The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69
Bruin has taken up some space, but not undeservedly. I must now refer to a few dogs, a goat, and the best talking bird I have ever heard, and conclude regarding animals with an account of a dromedary possessed by the regiment in the Crimea.
In Dublin, years ago, the regiment had a dog which would walk out with any man of the regiment, and if he lost sight of him he would run to every red coat to see if he had the 5 and 7 in his cap, if not, off he would trot to the next, and so on till he found the number, then he would keep with that man.
In Aden we had two very good dogs, "Boxer" and "Pincher." They did duty regularly, relieving each other on the Main Pass Guard. They came to grief one day. A color sergeant, who allowed his Welch blood to get the better of his judgment, hung the two of them up together, because he blamed one of them for killing a pet mongoose. When this came to the notice of the commanding officer, he received a severe reprimand for it, and it was very near being much worse.
Another dog, called "Soldier," saved a life. He belonged to an officer's servant, who, with his master, during the very hot windy season resided on the top of Mashaugh, overlooking the sea. To get up to it a narrow path had been cut out of the solid rock and up its side, so narrow that two persons could not walk it abreast. The top must have been about 200 feet.
One night the servant and his dog came down to our bungalows, and the former had taken more porter than would justify his travelling with up this track, and though I did my utmost to get him to remain down all night, it was no use. He, of course, thought he could do all right, and away he went. About half-way up he fell flat, and the dog went on page 50 up, and the servant of the other officer (there were two occupied the same bungalow), saw him attempting to run down the path and going back again. He was drawing the man's (Bates) attention, and when he found there was [unclear: little] no notice taken of him, he took hold of his leg and pulled [unclear: him] toward the path. Bates, seeing him acting so, [unclear: conclude] that there was something wrong, and the fact of his returning alone helped this opinion, so he followed the dog, and above half way down he came upon his friend, snoring. He got his up home. Now, had he been allowed to remain until he awoke of his own accord, there is nothing more certain than that [unclear: he] would have gone over the edge and down; then he would never have seen New Zealand. He did see it, but he he long gone to join the great majority. So has poor Bates, saw him shot fair in the forehead on the 13th March, [unclear: 186] at Kakaramea, near Patea. He was the only one [unclear: kills] when the Maoris endeavoured to stop General [unclear: Cameron] march up the coast. They must have been sorry for the action, for they suffered a loss of over 50 men.
On our arrival in Poonah we found that there was a [unclear: for] old billygoat there that was thought much of, besides a [unclear: few] other pets. Billy was always first out on the parade [unclear: ground]. He knew the warning bugle, and he expected a bit of [unclear: fe] with the few first out. If, as was sometimes the case, no [unclear: a] took notice of him, he would move up near some one a stand on his hind legs to see which was tallest. [unclear: Thou] everyone knew Billy was about, they did not care to [unclear: be] to close to him, and it was well, if possible, to keep [unclear: between] Billy and the wind. The moment the regiment would [unclear: ma] away to the usual drilling ground Billy would take the [unclear: le] not even the pioneers would he allow to lead him. [unclear: Ma] would be the prayers offered up for him if the wind [unclear: was] our faces, for then we should all share the pleasure [unclear: of] company. I never knew an animal so well scented.
To a parrot, which we found was with the regiment, [unclear: me] be given the palm. He could go through all that is said [unclear: when] grand or visiting rounds take a guard. He knew nearly [unclear: ev] man's name in the company which he belonged to, and [unclear: Wa] source of amusement throughout the day. At noon a [unclear: gene] move would be made towards the canteen, and the [unclear: be] would call out to Smith or Jones, perhaps, "Where are [unclear: you] going, Jones?" "To get a drink of porter, Polly." "[unclear: Br] Polly a drink, there's a good fellow." "What bugle. page 51 that?" Polly would say. "The dinner bugle, Polly," would be the reply. Then Polly would say, "Currie and rice for Polly; be quick!" That bird came to New Zealand, and was the wonder of all who heard him.
The "Die Hards" had a fine dromedary in the Crimea not in the line of a pet, though there was a very warm feeling entertained by all hands towards him, for to him must be attributed the credit for that regiment faring so much better than many others as regards supplies. He frequently went down to Balaclava during that very trying time when there was plenty there, but could not be got to the front.
When the regiment was bidding adieu to that now historical spot, the question arose as to what was to be done with the old drom., when it was discovered that he could not be taken down to Malta in the "Etna." So one afternoon he was sent adrift. Many were watching what direction he would take. It was thought he would make for Balaclava—the road he had so often travelled over—but no, he made for the direction of the watering place, as we supposed, to take a last drink about there, and bid an ungrateful lot good-bye; but he passed the water as if it was not there, and made straight for Inkermann, and not one gaze did he bestow on the old familiar spot, so disgusted he must have been at being set adrift after all the service he had rendered and lives he had probably saved.
We often wondered what became of him. Perhaps the poor old fellow, after scaring the lives out of some of the Russians, got his existence ended for a wild beast.
It was whilst here that we heard of the first formation of the present great volunteer system of England, and as we had all the leading English papers in our reading room, we were very well posted in how they were getting on. "Punch," as a matter of course, was bound to note events and have his little joke at the expense of our citizen soldiers. Here are one or two of them, which, perhaps, some of our own volunteers will indulge in a smile over:—A captain was marching his company in line up to a big ditch, but not knowing what command, if any, should be given for them to go over, he, as soon as they came abreast of the ditch, called out, "Halt! Now, as a front rank standing, prepare to jump."
Another captain was marching his company in fours, and they came to a gap through which they could only pass in page 52 single file. He also was at a loss what command to give put them through in military order. So as they got [unclear: to] gap he called "Halt! Break off and fall in on the other [unclear: side]." None but military-trained men can appreciate this.
It was in Aden we heard of the late lamented [unclear: Emper] Frederick paying homage to and carrying off our [unclear: Prince] Royal.
During my stay in Aden a Parsee merchant gave [unclear: me] copy of the Illustrated London News of the 8th February, [unclear: 18] I can hardly account for taking such a fancy to have it, because had no more notion of ever seeing New Zealand than I [unclear: ha] now of seeing dear old England, and that is slight [unclear: indeed.] did take a fancy to it, and I have it yet. In it are [unclear: seve]; sketches of Taranaki, including those of a couple of native chiefs, Tamati and his wife, and Tahana Honi. I [unclear: lit] thought then that in two or three years that good old [unclear: Tam] would be lending me a horse to ride into New Plymouth: see a certain young person not of my own sex. On one those trips Tamati gave me a letter to take in. I [unclear: sh] say more about this further on.
I think I must talk about leaving Aden now. [unclear: After] had been there a few months we were always [unclear: hear] rumours of going away. The wish, perhaps, was [unclear: father] the thought. The time did come, however, when we heard rumour, and one bearing a little truth. A communicate actually came that we were to be relieved by a wing [unclear: of] 4th regiment.
This was news, and an item which sent a thrill of [unclear: pleas] through every man, for were we not soon to gaze [unclear: on] green shrubs and grass of India, a colour we had not [unclear: seen] so long save that which we coloured our scenes with [unclear: in] theatre. It was some time before we did move after the [unclear: we] came that we had to go.
Eventually we packed up and moved down to [unclear: Steam] Point, ready for embarkation. We were put under [unclear: can] there, and made just about as comfortable as we could [unclear: des] We were there for three weeks, when one morning, [unclear: the] 15th March, 1860, we were round the Point bathing, when [unclear: we] a steamer with her decks crowded with men. This, we [unclear: kn] was our relief, and we marched back to camp.
The steamer was at her anchorage almost as soon as reached our tents. The 4th soon landed, and they receive very hearty welcome as they stepped on shore. We [unclear: win] page 53 [unclear: them] every pleasure that the place could afford, but I regret [unclear: to] say that in one month they lost one hundred men, a third [unclear: of] their number nearly. They arrived 350 strong.
We embarked on the 14th, and many came on board to see [unclear: the] last of us, among whom was the good old Brigadier, who [unclear: seemed] really sorry for our going. "When we stepped on [unclear: board,], to our surprise we saw the same Seymour captain that [unclear: ook] us from Malta to Alexandra when on our way to Aden. [unclear: do] not see that I can say much more about Aden, so, as the [unclear: eamer] is headed for Bombay, I will make my final few remarks concerning "Vulcan's Forge."
A very remarkable thing, nearly every important affair [unclear: was] associated with the word or figure 3. We were there [unclear: three] Christmas days. We had potatoes three times. I was [unclear: aid] up three days, and had three dozen leeches applied. The [unclear: tooks] struck for three weeks through our using pork. We had [unclear: three] men killed by sunstroke at one time. All who went out [unclear: against] the Arabs got three days off duty. Our men recovered out [unclear: against] three hundred camels during the deluge, which were [unclear: shed] down into Yeman Bay, and the natives wanted to pay so three rupees for each. When the 29th N. I. came to relieve [unclear: he] 18th, both regiments were there for three weeks. It [unclear: rained] three times. The Rev. Mr Badger undertook to erect [unclear: a] slab, one of three which he had brought some time before [unclear: from] the ruins of Nineveh; and I have no doubt the rev. gentleman duly carried out his promise.
I omitted to mention that this gentleman came on board [unclear: before] we sailed. Although he was the Church of England [unclear: minister] he was highly thought of by all creeds.
On board the steamer up to Bombay one of our men [unclear: discovered] a store of onions, and from the way they were eaten, [unclear: like] apples, the store must have been considerably diminished [unclear: by] the time we landed in Bombay harbour. This was done [unclear: in] six days, and the following day we landed and went straight [unclear: off] to Poonah by train; where we arrived next day, to meet [unclear: a] hearty welcome from our old comrades that we had bidden [unclear: dieu] to in Malta nearly three years before. The regiment [unclear: ad] but recently arrived in Poonah from Ahmednuggar.