The women had been previously conveyed away with the heavy baggage, and we found the houses empty, but fruit of every description was lying about the streets, prepared and packed for the winter supply of the C[=a]bul market. Melons, peaches, pears, walnuts were either in heaps against the walls or placed in baskets for transportation; but the most curious arrangement was exhibited in the mode in which they preserved their brobdignag grapes for winter consumption. About thirty berries, each of enormous size and separately enveloped in cotton, were hermetically enclosed between a couple of rudely shaped clay saucers, so that we were obliged to crack the saucers to get at the fruit inside, and great was the scrambling amongst the thirsty soldiers for their luscious contents as they rolled out upon the ground.
The thread of my narrative now guides me to an event which cannot be contemplated without astonishment and regret. I allude to the unaccountable panic which seized the 2nd Cavalry during the action at Purwan Durrah; indeed I would willingly pass it over in silence, but I am anxious to express my humble admiration of the chivalrous bearing of the European officers on that melancholy occasion.
The several severe blows which we had recently inflicted upon the Affgh[=a]ns during the course of this short compaign, and their not having lately appeared in any organized force in the vicinity of our camp, caused an opinion to prevail amongst many that our labours for the season were brought to a close; but on the 20th of October we were again excited by the rumour that Dost Mahommed, who had been hovering about, intended as a “derniere ressource” once more to try his fortune in war. Our anticipations of a little more active service were soon realized by an order to advance upon Purwan Durrah. We accordingly struck our tents, passing by Aukserai, and encamped near Meer Musjedi’s fortress, remaining there till the 3rd of November watching the movements of the enemy. On that day information was received that the Dost, with a large body of horse and foot, was moving towards us by the Purwan Durrah; the general decided upon checking his progress, and an advanced guard consisting of four companies of the 13th under Major Kershaw, two companies of Native Infantry, two nine-pounders, and two squadrons of the 2nd Bengal Cavalry, the whole under the command of Col. Salter of the 2nd Cavalry, preceded the main column. On the road we met a follower of one of the friendly chiefs charged with a report that the ex-Ameer’s party had been attacking some of the forts in the valley, but for the present had taken up a position on the neighbouring hills. We soon came on them, and at a short distance perceived a small body of cavalry in the plain. A rumour passed through our ranks that Dost Mahommed was himself amongst the horsemen, and it was a subject of congratulation that the only opportunity had now arrived of our cavalry engaging theirs, and that one brilliant attack would bring this desultory warfare to a glorious termination.