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IT is impossible for an English gentleman
to take his departure from the house of a
native of India, without giving a number of
testimonials, in the shape of "letters of
recommendation," addressed to no one in
particular. Nena Sahib* had a book containing
the autographs of at least a hundred and
fifty gentlemen and ladies, who had testified
in writing to the attention and kindness they
had received at the hands of the Maharajah,
during their stay at Bhitoor. Having expressed
my satisfaction as emphatically as
possible in this book, the khansamah
(house-steward) demanded a certificate,
which I gave him. Then came the bearer, the men
who guarded my door, the coachman, the
grooms, the sweeper. For each and all of
these I had to write characters, and recommend
them to such of my friends as they
might encounter by accident or otherwise.
It is a fearful inflictionthis character
writing; but everyone is compelled to go
through it.

* See page 457 of the present Volume.

I was now on my road to Agra, to pay a
visit to a schoolfellow, who was then in the
civil service, and filling an appointment in the
station. It was in the month of September
that I made the journeythe most unhealthy
season of the year. Opposite to the first
dak bungalow, some twelve miles from the
station of Cawnpore, I was stopped by a set
of twelve palkee bearers, who informed me
that a Sahib, whom they were taking to
Alleyghur, had been seized with cholera, and
was dying in the bungalow. I hastened to
the room and there found, stretched upon the
couch, a young officer of about nineteen years
of age.

His face was ashy pale, and a profuse cold
perspiration stood upon his forehead. His
hands and feet were like ice, and he was
in very great pain. The only person near
him was the sweeper, who kept on, assuring
me that the youth would die. As for the
youth himself he was past speech, and I
was disposed to think, with the sweeper,
that he was beyond cure. I administered,
however, nearly a teaspoonful of laudanum
in a wine-glass half-full of raw brandy, and
then took a seat near the patient, in order to
witness the effect. Ere long the severe pain
was allayed, and the youth fell into a profound
sleep, from which, I began to fear, he
would never awake. To have administered
a smaller dose, at that stage of the disease,
would have been useless, for the body was
on the very verge of collapse. Nevertheless,
I began to feel the awkwardness of the
responsibility which I had taken upon myself.
Presently, a palanquin carriage, propelled
by bearers, came to the bungalow. An
elderly lady and gentleman alighted, and
were shown into a little room which happened
to be vacant. [A dak bungalow has only two
little rooms.] To my great joy I discovered
that the new arrival was a doctor of a regiment;
who, with his wife, was journeying to
Calcutta. I was not long in calling in the
doctor; and I had the satisfaction of hearing
him pronounce an opinion that the young
ensign was "all right," and that the dose I
had administered had been the means of
saving his life. How readily, to be sure,
do people in India accommodate each other.
Although the doctor and his wife were
hurrying down the country, and albeit the
youth was pronounced out of danger, they
remained with me until the following afternoon;
when, having dined, we all took our
departure togetherthe youth and I travelling
northward, the doctor and his wife in
the opposite direction.

The night was pitchy dark; but the glare
from the torches rendered every object near
to us distinctly visible. The light, shining
on the black faces of the palkee bearers,
they appeared like so many demonsbut
very merry demons; for they chatted and
laughed incessantly, until I commanded them
to be silent, in order that, while we moved
along the road, I might listen to the ensign's
story, which he told me in the most artless
manner imaginable:

"I have only been six weeks in India," he
began, "and, at present, only know a few
words of the language. How I came into
the Bengal Army was this. My father was
in the civil service of the company, in the
Madras Presidency; and, after twenty-one
years' service, retired on his pension of one
thousand pounds a-year, and his savings
which amounted to twenty thousand pounds,