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Begumbagh A Tale of the Indian Mutiny   By: (1831-1909)

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Begumbagh; A Tale of the Indian Mutiny, and three other short stories, by George Manville Fenn.

This book of short stories is an excellent read in the usual Fenn style of suspense. "How does he get out of this one?" is always in the reader's mind.

Most of the book is taken up with a story about the plight of the British members of a small garrison, during the Indian Mutiny.

The second story is about half as long, and is a well written and extremely plausible story about a house owned by an old gentleman of ancient lineage, where there is a collection of gold plate which was said to be an "incubus", that is, the subject of a curse. As indeed there turns out to be.

The third story is about a couple of smugglers who get trapped in a "gowt", which is the exit to the sea of one of the great land drains of Eastern England, constructed by that great Dutch engineer, Vandermuyden, in the seventeenth century.

And the last story is about a new and well found ship, that nearly doesn't weather a severe storm in the Atlantic. The captain has taken to the bottle, and command is taken by a junior officer: the ship survives.




I've waited all these years, expecting some one or another would give a full and true account of it all; but little thinking it would ever come to be my task. For it's not in my way; but seeing how much has been said about other parts and other people's sufferings; while ours never so much as came in for a line of newspaper, I can't think it's fair; and as fairness is what I always did like, I set to, very much against my will; while, on account of my empty sleeve, the paper keeps slipping and sliding about, so that I can only hold it quiet by putting the lead inkstand on one corner, and my tobacco jar on the other. You see, I'm not much at home at this sort of thing; and though, if you put a pipe and a glass of something before me, I could tell you all about it, taking my time, like, it seems that won't do. I said, "Why don't you write it down as I tell it, so as other people could read all about it?" But "No," he says; "I could do it in my fashion, but I want it to be in your simple unadorned style; so set to and do it."

I daresay a good many of you know me seen me often in Bond Street, at Facet's door Facet's, you know, the great jeweller, where I stand and open carriages, or take messages, or small parcels with no end of valuables in them, for I'm trusted. Smith, my name is, Isaac Smith; and I'm that tallish, grisly fellow with the seam down one side of my face, my left sleeve looped up to my button, and not a speck to be seen on that "commissionaire's" uniform, upon whose breast I've got three medals.

I was standing one day, waiting patiently for something to do, when a tallish gentleman came up, nodded as if he knew me well, and I saluted.

"Lose that limb in the Crimea, my man?"

"No, sir. Mutiny," I said, standing as stiff as use had made nature with me.

And then he asked me a lot more questions, and I answered him; and the end of it was that one evening I went to his house, and he had me in, and did what was wanted to set me off. I'd had a little bit of an itching to try something of the kind, I must own, for long enough, but his words started me; and in consequence I got a quire of the best foolscap paper, and a pen'orth of pens, and here's my story.



Dun dub dub dub dub dub. Just one light beat given by the boys in front the light sharp tap upon their drums, to give the time for the march; and in heavy order there we were, her Majesty's 156th Regiment of Light Infantry, making our way over the dusty roads with the hot morning sun beating down upon our heads... Continue reading book >>

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