavour to prove himself tion of the sage of Fleet Street something of a “wonder-child” by some unknown Boswell : as a first step to reputation; and the gentle reader will be and we may suspect something wrong. It is indeed a portrait of the kind here. The actual of a “Great Cham of Litera- number of children is perhaps ture," and drawn by a chatty striking, but after all nothing little Boswell of his day; but in comparison with the seventy this Cham was
one who de of a maternal kinsman of rived his origin from a land Dempster's own. No, where which his great successor was
he makes his mistake is in assurwont to treat with elephantine ing us that on the death of his pleasantry. For this is Thomas eldest brother he became the Dempster, Scot and universal heir. Where were the twentyscholar, of the time of James two intermediates? Had they the Sixth and First. A strange all complaisantly predeceased figure, indeed, he presents to us, the eldest ? The fact is, that marvellously like that of the little reliance can be placed lexicographer, rolling his huge upon this part of his story : bulk aggressively about the what he wants to do is to world's stage, cheerful and prove that he was a professor dictatorial. But Dempster's
at Paris before he was sevenFleet Street was the whole teen, and he probably postlearned continent of Europe, dates his birth some years in and his instruments of warfare order to do this. He makes were not folio Bibles wherewith somewbat of a call upon our to floor impertinent booksellers, credulity. There was, indeed,