“Look here, Dilāwur!”

From, The Story of the Guides, by Col. G. J. Younghusband, C.B., Queens Own Corps of Guides (1908):

At this time it so happened that the most notorious highwayman and
outlaw in the whole of Yusafzai was one Dilāwur Khan, a Khuttuk of
good family belonging to the village of Jehangira, on the Kabul River
near its junction with the Indus. Brought up to the priesthood, his
wild and impetuous nature and love of adventure could not brook a life
of sedentary ease, and therefore, like many a spirited young blood,
both before and since, he “took to the road.” In his case the step was
taken, if not actually with the sanction and blessing of his Church,
at any rate with its unofficial consent. In those days the Sikhs held
by force the country of the Faithful, and Hindus fattened on its
trade. It was no great sin therefore, indeed, an active merit, that
the sons of the Prophet, sword in hand, should spoil the Egyptian, by
night or by day, as provided for by Allah.

To recount all the adventures of Dilāwur would fill a book, and
require a Munchausen to write it; but there was about them all a touch
of humour, and sometimes of almost boyish fun, accompanied often by
the rough courtesies of the gentlemen of the road, which reminds one
of Dick Turpin and other famous exponents of the profession on the
highways of England.

Now it so happened that it was at this time one of Lumsden‘s duties to
hunt down and capture Dilāwur, who for just and sufficient cause was
now an outlaw, with a price on his head of no less than two thousand
rupees. Many a time and oft did Lumsden and his men plan and strive,
and ride and hide, but no nearer could they get to the capture of
Sitting one evening outside his tent, after yet another unsuccessful
attempt, it suddenly occurred to Lumsden that Dilāwur must have an
astonishingly intimate knowledge of every path, nullah, and pass in
the district to thus evade capture, as well as a remarkably efficient
intelligence department, to give him timely warning. “Just the man for
the Guides,” exclaimed Lumsden. “I’ll send for him.” A polite note was
accordingly written inviting Dilāwur Khan to come into the Guides’
camp, at any time and place that fitted in with his other, and
doubtless more important, engagements, “to talk matters over.” At the
same time a free passport was sent which would allow of his reaching
the camp unmolested. It speaks volumes for the high estimate which
British integrity had already earned amongst these rough borderland
people, that a man with two thousand rupees on his head could accept
such an invitation. For the same man to have accepted a similar
invitation from the Sikhs, or even from his own countrymen, would have
been an act of culpable and aimless suicide.
One fine day, therefore, Dilāwur strolled into camp, and he and
Lumsden began “to talk matters over.” After compliments, as the
Eastern saying is, Lumsden with much heartiness, and in that free and
easy manner which was his own, took Dilāwur with the utmost candour
into his confidence.
“Look here, Dilāwur,” said he; “you are a fine fellow, and are living
a fine free life of adventure, and I daresay are making a fairly good
thing out of it. So far, although I have done my best, I have failed
to catch you, but catch you I assuredly shall some day. And what do
you suppose I shall do with you when I do catch you? Why, hang you as
high as Haman,—a gentleman whose history appears in our Good Book.
Now, that’s a poor ending for a fine soldier like you, and I’ll make
you an offer, take it or leave it. I’ll enlist you, and as many of
your men as come up to my standard, in the Guides, and with decent
luck you will soon be a native officer, with good fixed pay, and a
pension for your old age, and, meanwhile, as much fighting as the
greatest glutton can wish for. Well, what do you say?”

You will have to read the book to find out what happens next.

5 thoughts on ““Look here, Dilāwur!””

  1. Thank you, for pointing me to this most interesting volume.

    Curse you, for pointing me to this most interesting volume!


Comments are closed.