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THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



SADDLE AND SABRE. 



SADDLE AND SABRE. 



% $004!. 



BY 



HAWLET SMART 

AUTHOR OF "BREEZIE LANGTON," "FROM POST TO FINISH, 
" BAD TO BEAT," ETC. ETC. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. III. 



LONDON : CHAPMAN and HALL 
Limited 

1888 

[All Rights reserved - ] 



WESTMINSTER: 

PRINTED BY NICHOLS AND SONS, 

25, PARLIAMENT STREET. 



SV/63 
V'3 



CONTENTS OF VOL. III. 



SHERE..ALI THE DACOIT 

CHAPTER II. 

DOINGS ON THE KNAVESMIRE 

CHAPTER III. 

THE ST. LEGER ..... 

CHAPTER IV. 

SINISTER RUMOURS .... 

CHAPTER V. 

MAJOR KYNASTON'S RESOLVE 

CHAPTER VI. 

SHERE ALI VANISHES .... 

CHAPTER VII. 

AN ENEMY HATH DONE THIS THING 



CHAPTER I. page 

1 



21 

40 
56 
73 
89 
105 



CHAPTER VIII. 

A MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING 123 

CHAPTER IX. 
Charlie's kaptism op fire 141 

CHAPTER X. 

Mi;-. KYNASTON'S DISAPPOINTMENT .... 101 






vi CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XI. page 

"GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART, GOOD-BYE" .... 175 

CHAPTER XII. 

HOBSON RECOVERS THE TRAIL 192 

CHAPTER XIII. 

FURZEDON LEAVES ENGLAND 209 

CHAPTER XIV. 

" LET HIM BE GIVEN TO THE FLIES " . . . . 225 

CHAPTER XV. 

THE ROCKS OF RUGGERBUND 241 

CHAPTER XVI. 
prance's vengeance 258 

conclusion . . ..... 273 



SADDLE AND SABRE. 



CHAPTER I. 

SHERE ALI THE DACOIT. 

A wide sandy plain, out of which huge 
boulders crop in various places, with a 
torrid afternoon sun still blazing fiercely 
down upon it — traversed, nevertheless, by a 
broad but well-used highway, not far from 
the side of which a tope of palm-trees marks 
the presence of a spring. In this little oasis 
of the sandy desert was a small encamp- 
ment, some half-dozen tents in all. Erom a 
marquee, standing a little apart from the 

VOL. III. B 



2 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

others, emerges a thick-set, powerful man, 
clothed in the grey kharkee uniform worn 
by Her Majesty's troops in India when they 
mean business ; that is to say, it is the dress 
more especially set aside for campaigning — 
a pith helmet, around which a puggaree of 
many folds is twisted, crowned the man's 
head. For a minute or two he gazed list- 
lessly around, then exclaimed, apparently 
for the edification of somebody inside the 
tent — 

" Phew ! how stifling hot it is — here, gtf 
up, you lazy young beggar, the sun is be- 
ginning to drop, and in another hour the 
heat will become endurable. We may as 
well get the horses and ride on to the edge 
of this plain. Thank heavens ! we shall be 
across it to-morrow." 

By this time the other denizen of the 
marquee had made his appearance. Like 
the first, he is also clothed in grey kharkee, 
and as he joined his companion remarks, 
■' All right, Hobson, I am good for a ride 



SHERE ALI THE DACOIT. 3 

whenever you like ; but I am bound to say 
this dacoit -hunting is the dullest sport that 
I ever embarked in. The beggars have no 
idea of fighting, and they have walked us 
pretty well off our legs in our endeavours to 
bring them to book." 

" You are quite right," rejoined the 
other, a veteran captain of rifles, who 
had been marching and fis?htin°; all over 
India for the last twenty years. " It is all 
nonsense sending foot-soldiers after these 
chaps ; cavalry or mounted infantry are the 
only people to tackle them ; but you make 
a mistake in one thing, Devereux : you will 
find these fellows will fight like the very 
devil if ever we do get them into a corner ; 
but, like all robbers that I have ever heard 
of, they naturally don't want to fight if they 
can help it." 

" I suppose," rejoined Charlie Devereux, 
"this is the chronic state of India, and that 
our principal employment is the suppression 
of dacoits, guerillas, or by whatever fancy 

b 2 



4s SADDLE AND SABRE. 

name these highway robbers think fit to 
call themselves." 

" Well," rejoined Hobson, laughing, " I 
won't say but what there is a little of it 
always going on, but generally not more 
than the police are able to cope with. What 
makes them very bad in these parts is this. 
It is some few years now since the Mutiny, 
but these fellows are the dregs of that revolt. 
You see, these are sepoys who were driven 
to the jungle at that time ; their leaders are 
men we should undoubtedly have hung if 
we could have laid hands on them, and 
they no doubt believe we shall do so still ; 
but you need never be afraid in India that 
you won't see fighting — we have always a 
little row going on somewhere." 

" Oh ! I'm not grumbling," rejoined 
Charlie; " I only regret that our friends in 
front are so confoundedly long in the leg." 

"Well," rejoined Hobson, "I have got 
one bit of good news for you: In consequence 
of my strong representation that we were 



SHERE ALI THE DA.COIT. 5 

marching our men to death, and are still 
unable to come up with these fellows, we 
have made an application to mount a com- 
pany. If it is only granted, I am to have 
the command and organising of it ; and, on 
the strength of your having been through 
the riding-school, I will take you as one of 
my subalterns, if you like." 

" Only too much obliged to you," rejoined 
Charlie. " By Jove ! if we only get that, 
we will deuced soon bring these beggars to 
book then." 

" Yes," rejoined Hobson, " it would take 
a very little while to organize them ; w r e 
have only got to pick out the fellows who 
can ride a bit, and they would be fit to go 
anywhere in a month. We don't want 
them drilled up to dragoon pattern. Ah ! 
here come the horses ; now for our after- 
noon canter." 

Some months have elapsed since Charlie 
Devereux escaped from his native country. 
The term "escape" is used advisedly, for 



6 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

escape it was in the most rigid sense of the 
word. When Major Braddock took a thing 
in hand he was wont to go into it very 
thoroughly. He had ioterested himself 
about young Devereux in the first instance 
at Bertie's request, but he took to the boy 
kindly on his own account ; a young gentle- 
man who thus early displayed such delicate 
perception of the art of dining was sure to 
win his way to the Major's heart. Major 
Braddock not only interested himself very 
much about Charlie's exchange, but he also 
interposed with some sound advice regarding 
his affairs. The Major was a man of the 
world, and had more than once, in his sol- 
diering days, intervened between the usurer 
and his prey. 

" You are very good, I dare say, Bertie ; 
anybody, of course, can manage the young 
idiot's affairs better than himself; but I 
understand all this sort of thing better than 
you do. The first thing is to get him out of 
the country; when he is safe in India, 



SHEHE ALI THE DACOIT. 7 

Jordan and Co. will be very glad to come to 
terms ; of course they must have back the 
money he actually borrowed, but we will 
cut down the percentage pretty extensively. 
Where is he now ? " 

" In hiding, out at Hampstead," replied 
Bertie. 

" Well, impress on his mind that he must 
keep very close, and the sooner he is off the 
better. He ought to be well on to his way 
to India before he appears in the Gazette. 
The minute they see that, Jordan and Co. 
will understand our little game, and they 
are safe to ferret him out if he remains in 
this country." 

In good truth the pursuit of Charlie 
waxed verv hot. Furzedon was ceaseless in 
urging on his emissaries to effect his arrest. 
He thought that, armed with this engine, 
he might be able to carry his point with 
Lettie. She knew that her brother was in 
sore trouble, but it would come much more 
home to her if she learnt that he was 



8 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

actually arrested Surely, then, she would 
not hesitate to rescue her favourite brother 
from the toils of his creditors. Half her 
world at this minute believed that she was 
going to marry him, Eurzedon. Let her 
only promise to do so, and he would tear 
up all these liabilities of Charlie's at once. 
Surely, when she heard that he was actually 
imprisoned, that his future as a soldier 
would be ruined unless he was speedily 
released, she would not hesitate. But to 
put extreme pressure upon her it was abso- 
lutely necessary that he should lay Charlie 
Devereux by the heels, and so far his 
emissaries had failed to trace him ever since 
his escape from the barracks at York. Still 
Furzedon looked upon it as a mere matter 
of time. Devereux's friends apparently had 
no intention of coming to his assistance. 
Not the slightest overture had been made to 
Jordan and Co. on his behalf from any one, 
and this was a thing which caused Ralph 
Furzedon no little satisfaction. People, he 



SHERE ALI THE DACOIT. 9 

knew, did not much care about paying fifteen 
hundred pounds to rescue a young scape- 
grace from the results of his own impru- 
dence. Still, if they chose, Eurzedon knew 
very well that either old Tom Devereux 
or Mrs. Connop could discharge Charlie's 
liabilities. But one thing Mr. Purzedon 
had never thought of, and that was his 
victim exchanging to a regiment on foreign 
service. He was a man having no know- 
ledge of military matters, and that Charlie 
Devereux might seek that way of extricating 
himself from his difficulties never occurred 
to him, so that when he read in the papers 

" th Rifles ; Cornet Charles Devereux, 

from the Hussars, to be Ensign, vice 

Rawlins who exchanges," it came upon him 
like a revelation. Like the American philo- 
sopher, he was inclined to exclaim, " Can 
such things be ? " Like Shylock, he was 
tempted to cry, " Is this law r " but, pulling 
himself together, he remarked, " My dear 
Devereux, I am afraid your joining your 



10 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

new regiment will depend upon what answer 
your charming sister makes to my suit." 
He had yet to discover, that, when he 
read Charlie's name in the Gazette, that 
young gentleman was on board a P. and 0. 
steamer, within a very few hours' sail of 
Malta. 

But when Furzedon realized that Deve- 
reux had escaped his disappointment was 
very great. It was not that he bore the 
slightest animosity to his old college chum — 
far from it ; if he had been working ill to 
Charlie, it was all in furtherance of his 
cherished design upon Lettice Devereux. 
He was a man of great tenacity of purpose, 
not easily to be turned from the pursuit of 
any object he had set himself to attain, and 
unscrupulous as to the means by which he 
compassed his desire. If he had behaved to 
Charlie after the manner of his kind it was 
solely with the view of bending Lettice to 
his will. He was not fond of losing money, 
but it was not that. The disappointment 



SHERE ALI THE DACOIT. 11 

was in the fact that he found himself sud- 
denly deprived of what he considered the 
strongest card in his hand — and he felt 
assured that except under pressure of some 
kind Miss Devereux would never consent to 
be his bride. It was curious that when he 
first sought her hand he admired her, but 
was not at all in love with her, and now, 
despite the knowledge that he had not 
found favour in her sight, he was wild to 
marry her. Such was the man's indomitable 
will, that he did not even yet despair of 
bringing that about, but he was conscious 
that a very powerful inducement was now 
withdrawn from his grasp. 

As for Charlie Devereux, it had been with 
a sad heart that he steamed out of South- 
ampton Waters. He knew that he ought 
to consider himself very fortunate to have 
got out of his scrape so far as well as he 
had — to have saved the commission was of 
course a great thing, and as Bertie said to 
him at parting, " When your affairs have 



12 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

got square, well, you must manage to ex- 
change back to us," and this comforted 
Charlie not a little, although he knew that 
it might be by no means easy to accomplish. 
But he was very sad for all that at leaving 
his old comrades and the regiment whose 
gay jacket he had donned so proudly but 
a few months back. Well, he was young, 
India was all new to him — and he must just 
make the best of things. He found his 
new comrades a right good lot of fellows, 
and frankly admitted that they were so ; 
but still his sympathies were all with the 
regiment he had left. A soldier should 
always believe his own corps to be the 
very best in the service, and however he 
may wander about the Army List he usually 
retains a strong feeling for the regiment 
under whose colours he first served. 

Then again, there was no doubt that 
Charlie found his new corps engaged in a 
most monotonous and depressing duty ; for 
the suppression of these dacoits the corps 



SHERE ALI THE DACOIT. 13 

was broken up into small divisions. It 
was really arduous police duty, from which 
there was no honour to be gained, but in 
which there was a good deal of roughing it 
and weary marching ; nothing is more irk- 
some than the pursuit of such light-footed 
marauders as the troops engaged in stamp- 
ing out the embers of the great Mutiny 
found to their sorrow. Charlie's soldiering 
at home had been of the sunniest descrip- 
tion. Quartered in one of the pleasantest 
cities in England, with excellent hunting 
close by, and the metropolis within an easy 
distance, his experiences had been very 
different to the monotonous life he was now 
living; not that he cared about the hard 
work, but there was a want of excitement 
about it all that he felt so terribly. 

" Never mind, young 'un," said Hobson, 
when his subaltern indulged in a hearty 
growl at the dulness of their present exist- 
ence, "it won't last for ever; these fellows 
are either getting used up or dispersed; 



14 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

though our detachment has never had the 
good fortune to come up with them; still, 
you know, we hunt them into other people's 
hands, and if you have any luck you will 
throw in for a very pretty scrimmage yet 
before it is all over. Erom what my scouts 
tell me, we have got a stag royal in front 
of us — a fellow who was a man of mark in 
the Mutiny times — one of Tantia Topee's 
ablest lieutenants, and what is more he is 
at the head of a pretty strong band ; now 
that fellow don't want to fight, but you may 
depend upon it that whoever does come up 
with him will find him a stiff nut to crack." 

"By Jove, this is getting rather exciting," 
said the other; "of course we shall beat him." 

" Oh yes," rejoined Hobson, " we always 
do, odds or no odds ; all I mean is it won't 
be a walk over." 

" So much the better," rejoined Charlie, 
who like all young soldiers was just a little 
bloodthirsty ; " I am keen to see something 
of fighting in earnest." 



SHERE ALI THE DACOIT. 15 

"Well, if we chance to come up with 
Shere Ali he is safe to indulge you ; he is 
fighting with a rope round his neck, for, 
though his sins of the Mutiny time might 
be condoned, yet he has been guilty of too 
many outrages in the dacoit way, since, to 
hope for pardon." 

They rode on now for some time in si- 
lence, each immersed in his own thoughts ; 
Hobson gravely considering how he is to 
get the best of this ubiquitous robber, Shere 
Ali, upon whose trail you had no sooner 
got than he speedily vanished to be heard 
of only again in some other part of the 
district. Government had decreed that this 
man should be stamped out like any other 
vermin, and the ex-soubahdar most richly 
deserved it. Since he had proved false to 
his salt he had shown all that tiger ferocity 
characteristic of the Asiatic when he gets the 
upper hand. He had been one of the most 
ruthless lieutenants of Tantia Topee, and 
since he had become a leader of dacoits had 



16 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

distinguished himself by the most unre- 
lenting hostility to the Eeringhee ; such 
Englishmen, and it was whispered even 
Englishwomen, who had the misfortune to 
fall into his hands, had met with scant 
mercy. This man's hands, it was known, 
were as deeply imbued in blood as Nana 
Sahib's, or any of the other savage chiefs 
who sprang to the front at the time of the 
great Mutiny. He was quite aware that 
there was small hope for him should he fall 
into the hands of the English, and had 
vowed to wage a war of implacable hostility 
against the white men. 

Charlie's thoughts, on the contrary, re- 
verted to the old country, and the life he 
had left behind him ; — what a fool he had 
been ! What a pleasant career was opened 
before him but for those miserable gam- 
bling debts of his old Cambridge days. 
He had not heard so often from home as 
he had expected; and, strangest thing of 
all, Lettie had never said a word of her 



SHERE ALI THE DACOIT. 17 

approaching marriage. But, he had also 
heard from Mrs. Kynaston, and that lady, 
though alluding to it somewhat vaguely, 
quite conveyed the idea that the engage- 
ment still existed ; and Charlie, who, bear 
in mind, was wholly ignorant of the seamy 
side of Ralph Furzedon's life, saw no 
reason why, if Lettie fancied him, it should 
not be. Prom Bertie Slade he had also 
heard but briefly, though satisfactorily : 
" In the end, Charlie," said Bertie, " your 
affairs, I have no doubt, will be thoroughly 
arranged; but your father places implicit 
reliance on my uncle Bob. Now the Major, 
you know, is a bit of a martinet, and con- 
tends that a decent dose of purgatory should 
precede the killing of the fatted calf for the 
prodigal : ' There is nothing like giving 
these young sinners a tolerable spell of dis- 
comfort before vou re-establish them : leave 
the boy out there for a bit, Mr. Devereux, 
to enjoy the sport of dacoit-hunting, out of 
which there is not a laurel to be gathered, 

VOL. III. c 



18 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

but which involves plenty of work and hard 
knocks. Besides, it will make it all the 
easier to arrange matters with Jordan & Co. 
If they think you are ready to settle all 
your son's liabilities right off they will insist 
on a settlement in full. If, on the contrary, 
they see we are in no hurry, they will abate 
their terms considerably. The longer we 
wait, the less they will take. Let him stay 
out in India until he gets his lieutenancy, 
a matter, probably, of two or three years ; 
and then, I think, we shall find Jordan & 
Co. likely to listen to reason.' It is good 
sound advice, Charlie ; and, though the 
chiveying of robbers all over the country 
is not quite our idea of active service, still 
I can fancy with what a will you'll go for 
them when you do catch 'em." 

By this time they had reached the edge 
of the plain, and were now apparently enter- 
ing a wooded country, at the back of which 
lay the regular jungle. They were about to 
dismount from their horses, when " crack " 



SHERE ALI THE DACOTT. 19 

went three or four rifles, and as many bul- 
lets whistled past their ears. Instantly 
Hobson, wheeling his steed about, and with 
a cry, " Ride for it, Charlie," set spurs to 
his horse. Young Devereux followed his 
example ; though, as he did so, he felt some- 
thing like a hot iron just graze his arm. 
When he had gone three or four hundred 
yards Hobson pulled up his horse, and, 
turning round, deliberately surveyed the 
spot from whence the fire had come. 

" By Jove, Charlie," he exclaimed, " we 
rode right into the wasps' nest, and it is 
deuced lucky for us, I fancy, that we rather 
surprised them ; if they had only exercised 
their usual cunning, we should have been 
either dead or prisoners by this." 

" See," replied Charlie, " there are about a 
dozen of the beggars on the edge of the 
wood looking at us." 

"Yes," replied Hobson, "it is confoundedly 
unlucky that we should have come upon them 
as we did ; they will know, of course, that 

c2 



20 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

we have soldiers with us, and before we can 
get back to camp, or even start, that fellow 
Shere Ali will have had up sticks and 
decamped in some other direction. It is 
thundering unlucky. We really had a 
chance to come up with him to-night ; but, 
hullo ! young man, they have barked you." 

" Just a graze," replied Charlie, " but 
nothing of any consequence ; but what will 
you do now ?" "Oh! we must just get back 
to camp as quick as we can, and then start in 
pursuit of our friends ; my only hope is that, 
by perpetually harrying them, we shall drive 
Shere Ali straight into the hands of one of 
the other parties out in pursuit of him ;" 
and with that, Hobson put his horse into a 
gallop, and the pair made their way back to 
camp as speedily as might be. 



21 



CHAPTER II. 

DOINGS ON THE KNAVESMIRE. 

We must now go back a little bit in this 
history to see how events have fared with 
people in England. Gilbert Slade had been 
very little in London since that famous 
Derby, which had utterly broke Devereux. 
He had run up for a week to help Charlie 
with his advice in the arrangement of his 
affairs, and he had also come up for a few 
days to see him off and bid him God- speed 
on his departure for India, which had taken 
place about the end of July ; otherwise 
Gilbert Slade had seen nothing of London 
that year. He had called upon nobody 
during those brief visits. He was up strictly 



22 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

on business, and had no wish to advertise 
his presence in the metropolis. He had 
never made his appearance in Onslow Gar- 
dens, nor, sorely to the disappointment of 
Mrs. Kynaston, had she ever set eyes upon 
him since that brief visit he paid her in 
May. With every reason to believe in 
Miss Devereux's engagement with Purzedon, 
Bertie had thought it useless to call on Mrs. 
Connop. Twice he had done so during that 
Derby week, and upon each occasion had 
been met with a " not at home." He had 
come to the conclusion that this was a dis- 
tinct intimation that they wished to see no 
more of him. While he was making up his 
mind, another had stepped in and carried 
off the prize. If it had only been any other 
than Purzedon he could have borne it better, 
but that, even with all his money, Miss 
Devereux could marry such a man as that 
was incomprehensible in Bertie's eyes ; but 
it was all over now, and for the present, as 
men do under such circumstances, Gilbert 



DOINGS ON THE KNAVESMIRE. 23 

Slade thoroughly realized the hollowness of 
London society. One morning in Septem- 
ber, shortly before the Doncaster races, 
Bertie received a letter from his uncle 
Norman, in which he said " I shall be at 
York this week for a couple of nights ; I 
shall stay at the ' Black Swan,' and shall 
throw myself upon your hospitality for 
dinner ; your regiment has the reputation 
of doing that sort of thing rather well, and 
I have no doubt you can make up a rubber 
for me afterwards. An hotel coffee-room is 
rather a dull place to put in an evening 
alone." 

" Give uncle Norman a dinner ! I should 
rather think so," muttered Bertie to him- 
self on reading this note, " I would put him 
up for a whole week, and be only too glad to 
do so ; but I am puzzled as to what brings 
him to York just now. Uncle Norman at 
York during the races is natural enough, but 
uncle Norman at York the second week in 
September is a mystery." However, what- 



24 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

ever might be Norman Slade's object in 
turning up in the great city of the north, 
his nephew took care that there should be a 
note for him at the " Black Swan," saying 
that he should be only too glad to see him 
every day during his stay ; and that if it 
would be the slightest convenience he could 
put him up very comfortably to boot. In due 
course Norman Slade turned up at the mess 

of the th Hussars, and was regarded 

with due reverence by the younger members 
of that sporting regiment as a sort of incar- 
nation of all Turf knowledge, and a man 
who, if he chose, could make wondrous 
revelations on the subject of races past, 
present, and to come. When he chose, as 
we know, Norman could make himself ex- 
tremely pleasant, and upon this occasion he 
won golden opinions. The Colonel, in par- 
ticular, was enchanted with his guest, who 
manifested the greatest possible interest in 
the regiment. One thing especially was he 
curious in, and that was, would he have an 



DOINGS ON THE KNAVESMIRE. 25 

opportunity of seeing the regiment out ? 
Did they not exercise on the Knavesmire in 
the early mornings at times ? 

"Yes," replied the Colonel, "but we are 
not so very early — during this hot weather 
we begin at seven, and so get our drill over 
before the heat of the day." 

" Then," rejoined Norman, " if I am on 
the Knavesmire sharp seven, I shall be in 
time to see your fellows exercise." 

" In plenty of time, Mr. Slade," said the 
Colonel ; " indeed, a quarter past will be 
quite time enough. If you will allow me I 
will have a horse there already for you." 

" You are very good," rejoined Norman, 
"but I have no doubt Bertie can manage 
all that for me " — to which speech Bertie 
returned a somewhat bewildered assent. 

" Very good, then," replied the Colonel ; 
" and now, Mr. Slade, if you won't take any 
more wine, what do you say to a rubber and 



a cigar 



"I should like it of all things," replied 



26 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

the other, rising. Norman Slade, indeed, 
had astonished Her Majesty's — th Hussars 
not a little. Although Bertie had given a 
hint to the chief and some of his own imme- 
diate chums that his uncle was not given to 
racing talk, they could not believe that a 
man who occupied such a leading position 
on the Turf should absolutely abstain from 
the slightest allusion to that sport, either in 
the past or the present ; while Bertie on his 
part was just as much astonished at the ex- 
traordinary interest his uncle had suddenly 
developed in military matters. "I can 
understand," said Bertie, to one of his 
chums, " his not talking Turf — he never 
does — I can understand his preferring a 
dinner with us and a rubber afterwards to 
the solitude of the ' Black Swan,' but his 
wanting to see the regiment out beats me 
altogether. I never knew my uncle before 
take the faintest interest in soldiering, and 
should have just as soon thought of asking 
him to the regimental ball as to a regimental 



DOINGS ON THE KNAVESMIRE. 27 

field-day." However, after a couple of partis 
at whist, Norman Slade rose to take his 
departure, simply remarking, " These early 
hours in the morning, Colonel, require 
correspondingly early hours at night," and 
then, thanking his host for a very pleasant 
evening, Norman Slade stepped into his fly 
and was driven back to his hotel. 

The morning came, and seven o'clock saw 
the — th Hussars filing through the gate 
that led on to the Knavesmire; that passed, 
they formed up, and at once commenced the 
morning's drill. Bertie's servant with a 
horse was left at the gate, with instructions 
to await the arrival of Mr. Slade, who was 
to drive out from York in a fly. Soon the 
Hussars were skirmishing, charging, and 
going through all manner of evolutions, and 
more than once both the Colonel's and 
Bertie's eyes wandered about in search of 
their pleasant guest of the night before. 
But there was not a sign of Norman Slade, 
and as they once more filed through the 



28 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

gate — their morning's work over — on their 
way back to barracks, Bertie's servant 
assured them that the gentleman had never 
put in an appearance. It was incompre- 
hensible. It seemed impossible that there 
could have been any mistake — and yet what 
could have become of Norman Slade ? He 
was, apparently, most anxious last night to 
see the regiment out in the morning, and 
yet, although a horse had been brought 
there expressly for him, although he had 
been told the exact time and everything 
else, he had never put in an appearance ; 
neither the Colonel nor Bertie ould per- 
ceive how it was possible that a mistake 
could have occurred. In the course of the 
morning a note was brought to Bertie in 
which his uncle said that he was unfor- 
tunately prevented coming out to the 
Knavesmire that morning, and, more un- 
lucky still, that business required him to 
leave York that morning for the north by 
the eleven train. " Make my apologies to 



DOINGS ON THE KNAVESMIRE. 29 

the Colonel for not turning up this morning, 
and, if you can, meet me at the station a 
little before the train starts." It was all 
very mysterious ; however, Bertie at once 
determined that there was only one thing to 
be done, and that was to meet his uncle as 
suggested, and say good-bye to him. 

At a quarter before eleven Bertie Slade 
made his appearance at the York station, 
where he found his uncle already pacing up 
and down the platform. " Why, what on 
earth became of you, uncle Norman, this 
morning ? we were all on the look-out for 
you on the Knavesmire, and never saw 

you." 

Norman's eyes twinkled at his nephew's 
speech. " No," he said, " you were a little 
late for me. I had gone home before you 
came." 

"What on earth do you mean?" ejacu- 
lated the other speaker. 

"I mean this," said Norman. "I had 
ascertained that you fellows were given to 



30 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

early drills on the Knavesmire, and I had 
the best of all possible reasons for wishing to 
know exactly when you would be there." 

" I don't understand," said Bertie. 

" Well, my dear boy, I tried Belisarius for 
the Leger this morning, and I didn't want the 
whole of Her Majesty's — th Hussars to be 
present at the trial — do you understand 
now, Bertie?" Bertie's answer was simply 
a roar of laughter, and then he exclaimed, 
" Sold us all, by Jove ! I hope it was 
satisfactory? " 

"I will say no more, but it is good enough 
for you to stand in a pony with me — they 
got at the man last time, but I will take 
deuced good care that they don't this." 

" Yes, I heard something about this in 
London, and, what is more, happened to get 
at the names of two of the principal winners 
over the defeat of Belisarius." 

" What are their names ? " inquired Slade 
sharply. 

" Major Kynaston and a Mr. Purzedon — 



DOINGS ON THE KNAVESMIRE. 31 

both men I have met and don't think much 
of. Didn't you hear a rumour that Bill 
Smith was given a drugged glass of wine in 
the Paddock after he got up ? " 

"Hear the rumour!" exclaimed Norman 
Slade excitedly. " I saw it done, and, 
though I don't know him, could swear to 
the man that gave it. I know all about 
Kynaston, he is rather a shy card, but I 
don't think that he would go the length of 
hocussing a jockey ; besides, I will swear he 
was not the man who handed that glass to 
Bill. As for Eurzedon, I never saw him — 
but here is my train— we must have some 
more talk about this — mind you come to 
Doncaster." 

" All right, uncle, I will come up to see 
Belisarius have another shy. Furzedorj will 
most likely be there, and, if so, I will point 
him out to you." 

" Do," said Norman, " and if I can work 
the thing out 1 will bring the whole case 
before the Jockey Club. Once more, good- 
bye," and the two cordially shook hands. 



32 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

Norman Slade as he sped rapidly back to 
Bellaton Wold pondered a good deal over 
what Bertie had just told him. True, he 
had seen that fatal glass given to Bill Smith 
in the Paddock at Epsom ; had he not inter- 
fered and insisted upon drinking a glass out 
of the same bottle ? That wine was not 
drugged, or he also must have felt the 
effects of it, and, if Smith in accordance with 
his besetting weakness had been unable to 
withstand the temptation of a glass too 
much, then there would be no call for the 
interference of the Jockey Club in the 
matter. An intemperate man had failed to 
keep sober in order to ride his own horse in 
the great race of the year, and there was no 
more to be said. It was of more moment to 
him, Bill Smith, than any one, and as for 
the misguided public who chose to pin their 
faith on a drunken jockey trainer they had 
only themselves to blame for their exceed- 
ing folly. 

This time Norman Slade and Sir Ronald 
had determined not to let the bibulous Bill 



DOINGS ON THE KNAVESMIRE. 33 

out of tbeir guardianship. They knew from 
bitter experience that when once he had 
broken out and given way to drink he got 
beyond all control, but that if carefully 
watched over from the first it was possible 
to restrain him. It was during that un- 
lucky week when neither Norman Slade nor 
Sir Ronald had been able to keep guard over 
him that Bill Smith got so completely out 
of hand before Epsom, but this time there 
had been no relaxation of vigilance. Nor- 
man Slade had taken up his abode at Bel- 
laton immediately after Goodwood, aud Sir 
Ronald had also been a frequent visitor. 
Bill Smith had never been left by himself 
for some weeks past, and, though there was 
no such golden harvest to be reaped at 
Doncaster as might have been gathered at 
Epsom, still both Slade and the baronet had 
managed to back Belisarius for the St. 
Leger to win themselves a nice stake. Al- 
though the racing fraternity knew, that, as 
far as Smith's horse went, the Derby run- 

VOL. III. D 



34 SADDLE AND SABEE. 

ning was not to be relied on, yet the general 
public only knew that Belisarius had been 
well beaten in the big race. Rumours of 
course there were that his rider had been 
drunk, but then excuses were always made 
for a prominent favourite when he failed 
to realise the expectations formed of him, 
and so, though the bookmakers would offer 
no great price against the north-country 
horse, in consequence of the public not 
fancying him, the odds against him were 
larger than might have been expected. 

Another thing too that still further ex- 
panded the price at which Belisarius stood 
for the great Doncaster race was due in 
part to accident, and in part to a piece of 
Turf strategy suggested by Norman Slade. 
Pearing that the horse-watchers who in- 
fested Bellaton Wold should get knowledge 
of their proceedings, Slade had suggested 
that the trial of Belisarius just previous to 
the St. Leger should take place at York, 
and this manoeuvre had been attended with 



DOINGS ON THE KNAVESMIRE. 35 

complete success. Belisarius had been 
tried over the Knavesmire, and acquitted 
himself to the entire satisfaction of all con- 
nected with him, and, what is more, without 
any of the few spectators being a bit the 
wiser, they indeed being unaware of what 
horses they were; whilst there occurred 
another thing which Slade had not foreseen, 
namely, that the horse-watchers of Bellaton 
Wold telegraphed to their employers that 
Belisarius had not left his stable, which to 
the racing world meant that there was 
something amiss with him. When a horse is 
stopped in his work a week before a big 
engagement it is usually the presage of his 
defeat, and consequently it was not sur- 
prising that the bookmakers extended their 
offers against Belisarius. Mushed by the 
successful issue of the trial, Slade and Sir 
llonald took this opportunity of again back- 
ing the horse on more favourable terms, the 
Baronet in particular laying out a consider- 
able sum of money to — as he said — recoup 

d 2 



36 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

him for his Epsom disappointment ; and a 
few days later saw the little coterie on the 
Doncaster Town Moor, trusting to see 
Belisarius redeem his laurels. 

The Wednesday dedicated to the great race 
of the North came at last and saw Bertie 
Slade and several of his brother officers all 
bound for Doncaster. " If you fellows want 
to bet," said Bertie, " you had better wait till 
I have seen mv uncle, and, if he savs 
Belisarius and his jockey are all right, I 
think you will find him good enough to 
have a flutter on!" and it was accordingly 
settled amongst that little band of Hussars, 
that, if Norman Slade spoke favourably, 
they should ail indulge in a joint plunge 
upon that noble animal. Bertie, indeed, 
had been uuable during the railway journey 
to resist explaining the cause of his uncle 
Norman's sudden interest in cavalry ma- 
noeuvres. " Couldn't make it out at all," 
said Bertie; "his military knowledge goes 
no further than just knowing a horse-soldier 



DOINGS ON THE KNAVESMIRE. 37 

from an infantry man " — and then Bertie 
told his story — which elicited roars of 
laughter. Arrived at the course, Bertie 
made his way straight to the Paddock, 
where, as he rightly conjectured, he found 
his uncle. 

" You will have a good run for your 
money to-day," said Norman, as they shook 
hands ; " both horse and man are thoroughly 
fit, and I think you will see that the Two 
Thousand form was right, and not the 
Derby." 

" All right ! Excuse me, I'll be back in 
a minute, but I promised to let some of our 
fellows know if you fancied Belisarius." 

" Tell them I do," rejoined Norman 
curtly. 

Bertie hurried across the Paddock and 
told that little syndicate that had been 
formed in the train that they might com- 
mence operations at once; that his uncle 
thought Belisarius would about win ; that 
it was the jockey not the horse who lost the 



38 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

race at Epsom, and that this time Bill 
Smith was sober as the traditional judge. 
As Bertie made his way back again he met 
Furzedon, who would have fain stopped and 
spoken, but Bertie passed him with a non- 
chalant nod, and rejoined his uncle. 

" I told you Furzedon would be at Don- 
caster. I have just met him. I will point 
him out to you presently." 

" Ah, do," replied Norman Slade. " I 
should like to see him. Bill Smith still 
sticks to it that last glass of wine he had 
was drugged. He admits he was the worse 
for liquor, but declares that he was hocussed 
to boot. Now, I know he was drunk and 
that the wine in that bottle was not doc- 
tored, for I drank a glass of it. Of course 
it does not follow that there was not some- 
thing dropped into Smith's glass, but I can- 
not prove it." 

" Surely some of the gang with the giver 
of that last glass were privy to it if it was 
so?" 



DOINGS ON THE KNAVESMIRE. 39 

" No doubt," said Norman ; " but I don't 
know how to get at them." 

" Whenever a lot of scoundrels have been 
engaged in a transaction of this sort one 
of them is safe to turn Queen's evidence," 
said Bertie. " The story is safe to come to 
your ears before long ; but here comes our 
man. That's Eurzedon, uncle Norman." 

" By Heavens, the very fellow ; that's the 
man who handed Bill Smith the glass of 
wine in the Epsom paddock " 

" And was one of the largest winners 
over the defeat of Belisarius," commented 
Bertie. 



40 



CHAPTER III. 



THE ST. LEGER. 



Spurred on by his hatred of Purzedon, Mr. 
Prance has been untiring in his endeavours 
to unravel the whole history of Belisarius's 
defeat at Epsom; or, to speak more pro- 
perly, of the drugging of Bill Smith, which 
led to it. The story was current enough 
amongst the lower order of professional 
racing-men ; and Prance had, with some 
little trouble, got at the names of the very 
men who had been employed to ply the 
reckless jockey with liquor. It was not dif- 
ficult to scrape an acquaintance with them, 
and Prance speedily ascertained that they 
conceived themselves to have been by no 



THE ST. LEGER. 41 

means liberally dealt with by Eurzedon, and 
were quite willing to tell all they knew to any 
one who would make it worth their while. 
This question of money, however, put an 
insurmountable bar to further investigation 
for the present, although Mr. Prance antici- 
pated no difficulty about procuring the re- 
quisite funds when he should deem it expe- 
dient to launch his thunderbolt against the 
object of his detestation. He was quite 
aware that he must get hold of somebody of 
standing and position to bring forward such 
a charge as this. No one would even listen 
to such a story from the lips of a nameless 
vagrant like himself; and he thought that 
whoever he induced to take up the case 
would make no demur to finding the neces- 
sary funds to unloose the tongues of his 
witnesses. He had, in the first instance, 
fixed upon Sir Ronald Radcliffe as the in- 
strument of his vengeance. He knew that 
the Baronet had lost a considerable sum by 
the overthrow of Belisarius ; and his status 



42 SADDLE AND SABHE. 

as a racing-man made Mm a very fit person 
to take up the case. He had found no diffi- 
culty in attaining access to Sir Ronald ; for, 
like Major Kynaston, that sporting gentle- 
man was accustomed to receive strange 
visitors; but the interview had proved by 
no means satisfactory. 

" I don't believe your story," rejoined the 
philosophical and somewhat cynical Baronet. 
" You say you have witnesses who demand 
to be paid before they will testify. As 
Shakespeare hath it, ' that makes against 
you ' ; but, secondly, we'll suppose it all 
true, what the devil does it all matter to 
me ? The race was lost, and our money has 
been paid. Whether Bill Smith was drunk, 
or drugged, or both, makes but little differ- 
ence. Pooh ! my good fellow, I'm not going 
to trouble myself with unearthing a dead 
scandal like this. Your best chance is to 
try and drive a bargain with a sporting 
newspaper ; it might suit them to buy it all 
up as copy for the dead season, now fast 



THE ST. LEGER. 43 

approaching. That will do, my good fellow ! 
Your narrative has no interest for me." 
Mr. Prance walked down the staircase of 
Sir Ronald's house considerably depressed 
in spirits. He had counted confidently on 
the Baronet at once taking up the case 
hotlv. He forgot that Sir Ronald had no 
personal vengeance to gratify, and that the 
race was, as he says, a thing of the irrevo- 
cable past, the which there was no undoing ; 
and now Mr. Prance was non-plussed to 
whom to apply. He knew Norman Slade 
by name; but Norman was a man who 
was seldom a prominent figure on a race- 
course. He passed most of his time in the 
Paddock, and was given to looking on at 
a race from the trainers' stand — inner pre- 
cincts which impecunious vagabonds like 
Prance are not privileged to enter. He had 
had a tolerably successful year, and, in con- 
sequence, was in possession of more money 
than usual ; still it was a firm part of his 
scheme that his vengeance should be carried 



44 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

out at some one else's expense : and when 
Mr. Prance arrived at Doncaster he by no 
means saw his way towards this. 

He was wandering vaguely down the 
course, trying to make up bis mind as to 
whether he should invest his stake on B3I1- 
sarius, whom two or three of his fraternity 
had informed him would be sure to reverse 
the Epsom running. More prudent he 
thought to wait till he saw Bill Smith in the 
saddle and could assure himself that the 
jockey was fit to ride, when suddenly his eye 
fell on a cardboard ticket close to his feet. 
Mr. Prance at once pounced on it — it was 
probably, he thought, an admission to the 
Stand ; lie was not far wrong, but instead 
of the Stand it was a ticket for the Pad- 
dock. Most racing-men are more or less 
superstitious, and Prance hailed this bit of 
luck as a good augury, and without more ado 
made his way to that privileged inclosure 
which cf late years he had never penetrated. 
It was the very thing he wanted. He would 



THE ST. LEGER. 45 

doubtless see Bill Smith inside, as well as 
the horse, and be able to judge for himself 
of their condition. Once inside the Paddock 
Prance had no difficulty in finding what he 
wanted. Belisarius was walking up and 
down, and round him were gathered a 
little knot, two of whom Prance at once 
recognised. One was the famous north- 
country jockey, and upon this occasion 
there could be no doubt that he was in a 
very different state from that in which he 
had appeared at Epsom ; the other was Sir 
Ronald Radcliffe ; the remainder of the 
group were unknown to Prance, though 
the keen, dark, saturnine features of Norman 
Slade were not easy to forget by any one 
who had once seen them. Mr. Prance's 
mind was at once made up upon one point, 
to wit, that Belisarius was worth backing 
to-day ; but, as the saddling-bell had not 
yet rung, there was plenty of time for that, 
and Mr. Prance took advantage of his good 
fortune to inquire the names of such nota- 



46 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

bilitics as were unknown to him by sight ; 
most especially anxious, for example, to 
know all those in that group of which Bill 
Smith was the centre. There were plenty 
of people there who could tell him who 
Norman Slade was, and Prance became at 
once deeply interested in that gentleman. 
Could this be the man he was looking for ? 
It is a stern, unforgiving face, thought 
Prance. A man little likely to forgive 
those who had done aught to his detriment. 
He never recollected having seen him be- 
fore, but he had heard him spoken of; he 
knew that he was a great supporter of Bill 
Smith, and he further knew that he was 
a loser over the Derby. Perhaps he could 
induce this Mr. Slade to take up the 
case against Eurzedon. At all events he 
must try, for he could think of no one else 
now that Sir lionald had failed him. How- 
ever, it would be time enough to think of 
all this after the race. If there should be 
no opportunity, as was most likely, of tell- 



THE ST. LEGER. 47 

ing Mr. Slade the whole story at Doncaster, 
he would doubtless be enabled to obtain 
access to him in London. At all events, he 
would find out where he lived and whether 
he was willing to help him wreak his 
vengeance on Purzedon. Mr. Prance was a 
man of "decision ; he dashed out of the Pad- 
dock, and, making his way to the outer ring, 
at once made his investment on Belisarius, 
and then sought some coign of vantage 
from which to see the race. The St. Leger 
of that year only proved to the backers 
of Belisarius how their money had been 
thrown away at Epsom, and the story of the 
race may be told in very few words. Bill 
Smith, on his favourite battle-ground, and 
upon this occasion strictly sober, occupied a 
prominent position all the way up to the 
E-ed House turn, and no sooner was he 
round that than he took his horse to the 
front, was never again reached, and landed 
Belisarius a winner by a good three lengths. 
" Ah ! " exclaimed Mr. Prance, as he 



48 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

jumped off the rough stand, for the occupa- 
tion of a foot-hold on which he had heen 
mulcted of the sum of one shilling, " if 
that don't make Sir Ronald and Mr. Slade 
feel heavenly I don't know what will. 
When they think of all the money that 
ought to have gone into their pockets last 
May, and remember that it went out in- 
stead, they must surely feel rather wolfish 
about it, and be hungry to punish the man 
who hocussed their jockey. Mr. Slade, at 
all events, don't look one of the forgiving 

No sooner had he been paid his winnings 
than Prance once more repaired to the Pad- 
dock with the object of getting speech with 
Norman Slade, which he thought, the big 
race beiug satisfactorily got through with, 
would be now easy to accomplish. The 
racecourse, as Mr. Punch once observed of 
the hunting-field, " brings people together 
who would not otherwise meet" and certainly 
affords opportunity to such men as Prance 



THE ST. LEGER. 49 

to address their betters if they can only 
conie across them, and this the fortunate 
finding of the Paddock-ticket had placed 
within that worthy's power. Bill Smith's 
triumph had been received with very mode- 
rate cneering, and not with that "York- 
shire roar " with which the big county was 
wont to proclaim the victory of the North 
over the South country horses. Too many 
of the Tykes had suffered over the Epsom 
business to feel much enthusiasm about the 
success of Belisarius on the Town Moor, 
and Bill Smith was not a little nettled at 
missing the ovation which usually greeted 
his winning the St. Leger. Even the im- 
passive Sir Ronald could not suppress a 
groan as he thought of that lost golden 
opportunity on Epsom Downs. 

The baronet, however, having congratu- 
lated Bill Smith on his victory, speedily 
returned to the Grand Stand to chat over 
the race with his friends, and speculate on 
the following events, and this gave Prance 

VOL. III. E 



50 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

the opening he wanted. He did not wish to 
speak before Sir Ronald, but no sooner was 
the baronet's back turned than he walked 
up to Norman, and touching his hat said, 
" Can I have a word with you, Mr. Slade?" 

Accustomed to be addressed on a race- 
course not unfrequently by persons of whom 
he had no knowledge, Norman replied 
curtly, " All right, what is it ?" 

"You saw what won to-day, sir. You 
know what ought to have won at Epsom." 

" If you have merely to tell me that 
Belisarius ought to have won the Derby, 
but didn't, because his jockey was drunk, 
you are a little behind-hand with a well- 
known story. All the world's known that 
for some time." 

" Bill Smith was more than drunk, sir ; he 
was drugged. You know the man that did 
it, for I'm told you saw it done." 

" I saw him given that last glass of wine 
in the Paddock — if you mean that. I sus- 
pected it might be so, and I insisted on 



THE ST. LEGER. 51 



having a glass out of the same bottle. I 
know it was not changed for I never took 
my eye off it — that wine was not drugged ! " 

" Not the wine you drank, sir, but the 
wine Bill Smith drank was ! They didn't 
change the bottle, but they did the glass." 

" You know that ? You can prove what 
you assert ?" 

" I can prove it, sir," replied Prance. 
" This Eurzedon was one of the heaviest 
layers against Belisarius for the Derby. I 
can bring you the men he employed to make 
Smith drunk, but at the last moment his 
nerve failed him, and he was afraid that 
would not be sufficient to prevent the horse 
winning. He ordered them to drug him 
besides, but they were afraid to do that, and 
so at the last moment he was compelled to 
do the hocussing himself. Of course they 
were with him, and helped him, and saw 
the phial emptied into the glass. Surely, 
sir, such a robbery as this ought to be 
exposed!" 

e 2 



52 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

A queer smile flitted around Slade's 
mouth as he replied, " And these friends of 
yours would be willing to give evidence 
confirmatory of all this, I presume?" 

" Certainly, they would, if they thought 
there was any probability of the case being 
taken up ; but they are poor men, Mr. 
Slade." 

" Ah ! and don't speak unless they are 
paid for it," interrupted Norman, sharply. 
" Now, sir ! first of all, what's your name ? 
and secondly, why do you come to me at 
this time of day?" 

" To begin with, my name is Prance, and 
secondly, it took me a long time to collect 
the proofs of what I only suspected." 

"Good!" rejoined Slade, "it looks a 
little to me as if you and your confederates, 
having made all that you possibly could out 
of a successful conspiracy, are now exceed- 
ingly anxious to put the coping-stone on 
your villainy by selling your employer." 
" I give you my word, Mr. Slade, that I 



THE ST. LEGER. 53 

had nothing to do with it, and knew nothing 
about what was beino; done till after the 
race," rejoined Prance, earnestly. 

" Then what the deuce is your object in 
coming to me ?" said Norman, sharply. 

For a second Prance hesitated, then, as 
an almost demoniacal expression spread 
across his countenance, he hissed between 
his teeth. 

" I hate Furzedon ! " 

Slade looked at him for a moment, and 
then exclaimed, almost involuntarily, " By 
heaven, he is speaking the truth now." 

" Yes ! " continued Prance, in a voice 
hoarse with passion, "you gentlemen think 
that we poor devils care for nothing but 
money, but there's one thing that comes 
far before money to most men — revenge ! 
Furzedon has ruined me ! struck me ! deso- 
lated my home ! and for years I have lived 
only to be revenged upon him ! " 

"That will do for the present," replied 
Slade quietly; "if you can prove what you 



54 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

say, and I take this case up, I think, socially 
speaking, you will about attain your end." 

"Yes," replied Prance, "and I have a 
good deal more to tell you about him than 
that. He passes in the world as a wealthy, 
well-to-do gentleman ; in reality he is only 
a money-lender." 

" Give me your address," rejoined Slade, 
and as he spoke Norman took his betting- 
book from his pocket, and carefully noted 
down Mr. Prance's town residence. " I 
have no time to go into the matter here, but 
I will write to vou in London, and if I am 
satisfied with the proofs you produce and that 
your story is bond fide, I think I can at all 
events promise you that Mr. Purzedon will 
be warned off the Turf, and be no longer 
received in decent society." 

" Thank you, sir," and touching his hat 
Mr. Prance accepted his dismissal, and with 
an exultant heart vanished into the crowd. 

As for Norman Slade he paced up and down 
in the Paddock, revolvin g the whole story in 



THE ST. LEGER. 55 

his mind for some minutes. He had vowed 
if he could but get proof of this thing to 
follow up the matter to its bitter end, and 
here was proof ready to his hand, if Prance's 
tale was to be trusted. This scoundrel 
Furzedon, moreover, was figuring in society, 
and had actually forced an acquaintance 
upon Bertie Slade, his — Norman's — nephew. 
Now it was high time the disguise was 
torn off this impostor. This fraudulent 
money-lender should be shown up in his 
true colours, and, if he was beyond the reach 
of the ordinary law, he was still open to the 
judgment of the Turf Senate, and if when 
the facts were brought before them they 
should think fit to pass sentence, Mr. Furze- 
don would find that there were mal-practices 
in racing that could not be committed with 
impunity. 



56 



CHAPTER IV. 



SINISTER RUMOURS. 



Charlie's exile is a source of sore trouble 
to Lettie Devereux, and of infinite mortifi- 
cation to her aunt. They both, perhaps, 
unduly exulted at that young scapegrace's 
appointment to the — th Hussars. They 
had been so proud of their young dragoon ! 
and now that was all over. He was in a 
far country, engaged in what was apparently 
little better than police-work. Mrs. Con- 
nop, indeed, had been so melted by what 
she called the misfortunes of her favourite 
nephew that she had been ready to contri- 
bute very handsomely towards extricating 
him from his difficulties; if her brother 



SINISTER RUMOURS. 57 

would furnish two-thirds of the requisite 
money, she would find the remainder ; hut 
old Tom Devereux, taking counsel from 
shrewd and worldly Major Braddock, was 
ohstinate. Charlie had made his own bed, 
and must lie on it. Major Braddock was by 
no means averse to welcoming a return of 
the prodigal in due season ; but what he did 
object to was a premature mincing of veal 
in his behalf. 

"No such schoolmaster as experience!" 
quoth the Major. " Let him feel thoroughly 
for a time the change of position his folly 
has cost him. Let him discover what slow 
work chevying dacoits is compared to a 
gallop with the York and Ainsty ! and, by 
the Lord ! sir, let him know the difference 
of living on his rations and dinner at the 
mess of his old regiment." 

So Lettie had to make up her mind that a 
long time would pass before she should see 
her favourite brother asmin. That he was 
dissatisfied with his lot she felt certain, 



58 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

although there was not the slightest com- 
plaint in any one of his letters ; but there 
was a want of go in his correspondence very 
different from the bright, cheery epistles of 
yore ; very different from the letters he had 
written from the University, or those he 
penned when he first joined his regiment at 
York : once only had he been betrayed into 
impatience of his present life, and that was 
when he said a that he only wished that he 
had better work to do than that he had been 
employed in." Another thing, too, which 
considerably discomposed Miss Devereux 
was that Gilbert Slade seemed to have to- 
tally disappeared from her ken. She not 
only never met him, she never even heard 
of him now. She was back again at North 
Leach, and, indeed, had been for some time; 
but how different it all was from the winter 
before ! when Charlie was looking forward to 
joining his regiment at York, and bringing 
back Bertie Slade with him to wind up the 
season by a last fortnight with the Brock- 



SINISTER RUMOURS. 59 

lesby ; and then Lettie thought the world 
was getting very dull, as we all do when 
things don't run quite in accordance with 
our desires, and finally resolved that she 
would ride across and see Kate Kvnaston, 
for the Kynastons had once more taken The 
Firs for the hunting season ; and, though 
there had been a relaxing of that great 
friendship which had suddenly sprung up 
between that lady and herself, still, strange 
to say, a common trouble had once more 
drawn them together. Mrs. Kynaston had 
schemed and plotted successfully — she had 
succeeded in detaching Gilbert Slade alto- 
gether from Miss Devereux, but she had 
also unluckily lost touch of him herself. 
She had failed to realise that both she and 
Lottie owed in great measure their intimacy 
with Bertie Slade chiefly to his being a 
brother officer of Charlie, and that now 
that youthful cornet had disappeared from 
the scene they heard no more of Gilbert's 
movements. Both ladies thought — and 



CO SADDLE AND SABRE. 

Lettie with good reason — that she for her 
own sake would have proved sufficiently 
attractive to ensure seeing and hearing a 
good deal of him, while Kate Kynaston's 
vanity enabled her to take a similar view 
of the situation. Miss Devereux wondered 
whether the rumour that she was engaged 
to be married to Mr. Purzedon had anything 
to say to Gilbert Slade's persistent avoidance 
of her — avoidance was perhaps hardly the 
right term, for he had certainly tried twice 
to see her during the Derby week ; still, he 
could have managed to meet her easily 
enough had he wished it ; he could have 
found plenty of excuses for writing to her ; 
but no, from the week he had paid those 
two bootless visits to Onslow Gardens Gil- 
bert Slade had given no sign of his very 
existence. She knew how persistently the 
story of her engagement had been circulated; 
of the shameful persecution — for it amounted 
to that — she had been subjected to by Mr. 
Furzedon. Was it not possible this infamous 



SINISTER RUMOURS. 61 

falsehood had heen brought designedly to 
Gilbert Slade's ears, and would not that 
account for his never coming near her ? 

She might have been more disposed to 
accept this theory but for Mrs. Kynaston, 
who was continually impressing upon her 
that in affairs of the heart soldiers were not 
to be put faith in. A great propounder 
of the doctrine that " he loves and rides 
away " was Mrs. Kynaston, but then, just 
now, she had a purpose to serve, and she 
was relentless in her determination to crush 
out anv feeling for Gilbert Slade that mij^ht 
be lurking in Miss Devereux's bosom. True, 
Mrs. Kynaston was not forwarding her own 
flirtation in any way. And, what was more, 
although that ladv had not in the least 
abated her caprice for Gilbert Slade, she was 
utterly nonplussed as regards further pur- 
suit of it. It was not likely that the fiction 
of Lettie's en^acrement to Mr. Eurzedon could 
be much longer kept up ; and Mrs. Kynas- 
ton had only the other day been compelled 



62 SADDLE AND SABHE. 

to write that gentleman a stinging rebuke 
for what she denominated his ill-advised 
audacity. Persistent in his determination 
to marry Miss Devereux, Furzedon had 
actually written to her father, and volun- 
teered a visit to North Leach; but, upon 
hearing this, Lettie blazed out indignantly — 

" It can't be, father ! it musn't be ! He 
has asked me to marry him, and he won't 
take - No ' for an answer. Already he has 
spread abroad the report that I am engaged 
to him. His proposing this visit is all a part 
of his scheme. It would give an air of truth 
to the rumour. If he was a gentleman he 
would cease from persecuting me. My ' No ! ' 
was not only said clearly and distinctly to 
start with, but has been quite as decisively 
repeated." 

" Say no more, Lettie ! If he is distaste- 
ful to you, my girl, he shan't come to North 
Leach. But as he is an old friend of Charlie 
we must make some civil excuse." 

Although in the first instance Mrs. Ky- 



SINISTER RUMOURS. 63 

naston had been the suggester and promoter 
of Purzedon's suit, yet now that she had 
attained her end she had become a very- 
half-hearted ally. She began to see now 
that nothing was likely to shake Lettie's 
determination ; and, though such a marriage 
would have suited her very well, she was 
getting very doubtful of its ever being 
brought about. Mrs. Kynaston had always 
a shrewd eye to the future. She liked 
wealthy friends, and Mr. and Mrs. Eurzedon 
would have been always sure to have a plea- 
sant house where she could claim a welcome. 
She had seen so many young women say 
"No" in the first instance to wealthy 
wooers, and afterwards change their minds, 
that she thought it might be so with Miss 
Devereux ; but she thought so no longer, 
and considered that any such decided step 
on Mr. Furzedon's part — as volunteering 
himself to North Leach — might rend aside 
that flimsy fiction of his engagement, which 
it, for the present, suited Mrs. Kynaston to 
maintain. 



64 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

She had told Mr. Eurzedon that perse- 
verance is all very well, but that it must be 
accompanied by tact. Given that, as long as 
a woman is unwed no man need despair of 
winning her for a wife ; and then Mrs. Ky- 
naston, her platitudes got done with, relieved 
her own disappointment by administering as 
many pin-pricks to the rather pachyder- 
matous Eurzedon as she could compass. 

In pursuance of her resolution Miss Deve- 
reux cantered over to The Firs, and found Kate 
Kynaston both at home and a prey to that 
unmitigated boredom which is apt to steal 
over sparsely-populated country neighbour- 
hoods with the last days of the hunting 
season ; when the hot sun and bleak nor'- 
easter have so dried up the ground that there 
is no scent; when those on one side the 
cover are shivering while those on the other 
are mopping the perspiration from their 
brows, and a general feeling obtains that 
sylvan scenes and amusements are played 
out for the present. Mrs. Kynaston wel- 
comed her visitor warmly. She was in that 



SINISTER HUMOURS. 65 

state of ennui and depression that makes 
even the appearance of one's pet antipathy 
subject of rejoicing, so that she was most 
unfeignedly glad to see Lettie. 

"How good of you to come!" she ex- 
claimed. " I was just wondering what I 
should do with myself. The country has 
grown so triste, and I am positively pining 
for London." 

" I don't think you have much cause for 
complaint," rejoined Miss Devereux, "not 
but what I quite agree with you that it is a 
dull time with us ; still, two or three weeks 
will see you out of it." 

" Yes ; and I believe it's nothing but 
sheer perversity on Dick's part that makes 
us stay even that long. He insists upon 
staying for Lincoln Races; declares he's 
going to win a hunters' flat-race there. 
What a jolly party we were there two years 
ago." 

"Yes," said Lettie; "poor Charlie, how 
mortified he was at being — as he said — 

VOL. III. F 



6(5 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

gammoned out of the race by the Walkers. 
It was a bitter pill for him having to leave 
the — th Hussars ; but I verily believe 
having to part with Polestar caused him as 
much grief as anything." 

" Yes, I dare say. It's sad to think of, 
my dear, but I fancy the laureate knew 
what he was writing about. It is rather 
humiliating — 

' Something nearer than his dog, 
Not so dear, quite, as his horse.' 

But the noble animal does come first, I'm 
afraid, with these hard riders. When Mrs. 
Morrison got such a nasty fall last year they 
say her husband's first anxious inquiry was, 
1 Is the mare much hurt? ' " 

" I won't have Charlie compared to a brute 
like Mr. Morrison," said Lettie, laughing ; 
"besides, that couple are very well matched. 
If he had come to grief I can quite fancy 
her making the like inquiry. Shall you go 
to Lincoln with the Major ? " 



SINISTER RUMOURS. 67 

" No ; it's no fun by myself in that way. 
I wish you would come.'' 

" We've none of us any heart for it this 
year," replied Let tie. " Mother is quite 
convinced that she will never see Charlie 
again, and he was her favourite, you know ; 
and even father, I believe, is sorry now that 
he didn't pay all that money, sooner than 
Charlie should have had to exchange." 

"The old story," said Mrs. Kynaston, 
meditatively. "Fathers are so fond of play- 
ing the relentless parent to start with, for- 
getting they are usually unfitted for the 
role; besides, 'the cutting off with a shilling' 
is quite out of fashion now-a-days. Do you 
ever hear anything of Mr. Slade, or any of 
Charlie's old friends ?" 

"I know nothing of Mr. Slade, and haven't 
seen him for more than a year. Of Mr. 
Furzedon — who, I suppose, must be in- 
cluded in that list — I have seen a good deal 
too much, though not lately. I have come 
to detest that man." 

f 2 



68 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

"Which is hard," rejoined Mrs. Kynaston, 
" considering how he has striven to produce 
an opposite result. No," she continued, as 
Miss Devereux made an impatient gesture 
of dissent, " I am going to advocate his cause 
no longer; but what you call his persecution 
many women would regard as a proof of the 
sincerity of his love. There's much truth in 
the old adage, and faint heart never did win 
fair lady. I suppose there are women who 
from very weariness yield at last to man's 
pertinacity." 

" Poor weak creatures ! But I am made 
of sterner stuff. I don't like Mr. Furzedon, 
and I never shall. And you may call it 
what you like, but his still pursuing me 
with his addresses I regard as persecution." 

" Well, it's a persecution that most girls 
look upon with a lenient eye," retorted 
Mrs. Kynaston, who, although declaring 
that she could no longer advocate Furze- 
don's cause, and who in her heart was 
quite convinced that it was hopeless, still 



SINISTER RUMOURS. 69 

never could resist giving him such support 
as came to her hand. 

"Do you know," said Lettie, "that there 
has rather a curious thing happened about 
Mr. Furzedon lately." 

" No," replied her companion, " and, if 
anything of importance had happened to 
him, I fancy Dick would have heard of 
it." 

" I had a letter the other day from my 
aunt Mrs. Connop, which has mystified me 
a good deal. She says she had a few lines 
from Mr. Slade, who tells her that Mr. 
Furzedon has got involved in a very serious 
scrape ; whether he has told her of what 
nature or not I don't know, she at all 
events does not tell me, but as far as I can 
make out the gist of Mr. Slade' s letter it 
appears to be that the less we see of Mr. 
Furzedon the better." 

" You mean to say, Lettie," said Mrs. 
Kynaston, eagerly, " that he has done some- 
thing which would involve his acquaintance 



70 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

dropping him, because Mr. Slade's letter 
means that or nothing." 

" It is putting things rather strongly, per- 
haps, but that is pretty much what I make 
out of aunt Sarah's letter. Mr. Slade no 
doubt imagines that Mr. Furzedon is a con- 
stant visitor in Onslow Gardens." 

" Instead of being merely anxious to be 
one," interrupted Mrs. Kynaston. " Well 
never mind, I'll not allude to all that, but 
you do surprise me. Mr. Furzedon is such 
a shrewd self-possessed person I should have 
thought him the last man likely to get into 
an awkward scrape. By the way, Mr. Slade 
might have vouchsafed me a hint as well as 
Mrs. Connop. Mr. Furzedon is always at 
our house when we're in town. He and 
Dick are partners in racing matters. It 
can't be anything of that sort surely," 
continued Mrs. Kynaston, thoughtfully. 

" I know no more than I have told you," 
replied Lettie, "but I don't quite share your 
opinion of Mr. Furzedon ; I'll quite admit 



SINISTER HUMOURS. 71 

that he is too shrewd and sensible to get 
into what's called a scrape, but I can quite 
imagine him capable in pursuit of his own 
schemes of what the world would call some- 
thing unpardonable," and Lettie thought 
bitterly of how Furzedon had proposed to 
purchase her hand by the payment of her 
brother's debts. 

Mrs. Kynaston eyed her visitor keenly. 
The same thought had once or twice occurred 
to herself, she was much too shrewd a judge 
of human nature not to have detected long 
ago that Furzedon was a very unscrupulous 
man ; she had dismissed the thought as soon 
as it occurred to her with the reflection 
that after all this was an acquaintance of 
her husband. She had been told to be civil 
to him, and knew that Dick Kynaston was 
quite competent to take care of himself ; she 
felt very curious to know what this cloud 
was that was hanging over Furzedon ; but 
it was quite evident that Lettie knew no 
more whatever Mrs. Connop might do. In 



72 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

the meantime it was possible that the Major 
would be able to solve the mystery when 
she should ask him about it. 

" I will ring for my horse now, if you will 
allow me," said Miss Devereux, "and I 
will let you know whenever the Furzedon 
mystery clears up; for the present, good- 
bye ! and remember, you have only two or 
three weeks' dulness before you, while, as 
for poor me, I am planted here till it 
pleases aunt Sarah to send for me ! " and 
with a shrug of her shoulders, indicative of 
much disgust, Lettie Devereux took her 
departure. 



73 



CHAPTER V. 

MAJOR KTNASTON'S VISITOR. 

When Major Kynaston came home that 
evening, his wife at once informed him of 
what Miss Devereux had told her ; hut the 
Major was even more astonished than his 
wife, and professed himself perfectly unahle 
to guess what scrape Eurzedon had possibly 
got into. He quite agreed with his wife 
that Eurzedon was about the last man he 
should have expected to come to grief in 
any way. 

" He is as sharp as a needle, Kate, has 
plenty of money, and knows how to take 
care of it. He don't overrate his game at 
anything, and there is no man in London 



74 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

better able to take care of himself on the 
racecourse or at the card- table ; he's not 
likely to come to harm ; and, though it's 
going rather far to say that a man of his 
age is proof against the fascination of your 
sex, I can only think Purzedon's a fish that 
would take a deal of catching." 

" But think, Dick, is there no Turf trans- 
action in which he was engaged this year, 
in which his conduct might be called — well, 
shady?" 

" None that I know of," rejoined the 
Major. "He's no fool; but I don't think 
he would do anything — to put it broadly — 
that could be laid hold of." 

" Stop, Dick ! What was the biggest 
coup you and he made last year ? The 
Derby, wasn't it?" 

" Yes ; but Purzedon won a good deal 
more money than I did over it. He laid 
against the favourite to an extent I didn't 
dare, and got rather nervous about it." 

"Just so; and wasn't there some story 



MAJOR KYNASTON's VISITOR. 75 

about the jockey who rode Belisarius being 
drugged ?" 

" Yes ; there always are all sorts of 
' canards ' about when a favourite is beaten 
for a big race. Drugged," continued Dick 
Kynaston ; " well, as far as taking about a 
bottle of brandy before he got up, I suppose 
Bill Smith was. He had been on the drink 
ever since he won the ' Two Thousand,' and 
it was the knowledge of that led us to bet 
against him. Furzedon, who, as I said be- 
fore, went deeper into it than I did, had a 
tout down at Epsom to watch him, just as 
you would watch a horse ; and it was his 
reporting that Bill Smith was never sober 
induced him to lay so heavily against the 
horse." 

" Then, you don't believe the story of 
this drugged glass that was handed him in 
the paddock ?" remarked Mrs. Kynaston. 

" Certainly not," rejoined the Major. 
"Don't think Bill Smith required anything 
of that sort ; he rendered himself incapable 



76 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

in a legitimate way. But there are plenty 
of other ways a man may come to grief, 
Kate." 

" Quite so," rejoined Mrs. Kynaston ; 
" and, I suppose, if it's true that Mr. Furze- 
don is in trouble, it is from a cause we 
should never dream of." 

" If there really is anything in the ru- 
mour, you may depend on it we shall soon 
hear— rather a bore if it's a big scandal," 
continued Dick, " because we hare been 
rather intimate with him of late; and I 
have been mixed up in a good many busi- 
ness matters with him." 

" Yes ; as you say, it would be a little 
awkward ; it always is when one's intimates 
turn out disreputable or adventurers. How- 
ever, we shall doubtless soon know all about 
it, if there is anything to know." 

Dick Kynaston upon this occasion went 
to Lincoln unaccompanied by his wife, and 
returned in high spirits, his speculations 
having proved eminently successful. As 



MAJOR KYNASTON'S VISITOR. 77 

bad been arranged, tbe races over, tbe 
Kynastons at once took tbeir departure for 
London, and Miss Devereux was left in tbe 
seclusion of North Leach, to make the best of 
an eastern county spring time, and anxiously 
await her aunt's invitation to visit her in 
Onslow Gardens. " Surely," thought Lettie, 
" Mr. Slade will feel himself bound to call, 
after writing that line of warning to aunt 
Sarah;" and then she wondered whether 
that warning had not been intended for her. 
It was very possible Gilbert had heard that 
she was engaged to Mr. Furzedon, and was 
desirous of giving her a hint of that gentle- 
man's character before it was too late. 
From what she knew of Gilbert Slade, he 
was not at all the man to indulge in reck- 
less gossip about his fellows. She felt sure 
that he would never have written to Mrs. 
Connop in this wise without very substan- 
tial ground to go on. And then Lettie, as 
she turned the subject once more in her 
mind, whispered to herself, " he surely must 



78 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

care a little about me, or he would never 
have interfered;" for, by this time, Miss 
Devereux had quite convinced herself that 
it was in her special behoof that Gilbert had 
written to her aunt. How she did wish that 
she could see that letter ! Not that she sup- 
posed there was any mention of her in it ; 
but she was very curious to see exactly 
what Mr. Slade had said. At present she 
could not be sure whether this guarded reti- 
cence was Mrs. Connop's or his. She was 
destined to read that letter some little time 
later with mingled feelings of pleasure and 
annoyance. In the meantime the Kynas- 
tons had duly settled in May Pair for the 
season, and the Major also had received a 
letter which puzzled him pretty nearly as 
much as Gilbert Slade's did Miss Devereux. 
Dick Kynaston's note was from the uncle, 
and the fact of Norman Slade writing to 
him at all astonished the Major not a little. 
When they had met, racing, Kynaston had 
more than once endeavoured to improve the 



MAJOR KYNASTON'S VISITOR. 79 

slight acquaintance he had had with him ; 
hut Norman was a very difficult man to 
know, unless you happened to suit his fancy 
— the last man upon whom it was possible 
to force an acquaintance ; and, as we know, 
he had conceived a dislike to the Major the 
very first time he met him. The note was 
very formal and very short ; it commenced, 
" Dear sir," and briefly inquired when it 
would suit Major Kynaston to see the writer 
on a matter of business. Dick, of course, 
replied naming a day upon which he would 
be at home, and then consulted his wife as 
to what business it was possible Norman 
Slade could want to see him about. Mrs. 
Kynaston read the letter attentively, and 
then exclaimed — " I am right, Dick ; it's 
some Turf scrape that Mr. Furzedon has got 
into. Mr. Norman Slade is a great racing- 
man, is he not ?" 

The Major nodded assent. 

"You are known to be Furzedon's Turf 
partner, and you may depend upon it he 



80 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

went a good deal further than you know of 
about that Derby. There's a storm brew- 
ing, Dick, and I am afraid some of the mud 
likely to be stirred up will come our way." 

" Rather rough if it should, but the 
Derby business took place as I told you 
the other day, and I don't believe Norman 
Slade wants to see me about anything con- 
nected with racing. More likely some 
young fellow has got into a mess about 
bills, and he wants my advice about it — his 
nephew the hussar, I shouldn't wonder." 

Mrs. Kynaston's heart gave a jump as 
she thought of Bertie Slade in trouble and 
coming to them for advice and assistance. 
That would afford many delightful oppor- 
tunities of prosecuting the flirtation for the 
forwarding of which she had so patiently 
schemed, and enable her to complete the 
subjugation of that errant dragoon; for that, 
given sufficient opportunity, any man could 
resist her fascinations was an idea that never 
crossed Kate Kynaston's mind. She had a 



MAJOR KYNASTON'S VISITOR. 81 

wild caprice to instal Bertie Slade as chief 
cavalier-in-waiting, and had allowed her 
feelings to run riot as far as he was con- 
cerned. What had been caprice was now 
dangerously near a mad infatuation, and 
Mrs. Kvnaston had neither love for her 
husband nor much principle to stand to her 
should the hour of need come. A day or 
two later and Norman Slade was duly 
ushered into Kvnaston' s sanctum and wel- 
corned with great cordiality by the Major. 

" Don't know what brings you here, 
Slade, but I'm very glad to see you; and 
now you have found us, I hope, although 
it is your first, it will be by no means your 
last visit." 

"I have called, Major Kynaston," re- 
joined Norman, with a slight inflection on 
the Major, "to acquaint you with a very 
unpleasant circumstance, which, as it in- 
directly concerns you, ought to be made 
known to you. Mr. Furzcdon is your racing 
partner, I believe." 

VOL. III. G 



82 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

" He is," replied the Major shortly. 

" Are you aware of what his business is ?" 
asked Slade. 

" I never heard he had one," replied 
Kynaston with unfeigned surprise. 

" And yet you are credited with knowing 
the ins and outs of London life pretty well." 

" What has that got to do with it ? " 
replied the Major testily. 

" Mr. Furzedon is a money-lender on an 
extensive scale," said Norman with an 
amused smile. " He does business under 
the name of Jordan and Co." 

" What ! " exclaimed the Major, " do you 
mean to tell me that Ealph Furzedon is 
Jordan and Co. the swell pawnbrokers ? " 

" Just so," replied Slade. 

" Well," said the Major, " it takes a good 
deal to astonish Dick Kynaston, but he's 
fairly gravelled this time," and then, to 
Norman Slade's astonishment, the Major 
burst into a peal of laughter. 

What could the man mean ? for Slade 



MAJOR KYNASTON'S VISITOR. 83 

felt sure that Kynaston spoke the truth 
when he declared his ignorance of Furze - 
don's carrying on business as Jordan and Co. 
Norman had experience in his Turf life of 
many shady characters, but he would have 
considered the discovery that one of his 
intimate friends was a professional money- 
lender by no means a thing to laugh at. 
But Dick Kynaston was struck with the 
cool cynicism of Furzedon, as the man 
about town, recommending his spendthrift 
associates to apply for relief to Jordan and 
Co., alias Furzedon, and how that he the 
Major had been unconsciously made to 
serve that gentleman's interests. However, 
a revulsion speedily took place, and Kynas- 
ton grasped the fact that his astute young 
partner had been making a fool of him. 
Xo man arrived at this situation but feels 
angry with the originator of it, and it was 
w ith not a little hauteur the Major replied, 

" I have been unable, Mr. Slade, to help 
laughing at Furzcdon's amazing impudence, 

G 2 



84 SADDLE AND SABKE. 

but you can't suppose be would bave ever 
crossed my threshold as a friend, nor been 
received by my wife, if I had had the 
slightest knowledge of his occupation. On 
a racecourse, as you know, we mix with 
strange acquaintances." 

" Yes," said Norman ; " but I think 
you will admit his acquaintance, even there, 
is highly detrimental. I am about to bring 
a very grave charge against Mr. Furzcdon 
before the Jockey Club ; against him re- 
member, not you, though, as his racing 
partner, it is right you should have early 
notice of it." 

The Major was listening with the greatest 
attention. 

" I shall charge Mr. Furzedon with 
hocussing the jockey of Belisarius in the 
Derby just before the race." 

" Absurd ! " interrupted the Major. " Bill 
Smith required no hocussing, he was drunk, 
as all the world knows " 

" I have nothing to do with whether he 



MAJOR KYNASTON'S VISITOR. 85 

required it," sneered Norman ; " if he did 
not there was the less cause for Mr. Furze- 
don to commit unnecessary crime. That he 
did I can and shall prove. I suspected it 
at the time, and learnt it as a fact last year 
at Doncaster." 

"And why was the charge not brought 
forward then?" said Kynaston. 

"Simply because I was unable to collect 
the evidence before the racing season termi- 
nated, and there has been no quorum of the 
Jockey Club to bring the case before since. 

" I know there was some rumour of this 
kind current last May, but I never heard 
Furzedon's name connected with it. I 
always regarded it as an idle canard. You 
know very well, if a favourite does not run 
up to his form in a big race, there's generally 
a whisper of foul play of some kind — usually 
quite unwarranted. I can only say, Mr. Slade, 
should you prove your case, my connection 
with Mr. Furzedon is of course terminated — 
indeed I think I might say that under any 



86 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

circumstances ; in the mean time I can only- 
thank you for giving me this notice of your 
intentions." 

" It was only right you should have it," 
rejoined Norman, rising ; " you know the 
world, and especially the racing world, too 
well, not to know that some odium will 
probably apply to yourself, in consequence 
of your partner's nefarious proceedings 
what steps you will think best to take are, 
of course, no business of mine ; I have only 
to warn you that the case is very clear 
against Purzedon. Good morning, Major 
Kynaston ! " And with a somewhat stiff 
bow Norman Slade left the room. 

" Pleasant this, by Jove ! " muttered the 
Major as the street-door closed behind his 
visitor. " Slade is just the man to work out 
this thing relentlessly, and, what's more, 
the Jockey Club will listen to him. That 
young scoundrel! I have not the slightest 
doubt he's guilty. Slade would never have 
spoken so confidently as he did if he had 



MAJOR KTNASTON's VISITOR. 87 

not got chapter and verse for it ; he is quite 
right, some of the mud of this transaction 
is sure to stick to my skirts ! Nobody will 
ever believe that I wasn't in the swim ; they 
will probably suggest that it was all my 
planning, only that I was too cunning to 
risk doing it myself ! Quite likely the world 
will take that view of it, and will probably 
say that Purzedon has to bear all the 
punishment of it, while the chief offender 
has gone scatheless. Think of that young 
vagabond turning out to be Jordan and 
Co. ! " 

The Major's very high tone about money- 
lenders may seem somewhat preposterous, 
considering that he was but a money-lender's 
jackal himself; but he regarded all that as a 
strictly business transaction, and upon the 
rare occasions any of the fraternity were 
permitted to pass his door they got no 
further than into his own immediate den. 

As he walked away Norman Slade came 
to the conclusion that Major Kynaston had 



88 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

been guilty of no connivance with his 
partner in the matter of the Epsom robbery. 
It had evidently been done without his 
knowledge, and it was quite evident to 
Slade that he was in considerable ignorance 
of Mr. Eurzedon's character and pursuits. 
" To think," he muttered with a smile, 
" that such a sly old fox as Kynaston thinks 
himself should have been bamboozled by 
such a young blackguard as Eurzedon. 
However, one must get up pretty early to 
hold one's own with a pawnbroker's nephew, 
I suppose, and this one certainly seems 
exceptionally gifted." 



89 



CHAPTER VI. 



SIIERE ALI VANISHES. 



Hobson and Charlie Devereux rode back to 
camp at a hand gallop. Sharp and decisive 
were the former's orders to strike the tents 
and fall in as quickly as possible. In less 
than an hour the soldiers had abandoned 
the shade of the grateful tope of palms and 
were tramping across the sandy plain that 
separated them from the wooded country. 
The soldiers all knew that their officers had 
come upon the enemy, and stepped out 
with a will, in the hope that at last they 
were about to come up with their wily 
fleet-footed foe, and settle with him for 
the many long wearisome marches he 



90 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

had caused them. Charlie Devereux, es- 
pecially, is very sanguine on this score, but 
the tough veteran who- leads them is by no 
means hopeful about it. 

" I trust you may prove right, Devereux," 
said Hobson, in reply to the gleeful prog- 
nostications of his subaltern; "but they are 
cunning as jackals, these Pandies. They 
know where we halted, and Shere Ali would 
make a very good guess at how long we 
should be before we reached him, and I do 
not believe he will wait for us." 

Hobson proved a true prophet, for when 
they arrived at the edge of the jungle the 
skirmishers speedily announced that the 
enemy's camp was deserted. His cooking 
fires were still smouldering, and it was 
evident, from other signs, that he had been 
encamped there for some days, but Shere 
Ali had now vanished, and there was 
nothing to show in what direction. It might 
have been by the road, but Hobson was well 
aware that there were numerous trails 



SHERE ALI VANISHES. 91 

through the jungle perfectly well known 
and not infrequently used by the natives, 
and it was more probable that the famous 
dacoit chief would sooner trust to the 
trackless forest to baffle the pursuit of the 
Eeringhee than rely upon the legs of his 
followers on the main road. This was rather 
a tangled knot to unravel, and Charlie chafed 
and fretted a good deal, because his captain 
halted instead of pushing along the main 
road rapidly in pursuit of the fugitives. 

" Surely we are losing time," he remarked 
at length, no longer able to control his im- 
patience. 

"Don't cackle about what you don't under- 
stand, young 'un," rejoined Hobson, good- 
humouredly. " If I knew Shere Ali had 
gone that road ; if I really had some grounds 
for supposing he had taken it, I would push 
on at once. As it is, I am not going to 
march my men off their legs in pursuit of 
a Will-o'-the-Wisp. You, no doubt, think 
Englishmen can beat these Pandies at any- 



92 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

thing. When it comes to running away, I 
tell you they're not in it with these fellows." 

Charlie thought there was a lamentable 
want of dash about his leader ; but Hobson 
had not hunted down the broken sepoy 
army in the great Mutiny time without 
learning how very hard they were to come 
up with when they did not deem it expe- 
dient to fight, and how they were served by 
their intimate knowledge of the bye-ways of 
the country. 

" It's weary work," continued Hobson, 
" but there is nothing for it but to make 
such inquiries as one can, and if we can 
make out nothing about Shere Ali and his 
band patrol the main road." 

" Like policemen on their beats," said 
Charlie, with a face of extreme disgust. 

" Just so," rejoined Hobson. " However, 
you needn't be down on your luck. I don't 
know why, but I have an idea that you are 
destined to be face to face with Shere Ali 
one of these days." 



SHERE ALI VANISHES. 93 

" What makes you think that ? ,: asked 
Charlie. 

" I tell you I don't know. Psha ! that's 
not quite true. I'm not much given to 
dreaming, but I had a confused dream the 
other night, in which you and a tall Pandie 
figured prominently." 

" And what were we doing ? " 

" Well, your best to kill each other," 
replied Hobson. 

" And how did it finish ? " 

" That is just what I can't tell you. It 
was most annoying. I awoke in the middle 
of it, and I was most anxious to see the 
finish of that fight." 

"But who was getting the best of it?" 
said Charlie, with great interest. 

" It was anybody's battle," replied Hob- 
sod, laughing. "Don't think me blood- 
thirsty, but I did want to see it fought out." 

"Well," returned Charlie, "I need scarcely 
say I should have preferred your being able 
to say it was six to four on me when you left. 



94 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

Sorry, too, he is so big. Have you ever seen 
him?" 

"No; but I've seen lots of his sort. They 
run tall, these Bengalee sepoys. I had our 
old bugbear Shere Ali and you in my head, 
which, with that remarkably tough mutton 
we dined on yesterday, would quite account 
for my vision." 

" And where were you?" asked Charlie. 

" Oh, you seldom see yourself. Don't you 
recollect that when you do, according to 
Scott's Legend, you sleep in a 'bluidy plaid' 
erelong? But, holloa! what's this? It looks 
like a runner from head- quarters." And as 
Hobson spoke a peon was seen coming along 
the road at the sling trot with which the 
native usually accomplishes the task of letter- 
bearins;. 

When he reached Hobson he stopped, 
made a low salaam, and handed him a letter. 
The Captain tore it open, and, as he glanced 
hastily over it, exclaimed, " My dream is 
about to come true. Hurrah ! No more of 



SHERE ALI VANISHES. 95 

this tiresome game of ' catch who catch can.' 

We are re-called, and are to be mounted. 

The chief says the fiat has gone forth that 
Shere Ali is to he suppressed at any price. 

It seems he has been throat-cutting on a 
somewhat extensive scale of late, and the 
Government are determined to take him 
dead or alive." 

" Only give us horses, and we will soon 
account for him," cried Charlie, who, as an 
ex-dragoon, believed implicitly in mounted 
men, and held that a regiment of hussars 
could go anywhere and do anything. " But 
it will take a long while to make them." 

" Put your cavalry ideas on one side, 
young 'un. Remember we are only mounted 
infantry, and our horses are hacks, not 
chargers." 

Charlie made no reply. He comprehended 
but one idea of a soldier on horseback, and 
that was evidently not Hobson's. Still, if 
they only did get at Shere Ali, it wouldn't, 
he thought, much matter how. Charlie 



96 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

was burning for that fight of which Hobson 
had dreamt. " When shall we march ? " he 
said at length. 

" A little before daybreak to-morrow ; and 
we will get back to head-quarters as quickly 
as possible." 

On their arrival at the cantonment, 
Charlie and Hobson found their work cut 
out for them, and for the next month were 
busily engaged in organising the mounted 
infantry. The regiment was picked for men 
who could ride ; and they found no lack of 
volunteers, the only difficulty laid in the 
selection, for the British soldier, in his 
anxiety to vary the monotony of his life, in 
some cases over-estimated his equestrian 
capabilities. The authorities were urgent 
for the departure of Hobson's command as 
soon as possible ; and there was therefore 
no time to teach those to ride who had not 
some knowledge of it. Shere Ali was in- 
creasing in audacity week by week, and 
seemed ubiquitous in the Deccan. He had 



SHERE ALI VANISHES. 97 

of late taken to ensure there being no 
evidence against him by the wholesale 
murder of those he had robbed, after the 
manner of the Thugs ; and there was, con- 
sequently, no actual proof of his being the 
author of some of the atrocities laid to his 
charge. He was said to be at the head of 
a numerous band of desperadoes, and to 
boast openly that he would not be taken 
alive, and neither asked nor gave quarter. 
The question of Shere Ali had become that 
of the apprehension of a great marauder ; 
the laying hold of a Rob Roy or Schinder- 
hannes, and the interest increased in in- 
tensity with the constantly-recurring stories 
of the dacoit's audacity and ferocity. 

But a Nemesis attends these human 
tigers, and they mostly die violent deaths. 
The buccaneer chiefs, who made their vic- 
tims walk the plank, chiefly " found a rope 
on it " before their course was run. Sooner 
or later some one revolts at the doings of 
these blood-stained monsters, and cither 

VOL. III. H 



98 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

betrays them to the powers that be or rids 
the world of them ; and it is the conviction 
that this awaits them, and can only be 
averted by the terror they inspire, that 
makes them, once launched on their career, 
insatiable in their lust of blood. Shere Ali 
knew that his life was forfeit, and said 
grimly that when his time came his spirit 
would depart well attended. 

Hobson's men at last satisfy the Colonel's 
critical eye ; and, with young Devereux as 
his subaltern, the Captain is once more dis- 
patched in pursuit of his wily foe. There 
has grown up in the breasts of Hobson, and 
such of his men as were with him on his 
former expedition, a feverish thirst to settle 
accounts with Shere Ali, such as a keen 
shikarri might feel to come face to face 
with a " man-eater," such as some years 
previously pervaded the Central Indian 
Field Force on the subject of Tantia Topee. 
That sagacious chieftain was always dodging 
backwards and forwards across the Ner- 



SHERE ALI VANISHES. 99 

budda, iu a perfectly maddening manner, 
determined to fight only on his own terms, 
which, as a good strategist, meant when 
the chances were much in his favour. 
Again and again did one or other of the 
English leaders think themselves certain of 
his capture, only after two or three forced 
marches to find the wily Asiatic had once 
more slipped across the river. Shere Ali 
was enacting the great drama over again on 
a small scale, but with no abatement of the 
murder and outrage that characterised the 
great rebellion. 

" There, Hobson," said the Colonel, as he 
bade the detachment farewell, " I hope you 
will have the luck to capture the scoundrel ; 
there are so many parties out on the same 
errand that it is impossible he can evade 
you all. Depend upon it Shere Ali's career 
is about run." 

" My felloAVS are keen enough, sir. He's 
cost us too many long tramps not to make 

h2 



100 SADDLE AND SAB11E. 

us eager to bring him to book, and this time 
he won't beat us for speed." 

But Shere Ali proved more irritating to 
his enemies than ever upon this occasion. 
Detachments of cavalry and mounted in- 
fantry were, as they thought, closing in 
upon him on all sides, when suddenly the 
famous dacoit vanished ; no intelligence of 
his whereabouts possible to be arrived at. 
Where he had gone or what, had become of 
him nobody knew. Vague rumours there 
were that he had broken up his band and 
fled into Bengal. Weeks went by, and, all 
efforts to learn anything concerning him 
proving useless, his pursuers were reluctantly 
recalled, but not before the leaders of the 
various parties had confessed to being un- 
able to discover any trace of him. 

" Fairly beat, sir," said Hobson, when he 
reported himself to his chief on his return. 
" I learnt for certain that I was within forty 
miles of Shere Ali. Did it in seven hours, 
only to find him fled— where to it is impos- 



SHERE ALI VANISHES. 101 

sible to conjecture. If the earth had swal- 
lowed him and his followers they could not 
have more utterly vanished." 

" We shall hear of that fellow again be- 
fore long," said the Colonel grimly, " and a 
hope hang him before we've done with 
him." 

The chief proved a true prophet; ere a 
month had elasped an outrage was perpe- 
trated between Jubbulpore and Nagpore, 
which eclipsed all previous exploits of the 
kind. A treasure-chest under escort of an 
English officer and twenty sepoys was lured 
into an ambuscade and slaughtered to a 
man. Except during the great Mutiny, it 
was rarely that the native had dared to raise 
his hand against the life of the white man, 
and it was regarded as a striking instance 
of Shere Ali's audacity that he should have 
ventured to slav a Eerin<?hee. Eor that he 
was the author of this crime none doubted, 
although none of the luckless escort lived 
to tell the tale of their disaster. Even in 



102 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

the worst days of Thuggee, the votaries of 
Bhowanee had never ventured to cast the 
dastardly roomel around the throat of the 
white man. Nor had the dacoits previously 
ever ventured to attack the dominant race. 
It had been the proud boast before the 
terrible outbreak of Fifty-Seven, that an 
English lady could travel all through the 
Indian Peninsula with no further escort 
than her native servants in perfect safety. 
No wonder that a cry for vengeance went 
forth against this wholesale murderer, and 
the press, both English and native, were 
unanimous in demanding the life of Shere 
Ali. Eor once the blood-thirsty dacoit had 
committed not only an atrocious crime but 
a grave blunder. The massacred sepoys were 
recruited from the Presidency, and had 
friends and relatives scattered far and wide 
through the country which Shere Ali had 
chosen for the scene of his operations — none 
quicker to see this than the Colonel of the 
Rifles. 



SHERE ALI VANISHES. 103 

" The beggar has overreached himself this 
time, Hobson. Some of the dead men's 
relatives are sure to betray him sooner or 
later. As for there bein°: no witness to his 
last crime, that doesn't matter — we've enough 
against Shere Ali to hang him three times 
over." And so the fiat went forth that 
Shere Ali was to be hunted down, and once 
more patrols of mounted infantry and ca- 
valry were despatched to scour the country. 

" Remember," thundered the fiery old 
Commander-in-Chief at Madras, " I will 
have that man dead or alive, and you will 
march to-and-fro through the land like so 
many wandering Jews till you get him." 

" Gad, Charlie," said Hobson, when that 
speech reached his ears, "it is devoutly to 
be hoped that some of us will lay hold of 
him before long, for Sir Timothy is a man 
of his word, and that means dacoit-hunting 
for life." So once more the roads were 
scoured in all directions, villages searched, 
and hoavy rewards offered for any intelli- 



104 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

gence that might lead to the arrest of 
Shere Ali, but again that mysterious per- 
sonage had disappeared. One thing only was 
to be ascertained concerning him, namely, 
that he had dismissed the main body of 
his followers for the present, and retired 
with only a few of the most trusted to his 
stronghold ; but where that stronghold was 
no man apparently could tell ; it was ru- 
moured that the secret of its whereabouts 
was jealously guarded and utterly unknown 
to the bulk of bis band, only a few well- 
tried retainers being aware of its locality — 
ruffians for the most part as deeply blood- 
stained as himself. 

But the patrolling and vigilant search 
for Shere Ali ceased nowhere upon that 
account. " Sooner or later his necessities 
will compel the tiger to leave his lair," ar- 
gued the Commander-in-Chief of the Presi- 
dency, " and then will come the hunter's 
opportunity." 



105 



CHAPTER VII. 

AN ENEMY HATH DONE THIS THING. 

Dick Kynaston was not the man to await 
the tide of events upon finding himself 
involved in an awkward scandal. Innocent 
though he was, he saw at once that it would 
be difficult to make the world believe that 
he had no knowledge of his partner's prac- 
tices. One thing however was quite clear to 
him, that there was no time to be lost in 
publicly repudiating all partnership with 
Furzedon in racing matters. No one would 
believe that he was not implicated in the 
affair unless he broke off all relations with 
Furzedon. Indeed, as the Major pondered 
over Norman Slade's story, the more indig- 



106 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

nant he became that he should have been 
such a mere puppet in the hands of his 
clever young friend. What, he, the knowing 
Dick Kynaston, the shrewd man about town, 
who knew the ropes, who was up to every 
move on the board — he to be hoodwinked 
by this young pawnbroker, and find himself 
mixed up in one of the most shameful Turf 
robberies he had ever heard of ! He would 
ask Mr. Purzedon to call upon him for the 
last time, give him a piece of his mind, 
and tell him that in future they would be 
strangers to each other. 

The Major gradually churned himself up to 
a very pretty state of indignation. Although 
by no means particular, he was honestly 
angry that he should have unwittingly be- 
come involved in such an ugly scrape as 
this promised to become. He was quite 
aware that his own racing career had not 
been of that blameless chivalric nature at 
which no stone can be thrown. He was 
reputed a sharp practitioner, and the world 



AN ENEMY HATII DONE THIS THING. 107 

cannot pretend to decide where such gentle- 
men draw the line. Straight-going hum- 
drum folks fail to see much difference 
hetween what is termed " picking people 
up," by which is meant taking advantage 
of them, and picking pockets, and the 
Major, although his code of morality was 
otherwise, recognised this feeling. But, 
perhaps, what moved his wrath more than 
anything was the blow to his self-love, the 
idea that he should have been so completely 
overreached by a young gentleman whom 
he certainly deemed astute, but no sort of 
match for knowing Dick Kynaston, and yet 
he had been bamboozled into playing jackal 
to this- young money-lender. He could not 
help showing his indignation in his letter, 
although when he sat down to pen his note 
to Furzcdon, asking him to call the next 
morning, as he wanted to see him on a 
matter of business, nothing was further 
from his intention. 

These temperate epistles we pen in our 



108 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

hot wrath are not read quite in the same 
light hy their recipients, and if we only- 
kept them till the next morning we should 
usually modify them considerably. I recol- 
lect submitting a studiously worded missive 
of this description to a friend, and exclaim- 
ing triumphantly with reference to the 
offender "he can't say anything about that." 
My friend's eye twinkled as he replied, 
" Only that there's a good deal of east wind 
in it." 

Now this was exactly what struck Furze- 
don when he read the Major's note. Dick 
Kynaston was wont to write in an off-hand 
jovial fashion, but this time Ralph saw at a 
glance that the language was iced. " I 
wonder what the deuce is up," he muttered, 
" there is a screw loose somewhere, and 
Kynaston evidently thinks I am to blame 
for it. I don't want to break with the 
Kynastons, more especially with the lady. 
She has been of some service to me already 
in a social way. She has given me several 



AN ENEMY HATH DONE THIS THING. 109 

useful introductions, to say nothing of hints. 
She understands the game of society so 
thoroughly, I would sooner trust to her 
advice than that of any one in England. She 
first made me understand that to a man 
with money, tact, and a pretty wife, all 
society is attainable. What can have gone 
wrong, for that the Major thinks I've 'upset 
the coach ' is evident in every line of his 
letter ? ' Ralph Eurzedon made his way 
to the Major's house next day, and was 
promptly shown into Kynaston's sanctum. 
He was a little surprised at the Major's curt 
good morning, and saw at a glance that 
gentleman was seriously disturbed, and 
meant coming to the point with scant 
preamble ; so, like the astute young man he 
was, Eurzedon asked no questions, but left 
his companion to open the ball. 

" I have sent for you k Mr. Eurzedon," 
commenced Kynaston, with considerable 
hauteur 

" Sent for me, Major Kynaston ? What 



110 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

the devil do you mean ? " interposed Ralph 
sharply. 

" If you will be good enough not to inter- 
rupt me you will know in five minutes," 
was the equally sharp rejoinder. " In the 
first place I am credibly informed that, 
instead of being an idle man-about-town 
living on your own means, you are in 
reality a money-lender." 

" Even if that were so, which I don't 
admit, I should fancy there was nothing in 
the position to shock Major Kynaston," 
replied Purzedon sarcastically. 

" I am not in the least shocked. I know 
half the money-lenders in London, but I don't 
associate with them. Do you understand ?" 

" Perfectly ; though I do not see how 
your remark applies to me." 

" Don't you ? " returned Kynaston. 
" Then I will put it a little plainer to 
you. I no longer intend to be on visiting 
terms with Mr. Purzedon, alias Jordan 
and Co." 



AN ENEMY HATH DONE THIS THING. Ill 

Eurzedon winced, but his hardihood did 
not as yet fail him. " And who dares to 
say that I ara Jordan and Co. ? " 

" One who seems to have a good deal 
more than that to allege against you — Nor- 
man Slade." 

" Norman Slade ! " ejaculated Eurzedon, 
as the scene in the Paddock at Epsom shot 
athwart his brain. " What the deuce does 
Norman Slade know about me ? " 

" He knows who you are, and what you 
are," replied Kynaston sternly. " He knows 
that you hocussed Bill Smith at Epsom, 
and means that all the world shall know it 
too." - 

" If he dares to bring such a charge 
against me," blustered Eurzedon, starting 
to his feet, " I'll prosecute him for libel." 

" Then you'll precious soon have the 
opportunity. He intends to bring your 
case before the Jockey Club at once, and 
has vowed not to rest till you're warned off 
thfl Heath." 



112 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

" Let him. Giving a jockey a glass of 
wine is not hocnssing him. A fig for Nor- 
man Slade and his threats ; he will find 
that charge rather difficult to substantiate." 

" He says not," rejoined Kynaston, "and 
he is not the man to say so unless he has 
full proof of it. I have given you due 
warning of what is in store for you — hence- 
forth remember we are strangers to each 
other." 

" As you like," sneered Eurzedon ; " but 
you seem to forget that you made as good 
a thing out of Bill Smith's drunkenness as 
I did." 

" I bet against a jockey who is unfit to 
ride as I do against a horse who is unfit to 
run, but I don't take part in bringing about 
that state of things ! " 

" And you mean to say that I do ! " ex- 
claimed Furzedon angrily. 

" 1 say nothing about it, one way or 
another, and have nothing further to add 
than — good morning : " and as he spoke 



AN ENEMY HATH DONE THIS THING. 113 

Kynaston rang the bell and made his visitor 
a formal how of dismissal. 

For an instant the blood surged in Furze- 
don's temples, and he felt a fierce inclina- 
tion to spring upon Kynaston ; but, master- 
ing his passion by a violent effort, he turned 
on his heel, and abruptly left the room 
without recognising his host's salutation. 

When Furzedon reached the street, he 
began to think seriously over this disaster 
that had befallen him. He had blustered and 
denied everything to Dick Kynaston; but, 
for all that, the charges were true, and he 
could see that the Major believed them to 
be so. The mere fact of being proclaimed a 
money lender would, he knew, damn him 
socially ; nor was he at all certain that Nor- 
man Slade would fail in proving the charge 
he intended to bring against him, — he had 
employed men to lead the great jockey to 
his destruction. Italph Furzedon had seen 
a good deal of the dirty side of life ; it was 
not the first time he had used men as tools 

VOL. III. I 



114 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

to effect his purposes : and he knew what 
such confederates were worth. Paid to do 
the work with which their employer fears to 
soil his own fingers, they are prompt to sell 
him afterwards to any one who will huy 
their information. Ah ! why had his nerve 
failed him at the last moment ? These men 
had done their work well and sufficiently, 
but he was afraid, he stood so much monev 
against Belisarius that his heart failed him ; 
he determined to make assurance doubly 
sure. Just those few drops in the last glass 
would effectually madden the man's already 
heated brain, and destroy all judgment ; but 
it put him — Purzedon — terribly in the hands 
of his myrmidons, who, dexterously as it 
was done, could not fail to see it. How had 
this all come against him at once ? It was 
so many months back, that he had thought 
all danger of discovery was over. Then, 
again, how did Norman Slade learn that he 
traded in money under the name of Jordan 
& Co. ? that was a secret he had jealously 



AN ENEMY HATH DONE THIS THING. 115 

guarded. He had thought that known only 
to the confidential clerk who acted as his 
representative ; and, as far as he could feel 
certain ahout any one, he was of that man's 
fidelity and discretion. 

"Where had Slade acquired this informa- 
tion ? Those myrmidons of his might have 
been bribed to betray the story of the great 
Epsom race ; but of his money-dealing they 
had no knowledge. How had that closely- 
kept secret come to light ? And, for the 
present, Ralph Eurzedon was utterly at a 
loss to even suspect who it was that had 
divulged the mystery of his occupation. But 
he was at no loss to recognise the danger 
of his position, and his brain was already 
busily scheming as to how it was best, how 
it was possible, to meet these unpleasant 
revelations. He ran no risk of being en- 
trapped by the meshes of the law, but his 
social ostracism was imminent. As a pawn- 
broker, and the perpetrator of an infamous 
Turf robbery, that world lie so coveted to 

i2 



116 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

mix with would have none of him, and this 
to Eurzedon meant the loss of all he deemed 
life worth living for -the end of his am- 
bition ; to figure in that world, and at the 
same time to in somewise pull the strings of 
it, to know of the skeletons in the cupboard 
and look cynically on at the raree show — 
and what men know more of these last than 
usurers and solicitors ? — all that would have 
delighted Eurzedon. Well, there was no 
necessity for it as yet, for he supposed the 
best way out of the embroglio would be to 
go abroad for a time ; stories of this sort 
speedily blew over; and, unless the affair 
was kept constantly before it, in a week 
or two the world would cease to talk about 
it. Norman Slade, too, would be check- 
mated about that Epsom business ; it would 
be little use bringing such a charge against 
a man who had crossed the Channel ; and 
Eurzedon felt that he should get out of the 
scrape cheaply at the expense of a few 
months' absence from London. Better for 



AN ENEMY HATH DONE THIS THING. 117 

him that the charge should be dropped than 
brought, even if not substantiated. 

One thing, however, puzzled Furzedon 
much ; he could not conceive how it was 
that his identity with Jordan and Co. had 
leaked out ; there was no one whom he 
could suspect, for, strange to say, that Prance 
might have betrayed him never entered his 
head. His relations with that worthy bad 
been so long dropped, and he so rarely 
encountered him, that he had forgotten that 
Prance knew all the history of his past life ; 
but lie swore a great oath of vengeance 
against the man who had proclaimed the 
fact that he was a pawnbroker and a usurer, 
should he ever discover it. And, though in 
his first surprise at finding Norman Slade so 
accurately informed as to his antecedents, 
Prance had not occurred to him as the 
informant ; still, sooner or later, it was 
pretty certain to flash across him, and then 
it was likely that vow would be kept with 
ruthless exactitude. 



118 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

He had regained his chambers, and was 
still pondering over all these things, when 
his servant brought in a pencilled note, 
which he handed to him with the intimation 
that the gentleman was waiting. Furzedon 
glanced hastily at the note, and muttered to 
himself, " Sturgeon ! now what on earth can 
bring him here ? " He might well ask, for 
Mr. Jacob Sturgeon was the confidential 
and personal representative of Jordan and 
Co., and his visiting Purzedon's rooms was 
strictly interdicted. As the latter knew, it 
must be something of considerable import- 
ance that led him to disregard his instruc- 
tions on that point. 

" Show him up," said Eurzedon ; and in 
another minute Mr. Sturgeon entered the 
room— a plump, quietly-dressed, prosperous- 
looking man of business. 

"I am sorry to intrude, sir ; but, as you 
can easily guess, it is a matter of import- 
ance that has made me disobey orders ; a 
circumstance I thought you should be 



AN ENEMY HATH DONE THIS THING. 119 

made acquainted with without loss of 
time." 

" Yes, yes ! " said Furzedon, impatiently. 
"Get on; what is it?" 

" Well, sir," replied Mr. Sturgeon, " we've 
had rather an awkward scene up at the 
office. A Major Braddock called in about 
those bills of young Devereux's. He pointed 
out that Mr. Devereux was in India, and 
therefore, for the present, quite out of our 
reach ; but that his friends were anxious to 
come to terms with us, and that he was 
empowered to agree to any reasonable com- 
position." 

" Ha ! " exclaimed Purzedon ; " I thought 
they would be glad to come to terms before 
long. And you, what did you say ? " 

" Oh ! sir," replied Sturgeon, smiling, 
"I told them the old story — that for money 
lent upon next to no security, as Mr. Deve- 
reux's was, we claimed, and expected to get, 
heavy interest ; that there were also legal 
expenses ; that I would submit what he said 



120 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

to my principals ; but that I could hold 
forth no hope of their foregoing their claims ; 
that we could afford to wait ; that, though 
Mr. Devereux had been unfortunate, we 
knew him to be a gentleman, and felt per- 
fect confidence in his eventually meeting 
his liabilities." 

" Quite right." replied Furzedon ; " and 
what did Major Braddock say to that?" 

" Well, he astonished me not a little, sir. 
As a matter of course, I looked upon it as 
only delicate fencing for the best terms on 
either side ; but Major Braddock suddenly 
interrupted me with ' stop all the clap-trap 
of your class ; we happen to know who your 
principal is ; we know who it is that trades 
in usury under the name of Jordan and Co. ; 
we know all about the pawnbroker's shop in 
the next street, and are quite prepared to 
go into court if you don't make fair terms 
with us.' I rejoined that, if compelled to it, 
I didn't suppose that my principals would 
object to that way of coming by their own." 



AN ENEMY HATH DONE THIS TIIING. 121 



a 



Ah ! and what did he say to that ? " in- 
quired Furzedon, eagerly. 

" Major Braddock," replied Sturgeon, 
" took me up sharp. ' You mistake,' he 
said, c your principal — for you have only one 
— would he very unwilling to go into the 
witness-hox ; he is a good young man, and 
loth that his left should know what his right 
hand is doing. No, no ! Ralph Furzedon 
won't wish to figure before his friends and 
acquaintances in his real character. No; the 
sooner you let him know that we are aware 
of who we are dealing with the better.' " 

" And that was all that passed between 
you ? " asked Furzedon. 

" Pretty well, sir," rejoined Sturgeon; "I 
told him politely he was mistaken ; but he 
only rejoined, more briefly than civilly, 
1 Not much ' ; threw his card on the table, 
and left the place." 

" Quite right to come and tell me," said 
Furzedon ; " you have, of course, no idea 
how he came by bis knowledge?" 



122 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

"No, sir; I could have sworn that no- 
body either at the shop or the offices had 
any idea who Jordan and Co. were, except 
myself, and the secret has never passed my 
lips." 

" Thank you ; that will do," replied Furze- 
don. "If Major Braddock calls again, 
stick to it that he is mistaken. Don't come 
here again unless you think it absolutely 
necessary;" and, with a careless nod, Eurze- 
don intimated to Mr. Sturgeon that his 
interview was at an end. 



123 



CHAPTER VIII. 

A MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING. 

" Halloa, Bertie ! where have yon been all 
the morning' ; under what pretence have 
you been evading your military duties ? 
Allow me to congratulate you," exclaimed 
young Sparshot. 

"I've been on a board on forage ; but I 
don't see that that's a particular subject for 
congratulation,'* returned Slade, as he took 
a chair in the mess-room, and prepared to 
assuage the hunger that his morning's work 
had created. 

" Then you've heard nothing about Tom 
Henderson's letter, although it specially 
concerns you?" 



124 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

"Not a word," replied Bertie; "what 
has Tom got to say?" 

" First of all," rejoined young Sparsbot, 
" Tom has met his Pate ; and, as his Eate 
happens to he possessed of more dollars 
than a hussar ever dreamt of, he is going to 
sell out, and that gives you your troop, 
Captain Slade." 

" We shall all be sorry to lose Hender- 
son," said Bertie ; " but promotion is pro- 
motion, and in this case we have only to 
congratulate him on his retirement; but 
what is this other news ? " 

"Well, for some inscrutable reason, it 
seems the authorities have decided to send 
us out to India at once, instead of in the 
autumn." 

" You don't mean that ! " exclaimed 
Slade ; " unless they've good grounds, it is 
rather rough upon us all ; it's always a bad 
business having to dispose of horses in a 
hurry." 

" Yes," rejoined Sparshot ; " the end of 



A MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING. 125 

the hunting season; and all the officers of 
Her Majesty's — th Hussars are likely, I 
am afraid, to have a bad sale." 

Bertie Slade was not a little taken aback 
by the news of the sudden order for India. 
He knew very well what this meant. That 
for the few weeks left to them there would 
be plenty of work to be done ; that every 
officers's hands would be full, and leave of 
absence difficult to obtain ; and yet he felt 
that it was absolutely necessary for him to pay 
a short visit to London. He had written, as 
we know, to Mrs. Connop ; and in his letter 
had vaguely told her that a very serious 
charge was likely to be advanced against 
Balph Furzcdon, and delicately hinted that 
she would do well to suspend further inti- 
macy with him until she heard the result. 
He did not like to speak more plainly ; but 
his meaning was that Miss Devereux, to 
whom he firmly believed Furzcdon to be 
engaged, should pause before uniting her- 
self to a man whom a few weeks might see 



126 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

socially blasted. He had not liked to par- 
ticularise the offence of which Eurzedon 
had been guilty, and to attempt interference 
in the slightest degree with Miss Deve- 
reux's matrimonial intentions was, he felt, 
quite out of his province; and yet, know- 
ing, as he did from his uncle "Norman, the 
story of Furzedon's life, he felt it was im- 
possible that he could look on and see the 
girl he passionately loved married to such 
a scoundrel. Lettie Devereux need never 
fear about him ; he might be destined never 
to win her for his wife, but for all that, 
surely he ought not to let her contract this 
marriage in ignorance ; surely no money 
could compensate for the utter loss of posi- 
tion which awaited Ralph Furzedon. He 
had not intended to speak more plainly. A 
very little, and the accusation would be 
publicly proclaimed in the press ; but, now 
he was going to India, it might not be 
brought forward till after his departure. 
There was delay sometimes about these 



A MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING. 127 

things ; and it was possible that the know- 
ledge might come to Miss Devereux too 
late. 

Bertie's serious face was the cause of not 
a little chaff from his gay companions, as 
young Sparshot said Slade was the only 
man who apparently appreciated the gravity 
of the situation. " He'll chill the very mar- 
row in our hones directly. I can see he is 
just about to begin, with mocking laughter, 

Ah! know ye the land of the sepoy and tiger, 

And the terrible pranks that they play in that clime." 

Bertie laughed as he rose. " One would 
have thought, Spar," he said, "that the 
'terrible pranks' were thrashed out of the 
sepoy during the Mutiny times; but, ac- 
cording to Charlie Devereux, there are some 
of them still untamed. No, I've got a few 
things I want to settle before I start, and 
I'm rather bothered about how to do it." 
And so saying Bertie left the room. 

" Yes," he thought, when he reached his 
own quarters, " there is no help for it ; I 



128 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

must run up to town, see Mrs. Connop, and 
tell her the whole story ; if she thinks fit 
to let her niece marry a man with such a 
charge hanging over him, I can do no 
more. It is impossible for me to speak to 
Lettie herself ; though how, in spite of his 
money, she could accept such a cad as 
Purzedon ! " And here Bertie Slade wound 
up his train of thought by discharging a 
volley of maledictions against that gentle- 
man. 

Bertie Slade easily obtained the short 
leave he ventured to ask for. He had a 
good many things to do in town besides his 
interview with Mrs. Connop. He was 
anxious to sec his uncle Norman, to ascer- 
tain when this business of Eurzedon's would 
be brought forward. Major Braddock he 
also wanted to talk with, partly on his 
own account and partly concerning Charlie 
Devereux. Major Braddock, however, he 
felt certain of seeing before he sailed. The 
Major retained the greatest possible interest 



A MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING. 129 

in his old regiment, and was little likely to 
let them sail for the East without coming 
down to Portsmouth to witness their em- 
barkation. The settlement of Charlie's 
debts had been left to the discretion of Bob 
Braddock ; and Bertie was in ignorance of 
what steps the Major had lately taken about 
their settlement. The last time he had 
heard from his uncle Bob that gentleman 
had assured him there was no hurry, that 
the less they troubled about it the more 
likely an advantageous offer was to come 
from the other side. But the Major was 
now acquainted with the identity of Jordan 
and Co., and Bertie thought that would 
probably change his tactics. 

However, the day after his arrival in 
town, at the earliest canonical hour per- 
missible for calling, Gilbert Slade made his 
way into Onslow Gardens. " Mrs. Connop 
was at home," he was told, in answer to his 
inquiry. And without more ado he was 

vol. III. K 



130 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

ushered up into the drawing-room, where, to 
his great astonishment, he found himself 
face to face with Lettie Devereux. The 
situation was awkward. What he had to 
say he could neither say to Miss Devereux 
nor before her. And yet that say it he 
would he was doggedly determined. Lettie 
rose to receive him ; and, though taken by 
surprise as well as himself, yet she masked 
her feelings well. Her heart beat quickly, 
but her chance had come ; and come what 
might it should go hard if before he left she 
had not disabused Mr. Slade's mind of any 
idea that she was engaged to Mr. Purzedon. 
Mrs. Connop had not destroyed Bertie's 
note, and Miss Devereux had had little diffi- 
culty in persuading her aunt to allow her to 
see it. She read between the lines easily 
enough, and laughed as she said, " I think, 
auntie dear, this letter was meant more for 
me than for you, and has been written, I 
have no doubt, under a very mistaken idea." 
And Mrs. Connop was far too shrewd a 



A MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING. 131 

woman not to think her niece was taking a 
correct view of the subject. 

" Charmed to see you, Mr. Slade," said 
Lettie, as she rose to receive her visitor. 
" Since poor Charlie's ' grief ' we have never 
set eyes upon you. My aunt will be down 
in a few minutes " — Miss Devereux devoutly 
hoped she would not — " and I am sure is 
dying, as we all are, to thank you for your 
kindness to him in his trouble." 

" Pray don't mention it," rejoined Bertie, 
" it's one of the canons of the service that 
we must stick to each other ; we all did the 
best we could for Charlie, but you know 
there was nothing for it but India." 

" I know," replied Lettie, " but I am 
afraid he finds the life out there very dull." 

" Not a bit of it, Miss Devereux," rejoined 
Slade. " Charlie is engaged in quite a 
lively pursuit out there ; he and half the 
soldiers in the Madras Presidency apparently 
are engaged in hunting down the craftiest 
and most murderous old robber that ever 

k 2 



132 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

took to the roads. This Shere Ali keeps 
them tramping continually up and down the 
Presidency, and seems as difficult to lay 
hands upon as a Will-o'-the-Wisp. We 
shall perhaps get there in time to get a 
turn at him too." 

" You, Mr. Slade ! Why what do you 
mean ? " 

" Ah ! I forgot I hadn't told vou we've 
got our orders for India ; and, as luck has 
it, are going to the same Presidency that 
Charlie is in. We are off in about three or 
four weeks." 

Then the conversation rather languished. 
These were two young people very desirous of 
saying something to each other, and neither 
of them knowing exactly how to begin. Of 
course, it was all remarkably simple. Bertie 
Slade wished to impress upon Miss Deve- 
reux that she really ought not to marry 
Purzedon ; while the lady on her side was 
equally anxious to impress upon him that 
she had not the slightest intention of doing 



A MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING. 133 

so. It is all very well to smile as a by- 
stander, and say " Absurd ! These people 
could not fail to come to an explanation at 
once.'* But have you no experience of these 
comparatively easy explanations not come 
to ? Have you never thought, as you gained 
the street, of the thing you wished you had 
said in the drawing-room ? And do not all of 
us know that the explanation so easy at first 
becomes more difficult day by day ? Now, 
Lettie Devereux had good grounds for think- 
ing that Bertie Slade was rather smitten 
with herself, and this seemed to make it 
rather difficult for her to volunteer the in- 
formation that she was not engaged to Mr. 
Purzedon. If Bertie would only afford her 
the slightest opening it would be so easy ; 
but then, Bertie, on his side, felt that he 
could not congratulate her. And that was 
the only way he could see of alluding to 
what he supposed to be a settled thing. 

"You will probably see Charlie, then?" 
said Miss Devereux, at length, with that 



134 SADDLE AND SABKE. 

usual disregard of the size of the country 
apt to characterise people who have never 
heen there. 

" Probably," replied Bertie, " though it 
may be some time first ; and I have come to 
say ' good-bye,' Miss Devereux ; and I have 
one favour to ask you before I go. I wrote a 
note a short time ago to Mrs. Connop. I 
don't know whether she showed it to you, 
but, at all events, I hope she will." 

" I have seen it," interrupted Lettie. 
" Still, what have I to do with it ? " 

" I only want you to believe that I am 
quite certain of what I say in it, and that I 
am not merely detailing idle gossip." 

" As I said before, I really don't see any- 
thing in it that concerns me." 

Gilbert Slade was troubled. It was evi- 
dent that he could depend upon no help 
from Miss Devereux. It was possible that 
she might indignantly refuse to listen to 
any imputation on her lover. But Bertie 
was resolute to speak out. 



A MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING. 135 

"I should have thought," he remarked, 
" that you could not be indifferent to hear- 
ing that any one you had lived upon friendly 
terms with ran the risk of being brought to 
shame. I have no wish to discuss it, but I 
thought that as he had stayed at North 
Leach, and was intimate with you all, you 
ought to know it." 

« Why ought I to know it ? " exclaimed 
Miss Devereux, indignantly. " Why will 
you keep insisting that this specially con- 
cerns me ? If Mr. Purzedon has done any- 
thing disgraceful, surely my father or my 
brothers are the people you ought to com- 
municate with." 

It is very rarely that loss of temper con- 
duces to promote a good understanding 
between people who are at cross purposes. 
But Miss Devereux's natural exasperation 
somewhat cleared the air, and dispersed the 
fog in which they were both rapidly losing 
themselves. Bertie, like herself, was now 
not a little nettled, and it was somewhat 



136 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

sharply that he retorted " I can only say 
that, according to rumour, anything affect- 
ing Mr. Furzedon is likely to be more 
severely felt by Miss Devereux than by any 
other of her family. I suppose I was wrong 
to touch upon the subject, but Charlie and 
I were staunch friends." 

"I know that," rejoined Lettie, gently. 
" And you are only saying to me what you 
would have said to him, had he been in 
England. But you're under a mis-appre- 
hension, Mr. Slade. You have heard an 
absurd and rather annoying rumour that 
got about last season, and for which, believe 
me, there never has been the slightest 
foundation." 

" Do you mean to say," said Bertie ea- 
gerly, " that there is no engagement be- 
tween you and Mr. Eurzedon ?" 

" Certainly not, I hardly understand my- 
self how the rumour got about." 

" As far as I am concerned, I had it from 
your own brother." 



A MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING. 137 

" What from Charlie ? when ?" 

" Last spring, and that is why I have 
regarded it as a fact. When a young 
lady's brother tells you the thing is so 
you must admit you have it from good 
authority. 

" Yes, indeed," replied Miss Devereux ; 
" hut who on earth could have put that 
into Charlie's head ? I am perfectly sure 
it never occurred to himself;" but here 
their conversation was interrupted by the 
entrance of Mrs. Connop, who was un- 
feignedly glad to see her old favourite again, 
and gave Gilbert Slade a most cordial wel- 
come. 

" How long are you up in town for ?" she 
asked, as she settled herself in her chair. 

"Mr. Slade has come to say good-bye, 
auntie," interposed Miss Devereux. 

"Goodbye, child ! why he has hardly said 
how d'ye do, and we haven't seen him for 
months. I've got lots to say to you, Mr. 
Slade. I am dying for a long gossip with 



138 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

you. What day will it suit you to come 
out and dine with us?'' 

" I am very sorry, but I hardly think that 
is possible. I have only to-night and to- 
morrow night in town, and shall be so busy 
all day that dinner will have to be a very 
movable feast with me. There is of course 
a great deal to do, and we really are off at 
once, and at very short notice." 

Then the conversation became general, 
and Mrs. Connop was deeply interested 
in the fact that the — th Hussars were 
going to the same Presidency that Charlie 
was in, and that there was a possibility of 
that young scapegrace coming across his 
old comrades once more. Then Mrs. Con- 
nop, ever sanguine, began to speculate on 
the chances of Charlie getting back to 
his old corps, which she thought might 
be effected soon after the — th Hussars 
got out there, and Gilbert Slade had to 
explain to her that the "War Office people 
wouldn't stand quite such a rapid shuffling 



A MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING. 139 

of the cards as that ; then Charlie's affairs 
were discussed, and Mrs. Connop was very- 
anxious to know if any progress had been 
made in their settlement, and was loud in 
her expressions of gratitude to Major Brad- 
dock for all he had done for him. 

" It really is very good of him to trouble 
himself about Charlie's business at all," 
remarked the good lady; "in fact he don't 
deserve help or pity from any one." 

" Uncle Bob is a real good sort," inter- 
posed Slade. " He took a fancy to your 
brother, you see, Miss Devereux, at first 
start, and although I own he was awfully 
disgusted at his having to leave the regi- 
ment, yet he is always staunch and true to 
those he has once befriended. I don't 
know what he has done about Charlie's 
business, but I shall see him to-night, 
and will come down to morrow, and let 
you know all about it, and now I must be 
going." 

" Why I've seen nothing of you," cried 



140 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

Mrs. Connop ; " I've not had time to ask you 
about this business of Mr. Furzedon." 

" I don't think there is any necessity for 
me to say more than I have done," replied 
Slade, with a meaning glance at Lettice ; 
" the papers will tell you all about it before 
a few weeks are over. Good-bye, Mrs. 
Connop, good-bye, Miss Devereux," and as 
he bent over her hand he said in a low 
tone, " You can't think how happy you 
have made me," and then, with a hearty 
invitation from Mrs. Connop to come to 
luncheon to-morrow, Gilbert Slade took his 
departure. Not half a score of words, and 
yet Lettice Devereux seemed quite as con- 
tent as if she had received a more explicit 
declaration. 



141 



CHAPTER IX. 

Charlie's baptism of fire. 

Charlie Deveretjx was once more upon 
the war-path ; and he and his comrades, like 
baffled hounds, grew thoroughly savage in 
the pursuit of that perplexing marauder 
Shere Ali. That the famous dacoit chief 
can assemble some hundreds at his back 
should he so will was now well known to the 
authorities ; but that his influence through 
the Deccan is a thing that can be no longer 
borne with is a fact thoroughly recognised. 
It is true he rarely gathers together his 
followers in such numbers as he can com- 
mand ; but that he can put himself at the 
head of a most formidable band at two or 
three days' notice is now perfectly under- 



142 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

stood. His tactics are those of the old 
Highland veterans in our own country, who 
sallied forth upon their reiving expeditions, 
sped homeward with their plunder, and then 
rapidly dispersed. 

Shere Ali makes similar outbursts in un- 
expected localities, and then, in like manner, 
disappears with his booty, and is apparently 
swallowed up in the adjacent jungles. The 
marauder, too, has acquired a strange noto- 
riety through all that country. Information 
given detrimental to himself and his followers 
has several times been punished with swift 
and singular barbarity. The villagers are 
shy of any allusion to his whereabouts or pro- 
ceedings ; and his brigandage has attained 
such an extensive scale as to augur pitiful 
weakness on the part of any government that 
fails speedily to repress it. Even the veteran 
Hobson shook his head over it, and said, in 
the course of his varied experience, that 
Shere Ali was the most aggravating cus- 
tomer he had ever had to deal with. 



Charlie's baptism of fire. 143 

" We have come across him once, Charlie," 
he said, as they jogged along one morning 
at the head of their now mounted men, " or 
else, upon my word, I should begin to think 
this was quite a legendary chieftain ; but he 
and his rapparees did shoot at us once ; and 
we were very close upon tbeir track a few 
hours afterwards." 

" Yes," rejoined Charlie Devereux, " and 
the massacre of poor young Blades and his 
escort was a startling proof of Shere Ali 
being very much alive and on the move ; 
but the dream will come true, Hobson, I 
know it will ; we shall come up with him at 
last; and then, if I know anything of the 
temper of our fellows, they will be rather 
hard to hold. They have hunted him for 
many weary miles, and heard so many tales 
of the atrocities of himself and his followers, 
that I don't think there will be much 
quarter given when the day of reckoning 
does come." 

" No ; nor asked" said Hobson. " You 



144 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

will see these fellows will die grimly as a 
fox in a trap, and with a like snarl upon 
their lips. But, halloa ! what the deuce is 
up ? this looks like business of some sort." 
And, as he spoke, Hobson pointed to one of 
the advanced guard, who was riding back to 
them as fast as his horse could carry him. 

" Now, Wilson, what is it ? " 

" Sergeant Rivers sent me back, sir," re- 
plied the soldier, as he saluted, " to say that 
he thought we were pretty close upon these 
dacoit chaps, this time. There's a pretty 
sight when you get round the bend, sir;" 
and the soldier pointed to the turn in the 
road. 

" Pass the word to close up, and sound 
the attention, bugler," said Hobson. " Now, 
what's round the bend, Wilson ?" 

" Well, sir, we must have pretty near 
caught these scoundrels at their hellish 
work ; there's a tolerably strong travelling 
party, some of 'em well-armed, too, who 
have been massacred to a man. The ser- 



Charlie's baptism of fire. 115 

geant bid me tell you that he thought the 
dacoits must he in considerable force.'' 

" Bring them on at a trot, Devereux, as 
soon as they have closed up ; I'm going to 
gallop forward and see what has taken place 
yonder." 

Accompanied by a soldier, Hobson gal- 
loped forward, and the minute he rounded 
the turn in the road the tragedy of the 
morning lay exposed to his view. About a 
score of men lay stretched upon the road, 
weltering in their blood; and the whole 
scene was easy of interpretation, as the 
sergeant in charge of the advance guard at 
once pointed out to Hobson. " These two 
men here by the side of the road were 
evidently the leaders of the party," 

" Evidently Parsee traders," remarked 
Hobsou, as he dismounted from his horse, 
" and the others their servants and an 
escort of soldiers, whom they had hired to 
protect them. They have apparently been 

VOL. III. L 



146 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

surprised and butchered to a man, without 
offering much resistance." 

" Just so," replied the sergeant, " there is 
a stream just away to the right here, and 
Shere Ali's people must have come upon 
them while they were cooking their mid-day 
meal under the trees by it." 

" I see; and these fellows fled into the 
open, and were all cut down before they 
could make any stand at all." 

" They weren't all killed quite in that way, 
sir," replied the sergeant drily. " Thi? 
Baboo here was murdered in cold blood, and 
tortured first ; look at his fingers, sir." 

"I see," said Hobson, "it's an old trick of 
theirs, burnt nearly off; they've bound them 
in tow soaked with oil and then set fire to 
them ; whether they've done it from sheer 
devilry, because they didn't get so much 
money as they expected, or quite as likely 
to wring information from him about his 
property, I don't know. Ha ! the other 
fared very little better ; you can see the 



Charlie's baptism of fire. 147 

mark of the cord round his neck ; they 
half throttled him before they killed him." 

" We can't have been very far from 
catching them in the very act, sir," said the 
sergeant. 

" You're right, Rivers, these bodies are 
not yet cold. I don't believe these villains 
can be above three or four hours ahead of 
us, perhaps not even so much." 

The robbers had done their work cleanly. 
All the animals belonging to the murdered 
party they had carried off with them, and 
the dead had been stripped of everything 
valuable about their persons. Nothing was 
left but the corpses of the two traders, their 
servants and escort, to tell the story of that 
day's cruel work. By this time the re- 
mainder of the troop had come up, and 
were surveying the scene with critical eyes. 
Old soldiers, most of them, who had been 
through the fell fighting of the Mutiny, and 
to whom the sii^ht of a field strewn with 
dead was no novelty. 

l2 



148 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

" Not a wounded man amongst them,'' 
growled one of these. " These devils give 
no quarter, and, if ever we do come up with 
them, hy " 

" They can't expect to get it. Look at 
that, too," and the speaker and several of 
his comrades gazed curiously at the charred 
stumps of the hapless trader's fingers. 

" Now, Rivers," exclaimed Hobson, " I'm 
going to push forward at once. On you go, 
with your advanced guard ; keep your eyes 
skinned, and of course fall hack the minute 
you get touch of the enemy. I suspect 
Shere Ali is at the head of a strong hand 
this time." 

So little trouble had the robbers taken to 
mask their movements that the way they 
had taken was pretty evident. Some of the 
soldiers, too, by this time had become clever 
at scouting, and the best of these were riding 
in the advanced guard ; a bare half-mile 
from the scene of the massacre, and it was 
evident that the marauders had left the 



Charlie's baptism of fire. 149 

main road and struck across one of the 
jungle-trails to the right. 

It was farther pretty apparent, from the 
horse-prints, that they were in considerable 
numbers. Hobson had no doubt that, ac- 
cording to his wont, Shere Ali, having placed 
a hundred miles or so between himself and 
the scene of his crime, would disband his 
followers, with the exception of a trusted 
few, and then betake himself to his secret 
lurking-place, the whereabouts of which 
so completely baffled his pursuers; but its 
secret was well kept, and, so far, the Eering- 
hees had got no hint of it. Hobson knew 
that so long as he was close upon the trail of 
his foe, and that Shere Ali kept at the head 
of a numerous band, he would not be diffi- 
cult to follow ; but so soon as he dispersed 
his rapscallions there would be great danger 
of losing trace of him. It had happened so 
near half a dozen times to patrols who had 
deemed him within their grasp, and Hobson 
had no doubt that upon the one occasion he 



150 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

and Charlie Devereux had stumbled upon 
the dacoit chief, Shere Ali had but a mere 
handful of men with him, and thence 
the ease with which the wily Indian had 
evaded him. 

Keeping his men well in hand, Hobson 
plunged into the jungle and followed fast 
in the footprints of his flying foe. The men 
were all on the qui vive, with both eyes and 
ears alert for the slightest indication of the 
robbers. Every man of them knew that 
their ride must be both fast and far to give 
them any hope of coming up with the dacoit 
chief. The immunity he had so far enjoyed 
from the penalties of his crimes had been 
so far in great measure due to the celerity 
of his movements. He and his followers 
invariably fled from the scene of their 
murderous exploits by forced marches, and 
Hobson and his troop had been too long 
scouring the country in pursuit of him not 
to know that to capture Shere Ali involved 
beating him at his own tactics. 



Charlie's baptism of fire. 151 

Silently they went on in the same mono- 
tonous jog-trot, for Hobson had sternly 
ordered that there should be no talking in 
the ranks, and impressed upon his men that 
their march must be conducted with as little 
noise as possible. Mile after mile was thrown 
behind them, and still the advanced guard 
reported " no glimpse of the enemy." Still 
the footprints of a large body of horses were 
ever in their front. Hobson's face wore an 
anxious expression, while young Devereux 
chafed inwardly at what he irreverently 
termed " the slowness of his captain." 

If it had been left to him, he would have 
advanced at a hand gallop, the result of 
which would have been, that if he failed to 
come up with the foe in less than two hours 
the horses would have been about ridden to 
a standstill, while if he did succeed in over- 
taking them his men would have laboured 
under the disadvantage of being upon half- 
blown cattle. 

However, Hobson had too much expe- 



152 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

rienee to fall into any such error. If his 
face wore a thoughtful expression it was 
because he was calculating how much 
longer he could jog along at the moderate 
j)ace he was going without pulling up to 
give men and horses a temporary rest. Ex- 
perience had taught him that the dacoits 
managed to do with very short halts ; and 
he and his men would be, therefore, con- 
strained to do the like. It was likely to be 
a severe strain upon both men and horses 
for six-and- thirty hours or more ; for per- 
haps two days and nights, he calculated, 
the whole party would have to do with very 
little rest. "As for the men," thought Hob- 
son, " they must contrive to eat and sleep 
in the saddle, but pull up to bait the horses 
we must." Water, too, was becoming a 
very serious consideration. The men's 
water-bottles he knew must be pretty well 
emptied ; and then, again, what was to be 
done about the horses ? he had no idea 
where or when they would come upon it. 



CHARLIE S BAPTISM OF FIRE. 153 

However, Hobson comforted himself with 
the reflection that water was as necessary 
to Shere Ali as to himself, and that the 
dacoits must know of a stream on their 
road. His mind was destined to be speedily 
set at rest on one point. Suddenly, shots 
were heard in the front, and the advanced 
guard were seen falling rapidly back. 
Sergeant Rivers hurriedly reported that 
they had come upon the rear of the dacoits, 
apparently unexpected by the latter. The 
marauders were marching in rather irre- 
gular and desultory fashion, but closed up 
and faced about the minute they discovered 
their pursuers. 

" They mean fighting, sir, never fear," 
said the sergeant, as he finished his report. 

'* Is there a large body of them ? " asked 
Hobson. 

u Rather difficult to say, sir," replied the 
sergeant ; " but they've formed across the 
road." 

" Mr. Dcvcrcux," said Hobson, " take ten 



154 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

files, creep round the jungle to the right, so 
as to take 'em in flank. I'm going to attack 
in front at once ; but nothing demoralises 
these black fellows like finding their assail- 
ants have got round their flank. You had 
better go with him, Rivers. One moment, 
Devereux, get well round, remember, almost 
towards their rear, before you attack ; never 
fear but what you'll get plenty of fighting." 

Charlie touched his helmet; moved rapidly 
to the rear ; told off his score of men ; and 
then, accompanied by Rivers, plunged into 
the jungle. Hobson, without further delay, 
at once dashed at his enemy in front ; but 
the dacoits stood their ground, and evidently 
meant to offer a stubborn resistance. 

The English soldiers had dismounted, and, 
in skirmishing order, had advanced rapidly 
along the road, and had spread through the 
jungle on either side of it. But the robbers 
were much too cunning to keep on the road ; 
they quickly resorted to the cover on either 
side of it, and the rattle of the musketry 



Charlie's baptism of fiee. 155 

became now continuous. Taking advantage 
of every tree, the soldiers closed rapidly in on 
their foes, but the latter apparently had no 
intention of meeting the Eeringhees at close 
quarters. They retreated sullenly before 
them, at the same time yielding ground 
slowly and disputing it yard by yard. 

Charlie Devereux meanwhile was doing 
his best to carry out his instructions, and, 
though the rattle of the musketry made both 
himself and his men impatient to take part 
in the fray, yet he resolved in his own par- 
lance to "ride strictly to orders": which, 
however, were made the more difficult to 
carry out from the fact of the robbers falling 
back, and which were destined to end most 
unfortunately for Charlie. Shere Ali, flushed 
with the successes which had attended his 
late exploits, and finding himself — much 
against his will — brought to bay, deter- 
mined, as he said, to read the Feringhecs a 
lesson. His force very much outnumbered 
that of Ilobson, and it had occurred to him to 



156 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

put in practice the same manoeuvre that his 
antagonists had employed. He had detached 
quite a third of his force, under one of his 
ahlest lieutenants, with similar orders to 
those of Devereux. The result was ohvious ; 
these two parties, each stealing round to fall 
upon their adversary's right flank, must 
come into contact. And Devereux and his 
party, instead of surprising the robbers, 
suddenly found themselves surrounded by 
the enemv in numbers of fourfold their own 

it 

strength. 

With a shout of "Follow me!" Devereux 
dashed straight at the dacoits with the in- 
tention of cutting his way through, and then 
falling on the flank of the main body in 
compliance with his instructions. But weight 
of numbers brought the English soldiers 
back, and the result of a few minutes' sharp 
ng-htins; saw Charlie stretched senseless from 
a sabre cut dealt by the grim old Rohilla who 
led the enemy's flanking party. Sergeant 
"Rivers, who was now left in command, made 



Charlie's baptism of fire. 157 

two desperate charges in the hopes of at 
least carrying Devereux off with him ; but 
it was in vain, the robbers were too numerous 
for him ; and he was eventually driven back 
on the main body, with the loss of half his 
men. 

But Hobson understood his business, and, 
as soon as he had become aware of the fact 
that his flank was turned, he fell back and 
rapidly showed a front in the direction of his 
fresh assailants; in short, the English for- 
mation speedily became that of a somewhat 
irregular square, and their leader confined 
himself at present to the defensive. Hobson 
and his men had not fought the Pandies for 
nothing ; he had miscalculated the strength 
of his antagonists, and had not calculated 
upon Shere Ali's crafty manoeuvre, but he 
laughed at the idea of the dacoits, how- 
ever numerous, breaking his formation. In 
vain did Shere Ali urge on his men, and 
exhort them not to spare the infidel dogs, 
nor to leave a Eeringhee alive to see the sun 



158 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

go down. After one or two half-hearted 
attempts the marauders recognised that the 
Peringhees were a very tough nut to crack ; 
the deadly Enfields scattered havoc in their 
ranks, and they eventually recoiled, cowed 
and discomfited. Shere Ali gnashed his 
teeth with rage ; but he, too, was quick to 
understand that the massacre of a troop of 
English soldiers was a very different thing 
from that of a couple of soubadoors and their 
native escort. He drew off suddenly like a 
wounded tiger baulked of his prey. And 
Hobson took advantage of the lull to reckon 
up his casualties. It had been a sharp brush, 
and, though the dacoits were strewn pretty 
thickly on the ground, yet his own loss was 
considerable for an affair of this nature. He 
was much concerned to hear that Charlie 
Devereux had fallen, and no sooner were 
the robbers fairly in retreat than Sergeant 
Rivers and a party were sent out to bring in 
their officer. It was possible he might not 
have been killed ; and, at all events, it was 



Charlie's baptism of eire. 159 

their duty to see they left no wounded 
behind them. But the dacoits had made 
sure work of the fallen, the wounded had 
been butchered where they lay. One thing 
only was extraordinary — Charlie Devereux, 
whether dead or alive, had disappeared. 

Hobson looked very grave when it was 
reported to him that Mr. Devereux was 
missing. Anything was better than this. 
Shere Ali's ferocious character was well 
known; and even the men felt that their 
comrades who lay cold and stark in the 
jungle had met with a more merciful fate 
than was probably reserved for the officer 
who had led them. That he had been 
carried off by the dacoits there could be no 
doubt. It was hardly likely that they would 
have done this unless he had been alive. 
And the toughest veterans among them 
shook their heads ruefully over the sort of 
mercy that Shere Ali was likely to mete out 
to a captive in the hour of his defeat. 
Hobson' s resolve was soon made ; in half 



160 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

an hour he was once more pressing on the 
footsteps of his retreating foe ; he was re- 
solved to stick to Shere Ali's skirts till men 
or horses gave out. He would track this 
human tiger to his stronghold, or prevent 
his ever reaching it. In face of a very hot 
pursuit, it was possible that Shere Ali would 
think it best not to betrav the secret of his 
citadel ; he was far too shrewd not to under- 
stand that once known his capture became 
a simple matter of a few days. The English 
could bring up force to overwhelm him in a 
marvellously short time. Hobson knew, 
moreover, that his own party was only one 
of a perfect chain of patrols, sent forth for 
the capture of the dacoit chief. "It was 
odds," he thought, " if he could not capture 
Shere Ali himself, he would succeed in 
hunting him into the hands of some other 
patrol of the cordon." And therefore he 
continued to hang upon the trail of the 
dacoits with untiring pertinacity. 



161 



CHAPTER X. 



mus. ktnaston's disappointment. 



Bertie Slade walked away in a very 
different state of mind from Onslow Gardens 
to that in which he had arrived there. 
What a fool he had been ! ingeniously 
tormenting himself about Lettie's betrothal, 
when all the while no such engagement ever 
existed. Well, it was all right now, and 
he cared little what became of Eurzedon, 
though he felt pretty certain that Norman 
Slade would take good care that righteous 
retribution was dealt out to him. Then he 
thought of how he had fallen into this 
mistake. He was quite certain that it was 
from Charlie he first heard of it; but he 

VOL. Ill M 



162 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

remembered what Lettie had said, " that 
somebody must have put it into his head, 
for that her brother was the last man to 
arrive at such a conclusion from his own 
observations." And then it flashed across 
him that he also had heard it from other 
lips. Mrs. Kynaston had told him the same 
story. Was it not possible that Charlie's 
knowledge of his sister's engagement had 
been derived from the same source ? He 
turned this over in his mind as he walked 
along. Charlie was very thick with Mrs. 
Kynaston ; and Bertie remembered well it 
was just after that flying visit of young 
Devereux's to town that he told this bit 
of news. " And, by heaven ! " muttered 
Bertie to himself, " I recollect now. He 
said he heard it from Mrs- Kynaston ; and 
remarked how odd it was that he should 
have the first tidings of his sister's intended 
marriage from any other but herself." 

Bertie Slade looked at his watch. It was 
early yet, he thought; he had still plenty 



MRS. KYN ASTON 's DISAPPOINTMENT. 163 

of time before dinner ; somehow he didn't 
seem to have half so much to do as he 
thought he had that morning. The fact 
was the important part of his business in 
town was already brought to a satisfactory 
conclusion. He ought to call and wish Mrs. 
Kynaston good-bye before he sailed. ' ? I'd 
make any bet that this rumour was a bit of 
her handiwork ; but why ? What object 
could she have in setting such a report 
afloat ? I shouldn't fancy her a mis- 
chievous woman either." And still puzzling 
over Mrs. Kynaston's motives Gilbert Slade 
arrived at the little house in Mayfair, and 
was forthwith ushered into Mrs. Kynaston's 
drawing-room. 

"Mr. Slade," exclaimed that lady, her 
eyes sparkling with genuine pleasure, " it is 
ages since I've seen or even heard of you. 
Sit down, do, and give an account of your- 
self." 

"There is not much to be told," he re- 
plied ; "we got through the winter at York 

m2 



164 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

pretty much as they always do up there. 
We hunted all day and danced all night ; 
rode as hard as we dared, and valsed as long 
as we could last." 

"Well, you are not very much to be 
pitied. We had the hunting, of course, hut 
as for our dances, they were as thinly spread 
as the butter of our childhood. And now I 
suppose you are up for some time ? " 

" On the contrary, I have but three days' 
leave; and, sad to say, have come to wish 
you good-bye ; we sail for India in about 
three weeks." 

The colour faded out of Kate Kynaston's 
cheeks as, in a low voice, she faltered out, 
" What is the meaning of this freak ?" 

"I don't know," replied Slade; "but 
it is a freak of the War Office, not of mine." 

"What, the regiment is ordered out ?" 

" Yes, at monstrous short notice ; and, as 
far as we can see, for no particular reason. 
Pray don't suppose I am very enthusiastic 
about it." 



MRS. KTNASTON'S DISAPPOINTMENT. 165 

" Nor, I am sure, are your many friends," 
rejoined the lady. 

"Amongst whom I trust I may reckon 
Mrs. Kynaston," said Slade. 

"None truer, you know it," exclaimed 
Kate, extending her hand, and flashing a 
coquettish look at him from under her dark 
eyelashes, that might have provoked most 
men to philandering, if not to more passion- 
ate love-making. But Gilbert Slade' s heart 
was steeled. Not only was he wholly de- 
voted to another woman, but he held that 
Mrs. Kynaston was the originator of the 
report of Lettie's engagement, and had so 
caused him months of unhappiness. 

"It is very kind of you to say so," he 
replied ; "we all like to think there is 
some odc who will miss us when we are 
gone." 

" Yes ; and I for one shall miss you very 
much. I have missed you so much during 
the long and dreary winter;" and, again, it 
was impossible for any man to mistake the 
challenge held forth to him. 



166 SADDLE AND SABKE. 

"I am sorry," he replied, "that I was 
unable to make my way into North Lincoln- 
shire, but Charlie Devereux's smash knocked 
that little scheme on the head. By the way, 
I had hoped to have seen his sister married 
before I sailed ; I suppose the wedding will 
take place before long, now." 

" I should imagine so,'' replied Mrs. Kyn- 
aston, a little shortly. "Was this man ada- 
mant, that he should reply to such an open- 
ing as she had vouchsafed him, by talking 
of another woman's marriage ? " However, 
I have not seen Miss Devereux since the 
winter, and don't think she has arrived in 
town as yet ; but never mind Lettie, tell me 
all about yourself. When do you go, and 
where are you going ?" 

" I have told you already all I know 
about it; further than that, the Madras 
Presidency is our destination." 

"It's always the same," replied Kate pet- 
tishly. " It is never any use making friends 
with a soldier; all my favourites are in- 
variably sent on foreign service." 



mus. kynaston's disappointment. 167 

Strictly speaking, Mrs. Kynaston's charms, 
aided by her husband's weakness for play, 
had made foreign service a necessary change 
for more than one of her military admirers. 
Still, in this case no such sin could be laid 
against her. Gilbert Slade's acquaintance 
with Dick Kynaston was of the slightest; 
the Major had never invited him to touch 
either card or cue ; and as we know, also, 
even in Charlie's case, Kate had told her 
husband outright that he must be allowed 
to pass scatheless. 

" It's very good of you to class me in that 
category," he said slowly at length. " It is 
odd, though, as an intimate friend of Miss 
Devereux's, that you should have fallen into 
the mistake of believing her to be engaged 
to Purzedon." 

She felt that her lie was detected ; but it 
was little likely that a woman like Mrs. 
Kynaston would be put out of countenance 
by a trifle like that. "Oh dear!" she said 



168 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

pettishly, "what have I to do with Miss 
Devereux's engagements ? I know she was, 
it's quite likely she isn't now. Girls of her 
age are quite capable of changing their 
mind." 

" I don't think she has changed her 
mind," replied Bertie. " I don't think a girl 
like Miss Devereux would be long making 
up her mind about a man like Furzedon." 

"And pray what do you know against 
Mr. Purzedon ? " 

" I know," replied Bertie sternly, " what 
I presume you know also, at all events, you 
do if you are in your husband's confidence ; 
you know his history, and you know the 
expose that threatens him, and yet, knowing 
all this, you have never warned your inti- 
mate friend of the character of the man 
whom you supposed to be her fiance : ." 

" I don't understand to what you allude, 
Mr. Slade," replied the lady, now thoroughly 
angry. " If you are desirous of discussing 



MRS. KYNASTON'S DISAPPOINTMENT. 1G0 

Miss Devereux's affairs, you had much 
better talk them over with her. I am very- 
likely misinformed about them." 

" Perhaps so," said Gilbert ; " or what is 
more likely you have thought fit to mis- 
inform other people. What has Miss Deve- 
reux ever done to you that you should 
persistently circulate that she was engaged 
to such a scoundrel ? You need not deny 
it." 

" I don't deny it," she cried, starting to 
her feet ; " I would have done more than 
that to part you two. Bertie, are you blind ? 
Can you not see ? Don't you know you're 
all the world to me ? " and in the intoxi- 
cation of her passion she cast herself at his 
feet. 

Gilbert Slade rose and his voice fell cold 
and stern on her ear, as in measured tones 
he replied : " You must be weak and 
hysterical to-day, or you would hardly talk 
so wildly. You forget it's but a few months 
ago that Charlie Devereux was your devoted 



170 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

slave. Do you think you can whistle us all 
to your lure at will? You have endeavoured 
to come between me and Lettice, and while 
I live I shall never forget it." 

She was on her feet and her eyes sparkled 
with fury as she motioned to him to go; 
and as with a bow, which under the circum- 
stances seemed almost a mockery, he left the 
room, she threw herself upon the sofa, 
and grinding her teeth midst a torrent of 
passionate tears once more vowed Gilbert 
Slade should never wed Lettice Devereux 
if she could prevent it. 

It was in a very happy frame of mind 
that Bertie sat down to dinner with his 
uncle at the Thermopolium, but still it 
cannot be said that he was overflowing 
with kindliness to all humanity. Eor once 
the attractive Mrs. Kynaston had most 
thoroughly missed her mark, and far from 
subduing Gilbert had simply aroused a 
feeling of angry vindictiveness in his nature. 
It was not that he would have said a word, 



MRS. KYNASTON's DISAPPOINTMENT. 171 

or stirred a finger towards her woe, but lie 
most assuredly would have felt little sym- 
pathy at any social discomfiture that might 
await her. He was not of a verv soft or 
impressionable nature, and he did consider, 
as we know rightly, that she had occasioned 
him much unhappiness by the rumour of 
which she was the originator. 

" Well, Bertie," said Major Braddock, as, 
having finished his soup, he raised a glass 
of sherry to his lips, " so the old regiment 
is going to take a turn in the East. Good 
heavens ! ' he continued, putting his glass 
hastily down, " look here, waiter, send the 
wine butler here at once. How dare you 
bring that sherry to me, Stephens ? " he 
exclaimed, as that functionary made his 
appearance. " It might have done for some 
of the very young gentlemen, but not for 
me; it's corked ; smell it." 

" I'm sure I'm very sorry, sir," replied 
Stephens ; " I decantered it myself, and I 
detected nothing wrong with it." 



172 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

" Then you're not fit for your situation," 
retorted the Major sternly. " Change it at 
once." 

" Certainly, sir;" and murmuring "I am 
always very particular about your wine, 
Major Braddock," Stephens retreated meekly. 

" It's very, very slightly touched," said 
Bertie. 

" I know that," rejoined the Major, "and 
there are plenty of men in the club who 
wouldn't have detected it was touched at 
all, but Stephens ought to know better than 
to try it on me." 

Gilbert thought that he himself would 
probably have been one of those who would 
have not detected it had he been dining by 
himself, but he knew better than to inter- 
fere with his gourmet uncle until he had 
been pacified by a glass of sherry to which 
even he could take no exception. 

" Well," said the Major, " India is a 
place to see, and your getting your troop 
just before going out makes it worth your 



MRS. KYNASTON's DISAPPOINTMENT. 173 

while. A captain really draws a decent in- 
come out there ; after two or three years, if 
you don't like it, we shall no doubt be able 
to manage an exchange home for you." 

" Thanks," replied Gilbert, " but I shall 
be home before that, I think. I'm as good 
as engaged to be married." 

"The deuee you are," replied Major Brad- 
dock ; " and who to, pray ? " 

"To Miss Devereux, Charlie's only sister." 

" Ah ! a very pretty girl, I've heard your 
uncle Norman say ; but I say, Bertie, I trust 
she hasn't got her brother's talent for 
getting through money, or you will be clean 
broke before a couple of years are out." 

" I think there is no fear of that," replied 
Gilbert laughing. " I must go out, you see, 
but as, for a wonder, we don't happen to 
have any war upon our hands, there will be 
no trouble about getting home again." 

" Well, I always think soldiers are better 
unmarried," rejoined the Major; "still, 
when you've got your troop, I always said 



174 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

you had a right to please yourself. I can 
only sincerely trust you will be happy. I 
know a little about old Devereux's affairs 
from looking after his son's. That girl will 
come into a comfortable little bit of money 
some day." And then the conversation 
turned into other channels chiefly relating 
to the regiment, and which have no bearing 
on this history. Once only did Gilbert 
revert to the Devereux family, and then it 
was to ask if any steps had been taken 
about Charlie's difficulties. The Major 
briefly gave him an account of his interview 
with Jordan and Co. " The knowledge of 
who Jordan and Co. actually are is a trump 
card in our hands, for, sooner than face a 
court of law, I have not the slightest doubt 
Mr. Furzedon will abandon all claims to 
usurious interest." 



175 



CHAPTER XI. 



"GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART, GOOD-BYE. 

Gilbert Slade made his appearance in 
Onslow Gardens a good half-hour before 
the luncheon hour ; and Mrs. Connop, who 
hardly needed the hint that her niece vouch- 
safed her, had discreetly left the drawing- 
room to Miss Devereux's sole occupation. 
If Gilbert had been somewhat vacillating 
yesterday, he came very directly to the 
point to-day. 

" You know what I have come for, 
Lettice. I have come to say plainly what 
I virtually said yesterday, and can only 
trust that, in my joy at finding you free, I 
did not read your feelings wrongly. Will 



176 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

you marry me ? I love you very dearly, 
and have done, I believe, ever since I first 
knew you ; but it wasn't until I heard that 
lying rumour that I discovered how very 
much you were to me. Can you like me 
well enough to say ' yes ' ? " 

Miss Devereux hesitated only for a mo- 
ment, then frankly stretched out her hand, 
and said simply, "Yes, I will be your wife." 
An answer to which the victor at once 
replied by seizing the spoils of war, and 
pressing his lips to hers. 

Then Miss Devereux sat demurely down, 
and motioned him to a seat by her side ; 
and the conversation became, although ex- 
tremely interesting to themselves, one that 
would read insufferably dull upon paper. 
There are some things best left to the 
imagination ; and it is a question whether 
our own experiences don't suggest more to 
us than all books can tell. I don't think, 
beyond the fact that their marriage could 
not take place for some little time, they 



il 



GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART, GOOD-BYE." 177 



gave much heed to future arrangements, 
which was, perhaps, as well, as it is difficult 
to say what changes a few months may- 
make in one's plans. 

When Mrs. Connop came into the room, 
Gilbert lost no time in telling her of Lettie's 
promise to be his wife. " Of course," he 
said, diplomatically, " there are yourself and 
her father and mother to be consulted. As 
far as I am concerned, I am my own 
master. My parents are both dead, but I 
told my uncle, Major Braddock, about it 
last night " 

" How could you," interrupted Lettice, 
laughing; : " what dreadful audacity ! You 
couldn't be sure I should say ' yes.' " 

" Pray don't think you were compro- 
mised," rejoined Gilbert, gaily. "I only 
told him what I intended to do ; that I 
had almost as good as asked you, and that 
I had hopes of a favourable answer. Well, 
Mrs. Connop, you know uncle Bob is a good 
sort ; you know how he stood to Charlie. 

VOL. III. N 



178 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

Well, lie wished me joy, and I feel quite 
sure my uncle Norman — he has seen you, 
remember, Lettice — will say the same in 
his own way. I only trust, Mrs. Connop, 
you can say the same on your side." 

" My dear Mr. Slade," replied that lady, 
in quite a little fluster of pleasure and 
excitement, " you have both my most hearty 
good wishes, and I shall be only too charmed 
to welcome you as a nephew. I cannot, of 
course, answer for my brother ; but I don't 
think it is likely that he will not be equally 
pleased to receive you into the family." 

"Thank you," replied Bertie, quietly, " I 
always felt I could rely upon you, and I 
hope I have a satisfactory story to tell to 
Mr. Devereux." 

" I have not the slightest doubt of it ; 
but now, young people, do come to lunch, 
you may not have time to be hungry, but I 
both have and am." 

A very merry party was that in the 
dining-room that afternoon. Mrs. Connop 



a 



GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART, GOOD-BYE." 179 



insisted that the occasion required a bottle 
of champagne ; and, let devotees of the Blue 
Ribbon League rave as they will, that does 
impart a liveliness to conversation. 

Things were discussed in a much more 
business-like way under the auspices of Mrs. 
Connop than they had been by the young 
couple in the drawing-room. And that 
Gilbert should go out to India and return 
within a year for the wedding was definitely 
settled. 

" Stop, I tell you what, Mrs. Connop," 
suddenly exclaimed Bertie, " I've got an 
idea. I must go back to York, because 
there's such a deuce of a lotto do, and, though 
the chief is as good as gold about leave, it 
stands to reason the work must be done. 
Now I shall see awfully little of Lettice 
before I sail; if you wouldn't mind it you 
would be real good-natured, and if Mr. 
Devereux says it's all right, you might run 
down to Portsmouth and see us off." 

" My goodness, Mr. Sladc, that is rather 

n 2 



180 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

a startling proposal. I don't think I quite 
see my way to that." 

" It's quite easy, I assure you, Major 
Braddock is sure to come down, and I will 
guarantee would be only too pleased to take 
charge of you. I'll take very good care 
that you get a line from him volunteering 
his services; and don't be afraid, Lettice, 
you won't be awfully well taken care of, as 
far as eating and drinking goes, while you're 
under his charge." 

Miss Devereux and her aunt were both 
too well aware of the Major's pet weakness 
not to smile at this recommendation, and 
Mrs. Connop at length was induced to say 
" she would think it over, and, if possible, 
run down to see the last of him." 

"Amuse you. I am sure, Mrs. Connop," 
said Gilbert; "a rather strange mixture are 
the good-byes on those occasions. If some 
of them are made with laughter and toast- 
drinking there are others made with tears 
and broken words. However, our good bye 



" GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART, GOOD-BYE.'' 181 

is not likely to be of that sort ; we are not 
going canipaigDing, and there is nothing to 
prevent our friends giving us a real cheery 
God speed." 

By the time this was satisfactorily ar- 
ranged Gilbert discovered that it was time 
for him to go. He had two or three things 
yet to arrange before leaving town, so he 
bade his fiancee a hasty adieu, shook hands 
heartily with Mrs. Connop, dashed down 
stairs, and jumped into the first hansom he 
came across. 

Her very unsatisfactory interview with 
Gilbert Slade had aroused all Mrs. Kynas- 
ton's energies. It was possible that Miss 
Devereux was in town, although she had 
not as yet heard it, but Mrs. Kynaston 
determined that that was a point shp would 
lose no time in clearing-up, and with this 
object the next day she drove down to 
Onslow Gardens to call upon Mrs. Connop, 
and arrived there a bare half-hour after 
Gilbert had left the house. She was not 



182 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

surprised to find in answer to her inquiries 
that Miss Devereux was in town. Thinking 
the whole thing over, she had felt pretty 
certain, not only that she must be, hut that 
Gilbert had seen her, and an understanding 
of some sort had been arrived at between 
the pair. Both ladies she was informed 
were at home, and she accordingly followed 
the servant upstairs. 

Persistent believer as she had always 
affected to be in Miss Devereux's engage- 
ment to Eurzedon, yet it had never occurred 
to Lettie to suspect Kate of having indus- 
triously set about the rumour, and therefore 
she was received with great cordiality. 
Mrs. Connop had never quite liked Mrs. 
Kynaston, but she was so elated by the 
event of the morning that she would have 
welcomed any one warmly. While, as for 
Lettie, she was only too pleased to feel that 
it was now in her power to convince her 
friend of the absurdity of the idea of her 
ever marrying Mr. Furzedon. 



" GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART, GOOD-BYE.'' 183 

" I have been barely in town a week," 
said Lettie, in answer to Mrs. Kynaston's 
reproaches of not acquainting her with her 
own arrival. " I should have been round to 
see you in a day or two, but it was very nice 
of you to call to-day. You are always 
speculating on my marriage. Well, I have a 
bit of news for you. I am really engaged." 

Mrs. Kynaston paused for a moment 
before she replied. Although expecting 
something of the sort, she was not prepared 
for an open avowal of the engagement. It 
was with difficulty she preserved her com- 
posure, as she replied, " Pray accept my 
congratulations, and don't be surprised at 
my not asking the name of the happy man. 
He came down to take a sentimental leave 
of me yesterday afternoon, and I have no 
doubt was engaged in paying a round of 
such visits. I pretty well gathered how his 
leave-taking here had terminated." 

Lettice started as if she had been stung ; 
she had had her tiffs with Kate Kynaston, 



184 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

no doubt, but she did regard her as her 
most intimate friend, and had expected her 
congratulations would be both honest and 
thorough, but there was no mistaking the 
half-sneer in Mrs. Kynaston's speech, nor 
could any one fail to notice the cold half- 
mocking tones in which the conventional 
words were spoken. Mrs. Kynaston was a 
good actress, but for once in her life the 
blow had been too severe, and for the 
moment she had involuntarily dropped the 
mask. She repented almost as soon as the 
words had passed her lips, but for the 
minute she could not for the life of her 
have said otherwise. 

" I don't think Mr. Slade had time to pay 
quite as many calls as you suggest, nor even 
if he did say good-bye to a few of his friends 
do I suppose his partings were quite of the 
character vou describe." 

" Yes," chimed in Mrs. Connop, sharply, 
" Lettie is a very lucky girl. Mr. Slade will 
get his troop almost immediately, and it will 



(C 



GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEATtT, GOOD-BYE." 185 



all do very nicely ; at all events, we are very 
pleased with it, are we not, Lettie ? " 

" And with good reason," cried Mrs. Kyn- 
aston, who had by this time quite recovered 
herself. " I congratulate you with all my 
heart, Lettie ; though," she continued, with a 
comical little grimace, and a shrug of her 
shoulders, " it is rather hard to have one of 
one's pet admirers taken from one in this 
fashion." 

" I can't call to mind his ever figuring 
quite in that way as regards you," replied 
Miss Devereux. 

" Now, don't he touchy, Lettie," said 
Mrs. Kynaston, laughing. " It's only my 
way, you know ; besides, he is formally 
declared your property now, though I am 
afraid you will see but little of him before 
he sails." 

" We are to go down to Portsmouth and 
see the last of him," said Mrs. Connop. 
" He was always a great favourite of mine, 
and, as he says, ' this is only saying good-bye 



186 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

for a few months,' and there is no fighting 
going on, so we've no cause to feel anxious 
about him." 

" All very nice," rejoined Mrs. Kynaston, 
" hut I must be going now. Good-bye, 
Lettie, I am sure I wish you every happi- 
ness, and you mustn't begrudge Mr. Slade 
having come to say good-bye to me. I am 
an old friend of his, you know. Good-bye, 
Mrs. Connop, early days for her to be 
jealous, isn't it?" and with a gay laugh 
Mrs. Kynaston sailed out of the room. 

" And I thought that woman my friend!" 
exclaimed Lettie. " Did you ever hear any- 
thing like her, aunt ? her congratulations 
were a mere mockery. Jealous ! No, I'm 
not that ; but Kate was doing, and would 
do, her very best to make me so, if she only 
had the opportunity." 

" I never did like her," replied Mrs. 
Connop, " but as for the jealousy, my dear, 
it was all on her side. She is very much put 
out at your engagement, depend upon it." 



" GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART, GOOD BYE." 187 

Mrs. Kynaston had been unable to avoid 
betraying herself, though she would fain 
have done otherwise. She was too angry 
with the affianced pair to listen to the an- 
nouncement of their happiness with patience. 
The rejection of her precious spikenard is a 
sore trial for any woman's temper, but the 
full measure of her wrath is sure to be 
reserved for that one of her sisters who 
brought such discomfiture about. 

The brief interval soon slips away, and 
the gallant — th are in all the turmoil that 
the order for foreign service invariably 
evolves. The sale of their horses was, as is 
always the case, the worst ever known. 
Who cares to buv hunters at the end of the 

m 

hunting season. As young Sparshot pithily 
remarked, " They wouldn't have lost much 
more, and it would have been far more 
graceful to have shot the lot in the barrack- 
yard, and sent them over to the kennels to 
feed the hounds they had followed so well." 
Unsatisfied creditors thronged the barrack- 



188 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

yard, excessively anxious for the settlement 
of their little accounts, or at least some 
security for them, occasioning much care 
and anxiety to those gay soldiers who had 
lived up to the traditional maxim, and 
" spent half a crown put of sixpence a day." 
It is ever so ; and, when great military 
authorities tell you that the army is ready 
for active service to the last buckle and 
gaiter-strap, I fear the officer's private 
affairs are rarely taken into consideration. 
However, all those little difficulties are over 
at last, the sickly men have been cast by 
the doctors, the depot has been formed, and, 
leaving this latter behind them, the service 
strength of the regiment was duly trained 
down to Portsmouth. 

That there should be no particular en- 
thusiasm about their embarkation was but 
natural. They were not going out to take 
part in a big fight, nor were bands ringing 
out the spirit-stirring melodies which such 
occasions invariably give rise to ; but for all 



"good-bye, sweetheart, good-bye." 189 

that there are always plenty of people who 
flock to see one of our British regiments 
embark, and start them on their voyage 
with a ringing cheer. 

Upon arrival at Portsmouth the — th 
marched to the dockyard, where the " Semi- 
ramis" was lying alongside the quay. The 
gigantic steamship speedily engulfed them 
between her capacious decks, and then 
Gilbert had time to look round for those 
who had come to see him off. He had 
waved his hand to Lettie and her escort as he 
marched his troop on board, but as soon as 
the men had settled down he and several of 
his brother officers rushed ashore to welcome 
the friends who had come to see them off. 

"Ah! Bertie, my boy," exclaimed the 
Major, " glad to see they are sending you 
out like a gentleman. None of your beastly 
little tubs, but a slashing big ship. They 
tell me you sail at daybreak ? " 

"Yes, that is so," replied Gilbert; "but 
come on board now, Mrs. Connop, ladies 



190 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

always like looking round a ship, and there 
is a sort of nondescript meal will take place 
in the saloon within an hour." 

" Yes," said Miss Devereux, " I should 
like to do that. Do you know the other 
day you quite forgot to tell me how Charlie's 
affairs were going on." 

" So I did," replied Gilbert; " hut you at 
all events must allow it was excusable." 

" Well, never mind now. I asked Major 
Braddock about them as we came down, and 
he says they will be arranged before very 
long. Father will have to pay a good bit of 
money for him ; hut it's a great thing that 
he hadn't to leave the army." 

" Yes," replied Gilbert; but here the con- 
versation was interrupted by Major Brad- 
dock, who exclaimed " I am sorry to say we 
shall have to cut our leave-taking very 
short. The Captain has just told me, Bertie, 
that, though you don't what is called sail 
till daybreak, he is going to get his ship 
out of harbour at once, and anchor for the 



"GOOD-BYE, SWEETIIEAUT, GOOD-BYE." 191 

night in the open water." And here the 
warning cry of " all strangers for shore, 
please," smote upon their ears. 

There is always a shade of sadness in 
saying good-bye on such occasions, and I 
for one hold that the " sweet agony of 
parting" should never be unduly prolonged. 
Gilbert shook hands with Mrs. Connop and 
his uncle, clasped Lettie in his arms, kissed 
her warmly, and whispered into her ear, 
" Don't forget to write constantly, dearest," 
and then handed her over to the Major's 
charge. She stole her hand once more into 
his as she murmured " God for ever bless 
you, dearest," and leaving a small parcel in 
his palm tripped hurriedly across the gang- 
way. 

"When Gilbert unfolded his prize a little 
later it contained a gold locket with the 
monogram of " L. D." upon one side, while 
within was coiled a lock of Lettie's chestnut 
tresses. 



192 



CHAPTER XII. 

HOBSON RECOVERS THE TRAIL. 

When Charlie Devereux came to himself, 
he found himself being borne along in a 
rude palanquin, the property of the grim 
old Rohilla who had cut him down. He 
was dizzy, confused, and his head still 
swam a good deal from the sabre-stroke, 
the force of which, luckily for him, had 
been considerably broken by his helmet. 
He had lost a good deal of blood, but his 
head had been bound up for him roughly 
in a damp cloth. As soon as he could 
collect his faculties sufficiently he began 
to wonder what he had been spared for, 
and with the remembrance of that scene 
by the roadside he could not but fear 



HOBSON RECOVERS THE TRAIL. 193 

that it would have been better for him had 
he been slain outright. Soon he perceived 
that there was an animated discussion going 
on between two men, who were mounted on 
very good horses, and evidently men of note 
amongst the robbers. One he recognised at 
once ; it was the dacoit chief to whom he 
had been opposed, against whom he had 
stood foot to foot and sabre to sabre, with 
what dire results we have seen. The other 
was a little wiry man of middle height, and 
a countenance somewhat striking. You 
were puzzled at first to know what it was 
repelled you in it ; the man was well- 
favoured enough, but his fellows seldom saw 
him for the first time without his producing 
an uneasy feeling in their minds ; but at 
last it dawned upon you, it w r as the cruel, 
restless eyes. That his companion paid him 
considerable deference was apparent, but 
that it was Shere Ali himself Charlie was 
not aware until somewhat later. Could 
he but have overheard the tenor of their 

VOL. III. o 



194 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

conversation it would not have done much 
to comfort him as regarded his present 
position. 

" You were wrong, Hassam, to spare this 
dog of a Feringhee. Do you suppose this 
one life would save our necks if we fell into 
their hands ? No ; depend upon it, our lives 
are forfeited if ever they trap us." 

" But I don't counsel that his life should 
be spared altogether. For the present, yes, 
because we want some information from 
him. The pursuit of us has thickened, and 
there are now many more parties of the 
Feringhees scouring the country than there 
used to be." 

" True, and this lot behind us, in spite of 
the warm reception we gave them, are by no 
means done with. We ought to have eaten 
them up this morning." 

" True," replied the Kohilla, " but these 
children of Sheitan are obstinate as pigs, 
and moreover love fighting." 

"You are right, Hassam, we will make 



liOBSON RECOVERS THE TRAIL. 195 

the Sahib tell us all we want to know as 
soon as he has a little recovered himself." 

" And if he refuses to speak ? " said the 
Rohilla interrogatively. 

" It will be the worse for him," retorted 
Shere Ali. " We have ways to make men 
open their mouths he little wots of." 

Hobson's determined pursuit, however, 
left Shere Ali small leisure for indulging his 
peculiar method of questioning a prisoner. 
If the dacoits halted for long, Hobson was 
sure to disturb them, and though, in conse- 
quence of their great superiority of numbers, 
he was cautious in his attacks, still he never 
failed to attack, and after a sharp skirmish 
Shere Ali and his followers were always 
again rapidly retreating. It was in vain the 
dacoit chief endeavoured to urge on his band 
to overwhelm their relentless foe. It was 
useless. The robbers, although they be- 
haved well enough in a skirmish, could not 
be brought to face the Peringhees in real 
earnest. The pursuit had now endured 

o2 



196 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

something like forty-eight hours, and, as 
Hohson recognised, could not much longer 
he maintained. Both men and horses were 
getting utterly used up, and the one ray of 
hope he had of ultimately capturing Shere 
Ali lay in the fact that the dacoits he knew 
must he getting nearly as heat as his own 
people. 

Suddenly he hegan to suspect his prog- 
nostications were realised. They came to a 
place where from the main road two smaller 
tracks diverged through the jungle, and, as 
the scouts pointed out, from the footprints 
of the horses it was evident that the rohbers 
here had broken into three parties. It was 
just what Hobson feared. Despairing of 
shaking off his persistent pursuit, Shere Ali 
had commenced to disband his followers. 
The hunted dacoit was evidently afraid to 
divulge the secret of his lair, and had pro- 
bably after disbanding his men sought its 
shelter with but a few of the most trusted. 
Could he but come up with them now, 



HOBSON RECOVERS THE TRAIL. 197 

Hobson thought, his capture would be 
easier, as he had little doubt his own party- 
far outnumbered that of the robber chief ; 
but which of these three tracks to take ? 
they had no peculiar mark by which to re- 
cognise the footprints of his horse from that 
of any other; it was a sheer toss-up, and 
after a brief delay Hobson decided to follow 
on hap-hazard. Two or three hours more 
steady riding : the men are nodding in their 
saddles, the tired horses blundering in their 
steady jog-trot, when suddenly they emerged 
from the jungle, on a broad highway which 
was instantly recognised as the main road 
from Secunderabad to Nagpore, and which 
way the party they had followed had taken, 
whether they had gone up the road towards 
Nagpore, or down the road towards Secun- 
derabad, there was nothing to show. It was 
hopeless to carry on the pursuit further ; a 
village could be descried not a mile away, 
and where there was a village there was 
sure to be water. Hobson marched his 



198 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

troop as far as the outskirts and then gave 
the order to his worn-out men to bivouac 
for the night. 

At daybreak the next morning Hobson 
was awakened with the news that there 
were horsemen coming up the road. He 
received the announcement with but little 
interest, it was not likely that the dacoits 
would move for any length of time in any 
numbers along that road, and he guessed at 
once that it was only another patrol similar 
to his own. A glance through his field-glasses 
at once confirmed this, with the trifling 
exception that the new-comers were evidently 
regular cavalry, and not mounted infantry. 
When they had arrived within a very short 
distance the officer commanding them rode 
forward, and, addressing Hobson, said 
" I don't know whom I have the pleasure of 
speaking to, but I presume you are in com- 
mand of one of the patrols in pursuit of 
this scoundrel Shere Ali. We are only just 
out from England, and have been packed 
off to join in the hunt.' 



»> 



HOBSON RECOVERS THE TRAIL. 199 

" All ! " replied the other, wearily. " I've 
been hunting him for months and months ; 
if I had hut come across you twenty-four 
hours ago." 

"Why— did you get news of him ?" in- 
quired the new-comer, with interest. 

" News ol him ! " replied Hohson. " I've 
been at his heels and fighting with him 
these two days. Pour times I've brought 
him to bay, but his numbers just saved him 
from destruction, and after a short skirmish 
he always bolted again." 

"Both your men and cattle look as if 
they had had a gruelling." said the new- 
comer, as he compared the travel-stained, 
way-worn appearance of Hobson's band with 
his own trim-looking troopers. 

" Yes," rejoined Hobson. " I drove both 
my horses and men pretty well to a standstill 
yesterday. The worst is that crafty devil 
Shere Ali played his old trick on us to finish 
up with. He broke up his band into there 
divisions, each of which followed a different 



200 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

route, and it has ended by our losing all 
trace of him." 

" By Jove, what bad luck ! " exclaimed 
the dragoon. " I wish to heavens I had 
come across you a bit sooner. By the way, 
do you know anything of a great friend 
of mine, who, like yourself, has been at 
this game for some months, one Charlie 
Devereux ? " 

" Devereux — my God ! Yes ; he is my 
subaltern," and Hobson's face became very 
grave and stern. 

" Then I fancy you and I know each 
other perfectly well by name. I am Gilbert 
Slade, and, if I mistake not, you are John 
Hobson?" 

" Yes, I've heard plenty about you ; poor 
Charlie never tired of talking " 

" Why do you say poor Charlie ? " inter- 
rupted Slade, anxiously ; " he has not been 
killed, has he ?" 

"No, worse than that has happened to 
him. I believe him to be a prisoner of 



HOBSON RECOVERS THE TRAIL. 201 

Shere Ali's ; and you've probably heard 
enough of that monster's brutalities to know 
what that means." 

Gilbert's face fell. All that side the 
country was alive with stories of Shere Ali's 
sanguinary doings. 

"I am of course under your orders," he 
said at length. " I was told to patrol 
towards Nagpore, on my own account, until 
I fell in with some other patrol, and then to 
take my instructions from the officer com- 
manding." 

" Well, you can't do better than halt your 
men here, and breakfast. I must try and 
get some information out of these villagers 
before I move on. The worst of it is this 
scoundrel has created such a reign of terror 
that it is difficult to induce the villagers to 
disclose what they know. Generally, a 
lavish offer of rupees would suffice to make 
them betray any dacoit chief, but this 
Shere Ali has taken such ferocious ven- 
geance on those whom he has detected giving 



202 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

any information about his proceedings that 
they tremble at the very sound of his name; 
however, I have sent a sergeant to bring out 
the khotwal and any other of the leading 
villagers he thinks might possibly have 
information, and I must try if threats and 
bribery will do anything with them." 

Gilbert Slade looked very grave when he 
heard that Charlie was in the hands of 
Shere Ali. It would have been a terrible 
thing to have to write to Lettie and tell her 
that her brother had fallen in a skirmish 
with a gang of dacoits, but it would be too 
terrible if his death should be preceded by 
the infernal cruelties practised by Asiatic rob- 
bers. No, he thought 5 if their worst antici- 
pations were realised, his family should be 
at all events spared such knowledge. 

It was not long before Sergeant Rivers 
returned, bringing with him some half- 
dozen of the leading men of the village, 
including its khotwal or headman. 

" They all swear they know nothing, sir," 



HOBSON RECOVERS THE TRAIL. 203 

said the sergeant ; " but," he continued, 
dropping his voice, so that only Hobson and 
Slade, who was sitting by, could hear him, 
"here is a huckster among them who, I 
think, knows something, and might be 
brought to tell it if you see him alone." 

" What makes you think that, Rivers ? " 
inquired his captain. 

" Why, when the interpreter had got 
them all together, and was cross-questioning 
them, this fellow's little eyes twinkled when 
he heard that many rupees would be given 
for any information leading to the capture 
of Shere Ali. Like the rest of them he 
swore he knew nothing about him, but he 
hung about the doorway, and as I came out 
of the khotwal's house he said in a low 
tone, ' What would the Sahib give to catch 
the dacoit chief?' I answered at once, one 
thousand rupees ; but he shook his head and 
muttered, ' Not enough, it is too dangerous,' 
so I said to myself, I'll just bring you along 
with me, my man." 



204 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

" Quite right," rejoined Hobson, " I'll see 
him in two or three minutes." 

c " Smart fellow that sergeant ! " remarked 
Slade. li Do you think he is right in his 
conjecture?" 

" Quite likely, he is a shrewd fellow ; he 
has been for many years in this country and 
understands the natives thoroughly — he 
speaks their tongue too a bit." 

The villagers were now brought one by 
one before Hobson, beginning with their 
headman, who was sternly informed that 
Shere Ali had been traced to their imme- 
diate vicinity, that there were a thousand 
rupees for the man whose information led 
to his capture, that it was useless to pretend 
that they had no knowledge of him, that 
the Government had resolved to make a 
severe example of the first village found 
sheltering or assisting him, and that he had 
little doubt they had at all events been 
guilty of this latter. 

One by one they protested by all their 



HOBSON RECOVERS THE TRAIL. 205 

gods that they had no knowledge of this 
Shere Ali, that they loathed his very name, 
that he spread desolation on all the country 
round, and that they only hoped His Excel- 
lency would speedily deliver them from this 
wild beast who devoured them. One by one 
they were dismissed with a recommendation 
to make their way back to their own village, 
and a menace that they would live to pay 
the penalty of their obstinate silence. 

" Dogs ye are, and dog's deaths ye shall 
die," thundered Hobson in eastern hyper- 
bole. "Your tongues have denied the truth, 
and you know that you have lied in your 
beards. Away, back to your village, and 
pray that I burn it not over your heads ere 
the week be past." 

" I say," said Gilbert, as the discomfited 
villagers, having now permission to depart, 
slunk down the hill, " you are giving full 
play to your imagination, aren't you ? " 

" Yes," rejoined Hobson, laughing, " it's 
the only way to talk to these beggars. I 



206 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

have no doubt tliey know perfectly well 
where Shere Ali has betaken himself, but 
they are afraid to tell. Their own rulers 
would not only threaten all I have done, but 
thoroughly mean it. And I fancy in the 
early days of the century our own people 
would have done the same." 

" Still," said Gilbert Slade, "you haven't 
got a bit of information out of them yet. 
What are you going to do with this last 
man ? " 

" Why, to tell you the truth," replied 
Hobson, "a good deal of all this bombast 
has been for his special benefit. You see 
he has been within earshot all the time, 
and has been purposely given the oppor- 
tunity of speaking to his fellows after I 
have talked to them. We'll have him up 
now, and if I don't wring something out of 
him I must fairly own I'm beat, and the 
following of Shere Ali will become a mere 
matter of chance; and yet," he continued, 
lowering his voice, "there never was such 



HOBSON RECOVERS THE TRAIL. 207 

reason that we should follow fast upon his 
track." 

The Bunnea or petty trader was now 
brought before Hobson, and replied to the 
latter' s exordium by the same protestations 
of ignorance as his fellows, except that he 
was, if possible, even more profuse in such 
asseverations. Hobson listened unmoved 
until he had finished, and then said " Your 
lies are useless. You have asked what will 
I give to know where I can lay hands on 
Shere Ali. Men don't ask what you will 
give unless they have something to sell. 
You haggled at the price, and say it is too 
dangerous." 

" My lord has been misinformed," ex- 
claimed the Bunnea trembling with terror. 

" I think not ; unlucky for you if it is so. 
You had better listen attentively to what I 
say. I shall take you into the jungle with 
me. If I find Shere Ali you shall have two 
thousand rupees, and I can safely promise 
you need never dread his vengeance. If I 



208 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

don't,'* said Hobson sternly, u I'll leave you 
in the jungle for the crows to feed upon." 

In vain the wretched Bunnea prostrated 
himself at Hobson's feet, while the sweat 
streamed down his brow from absolute 
terror. 

" Take him away," said the latter sternly, 
" and let him be closely guarded. We'll 
march in an hour." 



209 



CHAPTER XIII. 

EURZED0N LEAVES ENGLAND. 

Norman Slade was by no means the man 
to let the grass grow under his feet in any 
matter of business, more especially when it 
came to bringing a criminal to justice, and 
that criminal one who had cost him a con- 
siderable sum of money. No sooner had he 
got a case against Eurzedon complete than 
he exerted all the interest he possessed 
amongst the leading men of the Turf to in- 
duce them to make the Jockey Club take 
the matter up, and, averse though that august 
body were to taking cognisance of an affair 
that had happened so many months ago, 
and about which their verdict — whatever it 
vol. III. p 



210 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

might be — could in reality make now no 
difference. The thing was done, stakes and 
bets had all been paid, and nothing they 
could possibly do could undo the transaction. 
Let it be never so great a fraud, let it be 
never so shameful a robbery, nevertheless it 
was a thing accomplished, it was a fact of 
the past ; and those who had profited by it 
must keep the gains, and those that had lost 
by it must abide by their losses. 

Quite true, argued those who had taken 
up the case, but on the same principle what 
criminal would ever be brought to justice? 
The murder is done, the felony committed ; 
the life cannot be restored, nor in most cases 
the goods recovered ; but that is accounted no 
. reason why the perpetrators of either should 
go scatheless. Then, again, the Jockey Club 
sympathies were not much in favour of Mr. 
William Smith. That gentleman, with his 
coarse braggart tongue and inebriate habits, 
was constantly giving great offence and 
using the grossest language to their offi- 



FURZEDON LEAVES ENGLAND. 211 

cials; except to those pecuniarily interested, 
his defeat at Epsom was matter of much 
gratulation. But the persistency of Norman 
Slade's friends prevailed, and it was at last 
decided that the case should be duly brought 
before the Jockey Club at the second Spring 
Meeting. 

But when Slade marshalled his facts, had 
assembled his witnesses, and due notice was 
given to Balph Eurzedon of the charges in- 
tended to be preferred against him, and an 
intimation that if he did not disprove them 
the Jockey Club would have no other course 
to pursue but to punish such misdeeds to 
the extent of their power, an answer came 
back from his solicitor to the effect "That 
Mr. Eurzedon had been suddenly ordered 
abroad for his health ; that there was no 
chance of his return for some months ; and 
that he must request that all proceedings 
should be staved until his client's return : 
that he felt no doubt of Mr. Eurzedon's 
ability to rebut them, but in the present 

p 2 



212 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

state of his health it would be impossible 
for him to return to England." This was 
conclusive ; in a case of this kind it was 
useless to proceed against a criminal who 
not only refused to plead, but further was 
beyond the bounds of jurisdiction. Even 
Norman Slade — though a fierce malediction 
broke from his lips as he did so — admitted 
that it was useless to proceed against a man 
to whom the sentence of the court must be 
a mere form. 

Eurzedon calculated on this ; if he kept 
well out of the way, the prosecution against 
him — so to speak — would be dropped. Even 
Norman Slade would throw up his brief 
when he found there was no criminal to 
place in the dock. Another year and the 
whole thing would be thoroughly forgotten ; 
he might return to England. And though 
he felt that for a time he must eschew the 
race-course, much as he loved it, yet there 
would be no public scandal. It might be a 
little talked about in society, but pro- 



FUEZEDON LEAVES ENGLAND. 213 

bably only to a limited extent. Things of 
that sort were but a few days' wonder, 
and on his return people would be much 
more curious to know where he had been, 
and what he had been doing, than to recall 
that unsavoury story concerning him which 
was current about tbe time he left. 

But, if Norman Slade was bitterly disap- 
pointed at Furzedon having slipped through 
his fingers, there was another upon whom 
it exercised a perfectly morbid effect. The 
hatred of vears was concentrated in Prance's 
mind, that thirst for vengeance against 
the man who rightly or wrongly he accused 
of the ruin of his home and his life he had 
looked upon as about to be satiated, and 
now once again, after all his patience, toil, 
and trouble, had his enemy proved too clever 
for him. He quite pestered Norman Slade 
with his entreaties that he should persevere 
with the case ; it was in vain. Slade told 
him it was hopeless to think that the Jockey 
Club would go into such a by-gone matter, 



214 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

unless the delinquent could be brought be- 
fore them. Prance was wild at the idea of 
being baulked of his vengeance, and Norman 
could not but wonder what wrongs he had 
received at Purzedon's hands that had pro- 
voked such undying enmity. He remem- 
bered the man's fierce outburst in the 
Paddock at Doncaster when he had ques- 
tioned him about what he expected to get 
for the information he proffered, and at the 
last interview he had with the half-frenzied 
man could not but think that he should not 
count his own life very safe was there a 
man walking about bearing such deadly 
hatred towards him. 

On one point Mr. Purzedon was consider- 
ably out in his calculations. The history of 
his antecedents and misdoings was known to 
far too many people not to be pretty widely 
bruited abroad. Through club smoking- 
rooms and West -End drawing-rooms the 
story of how last year's Derby had been 
lost was freely canvassed, and that the chief 



FUKZEDON LEAVES ENGLAND. 215 

actor in that audacious robbery should have 
been one who had actually contrived to 
appear on the outskirts of society tickled 
society not a little. Young men who found 
themselves lifted into a temporary import- 
ance from the fact that they had happened 
to know Purzedon were cross-examined as to 
his personal appearance, and as to whether 
they really did not detect from his manner 
that he kept a shop. " So shocking, you 
know, and a pawnbroker's shop too ! ' that 
useful but retiring business being regarded in 
a sinister light by the fashionable world, who 
believe its dealings to consist chiefly of the 
receiving and disposing of stolen property. 

Mrs. Kynaston, with her usual astuteness, 
at once made the most of such cards as 
Fortune put into her hand. She went about 
posing as a perfect martyr, a sorely-tried 
woman, whose burden was almost greater 
than she could bear. " It's terrible, my 
dear," she would exclaim plaintively to her 
intimates, "to think that we knew Mr. 



216 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

Purzedon at all, but I am ashamed to say 
we knew him very well ; that's the worst of 
racing. Dick is so fond of it, and he does 
pick up such queer acquaintances on the 
Turf. The first intimation we had of it all 
was from Mr. Slade; we didn't know him, 
hut he knew that Dick and this dreadful 
man were mixed up in some racing trans- 
actions together, and so he called and told 
him what he had discovered. I need scarcely 
say Dick at once told Mr. Purzedon he need 
never expect to set foot in our house again ; 
hut, if it is terrible for me, what must it be 
for poor Miss Devereux ? My heart quite 
bleeds for her, poor girl; she was engaged 
to him, you know. I suppose it is all off 
now ? Poor Lettie, it is very sad for her." 

The result of Mrs. Kynaston's wailings 
was that the report of Lettie's engagement 
to Purzedon, which had somewhat died 
away, was again revived, and it really 
ran a chance of having the effect that lady 
designed. No two men could be more 



EURZEDON LEAVES ENGLAND. 217 

thoroughly up in the talk of the town than 
Gilbert's two uncles. They mixed in very 
different sets, and neither of them very 
much affected ladies' society ; but there is 
not much that goes on in the London world 
that is not freely discussed in club smoking- 
rooms ; and amongst these Major Braddock 
passed a great deal of his time, while at the 
chief rendezvous of the magnates of the Turf 
it was well known that the latest scandal is 
invariably served up red-hot, and Norman 
was a member of that caravcmseri. In the 
ordinary course of events, neither Slade 
nor Major Braddock would have heard this 
rumour — the actors in it were not of suffi- 
cient importance in society to attract atten- 
tion to it out of their own immediate circle ; 
but, thanks to the threatened charge against 
Furzedon, anything connected with him 
became of greater interest when, in due 
time, it came to their ears. Had they not 
both had some knowledge of Miss Dever- 
eux it was very probable that they would 



218 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

have written to Gilbert to urge him to pause 
before taking to wife a damsel who had 
transferred her affections with such won- 
drous facility ; but, as it was, they saw no 
call for interference ; and so far Mrs. Ky- 
naston's tattling resulted in nothing more 
than considerable annoyance to Mrs. Con- 
nop, who was constantly goaded to madness 
by the commiseration expressed by her 
friends about her niece's disappointment. 

Prance, ever brooding over his wrongs, 
ever hating, ever thinking of this man, who 
had been his undoing, determined that he 
must see him, that he must jeer at him, 
flout him with his social downfall. Cunning 
and astute, he had known that, if his ven- 
geance could be carried no further, the 
utter demolition of Halph Eurzedon's social 
pedestal would be very bitter to that gentle- 
man, and a thing over which he could gloat 
with much satisfaction. Eor years he had 
hugged the idea to his heart of ruthlessly 
exposing Furzedon, of letting the world 



FURZEDON LEAVES ENGLAND. 219 

know generally who and what this young 
gentleman was that it was so cordially re- 
ceiving to its bosom ; to pitilessly expose 
the family from which he sprang ; the way 
in which he and his progenitors had earned 
their wealth ; but all this was small satis- 
faction unless he was there to exult over 
his victim in his downfall. He had waited 
patiently because he feared that nobody 
would pay heed to his allegations; and it 
was not till he had tracked out Eurzedon in 
a great Turf fraud that he deemed he could 
command a hearing. Well ! he had obtained 
it, and now in the hour of his victory Ralph 
Furzeclon had fled from the consequences of 
his crime. Still, Prance was aware that, if 
he had not altogether succeeded in publicly 
exposing "Purzedon, yet that he had done 
enough to ruin him socially. There had 
been plenty of paragraphs in the sporting 
papers with allusions to the grave charges 
impending against a young gentleman well 
known in racing circles. Later paragraphs 



220 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

contained the news that the accused had 
left the countrv sooner than face the in- 
quiry ; and further paragraphs said it would 
be absurd to conceal the name of the delin- 
quent, and therefore published it boldly. 
But Prance wanted to see this man in his 
downfall, and exult over him in the hour of 
his defeat. 

A lucky Ascot had put Mr. Prance in 
funds, and he determined to follow Purze- 
don abroad, and look at him ; as he said to 
Norman Slade at Doncaster money was to 
him as nothing to the luxury of revenge, 
and it was so ; it had become a mania with 
him; he was quite prepared to exist on the 
bare necessaries of life if he could only 
feast his eyes on Purzedon thrust out of all 
decent society, and driven to associate with a 
class of Continental adventurers little superior 
in position to him, Prance. Ha ! to see that; 
to force his way into such a set, and to occa- 
sionally indulge in a gibe at the man who 
had struck him to the ground that night in 



FTTRZEDON LEAVES ENGLAND. 221 

the Hay market; ha! ha! that would be 
worth living for ; to keep perpetually won- 
dering how such a well-known turfite as 
Mr. Furzedon could be lin<*erim? abroad 
while Doncaster and Newmarket were going 
on. Ho ! ho ! what fun that would be. 
The man was really half crazy on the point 
of his inveterate animosity to Ralph Eurze- 
don. 

Iiut to gratify these amiable instincts it 
was of course necessary that Mr. Prance 
should know whither Eurzedon had betaken 
himself, and this was by no means so easy. 
Furzedon s dependants of all sorts were far 
too well trained to babble ; and again, he 
was a gentleman who made no more con- 
fidants than were absolutely necessary. His 
valet he had taken with him ; the old 
woman in charge of his chambers doubtless 
had no knowledge of his address; and, 
though both at his office in Northumber- 
land Street and at the shop a few streets 
higher up the Strand they were sure to be 



222 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

aware of it, yet Prance knew better than 
to suppose that he should obtain the in- 
formation he wanted from them. How was 
he to set at what he wanted ? and ahout this 
Prance was fairly beat ; but he was a man 
accustomed to burrowing, to tracking and 
tracing things through dirty by-paths, to 
obtaining information, oft-times of very 
dubious value, in manifold queer ways, and 
though at fault for the present it was not 
likely that he would remain so long. A 
good hater, like a vengeful Indian, may be 
baffled for the time, but it is difficult to 
throw him altogether off the trail. 

Mr. Prance cogitated over this for some 
time, and for the life of him could hit upon 
no solution to the problem ; at last an idea 
struck him Purzedon's letters were pro- 
bably addressed in the first instance to the 
office in Northumberland Street, and from 
thence sent on to him by his confidential 
clerk. No sooner had he settled this in his 
own mind than Prance slipped down to 



EURZEDON LEAVES ENGLAND. 223 

Northumberland Street about the time he 
knew the office would be closing. He 
loitered outside until he saw Mr. Sturgeon 
the head-clerk, whom he knew perfectly 
well by sight, come out and walk away. 
Then he rang at the bell, and the door was 
opened, as he expected, by the charwoman, 
who was about to sweep out the office. His 
covenant with her was short and simple. 
For a trifling consideration the contents of 
the waste-paper basket were to be carefully 
preserved and delivered to him daily. 

For some days, carefully though Prance 
studied the torn papers that the charwoman 
handed over to him, it was with no result, 
but the clue was found at last. One morn- 
ing as he went carefully through them he 
suddenly espied an envelope torn in two 
addressed to Mr. Sturgeon in Furzedon's 
well-known hand. The postmark on the 
envelope told him partly what he wanted to 
know. Furzedon, then, was at Brussels; 
but it was, of course, possible that he might 



224 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

not be staying there under his own name. 
If the envelope was torn up it was likely 
that the letter inside it had been torn up 
too. He continued his search and soon 
discovered that this was the case. What 
the contents of the letter might be he cared 
very little about ; but, for all that, he put 
the pieces together, and, as he anticipated, 
arrived at Furzedon's address. That gentle- 
man's letters were to be forwarded to Henry 
Jackson, Foste Restante, Brussels. This 
was quite sufficient for Prance ; with that 
clue to go upon he felt quite certain of 
speedily tracing his man to his harbour of 
refuge — and without delay the monomaniac 
started for the Belgian capital. 



225 



CHAPTER XIV. 

LET HIM BE GIVEN TO THE FLIES. 

Charlie Deveretjx, meanwhile, who is 
hurried along by his captors in a manner 
that taxes his exhausted strength severely, 
cannot as yet complain of anything worse 
than being rather roughly treated. He 
could hardly expect much courtesy from 
men like his captors, more especially while 
they were being much harassed in their 
retreat by his comrades. It was quite clear 
to him that his life hung upon a thread — 
not on account of the Rohilla's sabre-stroke, 
he felt pretty confident he should get over 
that — but the scowling brows and menacing 
gestures directed towards him by the da- 

VOL. III. Q 



226 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

coits after each of these little skirmishes 
between themselves and Hobson's troops 
showed too plainly that his hour might 
come any minute. In fact it was nothing 
hut the influence of Hassam that had saved 
his life so far, and to what caprice he owed 
his intervention Charlie could not possibly 
conjecture. Jealously guarded, he could see 
but little of what went on, but the firing 
told him whenever Hobson and his men 
came up with their fleet-footed foe. 

At last came a hurried halt, and Charlie 
made out that the robbers had broken up 
into three parties, that the one with which 
he remained was apparently under the com- 
mand of the Rohilla, and what had become 
of Shere AH Charlie was unable to ascertain. 
Prom this out Devereux heard no more of 
his own people. They might be still fol- 
lowing the robbers for all he knew ; but, at 
all events, their rifles were silent. Their 
road, as far as he could make out, seemed 
to grow deeper and deeper into the jungle. 



LET HIM BE GIVEN TO THE FLIES. 227 

Another thing that struck him was, that 
they were diminishing in numbers, and cer- 
tainly soon after they broke into three 
parties they materially relaxed the speed at 
which they travelled. 

His captors showed no disposition to con- 
verse with him, and indeed, as far as he 
knew, were unable to do so. Charlie had 
picked up but very little Hindostanee, and 
except from Hassam he had heard no word 
of English escape their lips. As for the 
Rohilla, Devereux suspected that he could 
speak English fairly well if he chose : so far 
he had confined himself to brief inquiries 
as to whether he suffered much from his 
wound, and to occasionally rendering some 
rough assistance in readjusting the bandages. 
At length they indulged in a halt of much 
greater duration than ordinary, and from 
various signs Charlie came to the conclusion 
that the robbers had now no fear of pursuit, 
and were besides nearing their destination. 
Hassam's band had dwindled down now to 

Q2 



228 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

little over a score — how or when the others 
had disappeared Devereux did not know, 
bnt they had been melting like a snowball 
ever since the dacoits had broken into three 
bodies, the fact being that the marauders 
were dispersing to their own homes, leaving 
behind them only the faithful few privileged 
to accompany Shere Ali to his stronghold. 

Of all Shere Ali's subordinates there was 
none he placed more dependence upon than 
Hassam, and it is doubtful whether any 
other could have stood between young 
Devereux and his end but him. Even 
Hassam knew that he had purchased but a 
temporary respite for his prisoner, and it was 
open to question whether that grisly old 
marauder desired more ; though by no means 
so cruel he was quite as ruthless as his chief, 
and held strongly to the creed that the dead 
tell no tales. He thought that a good deal 
of the information they wanted ought to be 
wrung from the young English officer, and 
that once got, well, it was as easy to give 



LET HIM BE GIVEN TO THE FLIES. 229 

liiin his passport for another world as not. 
The difference between the robber-chief and 
his lieutenant was this, the Rohilla would 
not hesitate to torture a captive to gain his 
object, but Shere Ali would torture his 
victims from sheer cruelty. 

Devereux had by this time abandoned his 
palanquin, and been placed astride on a 
rough country pony, one of those clever 
wiry little " tats " who do a wondrous lot of 
work upon a minimum of corn. He noticed 
that they seemed to have plunged deeper 
into the jungle than ever, the very sem- 
blance of a road seemed to have been lost, 
and their path could only be described now 
as a mere track. Suddenly they emerged 
from the jungle upon a species of oasis 
upon the far side of which was a singular 
group of rocks, and around their base flowed 
a small watercourse, tranquil enough just 
now, but probably a torrent in the rainy 
season; beyond the rocks was more jungle. 
Before crossing this grassy oasis Devereux 



230 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

had time to study this caprice of nature ; it 
looked like a natural citadel, of which the 
huge rock in the centre might be the key, 
and its smaller surrounding brethren the 
outworks. This was the stronghold of Shere 
Ali. Halting his men for a few minutes 
just within the verge of the jungle Hassam 
rode forward and discharged two pistol-shots 
into the air. Devereux looked on with 
much curiosity to see the result of the 
signal, for such it evidently was. Another 
minute and a single shot was discharged 
from the group of huge limestone boulders, 
and then Hassam and his party rode gaily 
forward. 

The stream running in front of the rocks 
was easily fordable, and, having crossed it, 
they turned between two of the smaller 
boulders and ascended the rocky path which 
led up to the king-stone of this singular 
group. Devereux noticed that the smaller 
rocks were honeycombed with caves, partly 
natural, but many of them had evidently 



LET HIM BE GIVEN TO THE PLIES. 231 

been enlarged by the hand of man. At last 
they turned through a fissure in the side of 
the chief rock, which, to Devereux's great 
astonishment, instead of being solid, was in 
the centre hollow, after the manner of a 
tooth Around this curious platform in the 
middle were the entrances to several caverns, 
all of which, though natural to begin with, 
had evidently been considerably enlarged 
artificially ; in short the place had been in 
years long gone by a species of Buddhist 
monastery, now it was the home of the 
dacoit, and before then, perchance, of the 
tiger; where his priest had formerly invoked 
Buddha, now the victims of Shere Ali 
shrieked their lives out under the tortures 
this miscreant inflicted under pretext of 
extorting confessions of hidden hoards which 
they did not possess. 

This natural fortress had evidently been 
the retreat of the robbers for some time; 
many of the caves had been turned into 
store-houses, and some of the larger ones 



232 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

into stables, and it was quite evident to 
Devereux that, if they had only command of 
the water, a small body of men might hold 
out for a considerable time against much 
superior numbers. Still, that would avail 
Shere Ali little, let his stronghold be only 
once discovered ; and then Charlie reflected 
sadly how well its secret had been kept, and 
how long the dacoit chief had baffled his 
pursuers. He was thrust into a small cell 
with a stern intimation from Hassam that if 
he crossed its threshold without permission 
he did so at his peril. As far as he could 
make out, the place at present was occupied 
only by Hassam's party, and what had be- 
come of Shere Ali he was unable to con- 
jecture: but he felt pretty certain that he 
was not within the citadel. He could see 
that the robbers maintained in their way a 
severe discipline, the Rohilla's word was 
obeyed without question by his strange 
medley of followers. The ruffianly crew 
seemed to have been gathered from men of 



LET HIM BE GIVEN TO THE ELIES. 233 

all races common to the Peninsula. There 
were some whose soldierly bearing gave good 
grounds for supposing they were among 
those who, like their leader, had been false 
to their salt during the past Mutiny, but 
many of them had probably taken to the 
road from their youth upwards. Food and 
water were furnished him with a liberal 
hand, and, though he was apparently but 
slightly guarded, Devereux knew that he 
was jealously watched ; moreover, so far as 
he knew, the only way out of this singular 
amphitheatre was the narrow path by which 
they had entered, and two or three of the 
dacoits armed to the teeth lingered night 
and day about that. Still Charlie thought 
that if any feasible chance of escape pre- 
sented itself he was bound to attempt it. 
He could but be killed, and that that would 
be his fate a little later he had no reason to 
doubt ; in fact it puzzled Charlie why it was 
that his life was spared so long. 

Their first day in the rocks the dacoits 



234 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

seemed determined to compensate them- 
selves for the fatigues of their late rapid 
march. They gave themselves up, after the 
manner of their kind, to eating and drink- 
ing, sleep and tobacco — usually the sole 
pleasures left to those who elect to live by 
preying on their fellows : the second day 
they were more on the alert, and Hassam 
more than once ascended a rough staircase 
which led to the top of the great honey- 
combed rock which formed their shelter. 
Devereux had gathered, partly from the few 
words he caught and partly from their ges- 
tures, that they were expecting the arrival 
of their leader ; and when the afternoon sun 
sank low in the heavens the tramp of horses 
on the narrow path became plainly audible : 
a few minutes more and Shere Ali, with 
about a dozen followers, made their appear- 
ance on the rocky platform. Devereux was 
struck w r ith what a very small number of 
the dacoits had gained their stronghold ; he 
felt sure that they were in much greater 



LET HIM BE GIVEN TO THE FLIES. 235 

force when he and his comrades first came 
up with them. It was, of course, difficult 
to estimate their numbers in the jungle, 
but Charlie had believed that there were 
quite three hundred of them when the 
first attack was made, which had terminated 
so disastrously for himself. He did not 

m 

believe that Hobson's incessant attacks had 
occasioned such loss as the disproportion 
between their present and then numbers 
might have been supposed to indicate. Then 
he began to speculate upon how Shere Ali's 
return would affect himself — little doubt, he 
thought, but what his fate would be speedily 
determined now ; then he wondered whether 
his comrades were still upon the track of 
the marauders. He reckoned that Hobson 
could only have about fifty men with him 
now, for several he knew fell in that first 
skirmish ; and it was not likely that others 
had not shared the same fate in the succeed- 
ing ones. Shere Ali had between thirty and 
forty with him, and the natural defences of 



236 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

the place were such, that, even if tracked to 
his lair, the struggle between him and his 
assailants would probably be both bloody 
and protracted. 

Devereux was kept but little time in sus- 
pense ; half an hour after the dacoit chief's 
arrival in his citadel his cave was entered 
by some half dozen of the robbers, and he 
was roughly escorted into the presence of 
Shere Ali. The bandit's face wore its most 
savage expression. Hobson's stubborn pur- 
suit had irritated him not a little, and his 
fury had been thoroughly roused by finding 
it hopeless to induce his followers to fairly 
face the hated Feringhees. He had led 
them on, himself, twice in the most resolute 
fashion ; for, merciless though he was, he 
possessed the attribute of animal courage. 
But, as it had been in the Mutiny, so it was 
now ; and, in spite of preponderance of num- 
bers, the Asiatic could rarelv be induced to 
face the Englishman hand to hand. 

He was sitting at the door of the cave 



LET HIM BE GIVEN TO THE FLIES. 237 

which he retained as his own private resi- 
dence, surrounded by Hassam and four or 
five more of his principal lieutenants. A 
gleam of ferocious exultation flashed across 
his face, and the savage dark eyes lit up 
with devilish cruelty as he fixed his gaze 
upon Devereux. 

" Ha ! ha ! " he laughed at last ; " so this 
is the dog of a Eeringhee you persuaded me 
to spare, Hassam. Your arm grows feeble, 
old friend; your sword was wont to do its 
work cleaner. Answer me this, English- 
man : not as you hope to live, but as you 
hope to escape agonies that will make you 
welcome death as a boon and a blessing. 
How many parties of your hated race are 
there out in pursuit of me ? " 

Devereux made no reply. 

"Dog, do you hear what I say ?" 

" A soldier answers no questions put to 
him by the enemy ; and an Englishman 
knows how to die.'' 

" And an Asiatic knows how to kill. 



238 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

Pool ! before the morrow's sun has set you 
shall pray to your gods for death. Away 
with him, and let him be given to the flies." 

Charlie Devereux was in merciful igno- 
ance of the horrible death to which Shere 
Ali's ruthless words consigned him ; in a 
trice he was seized, conducted down the 
narrow pathway, carried some two hundred 
yards out into the little oasis, on the edge of 
which the rocky citadel stood. There he 
was stripped ; and then, his captors having 
driven some short stakes into the ground, 
they proceeded to bind him hand and foot to 
the said stakes, the result of their labours 
beins; that Devereux was left stretched flat 
on his back on the ground, with his arras 
extended after the manner of a man cruci- 
fied, unable to move hand or foot, and with 
only the power of slightly turning his head. 
That done, with a brutal laugh the robbers 
retreated into their own stronghold. 

Devereux speedily began to realise the 
horrible death to which the dacoits had 



LET HIM BE GIVEN TO THE FLIES. 239 

consigned him; the sun was almost down, 
so for the present he was spared the tortures 
of the fierce glare that must to-morrow 
shine down upon his upturned face; hut 
Charlie quickly became aware that the 
jungle was alive with creeping things, for 
which his defenceless form had become a 
playground. The stings, the bites, and the 
irritation caused by this army of flies, mos- 
quitoes, centipedes, &c, gradually became 
maddening, and as the uight wore on the 
fever occasioned by it naturally excited a 
terrible thirst, a frightful craving for water, 
than which there is no infliction more hard 
to bear. "With the hours of darkness came 
the bark of the jackal ; and soon Devereux 
became conscious that several of these 
creatures were not only at hand, but were 
stealing cautiously up to him as a subject 
well worthy of investigation. lie could have 
cried aloud almost in his agony, but he 
grimly swore the dacoits should not have 
that satisfaction ; and then he realised Shore 



240 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

Ali's threat. He felt that he was strong 
yet, and that he could look forward to hours 
of thirst and this frightful irritation before 
death released him. Every bone in his 
body seemed to be one prolonged ache, from 
the enforced inability to shift his position. 
He felt that the jackals were coming nearer 
and nearer ; they were smelling at his feet ; 
every moment he expected their sharp teeth 
would meet in his flesh. Suddenly came a 
sharp yap from one of their number, who 
was still some little way off. Another 
second, and they were scuttling away in all 
directions. What had alarmed them he 
could not guess, but at all events he was 
relieved for the present from one of the 
horrors of his position. 



241 



CHAPTER XV. 

THE ROCKS OF RUGGERBUND. 

At the expiration of the hour bugle and 
trumpet rang out " boot and saddle" ; the 
mounted infantry and dragoons at once, 
under Hobson's orders, turning upon the 
former's previous tracks, once more plunged 
into the jungle, carrying with them the un- 
happy Bunnear as a captive. 

" I am going back," said Hobson, " to 
the spot where I was beat and lost all trace 
of Shere Ali. The road there splits into 
three paths, the one of those three paths 
that we followed brought us on to the 
main road ; I am convinced that Shere Ali 
was not with that party. That band, I 
should imagine, dispersed as soon as it 

VOL. III. R 



242 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

touched the highway. It is little likely 
that they would have dared travel in the 
force they were along the main road to 
Nagpore. Had they turned the Secundera- 
bad way you must have met them." 

" Quite true," said Slade, " and I am 
perfectly sure no such body as half a score 
has passed us on the road." 

Hobson smiled ; he had not passed years 
in hunting Pandies, Rohillas, Dacoits, and 
all such riff-raff for nothing. He had not 
much faith in these newly-arrived English 
dragoons when their wits came to be pitted 
against the subtlety of the Asiatic. 

" This leaves us," he continues, " a choice 
of two roads ; which of those two I am to 
follow depends upon that Bunnear's decision. 
Charlie Devereux's life hangs upon a thread, 
and by the living God if I arrive too late 
I'll keep my word with that miserable 
huckster." 

"You surely don't mean that you'll put in 
force what you threatened ? " said Gilbert. 



THE ROCKS OF RTJGGERBTJND. 243 

" You are new to these people, Slade. 
You can't quite understand what we went 
through during the Mutiny times. And 
your eyes are hardly open yet to what may 
be poor Devereux's fate unless our help 
comes speedily. You don't know, perhaps, 
so much of this Shere Ali and his doings as 
we who have been hunting him for months. 
If I was sure that wretched huckster was 
withholding from me the iu formation I 
require, I would flay him alive. As it is, if 
he tampers with me in any way he shall 
never leave that jungle alive, for I'll shoot 
him with my own hand." 

Gilbert said nothing, but he was tortured 
with the idea of what poor Charlie's fate 
might be, and recognised at once that his 
leader was one of those steru determined 
natures that thoroughly understood his 
savage foe, and was perfectly competent to 
cope with him. 

The Bunnear in the meantime, arrant 

u2 



244 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

knave and coward as he was at bottom, was 
not quite plunged in that abyss of despair 
and terror that he pretended. Frightened 
lie was, no doubt. He was of a timid and 
a cautious nature. Nothing but the greed 
of gold had led him to open his lips to the 
extent that he did before Sergeant Rivers. 
He could not resist asking what was the 
reward of treachery. He could not help, 
with all his trading instincts upon him, 
seeking to know whether what he had got 
to sell would not fetch a still higher price. 
He had got his answer; he had found it 
would fetch double. It may be still ques- 
tioned whether he would have had the 
courage to be tempted even by so high a 
bait, but the white sahib had peremptorily 
taken the whole thing out of his hands; 
he was a prisoner, and threatened, with all 
sorts of pains and penalties if he did not 
divulge what he knew. On the one hand 
was the terrible vengeance of Shere Ali, on 
the other immediate punishment by the 



THE ROCKS OF RUGGERBUND. 245 

white Sahib should he refuse to do his bid- 
ding. Cunning, though cowardly, the more 
the Bunnear turned the thing over in his own 
mind, the more convinced he was that the 
betrayal of Shere Ali tended most to his safety 
and profit. If he guided the Feringhees to 
the stronghold of the robbers, the result 
would probably be the capture of the great 
dacoit chief, and then he thought the band 
might be so effectually broken up that he 
would have little to fear from their ven- 
geance. Then again, was he not offered 
two thousand rupees to point out the way ? 
His mouth watered at the bare idea; yes, 
decidedly he would speak. 

When, upon arrival at the place where 
the three roads met, Hobson ordered his 
prisoner to be once more brought before him, 
and sternly demanded which of those roads 
led to Shere Ali's place of refuge. 

Prostrating himself at Hobson's feet, the 
Bunnear exclaimed, " If my lord will hold 
to his promise, give me the two thousand 



246 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

rupees he has promised me, and then let me 
go free, I will tell him all I know." 

" You shall have the reward and %o free 
the minute you have led me to Shere Ali's 
fortress, and I have convinced mvself that 
he is still there ; where is he ? " 

" My lord, the dacoits are concealed in 
the rocks of Ruggerbund, and the path to 
the right will lead you to them." 

" The rocks of Ruggerbund," exclaimed 
Hobson ; " it is odd I never heard of them, 
and yet I thought I knew all this country 
well, too." 

"They were famous many hundreds of 
years ago, and it was said many holy men 
lived in them, but they are little known 
now." 

" Do you think that fellow is speaking 
the truth ? " said Slade. 

" Yes. At all events it will be the worst 
day's work he ever did if he is not ; take 
him to the front, Rivers, and now let us 
push forward as quick as we can." 



THE ROCKS OF RUGGERBUND. 247 

After some hours' riding the party arrived 
at the open plain on the further side of 
which rose the curious rocks of Rugger- 
bund. Hobson instantly ordered a halt 
under cover of the trees, and then, after 
surveying the brigand's stronghold through 
his field-glasses for some minutes, gave 
orders that men and horses should keep 
themselves carefully concealed, and above 
all that there must be no noise. 

" That's a very tough nut to crack, Slade," 
he said, pointing to the rocks, " and Heaven 
knows how many of his rapscallions that 
scoundrel Shere Ali has got with him, but 
we must have it at any cost." 

" My fellows are downright wolfish to get 
a chance," replied Gilbert ; " they know that 
their old officer is in the dacoits' hands, 
and your men have been enlightening them 
a little upon the way Shere Ali treats his 
prisoners." 

" Yes," rejoined Hobson, " there's no fear 
but what thev'll come on fast enough when 



248 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

they're wanted; the first question is, what 
is the best chance of saving Devereux's life, 
the second, how to carry that place with as 
little loss of life as possible." 

" To save Charlie's life is the main thing. 
I suppose your fear is that they'll murder 
him the minute they catch sight of us." 

" Just so ; the sun is all but down, and I 
think our best chance will be to steal across 
the open in the dark, and then to rush the 
rocks at the first glimmer of daybreak." 

Anxiously did Slade and Hobson sweep 
the half-mile of open that separated them 
from the rocks. They could see the robber 
sentinel on the summit of the king rock as 
clearly as possible. Their men were silent, 
watchful, and observant as themselves. They 
knew that Mr. Devereux's life depended on 
the rapidity and dexterity of their attack. 
He had been popular with both corps, and 
the mounted rifles had in addition a lonq; 
score of weary marching and counter-march- 
ing to reckon up with the human tigers 



THE ROCKS OF RUGGEHBUND. 249 

whom they had at last tracked to their lair. 
The sun dipped below the horizon with that 
plunge that characterizes his setting in the 
East, and it was night ; lit up as yet only 
by the fireflies, and sung only by the trump- 
eting of the mosquito and the chirruping 
of the innumerable insect tribe. The stars 
twinkled slowly forth, but there was no 
moon ; moreover, a declivity of the ground 
sheltered the doings of the robbers as they 
emerged from the base of their citadel ; the 
consequence was that, keenly as the eyes of 
his friends had scanned the intervening space 
between them and the fluggerbund rocks, 
they could see nothing of Devereux's so-to- 
speak crucifixion. There he lay staked to 
the ground literally within their sight, had 
it not been for the darkness. Then came 
the rising of the moon, the bark of the 
jackal, and the melancholy wail of more 
than one of the denizens of the jungle, to 
break the silence of an eastern night. 

" We must wait till that confounded 



250 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

moon is down," said Hobson ; "and as soon 
as it is I shall creep across with my men, in 
skirmishing order, and be as much round 
the far side of those rocks as I can before 
daybreak. We must both leave a few men 
behind to take care of the horses; youll 
then bring the main body of your fellows, 
massed just in rear of my centre. At day- 
break you and your men must carry the 
entrance to the main rock. I shall imme- 
diately collect my men together, and follow 
on to the fort." 

"All right!'' said Gilbert, quietly. "We 
shall get in, never fear ; at all events, if 
my fellows are beaten back, you may look 
upon it I'm past praying for." 

A single hand-grip was exchanged be- 
tween the two men, and then came that 
tedious business of watching for the disap- 
pearance of the moon, as they had watched 
for the setting of the sun. 

All orders were given, and every man 
amongst the little command knew exactly 



THE ROCKS OE RUGGERBTJND. 251 

what was expected of hina. At last the moon 
waned, and gradually died ont. The thick 
darkness which precedes dayhreak covered 
the plain as Hobson and his men, emerging 
from the jungle in skirmishing order, crept 
stealthily across it. Some fifty yards behind 
their centre came Slade at the head of his 
dismounted troopers. Slowly they stole for- 
ward, and there was no sign that the robbers 
had any conception of their presence. Sud- 
denly the word was passed in rnuflled tones 
up the line that the Captain was wanted. 

" What is it, Rivers," inquired Hobson, 
in a low tone, as that active non-commis- 
sioned officer, who had been leading the 
skirmishers on the extreme right, at last 
gained the centre. 

"We've found Mr. Devereux, sir," ex- 
claimed Rivers, in an awe-struck whisper. 

" Alive ?" asked Hobson, anxiously. 

" Yes, sir ; the devils seem to have 
treated him shamefully. He's a bit off his 
head, and a case for the doctors ; but " 



252 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

" That'll do," interposed Hobson, sharply; 
" pass the word to halt along the line; now 
take me to him." 

When Hobson came to where his men 
had discovered Charlie he found his luck- 
less subaltern in a high fever, and wander- 
ing in his talk. The soldiers had, of course, 
at once severed his shameful bonds ; but, 
weak from his previous wound, the misery 
and tortures of his horrible position had 
proved too much for him. Fever had come 
on, and he was now talking wildly and at 
random. A fierce malediction broke from 
under Hobson's moustache as he learned 
in what state Charlie Devereux had been 
found. " Carry him back at once," he said, 
"to the shelter of the jungle; and— ha! 
sureiy that is the first streak of light: before 
the sun is well up we will settle with those 
hell-hounds inside." 

Once more the word was given to ad- 
vance, when suddenly a shot from the rocks 
told that thev were discovered. " Forward 



THE ROCKS OF RTJGGERBUND. 253 

the storiners ! " rang out Hobson's voice, in 
reply. " Keep your men well in hand, 
Captain Slade, till you are close up to the 
rock ; and then, good luck to you ! Sound 
the fire bugle;" and in another instant a 
score of rifles rang out at the half-dozen 
dacoits visible against the sky-line in the 
dim grey of the morning. 

Slade and his men in the meantime 
marched rapidly across the short space that 
intervened between themselves and the fis- 
sure in the rock, now plainly visible. They 
suffered but slightly, for the hot fire kept 
up by Hobson's sharpshooters prevented the 
dacoits from effectively using their muskets 
on the advancing foe. 

" Now, lads, follow me ! " exclaimed Slade, 
as, waving his sabre, he dashed up the path- 
way followed by his troopers, but the wasps' 
nest was by this time thoroughly aroused, 
and at the first bend of the road where the 
path enlarged a little they were confronted 
by Hassam. Quick as thought Gilbert 



254 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

rushed at the Rohilla, and a fierce and 
furious mel£e at once occurred between the 
dacoits and the troopers, sabres flashed and 
revolvers cracked for a few minutes. At 
the end of that time Hassam found that he 
had encountered a more formidable foeman 
than Charlie Devereux. Young, powerful, 
and a good swordsman, with the advantages 
of height and reach, the contest between 
Slade and the Rohilla was short, and Gilbert 
passed his sword through the latter' s body, 
just as he felt somethiDg like the sear of a 
hot iron about his own ribs. 

At the fall of Hassam the robbers gave 
way, and Gilbert and his troopers followed 
close upon them, so as to give them no 
chance of reforming, but thev soon rallied 
under the command of another chief, who 
now suddenly appeared upon the scene. 
Gilbert, who was under the impression that 
he had slain Shere Ali when he ran Hassam 
through the body, was somewhat puzzled at 
this new apparition, but the English slowly 



THE ROCKS OF RTJGGERBUND. 255 

won their way upwards despite the desperate 
resistance of the dacoits, now led by Shere 
Ali in person. By this time Slade and his 
men had fought their way into the little 
amphitheatre which formed the interior of 
the king rock, and there a terrible struggle 
took place between the soldiers and the 
bandits ; looking upon it as hopeless to ask 
for quarter, they died like rats in a trap, 
showing their teeth to the last. Shere Ali 
and some six or eight of his men were all 
that were left. Once more Gilbert, his 
sabre red with carnage, rallies his men for 
a last charge. As he dashes in at their 
head a bullet from the robber chief's pistol 
smashes his sword-arm, which drops useless 
by his side. Shifting his sabre to his left 
hand, Gilbert still cheers his men on — sud- 
denly Shere Ali springs back into the 
mouth of a cave to which he has been 
driven and disappears ; another minute or 
two and Slade and his troopers pour into 
the cave in pursuit of the daring chief 



256 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

whom they now have no doubt is Shere Ali 
himself. It is difficult at first to peneirate 
the obscurity of the cave, but when they do 
it is empty. In vain do they peer and 
poke their way into the darkest recesses of 
the cabin, their prey has escaped them, it 
seems as if the earth has swallowed Shere 
Ali. 

Suddenly a wild English hurrah, followed 
by a shot or two, breaks upon the morning 
air. The sounds come from the outside of 
the rock, and, though not exactly knowing 
what they mean, Slade trusts that it heralds 
the capture of the dacoit chief. He had 
seen nothing of Hobson since he gave him 
orders to storm the rocks. That sagacious 
veteran, having much experience of the wili- 
ness of dacoits, had suspected that they had 
probably an exit from their citadel on the 
far side. Detaching half his men to Gil- 
bert's support he had at once crept round 
with the other half to watch the narrow 
strip of open that lay between the rocks and 



THE ROCKS OF RUGGERBUND. 257 

the jungle on that side ; his craftiness was 
rewarded, for some few minutes after the 
firing had ceased inside the rock which 
proclaimed that Slade had overcome the 
garrison, some hushes parted, and from a 
fissure which they concealed appeared the 
robber chief. Discharging his pistols in the 
face of his foes, the robber made a deter- 
mined dash for the jungle, but a rifle bullet 
in the leg stretched him on the ground, and 
the notorious Shere Ali was at last in the 
hands of his pursuers. 



VOL. 111. 



258 



CHAPTER XVI. 



prance's vengeance. 



Sam Prance, on his arrival in Brussels, had 
but a vague idea of what form his vengeance 
was to take. He wanted to find Purzedon; 
he wanted to taunt him over his social dis- 
comfiture ; to jeer at him, and to gloat over 
his humiliation ; to proclaim it as far as pos- 
sible before those who for the present might be 
Purzedon's associates : but further than that 
he had as yet conceived no plan. Brooding 
over his wrongs had, no doubt, warped the 
man's mind; he had set his heart upon 
seeing his enemy thrust off the Turf. His 
failing to accomplish that end, to which he 
had striven so hard, had turned his very 



prance's vengeance. 259 

soul to verjuice. There remained for hini 
now but one thing to do, to avenge himself 
on the man who had ruined his life, and to 
taunt him ere consummating that vengeance, 
as the Indian squaws do the brave that is 
tied to the stake. The first thing to do was 
to discover where Purzedon had taken up his 
abode; and that to a man of Prance's re- 
searches was not difficult. It was but to 
watch the poste restante daily. He had a 
very fair knowledge of Purzedon's habits, and 
could make a rough guess as to within what 
hour he would be likely to call for his letters. 
Two — three days elapsed ; but on the third 
the patient watcher was rewarded ; Ralph 
Purzedon entered the post-office, and after a 
few minutes emerged again, thrusting his 
letters into his coat-pocket as he did so. It 
was easy from thence to follow Purzedon to 
his own lodgings over a shop in the Mont- 
ague de Cour ; and that point once ascer- 
tained Prance felt that he was master of the 
situation. It was easy for him now to keep 

s 2 



260 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

watch and ward over Eurzedon's outgoings 
and incomings : to follow him to his fa- 
vourite restaurant, to trace him to his accus- 
tomed haunts, and to choose his own time 
for publicly denouncing him as a Turf-outlaw, 
who dare not show his face in England ; and 
from that out — utterly unknown to himself 
— Eurzedon's steps were perpetually dogged 
by this pale-faced monomaniac. Prance, as 
such men do, was simply nursing his oppor- 
tunity ; be chuckled to himself at the power 
he possessed, at the knowledge that he 
could bring the object of his hatred to 
shame at any moment ; as an epicure dallies 
with a dainty dish, so did Prance linger over 
his revenge. The great expose could come 
but once ; he so gloated over the idea that 
he could not make up his mind to precipi- 
tate it. Habited in decent garments, and 
knowing so well that the truth of what he 
had to allege was a thoroughly-recognised 
fact by the majority of the racing world, 
even if not proven, it never occurred to 



prance's vengeance. 2G1 

Prance that it was possible that the word 
of a nobody like himself might be pooh- 
poohed when put against that of a wealthy- 
man like Purzedon. Nursing his revenge, 
still chuckling in his heart at the moment 
when he was to expose the plausible author 
of his ruin, day by day Prance dogged the 
heels of his quarry. He had found out the 
restaurant that Purzedon chiefly affected, 
and in which he seemed to have established 
himself as the head of a little clique, and a 
great authority on all matters connected 
with " le Sport "; and there he decided that 
he would snatch the mask off the impostor, 
and let these gentlemen know that the man 
they bowed down to dared not show his face 
on Newmarket Heath. Mr. Prance had 
money in his pocket, and the Restaurant 
ties Trois Aigles knew no distinction of per- 
sons. As long as you were decently dressed 
and had napoleons in your pocket, any 
vacant table was at your disposal. The 
evening came at last which Mr. Prance had 



2G2 SADDLE AND SABUE. 

marked out for the discomfiture of his 
enemy. Strolling in a little before the time 
at which Purzedon usually dined, he took a 
table in his immediate vicinity ; and then, 
taking a chair in the restaurant, awaited 
the course of events. He had not to wait 
long. As he expected, llalph Purzedon 
and three or four of his intimates shortly 
made their appearance ; and, entering 
the restaurant, took their places at the 
somewhat elaborate table prepared for them. 
The party were apparently English. At all 
events their conversation was conducted in 
that language ; and it was quire evident 
that Purzedon was one in authority amongst 
them. Prance averted his face as they 
moved up the room, and, sitting with 
his back to them, escaped Purzedon's 
notice. 

It was curious how his intense longing to 
avenge himself on his enemy had mastered 
his better judgment. He had always felt 
that for him to denounce Purzedon would 



prance's vengeance. 263 

be useless ; that gentleman would simply 
laugh at him as the pariah of the betting- 
ring he was ; but the disappointment he 
had experienced when Eurzedon left the 
country had churned his hatred up to very 
madness. He with difficulty contai 1 ^ jjjiim- 
self until the convives were in the iE^F , A £ 
their dinner : he sat trembling with passion, 
and nervously emptying glass after glass of 
wine in his excitement. At last he could 
bear it no longer, and, springing to his feet, 
exclaimed, " Gentlemen, you don't know 
the sort of blackguard you've allowed to sit 
at table with you. That scoundrel," he 
cried, pointing to Eurzedon, " is a horse- 
poisoner, a man-poisoner, a fellow that, if he 
had not fled from England, would have been 
kicked off the Turf. Gentlemen in England 

don't speak " but here the flood of Mr. 

Prance's eloquence was interrupted by a 
wine-glass, which was shivered on his fore- 
head ; and in another second Eurzedon, 
springing to his feet, peremptorily called 



264 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

upon the waiters to " put that drunken thief 
out of the place." 

By this time the commotion had attracted 
the attention of the whole room. That the 
landlord and his servitors should at once 
take part against the stranger was only 
natural. Furzedon and his friends were 
well-known customers, who spent their 
money lavishly. Bleeding, struggling, as- 
severating, Mr. Prance speedily found him- 
self thrust into the street, with a strong 
intimation that any further disturbance on 
his part would result in his being handed 
over to the police. Eurzedon turned round 
with an easy smile to his companions, who 
were all more or less of racing tendencies, 
and said, " A broken-down welsher, with 
whom I have a long-standing quarrel. I've 
had him put out of the Bing on two or 
three occasions. I don't know what he is 
doing here ; but if he has come over for the 
races, I can only advise you," he concluded, 
laughing, " not to bet with him." It need 



prance's vengeance. 265 

scarcely be said that this incident, if it were 
possible, still further intensified Prance's 
animosity : he brooded day and night over 
his imaginary wrongs, and speedily arrived 
at the conclusion that his injuries must be 
avenged by his own right hand. From that 
out he dogged Furzedon like a shadow ; 
wherever he went Prance, shrinking dis- 
creetly from notice, was watching him ; 
he dogged him his lodgings at night; 
prowled on his footsteps, whether at the 
opera or the dinner-table, ever watching 
his foe with fierce, malignant eyes, waiting 
patiently within convenient view of the 
door, when Furzedon disappeared into build- 
ings into which he deemed it inexpedient for 
him to follow. Norman Slade might well 
say he shouldn't care to have so vindictive 
a foe at large were he in Furzedon s place. 
He was right, for since he had been flung 
out of the restaurant Prance was always 
armed. 

He had quite made up his mind, he was 



266 SADDLE AND SABUE. 

determined to kill Purzedon as soon as a 
favourable opportunity was vouchsafed him. 
When a man resolves to slay his fellow, and 
is utterly reckless of his own life, nothing 
short of marvellous good fortune can save 
the doomed victim. He is, perhaps, more 
at the murderer's mercy in the very centres 
of civilization than in the wild plains of 
"Western America, in the desert, or in South 
Africa. In these latter cases he is ever on 
his guard against enemies ; hut in the capi- 
tals of Europe one hardly expects to carry 
one's life in one's hand. But Purzedon was 
a man of gregarious habits ; he was seldom 
alone, and for some days he unwittingly 
avoided attack from this circumstance. At 
length he received a letter from Mr. Stur- 
geon, desiring instructions about some rather 
intricate business matters that had just 
cropped up ; and, with a view to thinking 
them well over, Purzedon lit his cigar, and 
started for a walk on the outer boulevards. 
The pale grey shadow of Thanatos stalks 



peance's vengeance. 267 

behind us from our cradle, but at what 
distance it is mercifully not given us to know. 
Sometimes, when deemed near at hand, 
years may elapse before he claims his own. 
At others when exulting in the full pride 
of our strength he is at our very heels with 
upraised hands. Little dreamt Purzedon 
as he crossed the threshold of his lodgings 
that bright summer morning that the De- 
stroyer had marked him for his prey, and 
was rapidly closing in upon him. Prance 
was as usual on his ceaseless watch, and 
had followed after his wont on the steps 
of his foe, more doggedly resolved than 
ever to make an end of this man at the 
earliest opportunity, and utterly careless of 
what the consequences might be to himself. 
One thing only he hesitated about, he knew 
that physically Furzedon was the more 
powerful of the two, and whether really 
courageous or no he further knew that at 
all events Furzedon was not afraid of him. 
Prance's sole fear was a fiasco. The bare 



268 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

idea that an attempt to kill his enemy 
might result in such discomfiture as we 
have seen twice befell him at Purzedon's 
hands made him wince again. No ; there 
must be no mistake about it this time — a 
life for a life he was willing to give, but 
Purzedon must die. Stealthily he kept his 
victim in view, as he had done scores of 
times in the last two or three weeks, and for 
the first time saw him with savage exulta- 
tion betake his way to the comparative soli- 
tude of the boulevards. Purzedon walked 
moodily along, puffing at his cigar, with his 
hands behind him, absorbed in thought. He 
had come out to think, and he was busy 
at it — no thought of Prance had crossed 
his mind since the scene at the restaurant; 
he had never caught sight of him since, 
and would have scoffed at the idea of such 
an outcast being able to work him harm. 

This opportunity had come at last, and, 
though not flinching for one moment from 
his purpose, it seemed to Prance not quite 



prance's vengeance. 269 

so easy of accomplishment after all. The 
boulevards, although thinly peopled, were 
of course not deserted ; it was easy to keep 
Furzedon in view, but at the same time to 
approach him closely was to run the chance 
of immediate recognition. He slunk along 
about fifty paces in the rear, but, tightly as 
he clutched the pistol within his breast, he 
never dreamt of risking a shot at that dis- 
tance. 

" Pshaw I" he muttered to himself, "have 
I not waited days for this chance? have I 
turned coward ? is my nerve failing me ? 
It is time to make an end of this," and, 
quickening his pace, Prance rapidly though 
stealthily drew near his unconscious victim. 

Not above a dozen steps behind him now, 
he drew the pistol from his breast, stopped, 
and was about to shoot his enemy down 
from behind, when from sheer accident 
Furzedon turned suddenly in his walk, and 
confronted him face to face. For a second 
Prance hesitated, but llalph Purzedou, what- 



270 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

ever else he might be, was a man of courage 
and decision. He recognised Prance ; he 
saw the pistol, and took in the situation at 
a glance. This man meant to kill him. 
Quick as lightning he dashed in at his foe, 
determined to close with him, and neutralise 
if possible the power of that pistol. Prance 
hurriedly fired at him, and Purzedon felt 
that he was hit ; the second bullet whistled 
past him at such close quarters that it was a 
miracle it only went through his hat instead 
of his head ; and then Purzedon closed with 
his assailant. He was but slightly wounded, 
and was far the more powerful man of the 
two. The struggle between them, if brief, 
was desperate. The one was battling for his 
life, the other mad with the lust of revenge ; 
but Prance's pistol-hand was powerless now. 
Once more, indeed, the revolver cracked 
harmlessly in the air; and then Purzedon 
succeeded in wrenching it from his antago- 
nist's hand and throwing it away ; but he 
stuck to his man with the pertinacity of 



prance's vengeance. 271 

a bull-dog, and in another two or three 
minutes had borne him backwards, and the 
pair fell to the ground together — Prance 
undermost. All the brutal passions of Furze- 
don's instincts were aroused, and with his 
clenched fists he rained a shower of blows 
on the unhappy wretch's countenance, and 
speedily made it hardly recognisable. 

" I've a great mind to kill you, you 
cowardly hound," he growled, between his 
set teeth. " I've a right to do it ; you did 
your best to murder me. Don't dare to get 
up till I tell you." And as he spoke Furze- 
don rose from the body of his prostrate foe, 
and, stepping two or three paces back, began 
to take stock of what damages he had 
received in the encounter. 

Already a small crowd, attracted by the 
shots, were hurrying to the scene of the 
conflict. Deeming his foe disarmed, and 
a little distracted by the ejaculations and 
questions rapidly addressed to him by the 
new-comers, Eurzedon took his eyes off his 



272 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

assailant, who had by this raised himself to 
a sitting posture. Suddenly Prance sprang 
to his feet, and drawing a knife from his 
breast threw himself upon Furzedon, ex- 
claiming with almost a shriek, as he buried 
his knife twice in Eurzedon's chest, " Done 
my best to kill you; not yet, but I will now." 
And as Eurzedon fell lifeless to the ground 
he nourished his blood-stained weapon in 
the face of the horrified spectators, and 
then with a burst of maniacal laughter buried 
it in his own throat. 



273 



CONCLUSION. 



The fray was over, there was nothing now 
but to reckon up the cost and fruits of 
victory. The dacoits had died hard, and 
fought like wild cats in their rocky den, and 
the state in which Charlie Devereux had 
been found had not inclined the hearts of 
the soldiers to mercy. There were marvel- 
lously few prisoners, and amongst Slade's 
troopers the casualties also had been heavy. 
It had required all Hobson's authority to 
save Shere Ali's life, and the robber chief- 
tain had good reason to feel little grateful 
for his preservation ; he knew it was for- 
feited, and thought rightly it would have 
been as well to make an end of it amidst the 
rocks of lluggcrbund, sword in hand, as to 

VOL. III. t 



274 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

be hanged in the face of the multitude, 
which fate he was well aware was • in store 
for him. The doctor's report too was some- 
what serious ; he told Hobson that many of 
the wounded were bad cases, and it was 
desirable to aret them within the shelter of 
a regular hospital as soon as might be. 
" Captain Slade," he continued, " will soon 
be all right, his arm is broken by a pistol- 
shot, and he has one or two slight flesh 
wounds. It will be some time before he 
recovers the use of his sword-arm, but one 
can feel easy about him. I only wish I 
could say as much for some of the others." 

"What about young Devereux?" asked 
Ilobson anxiously. 

'• Ah ! that's serious," replied the doctor, 
" it must be a touch and go thing with him; 
he seems weak as a rat from his wound, 
which has never been properly attended to, 
and these wretches have driven him into a 
raging fever to wind up with. It is a ques- 
tion whether he will have strength to pull 



CONCLUSION. 275 

through that ; anyway, the sooner I can get 
my sick back to the cantonments the 
better." 

Hobson had accomplished his mission, 
and after giving his men a few hours' rest, 
and thoroughly ransacking the robbers' 
stronghold, he started with his prisoners 
and wounded for the nearest cantonment, 
where he received much congratulation on 
his capture of the ferocious bandit, whom a 
military tribunal shortlv relegated to the 
death he had so well deserved. 

Charlie Devereux's battle for life was 
long and painful. More than once the 
doctors thought he was gone, and nothing 
but the most unwearied care and attention 
snatched him from the very jaws of death. 
"When at last the delirium left him he was 
so weak, so utterly prostrated in mind and 
body, that the doctors unhesitatingly agreed 
that there was nothing for it but to send 
him home. 

"Let him go round the Cape," said the 



276 SADDLE AND SABRE. 

medical officer who had principal charge of 
him. " A long sea-voyage will do more to 
set him on his legs than anything else," and 
as Gilbert Slade, though doing well, was 
still unfit for duty, it was arranged that the 
two friends should proceed to England 
together. 

" Good-hye, Devereux," said Hobson, as 
he shook hands with his subaltern. " English 
air, and especially English beef, will soon put 
you all to rights. My dream wasn't quite 
accurate, which I attribute to the fact of my 
never having seen Shere Ali. It was how- 
ever most unpleasantly near the truth." 

" Yes," said Charlie, with a faint smile, 
"I was destined to be cut down by a dacoit, 
and whether it was Shere Ali or one of his 
lieutenants made little difference." 

The news of Eurzedon's death offered a 
facilitv for the arrangement of Charlie 
Devereux's affairs, which Major Braddock 
at once took advantage of. Eurzedon's 
heirs had no desire to continue the bill- 



CONCLUSION. 277 

discounting' business, and were only too 
glad to accept the money due to them, 
with a reasonable rate of interest. That 
Mrs. Kynaston gave free vent to her mali- 
cious tongue, and would have prevented the 
marriage of Gilbert Slade and Lettie had 
she been able, it is needless to say ; but, for 
all that, the two were made man and wife 
a few months after the former landed in 
England ; Charlie Devereux being suffi- 
ciently recovered to enact best man on the 
occasion. The breakfast took place at Mrs. 
Connop's house ; and, as that lady had con- 
sulted Major Braddock on the occasion, it 
was pronounced a great success ; that dis- 
tinguished officer having thrown himself 
into the affair with great energy, and been 
at immense pains to see that the cham- 
pagne was of an unexceptionable brand, and 
" not that usually kept for wedding break- 
fasts, my boy. 



>» 



VOL. III. U 



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