(September 19th to 25th)
…Long before I reached the Gully of the Horsemen, I heard the shouts of the British Infantry crying cheerily: “Hutt, ye beggars! Hutt, ye devils! Get along! Go forward, there!” Then followed the ringing of rifle-butts and shrieks of pain. The troops were banging the bare toes of the mob with their gun-butts – for not a bayonet had been fixed…
This is from “On the City Wall” in Soldiers Three.
The narrator is telling a tale of Lahore, at a time of trouble between Muslims and Hindus, when a beautiful harlot helps a political prisoner to escape under cover of the riots.
The clamour might have continued to the dawn had it not been broken by the noise of a shot without that sent every man feeling for his defenceless left side. Then there was a scuffle and a yell of pain. “Carbine-stealing again!” said the adjutant, calmly sinking back in his chair. “This comes of reducing the guards. I hope the sentries have killed him.”
This is from “The Man who Was” in Life’s Handicap.
The intruder turns out to be an ex-officer of the regiment, taken prisoner by the Russians, who had escaped after long and fearful years in captivity.
Five volleys plunged the files in banked smoke impenetrable to the eye, and the bullets began to take ground twenty or thirty yards in front of the firers, as the weight of the bayonet dragged down and to the right arms wearied with holding the kick of the jolting Martini.
This is from “The Drums of the Fore and Aft” in Wee Willie Winkie.
It is a tale of a border campaign against the Afghans, in which a raw British regiment breaks and runs. They are then shamed into mounting a successful counter-attack by the heroism of two drummer boys, who stay out in the open, beating the advance until they fall to an Afghan volley.