Adventures In India
( Originally Published 1851 )
The following extract is from a work recently published in England, with the title of " Pen and Pencil Sketches; being the Journal of a Tour in India. By Captain Mundy." Some peculiarities of style will be obvious in the captain's narrative; but few can object to his hilarity and buoyancy of spirit :
" I retired to my tent this evening pretty well knocked up; and during the night had an adventure, which might have terminated with more loss to myself, had I slept sounder. My bed, a low charpoy, on ' four feet,' was in one corner of the tent, close to a door, and I woke several times from a feverish doze, fancying I heard something moving in Illy tent; but could not discover any thing, though a cherang, or little Indian lamp, was burning on the table. 1 therefore again wooed the balmy power, and slept. At length, just as ` the iron tongue of midnight had told twelve' (for I had looked at my watch five minutes before, and replaced it under my pillow,) I was awakened by a rustling sound under my head; and, half opening my eyes, with-out changing my position, I saw a hideous black face within a foot of mine, and the owner of this index of a cut-throat, or, at least, cut-purse disposition, kneeling on the carpet, with one hand under my pillow, and the other grasping not a dagger! but the door-post. Still without moving my body, and with half-closed eyes, I gently stole my right hand to a boar-spear, which at night was always placed between my bed and the wall; and as soon as I had clutched it, made a rapid and violent movement, in order to wrench it from its place, and try the virtue of its point upon the intruder's body but I wrenched in vain. Fortunately for the robber, my bearer, in placing the weapon in its usual recess, had forced the point into the top of the tent and the butt into the ground so firmly, that I failed to extract it at the first effort; and my visiter, alarmed by the movement, started upon his feet and rushed through the door. I had time to see that he was perfectly naked, with the exception of a black blanket twisted round his loins, and that he had already stowed away in his cloth my candlesticks and my dressing-case, which latter contained letters, keys, money, and other valuables. I had also leisure, in that brief space, to judge, from the size of the arm extended to my bed, that the bearer was more formed for activity than strength; and, by his grizzled beard, that he was rather old than young. I, therefore, sprung from my bed, and darting through the purdar of the inner door, seized him by the cummerbund just as he was passing the outer entrance.* The cloth, however, being loose, gave way, and ere I could confirm my grasp, he snatched it from my hand, tearing away my thumb-nail down to the quick. In his anxiety to escape, he stumbled through the outer purdar, and the much-esteemed dressing-case fell out of his loosened zone. I was so close at his heels, that he could not re-cover it; and jumping over the tent-ropes which, doubtless, the rogue calculated would trip me up he ran towards the road. I was in such a fury, that, forgetting my bare feet, I gave chase, vociferating lustily, " Choor! Choor!" (thief! thief!) but was soon brought up by some sharp stones, just in time to see my rascal, by the faint light of the moon through the thick foliage over head, jump upon a horse standing upheld near the road, and dash down the path at full speed, his black blanket flying in the wind. What would I have given for my double-barrelled Joe at that moment! As he and his steed went clattering along the rocky forest road, I thought of the black huntsman of the Hartz, or the erl-king! Returning to my tent, I solaced myself by abusing my servants, who were just rubbing their eyes and stirring themselves, and by threatening the terrified sepoy sentry with a court-martial. My trunks at night were always placed outside the tent, under the sentry's eye; the robber, therefore, must have made his entry on the opposite side, and he must have been an adept in his vocation, as four or five servants were sleeping between the khanauts. The poor devil did not get much booty fir his trouble, having only secured a razor, a pot of pomatum (which will serve to lubricate his person for his next exploit, ) and the candlesticks, which on closer inspection, will prove to him the truth of the axiom, that ' all is not gold that glitters,' nor even silver. * * The next morning, on relating my adventure, I was told that I was fortunate in having escaped cold steel ; and many comfortable instances were recited, of the robbed being stabbed in attempting to secure the robber."