Scotts bungalow. The deserted bungalow

by thebeautifulpeopleblog

 There stands on the isle of Seringapatam,

By the Cauvery, edding fast,

A Bungalow lonely,

And tenanted only

By memories of the past.

It has stood, as though under a curse or spell,

Untouched since the year that Tippoo fell.

 

The garden about it is tangled and wild,

Sad trees sigh close to its eaves,

And the dark lithe shapes

Of chattering apes

Swing in and out of the leaves;

And when nights dank vapours rise grey and foul,

The silence is rent by the schrill screech-owl.

 

The windows are shuttered, the doors are shut,

And the odour and stain or decay

Is on plaster and beam,

And the stone steps seem

To be ooze-corroding away;

And the air all around is tinged with the breath

Of the felt, though invisible, presence of Death.

 

Twas a pleasant abode, no doubt in its prime;

Two storeyed, facing the tide;

A verandah deep,

And a stone sweep

Of steps to the riverside,

And a boat-house close to the water’s edge,

Flanking the stairs, On a rocky ledge.

 

The stream flows by in a low-banked curve,

And higher up to the right,

Are the battlements grey

That could not stay

The rush of old England might;

And, higher up still, the world-framed breach-

A lesson we to posterity teach.

 

Stirring the times were those times, forsooth,

And bold the hearts of our men,

Who plunged through the water,

And rocks and slaughter,

And carry the tigers den.

Heroic the onset and crushing the blow

That was struck near this lonely bungalow.

 

When the siege was over a colonel dwelt

With his wife and daughters here,

In command of the fort

Where the bloody sport

Had cost Mysore so dear.

I can fancy the girls with their prattle light,

And the house all trim, and the garden bright;

 

And the merry party afoot on the steps,

Looking across the stream,

Or swinging afloat,

In their pleasure boat,

Under the soft moonbeam,

With the cool breeze over the water blowing,

Making amends for the midday glowing.

 

I think I can see in the early morn

The horses held at the door,

And the girls riding out

With the colonel stout

To visit the breach once more,

Or gaze at the gate where Tippoo fell,

Stabbed to death in the fierce pell-mell.

 

And then the breakfast after the ride,

Under the shadowy trees,

Mamma in the chair,

And the homely fare,

And the colonel at his ease,

Conning the sheets of the night-brought post,

Between the attacks on the tea and toast.

 

And, after, the long yet happy day

In the cuscus-tattied gloom,

The cheery tiffin,

Sconced in the drawing-room;

And the voice of the grand piano, half

Hushing the man’s and the maidens laugh.

 

And hushed they were; for one dreadful eve

The Cholera tapped at the door;

Nor knocked in vain for mother and twain

Answered the summons sore.

When dawn broke over the house next day,

The mother and daughters had passed a way.

 

The colonel buried his loved ones three,

Then fled from his house of woe,

And ne’er since then

Have the feet of men

Trod in the bungalow,

Save feet of traveller passing near,

Who turns to see it, and drops a tear.

 

The mouldering rooms are now as they stood

Near eighty years ago;

The piano is there,

And table and chair,

And carpet, rotting slow,

And the beds where on the corpses lay,

And the curtains half time-mawed away.

 

A type of gloom and decay and death,

And happiness overcast,

Is this bungalow lonely,

And tenant only

By memories of the past.

Peace to the shades of the three who died

In that lonely house by the cauvery’s tide.

 

By Aliph Cheem,  Lays of Ind. 1875

 

 

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