Text - "Confessions of a Thug" Philip M. Taylor

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The rest of the band, with the cart and laden bullocks, had proceeded
some way before we overtook them. We passed through a thin jungle for
some distance, emerging from which, we found ourselves on a wild,
bare plain, here and there studded with straggling brushwood. We all
collected together, and, lighting fires, the hooka passed round, and
each one related his achievement, and gloried in the prospect of a
speedy division of the booty we had acquired.

To arrange our future proceedings was by no means an easy matter, as
it was necessary to get past Bassim, where the Sahoukar had friends;
and his cart and bullocks might possibly be recognized in the town. My
father's advice was to travel till daylight, and then to withdraw to
one side of the road, as far from observation as possible; to remain
there as long as we could, and then to push on beyond Bassim. At this
halt, too, there was to be a grand division of the spoil, at least, as
much of it as could be divided; and Hoosein's party was to separate
from us and pursue their road, in the best way they could, in the
direction which has been pointed out to them. Accordingly we again
started, and, after passing some villages, halted about sunrise at some
distance from the road, near a grove of trees, in which there was a
well of water. Before the men betook themselves to cooking their meal,
after the march, they were all assembled; and the quantity of goor
having been brought, the ceremony of the Tupounee was performed as I
have before described. I was now entitled to a seat on the blanket with
the other Bhuttotes--I was their equal! The ceremony ended, I untied
the knot of my handkerchief, as directed by my father, and taking out
the piece of silver, presented it, with some rupees, to my gooroo,
touching his feet at the same time in reverence. This was the last of
my ceremonies of initiation. I was a Bhuttote, had fairly killed my
man, and held myself to be the equal of any of my associates.

After this my father and Hoosein brought forth all the plunder of our
late enterprise. It was magnificent: there was a good quantity of
gold and silver in money, but the principal valuables were the jewels
which the Sahoukar was taking to Hyderabad for sale, and the cloths
and brocades on the bullocks--they were of the richest description.
The distribution of these was a matter of great difficulty, and it was
impossible to satisfy every one; besides, the pearls and diamonds would
have lost a great deal of their value by being divided among the men.
So it was agreed to share the ready money, cooking utensils, and other
effects of the Sahoukar, also the least valuable cloths, into two equal
portions as nearly as possible, in proportion to the number of men of
each band; that my father was to have charge of the jewels, which he
was to sell at Hyderabad to the best advantage, as also of the most
valuable cloths; and that the proceeds of these were not to be divided
until we again reached our place of rendezvous.

The division of the ready money, upwards of three thousand five hundred
rupees, gave to each man a considerable sum, enough, at any rate, to
support him for some time,--the more especially as the share of the
former booty was not nearly expended; for every man lived as frugally
as possible, and all seemed intent upon vying with each other as to
who should have the largest share at the general division. Nay, many
even denied themselves the meanest luxuries, and it was not uncommon
to see a man eating his cakes without ghee, or anything but pure
water. Bhudrinath, however, one of the most skilful of the band, was a
complete exception to what I have said. He was a short, stout, active
fellow, a man who aspired to be a jemadar, and with some reason. I have
mentioned him before as the bearer of the sacred pickaxe. He was one of
the most enterprizing among us, and had conducted small expeditions, in
which he had acquitted himself much to the satisfaction of those who
had intrusted him with them. It was curious to see that man eat. He
consumed every day that he could get it, two seers of flour made into
cakes, a quarter of a seer of ghee (clarified butter), and a large pot
of milk containing upwards of a seer. It seemed impossible that one
man could demolish the pile of cakes when he had baked them and fairly
sat down to eat them, but one by one they disappeared, accompanied by
such draughts of water as would alone have filled any ordinary person.
Towards the end of the pile, however, it was easy to see that his jaws
could hardly perform their office; and it was almost painful to behold
the distension of his stomach: he would stretch himself first on one
side, then on the other; get up and stroke down the mass collected,
apparently from his throat downwards, and again essay to finish what
remained, and after many attempts he would sometimes succeed.

Often have I seen two or more village dogs sit opposite to him, during
the consumption of the mountain of cakes, looking wistfully at it, in
the hope that a portion of each as he ate it might be thrown to them,
watching and envying every mouthful as it passed into the apparently
insatiable maw: but in vain! Sometimes Bhudrinath would divide the
last two or three cakes between them, when every means of eating more
had been tried and had failed; but it was oftener that desire of
eating predominated. He would appear on the point of gratifying the
dogs' expectations,--nay, would even break a piece off and hold it in
his hand as if offering it: the dog would move towards him, but the
coveted morsel disappeared as the rest had done, and he would return
to his expectant station, to resume a watch which too often ended in
disappointment. We often jeered him on his enormous consumption of
food; but he used to declare that nothing under the daily allowance I
have mentioned could satisfy him, or enable him to perform his duty.

Our encampment broke up towards evening. Friends were seen embracing
each other, and wishing mutual success; at length they all departed: we
watched them over the brow of an eminence not far off, and then started
ourselves. Leaving the beaten road to Bassim, we struck off into one
to the left, and as it promised to lead to some large town we followed
it, as well to avoid discovery as to court new adventures. By the light
of a bright moon we travelled most of the night, passing through a
dreary country, in many parts covered with jungle, and never entering
a village save to ask the road, or to get fire to light our hookas.
Indeed we were often repulsed in this. There appeared to be a general
dread of robbers, and the walls and gates were usually manned by armed
men, on the intimation of our approach being given by the dogs as we
passed: but no questions were asked us, as to who we were or where we
were going, although perhaps our numbers might have excited suspicion.

In this manner, and without knowing where the road we had taken would
lead us, we travelled for some days; and as we had purposely avoided
the principal roads, it was not to be expected that we should meet with
anything in the way of adventure, or with any travellers whom we could
entice into our society. At last we came upon a broader road than that
on which we had been travelling; and as we had left every danger from
our late deed far behind us, we determined to follow it, in the hope
that it would lead us towards Hyderabad, or some large village in its
direction, from whence we could get upon a well-travelled road and
carry on our vocation. As it was, we had gained a respectable booty
even for a whole season; but scarcely two months had passed, and we
could not afford to go on so far as Hyderabad in inactivity. The road
led us on for some hours, till large mango groves, with here and there
the white top of a Hindoo temple peeping over them, gave us intimation
that we were approaching a place of consequence. It turned out to be
the town of Oomerkhér, a wealthy place, surrounded with most luxuriant
cultivation of wheat and other descriptions of grain.