“Sergeant, Sergeant, over the gate,
Where are your officers all?” he said;
Heavily came the Sergeant’s voice,
“There are two living and forty dead.”
“A rope, a rope,” Gillespie cried :
They bound their belts to serve his need.
There was not a rebel behind the wall
But laid his barrel and drew his bead.
There was not a rebel among them all
But pulled his trigger and cursed his aim,
For lightly swung and rightly swung
Over the gate Gillespie came.
He dressed the line, he led the charge,
They swept the wall like a stream in spate,
And roaring over the roar they heard
The galloper guns that burst the gate.
Fierce and fain, fierce and fain,
The troopers rode the reeking flight:
The very stones remember still
The end of them that stab by night.
They’ve kept the tale a hundred years,
They’ll keep the tale a hundred more:
Riding at dawn, riding alone,
Gillespie came to false Vellore.
“The sleep that Tippoo Sahib sleeps
Heeds not the cry of man;
The faith that Tippoo Sahib keeps
No judge on earth may scan;
He is the lord of whom ye hold
Spirit and sense and limb,
Fetter and chain are all ye gain
Who dared to plead with him.”
Baird was bonny and Baird was young,
His heart was strong as steel,
But life and death in the balance hung,
For his wounds were ill to heal.
“Of fifty chains the Sultan gave
We have filled but forty-nine:
We dare not fail of the perfect tale
For all Golconda’s mine.”
That was the hour when Lucas first
Leapt to his long renown;
Like summer rains his anger burst,
And swept their scruples down.
“Tell ye the lord to whom ye crouch,
His fetters bite their fill:
To save your oath I’ll wear them both,
And step the lighter still.”
The seasons came, the seasons passed,
They watched their fellows die;
But still their thought was forward cast,
Their courage still was high.
Through tortured days and fevered nights
Their limbs alone were weak,
And year by year they kept their cheer,
And spoke as freemen speak.
But once a year, on the fourth of June,
Their speech to silence died,
And the silence beat to a soundless tune
And sang with a wordless pride;
Till when the Indian stars were bright,
And bells at home would ring,
To the fetters’ clank they rose and drank
“England! God save the King!”
The years came, and the years went,
The wheel full-circle rolled;
The tyrant’s neck must yet be bent,
The price of blood be told:
The city yet must hear the roar
Of Baird’s avenging guns,
And see him stand with lifted hand
By Tippoo Sahib’s sons.