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Five men were lying on the ground. The musket of a rear-rank man had burst, mortally wounding two men of the front rank, between whose heads it had been fired, and wounding two others less seriously. The fifth man who was down, by name Venketram, was the sepoy whose musket had burst; he was not wounded, but was knocked down by the recoil. There is no doubt that the musket had missed fire, i.e. burnt priming only, from the very commencement of the parade, and that Venketram, supposing that it had gone off all right in the various volleys which had been delivered, had not used his ramrod at all, but had adopted the very common trick of pouring the powder in, and tapping the heel of the butt on the ground to settle down the charge. This must have gone on for the whole fifteen rounds previous to the fatal volley at which it burst.

On going to the spot, we saw that one man, Shaik Ally, was lying insensible, breathing stertorously, and, lifting him up, we saw his brains oozing out through a large hole at the back of his head. Another very fine young man, Mahomed Moosa, had risen up, and was staggering wildly, with his musket in his hand. His turban was off, and he looked ghastly, but no wound or trace of blood was visible. I said to him, "You are all right, don't be frightened," and some men with difficulty wrested his musket from him; he then sat down on the ground. He died before he reached the hospital, and it was then found that a small fragment of the musket barrel had entered his scull, inflicting only a very small wound, which had been completely hidden by his hair; for, as is the case with many young Mahomedans, his head was shaven only on the very crown,

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FATAL ACCIDENT ON PARADE.

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if at all. A third man, a Hindoo, had a terrible gash across his left wrist, dividing all the tendons, but not breaking the bones. A fourth man, who was also knocked down, escaped with only a scalp wound. The musket which had burst had lost about a foot of the centre of its barrel, no doubt dispersed in fragments. The upper part, i.e. muzzle and some inches of the barrel, was found lying some yards in front of where the company stood.

When this wretched accident happened, the Adjutant galloped to the hospital for the surgeon. The medico, who was no horseman, who, in fact, had never been known to mount a horse, was constrained, by the Adjutant's vehemence and fiery exhortations, to mount that officer's charger, and to essay the half mile which lay between the hospital and the scene of the accident; but the spirited charger went sideways and any way but the right way, in such unskilful hands, and the doctor, wisely we thought, got off and ran! Stretchers were got from the hospital, and the victims of this untoward event were carried thither; two of them, as I have said, only to die. The man whose wrist was cut through, was, when he recovered, made a drill instructor, as it was thought that he could never again carry a musket; but after some years, his wrist got fairly well and strong, and he, being a good man, was promoted to the non-commissioned ranks. Private Venketram was brought before a court of inquiry; but nothing could be absolutely proved against him, for the havildar (native sergeant) who had stood behind the section, would not own to having observed any act of negligence. Venketram, therefore, escaped with only a minor punishment-seven days in a solitary cell, if I re

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member right; and a year or two afterwards he went mad, or pretended to become so (it was doubtful which), and was discharged the service. The havildar was summarily reduced to the ranks for obvious neglect of duty on parade. And, with a pension from Government to the families of the two men who thus died in the execution of their duty, the matter ended. The Mahomedans of the regiment erected a handsome tomb over the graves of the two men who were killed, with an inscription, in Persian character, relating the circumstances of their sad end.

Some time afterwards an absurd superstitious report got about the regiment, that the two defunct sepoys, or, rather, their ghosts, had been seen on the parade ground, drilling each other! But we altogether rejected this story; for our old Colonel was such a glutton at drill, and had given them such an over amount of it during their lives, that we believed it to be the very last thing their ghosts would have selected for amusement; indeed, we considered that a chapter out of the Field Exercise Book would be the best possible exorcism for any deceased man of the regiment, who might wish to "revisit the glimpses of the "cantonment !

Soon after this, I was ordered to take a treasure party to Masulipatam, about 120 miles south of Samulcottah. This was a rather pleasant duty. The treasure was 250,000 rupees, laden on fifty bullocks, in stout double canvas-bags, each bag containing 2,500 rupees. These bags were slung in pairs over the bullocks' backs-two bags, equal 5,000 rupees, to each bullock-and a strong cord communicated between the bags and a hole bored in the bullock's nose; so that, in the not unfrequent event of

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the gamesome bullock kicking up its heels and dropping its burden, the bags acted as a most efficient anchor, to the avoidance of any danger of the precious load being lost in the jungle. There was a driver to every five bullocks; and at intervals of every ten minutes, and oftener if passing by cross roads, or through a village, the drivers shouted, from rear to front, the numbers of their tale of bullocks, "Five!" "Ten!" "Fifteen!" and so on to the front five, which completed the number to "Fifty." I had with me fifty sepoys, with two native officers and a due proportion of non-commissioned. The party was never allowed to march before daylight. The bullocks were, just before dawn, driven into a circle formed by the detachment round the treasure bags, which were piled in the middle, and were there loaded up. Four sentries, with loaded muskets, who had been kept up, with reliefs every two hours, during the night, were then withdrawn, and the march began.

On arriving at the next stage, the cordon of sepoys was again formed round the bullocks, the treasure was stacked in a small square, after it had been carefully examined by the Government officials who accompanied us, and the tents of the escort were pitched immediately in rear of the stack of treasurebags. The officials were provided with a large brass seal, bearing the Honourable East India Company's arms; and if any seal of a bag was broken or defaced, they opened the outer bag, and, if all appeared right, closed and resealed it. My responsibility was for one hundred sealed bags only, not for the amount of coin. Some years previous, a different system prevailed; the officer of the escort had to count over the whole sum, and to give a receipt for it, and to count it

out again to the treasury officer who relieved him of his charge. This counting over the treasure would occupy him one, or even two days, according to the amount, which was often three and four times as much as I had under my care.

There was among my men a tradition of loss of treasure on two occasions. One was that the escort, being encamped close to the entrance of a large village, saw a gay marriage procession issue out and pass along the road immediately in front of the camp. All hands turned out to see this grand procession, which (it was just night-fall) was lighted up with torches. A splendid scarlet-housed palanquin was, as usual on such occasions, carried in the centre of the throng, and in this the bride was supposed to recline. On arriving opposite the camp, the bearers, appearing tired, put down the palanquin, which was then surrounded by the whole procession, and by not a few of the careless treasure escort also. A sudden rush to the palanquin, and in a trice the covering was torn off, and the wedding party seized the swords and knives which were now seen to be the contents. The escort, taken entirely by surprise, was completely defeated, and the treasure carried off by the exulting Dacoits. The robbers' stratagem, as here told, is not the less likely to be true because it, or something very like it, has been recorded in the annals of crime and of war in various other countries.

The other case where treasure was said to have been lost was not by the hand of man, but by the fury of the elements. The officer in charge, not being possessed of a Quartermaster-General's instincts, pitched his camp, at the end of a bright, clear morning's march, in the very centre of the dry bed of a river.

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