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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 268 pages of information about Across India.

CHAPTER XIV

SIR HENRY HAVELOCK AND THE MUTINY

The announcement that land was in sight produced some excitement, and the speaker good-naturedly paused to enable the company to see whatever was to be seen.  They looked to the eastward, but they could see nothing.  They stood upon the promenade, and strained their eyes to the utmost; but it required a nautical eye to make land out of the dim haze in the distance, for that was all there was of it.

“I can readily understand your desire to obtain the first view of India,” said Lord Tremlyn.

“But they will not obtain it yet a while,” added the commander.

Louis and Felix had ascended the fore-rigging, and discovered what might have been the land or a bank of clouds.  There were a great number of boats and small craft in sight, but none of them were near enough to be seen distinctly.  They observed that the Guardian-Mother had reduced her speed.

“We shall not be where you can see anything for an hour or more,” continued Captain Ringgold.  “We have to pass some rather dangerous rocks in this vicinity, and we shall proceed cautiously till we take a pilot.”

“A number of large vessels have been wrecked in this locality,” said the viscount; “and in a little while you will get in among the multitude of fishing-craft that swarm off the islands.”

When the company were satisfied that there was nothing to be seen, they resumed their seats, and the “live boys” in the fore-rigging returned to their places.  All were greatly interested in the viscount’s account of the mutiny; and he had suspended his narrative just where cunning writers of exciting stories place the “To be continued.”

“I had hardly finished what I had to say, or at least what I intended to say; for there are still a great many points upon which I have not touched, leaving them to be brought up as you proceed on your travels through this interesting country,” said Lord Tremlyn.

“Go on!  Go on!” said quite a majority of the party.

“I have been here before, and perhaps you will excuse me if I have occasion to leave before your lordship has finished; and with this understanding, I think you had better proceed,” added the commander.

“I will do so with the greatest pleasure,” replied the speaker, as he took his place on the rostrum again.  “I have described the terrible situation to which the English in India had been reduced, with nearly a hundred thousand Sepoys in rebellion, and the troops outnumbered a hundred to one, shut up in camps and forts.  The fanatical and blood-thirsty mob, far greater than the body of native soldiers, were eager to fall upon and slaughter all Europeans.

“At this time there were 40,000 British troops scattered over the country; several thousand men on their way from England to China were diverted to this country.  Forty thousand from home were on their voyage of 12,000 miles around the Cape of Good Hope to relieve the besieged garrisons.  But in the midst of the gloom of this miserable summer there was a gleam of sunshine, and the sad disasters at Cawnpore and elsewhere were partially retrieved.  This came on the appearance of Henry Havelock, whose noble example of a true life I commend to my young friends here who are just entering upon their careers.

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