PROLOGUE: THE STORMING OF SERINGAPATAM (1799)
4. CHAPTER IV
I beg it to be understood that what I write here about my cousin
(unless some necessity should arise for making it public)
is for the information of the family only. Herncastle has said
nothing that can justify me in speaking to our commanding officer.
He has been taunted more than once about the Diamond, by those who
recollect his angry outbreak before the assault; but, as may easily
be imagined, his own remembrance of the circumstances under which I
surprised him in the armoury has been enough to keep him silent.
It is reported that he means to exchange into another regiment,
avowedly for the purpose of separating himself from ME.
Whether this be true or not, I cannot prevail upon myself to become
his accuser--and I think with good reason. If I made the matter public,
I have no evidence but moral evidence to bring forward.
I have not only no proof that he killed the two men at the door;
I cannot even declare that he killed the third man inside--
for I cannot say that my own eyes saw the deed committed.
It is true that I heard the dying Indian's words; but if those
words were pronounced to be the ravings of delirium, how could I
contradict the assertion from my own knowledge? Let our relatives,
on either side, form their own opinion on what I have written,
and decide for themselves whether the aversion I now feel towards
this man is well or ill founded.
Although I attach no sort of credit to the fantastic Indian legend
of the gem, I must acknowledge, before I conclude, that I am influenced
by a certain superstition of my own in this matter. It is my conviction,
or my delusion, no matter which, that crime brings its own fatality with it.
I am not only persuaded of Herncastle's guilt; I am even fanciful enough
to believe that he will live to regret it, if he keeps the Diamond;
and that others will live to regret taking it from him, if he gives the