Frederick O. (Frederick Orrin) Sibley.

Zanee Kooran : a romance of India in the time of the great Sepoy rebellion online

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Copyright, 1901,





United State*

Great Britain.

All Rights Reserved.










A Dilemma 1

Off for the East 15

Benares, the Holy 24

What Zanee Kooran Had to Communicate 40

A Delicate Mission 58

A Serious State of Affairs 74

The Situation as It Was 92

The Siege Begins 95

The Fate of Futteghur 105

A Bit of British Valor. . . 117

iv Contents.

An Effort Grim and Grand ...................... 126

The Surrender and What Succeeded It. .......... 137

The Hill Fortress of Culpeedah ................... 147

The Tiger Shows His Teeth ...................... 156

Confidences Misplaced ............................ 167

id Doubts and Fears ........................... 182

The Worst Apparent .............................. 191

"To the Skirl of the Pipers Playing " ........... 201

The Last Battle .................................. 210

Mourning and Mystification ...................... 222

Revelations and Rejoicing ........................ 232


IN presenting to the public the volume now in
hand, the author begs it to be borne in mind that
the English Sepoy Service in India., at the time
of the Great Eebellion, was just a century old.
Though as early as in the year 1746 native troops
were trained to European tactics, by the French,
. at the siege of Cudalore, it was not until the "Black
Hole" tragedy of June 20th, at Calcutta, had been
avenged, and peace was again restored, that the
first battalion of Bengal Sepoys was raised by the

It is true that England to-day governs India with
Hindu soldiers, who fight bravely beside the Briton,
laying down their lives, when necessary, to aug
ment the power or to uphold the dignity, as the
case may be, of the flag under which they have
enlisted. It is also true that they have done so,
for the most part, ever since the Sepoy system
has been formed, enlarged and perfected by of
ficers, who nave led these armies from triumph
to triumph, until now the British flag floats vic
toriously over the strongholds of the most power
ful native princes.

But, in the beginning, a very grave mistake was
made by the Anglo-Indian Government, neverthe
less, in not recognizing all the privileges of that

vi Preface.

curse of India, caste. Eather tHan granting an
equality of wages and perquisites, as should have
been done, to each native officer and private of
the same grade in the army, the Brahmin Sepoys,
for example, because they belonged to a class that
claims superiority, and with whom the military
profession is second in honor only to that of a
priest, were allowed higher pay, and indeed many
more comforts and immunities than farmers or me
chanics. Truth to tell, they were given frequent
furloughs on high days and festivals, while the
fear of interfering with their religion, even led to
concessions and indulgences that came to be re
garded by them as matters of right, to the serious
obstruction of military duty, and alas ! the too
lax enforcement of proper discipline.

For, instead of being taught that prominence
and promotion are due to superior ability and sol
diery qualities, they were often allowed to claim
them by mere seniority and the absurd distinction
of caste. Hence, they not only retained the power
of dictation in their own hands, as you may say,
but escaped many of the hardships of the serv
ice, greatly to the disgust and chagrin of those
of lower caste, whose duties were thereby multi
plied as well as made more arduous.

Furthermore, the action taken in regard to the
titular dignity of the royal house of Delhi, was
undoubtedly another paramount cause of the mu
tiny. Lord Dalhousie, having been authorized by
the Court of Directors, on the death of the heir-ap
parent in 1849, to "terminate the dynasty of Ti-
mour, whenever the reigning king should die," had,
to alleviate, as he hoped, the unpleasantness of

Preface. vii

this, ventured on a compromise agreeing to rec
ognize the king s grandson as heir-apparent, pro
vided the family would quit the fortress of Delhi
for the royal palace of Kootub.

As it unfortunately happened, this was very hu
miliating to the royal household ; and, though they
were powerless to do other than obey, the "insult"
was brooded over for many a day by the Delhi
Mohammedans. Therefore, these were ready, at
the first outbreak, to avenge their grievance by
joining the malcontents, thus making of Delhi a
hotbed for the whole rebellion.

Among other causes of the mutiny, was the
vague impression cherished alike by Hindus and
Mohammedans, that ultimately the system of caste
would be abolished, and a foreign policy forced
upon all the races of the empire. Also, the very
natural aversion entertained by them to leing ruled
over by a race of foreigners, for whom they had no
special liking anyway, and of whom, as a matter
of fact, they had heard not even a word until with
in a few .hundred years.

Accordingly, was it any wonder that on these
several points, the races of India were sufficiently
of one mind to be mutual helpers when the day
of trouble came aye ! to join shoulder to shoulder
in a mighty effort to drive the hated Feringhees
(Europeans) from the whole peninsula? No, and
on account of their vast numbers, and the great
ness of the territory occupied by them, neither was
it any marvel that the sternest of stern measures
were required to be carried out with the utmost
possible dispatch, in quelling the Great Kebellion.


THE high road of fiction has been so often
trodden by lovers of literature, that one could
with difficulty convince them of the existence of
several little by-paths of originality which they had
constantly overlooked, but which when followed
lead to broad avenues of vision.

This charming volume is filled with characters
and situations that are new, exciting and instruc

Men and women, who by their brave deeds have
made the history of the world, stand out boldly
in these pages as the glory of their achievements,
their steadfastness of purpose and courage are told
in telling sentences by this talented writer. The
soul-inspiring deeds of valor performed by the
hero and his friends, cannot but kindle the fierc
est patriotisnrtn every breast.

The heroine is so beautiful, true, strong and
womanly, that she unconsciously enters the heart
of the reader who follows her, almost breathless,
through numberless dramatic episodes. It would
be difficult to find in the whole realm of history
or romance more realistic and exciting descrip
tions of the horrors and din of battle.

The several conflicts which take place in this
story are depicted with such skill that even the
most phlegmatic must be strongly moved.

Introduction. ix

The luxurious homes and delightful manner of
living in the Orient add much to the charm of
this work. The customs and habits of the natives
as well as their characteristics could only be de
scribed by one thoroughly conversant with them
and their ways.

This charming story will not fail to enlighten
many on a subject practically unknown, and too
much laudation cannot be bestowed upon the tal
ented author, who has given the world this re
markable work.





I WAS twenty-nine years old when I received my
commission of captain in the East Indian service.
Up to that time I had never dreamed of leav
ing my native land to rough it among the pagans.
Pleasant, jubilant even had been my life, though
practically moral, reasonably temperate, in the bar
racks at Chatham for seven years. Yes, for seven
years I had massed and drilled with old acquaint
ances and new, and for seven more might have re
mained content with being a subaltern, and so on
for aught I knew till the end of my days, had not
that rupture occurred between father and me.

My father, alas, had been a proud man and a
set one. He was exceedingly vain of our line
age. Our genealogical tree had been quite a prom
inent one, and the glory of that was Li< permanent
joy. He had its whole history by heart; could
tell you every incident from the time of Sir Guy

2 Zanee Kooran.

Clermonte, the founder of our house, to the pres
ent day.

This Guy Clermonte had been an esquire in the
time of the Black Prince, who had knighted him on
the field of Poictiers for deeds of noble daring,
the accolade bestowing with his own hand;
in connection with which he had given him a
grand estate, and this greatly augmented in his
later years for further acts of prowess and use

From that time the middle of the fourteenth
century there had been, all told, seventeen
knights at the head of our family, my father, Sir
Edgerton, being the seventeenth.

Thanks to the ever increasing value of the prop
erty, when he came into possession of the title
and estate, father found himself a very wealthy
man. Not only did he own our fine ancestral
residence in London, but there was Clermonte
Hall, down in Hampshire, where I was born, with
a whole township attached. And then, he had
interests in several tin and copper mines out in
Cornwall. Furthermore, my mother had been
the daughter of a wealthy viscount Mordaunt
was the name and by her demise, due to usher
ing me into the world, he had come into possession
of still more wealth.

Accordingly he was one of the most opulent men
of the day, and added to that, popular and influ
ential. He had sat in Parliament, held many im
portant civil offices some of them foreign ones
and was known throughout the United Kingdom.
I was his only child, his direct heir. Could I
have expected anything else, therefore, than his

A Dilemma. 3

planning for me a marriage sooner or later, that
would be in accordance with his taste., whether
it was with mine or not?

Having never dreamed of such a, thing, imag
ine my surprise when he called me into the li
brary one morning during a run of mine up to
our home on Belgrave Square and, with his grav
est expression, said:

"Henry, my boy, why do you ignore the press
ing invitation Lord Listerton has given you to
visit him at his house at Windsor ?"

"You are mistaken, father; I haven t ignored
it," I replied. "I promptly penned him regrets
that other affairs required my attention."

"Other affairs indeed !" he exclaimed. "Boy,
have the kindness to look me in the eye," he said
sternly, stopping suddenly before me.

Hard and cold sounded his voice as he said:
"Now, listen : For years I have put up with your
nonsensical military life. The greater part of
the time you have been away from home out of
my life as much as if I had no son, and I ve never
complained. You # appeared to love soldiering,
which was by no means unnatural" this opinion
I supposed he based on Sir Guy s fame "and I
chose to let you have your way, firmly persuaded
you would in good season come to your tenses and
form a union with some family that would be a
credit to our name. But, on the contrary, you
shun society more and more, always having the
army the army, from which you haven t derived
an honor yet for an excuse curse it! Now
you ve 1-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y refused Lord Listerton s in
vitation that, too, when the countess joined most

4 Zanee Kooran.

earnestly in the request. Why, boy, it s preposter
ous ! Hang it ! don t you knowdon t you real
ize you can have the Lady Katharine for your
wife, if you ll only manage rightly ?"

"Yes," I answered, speaking mechanically.
Had a chasm opened at my feet, I could hardly
have been more surprised.

This was not because Lady Katharine was the
eldest daughter of Lord Listerton, and he one of
the foremost peers of the realm ; it was rather due
to her being what she was, or what I thought she
was, in respect to age, disposition and the like,
notwithstanding fine clothes, cosmetics and false

You see, she had once beaten me so unmercifully
when I was a boy for teasing her in her father s
garden, that I had not forgotten how much larger
and stronger she was than myself; above all, how
her sharp, angular, beak-like face had blazed with
fury, hatred and scorn. She had loomed up be
fore me in horror s fancy like an Amazon, and
as I then saw her, remained as fresh as ever in
my mind. Hence father could not have mentioned
a name to me more odious for matrimony.

"Remember," father continued, "she is the
daughter of an earl, and possesses a large fortune
in her own right; a fortune to which her father
will make a grand addition when she shall marry
to please him. You know, Henry, it s time for you
to settle down. If you will offer your hand to Lady
Katharine, and agree to resign from the army, I
will make you on your wedding day a present of
Clermonte Hall, with all its surroundings. What !
do you shake your head ?"

A Dilemma. 5

"Dearest father," said I, not without emotion,
for it pained me to disappoint him, "I have never
fancied Lady Katharine, and never can; and
well, I doubt if she cares for me very much.
No, were she the last woman on earth, I couldn t
love her; and surely, you wouldn t ask me to
marry a woman I could not love, would you?"

He looked at me with lowered brow, and eyes
in which an angry light began to glitter. Never
have I forgotten him as he stood there before me.
Clad in a spotless garb, of finest texture and qual
ity, and of a cut becoming his threescore years
and station, the only article of jewelry conspicu
ous on his person, barring in his shirt-front the
large diamond he always wore, was a beautifully
embellished badge, upon his left breast, of the
Knight Grand Cross of the Bath; which valuable
jewel he was fingering nervously, a custom of his
when deeply thinking or angry.


"Whom could you love ?" he sneered.

"Keally, father, Lam at a loss to tell. Perhaps
Amy, Major Brown s daughter, comes as near to
awakening the divine fire within me as any one I
know. Still, even with her there seems to be some
thing lacking something failing to develop the
foundation required for making a true and devoted
husband, according to Shakespeare and other great

"Shakespeare, divine fire and all your other
bosh be hanged ! What ! Do you think I d tolerate
your marrying the child of low-born parents of
Darents without rank, or station, or wealth?"

6 Zanee Kooran.

"To whom, sir, do you refer?" I asked with

"Why, to Officer Brown."

"Sir, Major Brown is a man of rank of high
rank. He was an officer of the line in the Crimea,
where at the Alma he covered himself with glory,
and won the personal praise of the Quee*."

"Pooh ! that s nothing," he said scornfully.
"Haven t I a gamekeeper down in Hampshire
who was also an officer in the war?"

"You have," I answered.

Peace there was not to be, however, for forth
with he said:

"Once and for all I ask you, will you withdraw
from the army and marry Lord Listerton s daugh

"No, sir, I will not," I replied, firmly.

"Don t you ever intend to marry?" he inquired
at length, his face threatening as a thunder-cloud.

"Well, that depends ; possibly, but it will have to
be some one whom I love, and who cares some
thing, I think, for me."

"Dolt ! Idiot ! Can t you harp on anything but

"But think, father/ I ventured to expostulate;
"think of what mother was when you first saw
and loved her; think "

"Boy, have you lost your reason?" he broke
in, white with passion. "Well, then, know that I
haven t called you in here this morning to talk
of your mother. It is for your own welfare I am
now concerned. Again I ask you, will you marry
Lady Katharine and leave the army ?"

"No, sir; I won t!"

A Dilemma. 7

"What s that?"

"I say I won t."

For a minute he stood still and looked at me as
if he would go through me ; so much so, he made
me tremble, while, at the same time, my heart
throbbed painfully, for I loved my father, and
would willingly have done anything reasonable
to please him. But to marry Lord Listerton s
daughter Heavens ! he could not have realized
what he was asking of me.

"Well," he said finally, and he spoke slowly and
sternly, half to himself and half to me, "we may
as well come to an understanding now as later.
Mild measures fail to have any influence over you ;
therefore, heroic ones must be resorted to. I now
command 1 you, Henry, to withdraw from the
army and marry Lord Listerton s daughter."

"Command me?"

"Yes, command you."

"And what if I still refuse?"

"Then then I will renounce you disinherit
you cut you off to"& sovereign; I will, so help me
God !"

"Why, father, you must be the one whose reason
has departed," I gasped. "What! Would you
want all your wealth to pass out of the family
name, and leave me me, your only son, your sole
heir, by right as poor as a church mouse?"

"No, I would not," he said bitterly; "but I d
rather that that that, understand should hap
pen, than to have our name disgraced, as I fear
as I am confident now you will sooner or later do
by uniting yourself to some low-bom beggar."

8 Zanee Kooran.

"But might I not do that just the same if dis
inherited?" I asked.

"No, not in the name of Clermonte," he replied.

"Why, how is that? What do you mean?" I
demanded, mystified and not a little alarmed
new by the unmistakable confidence in his tone.

"I mean, Henry, just what I say."

"And that is "

"If you persist in throwing over Lady Katha
rine, I will not only disinherit you, but drive you
from under my roof; further, forbid you ever the
use of my name again. (Of course, you may have
the presumption to use it; but if you do, remem
ber this: it will be against my wishes, and with
my spiritual curse.) The name of Clermonte, I
tell you, shall maintain its dignity or disappear.
No, not if I can help it shall any of my ancestors
be given cause to turn over in their graves and
censure me for not having done my duty to them
in this respect. On that I am resolved."

I saw he was. Indeed, had I had a doubt other
wise, the steel-like ring in his voice, the sight of
his lips compressed like a vise, his whole mien
frigid and appalling as a glacier, would have in
stantly dispelled it. I therefore knew that his
decision in respect to my marrying the Lady Kath
arine was no hasty one with him, but arrived at
after much thought and deliberation. It was an
ultimatum, so to speak, and on that account it
angered me. Hence, what I said to him I don t
remember, nor do I want to. The most I can say
is, I have a dim recollection of his leading me from
the library, and so to the front door, bidding me
leave his presence, and not to seek it again until

A Dilemma. 9

I had made up my mind to leave the army and
marry Lord Listerton s daughter. ,

As a matter of fact, I scarcely realized what
had happened until I was out of the house and in
the street.

Then it occurred to me that my situation was
serious. Father was a man of his word. Pride, it
was true, had led him astray; but not for that
would he relent.

I went that afternoon to the banker who held
in charge the greater proportion of the stocks and
other property belonging to our family, and who
had held my own inheritance from mother ever
since I had come into possession of it. The bank
er, a kind and accommodating old man, received
me with marked deference.

"Mr. Whently," said I, "I m about starting out
in life on my own account, and must have my
funds in such shape as will enable me to draw upon
them at will."

"Why, bless me, my dear Henry, you can do that
now. What more can you have? I trust you
won t take your business from me. I m doing
well with your money; I hope to do still better.
Anyhow, I promise you I will do the very best I

"I don t doubt it/ I said, with a reassuring
smile. "But what I want to know now is, How
do I stand? I can t for the life of me call to
mind when I have drawn upon you."

"Upon your main fund, my dear Henry, you
have never drawn; and I have, besides, quite a
handsome balance on hand in your favor from the

1O Zanee Kooran.

deposit of your quarterly allowance that which
your father has deposited for you, you know ?"

"But I don t know," I cried. "What ! Do you
mean to tell me that all the checks I have pre
sented to you, and which you have cashed, have
been paid without touching my mother s money?"

"Certainly, sir ; that s it exactly. You see, ever
since you enlisted six years ago"

"No, seven," said I, smiling.

"Why, bless me ! so it is. Your father ordered
me, on the first of every quarter, commencing with
the first day of October, to place to your credit
a certain sum, this simplifying matters for him,
and saving him all further bother. Well, from that
time the amount specified by him has been placed
to your credit regularly, and so little have you
drawn upon it, I have about fourteen hundred

My heart gave a great leap. I did remember,
now Mr. Whently had spoken, that father had told
me he was going to place a regular quarterly al
lowance in the hands of his banker for my use,
and that I must make the sum suffice. "If you go
beyond that, Henry," he had said, "you will have
to draw upon your own fund which you hold from
your mother."

A messenger boy entered with letters in his

Mr. Whently took these and was upon the point
of laying them down, unopened, when the super
scription of the topmost missive caught his eye.

"Why, bless me! Here s a letter from your
father, Henry. What has he to say, I wonder?"

I made him no reply, but, with a sinking heart, I

A Dilemma. 1 1

made myself a guess. His countenance did change
as he read the letter. He read it to the very end ;
then, after a moment s reflection, he arose, and,
going to the door, which communicated with the
outer office, turned the key.

Coming back to where I sat, he scratched his
bald head with one hand and with the other gave
me the letter, saying, as he did so :

"It is from your father, Henry, and I think
you should see it. The fact is, I can t quite make
it out/

The letter ran as follows:

"BELGRAVE SQUARE,, September , 1855.

"Dear Sir You hold in possession authority
from me for the payment of a certain sum, quar
terly, to the credit of my son, Henry. That au
thority I hereby peremptorily suspend; pay no
more money to that credit, until I give you notice

"Comply with the above, and you will greatly
oblige, Yours respectfully,


I handed the letter back, and looked the old
banker squarely and frankly in the face.

"Well, Henry, can you explain it?" he asked.

"I can, Mr. Whently," I said, after a moment s
reflection, "and what is more, I will. But before
I begin I want to warn you that yju may "not
care to remain my banker, although I have no
wish to make a change."

"Why, my dear Henry, what does it all mean?

12 Zanee Kooran.

Ah surely, you haven t had a falling out with
your father?"

"I regret to say I have," I responded.

"Too bad too bad!" he exclaimed, wringing
his hands. "I thought you and he were on the
best of terms. You always have been, haven t
you ?"

"Yes; but to-day he turned me out-of-doors
forbade me ever the shelter of his roof again, un
less I comply with certain conditions of his."

"Turned you out-of-doors?"

"He did, Mr. Whently; he also threatened to
disinherit me, even disown me."

"What ! you, his only child, his sole heir.
This is awful. But pardon me, my dear Henry;
perhaps I should not thrust myself into your con

"It s all in the explanation I owe you," I re
plied. "The only thing I have to ask of you is,
to give me your promise not to divulge to any one
else to no living person what I am going to tell

"Certainly," he replied; "certainly, my dear
Henry. But, for that matter, you need have had

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Online LibraryFrederick O. (Frederick Orrin) SibleyZanee Kooran : a romance of India in the time of the great Sepoy rebellion → online text (page 1 of 15)