“March 21St. At four I called on my brother Wright, a few minutes after her spirit was set at liberty. I had sweet fellowship with her in explaining at the chapel those solemn words, ’Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thy everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.’
I followed her to her quiet grave, and wept with
them that weep.”
Early in December, 1803, in the cool decline of a torrid day, a small British force—mixed regulars and sepoys—threaded its way among the mountains of Berar. It moved slowly and with frequent halts, its pace regulated by the middle of the column, where teams of men panted and dragged at the six guns which were to batter down the hill fortress of Gawul Ghur: for roads in this country there were none, and all the long day ahead of the guns gangs laboured with pick and shovel to widen the foot-tracks leading up to the passes.
Still farther ahead trudged and halted the 74th regiment, following a squadron of the 19th Light Dragoons, and now and again the toilers on the middle slope, taking breath for a new effort and blinking the sweat from their eyes, would catch sight of a horseman on a ridge far overhead, silhouetted against the pale blue sky for a moment while he scanned a plateau or gully unseen by them. Now and again, too, in such pauses, the clear air pulsed with the tramp of the rearguard in the lower folds of the hills—sepoys and comrades of the 78th and 94th.
Though with arms, legs and loins strained almost to cracking, the men worked cheerfully. Their General had ridden forward with his staff: they knew that close by the head of the pass their camp was already being marked out for them, and before sleeping they would be fed as they deserved.
They growled, indeed, but good-humouredly, when, for the tenth time that day, they came to the edge of a gully into which the track plunged steeply to mount almost as steeply on the farther side: and their good humour did them the more credit since the General had forbidden them to lock the wheels, on the ground that locking shook and weakened the gun-carriages.
With a couple of drag-ropes then, and a dozen men upon each, digging heels in the slope, slipping, cursing, back-hauling with all their weight, the first gun was trailed down and run across the gully. As the second began its descent a couple of horsemen came riding slowly back from the advance-guard and drew rein above the farther slope to watch the operation.