| India |
|Head of State||Queen Victoria (1858-1901)|
|Head of Government||Viceroy|
|Appearances|| "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"|
"The Adventure of the Crooked Man"
The Sign of Four
India is an immense territory located on the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Conquered by the East India Company in the 18th century, India has been directly ruled by the British government since 1858, with Queen Victoria in the role of Empress of India. However, India is not a single unified state; rather, it is a patchwork of small, subordinate princely states and areas under the direct control of the Crown. India is often referred to as the crown jewel of the British Empire.
Because of the financial ruin of his family, Dr Grimesby Roylott moved to Calcutta after receiving a medical degree. There he established a large practice and married the wealthy young widow of a British major-general. His wife had had two daughters, Helen and Julia Stoner, by her first husband. However, in a fit of anger caused by a series of burglaries, he beat his native butler to death, only narrowly escaping the death sentence and serving a long prison term. After his release, he and his family returned to England. Dr. Roylott, however, maintained a collection of Indian animals with him at his estate at Stoke Moran, including a cheetah, a baboon, and various snakes.
During the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the rebels laid siege to the cantonment of Bhurtee, trapping the 117th Regiment along with a company of Sikhs and a large number of civilians. Among these were Corporal Henry Wood, Sergeant James Barclay, and Miss Nancy Devoy, the daughter of the colour-sergeant who, while in love with Wood, was under pressure from her father to marry Barclay. Two weeks into the siege, water in the city ran out, and all hope turned to General James Neill, whose column was moving up-country, as the last hope for breaking the siege. Corporal Wood volunteered to sneak out of the city to contact General Neill, and discussed his plan with Sergeant Barclay, who provided a route to get through the enemy lines. However, Barclay betrayed him, and Wood was set upon and captured by the rebels, who had been warned of his approach by Barclay to remove him as a contestant for Nancy's affections.
Though Neill arrived the next day to relieve the city, Corporal Wood was taken far away to the rebel hideout, where he was held and tortured for years, destroying his body in the process. When the rebels fled to Nepal, they took him with him, and then past Darjeeling: however, there the rebels were set upon and killed by the hill-folk, who made him a slave. When he finally did escape, rather than heading south he headed north, going through Afghanistan before settling in the Punjab, where he picked up a living as a conjurer. Wretched, broken, and crippled, he was unable to face the idea of seeing either his former regiment, or his beloved (whom he heard had married Barclay) again: he would rather that they believed he died than saw him in his miserable state.
The India of the 19th century encompassed the modern states of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.