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It became necessary,
of the disturbed state of Lower Scinde to despatch a force to the frontier; and as the rank and position of Major-General Brooks pointed him out as a fit person for the command, he received instructions from the government accordingly. As a Bengal officer I had no desire to share in this expedition, but the General having done me the honour to conceive a favourable opinion of my personal activity, he further marked his sense of that quality by appointing me his aidede-camp. To this accident I am indebted for my share in the events I am about to describe.
The route from Mhow to Scinde, dictated by ordinary convenience and a regard to speed, was rather roundabout, because of apparent topographical difficulties. A dawk (or palanquin post) journey to Bombay, and thence by steam up a portion of the Indus, was the most obvious course ; and by this route Major-General Brooks proceeded to join his command in Scinde. But it was impossible for me to take the same route, by reason of the expense and
THE BECCANEER DESERT.
the deadly character of the jungle which intervened, and which made it a matter of serious difficulty to procure more than one set of bearers at a time. No other
then presented itself but to march across the great Beccaneer Desert to Sukkur, and an order was accordingly issued by the General directing me to join him with all possible speed.
Determined to obey the order, although the route had never been attempted before, I sold off my marching establishment at a frightful loss, and procured five riding camels of questionable power, and started at once, viá Indore, to Neemuch. I here got the doubtful camels changed, and at once faced the great Indian Desert-a distance, going as straight as I could, of six hundred and eighty miles. At Indore I stayed a few days with the then hospitable Resident, Sir C. M. Wade. At Neemuch, a British military station, I remained to get everything ready. Several friends in the 4th Bengal Lancers then stationed at Neemuch, assured me I had a very pleasant grind before
me, and pronounced it impossible I could ever reach Sukkur, in Scinde, safely. I had undertaken the trip, however, and was not to be daunted by any sinister reports. A sporting Ketmutgar (or table attendant) volunteered to accompany me, little bargaining for the penalty his spirit of enterprise was to pay. pleased with the fellow's pluck, and as he seemed much to approve of a pair of leathers and jackboots I wore for the occasion, I procured him a pair of second-hand horse artillery breeches and Wellington boots, which delighted him much. I shall never forget the hearty laugh set up by a well-known sporting and gallant son of Nimrod's (an officer in the 4th Lancers) when my Ketmutgar (Peer Bux) appeared booted and breeched, on the top of the largest of the five camels I had, to announce all ready. Off I started with many good wishes.
Those only who have travelled from Damascus to Bagdad, from Mecca to Bussorah, or from Graham's Town to the Great African River, can form an idea of the peculiar irksome
THE DESERT JOURNEY.
ness-to use no stronger term-of a desert journey. The boundless expanse of glittering sand-the double heat of solar reflection and refraction—the absence of a single pleasing object to variegate the monotony of the tripthe broad glare assailing the optics—the paucity of water springs, lakes, and other reservoirs, and the brackishness of the water they supply--the want of friendly companionship—the extremely uneasy and fatiguing motion of the camel—all combine to render these trips the least attractive and desirable of any a traveller can adopt. I found my guide had not exaggerated the désagrémens of our pilgrimage. Had I been leisurely pursuing my journey with all the customary appurtenances to a march-tents, servants, books, provisions, &c.—I dare say the monotony of the progress would have been essentially mitigated; but my sole object being speed, I was compelled to submit to every imaginable discomfort, or leave my bones to whiten on the arid plain.
The guide proposed we should call at Joud
pore. We did so, and exchanged three of the camels. Here I picked up a famous riding camel, Tippoo Sahib by name, for which I paid three hundred rupees (thirty pounds). A finer animal never had hump on his back. He carried me the six hundred and eighty miles in twelve days, and was fresh going into Sukkur.
But I am anticipating. From Joudpore—a large town in the province of Ajmere—we pushed on at a terrific pace.
Three of the camels and three men died from fatigue. We were sadly put to our straits for water, and suffered tremendously from the heat. My cheeks and nose were frightfully blistered, and
my eyes, a fiery red, almost lost the faculty of sight.
After travelling three hundred miles of this wide and scorching desert, my Ketmutgar showed symptoms of fatigue and alarm, having seen one camel and rider give up the ghost very suddenly His leather inexpressibles having firmly attached themselves to his skin, he was in great agony, and begged I would allow him