The spot where the Collector and his party had been surprised and captured, was on the high road, midway between the Khandish Ghaut and the large and populous town of Runjetpoora, the inhabitants of which, with the exception of their Begum, or Princess, and a few of her immediate followers, had thus far remained faithful to British rule, and to which place he was now returning, after making a tour of inspection through the districts, which inspection consisted in surveying and valuing the crops while growing, the cattle and other properties of those residing within his jurisdiction, so that taxes might be levied on each individual according to their wealth and substance, during the current year.
The baggage escort and principal servants had been sent on in advance. This the mutineers were, doubtless, aware of, or counted on as being likely to be the case, therefore little opposition was to be expected, and so suddenly did they sweep down upon them that the little party were surrounded and overpowered ere they could seize their weapons to defend themselves. All were made prisoners save one, Mrs. de Mello, a handsome three-quarter caste, the youthful bride of the Collector’s clerk or first assistant, who had alighted from her palkee to gather some wild flowers that grew on the road side, a short time prior to the appearance of the mutineers, and from where she stood witnessed the attack. Terrified beyond measure at her dangerous proximity to the ruffians, she fled for safety into the depths of the jungle, and so escaped.
The carriage and bullock games were drawn to an open space some little distance into the jungle, the intervening bushes screening it to a considerable extent from the road. The Collector and his clerks were then brutally stripped of their clothing, and, having taken possession of their money and other valuables, the wretches bound them, spread eagle fashion, to the wheels of the vehicles. The terrified women were next dragged forth, with more indignity and even greater brutality, and secured in a similar manner, and in such a position that their tortures might be witnessed by their helpless husbands. The children, with the exception of the Collector’s daughter, a bright, golden haired girl of some ten summers, who had clung convulsively to her mother, were thrown together into a small hollow in the ground about the centre of the place, they being too young to make any opposition, the black devils forming a complete semi-circle round their intended victims.