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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter IX: Surprise Of Futtyghur

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"He trembles! he turns pale," shouted out Bobbachy Bahawder, ferociously exulting over his conquered enemy.

"Dog!" shouted I--(I was sitting with my head to the donkey's tail, and so looked the Bobbachy full in the face)--"not so pale as you looked when I felled you with this arm--not so pale as your women looked when I entered your harem!" Completely chop-fallen, the Indian ruffian was silent: at any rate, I had done for HIM.

We arrived at the place of execution. A stake, a couple of feet thick and eight high, was driven in the grass: round the stake, about seven feet from the ground, was an iron ring, to which were attached two fetters; in these my wrists were placed. Two or three executioners stood near, with strange-looking instruments: others were blowing at a fire, over which was a cauldron, and in the embers were stuck prongs and other instruments of iron.

The crier came forward and read my sentence. It was the same in effect as that which had been hinted to me the day previous by the Grand Vizier. I confess I was too agitated to catch every word that was spoken.

Holkar himself, on a tall dromedary, was at a little distance. The Grand Vizier came up to me--it was his duty to stand by, and see the punishment performed. "It is yet time!" said he.

I nodded my head, but did not answer.

The Vizier cast up to heaven a look of inexpressible anguish, and with a voice choking with emotion, said, "EXECUTIONER--DO--YOUR-- DUTY!"

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The horrid man advanced--he whispered sulkily in the ears of the Grand Vizier, "Guggly ka ghee, hum khedgeree," said he, "THE OIL DOES NOT BOIL YET--wait one minute." The assistants blew, the fire blazed, the oil was heated. The Vizier drew a few feet aside: taking a large ladle full of the boiling liquid, he advanced -

* * *

"Whish! bang, bang! pop!" the executioner was dead at my feet, shot through the head; the ladle of scalding oil had been dashed in the face of the unhappy Grand Vizier, who lay on the plain, howling. "Whish! bang! pop! Hurrah!--charge!--forwards!--cut them down!--no quarter!"

I saw--yes, no, yes, no, yes!--I saw regiment upon regiment of galloping British horsemen riding over the ranks of the flying natives. First of the host, I recognised, O Heaven! my AHMEDNUGGAR IRREGULARS! On came the gallant line of black steeds and horsemen; swift swift before them rode my officers in yellow--Glogger, Pappendick, and Stuffle; their sabres gleamed in the sun, their voices rung in the air. "D- them!" they cried, "give it them, boys!" A strength supernatural thrilled through my veins at that delicious music: by one tremendous effort, I wrested the post from its foundation, five feet in the ground. I could not release my hands from the fetters, it is true; but, grasping the beam tightly, I sprung forward--with one blow I levelled the five executioners in the midst of the fire, their fall upsetting the scalding oil-can; with the next, I swept the bearers of Bobbachy's palanquin off their legs; with the third, I caught that chief himself in the small of the back, and sent him flying on to the sabres of my advancing soldiers!

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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