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1870]

WINTER AT SIMLA

309 office, and we moved into Ellerslie,' a larger and warmer house than that in which we had lived during the summer.

Simla in the winter, after a fresh fall of snow, is particularly beautiful. Range after range of hills clothed in their spotless garments stretch away as far as the eye can reach, relieved in the foreground by masses of reddish-brown perpendicular cliffs and darkgreen ilex and deodar trees, each bearing its pure white burden, and decked with glistening fringes of icicles. Towards evening the scene changes, and the snow takes the most gorgeous colouring from the descending rays of the brilliant eastern sun-brilliant even in midwinter-turning opal, pink, scarlet, and crimson; gradually, as the light wanes, fading into delicate lilacs and grays, which slowly mount upwards, till at last even the highest pinnacle loses the life-giving tints, and the whole snowy range itself turns cold and white and dead against a background of deepest sapphire blue. The spectator shivers, folds himself more closely in his wraps, and retreats indoors, glad to be greeted by a blazing log-fire and a hot cup of tea.

In the spring of the next year (1870) Sir William Mansfield's term of command came to an end, and he was succeeded by Lord Napier of Magdala. The selection of this distinguished officer for the highest military position in India was greatly appreciated by the Indian army, as no officer of that army had held it since the days of Lord Clive.

In September a daughter was born, and that winter we again remained at Simla. I amused myself by going through a course of electric telegraphy, which may seem rather like a work of supererogation; but during the Umbeyla campaign, when the telegraph office had to be closed in consequence of all the clerks being laid up with fever, and we could neither read nor send messages, I determined that I would on the first opportunity learn electric signalling, in order that I might be able to decipher and send telegrams should I ever again find myself in a similar position.

In May my wife and I went for a march across the hills to Chakrata, and thence to Mussoorie and back by way of Dehra Dun and the plains. The object of this trip was to settle the boundary of Chakrata, and my wife took the opportunity of my being ordered on this duty to get away from Simla, as we had now been there for more than two years, and were consequently rather longing for a change. Our route lay through most beautiful scenery, and notwithstanding that the trip was a little hurried, and that some of the marches were therefore rather long, we enjoyed it immensely. When passing along the ridge of a very high hill one afternoon, we witnessed rather a curious sight -a violent thunderstorm was going on in the valley below us, while we ourselves remained in the mildest, most serene atmosphere, enjoy. ing bright sunshine and a blue sky. Dense black clouds filled up the valley a thousand feet beneath us, the thunder roared, the lightning

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1871]

THE LUSHAI EXPEDITION

311 the Government, should be held responsible for carrying them out loyally so far as circumstances and the safety of the force would permit.

As the existence of the tea industry was at stake, the Lushais having established a perfect terror on all the estates within their reach, it was essential that they should be given a severe lesson, and this could only be done by their principal villages, which lay at some considerable distance from the base of operations, being visited in force. The difficult country and the paucity of transport necessitated the columns being lightly equipped; no tents were to be allowed, and baggage and followers were to be reduced to a minimum. My instructions were to fit out and despatch the two columns, and then join Brigadier-General Bourchier at Cachar.

:

I was kept in Calcutta all October-not a pleasant month, the climate then being very muggy and unhealthy. Everyone who could get away had gone to the Hills or out to sea; and the offices being closed for the Hindu holidays of the Durga Puja, it was extremely difficult to get work done. Everything for the Chittagong column had to be sent by sea. The shipping of the elephants was rather interesting they clung desperately to the ground, trying hard to prevent themselves being lifted from it; and when at last, in spite of all their struggles, they were hoisted into the air, the helpless appearance of the huge animals and their despairing little cries and whines were quite pathetic. I found it trying work being on the river all day; my eyes suffered from the glare, and I became so reduced that before I left Calcutta I weighed scarcely over eight stone-rather too fine a condition in which to enter on a campaign in a mountainous country, so thickly covered with jungle as to make riding out of the question.

By the 3rd November the equipment and stores for both columns had been despatched, and on the 16th I joined General Bourchier at the house of that most hospitable of hosts, Mr. Edgar,* DeputyCommissioner of Cachar, who accompanied the left column as civil officer.

We left Cachar on the 23rd, and from the outset we had to make our own roads, a labour which never ceased until the end of January, by which date 110 miles had been completed. There was not the vestige of a track to direct us; but I got hold of some people of the country, with whom I made friends, and induced them to act as guides. Many a long and weary reconnaissance had to be executed, however, before the line of advance could be decided upon. The troops worked with a will, and, notwithstanding the vapour-bath-like atmosphere of the valleys and the difficult nature of the country, which was a succession of hill-ranges covered with jungle forests, made almost impenetrable from the huge creepers, and intersected by rivers and

* Now Sir John Edgar, K.C.S.I.

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[1871

was constructed,

to travel over. , gloomy forests,

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ard movements withstanding the small mountain operly organized

it was a mere animals without our coolies were anyone to look ed officers, who

to be told off to

some Nepalese a few days, and o weakened and n them by their y 387 joined the elephants, which he 157 sent with being obliged to ere allowed only

ds, limits within f blankets were ins five and six -en if we should those parts that nese three items ecessary adjunct ds, leaving only k, etc.-not too must,' and it is ecessities under es when we are

at Tipai Mukh,

1871]

PRACTICE VERSUS THEORY

313 only eighty-four miles from Cachar, until the 9th December, which will give an idea of the enforced slowness of our progress. Tipai Mukh proved a very suitable place for our depot: it was situated at the junction of two rivers, the Tipai and the Barak; thickly-wooded hills rose precipitously on all sides, but on the right bank of the Barak there was sufficient level space for all our requirements. With the help of local coolies, the little Gurkhas were not long in running up hospitals and storesheds; bamboo, the one material used in Lushailand for every conceivable purpose, whether it be a house, a drinking vessel, a bridge, a woman's ear-ring, or a musical instrument, grew in profusion on the hillside. A trestle bridge was thrown across the Tipai in a few hours, and about that bridge I have rather an amusing story to relate. On my telling the young Engineer officer in charge of the Sapper company that a bridge was required to be constructed with the least possible delay, he replied that it should be done, but that it was necessary to calculate the force of the current, the weight to be borne, and the consequent strength of the timber required. Off he went, urged by me to be as quick as he could. Some hours elapsed, and nothing was seen of the Engineer, so I sent for him and asked him when the bridge was to be begun. He answered that his plans were nearly completed, and that he would soon be able to commence .work. In the meantime, however, and while these scientific calculations were being made, the headman of the local coolies had come to me and said, if the order were given, he would throw a good bridge over the river in no time. I agreed, knowing how clever Natives often are at this kind of work, and thinking I might just as well have two strings to this particular bow. Immediately, numbers of men were to be seen felling the bamboos on the hillside a short distance above the stream: these were thrown into the river, and as they came floating down they were caught by men standing up to their necks in water, who cut them to the required length, stuck the uprights into the river-bed, and attached them to each other by pieces laid laterally and longitudinally; the flooring was then formed also of bamboo, the whole structure was firmly bound together by strips of cane, and the bridge was pronounced ready. Having tested its strength by marching a large number of men across it, I sent for my Engineer friend. His astonishment on seeing a bridge finished ready for use was great, and became still greater when he found how admirably the practical woodmen had done their work; from that time, being assured of their ability to assist him, he wisely availed himself when difficulties arose of their useful, if unscientific, method of engineering.

By the 14th December matters had so far progressed as to warrant an advance. As our route now lay away from the river, scarcity of water entailed greater care being taken in the selection of encamping grounds, so on arriving at our halting-place each day I had to recon

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