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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter IV: The Indian Camp--The Sortie From The Fort

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"By the hundred and eleven incarnations of Vishnu," said I, solemnly (an oath which no Indian was ever known to break), "I swear that so it is: so at least he told me, and I have good cause to know his power. Gujputi is an enchanter: he is leagued with devils; he is invulnerable. Look," said I, unsheathing my dagger-- and every eye turned instantly towards me--"thrice did I stab him with this steel--in the back, once--twice right through the heart; but he only laughed me to scorn, and bade me tell Holkar that the steel was not yet forged which was to inflict an injury upon him."

I never saw a man in such a rage as Holkar was when I gave him this somewhat imprudent message.

"Ah, lily-livered rogue!" shouted he out to me, "milk-blooded unbeliever! pale-faced miscreant! lives he after insulting thy master in thy presence? In the name of the Prophet, I spit on thee, defy thee, abhor thee, degrade thee! Take that, thou liar of the universe! and that--and that--and that!"

Such are the frightful excesses of barbaric minds! every time this old man said, "Take that," he flung some article near him at the head of the undaunted Gahagan--his dagger, his sword, his carbine, his richly ornamented pistols, his turban covered with jewels, worth a hundred thousand crores of rupees--finally, his hookah, snake mouthpiece, silver-bell, chillum and all--which went hissing over my head, and flattening into a jelly the nose of the Grand Vizier.

"Yock muzzee! my nose is off," said the old man, mildly. "Will you have my life, O Holkar? it is thine likewise!" and no other word of complaint escaped his lips.

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Of all these missiles, though a pistol and carbine had gone off as the ferocious Indian flung them at my head, and the naked scimitar, fiercely but unadroitly thrown, had lopped off the limbs of one or two of the musnuds as they sat trembling on their omrahs, yet, strange to say, not a single weapon had hurt me. When the hubbub ceased, and the unlucky wretches who had been the victims of this fit of rage had been removed, Holkar's good-humour somewhat returned, and he allowed me to continue my account of the fort; which I did, not taking the slightest notice of his burst of impatience: as indeed it would have been the height of impoliteness to have done, for such accidents happened many times in the day.

"It is well that the Bobbachy has returned," snuffled out the poor Grand Vizier, after I had explained to the Council the extraordinary means of defence possessed by the garrison.

"Your star is bright, O Bahawder! for this very night we had resolved upon an escalade of the fort, and we had sworn to put every one of the infidel garrison to the edge of the sword."

"But you have no battering train," said I.

"Bah! we have a couple of ninety-six pounders, quite sufficient to blow the gates open; and then, hey for a charge!" said Loll Mahommed, a general of cavalry, who was a rival of Bobbachy's, and contradicted, therefore, every word I said. "In the name of Juggernaut, why wait for the heavy artillery? Have we not swords? Have we not hearts? Mashallah! Let cravens stay with Bobbachy, all true men will follow Loll Mahommed! Allahhumdillah, Bismillah, Barikallah?" [1] and drawing his scimitar, he waved it over his head, and shouted out his cry of battle. It was repeated by many of the other omrahs; the sound of their cheers was carried into the camp, and caught up by the men; the camels began to cry, the horses to prance and neigh, the eight hundred elephants set up a scream, the trumpeters and drummers clanged away at their instruments. I never heard such a din before or after. How I trembled for my little garrison when I heard the enthusiastic cries of this innumerable host!

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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