zondag 23 april 2017

Augustus Henry Irby -- 23 april 1860

Augustus Henry Irby (1808-1861) was een Britse legerofficier. Hij schreef The Diary of a Hunter from the Punjab to the Karakorum Mountains, over een tocht die hij maakte.

23rd April. To Chungir-ke-Serai—a long and tedious march, the path leading over rocks which hedge in the river, on turning an angle of which I overtook Abdoolah, who had preceded me with the breakfast things, standing gazing back in my direction. I told him it was not yet time for breakfast, supposing that to be his meaning, when he pointed upwards, and, suspended from the projecting limb of a tree, some little way up the hill shutting in the river, hung the still-mouldering body of a man, his lower limbs still in his clothes, the ghastly face denuded of flesh, yet with a matted felt of hair straggling here and there over the glistening bones, grinning horribly down upon us.

This wretch, it appeared, had in the most treacherous, barbarous, and cowardly manner murdered an old man and child, close to the spot where he expiated his crime. Being a sort of rural policeman in the employ of the Maharajah, he was armed with a sword, which, of course, excited no suspicion in his victims, whom he joined on the road as they journeyed from Nowshera, and ascertaining that they possessed a few rupees' worth of property, the miserable caitiff, yielding to the suggestions of the Tempter, cut them down, and threw their bodies into the river. Suspicions followed their disappearance: other circumstances pointed to this man, who was arrested, and confessing his guilt was executed where the bloody deed was committed.

I left this gloomy spot full of reflections of the most depressing nature: but with that rapidly revolving mental process, which so soon exchanges our train of thought, I was soon almost as though the repulsive object had not been met with.

I soon afterwards arrived at a pool, where I proposed stopping to breakfast, and also to fish, having in this pool, when passing last year, whilst occupying a seat on a rock overhanging it, observed some monstrous great fish basking; for it was a scorching hot day, and the sun at high meridian at the time.

I tried the 'atta' bait—merely paste made very adhesive—but without more than one or two nibbles which came to nothing: so knocked off and comforted the inner man. While so employed, came by a 'gent' riding, whom I saluted. I knew him to be in my rear, proceeding to join the Trig. survey party which was before me some days: asked him to dinner, and he accepted.

Arrived at Chungir-ke-Serai, an old Akbar serai, on the top of a hill overhanging the river—a fine view of the snowy range—the features of the country rough, but picturesque. I tried fishing again without success: enjoyed a cool swim: returned and had to wait about three-quarters of an hour for my guest, although he was close at hand, and I sent to him two or three times. But, lo! he at length appeared, got up rather considerably, quite abashing me, who was sitting in a flannel shirt and corresponding nethers. We had a pleasant chat together. He informed me that he had never been out of India, was born in the country, and educated at Landour, whence he was appointed direct to the Survey department. I do not know his name.

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