The Court-martial

: The Coming Conquest Of England

The mausoleum of Anar Kali, a great octagonal building in the gardens to

the south of the town, was the place whither the Russian prisoners

were taken. Heideck and Edith Irwin were not the first that had found

quarters there; for, besides about a hundred officers, there were

already there numberless English ladies and children whose saviours had

appeared in time to rescue them from the horrible fate of Mrs. Baird and

r children. At the open door of the apartments reserved for the women

Heideck and Edith Irwin had to part. They were not allowed a long time

to take leave. But even if they had been altogether alone they would at

this moment have been scarcely able to find much to say; for after all

the exertions and excitements of the terrible day just ended such

heavy fatigue and exhaustion had overcome them that they could only

mechanically make use of their limbs; and so, instead of the passions,

hopes, and fears, with which they had been moved but a short time

previously, there was now only a dull void in their brains as in their


"Au revoir, to-morrow." That was all that passed between them. Then, as

soon as they had conducted him into the room assigned to him, Heideck

threw himself down, as he was, upon the tiles of the floor, and fell

instantaneously into a deep, dreamless sleep.

The glorious Indian sun, which shone through the round opening in the

ceiling down upon his face, woke him the next morning.

His limbs were stiff from his uncomfortable couch, but the short sleep

had invigorated him, and his nerves had completely regained their old

freshness and vigour.

His room-mates must have been taken away early to some other place, for

he found himself quite alone in the lofty room which was only lighted by

the window in the ceiling. The rays of the sun fell opposite to him

upon a tomb of the purest, whitest, marble quite covered with illegible

hieroglyphics. Whilst he was still engaged in looking at the apparently

ancient memorial tablet, he heard suddenly behind him the light rustling

of a woman's dress, and when he turned round he gazed with pleasurable

surprise into Edith Irwin's pale, fair face.

"How delighted I am to find you still here," she said with a happy

expression. "I was afraid that you had been taken away with the other


"As it seems, it was out of consideration for my well-deserved slumber,"

he replied, with a slight trace of humour. But then, remembering the

terrible seriousness of the situation, he continued in altered and

hearty tones--

"How have you passed the night, Mrs. Irwin? It appears to me as if

all that I have gone through since my return to Lahore has only been a


With a painful quiver of the lips she shook her head.

"Unfortunately, there is no room for doubt that it has been hideous

reality. Poor, poor Mrs. Baird! One must almost consider it a happy

dispensation of Providence that her husband did not live to see the

terrible fate of his family."

"What, have you news from the field of battle? Do you then know that the

Colonel is dead?"

Edith nodded.

"The Colonel is dead; my husband is dead; Captain McGregor, and many of

my friends from Chanidigot, have been left on the field."

She said it calmly; but he read in her eyes the deep sadness of her


Much affected by her heroic strength of character, he bent his head

and kissed her hand. She let him have his way for a moment, but then

withdrew her thin, cool fingers with a beseeching look, the meaning of

which he full well understood.

"The Commander-in-Chief and his staff reached the railway station,"

she continued; "they travelled to Delhi with the last train that left

Lahore, just at the eleventh hour; for immediately afterwards the

Russians entered the town. The wreck of the army is now marching to

Delhi, but their pursuers are close at their heels. God alone knows what

will be the fate of our poor defeated army."

He did not ask her where she had obtained all this information; but

that it was quite correct he was firmly convinced, judging by his own

experience. He did not know what to say to her to encourage her, he

who never had been able to toy with empty phrases. A short while they

remained silent, and their eyes simultaneously fell upon the sunlit

marble tomb before them.

"Have you seen this cenotaph before?" the young lady suddenly asked, to

Heideck's surprise. On his answering in the negative, she went on--

"This is the famous tomb of Anar Kali, the beloved wife of Sultan

Akbar, who, on account of her beauty, was given the name of 'Pomegranate

Blossom.' She probably departed this life in the same way that we should

have done if the daggers of the murderers yesterday had reached us. She,

perhaps, was just as little conscious of what was happening to her, as

we should have been in this past night."

"Can you read the inscription?" asked Heideck.

"No, but I have had it interpreted to me; for it is one of the most

famous inscriptions in India. The beautiful Anar Kali was once so

foolish as to smile when the son of her lord and master entered the

harem. And in the selfsame hour the jealous sultan had the unhappy woman

executed. But he must have loved her very dearly, for he erected to

her this beautiful memorial, which should hand down to generations yet

unborn the name of Anar Kali. So full of insoluble riddles is the poor,

foolish heart of man."

Jingling footsteps were heard on the flagstones outside, and the next

moment an officer appeared at the door accompanied by several soldiers.

In abrupt, peremptory tones he ordered Heideck to follow him.

Now, for the first time, the Captain saw in Edith Irwin's face something

like an expression of terror.

"What is the meaning of this?" She turned hastily to the Russian. "This

gentleman is not an Englishman."

The Russian did not understand the question in English; but when Heideck

asked in Russian what they were about to do with him, he replied,

shrugging his shoulders--

"I do not know. Follow me."

"They only want me to prove my identity," said Heideck composedly, in

order to calm the young lady. "I hope that they will let me free after

examining my passports."

"Certainly they must let you go!" she cried, almost passionately. "It

would be against all the laws of nations if they were to do you any

harm. But how shall I endure the uncertainty as to your fate?"

"I shall come back here at once, as soon as it is possible for me to do


"Yes, yes! I beseech you, do not leave me a second longer than you are

obliged. I have not as yet had time to thank you."

The Russian officer showed such manifest signs of impatience that

Heideck no longer hesitated to follow him.

The way that he had to go was not long. He was taken to a house close

by, over whose gate the words "School of Arts" were sculptured in the

stone. He had only to wait a short while in the hall, when before

him there opened the door of a room on the ground floor, adorned with

sculptures, in which a number of officers sat at a long table.

To Heideck it was at once clear that he was to be tried before a

court-martial. A few very downcast-looking men had just been led out.

The officer who presided turned over the papers which lay before him,

and then, casting a sharp look at Heideck, spoke a few words with his


"Who are you?" he asked in English, with a decided Russian accent, which

was difficult to understand.

Heideck, who also spoke in English, answered shortly and clearly, and

laid his passport, which he always carried in the breast-pocket of his

coat as his most valuable possession in ease of emergency, before the


As soon as he had read it, the President said in perfect German--

"You are, then, no Englishman, but a German? What are you doing here in


"I am travelling for the firm of Heideck, in Hamburg."

"In business? Really? Is it part of your business to fight against


"No! and I have not done so."

"You deny, then, that you took part in yesterday's battle?"

"As a combatant, yes! There were other reasons which led me to the


"You only went as a spectator? Didn't it occur to you that, under the

circumstances, this might be very dangerous for you?"

"I have personal relations with several gentlemen in the English army,

and these relations made it necessary for me to visit them during the


The Colonel turned to a young officer standing a little distance away--

"Lieutenant Osarov, is it true that you recognised in this man, when

he was brought in here last night, a person whom you saw in an English

square during the progress of the battle?"

"Yes, Colonel, I did!" was the decided reply. "I recognise him now quite

clearly. He was riding a black horse, and dashed off when we broke into

the square."

Heideck perceived that it would be useless to deny the fact, in the face

of this direct evidence, and his military honour would, in any case, not

have permitted him to do so.

"What the lieutenant has said is quite correct," he answered,

anticipating the Colonel's question; "but I did not take part in the

fighting. As a friend of Colonel Baird, who was killed, I kept as long

as possible close to him, so as to be able to bring his relations, who

were left behind in Lahore, tidings of his fate and of the issue of the


"You, a foreigner, were armed in the English square. Since you confess

this much, we need not trouble ourselves with further proceedings. You,

gentlemen, will all agree that we should treat him, according to martial

law, as a traitor?"

The last words were addressed to the other judges, and, with a silent

bow, they declared their assent.

"Since you, a citizen of a nation not at war with us, have fought in the

ranks of our enemies, the Court must therefore sentence you to death.

The judgment of the Court will be at once carried into effect. Have you

anything to say?"

Heideck was as though stunned. It appeared to him as though a black veil

was drawn across the world; and a sharp pang of grief shot through him

as he reflected that he would never see Edith again, and that she would

in vain wait for him for ever.

Then his pride was roused. No one should call him cowardly or timid.

"Is it possible to appeal against the judgment of this court-martial?"

he asked, looking firmly at the Colonel.


"Then I must, of course, submit to your sentence, but I protest both

against the procedure of the Court and against the judgment you have


His protest evidently did not make the slightest impression.

"Have you drawn up the execution warrant?" the Colonel said, turning to

the secretary. He then appended his signature and handed it to one of

the attendant Cossacks.

"Lead the prisoner away."

Two of the soldiers took Heideck between them, and he followed them with

a proud, erect bearing, without saying a word more. Amidst the rain of

bullets on the battlefield he had not felt the least trace of fear; but

the thought of being led like an animal to the slaughter-house, filled

him with horror. All the same a power he had hitherto not discovered,

sustained him. The new danger awoke in him new vigour of soul and


The Cossacks conducted him a long way on the road which leads from Anar

Kali to the Meean Meer cantonment. Heideck looked about him and observed

the changes that had taken place in Lahore, just like a traveller who

already in spirit lives in the new world that he intends to visit and

who looks upon familiar objects as something strange. Everywhere he

saw small detachments of cavalry, who were preserving order. Only faint

clouds of smoke still marked the place of the fire in the city, which

had evidently been extinguished. The splendid gardens of Donald Town,

through which their way led, the agricultural plantations, and Lawrence

Park wore the same aspect as in the time of profoundest peace.

Heideck was not chained, but the Cossacks who walked beside him had

their carbines presented, ready to fire should he attempt to escape. But

how could he escape? Everywhere round and about, outposts of the Russian

cavalry were discernible; behind him a body of Cossack horse escorted a

whole troop of Indians. Probably they were incendiaries and robbers who

were, like him, being led out for execution; and it did not improve his

frame of mind to find himself on his last road in the company of such a


After a long march they at length reached the encampment which had been

occupied by the English, the barracks and tents of which were now filled

with Russian troops. It was only with difficulty that his escort could

make their way through the crowd that had assembled; the report that a

number of criminals were being brought into camp must have arrived here

before them, for soldiers of all arms pressed forward inquisitively from

all sides, in order to have a close view of the poor wretches.

Suddenly, Heideck felt the clutch of a small but firm hand upon his arm.

"Oh, master, what is this? Why are they bringing you here like a


At the first word Heideck recognised the soft voice, that in the

excitement had assumed its natural feminine tones. In the same fantastic

page's livery in which he had last seen him in Chanidigot, the pretended

servant of his friend Prince Tchajawadse here stood quite unexpectedly

before him, as though he had suddenly sprung from the earth, while the

most pained consternation showed itself in his fair, expressive face.

"Is it you, Georgi?" exclaimed Heideck, into whose sadness of heart

the sight of the Circassian brought a faint gleam of hope; "and your

master--the Prince? Is he also close at hand?"

But the Cossacks did not seem inclined to permit their prisoner any

further private conversation.

"Be off with you, young fellow!" one of them exclaimed to the supposed

page; "this is a spy, who is to be shot on the spot; and no one is

allowed to speak to him."

He made a movement as though with a slight motion of his powerful fist

to thrust the slender lithe figure aside, when Georgi fearlessly pushed

back his arm and glared at him with flashing eyes.

"Hold your blasphemous tongue, you liar! You are a thousand times more

of a spy than this gentleman. If you do not leave go of him at once,

you will have a knouting that you will not forget until the end of your


The Cossacks looked at him and laughed. It was only the handsome face

and the aristocratic bearing of the bold young fellow that prevented

their seizing him.

"Take care, little fellow, that you do not first get the stick," one of

them said good-humouredly; "and be off with you, before we, by accident,

crush you between our finger and thumb."

"Go now, Georgi," Heideck now said, in his turn, on perceiving that the

Circassian was not inclined to obey their orders; "if your master is

near by, go and tell him that I am about to be shot against all the

rules of international law. But tell him to make haste, if he wants to

see me again alive; for it looks as though his comrades intend to make

short work of me."

He did not doubt that the beautiful, hot-blooded daughter of the

mountains had completely understood him. At all events he saw how she

suddenly turned like a flash of lightning, and with the lithe rapidity

of a slender lizard threaded her way through the crowd of rough


A new hope awoke in Heideck's breast, and he felt himself once more

fettered in a thousand bonds to life, which he just before thought he

had entirely parted from. He endeavoured to walk more slowly, in order

to gain time. But the Cossacks, who had until now treated him with a

certain amount of consideration, appeared to have become irritated

by the scene with the page, for one of them urged the prisoner in

commanding tones to greater haste, while the other raised his fist in

his face with a menacing gesture.

Perhaps he would even have struck him; but the German officer looked

into his face with such a proud, commanding glance that he let his

raised arm sink to his side. The sullen-looking fellow felt at once

that he was not here dealing with an ordinary spy, and from this moment

neither curses nor abuse passed his lips.

The rattle of a rifle volley struck Heideck's ear, and although he was

sufficiently accustomed to the crack of shots, a cold shiver passed over

him. The bullets that had just been fired had--he knew it well without

anyone telling him--been the portion of some poor devil who had been

in the same position as himself. That was why these rifle shots were

so full of a significance for him, quite different from that caused

yesterday by the rattle and the crash of the raging battle. Truly, one

need not be a coward to feel an icy shudder at the thought of ten or

twenty rifle barrels directed at one's own breast.

And now they had reached the fatal spot which was to be the goal of all

his earthly wanderings. The parade at the rear of the barrack camp

had been selected for the place of execution, and so summarily was the

punishment being dealt out, that no time had been found to cart away

separately the corpses of those who had been shot. They simply left them

lying in the trench before which the delinquents were posted, probably

because burial in a common grave was more convenient.

An officer was handed the execution warrant, which had been issued by

the President of the court-martial, and handed over the prisoner to a

non-commissioned officer, who, regarding him with an expression of pity,

bade him in an almost apologetic tone to follow him.

Only a few minutes after his arrival on the parade ground, Heideck also

was standing before the fatal ditch, and saw a company of infantry, with

their arms at attention, drawn up before him.

He had now abandoned all hope. Since the verdict of the court-martial

only a miracle could have saved him; and this miracle had not happened.

For a few short minutes he had, after the accidental meeting with the

Circassian, been foolish enough to entertain new hopes of life, but

now even those had vanished. Even had she been animated by the keenest

desire to save him, what, after all, could she do to make the impossible

possible? He was sorry now that he had not confined himself to begging

the Prince through her to allow him decent burial and to send word to

the German General Staff. These last wishes would, perhaps, have not

been impossible of fulfilment, and he did not doubt that his amiable

Russian acquaintance would have gladly rendered him this trifling


The word of command rang out, and the soldiers posted opposite to him

had already, with clank and rattle, shouldered arms, when from the

other side a loud peremptory shout reached Heideck's ear, and he saw a

horseman in Russian dragoon's uniform dashing up, in whose dark red face

he immediately recognised the Prince Tchajawadse.

Close before Heideck he reined in his dripping charger and sprang from

the saddle.

"Little brother! little brother!" he cried, quite breathless from his

ride in such hot haste, clasping, with genuine Russian impetuosity, his

friend, whom he had found again under such strange circumstances, to

his breast. "By all the saints--I should think it was quite time that I


Then, turning to the astonished officer commanding the firing squad--

"There must be a mistake here. No harm must happen to this gentleman,

for he is not only a personal friend of my own, but he is also a

comrade, an officer of the allied German army."

The lieutenant shrugged his shoulders.

"I have to carry out my orders, Colonel! I can undertake no

responsibility for any mistakes on the part of my superior officers or

of the court-martial."

"I take, then, all the responsibility on my own shoulders for preventing

you from carrying out your instructions, lieutenant! This gentleman will

accompany me, and I give my guarantee for him."

He gave his horse to one of the soldiers, linked his arm in that of

Heideck, and took him off to the tent he occupied in the camp, giving

the while most exuberant expression to his delight at having seen him

again. The breakfast, from which Georgi's message had startled him, was

still on the table, and Heideck needed not much encouragement to partake

of it; for only now he properly realised how much he was in want of

bodily sustenance. Prince Tchajawadse would not hear of any thanks for

what he had done; but when Heideck asked him if he had really correctly

understood that the Prince had spoken of an alliance between the Russian

and German armies, the latter was not slow to give all information on

this head.

"Yes! yes!--it is the fact! The German Empire is hand-in-hand with us.

The first piece of good news that I heard on reaching the army was that

William II. had declared war upon England. The world is in flames. Only

Austria and Italy are neutral."

"And I had no notion of it! But, after all, that is easy enough to

explain. All the telegraph cables are in the hands of the English, and

it was easy for them to suppress every unwelcome despatch. The Indian

newspapers are only allowed, of course, to publish what is agreeable to

the Government; but I am burning with curiosity to learn more. Do you

perhaps know how matters have developed as yet, and in what way Germany

thinks of carrying on the war?"

"It appears that an invasion of England is contemplated. Germany has

mobilised one half of her army, and has occupied Holland. The French

troops, on the other hand, have entered Belgium, so that the two Powers

control the whole coast opposite England."

"And has any action taken place at sea as yet?"

"No; at least down to the present no news has reached us of a naval

battle having been fought. Things are evidently still in the stage

of preparation, and nothing has been heard about the movements of the

German and French fleets. However, the latest intelligence that I

have is now fairly old. We with the army only learn the news that the

Cossacks bring us."

Heideck struck his forehead.

"I feel utterly astonished. To comprehend and digest at one time all

that you have told me almost passes the capacity of a single brain. But

pardon me, Prince, if I trouble you, who have already done so much for

me to-day, with a further request. I am in great anxiety about a lady,

the widow of an English officer who fell in yesterday's battle, and who

was committed to my care. I only left her this morning early, when I was

arrested to be taken before the court-martial, at the mausoleum of Anar

Kali, where she had been interned with other prisoners. Advise me what

to do, in order to send the lady, whose welfare is nearest my heart, a

reassuring message as to my fate, and at the same time shield her from

annoyance and discomfort."

"That is a very simple matter. Do you object to giving me the name of

the lady?"

"Not at all. It is Mrs. Edith Irwin, the widow of Captain Irwin, whom

you also perhaps met in Chanidigot."

"I think I have some recollection. There was something about a gambling

affair, with which he was not very creditably connected--wasn't it so?

Well, then, while you take a good sound sleep in my tent here I

will ride over to Anar Kali, visit the lady, and find out how she is

situated. Be quite sure that no unpleasantness shall happen to her, if

only I succeed in finding her."

"Your kindness puts me quite to shame, Prince. I--"

"You would do precisely the same if fate had happened to have exchanged

our roles. Why, then, waste words about it? I cannot, unfortunately,

offer you a more comfortable couch than my camp-bed there. But you are a

soldier, and I think both of us have, before now, had a worse shakedown.

So, then, pleasant dreams, my friend! I will take care that you are not

disturbed for the next two hours."

Hurriedly, as though to escape all further expressions of gratitude, the

Prince left the tent.