‘What have you done?’ The young woman growled. The soldiers shuffled their feet, and none had the temerity to meet her eyes.
She walked slowly on the blood-soaked floor and knelt beside a corpse, ‘What did the women and children do? Why did you kill them too?’
The leader of the mutineers stepped up, ‘Rani*, it had to be done. We’ve helped you, now we demand our payment.’
Her black eyes glowered like burning coal, ‘Helped?’
‘Yes. The Europeans are dead. Now, pay us. Else, we’ll blow your palace up.’
Rani Lakshmi Bai sighed, ‘You’ll be paid your wages, but we will pay for your sins. Now, go away. I have a letter to write.’
Note: This is a fictionalized interpretation of the slaying of nearly 60 Europeans at the princely state of Jhansi, India by the mutineers from the 12th Bengal Native Infantry. The mutineers were paid and sent away from Jhansi. Historical sources debate the role of the Queen of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmi Bai’s involvement in the massacre. Quite naturally, the British reckoned that the Rani had a hand in the gory deed, though there are quite few historians who vehemently deny this. The Rani wrote to Major Erskine of the British Government explaining that she had no role to play in the massacre. This incident along with the annexation of Jhansi into the British Empire because of the infamous Doctrine of Lapse led to the Jhansi uprising in 1858. Rani Lakshmi Bai fought valiantly against the British and their allies and won few battles, but ultimately lost. The Jhansi uprising and the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 were the first salvos in the Indian War for Independence.
Rani – Queen.