“I am afraid that my letter, with the enclosure, assuring him that I will in time pay the amount due, will harden his heart,” Marshall laughed. “I am much obliged all the same, but I don’t think that it will be of any use.”
However, on leaving him, Mallett went downstairs, borrowed some ink from the quartermaster, and wrote to his solicitor, enclosing a cheque for 300 pounds, with instructions to see the money lender.
“You will find that he will be glad enough to hand over young Marshall’s bills for four fifty for that amount,” he said. “He has already had fifteen pounds, which is a fair interest for the three hundred for the time the lad has had it. He will know well enough that if Marshall dies he will lose every penny, and that at any rate he will have to wait many years before he can get it. I have no doubt that he would jump at an offer of a couple of hundred, but it is just as well that the young fellow should feel the obligation for some time, and as the man did lend him the money it would be unfair that he should be an absolute loser.”
The next morning three days’ rations were served out to the troops, and the advance begun; the movement being directed against the Secunderbagh, a large garden surrounded by a very high and strong wall loopholed for musketry. To reach it a village, fortified and strongly held, had first to be carried. The attack was led by Brigadier Hope’s brigade, of which the regiment formed part. As they approached the village, so heavy a musketry fire was opened upon them that the order to advance was changed and the leading regiment moved forward in skirmishing order. The horse artillery and heavy field guns were brought up, and poured a tremendous fire into the village, driving the defenders from their post on the walls.
As soon as this was accomplished, the infantry rushed forward and stormed the village, the enemy opposing a stout resistance, occupying the houses and fighting to the last. The main body of them, however, fled to the Secunderbagh. The 4th Sikhs had been ordered to lead the attack, while the British infantry of the brigade were to cover the operation. The men were, however, too excited and too eager to get at the enemy to remain inactive, and on leaving the village dashed forward side by side with the Sikhs and attacked the wall. There was a small breach in this, and many of the men rushed through it before the enemy, taken by surprise, could offer a serious resistance. The entrance was, however, so narrow that very few men could pass in, and while a furious fight was raging inside, the rest of the troops tried in vain to find some means of entering.
There were two barred windows, one on each side of the gate, and some of the troopers creeping under these raised their shakos on their bayonets. The defenders fired a heavy volley into them, and the soldiers, leaping to their feet, sprang at the bars and pulled them down by main force, before the defenders had time to reload. Then they leaped down inside, others followed them, the gates were opened, and the main body of troops poured in.