Victoria—The Pipes at Lucknow
L UCKNOW, too, was besieged, and terrible things were happening there. The chief officer at Lucknow was Sir Henry Lawrence, who had so sadly to refuse to send help to Cawnpore. He was a brave and wise man. But he was killed almost at the very beginning of the siege.
One day while he was talking with some of his officers a shell burst into the room. When the smoke cleared away a little, some one said, "Are you hurt, Sir Henry?"
There was a moment's silence. Then Sir Henry said quietly, "I am killed." He died two days later. "Never yield," he said, "let every man die at his post rather than yield."
For nearly three months the siege went on. The white people were shut into a strong place called the Residency, and although they were better off than the poor people at Cawnpore, many died of wounds and sickness. It was three months of horror beneath a blazing sky, amid the shriek and roar of cannon. Men grew hard-eyed and gaunt, women drooped and faded. Would help never come?
At last General Havelock, having defeated the Nana Sahib, marched towards Lucknow, but he had lost so many of his men that he dared not attack. He was obliged to wait for more soldiers, and the waiting was hard for men with the memories of Cawnpore in their hearts.
But at last Sir James Outram joined Havelock, and together they marched to Lucknow.
As week after week passed, and no help came, the brave defenders of Lucknow grew sick with longing and despair. One evening a sergeant's wife called Jessie, who had been ill, was lying asleep while her mistress, who had been nursing her, sat by her side. Jessie stirred and muttered in her sleep, then, suddenly springing up and turning her startled eyes on her mistress, she cried, "Dinna ye hear them? Dinna ye hear them?"
The lady thought that Jessie had gone mad. "Jessie dear, lie down," she said, "you are not well."
"No, no," cried Jessie, "I'm well, I'm well, it's the Campbells I'm hearin'. Dinna ye hear them? Dinna ye hear them?"
It was indeed the sound of the pipes.
Soon not only Jessie, but all that weary band heard the glad sound. The terrible agony of waiting was over. General Havelock and his Highlanders were at the gates. Lucknow was relieved.
But although the coming of Havelock and his men saved Lucknow for a time, they were not strong enough quite to defeat the sepoys, and take all the women and children to a safe place. So the siege began again and lasted for about two months more. But at last Sir Colin Campbell landed in India, and, a few days later, marched to Lucknow. This time it really was relieved.
Little more than a week later General Havelock, who had fought so bravely for his countrymen, who had endured so much to bring them help, died. India is very far from Britain, and in those days news travelled very slowly, so the Queen, not knowing that Havelock had died, made him a baronet, that is, she gave him the title of "Sir," in reward for his brave deeds. But three days before the Queen did this, the brave general was lying still and quiet, resting after his great labours.
General Havelock was a good as well as a great man. Like Cromwell he taught his soldiers to fight and to pray, and "Havelock's saints," as they were called, were well known in India. But Havelock's saints, like Cromwell's Ironsides, showed that they could fight as well as pray.
After the relief of Lucknow the Mutiny was nearly at an end. Lord Canning made a proclamation offering pardon to all except those who had actually murdered the British, and gradually the country became peaceful again.
The East India Company, which until now had practically ruled India, was done away with, and the Queen took the government into her own hands. As Victoria could not herself live in India, she appointed a viceroy. Viceroy means one in place of a king. Lord Canning, who, through all the terrible days of the Mutiny, had proved himself to be a good governor, was made the first Viceroy.