Page images

sorrow equally with pleasure. Neglect, mayhap, and even worse, had been their portion; hardship and wrong had too often called forth the unavailing remonstrance, and secretly the tear had fallen over the gloomy present and the darker future.

But all forgotten and forgiven now-all anger hushed, all bitterness banished. The proud woman and the lowly, the young girl and the matron of full age, the haughty and the humble, those who have walked only in flowery paths, and those whose feet have been wounded by briers and thorns—all are animated by the same feeling, and cry aloud for the same fate. The differences are at an end. In the broad day great had been the contrast, but in this night of trial such contrast exists no longer, misery has brought them to a level. The harrowing cry arises from one and all, “ "We will also die with our husbands !' In sight of such a sacrifice, of what value is it to us to be spared ? You shall not separate us. Inflict upon us also the ghastly wound. Let your bullets find a lodgment in our bosoms as well as in the hearts of those whom we love. Do this, and we will bless you. You will surely let us die with our dearest on earth? Husbands, we come--we are ready! We have walked in the sunshine of life together-together we will tread the dark valley of the shadow of death !”

But it was not to be. Even this request was denied, and the sufferers themselves seem to have desired its rejection. “ Then their husbands said, 'Go back.'” The men were ready for death themselves, but that those whom they loved should meet it in this fearful form shook their fortitude; and little thinking of the horrors which were hereafter to come to pass, they wished the murdering bullet to reach no other hearts but

But the faithful wives would not consent; “whereupon the Nana ordered his soldiers, and they, going in, pulled them forcibly away, seizing them by the arm. Imagine the scene which must have ensued - the short, sharp struggle, the cry of despair, the piteous entreaty, the relaxing grasp, the closing eye, the last faint wail, the fading sense, the stillness of death.

In one case, however, no force availed. “But they could not pull away the doctor's wife, who there remained.” She who had led the

way to death could not be overcome. Her grasp seems almost to have been superhuman. Doubtless this noble woman gained her end, and when the spirit of her husband fled, her own faithful, loving heart ceased to beat.

“Then, just as the Sepoys were going to fire, the padre (chaplain) called out to the Nana, and requested leave to read prayers before they died.”. His high calling yet before his eyes, the minister of God forgot not his duty. For the very reason that his voice would presently be silent for ever in this world, he was anxious that in the few minutes which remained it should be heard in the office of prayer. What an idea do such circumstances as these give us of real prayer! Compare our feeble mutterings, mumbled with a notion that some day or other (we all fancy that day a very long way off) we shall have to meet the Creator whom we address, with the fervent petitions poured forth under the absolute certainty of eternity dawning after five minutes more of time. What must have been the Nana's thoughts

, and the thoughts of the executioners, as (strangely as it appears to us) they waited the closing the “small book?" Every earnest entreaty must have seemed like the calling down

their own.

[ocr errors]

fire from heaven, every petition for pardon like a cry for vengeance. Yet no curse, we may be assured, came from the lips of the faithful steward. What was it that the musket was pointed to slay—what was it that the nearest and dearest on earth had just, with brutal violence, been torn away, to suffer none knew what tortures, what anguish worse than death

-what was it that each heart was rent with thoughts of many other loved relatives distant from this scene, whose very blood would chill, and lives fade, on hearing of its horrors ? Not all this combined, we may be satisfied, made the minister forget to pray, or prevented the victims from joining in the prayer, “ Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us."

We are near to the conclusion, reader. After the padre had read a few prayers, he shut the book, and the Sahib-log shook hands all round.” It needed but this to render the account overwhelmingly affecting. Like men going a journey, the sufferers “shook hands all round.” Åll

preparation has been made, and they are now about to set out; it remains but to embrace as friends, to say farewell, and to express a hope that they may meet again. We can fancy the warmth of that clasp—that final clasp; we can fancy the thrilling earnestness with which our old home expression, “Good-by,” passes through the band. Probably no other word was spoken. “Good-by!" It was the end. Another day was dawning-light again was coming on the scene-there and elsewhere the full tide of life would be once more rolling forward ; but the part of the doomed now was only to say “Good-by,” and then pass onyes, pass on-oh, let us trust, to the Everlasting Heaven and the presence of the Omnipotent King.

" Then the Sepoys fired. One Sahib rolled one way, one another, as they sat ; but they were not dead, only wounded ; so they went in, and finished them off with their swords.”

And thus the victory was won. The victory ! ay, the victory. For with whom lay the triumph ? Was it with the fiend who had ordered the butchery? No defeat which he could have suffered would have been to him or his creed one hundredth part so disastrous as was this appalling massacre. Wherever and whenever, among civilised men, the name of Nana Sahib shall be mentioned, shall the bleeding corpses of these murdered victims start before the mental eye, and bear testimony against him in this world as they will be his accusers in the next. So long as this earth shall endure, so long shall the record of this black deed remain. The murderer himself will soon, equally with his victims, have passed indeed to a land where the horror and disgust of living men cannot reach him, but while he lives, and when he dies, he must groan under the awful consciousness of his memory being indelibly associated with acts of darkness almost unparalleled in history. Let no curses fall. It is quite enough that he is Nana Sahib. Better to be the starving beggar, the raving lunatic, the agonised sufferer; better be anybody in this wide world, with all its numberless specimens of pollution and of misery, than the author of the Cawnpore massacre

Yes, it was with the murdered, and not the murderer, with whom rested the victory, and who have gained the crown. Run your eye along the incidents which we have narrated, and say whether they do not form a splendid triumph. The noble waiting for death on the part of the men; the women's earnest cry to share their fate; the doctor's wife achieving her object, and dying with her husband ; the chaplain reading prayers; the shaking hands all round ; the signal, the bullet, the sword. Who amongst us, if the terrible alternative had been forced upon him, would not have taken the place of one of those gashed and bleeding corpses, rather than have been the monster who stood scowling upon them ? He, indeed, could still for a brief space walk the earth; there was yet more blood to be shed, and his soul would have further opportunity for hideous revelry in the torture and slaying of his kind; but in the manner in which these men had died there had been a mighty triumph gained over their destroyer ; yea, the very bullet and sword which slew them did, before man and before God, give unto them the victory.

And was not that massacre also a victory to us? It is a great thing to go bravely into battle amidst glancing sabres and rushing bullets; it is a greater to be seated on the ground, to say a few prayers quietly, to bid good-by to comrades, and then calmly give the signal to death. It is a great thing for a woman meekly to endure so much neglect, and wrong, and hardship, as she often does, without a murmur; but it is a greater, because the act is so opposed to her nature, for her to bare her bosom to the musket and the sword, and eagerly invite the fearful wound, and court a departure amidst groans and suffering. Proud may we be of the memory of that poor “ Sahib-log.” Glorious were their deaths, and the attendant circumstances. Our eye dims and our heart burns as we read how English soldiers and their wives can meet and defy the last great enemy

Yet one more remark. In the bloody struggle which is now going on, the words “Remember Cawnpore," will often be uttered with terrible effect. When the battle is raging, lo! pale shadows will suddenly head the British army. The excited soldiers will, with starting eye, behold the slaughtered of Cawnpore. A ghastly sight at first indeed; but, see, they wave their arms, onwards they point, they seem to smile, they move. Merciful Heaven! they are about to speak ; nay, nay, it is but a delusion--the shadows are gone. But ever present to the European soldier will be that murdered band, and ever ringing in his ear will be the cry for retribution. Irresistibly he will go forward, his lips compressed, his eye kindling, his brow bent. He is not fighting simply for his country --though its cause were quite enough to take him to the battle—but he is seeking to destroy barbarous, cold blooded murderers, and he will put forth a giant's power against them. Yes, yes, heroes of Cawnpore, when ye fell asleep ye gained for yourselves and for your country a rich triumph which shall never be forgotten, and though bloody was the road which led to it, glorious was the victory.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

I. It was one of the first days of early spring. Two young ladies stepped from their house into the garden, to see what opening flowers, what budding trees, had weathered the biting winds and frosts. They were Susan and Ursula Chase. One of them was tall and stout, and she looked about her with interest, for she loved the garden : that was Ursula; the other, a fair, quiet girl, with a subdued look of care on her face, walked more abstractedly, as if she were occupied with inward thought : this was Susan.

Ursula talked eagerly, as they slowly strolled along : the fine sunshine had put her into spirits. Her sister replied in monosyllables.

“How dull you are, Susan !” she exclaimed at length. “What is the matter?”

Nothing,” answered Susan. “I know. You are thinking of that complaining letter of Mrs. Carnagie's. You never will overget that habit of yours, Susan, of taking little disagreeables to heart. Mrs. Carnagie writes as if she were not happy. Well : she could not expect to be. But that is no reason why you should sigh over it, and walk through this welcome sunshine as if you did not care for it, or for the promising aspect of the shrubs and flowers.”

They were passing a garden-seat as Ursula spoke, and Susan sat down upon it, and touched her sister's arm to detain her. “I will tell you what is troubling me, Ursula ; why I cannot enjoy this spring day, or anything else just now. I have been thinking, ever since that letter arrived from Emma

“From Mrs. Carnagie. Well ?”
6 That one of us ought to go out to her.”

“Ought to do what?" echoed Ursula, in a tone of anger and astonishment. " To go out, and be with her in her approaching illness."

Susan, I am amazed at you-I am shocked at you!" uttered Ursula. “Have you forgotten her conduct : how wickedly she behaved to usto you ?”

“ But”-Susan answered in a low voice-"you remember who it is has charged us that if our brother sin against us we shall forgive him; not once, but seventy times seven.'

“ We are not charged to give in to Mrs. Carnagie's fanciful caprices,” peremptorily spoke Ursula, drowning her sister's voice. “That cannot have anything to do with religion.

“Oh yes it has, Ursula. Since her letter came, I have been considering it, in all lights, and I feel that one of us ought to go to her.”

“You have strange notions !” exclaimed Ursula.
“When the thought first flashed across me, I drove it

may be angrily: I would not dwell upon it. But it seems determined not to be driven away; and it keeps whispering to me that it is what must be done, if we would fulfil our duty.”


away : it


« She was

“Would it be pleasant to you, may I ask, to go and visit Charles Carnagie ?"

“ No. Very unpleasant."

“And I am not going. So the thing is impossible, and need not be spoken of.”

Could you not be induced to go ?” asked Susan.

“ Never. Had things gone on as they ought, and you were there in her place, I could not have gone out to you, Susan dear, for a hot climate would kill me. Look how ill I am in the heat of summer, even here. No. I will not sacrifice my health for Mrs. Carnagie. She is not worth it."

" She is our sister, Ursula."

“Do not let us prolong a useless discussion, Susan. Nothing in the world should induce me to go out, so let the matter rest. Were I to see Mrs. Carnagie, here or there, it would only be to reproach her. Shall we proceed?"

Susan waved away the proposal, and remained seated. 6 We must settle this matter, Ursula, but not by letting it rest. I felt sure you would not go : therefore,” she added, in a lower tone, “ I have been making up my own mind to it.”

“Not to go to Barbadoes !”

“ Yes, I have. If we let her remain to go through her illness alone, and she should die in it, as she says she fears, we should never cease to reproach ourselves. I never should. ”

“She is not going to die under it,” retorted Ursula. always full of fancies.'

“ I hope she is not. But you see, by her letter, how low-spirited she is; how she dreads it.”

“Her conscience pricks her,” said Ursula. “One, with a bad conscience, is afraid of everything.”

“Dear Ursula, you will so much oblige me by never alluding, in that way, to the past. It is over and gone, and ought to be buried in oblivion. Surely if I have forgotten it, you may."

“You have not forgotten it, Susan.”

“Quite as much so as is needful and necessary. Of course, to entirely forget it, as a thing that never had place, is an impossibility, but I have forgiven them both, in my own heart.” “And retain no tender remembrance of him? I don't believe

, Susan. You are not one to forget so easily."

“Yes I am, where there is a necessity,” Susan almost sternly said. “I could have been true to him for my whole life, though he must have passed it abroad, and I here, as those few years were passed ; but from the very moment I knew he did not care for me, I set to work to root him from

and I have well succeeded. How could think it was otherwise, Ursula ?—and he the husband of Emma !”

“Nay, don't be put out. I did not think you were cherishing the old love ; of course not; but I thought there would be sufficient of its remembrance left, to prevent your running to see them, in the first year of their marriage."

Susan felt the words. Ursula was of a stern, unforgiving nature, and er remarks were often cutting. “I am not running to see them for pleasure : it will be anything but pleasant to me; although he is to me,

believe you,

[ocr errors]




« PreviousContinue »