At Shahi Qila, 1849

by , under Fiction Prompts, What Pegman Saw

The Punjab sun lay across Lieutenant Maclean’s back like a heavy wool blanket. He ignored it as he climbed the steep stairs of the citadel. Beside him, Sergeant Ross puffed like a dray horse. They passed through the high arches and strode through the shade of the now-deserted fort.

“Bloody hell, sir,” said Ross. “It’s a good thing we beat Maharaja Singh on the plains. We’d have had a job taking this place.”

Maclean agreed, but offered no comment. Ross was a fine sergeant who had proven himself many times to be resourceful and courageous, but his friendly tone grated on Maclean. That Maclean was the only Scots officer in the regiment was neither here nor there. Perhaps Ross thought that because he had saved the lieutenant’s life that morning it gave him special license to be so familiar.

He’d put a stop to that, then. Just as soon as he caught his breath.

 

What Pegman Saw

After the February, 1849 Battle of Gujrat, the British Army took control of the enormous Lahore Fort that was the ancient seat of Punjabi Power. The Sikh regime’s treasury was then inside the Moti Masjid, a Gudwara created by the Sikhs as a place of worship within the fort itself.
The British governor of Lahore, John Spencer Login, was amazed to find “precious diamonds kept in rolled up bits of rags which were placed in velvet purses.” These purses were found strewn all around the floor, in corners and tucked between stone. When Login placed one of the diamonds on his palm, he wondered about its price. It is believed that the famous  Koh-i-Noor diamond was part of this treasury.

This inventory was presented to the The Earl of Dalhousie, Governor-General of India, who, in consultation with the British government in London, was to dispose of all the Fort belongings “in a befitting manner.”

  1. k rawson

    First-rate historical fiction–I felt like I was there and the characters leapt from the screen. Also enjoyed the astonishing bit of history you shared after.

    Reply
  2. Graham Lawrence

    Fascinating insights. I think you’ll agree that this weekly challenge is turning out to be very gratifying. We appear to be learning something every week. Great story J Hardy. Very enjoyable 🙂

    Reply
  3. Lynn Love

    Really interesting bit of history there. The part I loved the most though was the realistic relationship between the two men, the superior being offended by his inferior’s informality – in spite of owing him his life! Feels very true of the time, that division between the classes, the need to keep the man in his place.
    Very strong stuff

    Reply
  4. rochellewisoff

    Dear J Hardy,

    I love the history of this. Such vivid descriptions and well defined emotions make this an intellectual feast.

    Koh-I-Noor diamond? is this where a certain rapidograph pen gets its name?

    Well written as always.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Reply
  5. Alicia Jamtaas

    Your words allowed me to feel these men’s exhaustion and the heat of the day – both the elements and the battle. Truly enjoyed the wee bit of history at the end.

    Reply

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