The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

Part 2 out of 2

is ready."

I thought by these means to put off the fair Puttee Rooge, and
hoped to be able to escape without subjecting myself to the
examination of her curious eyes. After smoking for a while, an
attendant came to tell me that my supper was prepared in the inner
apartment of the tent (I suppose that the reader, if he be
possessed of the commonest intelligence, knows that the tents of
the Indian grandees are made of the finest Cashmere Shawls, and
contain a dozen rooms at least, with carpets, chimneys, and sash-
windows complete). I entered, I say, into an inner chamber, and
there began with my fingers to devour my meal in the Oriental
fashion, taking, every now and then, a pull from the wine-jar,
which was cooling deliciously in another jar of snow.

I was just in the act of despatching the last morsel of a most
savoury stewed lamb and rice, which had formed my meal, when I
heard a scuffle of feet, a shrill clatter of female voices, and,
the curtain being flung open, in marched a lady accompanied by
twelve slaves, with moon faces and slim waists, lovely as the
houris in Paradise.

The lady herself, to do her justice, was as great a contrast to her
attendants as could possibly be: she was crooked, old, of the
complexion of molasses, and rendered a thousand times more ugly by
the tawdry dress and the blazing jewels with which she was covered.
A line of yellow chalk drawn from her forehead to the tip of her
nose (which was further ornamented by an immense glittering nose-
ring), her eyelids painted bright red, and a large dab of the same
colour on her chin, showed she was not of the Mussulman, but the
Brahmin faith--and of a very high caste: you could see that by her
eyes. My mind was instantaneously made up as to my line of action.

The male attendants had of course quitted the apartment, as they
heard the well-known sound of her voice. It would have been death
to them to have remained and looked in her face. The females
ranged themselves round their mistress, as she squatted down
opposite to me.

"And is this," said she, "a welcome, O Khan! after six months'
absence, for the most unfortunate and loving wife in all the world?
Is this lamb, O glutton! half so tender as thy spouse? Is this
wine, O sot! half so sweet as her looks?"

I saw the storm was brewing--her slaves, to whom she turned, kept
up a kind of chorus:-

"Oh, the faithless one!" cried they. "Oh, the rascal, the false
one, who has no eye for beauty, and no heart for love, like the

"A lamb is not so sweet as love," said I gravely; "but a lamb has a
good temper: a wine-cup is not so intoxicating as a woman--but a
wine-cup has NO TONGUE, O Khanum Gee!" and again I dipped my nose
in the soul-refreshing jar.

The sweet Puttee Rooge was not, however, to be put off by my
repartees; she and her maidens recommenced their chorus, and
chattered and stormed until I lost all patience.

"Retire, friends," said I, "and leave me in peace."

"Stir, on your peril!" cried the Khanum.

So, seeing there was no help for it but violence, I drew out my
pistols, cocked them, and said, "O houris! these pistols contain
each two balls: the daughter of Holkar bears a sacred life for me-
-but for you!--by all the saints of Hindustan, four of ye shall die
if ye stay a moment longer in my presence!" This was enough; the
ladies gave a shriek, and skurried out of the apartment like a
covey of partridges on the wing.

Now, then, was the time for action. My wife, or rather Bobbachy's
wife, sat still, a little flurried by the unusual ferocity which
her lord had displayed in her presence. I seized her hand and,
gripping it close, whispered in her ear, to which I put the other
pistol:- "O Khanum, listen and scream not; the moment you scream,
you die!" She was completely beaten: she turned as pale as a
woman could in her situation, and said, "Speak, Bobbachy Bahawder,
I am dumb."

"Woman," said I, taking off my helmet, and removing the chain cape
which had covered almost the whole of my face--"I AM NOT THY
HUSBAND--I am the slayer of elephants, the world-renowned GAHAGAN!"

As I said this, and as the long ringlets of red hair fell over my
shoulders (contrasting strangely with my dyed face and beard), I
formed one of the finest pictures that can possibly be conceived,
and I recommend it as a subject to Mr. Heath, for the next "Book of

"Wretch!" said she, "what wouldst thou?"

"You black-faced fiend," said I, "raise but your voice, and you are

"And afterwards," said she, "do you suppose that YOU can escape?
The torments of hell are not so terrible as the tortures that
Holkar will invent for thee."

"Tortures, madam?" answered I, coolly. "Fiddlesticks! You will
neither betray me, nor will I be put to the torture: on the
contrary, you will give me your best jewels and facilitate my
escape to the fort. Don't grind your teeth and swear at me.
Listen, madam: you know this dress and these arms;--they are the
arms of your husband, Bobbachy Bahawder--MY PRISONER. He now lies
in yonder fort, and if I do not return before daylight, at sunrise
he dies: and then, when they send his corpse back to Holkar, what
will you, his WIDOW, do?

"Oh!" said she, shuddering, "spare me, spare me!"

"I'll tell you what you will do. You will have the pleasure of
dying along with him--of BEING ROASTED, madam: an agonising death,
from which your father cannot save you, to which he will be the
first man to condemn and conduct you. Ha! I see we understand
each other, and you will give me over the cash-box and jewels."
And so saying I threw myself back with the calmest air imaginable,
flinging the pistols over to her. "Light me a pipe, my love," said
I, "and then go and hand me over the dollars: do you hear?" You
see I had her in my power--up a tree, as the Americans say, and she
very humbly lighted my pipe for me, and then departed for the goods
I spoke about.

What a thing is luck! If Loll Mahommed had not been made to take
that ride round the camp, I should infallibly have been lost.

My supper, my quarrel with the princess, and my pipe afterwards,
had occupied a couple of hours of my time. The princess returned
from her quest, and brought with her the box, containing valuables
to the amount of about three millions sterling. (I was cheated of
them afterwards, but have the box still, a plain deal one.) I was
just about to take my departure, when a tremendous knocking,
shouting, and screaming was heard at the entrance of the tent. It
was Holkar himself, accompanied by that cursed Loll Mahommed, who,
after his punishment, found his master restored to good-humour, and
had communicated to him his firm conviction that I was an impostor.

"Ho, Begum!" shouted he, in the ante-room (for he and his people
could not enter the women's apartments), "speak, O my daughter! is
your husband returned?"

"Speak, madam," said I, "or REMEMBER THE ROASTING."

"He is, Papa," said the Begum.

"Are you sure? Ho! ho! ho!" (the old ruffian was laughing
outside)--"are you sure it is?--Ha! aha!--he-e-e!"

"Indeed it is he, and no other. I pray you, father, to go, and to
pass no more such shameless jests on your daughter. Have I ever
seen the face of any other man?" And hereat she began to weep as
if her heart would break--the deceitful minx!

Holkar's laugh was instantly turned to fury. "Oh, you liar and
eternal thief!" said he, turning round (as I presume, for I could
only hear) to Loll Mahommed, "to make your prince eat such
monstrous dirt as this! Furoshes, seize this man. I dismiss him
from my service, I degrade him from his rank, I appropriate to
myself all his property: and hark ye, furoshes, GIVE HIM A HUNDRED

Again I heard the whacks of the bamboos, and peace flowed into my

* * *

Just as morn began to break, two figures were seen to approach the
little fortress of Futtyghur: one was a woman wrapped closely in a
veil; the other a warrior, remarkable for the size and manly beauty
of his form, who carried in his hand a deal box of considerable
size. The warrior at the gate gave the word and was admitted; the
woman returned slowly to the Indian camp. Her name was Puttee
Rooge; his was -

G. O'G. G., M.H.E.I.C.S.. C.I.H.A.


Thus my dangers for the night being overcome, I hastened with my
precious box into my own apartment, which communicated with
another, where I had left my prisoner, with a guard to report if he
should recover, and to prevent his escape. My servant, Ghorumsaug,
was one of the guard. I called him, and the fellow came, looking
very much confused and frightened, as it seemed, at my appearance.

"Why, Ghorumsaug," said I, "what makes thee look so pale, fellow?"
(He was as white as a sheet.) "It is thy master, dost thou not
remember him?" The man had seen me dress myself in the Pitan's
clothes, but was not present when I had blacked my face and beard
in the manner I have described.

"O Bramah, Vishnu, and Mahomet!" cried the faithful fellow, "and do
I see my dear master disguised in this way? For Heaven's sake let
me rid you of this odious black paint; for what will the ladies say
in the ballroom, if the beautiful Feringhee should appear amongst
them with his roses turned into coal?"

I am still one of the finest men in Europe, and at the time of
which I write, when only two-and-twenty, I confess I was a little
vain of my personal appearance, and not very willing to appear
before my dear Belinda disguised like a blackamoor. I allowed
Ghorumsaug to divest me of the heathenish armour and habiliments
which I wore; and having, with a world of scrubbing and trouble,
divested my face and beard of their black tinge, I put on my own
becoming uniform, and hastened to wait on the ladies; hastened, I
say,--although delayed would have been the better word, for the
operation of bleaching lasted at least two hours.

"How is the prisoner, Ghorumsaug?" said I, before leaving my

"He has recovered from the blow which the Lion dealt him; two men
and myself watch over him; and Macgillicuddy Sahib (the second in
command) has just been the rounds, and has seen that all was

I bade Ghorumsaug help me to put away my chest of treasure (my
exultation in taking it was so great that I could not help
informing him of its contents); and this done, I despatched him to
his post near the prisoner, while I prepared to sally forth and pay
my respects to the fair creatures under my protection. "What good
after all have I done," thought I to myself, "in this expedition
which I had so rashly undertaken?" I had seen the renowned Holkar;
I had been in the heart of his camp; I knew the disposition of his
troops, that there were eleven thousand of them, and that he only
waited for his guns to make a regular attack on the fort. I had
seen Puttee Rooge; I had robbed her (I say ROBBED her, and I don't
care what the reader or any other man may think of the act) of a
deal box, containing jewels to the amount of three millions
sterling, the property of herself and husband.

Three millions in money and jewels! And what the deuce were money
and jewels to me or to my poor garrison? Could my adorable Miss
Bulcher eat a fricassee of diamonds, or, Cleopatra-like, melt down
pearls to her tea? Could I, careless as I am about food, with a
stomach that would digest anything--(once, in Spain, I ate the leg
of a horse during a famine, and was so eager to swallow this morsel
that I bolted the shoe, as well as the hoof, and never felt the
slightest inconvenience from either)--could I, I say, expect to
live long and well upon a ragout of rupees, or a dish of stewed
emeralds and rubies? With all the wealth of Croesus before me I
felt melancholy; and would have paid cheerfully its weight in
carats for a good honest round of boiled beef. Wealth, wealth,
what art thou? What is gold?--Soft metal. What are diamonds?--
Shining tinsel. The great wealth-winners, the only fame-achievers,
the sole objects worthy of a soldier's consideration, are
beefsteaks, gunpowder, and cold iron.

The two latter means of competency we possessed; I had in my own
apartments a small store of gunpowder (keeping it under my own bed,
with a candle burning for fear of accidents); I had 14 pieces of
artillery (4 long 48's and 4 carronades, 5 howitzers, and a long
brass mortar, for grape, which I had taken myself at the battle of
Assaye), and muskets for ten times my force. My garrison, as I
have told the reader in a previous number, consisted of 40 men, two
chaplains, and a surgeon; add to these my guests, 83 in number, of
whom nine only were gentlemen (in tights, powder, pigtails, and
silk stockings, who had come out merely for a dance, and found
themselves in for a siege). Such were our numbers:-

Troops and artillerymen 40
Ladies 74
Other non-combatants 11

I count myself good for a thousand, for so I was regularly rated in
the army: with this great benefit to it, that I only consumed as
much as an ordinary mortal. We were then, as far as the victuals
went, 126 mouths; as combatants we numbered 1,040 gallant men, with
12 guns and a fort, against Holkar and his 12,000. No such
alarming odds, if -

IF!--ay, there was the rub--IF we had SHOT, as well as powder for
our guns; IF we had not only MEN but MEAT. Of the former commodity
we had only three rounds for each piece. Of the latter, upon my
sacred honour, to feed 126 souls, we had but

Two drumsticks of fowls, and a bone of ham.
Fourteen bottles of ginger-beer.
Of soda-water, four ditto.
Two bottles of fine Spanish olives.
Raspberry cream--the remainder of two dishes.
Seven macaroons, lying in the puddle of a demolished trifle.
Half a drum of best Turkey figs.
Some bits of broken bread; two Dutch cheeses (whole); the crust of
an old Stilton; and about an ounce of almonds and raisins.
Three ham-sandwiches, and a pot of currant-jelly, and 197 bottles
of brandy, rum, madeira, pale ale (my private stock); a couple of
hard eggs for a salad, and a flask of Florence oil.

This was the provision for the whole garrison! The men after
supper had seized upon the relics of the repast, as they were
carried off from the table; and these were the miserable remnants I
found and counted on my return; taking good care to lock the door
of the supper-room, and treasure what little sustenance still
remained in it.

When I appeared in the saloon, now lighted up by the morning sun, I
not only caused a sensation myself, but felt one in my own bosom
which was of the most painful description. Oh, my reader! may you
never behold such a sight as that which presented itself: eighty-
three men and women in ball-dresses; the former with their lank
powdered locks streaming over their faces; the latter with faded
flowers, uncurled wigs, smudged rouge, blear eyes, draggling
feathers, rumpled satins--each more desperately melancholy and
hideous than the other--each, except my beloved Belinda Bulcher,
whose raven ringlets never having been in curl could of course
never go out of curl; whose cheek, pale as the lily, could, as it
may naturally be supposed, grow no paler; whose neck and beauteous
arms, dazzling as alabaster, needed no pearl-powder, and therefore,
as I need not state, did not suffer because the pearl-powder had
come off. Joy (deft link-boy!) lit his lamps in each of her eyes
as I entered. As if I had been her sun, her spring, lo! blushing
roses mantled in her cheek! Seventy-three ladies, as I entered,
opened their fire upon me, and stunned me with cross-questions,
regarding my adventures in the camp--SHE, as she saw me, gave a
faint scream (the sweetest, sure, that ever gurgled through the
throat of a woman!) then started up--then made as if she would sit
down--then moved backwards--then tottered forwards--then tumbled
into my--Psha! why recall, why attempt to describe that delicious--
that passionate greeting of two young hearts? What was the
surrounding crowd to us? What cared we for the sneers of the men,
the titters of the jealous women, the shrill "Upon my word!" of the
elder Miss Bulcher, and the loud expostulations of Belinda's mamma?
The brave girl loved me, and wept in my arms. "Goliah! my Goliah!"
said she, "my brave, my beautiful, THOU art returned, and hope
comes back with thee. Oh! who can tell the anguish of my soul,
during this dreadful dreadful night!" Other similar ejaculations
of love and joy she uttered; and if I HAD perilled life in her
service, if I DID believe that hope of escape there was none, so
exquisite was the moment of our meeting, that I forgot all else in
this overwhelming joy!

* * *

[The Major's description of this meeting, which lasted at the very
most not ten seconds, occupies thirteen pages of writing. We have
been compelled to dock off twelve-and-a-half; for the whole
passage, though highly creditable to his feelings, might possibly
be tedious to the reader.]

* * *

As I said, the ladies and gentlemen were inclined to sneer, and
were giggling audibly. I led the dear girl to a chair, and,
scowling round with a tremendous fierceness, which those who know
me know I can sometimes put on, I shouted out, "Hark ye! men and
women--I am this lady's truest knight--her husband I hope one day
to be. I am commander, too, in this fort--the enemy is without it;
another word of mockery--another glance of scorn--and, by Heaven, I
will hurl every man and woman from the battlements, a prey to the
ruffianly Holkar!" This quieted them. I am a man of my word, and
none of them stirred or looked disrespectfully from that moment.

It was now my turn to make them look foolish. Mrs.
Vandegobbleschroy (whose unfailing appetite is pretty well known to
every person who has been in India) cried, "Well, Captain Gahagan,
your ball has been so pleasant, and the supper was despatched so
long ago, that myself and the ladies would be very glad of a little
breakfast." And Mrs. Van giggled as if she had made a very witty
and reasonable speech. "Oh! breakfast, breakfast, by all means,"
said the rest; "we really are dying for a warm cup of tea."

"Is it bohay tay or souchong tay that you'd like, ladies?" says I.

"Nonsense, you silly man; any tea you like," said fat Mrs. Van.

"What do you say, then, to some prime GUNPOWDER?" Of course they
said it was the very thing.

"And do you like hot rowls or cowld--muffins or crumpets--fresh
butter or salt? And you, gentlemen, what do you say to some
ilegant divvled-kidneys for yourselves, and just a trifle of
grilled turkeys, and a couple of hundthred new-laid eggs for the

"Pooh, pooh! be it as you will, my dear fellow," answered they all.

"But stop," says I. "O ladies, O ladies! O gentlemen, gentlemen!
that you should ever have come to the quarters of Goliah Gahagan,
and he been without--"

"What?" said they, in a breath.

"Alas! alas! I have not got a single stick of chocolate in the
whole house."

"Well, well, we can do without it."

"Or a single pound of coffee."

"Never mind; let that pass too." (Mrs. Van and the rest were
beginning to look alarmed.)

"And about the kidneys--now I remember, the black divvles outside
the fort have seized upon all the sheep; and how are we to have
kidneys without them?" (Here there was a slight o-o-o!)

"And with regard to the milk and crame, it may be remarked that the
cows are likewise in pawn, and not a single drop can be had for
money or love: but we can beat up eggs, you know, in the tay,
which will be just as good."

"Oh! just as good."

"Only the divvle's in the luck, there's not a fresh egg to be had--
no, nor a fresh chicken," continued I, "nor a stale one either; not
a tayspoonful of souchong, nor a thimbleful of bohay; nor the laste
taste in life of butther, salt or fresh; nor hot rowls or cowld!"

"In the name of Heaven!" said Mrs. Van, growing very pale, "what is
there, then?"

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'll tell you what there is now," shouted I.

"Two drumsticks of fowls, and a bone of ham.
Fourteen bottles of ginger-beer," &c. &c. &c.

And I went through the whole list of eatables as before, ending
with the ham-sandwiches and the pot of jelly.

"Law! Mr. Gahagan," said Mrs. Colonel Vandegobbleschroy, "give me
the ham-sandwiches--I must manage to breakfast off them."

And you should have heard the pretty to-do there was at this modest
proposition! Of course I did not accede to it--why should I? I
was the commander of the fort, and intended to keep these three
very sandwiches for the use of myself and my dear Belinda.
"Ladies," said I, "there are in this fort one hundred and twenty-
six souls, and this is all the food which is to last us during the
siege. Meat there is none--of drink there is a tolerable quantity;
and at one o'clock punctually, a glass of wine and one olive shall
be served out to each woman: the men will receive two glasses, and
an olive and a fig--and this must be your food during the siege.
Lord Lake cannot be absent more than three days; and if he be--why,
still there is a chance--why do I say a chance?--a CERTAINTY of
escaping from the hands of these ruffians."

"Oh, name it, name it, dear Captain Gahagan!" screeched the whole
covey at a breath.

"It lies," answered I, "in the powder magazine. I will blow this
fort, and all it contains, to atoms, ere it becomes the prey of

The women, at this, raised a squeal that might have been heard in
Holkar's camp, and fainted in different directions; but my dear
Belinda whispered in my ear, "Well done, thou noble knight! bravely
said, my heart's Goliah!" I felt I was right: I could have blown
her up twenty times for the luxury of that single moment! "And
now, ladies," said I, "I must leave you. The two chaplains will
remain with you to administer professional consolation--the other
gentlemen will follow me upstairs to the ramparts, where I shall
find plenty of work for them."


Loth as they were, these gentlemen had nothing for it but to obey,
and they accordingly followed me to the ramparts, where I proceeded
to review my men. The fort, in my absence, had been left in
command of Lieutenant Macgillicuddy, a countryman of my own (with
whom, as may be seen in an early chapter of my memoirs, I had an
affair of honour); and the prisoner Bobbachy Bahawder, whom I had
only stunned, never wishing to kill him, had been left in charge of
that officer. Three of the garrison (one of them a man of the
Ahmednuggar Irregulars, my own body-servant, Ghorumsaug above
named) were appointed to watch the captive by turns, and never
leave him out of their sight. The lieutenant was instructed to
look to them and to their prisoner; and as Bobbachy was severely
injured by the blow which I had given him, and was, moreover, bound
hand and foot, and gagged smartly with cords, I considered myself
sure of his person.

Macgillicuddy did not make his appearance when I reviewed my little
force, and the three havildars were likewise absent: this did not
surprise me, as I had told them not to leave their prisoner; but
desirous to speak with the lieutenant, I despatched a messenger to
him, and ordered him to appear immediately.

The messenger came back; he was looking ghastly pale: he whispered
some information into my ear, which instantly caused me to hasten
to the apartments where I had caused Bobbachy Bahawder to be

The men had fled;--Bobbachy had fled; and in his place, fancy my
astonishment when I found--with a rope cutting his naturally wide
mouth almost into his ears--with a dreadful sabre-cut across his
forehead--with his legs tied over his head, and his arms tied
between his legs--my unhappy, my attached friend--Mortimer

He had been in this position for about three hours--it was the very
position in which I had caused Bobbachy Bahawder to be placed--an
attitude uncomfortable, it is true, but one which renders escape
impossible, unless treason aid the prisoner.

I restored the lieutenant to his natural erect position; I poured
half-a-bottle of whisky down the immensely enlarged orifice of his
mouth; and when he had been released, he informed me of the
circumstances that had taken place.

Fool that I was! idiot!--upon my return to the fort, to have been
anxious about my personal appearance, and to have spent a couple of
hours in removing the artificial blackening from my beard and
complexion, instead of going to examine my prisoner--when his
escape would have been prevented. O foppery, foppery!--it was that
cursed love of personal appearance which had led me to forget my
duty to my general, my country, my monarch, and my own honour!

Thus it was that the escape took place:- My own fellow of the
Irregulars, whom I had summoned to dress me, performed the
operation to my satisfaction, invested me with the elegant uniform
of my corps, and removed the Pitan's disguise, which I had taken
from the back of the prostrate Bobbachy Bahawder. What did the
rogue do next?--Why, he carried back the dress to the Bobbachy--he
put it, once more, on its right owner; he and his infernal black
companions (who had been won over by the Bobbachy with promises of
enormous reward) gagged Macgillicuddy, who was going the rounds,
and then marched with the Indian coolly up to the outer gate, and
gave the word. The sentinel, thinking it was myself, who had first
come in, and was as likely to go out again--(indeed my rascally
valet said that Gahagan Sahib was about to go out with him and his
two companions to reconnoitre)--opened the gates, and off they

This accounted for the confusion of my valet when I entered!--and
for the scoundrel's speech, that the lieutenant had JUST BEEN THE
ROUNDS;--he HAD, poor fellow, and had been seized and bound in this
cruel way. The three men, with their liberated prisoner, had just
been on the point of escape, when my arrival disconcerted them: I
had changed the guard at the gate (whom they had won over
likewise); and yet, although they had overcome poor Mac, and
although they were ready for the start, they had positively no
means for effecting their escape, until I was ass enough to put
means in their way. Fool! fool! thrice besotted fool that I was,
to think of my own silly person when I should have been occupied
solely with my public duty.

From Macgillicuddy's incoherent accounts, as he was gasping from
the effects of the gag and the whisky he had taken to revive him,
and from my own subsequent observations, I learned this sad story.
A sudden and painful thought struck me--my precious box!--I rushed
back, I found that box--I have it still. Opening it, there, where
I had left ingots, sacks of bright tomauns, kopeks and rupees,
strings of diamonds as big as ducks' eggs, rubies as red as the
lips of my Belinda, countless strings of pearls, amethysts,
emeralds, piles upon piles of bank-notes--I found--a piece of
paper! with a few lines in the Sanscrit language, which are thus,
word for word, translated:-

(On disappointing a certain Major.)

"The conquering lion return'd with his prey,
And safe in his cavern he set it;
The sly little fox stole the booty away,
And, as he escaped, to the lion did say,
'AHA! don't you wish you may get it?'"

Confusion! Oh, how my blood boiled as I read these cutting lines.
I stamped,--I swore,--I don't know to what insane lengths my rage
might have carried me, had not at this moment a soldier rushed in,
screaming, "The enemy, the enemy!"


It was high time, indeed, that I should make my appearance. Waving
my sword with one hand and seizing my telescope with the other, I
at once frightened and examined the enemy. Well they knew when
they saw that flamingo-plume floating in the breeze--that awful
figure standing in the breach--that waving war-sword sparkling in
the sky--well, I say, they knew the name of the humble individual
who owned the sword, the plume, and the figure. The ruffians were
mustered in front, the cavalry behind. The flags were flying, the
drums, gongs, tambourines, violoncellos, and other instruments of
Eastern music, raised in the air a strange barbaric melody; the
officers (yatabals), mounted on white dromedaries, were seen
galloping to and fro, carrying to the advancing hosts the orders of

You see that two sides of the fort of Futtyghur (rising as it does
on a rock that is almost perpendicular) are defended by the
Burrumpooter river, two hundred feet deep at this point, and a
thousand yards wide, so that I had no fear about them attacking me
in that quarter. My guns, therefore (with their six-and-thirty
miserable charges of shot), were dragged round to the point at
which I conceived Holkar would be most likely to attack me. I was
in a situation that I did not dare to fire, except at such times as
I could kill a hundred men by a single discharge of a cannon; so
the attacking party marched and marched, very strongly, about a
mile and a half off, the elephants marching without receiving the
slightest damage from us, until they had come to within four
hundred yards of our walls (the rogues knew all the secrets of our
weakness, through the betrayal of the dastardly Ghorumsaug, or they
never would have ventured so near). At that distance--it was about
the spot where the Futtyghur hill began gradually to rise--the
invading force stopped; the elephants drew up in a line, at right
angles with our wall (the fools! they thought they should expose
themselves too much by taking a position parallel to it); the
cavalry halted too, and--after the deuce's own flourish of trumpets
and banging of gongs, to be sure,--somebody, in a flame-coloured
satin dress, with an immense jewel blazing in his pugree (that
looked through my telescope like a small but very bright planet),
got up from the back of one of the very biggest elephants, and
began a speech.

The elephants were, as I said, in a line formed with admirable
precision, about three hundred of them. The following little
diagram will explain matters:-

....... G |
E |
| F

E is the line of elephants. F is the wall of the fort. G a gun in
the fort. Now the reader will see what I did.

The elephants were standing, their trunks waggling to and fro
gracefully before them; and I, with superhuman skill and activity,
brought the gun G (a devilish long brass gun) to bear upon them. I
pointed it myself; bang! it went, and what was the consequence?
Why, this:-

....... G |
E |
| F

F is the fort, as before. G is the gun, as before. E, the
elephants, as we have previously seen them. What then is x? x is
the line taken by the ball fired from G, which took off ONE HUNDRED
AND THIRTY-FOUR ELEPHANTS' TRUNKS, and only spent itself in the
tusk of a very old animal, that stood the hundred and thirty-fifth!

I say that such a shot was never fired before or since; that a gun
was never pointed in such a way. Suppose I had been a common man,
and contented myself with firing bang at the head of the first
animal? An ass would have done it, prided himself had he hit his
mark, and what would have been the consequence? Why, that the ball
might have killed two elephants and wounded a third; but here,
probably, it would have stopped, and done no further mischief. The
trunk was the place at which to aim; there are no bones there; and
away, consequently, went the bullet, shearing, as I have said,
through one hundred and thirty-five probosces. Heavens! what a
howl there was when the shot took effect! What a sudden stoppage
of Holkar's speech! What a hideous snorting of elephants! What a
rush backwards was made by the whole army, as if some demon was
pursuing them!

Away they went. No sooner did I see them in full retreat, than,
rushing forward myself, I shouted to my men, "My friends, yonder
lies your dinner!" We flung open the gates--we tore down to the
spot where the elephants had fallen: seven of them were killed;
and of those that escaped to die of their hideous wounds elsewhere,
most had left their trunks behind them. A great quantity of them
we seized; and I myself, cutting up with my scimitar a couple of
the fallen animals, as a butcher would a calf, motioned to the men
to take the pieces back to the fort, where barbecued elephant was
served round for dinner, instead of the miserable allowance of an
olive and a glass of wine, which I had promised to my female
friends, in my speech to them. The animal reserved for the ladies
was a young white one--the fattest and tenderest I ever ate in my
life: they are very fair eating, but the flesh has an India-rubber
flavour, which, until one is accustomed to it, is unpalatable.

It was well that I had obtained this supply, for, during my absence
on the works, Mrs. Vandegobbleschroy and one or two others had
forced their way into the supper-room, and devoured every morsel of
the garrison larder, with the exception of the cheeses, the olives,
and the wine, which were locked up in my own apartment, before
which stood a sentinel. Disgusting Mrs. Van! When I heard of her
gluttony, I had almost a mind to eat HER. However, we made a very
comfortable dinner off the barbecued steaks, and when everybody had
done, had the comfort of knowing that there was enough for one meal

The next day, as I expected, the enemy attacked us in great force,
attempting to escalade the fort; but by the help of my guns, and my
good sword, by the distinguished bravery of Lieutenant
Macgillicuddy and the rest of the garrison, we beat this attack off
completely, the enemy sustaining a loss of seven hundred men. We
were victorious; but when another attack was made, what were we to
do? We had still a little powder left, but had fired off all the
shot, stones, iron-bars, &c. in the garrison! On this day, too, we
devoured the last morsel of our food: I shall never forget Mrs.
Vandegobbleschroy's despairing look, as I saw her sitting alone,
attempting to make some impression on the little white elephant's
roasted tail.

The third day the attack was repeated. The resources of genius are
never at an end. Yesterday I had no ammunition; to-day, I
discovered charges sufficient for two guns, and two swivels, which
were much longer, but had bores of about blunderbuss size.

This time my friend Loll Mahommed, who had received, as the reader
may remember, such a bastinadoing for my sake, headed the attack.
The poor wretch could not walk, but he was carried in an open
palanquin, and came on waving his sword, and cursing horribly in
his Hindustan jargon. Behind him came troops of matchlock-men, who
picked off every one of our men who showed their noses above the
ramparts; and a great host of blackamoors with scaling-ladders,
bundles to fill the ditch, fascines, gabions, culverins, demilunes,
counterscarps, and all the other appurtenances of offensive war.

On they came; my guns and men were ready for them. You will ask
how my pieces were loaded? I answer, that though my garrison were
without food, I knew my duty as an officer, and HAD PUT THE TWO

They advanced,--whish! went one of the Dutch cheeses,--bang! went
the other. Alas! they did little execution. In their first
contact with an opposing body, they certainly floored it; but they
became at once like so much Welsh-rabbit, and did no execution
beyond the man whom they struck down.

"Hogree, pogree, wongree-fum (praise to Allah and the forty-nine
Imaums!)" shouted out the ferocious Loll Mahommed when he saw the
failure of my shot. "Onward, sons of the Prophet! the infidel has
no more ammunition. A hundred thousand lakhs of rupees to the man
who brings me Gahagan's head!"

His men set up a shout, and rushed forward--he, to do him justice,
was at the very head, urging on his own palanquin-bearers, and
poking them with the tip of his scimitar. They came panting up the
hill: I was black with rage, but it was the cold concentrated rage
of despair. "Macgillicuddy," said I, calling that faithful
officer, "you know where the barrels of powder are?" He did. "You
know the use to make of them?" He did. He grasped my hand.
"Goliah," said he, "farewell! I swear that the fort shall be in
atoms, as soon as yonder unbelievers have carried it. Oh, my poor
mother!" added the gallant youth, as sighing, yet fearless, he
retired to his post.

I gave one thought to my blessed, my beautiful Belinda, and then,
stepping into the front, took down one of the swivels;--a shower of
matchlock balls came whizzing round my head. I did not heed them.

I took the swivel, and aimed coolly. Loll Mahommed, his palanquin,
and his men, were now not above two hundred yards from the fort.
Loll was straight before me, gesticulating and shouting to his men.
I fired--bang!!!

The wretch, uttering a yell the most hideous and unearthly I ever
heard, fell back dead; the frightened bearers flung down the
palanquin and ran--the whole host ran as one man: their screams
might be heard for leagues. "Tomasha, tomasha," they cried, "it is
enchantment!" Away they fled, and the victory a third time was
ours. Soon as the fight was done, I flew back to my Belinda. We
had eaten nothing for twenty-four hours, but I forgot hunger in the
thought of once more beholding her!

The sweet soul turned towards me with a sickly smile as I entered,
and almost fainted in my arms; but alas! it was not love which
caused in her bosom an emotion so strong--it was hunger! "Oh! my
Goliah," whispered she, "for three days I have not tasted food--I
could not eat that horrid elephant yesterday; but now--oh!
Heaven!--" She could say no more, but sank almost lifeless on my
shoulder. I administered to her a trifling dram of rum, which
revived her for a moment, and then rushed downstairs, determined
that if it were a piece of my own leg, she should still have
something to satisfy her hunger. Luckily I remembered that three
or four elephants were still lying in the field, having been killed
by us in the first action, two days before. Necessity, thought I,
has no law; my adorable girl must eat elephant, until she can get
something better.

I rushed into the court where the men were, for the most part,
assembled. "Men," said I, "our larder is empty; we must fill it as
we did the day before yesterday. Who will follow Gahagan on a
foraging party?" I expected that, as on former occasions, every
man would offer to accompany me.

To my astonishment, not a soul moved--a murmur arose among the
troops; and at last one of the oldest and bravest came forward.

"Captain," he said, "it is of no use; we cannot feed upon elephants
for ever; we have not a grain of powder left, and must give up the
fort when the attack is made to-morrow. We may as well be
prisoners now as then, and we won't go elephant-hunting any more."

"Ruffian!" I said, "he who first talks of surrender, dies!" and I
cut him down. "Is there anyone else who wishes to speak?"

No one stirred.

"Cowards! miserable cowards!" shouted I; "what, you dare not move
for fear of death at the hands of those wretches who even now fled
before your arms--what, do I say your arms?--before MINE!--alone I
did it; and as alone I routed the foe, alone I will victual the
fortress! Ho! open the gate!"

I rushed out; not a single man would follow. The bodies of the
elephants that we had killed still lay on the ground where they had
fallen, about four hundred yards from the fort. I descended calmly
the hill, a very steep one, and coming to the spot, took my pick of
the animals, choosing a tolerably small and plump one, of about
thirteen feet high, which the vultures had respected. I threw this
animal over my shoulders, and made for the fort.

As I marched up the acclivity, whizz--piff--whirr! came the balls
over my head; and pitter-patter, pitter-patter! they fell on the
body of the elephant like drops of rain. The enemy were behind me;
I knew it, and quickened my pace. I heard the gallop of their
horse: they came nearer, nearer; I was within a hundred yards of
the fort--seventy--fifty! I strained every nerve; I panted with
the superhuman exertion--I ran--could a man run very fast with such
a tremendous weight on his shoulders?

Up came the enemy; fifty horsemen were shouting and screaming at my
tail. O Heaven! five yards more--one moment--and I am saved. It
is done--I strain the last strain--I make the last step--I fling
forward my precious burden into the gate opened wide to receive me
and it, and--I fall! The gate thunders to, and I am left on the
outside! Fifty knives are gleaming before my bloodshot eyes--fifty
black hands are at my throat, when a voice exclaims, "Stop!--kill
him not, it is Gujputi!" A film came over my eyes--exhausted
nature would bear no more.


When I awoke from the trance into which I had fallen, I found
myself in a bath, surrounded by innumerable black faces; and a
Hindoo pothukoor (whence our word apothecary) feeling my pulse and
looking at me with an air of sagacity.

"Where am I?" I exclaimed, looking round and examining the strange
faces, and the strange apartment which met my view. "Bekhusm!"
said the apothecary. "Silence! Gahagan Sahib is in the hands of
those who know his valour, and will save his life."

"Know my valour, slave? Of course you do," said I; "but the fort--
the garrison--the elephant--Belinda, my love--my darling--
Macgillicuddy--the scoundrelly mutineers--the deal bo- "

I could say no more; the painful recollections pressed so heavily
upon my poor shattered mind and frame, that both failed once more.
I fainted again, and I know not how long I lay insensible.

Again, however, I came to my senses: the pothukoor applied
restoratives, and after a slumber of some hours I awoke, much
refreshed. I had no wound; my repeated swoons had been brought on
(as indeed well they might) by my gigantic efforts in carrying the
elephant up a steep hill a quarter of a mile in length. Walking,
the task is bad enough: but running, it is the deuce; and I would
recommend any of my readers who may be disposed to try and carry a
dead elephant, never, on any account, to go a pace of more than
five miles an hour.

Scarcely was I awake, when I heard the clash of arms at my door
(plainly indicating that sentinels were posted there), and a single
old gentleman, richly habited, entered the room. Did my eyes
deceive me? I had surely seen him before. No--yes--no--yes--it
was he: the snowy white beard, the mild eyes, the nose flattened
to a jelly, and level with the rest of the venerable face,
proclaimed him at once to be--Saadut Alee Beg Bimbukchee, Holkar's
Prime Vizier; whose nose, as the reader may recollect, his Highness
had flattened with his kaleawn during my interview with him in the
Pitan's disguise. I now knew my fate but too well--I was in the
hands of Holkar.

Saadut Alee Beg Bimbukchee slowly advanced towards me, and with a
mild air of benevolence which distinguished that excellent man (he
was torn to pieces by wild horses the year after, on account of a
difference with Holkar), he came to my bedside and, taking gently
my hand, said, "Life and death, my son, are not ours. Strength is
deceitful, valour is unavailing, fame is only wind--the nightingale
sings of the rose all night--where is the rose in the morning?
Booch, booch! it is withered by a frost. The rose makes remarks
regarding the nightingale, and where is that delightful song-bird?
Pena-bekhoda, he is netted, plucked, spitted, and roasted! Who
knows how misfortune comes? It has come to Gahagan Gujputi!"

"It is well," said I, stoutly, and in the Malay language. "Gahagan
Gujputi will bear it like a man."

"No doubt--like a wise man and a brave one; but there is no lane so
long to which there is not a turning, no night so black to which
there comes not a morning. Icy winter is followed by merry
springtime--grief is often succeeded by joy."

"Interpret, O riddler!" said I; "Gahagan Khan is no reader of
puzzles--no prating mollah. Gujputi loves not words, but swords."

"Listen then, O Gujputi: you are in Holkar's power."

"I know it."

"You will die by the most horrible tortures to-morrow morning."

"I dare say."

"They will tear your teeth from your jaws, your nails from your
fingers, and your eyes from your head."

"Very possibly."

"They will flay you alive, and then burn you."

"Well; they can't do any more."

"They will seize upon every man and woman in yonder fort"--it was
not then taken!--"and repeat upon them the same tortures."

"Ha! Belinda! Speak--how can all this be avoided?"

"Listen. Gahagan loves the moon-face called Belinda."

"He does, Vizier, to distraction."

"Of what rank is he in the Koompani's army?"

"A captain."

"A miserable captain--oh, shame! Of what creed is he?"

"I am an Irishman, and a Catholic."

"But he has not been very particular about his religious duties?"

"Alas, no!"

"He has not been to his mosque for these twelve years?"

"'Tis too true."

"Hearken now, Gahagan Khan. His Highness Prince Holkar has sent me
to thee. You shall have the moon-face for your wife--your second
wife, that is;--the first shall be the incomparable Puttee Rooge,
who loves you to madness;--with Puttee Rooge, who is the wife, you
shall have the wealth and rank of Bobbachy Bahawder, of whom his
Highness intends to get rid. You shall be second in command of his
Highness's forces. Look, here is his commission signed with the
celestial seal, and attested by the sacred names of the forty-nine
Imaums. You have but to renounce your religion and your service,
and all these rewards are yours."

He produced a parchment, signed as he said, and gave it to me (it
was beautifully written in Indian ink: I had it for fourteen
years, but a rascally valet, seeing it very dirty, washed it,
forsooth, and washed off every bit of the writing). I took it
calmly, and said, "This is a tempting offer. O Vizier, how long
wilt thou give me to consider of it?"

After a long parley, he allowed me six hours, when I promised to
give him an answer. My mind, however, was made up--as soon as he
was gone, I threw myself on the sofa and fell asleep.

* * *

At the end of the six hours the Vizier came back: two people were
with him; one, by his martial appearance, I knew to be Holkar, the
other I did not recognise. It was about midnight.

"Have you considered?" said the Vizier, as he came to my couch.

"I have," said I, sitting up,--I could not stand, for my legs were
tied, and my arms fixed in a neat pair of steel handcuffs. "I
have," said I, "unbelieving dogs! I have. Do you think to pervert
a Christian gentleman from his faith and honour? Ruffian
blackamoors! do your worst; heap tortures on this body, they cannot
last long. Tear me to pieces: after you have torn me into a
certain number of pieces, I shall not feel it; and if I did, if
each torture could last a life, if each limb were to feel the
agonies of a whole body, what then? I would bear all--all--all--
all--all--ALL!" My breast heaved--my form dilated--my eye flashed
as I spoke these words. "Tyrants!" said I, "dulce et decorum est
pro patria mori." Having thus clinched the argument, I was silent.

The venerable. Grand Vizier turned away; I saw a tear trickling
down his cheeks.

"What a constancy!" said he. "Oh, that such beauty and such
bravery should be doomed so soon to quit the earth!"

His tall companion only sneered and said, "AND BELINDA--?"

"Ha!" said I, "ruffian, be still!--Heaven will protect her spotless
innocence. Holkar, I know thee, and thou knowest me too! Who,
with his single sword, destroyed thy armies? Who, with his pistol,
cleft in twain thy nose-ring? Who slew thy generals? Who slew thy
elephants? Three hundred mighty beasts went forth to battle: of
these I slew one hundred and thirty-five! Dog, coward, ruffian,
tyrant, unbeliever! Gahagan hates thee, spurns thee, spits on

Holkar, as I made these uncomplimentary remarks, gave a scream of
rage, and, drawing his scimitar, rushed on to despatch me at once
(it was the very thing I wished for), when the third person sprang
forward and, seizing his arm, cried -

"Papa! oh, save him!" It was Puttee Rooge! "Remember," continued
she, "his misfortunes--remember, oh, remember my--love!"--and here
she blushed, and putting one finger into her mouth, and hanging
down her head, looked the very picture of modest affection.

Holkar sulkily sheathed his scimitar, and muttered, "'Tis better as
it is; had I killed him now, I had spared him the torture. None of
this shameless fooling, Puttee Rooge," continued the tyrant,
dragging her away. "Captain Gahagan dies three hours from hence."
Puttee Rooge gave one scream and fainted--her father and the Vizier
carried her off between them; nor was I loth to part with her, for,
with all her love, she was as ugly as the deuce.

They were gone--my fate was decided. I had but three hours more of
life: so I flung myself again on the sofa, and fell profoundly
asleep. As it may happen to any of my readers to be in the same
situation, and to be hanged themselves, let me earnestly entreat
them to adopt this plan of going to sleep, which I for my part have
repeatedly found to be successful. It saves unnecessary annoyance,
it passes away a great deal of unpleasant time, and it prepares one
to meet like a man the coming catastrophe.

* * *

Three o'clock came: the sun was at this time making his appearance
in the heavens, and with it came the guards, who were appointed to
conduct me to the torture. I woke, rose, was carried out, and was
set on the very white donkey on which Loll Mahommed was conducted
through the camp after he was bastinadoed. Bobbachy Bahawder rode
behind me, restored to his rank and state; troops of cavalry hemmed
us in on all sides; my ass was conducted by the common executioner:
a crier went forward, shouting out, "Make way for the destroyer of
the faithful--he goes to bear the punishment of his crimes." We
came to the fatal plain: it was the very spot whence I had borne
away the elephant, and in full sight of the fort. I looked towards
it. Thank Heaven! King George's banner waved on it still--a crowd
were gathered on the walls--the men, the dastards who had deserted
me--and women, too. Among the latter I thought I distinguished ONE
who--O gods! the thought turned me sick--I trembled and looked pale
for the first time.

"He trembles! he turns pale," shouted out Bobbachy Bahawder,
ferociously exulting over his conquered enemy.

"Dog!" shouted I--(I was sitting with my head to the donkey's tail,
and so looked the Bobbachy full in the face)--"not so pale as you
looked when I felled you with this arm--not so pale as your women
looked when I entered your harem!" Completely chop-fallen, the
Indian ruffian was silent: at any rate, I had done for HIM.

We arrived at the place of execution. A stake, a couple of feet
thick and eight high, was driven in the grass: round the stake,
about seven feet from the ground, was an iron ring, to which were
attached two fetters; in these my wrists were placed. Two or three
executioners stood near, with strange-looking instruments: others
were blowing at a fire, over which was a cauldron, and in the
embers were stuck prongs and other instruments of iron.

The crier came forward and read my sentence. It was the same in
effect as that which had been hinted to me the day previous by the
Grand Vizier. I confess I was too agitated to catch every word
that was spoken.

Holkar himself, on a tall dromedary, was at a little distance. The
Grand Vizier came up to me--it was his duty to stand by, and see
the punishment performed. "It is yet time!" said he.

I nodded my head, but did not answer.

The Vizier cast up to heaven a look of inexpressible anguish, and
with a voice choking with emotion, said, "EXECUTIONER--DO--YOUR--

The horrid man advanced--he whispered sulkily in the ears of the
Grand Vizier, "Guggly ka ghee, hum khedgeree," said he, "THE OIL
DOES NOT BOIL YET--wait one minute." The assistants blew, the fire
blazed, the oil was heated. The Vizier drew a few feet aside:
taking a large ladle full of the boiling liquid, he advanced -

* * *

"Whish! bang, bang! pop!" the executioner was dead at my feet, shot
through the head; the ladle of scalding oil had been dashed in the
face of the unhappy Grand Vizier, who lay on the plain, howling.
"Whish! bang! pop! Hurrah!--charge!--forwards!--cut them down!--no

I saw--yes, no, yes, no, yes!--I saw regiment upon regiment of
galloping British horsemen riding over the ranks of the flying
natives. First of the host, I recognised, O Heaven! my AHMEDNUGGAR
IRREGULARS! On came the gallant line of black steeds and horsemen;
swift swift before them rode my officers in yellow--Glogger,
Pappendick, and Stuffle; their sabres gleamed in the sun, their
voices rung in the air. "D- them!" they cried, "give it them,
boys!" A strength supernatural thrilled through my veins at that
delicious music: by one tremendous effort, I wrested the post from
its foundation, five feet in the ground. I could not release my
hands from the fetters, it is true; but, grasping the beam tightly,
I sprung forward--with one blow I levelled the five executioners in
the midst of the fire, their fall upsetting the scalding oil-can;
with the next, I swept the bearers of Bobbachy's palanquin off
their legs; with the third, I caught that chief himself in the
small of the back, and sent him flying on to the sabres of my
advancing soldiers!

The next minute, Glogger and Stuffle were in my arms, Pappendick
leading on the Irregulars. Friend and foe in that wild chase had
swept far away. We were alone: I was freed from my immense bar;
and ten minutes afterwards, when Lord Lake trotted up with his
staff, he found me sitting on it.

"Look at Gahagan," said his Lordship. "Gentlemen, did I not tell
you we should be sure to find him AT HIS POST?"

The gallant old nobleman rode on: and this was the famous BATTLE
November, 1804.

* * *

About a month afterwards, the following announcement appeared in
the Boggleywollah Hurkaru and other Indian papers:-

"Married, on the 25th of December, at Futtyghur, by the Rev. Dr.
Snorter, Captain Goliah O'Grady Gahagan, Commanding Irregular
Horse, Ahmednuggar, to Belinda, second daughter of Major-General
Bulcher, C.B. His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief gave away the
bride; and, after a splendid dejeuner, the happy pair set off to
pass the Mango season at Hurrygurrybang. Venus must recollect,
however, that Mars must not always be at her side. The Irregulars
are nothing without their leader."

Such was the paragraph--such the event--the happiest in the
existence of

G. O'G. G., M.H.E.I.C.S., C.I.H.A.


{1} So admirable are the performances of these watches, which will
stand in any climate, that I repeatedly heard poor Macgillicuddy
relate the following fact. The hours, as it is known, count in
Italy from one to twenty-four: THE DAY MAC LANDED AT NAPLES HIS
as he crossed the Alps it only sounded as usual.--G. O'G. G.

{2} In my affair with Macgillicuddy, I was fool enough to go out
with small swords:- miserable weapons, only fit for tailors.--G.
O'G. G.

{3} The Major certainly offered to leave an old snuff-box at Mr.
Cunningham's office; but it contained no extract from a newspaper,
and does not quite prove that he killed a rhinoceros and stormed
fourteen entrenchments at the siege of Allyghur.

{4} The double-jointed camel of Bactria, which the classic reader
may recollect is mentioned by Suidas (in his Commentary on the
Flight of Darius), is so called by the Mahrattas.

{5} There is some trifling inconsistency on the Major's part.
Shah Allum was notoriously blind: how, then, could he have seen
Gahagan? The thing is manifestly impossible.

{6} I do not wish to brag of my style of writing, or to pretend
that my genius as a writer has not been equalled in former times;
but if, in the works of Byron, Scott, Goethe, or Victor Hugo, the
reader can find a more beautiful sentence than the above, I will be
obliged to him, that is all--I simply say, I will be obliged to
him.--G. O'G. G., M.H.E.I.C.S., C.I.H.A.

{7} The Major has put the most approved language into the mouths
of his Indian characters. Bismillah, Barikallah, and so on,
according to the novelists, form the very essence of Eastern


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