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After a long rest, the party set out once more, following the course of the river, and after an hour's march sighted a large town, which they conjectured to be Ettawah. But here, too, were evidences that the revolt was temporarily triumphant through the whole of Bengal: they suddenly came on a scene of death, and had difficulty in forcing their way through the countless flock of birds of prey that were tearing the dead English with their savage talons. At length, horror-stricken, the party came near a fortified village, and were happy enough to find it occupied by Captain Martin, an old friend of Hood's, at the head of fifteen cavalry and ten infantry, composed of the English officers of some of the revolted regiments. He had escaped from the butchery of Furruckabad, and hoped to reach Benares in safety, but his humanity proved his ruin. He had stopped to save many English women and children from certain death, and had been forced to wait in this village to give them a rest. The same night that our party joined them, the Sepoys attacked the village After an heroic defence, in which every man of the little garrison fell
, Mr. Hornstreet and William hurriedly collected their party, and hied to the forest once more, for the tigers would be even more merciful than the Sepoys. They had reached the verge of the forest in safety, though quickly pursued : the Sepoy trumpet of recal was heard in the village
. The villains, balked of their prey, halted in their pursuit, but savagels fired a parting salvo, and Mr. Hornstreet and Lieutenant Hood fell mortally wounded.
How the night passed away the widow never knew; she was restored to consciousness the morning by the bitter exclamations of her poor orphan boy, who asked for food and drink. Thus woke the consciousness that she had a duty to perform to the living as well as to the dead; and she was cheered to find that Ellen's mind had not given way again before the accumulated horrors of that dreadful night. But the two women could not leave the scene of the tragedy until they had paid the last
poor honours to the dead, and they set to work with unwearied zeal to dig a grave in the sand, which would at least
poor from desecration. They were forced to hasten on their work by a terrible incident:
While we were toiling with feverish haste, we heard a strange noise behind us; it sounded as if William had risen and fallen back again. Aroused at the same moment by hope and fear, we turned round. William lay motionless au the same spot where Ellen had laid him to rest; no change had taken place in his position, but we saw a philosopher, one of those huge insatiate birds
, fly lazily across the fields, after making a rude attack with the extremity of its wings upon William's poor body. “Dig away, my mother !” cried Ellen, as she went or with her task with redoubled energy.
At length, after three hours of incessant toil, the grave seemed to be deep enough to cover both bodies: Mrs. Hornstreet cut off a lock of her dead husband's hair, and placed on his little finger the wedding-ring she had worn so happily—as a pledge of a perpetual widowhood ; while Ellen took off William's hand a heavy ring he wore, as a sign of her perpetual betrothal. When this terrible task was completed, Mrs. Hornstreet cou. sulted with her daughter as to their chances of escape, and they decided eventually on making their way to Cawnpore. They set out on their
journey, carrying the boy in turn, but, unfortunately, they had not gone far ere they stumbled on a public bungalow, filled with rebels. A subahdar came up and addressed them, ere they could turn to fly, and their speech betrayed them. To add to their misfortune, Willy, who had never before seen Hindoos behave with such audacity, took offence at the officer tapping him on the cheek, and cried in English his displeasure. The Sepoys started up and rushed with inflamed glances on Ellen, who suddenly turned and fled. One of the ruffians had all but seized her by her flowing ringlets, as she
made her escape into a tent where several Hindoo women were seated. But the chief begum coldly repulsed her, and on joining her mother again, the whole band fell upon them. For a while, the sight of the belt Mrs. Hornstreet wore round her waist filled with money excited another passion; but so soon as the spoil was divided, the party were dragged off to a buruing pyre. Nearer and nearer they drew to the flames, and the mother formed the fearful determination of throttling her boy to save him from greater suffering, but her hand refused the office. She closed her eyes and prepared for death : she could feel the flames assailing her extremities—when suddenly she felt herself dragged away. On recovering her senses she saw her daughter striving to conceal herself behind her brother, as she cowered on the ground, while over her stood an herculean figure employed in strange gesticulations. It was the fakir to whom Willy had once given alms on the banks of the Jumna!
When the caravan started again, the party were left with the fakir standing by their side. He addressed the Sepoys in a solemn and impressive manner, which produced an immediate effect upon them, for they came up and laid before the English women palm-leaves on which they spread rice : others gave ghee and fruit; some of the more pious even took off their cloaks and threw them over the ladies' shoulders. So soon as all had passed, the fakir conducted them into the bungalow, and after spreading them beds of leaves, he left them with the recommendation to remain there until some prospect of safety offered itself. For twelve long days the little party kept concealed, while large bands of Sepoys were passing. At length, to their joy, they saw a procession of soldiers come up, escorting a band of Catholic Sisters of Mercy. But they were sadly disappointed at finding that the new arrivals were fugitives like themselves. However, their company was a relief after the terrible solitude they had lately gone through. But Mrs. Hornstreet appeared a plaything of misfortune, and destined to injure every one she came into contact with; for that self-same night a band of Sepoys detected their presence in the bungalow. The nuns were allowed to march out in safety, followed by Mrs. Hornstreet under the garb of a novice, and then the fearful butchery commenced, and a night of anguish for the mother, who feared each moment lest her children should be detected in their hiding-place.
At last the Sepoys quitted the scene of butchery, and Mrs. Hornstreet, true to her feminine instinct, began searching for any still living victims. The Sepoys had, however, made sure of their prey, and only three women had escaped by an accident. They then set out again on their journey, and spent the night together; the next morning the sisters started for Allahabad, while Mrs. Hornstreet and her children made their way to Cawnpore.
Mrs. Hornstreet found things in a sad condition at Cawnpore: the general had been wounded in a sally, and the want of provisions had compelled a capitulation. Nana had promised on oath to let the garrison and inhabitants retire unmolested, and the evacuation was to commence the next morning at eleven. When the time arrived, the garrison marched down to the Ganges through a double rank of Sepoys, and a countless swarm of men covered the steep banks of the river. We all know what occurred after the embarkation. Mrs. Hornstreet, when her boat sank, managed to secure a floating piece of timber, and, with her daughter, reached the shore again.
The prisoners—in number one hundred and fifteen women and children --were treated with considerable kindness during their captivity: male and female servants were at their orders, and a native surgeon regularly attended the wounded. In spite of the strictest surveillance, and the severe orders against it, some ladies, widows of officers and high civilians, contrived to keep up a dangerous communication with the outer world. Their confidants came at an appointed hour in the adjoining street, threw letters wrapped round stones over the wall, and received answers in the same manner. They told them that Regnauld, Neill, and Havelock were hurrying up to Cawnpore by forced marches, and the hour of liberation and vengeance was at hand.
On the 19th of July shouts of joy were heard among the prisoners. A letter, just thrown over the wall, announced that Nana Sahib's army
had been routed at Kullempore by Havelock, and that the Nana was preparing to evacuate the town. Suddenly the joy was damped by a havildar entering the assembly-room at the head of some soldiers, and summoning by name four ladies, who had been the principal negotiators with the spies, to appear immediately before the Nana. These ladies, far from feeling alarm, imagined that the Nana was about to send them as negotiators to General Havelock. They were soon undeceived: a council of war was convoked to try them, for their correspondence had been arrested, and the defeat of Kullempore was ascribed to them. The other ladies waited anxiously for the result, for the crowd grew gradually denser and more threatening; at last a wampuri scaled the outer wall, seized the first woman within his reach, and thrust his sabre into her breast. Thus began the second massacre of Cawnpore.
When Mrs. Hornstreet returned to consciousness, she found herself preserved by a miracle, but both her children were killed — Will being impaled on a bayonet, Ellen buried in the well of terrible memory. Henceforth her life resembles that of all those wretched women who quitted
India to return to England. General Havelock sent her under convoy to Allahabad, thence she proceeded over Benares to Calcutta, where she took passage on board the Colombo, one of the Suez steamers. She is now living in the Touraine, with her husband's family. As, however, he was not in the Company's service, she does not yet know whether the Court of Directors will award her any compensation or pension for her terrible losses.
HER MAJESTY'S THEATRE.
MR. LUMLEY's resources appear to be inexhaustible. A consummate caterer for the taste of the public, he every season produces a fresh attraction. What a long list might be given of celebrated prime donne, for whose introduction London opera-goers are indebted to his energy, liberality, and judgment! At one time his triumph is Alboni, at another Jenny Lind, then it is Henrietta Sontag, then Johanna Wagner, then Piccolomini, and now the charming novelty is Titiens. Nor have Mr. Lumley's efforts been confined to the task of securing the “most sweet voices” of the ladies : witness the reputations which have been gained by such singers as Belletti, Belart, and Giuglini—the last the most accomplished tenor that has been heard since the days of Rubini. As for the ballet, it is only necessary to mention it to recal a host of delightful associations; indeed, there is, and can be, but one ballet in London, for every première danseuse in Europe finds a home at "Her Majesty's Theatre," and is only in her true element when there.
In days of yore very little sufficed for the opening night of the season. It was enough for the impresario's purpose to present any opera, however hackneyed, any set of vocalists, however slight their claims, upon public consideration. People got so little good music then, that they were willing to accept it by instalments, at the will and pleasure of the only person who had the power to provide it. But at the present time the case is widely different. An educated public, more or less familiar with the best works of the greatest composers, requires as much from a “ Direction” as it is able to give, and cannot wait till half the season is gone by before he fulfils the promises of his programme. With a full understanding of this modern exaction, Mr. Lumley inaugurated the season of 1858 by producing an opera new to his subscribers and bringing out a new prima donna : the opera was “ The Huguenots”—the prima donna, Mademoiselle Titiens.
Of the merits of Meyerbeer's well-known work it is unnecessary for us to speak : that which concerns us more, for the moment, being the success of the débutante. It was, in truth, a success of the most legitimate kind, dependent upon no display of capricious talent, but based entirely upon her unmistakable excellence as a tragedian and a vocalist. To the first of these qualities the part of Valentine offered full scope, and enough to the second to show that, with music more congenial, the voice of Mademoiselle Titiens was equal to any demand upon it. Her next part was that of Leonora in the “Trovatore”—and here her tragic powers were again most advantageously developed ; but it was not till she appeared as Donna Anna, in Mozart's chef-d'æuvre, that the public were aware of the height to which her genius was capable of reaching : it was a perfect union of passion and melody-and the operatic stage, as it is now constituted, can show nothing like it. Donna Anna is hitherto the crowning achievement of Mademoiselle Titiens, who by this performance has placed herself in the very front of the first rank of lyrical tragedians.
Reference to " Don Giovanni” brings us naturally to speak of Mademoiselle Piccolomini, as fresh, as pretty, and as charming as on the night when first she took the town by storm. Her Zerlina is full of piquante originality and touching tenderness: as the village coquette, the rustic archness of her comedy is unapproachable, and sweet as her manner is the attractive voice with which she lures her lover to her arms again. To announce her reappearance in “ La Traviata” and “ La Figlia del Reggimento,” is only another way of saying that Mademoiselle Piccolomini has alternately moved her audience to tears and laughter. One thing, however, is still as noticeable as ever : this gifted creature never repeats herself; there is no mannerism in anything she does ; custom cannot stale her infinite variety. But even Mademoiselle Piccolomini's fame is not destined to rest—if all reports be true-upon what she has already so perfectly accomplished. Verdi's opera of " Luisa Miller,” in which she appears as the heroine, is to afford her, they say, a wreath of laurel as bright as that which she wore in “La Traviata.
We have only once heard Madame Alboni since the present season began, and that was in “The Barber of Seville ;” but we did so with “content so absolute” that an indelible remembrance of Rosina has been the consequence. If the poet who wrote of “Music's Duel" had lived in our time, all the world would have said that Madame Alboni was his contending nightingale. Here are passages which better than any words of ours describe the unequalled qualities of her voice :
She opes the floodgate, and lets loose a tide
Of streaming sweetness. Then follow "quick volumes of wild notes," as she warbles “the pliant series of her slippery song," until we almost surfeit of
the sugar'd nest Of her delicious soul, that there does lie
Bathing in streams of liquid melody, as much, apparently, to her own enjoyment as ours. Vocalisation so free from effort, so spontaneous, so natural, and withal so skilful, is a gift with which Madame Alboni is alone endowed.
In each of the operas to which we have adverted, the greatest completeness prevails : the prime donne are severally supported in the most effective manner by the talents of the male singers whom we have enumerated, adding to them the names of Signori Vialetti, Mercuriali, and Rossi; the orchestra, in excellent order, is admirably conducted by Signor Bonetti; and the mise en scène, where, as in “The Huguenots," novelty appears, is not only unimpeachable but of the most attractive nature. In the ballet of "Fleur des Champs,” Mademoiselle Pocchini is a field-flower fit for any conservatory.