(January 22nd to 28th)
…’In those days I rode seventy miles with an English mem-sahib and her babe on my saddle-bow…I placed them in safety, and back came I to my officer – the one that was not killed of our five. “Give me work”, said I, “for I am an outcast among my own kin, and my cousin’s blood is wet on my sabre”. “Be content”, said he. “There is great work forward.”
This is from Kim.
An old native-officer from a cavalry regiment is reminiscing to Kim and the Lama about the ‘Black Year’ of the ‘Indian Mutiny’, the Sepoy Rebellion when the Indian troops rose against the British and slaughtered their own officers.
The paper is yellow with years and dirt, but on the back of it you can still read a pencil note by John Lawrence. ‘See that the two native officers who remained loyal are not deprived of their estates’. J.L.
This is from the introduction to “The Lost Legion” in Many Inventions.
A small British force is making a night attack on an Afghan stronghold high in the hills. On the way they pass through a valley full of strange sounds of horses riding through the darkness. They are the ghosts of an Indian regiment, which at the time of the Mutiny thirty years before had retreated into the hills and perished to a man at the hands of the local tribesmen.
‘the season I think of, the river was low, smooth, and even, and, as the Gavial had warned me, the dead English came down, touching each other. I got my girth in that season – my girth and my depth…by Allahabad one lay still in the slack-water and let twenty go by to pick one; and above all the English were not cumbered by nose-rings and anklets as my women are nowadays…’
This is from “The Undertakers” in The Second Jungle Book
The Mugger of Mugger-Ghaut, a gigantic man-eating crocodile, is reminiscing about the fat days of the Mutiny year, when bodies came down the river in hundreds. He had failed to catch a small child who had trailed his hands in the water. That same child, now a grown man, was soon to destroy the Mugger with a massive elephant gun.