If a round of ball cartridge has been wasted by a suicide, or a pair of ammunition boots carried off by a deserter, the Commander-in-Chief sometimes visits a great cantonment under a salute of seventeen guns. The military then express their joy in their peculiar fashion, according to their station in life. The cavalry soldier takes out his charger and gallops heedlessly up and down all the roads in the station. The sergeants of all arms fume about as if transacting some important business between the barracks and their officers’ quarters. Subalterns hang about the Mess, whacking their legs with small pieces of cane and drinking pegs with mournful indifference. The Colonel sends for everyone who has not the privilege of sending for him, and says nothing to each one, sternly and decisively. The Majors and the officers doing general duty go to the Club and swear before the civilians that they are worked off their legs, complaining fiercely to themselves that the Service is going, &c. &c. The Deputy-Assistant-Quartermaster-General puts on all the gold lace he is allowed to wear, and gallops to the Assistant-Adjutant-General—where he has tiffin. The Major-General-Commanding writes notes to all his friends, and keeps orderlies flying at random in every direction.
The Commander-in-Chief—who had a disturbed night in the train—sleeps peacefully throughout the day, and leaves under another salute in the afternoon. He shakes hands with everyone he can see at the station, and jumps into a long saloon carriage, followed by his staff.
“A deuced active old fellow!” everyone says; and they go home and dine solemnly with one another under circumstances of extraordinary importance.
The effect of the Commander-in-Chief is very remarkable on the poor Indian, whose untutored mind sees a Lord in everything. He calls the Commander-in-Chief “the Jungy Lord,” or War-Lord, in contradistinction to the “Mulky-Lord,” or Country-Lord, the appellation of the Viceroy. To the poor Indian this War-Lord is an object of profound interest and speculation. He has many aspects that resemble the other and more intelligible Lord. An aide-de-camp rides behind him; hats, or hands, rise electrically as he passes; yet it is felt in secret that he is not pregnant with such thunder-clouds of rupees, and that he cannot make or mar a Raja. To the Raja it is an ever-recurring question whether it is necessary or expedient to salaam to the Jungy Lord and call upon him. He is hedged about with servants who will require to be richly propitiated before any dusky countryman [of theirs, great or small,] gets access to this Lord of theirs. Is it, then, worth while to pass through this fire to the possible Moloch who sits beyond? Will this process of parting with coin—this Valley of the Shadow of Death—lead them to any palpable advantage? Perhaps the War-Lord with his red right hand can add guns to their salute; perhaps he will speak a recommendatory word to his caste-fellow, the Country-Lord? These are precious possibilities.