After making every allowance for the exaggerations of fear, there was still sufficient in this communication to aggravate poor Sturt’s difficulties; he was in doubt whether to assume a high tone, or to endeavour by flattery to save his followers, and his last act before the violence of the fever obliged him to succumb was a firm but respectful letter which he wrote to Meer Moor[=a]d Beg, in which he stated that reports inconsistent with that chief’s known good faith had reached him; that he had heard that his property had been seized and his people threatened; that he was sure they were lies invented by Moor[=a]d Beg’s enemies to create a bad feeling towards him; and that he requested the men and property might be immediately forwarded safe to Cabul. Those who are familiar with the vanity and punctiliousness on points of etiquette of the chieftains of the Hindoo Khoosh will easily conceive how much depended upon the wording of this letter.
In the written intercourse between equals it is customary to put the impression of the signet at the top of the sheet, but from an inferior such an act would be considered as highly presumptuous. Sturt, though advised to assume the humble tone, was resolute in putting his seal at the beginning of the letter, and the event proved that his judgment was as usual correct, for though (it was stated) the chief of Koondooz was but a few months after in arms against the British, yet our people and property were safely forwarded to us at Cabul.
It was only after my arrival at Badjghar with the men that I became acquainted with Sturt’s reasons for requesting me to come in without delay, Capt Hay was in daily expectation of the arrival of a convoy from Bamee[=a]n with a supply of provisions, clothing, and ammunition for the use of his regiment, and having received information from one of the numerous spies, who gain a livelihood by supplying information to both parties, that large bodies of men were assembling in the Kammurd valley, through which the convoy would have to pass, determined, though he did not attach much credit to his informant, to despatch as strong a body as he could spare to reinforce the escort. He accordingly sent out two companies of the Goorkha regiment with directions to proceed to the “Dundun Shikkun Kotul,” there to meet the convoy and protect them in their passage through the Kammurd valley. Such was the scarcity of European officers, that Capt. Hay was obliged to intrust the command of the force to the quarter-master-serjeant of his corps; who, though unused to the management of so considerable a party in the field, and who might have been excused if in the hour of need his brain had not been as fertile of expedients as is generally necessary in encounters of this kind, acquitted himself in a manner that would have done credit to the best light infantry officer in the service. I much regret that I cannot record his name, but before being