The riches of the city of Delhi and the opulence of its Princes and merchants had been celebrated in Hindostan from time immemorial. For ages it had been the capital of an empire extending from the snows of the Himalayas to Cape Comorin; and to Delhi, as to a centre, gravitated the wealth of the richest country in the world. Fabulous reports had reached us of the booty carried away to distant regions by the numerous warriors who burst like a torrent over Hindostan, making that city the goal of their conquests and the scene of their predatory forays. During the nineteenth century Delhi, since its capture by Lord Lake in 1803, had remained in the hands of the British, the city owing a nominal allegiance to the King, who, to all intents and purposes a State prisoner, was a pensioner of our Government up to 1857, holding a Court (consisting for the most part of wretched dependents and ragamuffins) in the Palace of the Great Mogul.
The quiet which reigned during that period had a salutary effect on the prosperity of Delhi; its merchants and storekeepers, trading with the inhabitants of the richly-cultivated Dooab and with more distant countries, became rich and prosperous, accumulating vast treasures, while the people, with the instinct of a penurious race, converted their ready-money into jewels and gold and silver ornaments, and safely stowed them away in hidden receptacles within their houses.
The numerous races of India--and notably the Sikhs--burning for an opportunity to plunder the imperial city, cast longing eyes towards these hidden treasures, the fame of which had spread far and wide; and to this desire may be attributed, as much as any other reason, the willingness of that warlike people to help us during the Mutiny.
While the siege was progressing, even at a time when clouded with anxiety as to the future, men's minds were full of the uncertain issue of the fight; the thoughts of all in camp turned involuntarily to the rich harvest awaiting the army should Delhi fall into our hands. To all of us (putting aside the morality of the question), the loot of the city was to be a fitting recompense for the toils and privations we had undergone; nor did the questionable character of the transaction weigh for one moment with us against the recognized military law--"that a city taken by assault belonged as prize to the conquerors." During the actual bombardment, when the end seemed at hand, this subject of prize was the topic of conversation among both officers and men; and soon we learnt with satisfaction that the General in command, after consulting with others in authority, had settled on the course to be pursued.
On September 7 a notice appeared in "orders" in which General Wilson thanked the army for the courage and devotion displayed during the long months of the siege. He recapitulated the dangers through which the force had passed, and looked forward hopefully to the future when, Providence favouring us, a few short days would see the enemy's stronghold pass into our hands. Instructions the most peremptory were laid down as to the absolute necessity for the troops keeping well together on the day of assault, and not dispersing in scattered bands or alone through the streets of the city in pursuit of plunder. Great danger and possible annihilation of the small army would result were these precautions overlooked, rendering the force liable to be cut up in detail by the large bodies of rebels then occupying the streets and houses of Delhi. Lastly, as a reward and incentive to all engaged, the General gave his word, promising that all property captured in the city would be placed in one common fund, to be distributed as prize according to the rules of war in such cases. The commanding officer, as well as all in the army, knew that it would be impossible to prevent looting altogether, but it was hoped that the above order would have a good effect by urging on the soldiers, for their welfare and advantage, the necessity of obeying the instructions therein laid down.
This order, as I have said, appeared on September 7; nor, from the promises given, had any of us the slightest doubt but that its provisions with regard to prize-money would be carried into effect in due course. Delhi was taken, but as time passed by, and months elapsed without any notification on the subject being received from the Supreme Government, the army began to feel anxious, and murmurs arose as to the non-fulfilment of the pledge given by General Wilson. At length, at the end of the year, the Governor-General, with the advice of his Executive Council, promulgated his decision that there was an objection to the troops receiving the Delhi prize-money, and in lieu thereof granted as a recompense for their arduous labours and patient endurance in the field the "magnificent" sum of six months' batta.
Lord Canning, his Council and law advisers, all civilians sitting quietly at Calcutta, living in ease and comfort far from the dangers of war, thought, forsooth, that the Delhi army, struggling for existence for months, fighting to uphold British rule in India--nay, for the very lives and safety of these civilian judges--and at last victorious in the contest, would rest content with their decision.
It is needless to say that this roused a storm of indignation not only amongst the Delhi force, but throughout the British army in India--a burst of resentment which, reaching the Governor-General, made him pause and reconsider his ill-timed and unjust decision. Suffice it to say that the order was rescinded, and that the prize-money, in addition to six months' batta, was granted to all engaged.
The day that the news of the first decision of the Government arrived at Delhi, when all at that place were full of the wrong done to the army, a private soldier of the 60th Rifles, inspired by the most exquisite sense of humour as well as of bitter satire, wrote upon the walls of the palace where his regiment was quartered the following appropriate sentence: "Delhi taken and India saved for 36 rupees 10 annas." It is said that the Governor-General demanded the name of this waggish soldier, with the intention that he might receive punishment for his daring effrontery; but it is needless to say that the author of the joke remained unknown save to a few of his comrades; and the great ruler of Hindostan was forced to rest content and ponder over the hidden sarcasm and bitter irony addressed to one in his exalted position.
The army was further promised by the Government 5 per cent, on the whole amount of the prize-money till the amount should be paid. This, during the many years which elapsed before the money was distributed, would have reached a large sum; but faith was broken and the sum repudiated--another instance of want of gratitude to soldiers who, looked to maintain their country's honour in time of war, are in peace, and when danger is at an end, soon forgotten. So prolonged, also, was the delay in payment of the prize-money that, I recollect, the Times, in reference to this subject about 1860 or 1861, had a leading article in its columns recommending the Delhi army to bring an action against the Government for the payment of the prize. Such action, of course, would have been without precedent, but it showed the feeling of many in the country when the leading journal thought right to draw attention to the subject with a view to the adjustment of the army's rightful claim.
To return to General Wilson's order of September 7. Notices were circulated throughout the camp in every brigade and regiment, calling on the troops to elect prize agents for gathering and receiving prize after the capture of the city. These prize agents, therefore, were selected by the army, one for the general and field officers, the second for the Queen's service of all ranks below that of Major, and the third for the company's army. The officers appointed, including Captain Fagan, and after his death Doctor Innes, Sir Edward Campbell, of the 60th Rifles, and Captain Wriford, of the 1st Bengal Fusiliers, were all most popular men, and considered in every way fit for the very important duties they had to perform.
On September 14, the day of assault, till the 20th, when Delhi was completely in our possession, much looting took place in the city. Our troops, both European and native, and especially the Sikhs, entered houses during those days and managed to secrete about their persons articles of value. To my certain knowledge, also, many soldiers of the English regiments got possession of jewellery and gold ornaments taken from the bodies of the slain sepoys and city inhabitants, and I was shown by men of my regiment strings of pearls and gold mohurs which had fallen into their hands.
On the day of assault we were much amused, during a slight cessation of the conflict, by one of our men rushing up to a group of officers in a state of great excitement, with the news that there was a buggy with two horses standing at the corner of a street close by. He offered the prize to anyone who would give him a bottle of rum; but in the then state of affairs no one felt inclined to burden himself with such a luxury, and the poor fellow went away much disappointed. Whether he succeeded in disposing of the prize I don't know; but when things quieted down, and the regiment was stationed in comfortable quarters, one of our officers, noted for his constant impecuniosity, appeared one day driving a buggy and two horses, the acquisition of which always remained a secret; nor would he, on being questioned, throw any light on the matter.
That many of the private soldiers of my regiment succeeded in acquiring a great quantity of valuable plunder was fully demonstrated soon after our arrival in England. An unusual number of non-commissioned officers and men bought their discharge, having during three years kept possession of the plunder acquired at Delhi awaiting a favourable opportunity for the sale of the articles. Many jewellers' shops in the town in which we were quartered exposed for sale in the windows ornaments and trinkets of unmistakable Eastern workmanship, which, on inquiry, we were told had been bought from the men.
It would have been contrary to human nature, and utterly at variance with the predatory instinct, had the soldiers failed to take advantage of the facilities for plunder which surrounded them on every side; nor could it be expected that a man, after possessing himself of valuables, would at once, or on the first favourable opportunity, deliver up his booty to the properly-constituted authorities. This much may be conceded, and it will therefore not be a subject of wonder that all ranks of the Delhi Force, with but few exceptions, availed themselves of the prize within their reach, and appropriated to their own use much treasure which ought to have gone towards swelling the general fund.
One officer in command of a native regiment quartered his corps in a house which formerly belonged to one of the richest Princes in the city of Delhi. The place was full of riches of every kind, and it was the popular belief at the time throughout the army that the officer in question succeeded in obtaining two lakhs of rupees. Rumour also said that a court of inquiry would be held to investigate the truth or otherwise of this report, but, if such had been contemplated, it fell to the ground; nor was any attempt made to induce the officer to disgorge his plunder. I paid a visit to this mansion some time afterwards, and can vouch for the thorough ransacking the place had received. Every room in the house had been pillaged, excavations had been made in the floors, and empty boxes lay in every direction.
Other cases similar to that just mentioned were known to us at the time, in which sums of money were appropriated only a little smaller in amount, while of those which reached the value of £100 their name is legion. Many men also there were who, at first swayed by moral scruples, as well as feeling reluctant to disobey the order which had been issued, refrained from looting on their own account; but when they saw that officers, even of the higher ranks, took possession of plunder, these scruples were cast to the winds--it was "every man for himself, and the d--- l take the hindmost," and a general desire was evinced for each to enrich himself with the prize lying at his feet.
Often, when wandering through the city in pursuit of plunder, I, in company with others, came across officers engaged in the same quest as ourselves. These rencontres were most amusing, giving rise to mutual interrogations and many jokes, each party affirming that looting was not the object of their perambulations, but that they were only inspecting the houses out of a feeling of curiosity. Up to this time I had not succeeded in finding any articles of value, nor had I the remotest idea that my acquaintance with a certain officer in the employ of the prize agents would put me in the way of acquiring a fair amount of the loot of Delhi. A few silver ornaments and a small bag of sicca rupees were all that I had so far obtained, and I naturally felt desirous of increasing my store, more especially when it was well known that many officers, more fortunate and less scrupulous, had already made themselves masters of large quantities of valuable plunder.
The accumulation of prize by the agents began shortly after Delhi was taken. At first the articles obtained were of little worth, comprising chiefly wearing apparel of every description and household goods. Soon, however, more costly effects were found by the searchers, and in a very short time the rooms of the prize agents were filled with treasures of every kind--jewellery and precious stones, diamonds, rubies, emeralds and pearls without number, from those as large as hen's eggs to the small species used for necklaces; gold ornaments, chains of the most beautiful workmanship, bracelets and bangles all of solid metal. There were heaps, also, of the small, thick, native coin known as gold mohurs, thousands of which were accumulated by the prize agents and helped most materially to swell the amount. I visited one room, the long table in which literally groaned with the riches of "Ormuz and of Ind"--a dazzling sight to the eye, and one calculated to raise the spirit of greed in my breast to possess myself of some of the treasures so temptingly exposed to view. When quiet returned, and the inhabitants of the city began to flock back to their former homes, whole streets, in which no doubt treasure had been concealed and had escaped the search of the prize agents, were sold to the people for sums ranging from 5,000 to 50,000 rupees. All this helped to increase the prize to a sum which was variously estimated at from half to three-quarters of a million sterling; and even then it was asserted that only a portion of the vast wealth of Delhi had been found.
As far as I know, the Government, when distributing the prize-money in two installments--in 1862 and again in 1865--gave no account of the total amount which had been collected. The private soldier's share was reckoned as the unit, value about £17, increasing according to the pay of the different ranks--the Ensign five shares, Lieutenant six and a half, Captain eleven and a half, and so in proportion among the higher grade of officers, while that of the Commander-in-Chief amounted to one-sixteenth of the whole--an immense sum. There were, of course, many exaggerations as to how much each rank would receive as its share, and there were many heart-burnings also when the true amount became known. The sum had dwindled down to less than one-third of what we expected, and not a few expressed openly their conviction that some tampering had taken place with regard to the distribution. This can hardly be believed, though it has always been a notorious fact that the Government are inclined to treat the claims of those who fight their battles with neglect, and in one particular at least, by repudiating the 5 per cent, promised till the Delhi prize-money was paid, they acted up to their usual unjust policy, and gave occasions for the complaints which were raised at the time.
I will now proceed to give an account of my experience when acting as an assistant to an officer who was accredited by the prize agents with a permit to search for plunder. This officer, an old friend of mine, asked me to accompany him on his expeditions, saying also that he had no objection to my helping myself in moderation to part of the loot which we might happen to find. Carrying with us the necessary tools, such as hammers, spades, and pickaxes, we each day started--accompanied by two coolies--on our plundering excursions. For some days we were very unsuccessful, and for nearly a week only managed to gather together and transmit to the agents articles of little value. But, soon gaining experience from continued practice, and taking note of the different houses in which there was a likelihood of finding prize, we settled down to a systematic course of search, which in the end proved highly remunerative. Scarcely anything of value was found lying about the different rooms; these had been already gutted and the contents destroyed by the soldiers, both European and native, who, since the day of assault, had roamed about the city. At the time we began our search all was comparatively quiet, and during our operations, such was the vast extent of the city and so numerous the buildings, that only on two or three occasions were we interrupted by parties engaged in the same quest as ourselves.
My companion was a good Hindustani scholar, and taking advantage of his proficiency in the language, he made a point of interviewing several natives of the city, who, in the capacity of workmen in different trades, were allowed in Delhi, and were employed in their several occupations. From one of these, a mason and builder, N--received information that a large quantity of treasure was concealed in the house of a former rich resident. This man had helped to secrete the hoard, and on the promise of a small reward was willing to help us in unearthing the booty.
One morning in the beginning of October, attended by the mason, and carrying the necessary implements, we were taken to the house in question. This was a large building with a courtyard in the centre, the rooms of which showed the remains of luxury and wealth, but, as usual, had been despoiled by the plunderers of our army. Every article was scattered about in dire confusion; there were piles of clothing and bedding; rich and ornamental stuffs were torn to pieces, and the household furniture, broken up, was strewn about the courtyard. Our guide took us to a small room, about 80 feet square--in fact, it was the closet of the establishment--the walls of which were whitewashed, the floor being covered with a hard cement. Here, we were told, the treasure was concealed under the flooring of the room, and we lost no time in commencing operations, the mason assisting us. Picking through the cement, we came on a large flagstone, which we lifted out of the cavity. Then we dug a hole about 3 feet square, and the same depth in the loose earth, disclosing the mouth of a large earthenware gharra, or jar. Loosening the soil all around, we attempted to raise the jar out of the ground, but all our efforts were unavailing--its great weight preventing us from lifting it one inch out of the bed. Then, trembling with excitement, for we felt sure that a rich display would greet our eyes, we began slowly to remove each article from the gharra, and place it on the floor of the room. A heavy bag lying at the mouth of the jar was first taken out, and on opening it, and afterwards counting its contents, we found that it contained 700 native gold mohurs, worth nearly £1,200. Then came dozens of gold bangles, or anklets, of pure metal, such as those worn by dancing-girls. We were fairly bewildered at the sight, our hands trembling and our eyes ablaze with excitement, for such an amount of pure gold as that already discovered we had never seen before. But the treasure was not yet half exhausted. The jar seemed a perfect mine of wealth--gold chains, plain and of filigree workmanship, each worth from £10 to £30; ornaments of the same metal of every sort of design, and executed in a style for which the Delhi jewellers are celebrated all over India. Then came small silver caskets filled with pearls, together to the number of more than 200, each worth from £3 to £4, pierced for stringing. Others, containing small diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, and the greatest prize of all--reclining in a casket by itself--a large diamond, which was sold afterwards by the prize agents for £1,000. There were many other articles of value besides those I have mentioned--gold rings and tiaras inlaid with precious stones, nose-rings of the kind worn by women through the nostrils, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces of small pearls without number.
All these various articles we spread out on the floor of the room, examining each again and again, and with avaricious thoughts intent, lamenting that we were not allowed to appropriate what would have been to us a fortune. Truly such a temptation to enrich themselves without fear of detection was never till this occasion set before two impecunious subalterns of the British Army. Here, spread out before us, lay loot to the value of thousands of pounds, all our own were we to follow the example of some who had already feathered their nests with much larger amounts, defying those in authority to take the plunder from them. However, such a course could not be entertained for one moment, and, moreover, were we to possess ourselves of all the contents of the jar, there was no secure place of concealment to be found, and unpleasant inquiries and prying eyes would soon have revealed to the world our abduction of the booty.
It is impossible to do more than guess at the value of the plunder acquired on this day. My friend received a reward for the find; as for myself, I will leave it to my readers whether it was possible for weak human nature to resist the temptation of carrying away some few mementos from this miscellaneous collection of treasure-trove. To tell the truth, I must confess that in after times my only regret was that I had foolishly let slip an opportunity of enriching myself which could never recur. We agreed--and in this we were borne out by the prize agent--that £7,000 was the lowest sum at which to compute the loot we had found.
It was my invariable custom to wear as a kammerband or girdle folds of muslin round my waist for the protection of the liver and spleen, and in this I placed the articles I carried away. My friend procured a small cart, in which he deposited the loot and drove to the house of one of the agents, while I, encumbered as I was, with difficulty mounted my horse and rode towards the magazine. I could not but feel nervous and abashed when thinking of the riches concealed about my person, at last working myself up to such a pitch of excitement that I imagined all I met were cognizant of my good fortune; and on entering the gates of the magazine, I fancied I heard one of our men say to his comrade, "Well! that fellow, at any rate, has plenty of loot about him."
Our next great find, though by no means so lucrative as the first, brought a large accession to the prize fund. It occurred to me, through calling to recollection the story of the treasures concealed in the Hindoo idol at Somnath which was broken open by Sultan Mahmoud in the eleventh century, that possibly the same kind of receptacle might disclose a like prize, though on a smaller scale, among the numerous temples scattered through the city of Delhi.
Acting on this idea, we one day entered a small Hindoo temple situated not far from the Chandni Chauk. The shrine was gaudily decorated; but after a prolonged search, we found nothing of any value. A hideous idol stood on a raised structure in the centre of the building, and was soon demolished in iconoclastic style with our hammers. The base of the idol was formed of chunam (a kind of cement), and into this we dug with our small pickaxes. Soon a ringing sound from a blow disclosed a large silver casket imbedded in the chunam, and this, after some little trouble, we extricated from its position. Forcing the casket open, our sight was regaled by a brilliant show of jewels and gold--diamonds, rubies, and emeralds--two of the latter species being uncut, but of great size, pearls larger than any we had yet seen, and gold ornaments of every description, chains, bracelets, bangles, and a few gold mohurs. We were quite alone in the temple, and after feasting our eyes on the treasures and selecting a few objects for our own benefit, N---- took the casket to the prize agent, telling him where we had found it, and recommending a search in such localities, which recommendation, no doubt, was carried into effect among other Hindoo temples in the city.
When first entering a house during our search, we at once made ourselves acquainted with the creed of its former inhabitants. In this there was no difficulty--Korans lying about the floor denoted that the occupants had been Mussulmans, while many indications, such as idols, a different arrangement of the furniture, and other signs with which we became conversant, proved the influence of the rival Hindoo race. There was a very cogent reason for this investigation on our part--the Mohammedans invariably, in secreting their valuables, placed them in the ground under the floors of their houses, the Hindoos, on the other hand, always hid them in receptacles in the walls of the buildings. Armed with this knowledge, we used to sound either the floors or the walls of each house according as the place belonged to one or the other creed; nor in one single instance, as far as I can remember, were we at fault in our diagnosis.
A favourite hiding-place for valuables was behind the staircase, the treasure being concealed in a sort of vault built around with bricks and cement. On one occasion, in the house of a money-changer, we demolished a secret place of this kind and discovered four large bags filled with some heavy metal. Feeling convinced we should find that the bags contained at the least rupees, we opened one, and to our infinite disgust saw that the contents consisted of copper pieces called pice, of which there were many thousands; the bags, however, were taken to the prize agents, but I need scarcely say our hands on that day at least were not soiled by appropriating a portion of the plunder.
On several occasions we succeeded in finding large stores of money, chiefly sicca or native rupees, while in the houses of Hindoos, in portions of the walls which sounded hollow under the blow of the hammer, we, after making a hole sufficiently large for the passage of a hand, constantly brought to light large stores of silver ornaments, consisting of chains, bracelets, etc., amounting in the aggregate to a barrowful. Few houses there were that did not furnish, after a diligent search either in the floors or walls, some articles of value; but on only one occasion after the successful ventures in the two first cases was the amount of loot in any way comparable to that which we obtained on those days.
In a very secluded part of the city, in a large house, surrounded by wretched tenements inhabited by the lowest class, we opened a door, and to our amazement entered a room furnished in the European fashion. This also had not escaped the marauding and destructive hands of parties of plunderers; the furniture was smashed, and the contents of the room strewn about the floor. There were English chairs, curtains, ottomans covered with antimacassars, sofas and broken mirrors, and in the corner a small piano, ruined and destroyed. The house had evidently belonged to some rich native, but who had been the occupant of this boudoir? for such it was--a miniature drawing-room filled with European luxuries, not excepting books and copies of music. Articles of a lady's apparel also lay about, torn in shreds, vases were on the mantelpiece, as well as a small box filled with English fancy needlework. We came to the conclusion that the mistress of this abode must have been a Eurasian lady, probably one of the zenana of the master of the house, who during the exodus from the city had fled with, or been forcibly carried away by, her protector.
A dismal mishap occurred to me in this room. Choosing a comfortable-looking ottoman, I sat down, little dreaming that I had fallen into a trap which would occasion much laughter among my friends for days to come. Feeling a strange moist sensation in a certain portion of my body, I jumped up from the seat, to find, to my horror, that I had plumped down on a quantity of ghee, or clarified butter. A jar of ghee was lying on the floor, and a portion of this horrible mess had been spilt on the seat of the ottoman. I was dressed in white trousers and jacket of the same material, and found, to my intense disgust, that the ghee had left a large patch of colour which no amount of rubbing would eradicate. We were far from our quarters, it was broad daylight, and, to my mortification, I was compelled to walk thus branded through the streets of the city, the laughing-stock of those who saw the plight I was in.
Delhi was celebrated for miniature paintings done on talc, hundreds of which were found at this time. Some were of rare workmanship, portraits of beautiful women and drawings of celebrated buildings, all executed in a style of art peculiar to the craftsmen of that place. We were fortunate, during our search, in coming across the house of one of these artists and disinterring from its concealment a box full of these paintings. They afterwards sold at a good price, and I possessed myself of some twenty of the most beautiful, comprising portraits of Zeenat Mahal, the favourite wife of the King, other ladies of the zenana, and pictures of the Taj and Jama Masjid, besides other mosques throughout India. These oval-shaped miniatures mounted in gold formed most acceptable souvenirs of the city of Delhi, and one in particular, containing the portrait of a lovely Eastern face with head-dress and tiara of diamonds, and strings of pearls round the neck, I was offered £20 for after it had been set in gold by a jeweller at Plymouth. In London, in 1858, there was a great demand for gold ornaments and jewellery from Delhi, so much so that a noted goldsmith offered me the highest price for articles of that description; nor would he at first--till convinced--accept my assurance that I had parted with all my Delhi loot before leaving India.
We were occupied for nearly three weeks in our quest for plunder, engaged in the exciting work almost every day, and seldom failing to find some articles of value. Our last adventure in that line deserves a detailed description, for though the nature of the loot obtained was such that it was useless to appropriate for our own use any of the goods found, still, the value of the plunder increased to a large extent the Delhi prize-money.
We had noticed in the room of the agents piles of kincob, or cloth of gold, worth I fear to say how many rupees a yard. The manufacture of this material was carried on to a great extent in Delhi, there being much demand for the rich and costly fabric among the Princes and nobles of Hindostan. Hitherto in our ramblings through the houses we had only come across a few pieces of this gold brocade; but as luck would have it, on the last day in which I joined N---- in his duties he had received information from a native that a large store of kincob was concealed in the house of a merchant who had dealt in that material.
The man guided us to the house in question; but after searching in every imaginable place, no signs of the gold cloth could be found. From the name of the merchant and certain other well-known indications we felt convinced that his goods were concealed underground, and we commenced tapping the floor of the largest room with our hammers. Presently, in the very centre of the apartment, there came a hollow sound, and digging down about a foot, we found a trap-door. This was lifted, disclosing a wooden staircase leading down to what seemed to us an apartment concealed in Cimmerian darkness. Lighting the wax candles we always carried about with us, we for some distance descended the steps which seemed to lead into the bowels of the earth. The room turned out to be about twenty feet square and ten feet high, and ranged around, piled one on top of the other, were scores of large boxes. One of these we opened, and found it to contain kincob of the rarest kind; others that we looked into were full of the same gorgeous material, and we came to the conclusion that here, spread about, there was a treasure the value of which amounted to a lakh of rupees. Four large carts were loaded with the boxes and taken to the prize agents, the contents selling afterwards for a very large sum.
And thus ended in a most successful find my connection with the loot of Delhi. Though many years have elapsed, the events of those three weeks seem as vivid in my memory as though they had happened yesterday--the brightness of the jewels, the dazzling gold, the nerves wrought to the highest pitch of tension while waiting in eager expectation for the result of a search. These episodes of my life appear more like a fairytale or a legend of the "Arabian Nights" than true history and sober reality. What opportunities of accumulating a small fortune were thrown in my way! The treasure lay at my feet, only wanting to be picked up, and many will say that I was a fool not to take advantage of the prize! I can, however, certainly aver that I showed great moderation in possessing myself of only a small portion of the plunder--the amount I appropriated was but an infinitesimal part of the Delhi prize money. It is very unlikely that Delhi or any other rich city in India will be given over to sack and pillage, during this generation, but the remembrance of the days of 1857, and of the traditional wealth of the country, still exists amongst the nations of the East, and only recently, during the scare arising out of the Russian occupation of Merv, it was stated that the Turkomans, now feudatories of that Empire, cast longing eyes on Hindostan, "where gold and diamonds could be picked up in the streets of the large cities."
During my stay at Umballah I made arrangements with an officer of the Civil Service for the sale of the loot I had brought from Delhi. He entrusted the commission to one of his native writers, who executed the work in a satisfactory manner, though the price I received was hardly equal to the amount I had anticipated. To my friend's wife I gave a filigree gold chain of beautiful workmanship, and of such length that it reached six times round the neck, also a tiara of precious stones, while I also presented some pearls and gold mohurs. There is no doubt that, had I brought the whole of my plunder home to England, the price obtained for it would have been far in excess of what I received at Umballah, but the risk of transportation was too great; I feared, also, the chance of robbery and the anxiety attached to carrying about with me so many articles of value.