Our Island Story by H. E. Marshall

Victoria—The Pipes at Lucknow

LUCKNOW, 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?"

[Illustration facing page 498]

"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.

"Pipes of the misty moorlands, voice of the glens and hills;

The droning of the torrents, the treble of the rills—

Not the braes of broom and heather nor the mountains dark with rain,

Nor maiden bower, nor border tower, have heard your sweetest strain.

"Dear to the Lowland reaper, and plaided mountaineer,

To the cottage and the castle the Scottish pipers are dear—

Sweet sounds the ancient pibroch o'er mountain, loch, and glade;

But the sweetest of all music the pipes at Lucknow played.

"Day by day the Indian tiger louder yelled, and nearer crept;

Round and round the jungle serpent near and nearer circles swept.

'Pray for rescue, wives and mothers,—pray to-day,' the soldier said;

'To-morrow death's between us, and the wrong and shame we dread.'

"Oh, they listened, looked and waited, till their hope became despair;

And the sobs of low bewailing filled the pauses of their prayer.

Then upspake a Scottish maiden, with her ear unto the ground:

'Dinna ye hear it?—dinna ye hear it? the pipes of Havelock sound.'

"Hushed the wounded man his groaning; hushed the wife her little ones;

Alone they heard the drum-roll and the roar of sepoy guns.

But to sounds of home and childhood the Highland ear was true;—

As the mother's cradle crooning the mountain pipes she knew.

"Like the march of soundless music through the vision of the seer,

More of feeling than of hearing, of the heart than of the ear,

She knew the droning pibroch, she knew the Campbells' call:

'Hark, hear ye no MacGregors'?—the grandest o' them all.'

"Oh, they listened, dumb and breathless, and they caught the sound at last,

Faint and far beyond the Goomtee, rose and fell, the pipers' blast.

Then a burst of wild thanksgiving mingled woman's voice and man's.

'God be praised—the march of Havelock! the piping of the clans.''

"Louder, nearer, fierce as vengeance, sharp and shrill as swords at strife

Came the wild MacGregors' clan call, stinging all the air to life.

But when the far-off dust-cloud to plaided legions grew,

Full tenderly and blithsomely the pipes of rescue blew.

"Round the silver domes of Lucknow, Moslem mosque and Pagan shrine,

Breathed the air to Britons dearest, the air of Auld Lang Syne.

O'er the cruel roll of war-drums rose that sweet and homelike strain;

And the tartan clove the turban as the Goomtee cleaves the plain."

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.

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