other remedy, we returned back to a place where there
was abundance of firewood, and despatched sixty or
seventy chosen men to retrace our footsteps and find
on lower ground any people who might be wintering
there, and bring back another guide. We halted
thus for three or four days awaiting the return of
our messengers; but when they did appear it was without
any one to show the way. Placing my reliance on
God alone, therefore, I went on. For about a
week we continued beating down the snow so as to form
a road, only advancing two or three miles a day.
Accompanied by ten or fifteen of my personal followers,
I worked myself with the others. Every step we
took forward we sank up to the middle, but still we
went on, trampling till we got firm foothold.
And as the first person wearied of the exertion, he
stood back and another took his place. So, after
a time, we managed to lead on a riderless horse.
It generally sank to the stirrups, and after floundering
on a dozen paces was worn out. But the second
did better. Thus in this way the twenty or so
of us managed to prepare a sort of road for the rest,
who with hanging heads (though many of them had seemed
our best men) advanced along it without even dismounting!
But this was no time for reproof or authority.
Every man of spirit hastens to such work of himself,
and the rest do not count. In this way after
three or four days we reached a cave at the foot of
the Zirrin Pass. That day the wind and storm were
dreadful; the snow fell in quantities; we all expected
to meet death together. The snow was so deep,
the path so narrow, the days were at shortest.
The first of the troops reached the cave while it was
yet daylight; but some men had to wait for morning
on horseback. The cave seemed to be too small
for all, so I would not go in. I felt that for
me to be warm and comfortable while my men were in
snow and drift; for me to sleep at my ease while my
followers were in trouble and distress, would be unfair.
I felt that whatever their sufferings might be, I ought
to share them. So I took a hoe and dug down into
the snow as deep as my breast; this gave me some shelter
from the wind, and I sat down in the hole. By
bedtime prayers the snow had fallen so fast that four
inches of it had settled on my head——’”
Here Old Faithful paused and shook his head gravely.
“His Majesty,” he went on, “writes
in the margin, ‘That night I caught a cold in
my ear.’ It is only wonder he did not catch
“But what happened next?” asked Akbar
impatiently. “Did poor Grand-dad sit in
the snow all night?”
“No, Most-Honourable. He goes on to say,
’The cave was properly explored and found to
be large enough to hold us all. So I ordered all
to go in, and thus we escaped from the terrible cold,
snow, and drift, into a wonderfully warm, safe, comfortable
place. And next morning the snow and tempest
ceased and we moved on, trampling down the snow as
before; but ere we quite got through the pass, night
fell. Though the wind had fallen, the cold was
dreadful, and several lost fingers, toes, even hands
and feet from frostbite, as we waited for dawn in the
open. As early as we could we moved down the
glen, descending, without road, over difficult and
precipitous places, the extreme depth of the snow enabling
us to pass over countless dangers. Thus our enemy
became our friend.