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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter VIII: The Captive

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The third day the attack was repeated. The resources of genius are never at an end. Yesterday I had no ammunition; to-day, I discovered charges sufficient for two guns, and two swivels, which were much longer, but had bores of about blunderbuss size.

This time my friend Loll Mahommed, who had received, as the reader may remember, such a bastinadoing for my sake, headed the attack. The poor wretch could not walk, but he was carried in an open palanquin, and came on waving his sword, and cursing horribly in his Hindustan jargon. Behind him came troops of matchlock-men, who picked off every one of our men who showed their noses above the ramparts; and a great host of blackamoors with scaling-ladders, bundles to fill the ditch, fascines, gabions, culverins, demilunes, counterscarps, and all the other appurtenances of offensive war.

On they came; my guns and men were ready for them. You will ask how my pieces were loaded? I answer, that though my garrison were without food, I knew my duty as an officer, and HAD PUT THE TWO DUTCH CHEESES INTO THE TWO GUNS, AND HAD CRAMMED THE CONTENTS OF A BOTTLE OF OLIVES INTO EACH SWIVEL.

They advanced,--whish! went one of the Dutch cheeses,--bang! went the other. Alas! they did little execution. In their first contact with an opposing body, they certainly floored it; but they became at once like so much Welsh-rabbit, and did no execution beyond the man whom they struck down.

"Hogree, pogree, wongree-fum (praise to Allah and the forty-nine Imaums!)" shouted out the ferocious Loll Mahommed when he saw the failure of my shot. "Onward, sons of the Prophet! the infidel has no more ammunition. A hundred thousand lakhs of rupees to the man who brings me Gahagan's head!"

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His men set up a shout, and rushed forward--he, to do him justice, was at the very head, urging on his own palanquin-bearers, and poking them with the tip of his scimitar. They came panting up the hill: I was black with rage, but it was the cold concentrated rage of despair. "Macgillicuddy," said I, calling that faithful officer, "you know where the barrels of powder are?" He did. "You know the use to make of them?" He did. He grasped my hand. "Goliah," said he, "farewell! I swear that the fort shall be in atoms, as soon as yonder unbelievers have carried it. Oh, my poor mother!" added the gallant youth, as sighing, yet fearless, he retired to his post.

I gave one thought to my blessed, my beautiful Belinda, and then, stepping into the front, took down one of the swivels;--a shower of matchlock balls came whizzing round my head. I did not heed them.

I took the swivel, and aimed coolly. Loll Mahommed, his palanquin, and his men, were now not above two hundred yards from the fort. Loll was straight before me, gesticulating and shouting to his men. I fired--bang!!!

I aimed so true, that ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN BEST SPANISH OLIVES WERE LODGED IN A LUMP IN THE FACE OF THE UNHAPPY LOLL MAHOMMED. The wretch, uttering a yell the most hideous and unearthly I ever heard, fell back dead; the frightened bearers flung down the palanquin and ran--the whole host ran as one man: their screams might be heard for leagues. "Tomasha, tomasha," they cried, "it is enchantment!" Away they fled, and the victory a third time was ours. Soon as the fight was done, I flew back to my Belinda. We had eaten nothing for twenty-four hours, but I forgot hunger in the thought of once more beholding her!

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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