Lucknow Residency telegraphs it is besieged. 3000 Loyalists. But only some 900 Europeans are actual soldiers along some actual 700 Indian soldiers. The rest are civilians, technical people, pundits, civil servants, wounded, or the sick. The Rebels number in the untold thousands. Muslims are shooting from the roofs of mosques. Snipers. Minarets. Some are reported to be black African slaves of the exiled Nawab freed by the British but killing British anyway. ‘Thank you very much for freeing us from slavery!’ I remember what some Muslim boasted some years ago. Our mosques are our barracks. Our mosque domes are our helmets. Our Korans are our shields. Our minarets are our spears. The call of the faithful is the call to Jihad. And we love death more than you love life. So we will always win.”
There are reports of the Vice Regent of Allah, one Ahmad Shah, fat, self appointed military genius, the Indian Napoleon, freed from jail, strutting about commanding the rebel army in his fantastical uniform and even more fantastical hat. There are reports of citizens sitting on the roofs of the town and partying as the Regency is shelled. Dining and toasting each missile. Applauding each explosion of artillery. The whores and courtesans are giving patriotic shows and composing songs in Urdu extolling the Holy Warriors to crush the infidel. Nautch girls have tripled their prices however. Inflation in war. Poor things! If the Wahhabists win they will be arrested and stoned to death so they to raise as much money as possible to flee south to sell their wares to Hindus they are eagerly supporting exterminating!
A telegraph operator reports seeing the aged General Havelock bunking down on a rough rug, his bridle tied around one arm, his sword held like a baby, his saddle for a pillow. His force has marched over 130 miles in the Hot Season through all but enemy territory in only a week, fought over five actions, captured nearly 30 heavy guns, routed the enemy and killed countless numbers, all but hopelessly outnumbered, against overwhelming odds. And the aged man was only seen once seized by any sign of weakness: when he wept after hearing that the women and children of Cawnpore had been slaughtered scarcely 24 hours before he could reach them.
Telegraphic chatter that Indore has been attacked by mutineers, led by ‘Nawab’ Saadat Khan. He attacked British and Europeans, murdering 28 men and women who could not be gotten to safety. Then the swaggering butcher swaggered right into Holkar’s durbar, bloody shoes on the durbar carpet, and ordered Holkar to give him command of the Indore Army to complete the job! Holkar all but rolled over and surrendered on the spot! The rebels then looted Indore, gestured to vandalize the temple only to be repelled by the native population, then marched off to attack Gwalior before marching toward Agra and triumph, looting every village and town they pass. Fortunately, the looting is slowing them up. I have no idea how Scindia can handle invasions from Indore, Jhansi, as well as his own mutiny. Bengal Army mutineers are converging on Gwalior from all sides!
First I telegraph Indore. “Marion? Are you still alive?”
“Yes but those bastards used MY ROAD to escape! The swine! But I will have my revenge! If nothing else I will spread the word the murderous bastard, self anointed Nawab, is scared of Naga snakes and wets himself if anyone mentions the name Ravaana!”
Then I telegraphed to Gwalior. “Are you still there my sweet prince?” I tap.
“Of course my fantastical Irish giant!” fingers tap back. “Last night I dreamed Shivaji came and smiled as we stood side by side on the walls watching battles in the night. ‘The Muslims boast they love death more than we love Life’ Shivaji told me. ‘They think that means they will win. They are in for surprise. It really means we will win. Death cannot exterminate Life and Brutal Thuggery cannot triumph over True Valor. They fight for death. Black emptiness. The emptiness of Hatred. We fight for the future. The Bright Hope of a better world. And I tell you here and how we will win!’ I believe this vision dear John! I know we will win. We are fighting for a future. A bright future. A future of hope for a brave new world that is far better than anything we have now. We are fighting for the light. We cannot let the light die.”
Telegraphic rumors chatter at 3:00AM as I wake proclaiming that Nana Sahib has been enthroned in a grand durbar and coronation complete with fantastical crown and 20 foot long royal cape at Bithor finished off with a 21 gun salute.
Cawnpore. 2nd lavish durbar and coronation complete with another 21 gun salute. Finally, and at last Nana Sahib has his 21 gun salute as he has always wanted. I wonder if all of this blood is worth those god damn 21 guns!
MI 1 has snagged proclamations, fatwas, and placards being printed by that Oudh perfumed toad working for Nana Sahib. Some of the garbage celebrates that god damn 21 gun salute! Other garbage commands the Maratha Nation to obey Nana Sahib the Peshwa! He commands! Other garbage is aimed at the Decca. It curses Scindia of Gwalior, calling him a coward, a traitor, and a stooge for refusing to obey the Peshwa and for defying the murderous mutineers trashing their cantonment and daily threatening to blow up Gwalior and kill everyone who defies them. The final garbage is aimed at the South. “The South has not woken up and risen! Are you effeminate and foolish for refusing to rebel? Why do you embrace the yoke of slavery of the accurst infidel? Rise up! Rise up! Be inspired by the heroic martyr Mandel Pandey! Slay the foul Kafirs! Chop them into radishes! And burn them! Tear down their foul buildings! Destroy their foul machinery! Wipe every piece of evidence of their infamy off the face of India! And rip up every evidence of their foul machinations!’ I think the last word was suppose to be ‘machines’ and not machinations. I look the word up. I debate it with Son # 2. Son # 2 thinks the oily toad really did mean ‘machinations’. I think the toad meant ‘machines’. It is a cultural thing clearly!
I telegraph operators I know in the south. We telegraphic nutters are perfect gossips! The operators say there are minor anarchists trying to set fires and blow up police stations but they are quickly arrested. There are some agent provocateurs of course. All Muslim. Ranting in mosques. Raving as they try to hand out leaflets in ‘secret meeting’s that are populated by MI1 and Military Police and a few ‘cover’ faces of bored and contemptuous locals to bait the traps. The local clerics and imams are scared of the agent provocateurs and tell the police immediately because the fanatics dump gunpowder all over the basements of the mosques and wave pistols around like the nutters they are.
Civilians are scared. Not Hindu civilians. Muslim civilians because they do not want to be tarred with the infamy or arrested as co-conspirators or accused by their Hindu neighbors of being murderous nutters ‘like up North’. There have been some fake fakirs but they are quickly arrested with all of their silly chapatis and sillier codes and fatwas in Koran bindings and placards.
There have not been any copycat outbreaks of lawlessness because the law is being very conspicuous and the few anarchists and arsonists and nutters are visibly prosecuted and convicted and punished. The agent provocateurs are swallowed up in shadowy MI 1 basements to be ‘debriefed’. No one bothers to ask what that means. Apparently the only excitement was when some Military Police accidentally arrested a MI 1 agent disguised as a nutter to lure nutters out into the open! Oops!
Telegraph from Lucknow. Not yet severed. Henry Lawrence is dead. ‘Here lies Henry Lawrence who tried to do his duty’. My knees give way and my head strikes the floor so hard I fainted.