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Title: The Works of Rudyard Kipling: One Volume Edition

Author: Rudyard Kipling


Released on September, 2000  [Etext #2334]
Last Updated: April 15, 2013

Language: English

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK WORKS OF KIPLING ***




Produced by David Reed and David Widger













THE WORKS OF RUDYARD KIPLING:
ONE VOLUME EDITION


By Rudyard Kipling






CONTENTS

VOLUME I DEPARTMENTAL DITTIES AND OTHER VERSES

GENERAL SUMMARY

ARMY HEADQUARTERS

STUDY OF AN ELEVATION, IN INDIAN INK

A LEGEND

THE STORY OF URIAH

THE POST THAT FITTED

DELILAH

WHAT HAPPENED

PINK DOMINOES

THE MAN WHO COULD WRITE

MUNICIPAL

A CODE OF MORALS

THE LAST DEPARTMENT

OTHER VERSES

THE VAMPIRE

TO THE UNKNOWN GODDESS

THE RUPAIYAT OF OMAR KAL'VIN

LA NUIT BLANCHE

MY RIVAL

THE LOVERS' LITANY

A BALLAD OF BURIAL

DIVIDED DESTINIES

THE MASQUE OF PLENTY

THE MARE'S NEST

POSSIBILITIES

CHRISTMAS IN INDIA

PAGETT, M.P.

THE SONG OF THE WOMEN

A BALLAD OF JAKKO HILL

THE PLEA OF THE SIMLA DANCERS

THE BALLAD OF FISHER'S BOARDING-HOUSE

AS THE BELL CLINKS

AN OLD SONG

CERTAIN MAXIMS OF HAFIZ

THE GRAVE OF THE HUNDRED HEAD

THE MOON OF OTHER DAYS

THE UNDERTAKER'S HORSE

THE FALL OF JOCK GILLESPIE

ARITHMETIC ON THE FRONTIER

THE BETROTHED

A TALE OF TWO CITIES


VOLUME II BALLADS AND BARRACK-ROOM BALLADS

BALLADS

THE BALLAD OF EAST AND WEST

THE LAST SUTTEE

THE BALLAD OF THE KING'S MERCY

THE BALLAD OF THE KING'S JEST

THE BALLAD OF BOH DA THONE

THE LAMENT OF THE BORDER CATTLE THIEF

THE RHYME OF THE THREE CAPTAINS

THE BALLAD OF THE CLAMPHERDOWN

THE BALLAD OF THE "BOLIVAR"

THE ENGLISH FLAG

AN IMPERIAL RESCRIPT

TOMLINSON

BARRACK-ROOM BALLADS

TOMMY

SOLDIER, SOLDIER

SCREW-GUNS

GUNGA DIN

LOOT

'SNARLEYOW'

THE WIDOW AT WINDSOR

BELTS

THE YOUNG BRITISH SOLDIER

MANDALAY

FORD O' KABUL RIVER

ROUTE MARCHIN'


VOLUME III. THE PHANTOM 'RICKSHAW AND OTHER GHOST STORIES

THE PHANTOM 'RICKSHAW

MY OWN TRUE GHOST STORY

THE STRANGE RIDE OF MORROWBIE JUKES

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING

"THE FINEST STORY IN THE WORLD"


VOLUME IV UNDER THE DEODARS

THE EDUCATION OF OTIS YEERE

AT THE PIT'S MOUTH

A WAYSIDE COMEDY

THE HILL OF ILLUSION

A SECOND-RATE WOMAN

ONLY A SUBALTERN

IN THE MATTER OF A PRIVATE

THE ENLIGHTENMENTS OF PAGETT, M.P.


VOLUME V PLAIN TALES FROM THE HILLS

LISPETH

THREE AND—AN EXTRA.

THROWN AWAY.

MISS YOUGHAL'S SAIS.

YOKED WITH AN UNBELIEVER.

FALSE DAWN.

THE RESCUE OF PLUFFLES.

CUPID'S ARROWS.

HIS CHANCE IN LIFE.

WATCHES OF THE NIGHT.

THE OTHER MAN.

CONSEQUENCES.

THE CONVERSION OF AURELIAN McGOGGIN.

A GERM DESTROYER.

KIDNAPPED.

THE ARREST OF LIEUTENANT GOLIGHTLY.

THE HOUSE OF SUDDHOO

HIS WEDDED WIFE.

THE BROKEN LINK HANDICAPPED.

BEYOND THE PALE.

IN ERROR.

A BANK FRAUD.

TODS' AMENDMENT.

IN THE PRIDE OF HIS YOUTH.

PIG.

THE ROUT OF THE WHITE HUSSARS.

THE BRONCKHORST DIVORCE-CASE.

VENUS ANNODOMINI.

THE BISARA OF POOREE.

THE GATE OF A HUNDRED SORROWS.

THE STORY OF MUHAMMAD DIN.

ON THE STRENGTH OF A LIKENESS.

WRESSLEY OF THE FOREIGN OFFICE.

BY WORD OF MOUTH.

TO BE HELD FOR REFERENCE.


VOLUME VI THE LIGHT THAT FAILED

THE LIGHT THAT FAILED

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV


VOLUME VII THE STORY OF THE GADSBYS

Preface

POOR DEAR MAMMA

THE TENTS OF KEDAR

WITH ANY AMAZEMENT

THE GARDEN OF EDEN

FATIMA

THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW, KNOWING GOOD AND EVIL.

THE SWELLING OF JORDAN


VOLUME VIII from MINE OWN PEOPLE

BIMI

NAMGAY DOOLA

THE RECRUDESCENCE OF IMRAY

MOTI GUJ—MUTINEER








VOLUME I DEPARTMENTAL DITTIES AND OTHER VERSES

   I have eaten your bread and salt,
      I have drunk your water and wine,
   The deaths ye died I have watched beside,
      And the lives that ye led were mine.

   Was there aught that I did not share
      In vigil or toil or ease,
   One joy or woe that I did not know,
      Dear hearts across the seas?

   I have written the tale of our life
      For a sheltered people's mirth,
   In jesting guise—but ye are wise,
   And ye know what the jest is worth.





GENERAL SUMMARY

   We are very slightly changed
   From the semi-apes who ranged
      India's prehistoric clay;
   Whoso drew the longest bow,
   Ran his brother down, you know,
      As we run men down today.

   "Dowb," the first of all his race,
   Met the Mammoth face to face
      On the lake or in the cave,
   Stole the steadiest canoe,
   Ate the quarry others slew,
      Died—and took the finest grave.

   When they scratched the reindeer-bone
   Someone made the sketch his own,
      Filched it from the artist—then,
   Even in those early days,
   Won a simple Viceroy's praise
      Through the toil of other men.

   Ere they hewed the Sphinx's visage
   Favoritism governed kissage,
   Even as it does in this age.

   Who shall doubt the secret hid
   Under Cheops' pyramid
   Was that the contractor did
      Cheops out of several millions?
   Or that Joseph's sudden rise
   To Comptroller of Supplies
   Was a fraud of monstrous size
      On King Pharoah's swart Civilians?

   Thus, the artless songs I sing
   Do not deal with anything
      New or never said before.

   As it was in the beginning,
   Is today official sinning,
      And shall be forevermore.





ARMY HEADQUARTERS

   Old is the song that I sing—
      Old as my unpaid bills—
   Old as the chicken that kitmutgars bring
   Men at dak-bungalows—old as the Hills.

   Ahasuerus Jenkins of the "Operatic Own"
   Was dowered with a tenor voice of super-Santley tone.

   His views on equitation were, perhaps, a trifle queer;
   He had no seat worth mentioning, but oh! he had an ear.

   He clubbed his wretched company a dozen times a day,
   He used to quit his charger in a parabolic way,
   His method of saluting was the joy of all beholders,
   But Ahasuerus Jenkins had a head upon his shoulders.

   He took two months to Simla when the year was at the spring,
   And underneath the deodars eternally did sing.

   He warbled like a bulbul, but particularly at
   Cornelia Agrippina who was musical and fat.

   She controlled a humble husband, who, in turn, controlled a Dept.,
   Where Cornelia Agrippina's human singing-birds were kept
   From April to October on a plump retaining fee,
   Supplied, of course, per mensem, by the Indian Treasury.

   Cornelia used to sing with him, and Jenkins used to play;
   He praised unblushingly her notes, for he was false as they:
   So when the winds of April turned the budding roses brown,
   Cornelia told her husband: "Tom, you mustn't send him down."

   They haled him from his regiment which didn't much regret him;
   They found for him an office-stool, and on that stool they set him,
   To play with maps and catalogues three idle hours a day,
   And draw his plump retaining fee—which means his double pay.

   Now, ever after dinner, when the coffeecups are brought,
   Ahasuerus waileth o'er the grand pianoforte;
   And, thanks to fair Cornelia, his fame hath waxen great,
   And Ahasuerus Jenkins is a power in the State.





STUDY OF AN ELEVATION, IN INDIAN INK

   This ditty is a string of lies.
   But—how the deuce did Gubbins rise?

   POTIPHAR GUBBINS, C. E.,
   Stands at the top of the tree;
   And I muse in my bed on the reasons that led
   To the hoisting of Potiphar G.

   Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
   Is seven years junior to Me;
   Each bridge that he makes he either buckles or breaks,
   And his work is as rough as he.

   Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
   Is coarse as a chimpanzee;
   And I can't understand why you gave him your hand,
   Lovely Mehitabel Lee.

   Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
   Is dear to the Powers that Be;
   For They bow and They smile in an affable style
   Which is seldom accorded to Me.

   Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
   Is certain as certain can be
   Of a highly-paid post which is claimed by a host
   Of seniors—including Me.

   Careless and lazy is he,
   Greatly inferior to Me.

   What is the spell that you manage so well,
   Commonplace Potiphar G.?

   Lovely Mehitabel Lee,
   Let me inquire of thee,
   Should I have riz to what Potiphar is,
   Hadst thou been mated to me?





A LEGEND

   This is the reason why Rustum Beg,
   Rajah of Kolazai,
   Drinketh the "simpkin" and brandy peg,
   Maketh the money to fly,
   Vexeth a Government, tender and kind,
   Also—but this is a detail—blind.

   RUSTUM BEG of Kolazai—slightly backward native state
   Lusted for a C. S. I.,—so began to sanitate.
   Built a Jail and Hospital—nearly built a City drain—
   Till his faithful subjects all thought their Ruler was insane.

   Strange departures made he then—yea, Departments stranger still,
   Half a dozen Englishmen helped the Rajah with a will,
   Talked of noble aims and high, hinted of a future fine
   For the state of Kolazai, on a strictly Western line.

   Rajah Rustum held his peace; lowered octroi dues a half;
   Organized a State Police; purified the Civil Staff;
   Settled cess and tax afresh in a very liberal way;
   Cut temptations of the flesh—also cut the Bukhshi's pay;

   Roused his Secretariat to a fine Mahratta fury,
   By a Hookum hinting at supervision of dasturi;
   Turned the State of Kolazai very nearly upside-down;
   When the end of May was nigh, waited his achievement crown.

   When the Birthday Honors came,
   Sad to state and sad to see,
   Stood against the Rajah's name nothing more than C. I. E.!

   Things were lively for a week in the State of Kolazai.
   Even now the people speak of that time regretfully.

   How he disendowed the Jail—stopped at once the City drain;
   Turned to beauty fair and frail—got his senses back again;
   Doubled taxes, cesses, all; cleared away each new-built thana;
   Turned the two-lakh Hospital into a superb Zenana;

   Heaped upon the Bukhshi Sahib wealth and honors manifold;
   Clad himself in Eastern garb—squeezed his people as of old.

   Happy, happy Kolazai!  Never more  will Rustum Beg
   Play to catch the Viceroy's eye. He prefers the "simpkin" peg.





THE STORY OF URIAH

   "Now there were two men in one city;
   the one rich and the other poor."

   Jack Barrett went to Quetta
      Because they told him to.
   He left his wife at Simla
      On three-fourths his monthly screw:
   Jack Barrett died at Quetta
      Ere the next month's pay he drew.

   Jack Barrett went to Quetta.
      He didn't understand
   The reason of his transfer
      From the pleasant mountain-land:
   The season was September,
      And it killed him out of hand.

   Jack Barrett went to Quetta,
      And there gave up the ghost,
   Attempting two men's duty
      In that very healthy post;
   And Mrs. Barrett mourned for him
      Five lively months at most.

   Jack Barrett's bones at Quetta
      Enjoy profound repose;
   But I shouldn't be astonished
      If now his spirit knows
   The reason of his transfer
      From the Himalayan snows.

   And, when the Last Great Bugle Call
      Adown the Hurnal throbs,
   When the last grim joke is entered
      In the big black Book of Jobs,
   And Quetta graveyards give again
      Their victims to the air,
   I shouldn't like to be the man
      Who sent Jack Barrett there.





THE POST THAT FITTED

       Though tangled and twisted the course of true love
               This ditty explains,
       No tangle's so tangled it cannot improve
               If the Lover has brains.

   Ere the steamer bore him Eastward, Sleary was engaged to marry
   An attractive girl at Tunbridge, whom he called "my little Carrie."

   Sleary's pay was very modest; Sleary was the other way.
   Who can cook a two-plate dinner on eight poor rupees a day?

   Long he pondered o'er the question in his scantly furnished quarters—
   Then proposed to Minnie Boffkin, eldest of Judge Boffkin's daughters.

   Certainly an impecunious Subaltern was not a catch,
   But the Boffkins knew that Minnie mightn't make another match.

   So they recognised the business and, to feed and clothe the bride,
   Got him made a Something Something somewhere on the Bombay side.

   Anyhow, the billet carried pay enough for him to marry—
   As the artless Sleary put it:—"Just the thing for me and Carrie."

   Did he, therefore, jilt Miss Boffkin—impulse of a baser mind?
   No! He started epileptic fits of an appalling kind.

   [Of his modus operandi only this much I could gather:—
   "Pears's shaving sticks will give you little taste and lots of lather."]

   Frequently in public places his affliction used to smite
   Sleary with distressing vigour—always in the Boffkins' sight.

   Ere a week was over Minnie weepingly returned his ring,
   Told him his "unhappy weakness" stopped all thought of marrying.

   Sleary bore the information with a chastened holy joy,—
   Epileptic fits don't matter in Political employ,—
   Wired three short words to Carrie—took his ticket, packed his kit—
   Bade farewell to Minnie Boffkin in one last, long, lingering fit.

   Four weeks later, Carrie Sleary read—and laughed until she wept—
   Mrs. Boffkin's warning letter on the "wretched epilept."...

   Year by year, in pious patience, vengeful Mrs. Boffkin sits
   Waiting for the Sleary babies to develop Sleary's fits.

   PUBLIC WASTE

     Walpole talks of "a man and his price."
           List to a ditty queer—
     The sale of a Deputy-Acting-Vice-
           Resident-Engineer,
     Bought like a bullock, hoof and hide,
     By the Little Tin Gods on the Mountain Side.

   By the Laws of the Family Circle 'tis written in letters of brass
   That only a Colonel from Chatham can manage the Railways of State,
   Because of the gold on his breeks, and the subjects wherein he must pass;
   Because in all matters that deal not with Railways his knowledge is great.

   Now Exeter Battleby Tring had laboured from boyhood to eld
   On the Lines of the East and the West, and eke of the North and South;
   Many Lines had he built and surveyed—important the posts which he held;
   And the Lords of the Iron Horse were dumb when he opened his mouth.

   Black as the raven his garb, and his heresies jettier still—
   Hinting that Railways required lifetimes of study and knowledge—
   Never clanked sword by his side—Vauban he knew not nor drill—
   Nor was his name on the list of the men who had passed through the "College."

   Wherefore the Little Tin Gods harried their little tin souls,
   Seeing he came not from Chatham, jingled no spurs at his heels,
   Knowing that, nevertheless, was he first on the Government rolls
   For the billet of "Railway Instructor to Little Tin Gods on Wheels."

   Letters not seldom they wrote him, "having the honour to state,"
   It would be better for all men if he were laid on the shelf.
   Much would accrue to his bank-book, an he consented to wait
   Until the Little Tin Gods built him a berth for himself,

   "Special, well paid, and exempt from the Law of the Fifty and Five,
   Even to Ninety and Nine"—these were the terms of the pact:
   Thus did the Little Tin Gods (long may Their Highnesses thrive!)
   Silence his mouth with rupees, keeping their Circle intact;

   Appointing a Colonel from Chatham who managed the Bhamo State Line
   (The which was one mile and one furlong—a guaranteed twenty-inch gauge),
   So Exeter Battleby Tring consented his claims to resign,
   And died, on four thousand a month, in the ninetieth year of his age!





DELILAH

   We have another viceroy now,—those days are dead and done
   Of Delilah Aberyswith and depraved Ulysses Gunne.

   Delilah Aberyswith was a lady—not too young—
   With a perfect taste in dresses and a badly-bitted tongue,
   With a thirst for information, and a greater thirst for praise,
   And a little house in Simla in the Prehistoric Days.

   By reason of her marriage to a gentleman in power,
   Delilah was acquainted with the gossip of the hour;
   And many little secrets, of the half-official kind,
   Were whispered to Delilah, and she bore them all in mind.

   She patronized extensively a man, Ulysses Gunne,
   Whose mode of earning money was a low and shameful one.
   He wrote for certain papers, which, as everybody knows,
   Is worse than serving in a shop or scaring off the crows.

   He praised her "queenly beauty" first; and, later on, he hinted
   At the "vastness of her intellect" with compliment unstinted.
   He went with her a-riding, and his love for her was such
   That he lent her all his horses and—she galled them very much.

   One day, THEY brewed a secret of a fine financial sort;
   It related to Appointments, to a Man and a Report.
   'Twas almost worth the keeping,—only seven people knew it—
   And Gunne rose up to seek the truth and patiently pursue it.

   It was a Viceroy's Secret, but—perhaps the wine was red—
   Perhaps an Aged Councillor had lost his aged head—
   Perhaps Delilah's eyes were bright—Delilah's whispers sweet—
   The Aged Member told her what 'twere treason to repeat.

   Ulysses went a-riding, and they talked of love and flowers;
   Ulysses went a-calling, and he called for several hours;
   Ulysses went a-waltzing, and Delilah helped him dance—
   Ulysses let the waltzes go, and waited for his chance.

   The summer sun was setting, and the summer air was still,
   The couple went a-walking in the shade of Summer Hill.
   The wasteful sunset faded out in Turkish-green and gold,
   Ulysses pleaded softly, and— that bad Delilah told!

   Next morn, a startled Empire learnt the all-important news;
   Next week, the Aged Councillor was shaking in his shoes.
   Next month, I met Delilah and she did not show the least
   Hesitation in affirming that Ulysses was a "beast."

   We have another Viceroy now, those days are dead and done—
   Of Delilah Aberyswith and most mean Ulysses Gunne!





WHAT HAPPENED

   Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, pride of Bow Bazaar,
   Owner of a native press, "Barrishter-at-Lar,"
   Waited on the Government with a claim to wear
   Sabres by the bucketful, rifles by the pair.

   Then the Indian Government winked a wicked wink,
   Said to Chunder Mookerjee: "Stick to pen and ink.
   They are safer implements, but, if you insist,
   We will let you carry arms wheresoe'er you list."

   Hurree Chunder Mookerjee sought the gunsmith and
   Bought the tubes of Lancaster, Ballard, Dean, and Bland,
   Bought a shiny bowie-knife, bought a town-made sword,
   Jingled like a carriage-horse when he went abroad.

   But the Indian Government, always keen to please,
   Also gave permission to horrid men like these—
   Yar Mahommed Yusufzai, down to kill or steal,
   Chimbu Singh from Bikaneer, Tantia the Bhil;

   Killar Khan the Marri chief, Jowar Singh the Sikh,
   Nubbee Baksh Punjabi Jat, Abdul Huq Rafiq—
   He was a Wahabi; last, little Boh Hla-oo
   Took advantage of the Act—took a Snider too.

   They were unenlightened men, Ballard knew them not.
   They procured their swords and guns chiefly on the spot;
   And the lore of centuries, plus a hundred fights,
   Made them slow to disregard one another's rights.

   With a unanimity dear to patriot hearts
   All those hairy gentlemen out of foreign parts
   Said: "The good old days are back—let us go to war!"
   Swaggered down the Grand Trunk Road into Bow Bazaar,

   Nubbee Baksh Punjabi Jat found a hide-bound flail;
   Chimbu Singh from Bikaneer oiled his Tonk jezail;
   Yar Mahommed Yusufzai spat and grinned with glee
   As he ground the butcher-knife of the Khyberee.

   Jowar Singh the Sikh procured sabre, quoit, and mace,
   Abdul Huq, Wahabi, jerked his dagger from its place,
   While amid the jungle-grass danced and grinned and jabbered
   Little Boh Hla-oo and cleared his dah-blade from the scabbard.

   What became of Mookerjee? Soothly, who can say?
   Yar Mahommed only grins in a nasty way,
   Jowar Singh is reticent, Chimbu Singh is mute.
   But the belts of all of them simply bulge with loot.

   What became of Ballard's guns? Afghans black and grubby
   Sell them for their silver weight to the men of Pubbi;
   And the shiny bowie-knife and the town-made sword are
   Hanging in a Marri camp just across the Border.

   What became of Mookerjee? Ask Mahommed Yar
   Prodding Siva's sacred bull down the Bow Bazaar.
   Speak to placid Nubbee Baksh—question land and sea—
   Ask the Indian Congressmen—only don't ask me!





PINK DOMINOES

   They are fools who kiss and tell"—
     Wisely has the poet sung.
   Man may hold all sorts of posts
     If he'll only hold his tongue.

   Jenny and Me were engaged, you see,
     On the eve of the Fancy Ball;
   So a kiss or two was nothing to you
     Or any one else at all.

   Jenny would go in a domino—
     Pretty and pink but warm;
   While I attended, clad in a splendid
     Austrian uniform.

   Now we had arranged, through notes exchanged
     Early that afternoon,
   At Number Four to waltz no more,
     But to sit in the dusk and spoon.

   I wish you to see that Jenny and Me
     Had barely exchanged our troth;
   So a kiss or two was strictly due
     By, from, and between us both.

   When Three was over, an eager lover,
     I fled to the gloom outside;
   And a Domino came out also
     Whom I took for my future bride.

   That is to say, in a casual way,
     I slipped my arm around her;
   With a kiss or two (which is nothing to you),
     And ready to kiss I found her.

   She turned her head and the name she said
     Was certainly not my own;
   But ere I could speak, with a smothered shriek
     She fled and left me alone.

   Then Jenny came, and I saw with shame
     She'd doffed her domino;
   And I had embraced an alien waist—
     But I did not tell her so.

   Next morn I knew that there were two
     Dominoes pink, and one
   Had cloaked the spouse of Sir Julian House,
     Our big Political gun.

   Sir J. was old, and her hair was gold,
     And her eye was a blue cerulean;
   And the name she said when she turned her head
     Was not in the least like "Julian."





THE MAN WHO COULD WRITE

   Shun—shun the Bowl! That fatal, facile drink
     Has ruined many geese who dipped their quills in 't;
   Bribe, murder, marry, but steer clear of Ink
     Save when you write receipts for paid-up bills in 't.

   There may be silver in the "blue-black"—all
   I know of is the iron and the gall.

   Boanerges Blitzen, servant of the Queen,
   Is a dismal failure—is a Might-have-been.
   In a luckless moment he discovered men
   Rise to high position through a ready pen.
   Boanerges Blitzen argued therefore—"I,
   With the selfsame weapon, can attain as high."
   Only he did not possess when he made the trial,
   Wicked wit of C-lv-n, irony of L—l.

   [Men who spar with Government need, to back their blows,
   Something more than ordinary journalistic prose.]

   Never young Civilian's prospects were so bright,
   Till an Indian paper found that he could write:
   Never young Civilian's prospects were so dark,
   When the wretched Blitzen wrote to make his mark.
   Certainly he scored it, bold, and black, and firm,
   In that Indian paper—made his seniors squirm,
   Quoted office scandals, wrote the tactless truth—
   Was there ever known a more misguided youth?
   When the Rag he wrote for praised his plucky game,
   Boanerges Blitzen felt that this was Fame;
   When the men he wrote of shook their heads and swore,
   Boanerges Blitzen only wrote the more:

   Posed as Young Ithuriel, resolute and grim,
   Till he found promotion didn't come to him;
   Till he found that reprimands weekly were his lot,
   And his many Districts curiously hot.

   Till he found his furlough strangely hard to win,
   Boanerges Blitzen didn't care to pin:
   Then it seemed to dawn on him something wasn't right—
   Boanerges Blitzen put it down to "spite";

   Languished in a District desolate and dry;
   Watched the Local Government yearly pass him by;
   Wondered where the hitch was; called it most unfair.
   *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

   That was seven years ago—and he still is there!





MUNICIPAL

           "Why is my District death-rate low?"
             Said Binks of Hezabad.
           "Well, drains, and sewage-outfalls are
             "My own peculiar fad.

           "I learnt a lesson once, It ran
           "Thus," quoth that most veracious man:—

   It was an August evening and, in snowy garments clad,
   I paid a round of visits in the lines of Hezabad;
   When, presently, my Waler saw, and did not like at all,
   A Commissariat elephant careering down the Mall.

   I couldn't see the driver, and across my mind it rushed
   That that Commissariat elephant had suddenly gone musth.

   I didn't care to meet him, and I couldn't well get down,
   So I let the Waler have it, and we headed for the town.

   The buggy was a new one and, praise Dykes, it stood the strain,
   Till the Waler jumped a bullock just above the City Drain;
   And the next that I remember was a hurricane of squeals,
   And the creature making toothpicks of my five-foot patent wheels.

   He seemed to want the owner, so I fled, distraught with fear,
   To the Main Drain sewage-outfall while he snorted in my ear—
   Reached the four-foot drain-head safely and, in darkness and despair,
   Felt the brute's proboscis fingering my terror-stiffened hair.

   Heard it trumpet on my shoulder—tried to crawl a little higher—
   Found the Main Drain sewage outfall blocked, some eight feet up, with mire;
   And, for twenty reeking minutes, Sir, my very marrow froze,
   While the trunk was feeling blindly for a purchase on my toes!

   It missed me by a fraction, but my hair was turning grey
   Before they called the drivers up and dragged the brute away.

   Then I sought the City Elders, and my words were very plain.
   They flushed that four-foot drain-head and—it never choked again!

   You may hold with surface-drainage, and the sun-for-garbage cure,
   Till you've been a periwinkle shrinking coyly up a sewer.

   I believe in well-flushed culverts....

                                     This is why the death-rate's small;
   And, if you don't believe me, get shikarred yourself. That's all.





A CODE OF MORALS

            Lest you should think this story true
            I merely mention I
            Evolved it lately. 'Tis a most
            Unmitigated misstatement.

   Now Jones had left his new-wed bride to keep his house in order,
   And hied away to the Hurrum Hills above the Afghan border,
   To sit on a rock with a heliograph; but ere he left he taught
   His wife the working of the Code that sets the miles at naught.

   And Love had made him very sage, as Nature made her fair;
   So Cupid and Apollo linked, per heliograph, the pair.
   At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise—
   At e'en, the dying sunset bore her husband's homilies.

   He warned her 'gainst seductive youths in scarlet clad and gold,
   As much as 'gainst the blandishments paternal of the old;
   But kept his gravest warnings for (hereby the ditty hangs)
   That snowy-haired Lothario, Lieutenant-General Bangs.

   'Twas General Bangs, with Aide and Staff, who tittupped on the way,
   When they beheld a heliograph tempestuously at play.
   They thought of Border risings, and of stations sacked and burnt—
   So stopped to take the message down—and this is what they learnt—

   "Dash dot dot, dot, dot dash, dot dash dot" twice. The General swore.

   "Was ever General Officer addressed as 'dear' before?
   "'My Love,' i' faith! 'My Duck,' Gadzooks! 'My darling popsy-wop!'
   "Spirit of great Lord Wolseley, who is on that mountaintop?"

   The artless Aide-de-camp was mute; the gilded Staff were still,
   As, dumb with pent-up mirth, they booked that message from the hill;
   For clear as summer lightning-flare, the husband's warning ran:—
   "Don't dance or ride with General Bangs—a most immoral man."

   [At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise—
   But, howsoever Love be blind, the world at large hath eyes.]
   With damnatory dot and dash he heliographed his wife
   Some interesting details of the General's private life.

   The artless Aide-de-camp was mute, the shining Staff were still,
   And red and ever redder grew the General's shaven gill.

   And this is what he said at last (his feelings matter not):—
   "I think we've tapped a private line. Hi! Threes about there! Trot!"

   All honour unto Bangs, for ne'er did Jones thereafter know
   By word or act official who read off that helio.

   But the tale is on the Frontier, and from Michni to Mooltan
   They know the worthy General as "that most immoral man."





THE LAST DEPARTMENT

   Twelve hundred million men are spread
    About this Earth, and I and You
   Wonder, when You and I are dead,
    "What will those luckless millions do?"

   None whole or clean, we cry, "or free from stain
   Of favour." Wait awhile, till we attain
     The Last Department where nor fraud nor fools,
   Nor grade nor greed, shall trouble us again.

   Fear, Favour, or Affection—what are these
   To the grim Head who claims our services?
     I never knew a wife or interest yet
   Delay that pukka step, miscalled "decease";

   When leave, long overdue, none can deny;
   When idleness of all Eternity
     Becomes our furlough, and the marigold
   Our thriftless, bullion-minting Treasury

   Transferred to the Eternal Settlement,
   Each in his strait, wood-scantled office pent,
     No longer Brown reverses Smith's appeals,
   Or Jones records his Minute of Dissent.

   And One, long since a pillar of the Court,
   As mud between the beams thereof is wrought;
     And One who wrote on phosphates for the crops
   Is subject-matter of his own Report.

   These be the glorious ends whereto we pass—
   Let Him who Is, go call on Him who Was;
     And He shall see the mallie steals the slab
   For currie-grinder, and for goats the grass.

   A breath of wind, a Border bullet's flight,
   A draught of water, or a horse's fright—
     The droning of the fat Sheristadar
   Ceases, the punkah stops, and falls the night

   For you or Me. Do those who live decline
   The step that offers, or their work resign?
     Trust me, Today's Most Indispensables,
   Five hundred men can take your place or mine.





OTHER VERSES

RECESSIONAL
   (A Victorian Ode)

   God of our fathers, known of old—
     Lord of our far-flung battle line—
   Beneath whose awful hand we hold
     Dominion over palm and pine—

   Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
   Lest we forget—lest we forget!

   The tumult and the shouting dies—
     The Captains and the Kings depart—
   Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
     An humble and a contrite heart.

   Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
   Lest we forget—lest we forget!

   Far-called our navies melt away—
     On dune and headland sinks the fire—
   Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
     Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

   Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
   Lest we forget—lest we forget!

   If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
     Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
   Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
     Or lesser breeds without the Law—

   Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
   Lest we forget—lest we forget!

   For heathen heart that puts her trust
     In reeking tube and iron shard—
   All valiant dust that builds on dust,
     And guarding calls not Thee to guard.

   For frantic boast and foolish word,
   Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!
                                 Amen.





THE VAMPIRE

   The verses—as suggested by the painting by Philip Burne Jones, first
   exhibited at the new gallery in London in 1897.

   A fool there was and he made his prayer
     (Even as you and I!)
   To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
   (We called her the woman who did not care),
   But the fool he called her his lady fair
     (Even as you and I!)

   Oh the years we waste and the tears we waste
     And the work of our head and hand,
   Belong to the woman who did not know
   (And now we know that she never could know)
     And did not understand.

   A fool there was and his goods he spent
     (Even as you and I!)
   Honor and faith and a sure intent
   But a fool must follow his natural bent
   (And it wasn't the least what the lady meant),
     (Even as you and I!)

   Oh the toil we lost and the spoil we lost
     And the excellent things we planned,
   Belong to the woman who didn't know why
   (And now we know she never knew why)
     And did not understand.

   The fool we stripped to his foolish hide
     (Even as you and I!)
   Which she might have seen when she threw him aside—
   (But it isn't on record the lady tried)
   So some of him lived but the most of him died—
     (Even as you and I!)

   And it isn't the shame and it isn't the blame
     That stings like a white hot brand.

   It's coming to know that she never knew why
   (Seeing at last she could never know why)
     And never could understand.





TO THE UNKNOWN GODDESS

   Will you conquer my heart with your beauty; my soul going out from afar?
   Shall I fall to your hand as a victim of crafty and cautious shikar?

   Have I met you and passed you already, unknowing, unthinking and blind?
   Shall I meet you next session at Simla, O sweetest and best of your kind?

   Does the P. and O. bear you to meward, or, clad in short frocks in the West,
   Are you growing the charms that shall capture and torture the heart in my
   breast?

   Will you stay in the Plains till September—my passion as warm as the day?
   Will you bring me to book on the Mountains, or where the thermantidotes play?

   When the light of your eyes shall make pallid the mean lesser lights I pursue,
   And the charm of your presence shall lure me from love of the gay "thirteen-
   two";

   When the peg and the pig-skin shall please not; when I buy me Calcutta-build
   clothes;
   When I quit the Delight of Wild Asses; forswearing the swearing of oaths;
   As a deer to the hand of the hunter when I turn 'mid the gibes of my friends;
   When the days of my freedom are numbered, and the life of the bachelor ends.

   Ah, Goddess! child, spinster, or widow—as of old on Mars Hill whey they
   raised
   To the God that they knew not an altar—so I, a young Pagan, have praised
   The Goddess I know not nor worship; yet, if half that men tell me be true,
   You will come in the future, and therefore these verses are written to you.





THE RUPAIYAT OF OMAR KAL'VIN

   [Allowing for the difference 'twixt prose and rhymed exaggeration, this ought
   to reproduce the sense of what Sir A— told the nation sometime ago, when the
   Government struck from our incomes two per cent.]

   Now the New Year, reviving last Year's Debt,
   The Thoughtful Fisher casteth wide his Net;
     So I with begging Dish and ready Tongue
   Assail all Men for all that I can get.

   Imports indeed are gone with all their Dues—
   Lo! Salt a Lever that I dare not use,
     Nor may I ask the Tillers in Bengal—
   Surely my Kith and Kin will not refuse!

   Pay—and I promise by the Dust of Spring,
   Retrenchment.  If my promises can bring
     Comfort, Ye have Them now a thousandfold—
   By Allah! I will promise Anything!

   Indeed, indeed, Retrenchment oft before
   I swore—but did I mean it when I swore?
     And then, and then, We wandered to the Hills,
   And so the Little Less became Much More.

   Whether a Boileaugunge or Babylon,
   I know not how the wretched Thing is done,
     The Items of Receipt grow surely small;
   The Items of Expense mount one by one.

   I cannot help it. What have I to do
   With One and Five, or Four, or Three, or Two?
     Let Scribes spit Blood and Sulphur as they please,
   Or Statesmen call me foolish—Heed not you.

   Behold, I promise—Anything You will.
   Behold, I greet you with an empty Till—
     Ah! Fellow-Sinners, of your Charity
   Seek not the Reason of the Dearth, but fill.

   For if I sinned and fell, where lies the Gain
   Of Knowledge? Would it ease you of your Pain
     To know the tangled Threads of Revenue,
   I ravel deeper in a hopeless Skein?

   "Who hath not Prudence"—what was it I said,
   Of Her who paints her Eyes and tires Her Head,
     And gibes and mocks the People in the Street,
   And fawns upon them for Her thriftless Bread?

   Accursed is She of Eve's daughters—She
   Hath cast off Prudence, and Her End shall be
     Destruction... Brethren, of your Bounty
   Some portion of your daily Bread to Me.





LA NUIT BLANCHE

     A much-discerning Public hold
       The Singer generally sings
     And prints and sells his past for gold.

     Whatever I may here disclaim,
       The very clever folk I sing to
       Will most indubitably cling to
     Their pet delusion, just the same.

   I had seen, as the dawn was breaking
     And I staggered to my rest,
   Tari Devi softly shaking
     From the Cart Road to the crest.

   I had seen the spurs of Jakko
     Heave and quiver, swell and sink.
   Was it Earthquake or tobacco,
     Day of Doom, or Night of Drink?

   In the full, fresh fragrant morning
     I observed a camel crawl,
   Laws of gravitation scorning,
     On the ceiling and the wall;
   Then I watched a fender walking,
     And I heard grey leeches sing,
   And a red-hot monkey talking
     Did not seem the proper thing.

   Then a Creature, skinned and crimson,
     Ran about the floor and cried,
   And they said that I had the "jims" on,
     And they dosed me with bromide,
   And they locked me in my bedroom—
     Me and one wee Blood Red Mouse—
   Though I said: "To give my head room
     You had best unroof the house."

   But my words were all unheeded,
     Though I told the grave M.D.
   That the treatment really needed
     Was a dip in open sea
   That was lapping just below me,
     Smooth as silver, white as snow,
   And it took three men to throw me
     When I found I could not go.

   Half the night I watched the Heavens
     Fizz like '81 champagne—
   Fly to sixes and to sevens,
     Wheel and thunder back again;
   And when all was peace and order
     Save one planet nailed askew,
   Much I wept because my warder
     Would not let me set it true.

   After frenzied hours of waiting,
     When the Earth and Skies were dumb,
   Pealed an awful voice dictating
     An interminable sum,
   Changing to a tangle story—
     "What she said you said I said"—
   Till the Moon arose in glory,
     And I found her... in my head;

   Then a Face came, blind and weeping,
     And It couldn't wipe its eyes,
   And It muttered I was keeping
     Back the moonlight from the skies;
   So I patted it for pity,
     But it whistled shrill with wrath,
   And a huge black Devil City
     Poured its peoples on my path.

   So I fled with steps uncertain
     On a thousand-year long race,
   But the bellying of the curtain
     Kept me always in one place;
   While the tumult rose and maddened
     To the roar of Earth on fire,
   Ere it ebbed and sank and saddened
     To a whisper tense as wire.

   In tolerable stillness
     Rose one little, little star,
   And it chuckled at my illness,
     And it mocked me from afar;
   And its brethren came and eyed me,
     Called the Universe to aid,
   Till I lay, with naught to hide me,
     'Neath the Scorn of All Things Made.

   Dun and saffron, robed and splendid,
     Broke the solemn, pitying Day,
   And I knew my pains were ended,
     And I turned and tried to pray;
   But my speech was shattered wholly,
     And I wept as children weep.

   Till the dawn-wind, softly, slowly,
     Brought to burning eyelids sleep.





MY RIVAL

   I go to concert, party, ball—
     What profit is in these?
   I sit alone against the wall
     And strive to look at ease.

   The incense that is mine by right
     They burn before her shrine;
   And that's because I'm seventeen
     And She is forty-nine.

   I cannot check my girlish blush,
     My color comes and goes;
   I redden to my finger-tips,
     And sometimes to my nose.

   But She is white where white should be,
     And red where red should shine.
   The blush that flies at seventeen
     Is fixed at forty-nine.

   I wish I had Her constant cheek;
     I wish that I could sing
   All sorts of funny little songs,
     Not quite the proper thing.

   I'm very gauche and very shy,
     Her jokes aren't in my line;
   And, worst of all, I'm seventeen
     While She is forty-nine.

   The young men come, the young men go
     Each pink and white and neat,
   She's older than their mothers, but
     They grovel at Her feet.

   They walk beside Her 'rickshaw wheels—
     None ever walk by mine;
   And that's because I'm seventeen
     And She is forty-nine.

   She rides with half a dozen men,
     (She calls them "boys" and "mashers")
   I trot along the Mall alone;
     My prettiest frocks and sashes
   Don't help to fill my programme-card,
     And vainly I repine
   From ten to two A.M. Ah me!
     Would I were forty-nine!

   She calls me "darling," "pet," and "dear,"
     And "sweet retiring maid."
   I'm always at the back, I know,
     She puts me in the shade.

   She introduces me to men,
     "Cast" lovers, I opine,
   For sixty takes to seventeen,
     Nineteen to forty-nine.

   But even She must older grow
     And end Her dancing days,
   She can't go on forever so
     At concerts, balls and plays.

   One ray of priceless hope I see
     Before my footsteps shine;
   Just think, that She'll be eighty-one
     When I am forty-nine.





THE LOVERS' LITANY

   Eyes of grey—a sodden quay,
   Driving rain and falling tears,
   As the steamer wears to sea
   In a parting storm of cheers.

     Sing, for Faith and Hope are high—
     None so true as you and I—
     Sing the Lovers' Litany:
     "Love like ours can never die!"

   Eyes of black—a throbbing keel,
   Milky foam to left and right;
   Whispered converse near the wheel
   In the brilliant tropic night.

     Cross that rules the Southern Sky!
     Stars that sweep and wheel and fly,
     Hear the Lovers' Litany:
     Love like ours can never die!"

   Eyes of brown—a dusty plain
   Split and parched with heat of June,
   Flying hoof and tightened rein,
   Hearts that beat the old, old tune.

     Side by side the horses fly,
     Frame we now the old reply
     Of the Lovers' Litany:
     "Love like ours can never die!"

   Eyes of blue—the Simla Hills
   Silvered with the moonlight hoar;
   Pleading of the waltz that thrills,
   Dies and echoes round Benmore.

     "Mabel," "Officers," "Goodbye,"
     Glamour, wine, and witchery—
     On my soul's sincerity,
     "Love like ours can never die!"

   Maidens of your charity,
   Pity my most luckless state.
   Four times Cupid's debtor I—
   Bankrupt in quadruplicate.

     Yet, despite this evil case,
     And a maiden showed me grace,
     Four-and-forty times would I
     Sing the Lovers' Litany:
     "Love like ours can never die!"





A BALLAD OF BURIAL

   ("Saint @Proxed's ever was the Church for peace")

   If down here I chance to die,
     Solemnly I beg you take
   All that is left of "I"
     To the Hills for old sake's sake,
   Pack me very thoroughly
     In the ice that used to slake
   Pegs I drank when I was dry—
     This observe for old sake's sake.

   To the railway station hie,
     There a single ticket take
   For Umballa—goods-train—I
     Shall not mind delay or shake.

   I shall rest contentedly
     Spite of clamor coolies make;
   Thus in state and dignity
     Send me up for old sake's sake.

   Next the sleepy Babu wake,
     Book a Kalka van "for four."
   Few, I think, will care to make
     Journeys with me any more
   As they used to do of yore.

     I shall need a "special" break—
   Thing I never took before—
     Get me one for old sake's sake.

   After that—arrangements make.

     No hotel will take me in,
   And a bullock's back would break
     'Neath the teak and leaden skin
   Tonga ropes are frail and thin,
     Or, did I a back-seat take,
   In a tonga I might spin,—
     Do your best for old sake's sake.

   After that—your work is done.

     Recollect a Padre must
   Mourn the dear departed one—
     Throw the ashes and the dust.

   Don't go down at once. I trust
     You will find excuse to "snake
   Three days' casual on the bust."
     Get your fun for old sake's sake.

   I could never stand the Plains.
     Think of blazing June and May
   Think of those September rains
     Yearly till the Judgment Day!
   I should never rest in peace,
     I should sweat and lie awake.

   Rail me then, on my decease,
     To the Hills for old sake's sake.





DIVIDED DESTINIES

   It was an artless Bandar, and he danced upon a pine,
   And much I wondered how he lived, and where the beast might dine,
   And many, many other things, till, o'er my morning smoke,
   I slept the sleep of idleness and dreamt that Bandar spoke.

   He said: "O man of many clothes! Sad crawler on the Hills!
   Observe, I know not Ranken's shop, nor Ranken's monthly bills;
   I take no heed to trousers or the coats that you call dress;
   Nor am I plagued with little cards for little drinks at Mess.

   "I steal the bunnia's grain at morn, at noon and eventide,
   (For he is fat and I am spare), I roam the mountain side,
   I follow no man's carriage, and no, never in my life
   Have I flirted at Peliti's with another Bandar's wife.

   "O man of futile fopperies—unnecessary wraps;
   I own no ponies in the hills, I drive no tall-wheeled traps;
   I buy me not twelve-button gloves, 'short-sixes' eke, or rings,
   Nor do I waste at Hamilton's my wealth on 'pretty things.'

   "I quarrel with my wife at home, we never fight abroad;
   But Mrs. B. has grasped the fact I am her only lord.

   I never heard of fever—dumps nor debts depress my soul;
   And I pity and despise you!" Here he poached my breakfast-roll.

   His hide was very mangy, and his face was very red,
   And ever and anon he scratched with energy his head.
   His manners were not always nice, but how my spirit cried
   To be an artless Bandar loose upon the mountain side!

   So I answered: "Gentle Bandar, an inscrutable Decree
   Makes thee a gleesome fleasome Thou, and me a wretched Me.
   Go! Depart in peace, my brother, to thy home amid the pine;
   Yet forget not once a mortal wished to change his lot for thine."





THE MASQUE OF PLENTY

   Argument.—The Indian Government being minded to discover the economic
   condition of their lands, sent a Committee to inquire into it; and saw that it
   was good.

   Scene.—The wooded heights of Simla. The Incarnation of
   the Government of India in the raiment of the Angel of Plenty
   sings, to pianoforte accompaniment:—

   "How sweet is the shepherd's sweet life!
     From the dawn to the even he strays—
   And his tongue shall be filled with praise.

     (adagio dim.) Filled with praise!"

   (largendo con sp.) Now this is the position,
                     Go make an inquisition
                     Into their real condition
                       As swiftly as ye may.

                 (p) Ay, paint our swarthy billions
                     The richest of vermillions
                     Ere two well-led cotillions
                       Have danced themselves away.

   Turkish Patrol, as able and intelligent Investigators wind
                   down the Himalayas:—

   What is the state of the Nation? What is its occupation?
   Hi! get along, get along, get along—lend us the information!
   (dim.) Census the byle and the yabu—capture a first-class Babu,
     Set him to file Gazetteers—Gazetteers...

                   (ff) What is the state of the Nation, etc., etc.

   Interlude, from Nowhere in Particular, to stringed and Oriental
   instruments.

   Our cattle reel beneath the yoke they bear—
     The earth is iron and the skies are brass—
   And faint with fervour of the flaming air
     The languid hours pass.

   The well is dry beneath the village tree—
     The young wheat withers ere it reach a span,
   And belts of blinding sand show cruelly
     Where once the river ran.

   Pray, brothers, pray, but to no earthly King—
     Lift up your hands above the blighted grain,
   Look westward—if they please, the Gods shall bring
     Their mercy with the rain.

   Look westward—bears the blue no brown cloud-bank?
     Nay, it is written—wherefore should we fly?
   On our own field and by our cattle's flank
     Lie down, lie down to die!

                           Semi-Chorus

           By the plumed heads of Kings
                           Waving high,
           Where the tall corn springs
                           O'er the dead.

           If they rust or rot we die,
           If they ripen we are fed.

           Very mighty is the power of our Kings!

   Triumphal return to Simla of the Investigators, attired after
     the manner of Dionysus, leading a pet tiger-cub in wreaths
     of rhubarb-leaves, symbolical of India under medical treatment.

     They sing:—

   We have seen, we have written—behold it, the proof of our manifold toil!
   In their hosts they assembled and told it—the tale of the Sons of the Soil.

   We have said of the Sickness—"Where is it?"—and of Death—"It is far from
   our ken,"—
   We have paid a particular visit to the affluent children of men.

   We have trodden the mart and the well-curb—we have stooped to the field and
   the byre;
   And the King may the forces of Hell curb for the People have all they desire!

           Castanets and step-dance:—

   Oh, the dom and the mag and the thakur and the thag,
     And the nat and the brinjaree,
   And the bunnia and the ryot are as happy and as quiet
   And as plump as they can be!

   Yes, the jain and the jat in his stucco-fronted hut,
     And the bounding bazugar,
   By the favour of the King, are as fat as anything,
     They are—they are—they are!

   Recitative, Government of India, with white satin wings  and electro-plated
      harp:—

   How beautiful upon the Mountains—in peace reclining,
   Thus to be assured that our people are unanimously dining.

   And though there are places not so blessed as others in natural advantages,
   which, after all, was only to be expected,
   Proud and glad are we to congratulate you upon the work you have thus ably
   effected.

   (Cres.) How be-ewtiful upon the Mountains!

   Hired Band,  brasses only, full chorus:—

           God bless the Squire
           And all his rich relations
           Who teach us poor people
           We eat our proper rations—
                   We eat our proper rations,
                   In spite of inundations,
                   Malarial exhalations,
                   And casual starvations,
           We have, we have, they say we have—
           We have our proper rations!

   Chorus of the Crystallised Facts

           Before the beginning of years
           There came to the rule of the State
           Men with a pair of shears,
           Men with an Estimate—
           Strachey with Muir for leaven,
           Lytton with locks that fell,
           Ripon fooling with Heaven,
           And Temple riding like H—ll!
           And the bigots took in hand
           Cess and the falling of rain,
           And the measure of sifted sand
           The dealer puts in the grain—
           Imports by land and sea,
           To uttermost decimal worth,
           And registration—free—
           In the houses of death and of birth.

           And fashioned with pens and paper,
           And fashioned in black and white,
           With Life for a flickering taper
           And Death for a blazing light—
           With the Armed and the Civil Power,
           That his strength might endure for a span—
           From Adam's Bridge to Peshawur,
           The Much Administered Man.

           In the towns of the North and the East,
           They gathered as unto rule,
           They bade him starve his priest
           And send his children to school.

           Railways and roads they wrought,
           For the needs of the soil within;
           A time to squabble in court,
           A time to bear and to grin.

           And gave him peace in his ways,
           Jails—and Police to fight,
           Justice—at length of days,
           And Right—and Might in the Right.

           His speech is of mortgaged bedding,
           On his kine he borrows yet,
           At his heart is his daughter's wedding,
           In his eye foreknowledge of debt.

           He eats and hath indigestion,
           He toils and he may not stop;
           His life is a long-drawn question
           Between a crop and a crop.





THE MARE'S NEST

   Jane Austen Beecher Stowe de Rouse
     Was good beyond all earthly need;
   But, on the other hand, her spouse
     Was very, very bad indeed.

   He smoked cigars, called churches slow,
   And raced—but this she did not know.

   For Belial Machiavelli kept
     The little fact a secret, and,
   Though o'er his minor sins she wept,
     Jane Austen did not understand
   That Lilly—thirteen-two and bay
   Absorbed one-half her husband's pay.

   She was so good, she made him worse;
     (Some women are like this, I think;)
   He taught her parrot how to curse,
     Her Assam monkey how to drink.

   He vexed her righteous soul until
   She went up, and he went down hill.

   Then came the crisis, strange to say,
     Which turned a good wife to a better.

   A telegraphic peon, one day,
     Brought her—now, had it been a letter
   For Belial Machiavelli, I
   Know Jane would just have let it lie.

   But 'twas a telegram instead,
     Marked "urgent," and her duty plain
   To open it. Jane Austen read:
     "Your Lilly's got a cough again.
   Can't understand why she is kept
   At your expense." Jane Austen wept.

   It was a misdirected wire.
     Her husband was at Shaitanpore.
   She spread her anger, hot as fire,
     Through six thin foreign sheets or more.

   Sent off that letter, wrote another
   To her solicitor—and mother.

   Then Belial Machiavelli saw
     Her error and, I trust, his own,
   Wired to the minion of the Law,
     And traveled wifeward—not alone.

   For Lilly—thirteen-two and bay—
   Came in a horse-box all the way.

   There was a scene—a weep or two—
     With many kisses. Austen Jane
   Rode Lilly all the season through,
     And never opened wires again.

   She races now with Belial. This
   Is very sad, but so it is.





POSSIBILITIES

   Ay, lay him 'neath the Simla pine—
     A fortnight fully to be missed,
     Behold, we lose our fourth at whist,
   A chair is vacant where we dine.

   His place forgets him; other men
     Have bought his ponies, guns, and traps.
     His fortune is the Great Perhaps
   And that cool rest-house down the glen,

   Whence he shall hear, as spirits may,
     Our mundane revel on the height,
     Shall watch each flashing 'rickshaw-light
   Sweep on to dinner, dance, and play.

   Benmore shall woo him to the ball
     With lighted rooms and braying band;
     And he shall hear and understand
   "Dream Faces" better than us all.

   For, think you, as the vapours flee
     Across Sanjaolie after rain,
     His soul may climb the hill again
   To each field of victory.

   Unseen, who women held so dear,
     The strong man's yearning to his kind
     Shall shake at most the window-blind,
   Or dull awhile the card-room's cheer.

   @In his own place of power unknown,
     His Light o' Love another's flame,
   And he an alien and alone!

   Yet may he meet with many a friend—
     Shrewd shadows, lingering long unseen
     Among us when "God save the Queen"
   Shows even "extras" have an end.

   And, when we leave the heated room,
     And, when at four the lights expire,
     The crew shall gather round the fire
   And mock our laughter in the gloom;

   Talk as we talked, and they ere death—
     Flirt wanly, dance in ghostly-wise,
     With ghosts of tunes for melodies,
   And vanish at the morning's breath.





CHRISTMAS IN INDIA

   Dim dawn behind the tamarisks—the sky is saffron-yellow—
     As the women in the village grind the corn,
   And the parrots seek the riverside, each calling to his fellow
     That the Day, the staring Easter Day is born.

       Oh the white dust on the highway! Oh the stenches in the byway!
         Oh the clammy fog that hovers o'er the earth;
       And at Home they're making merry 'neath the white and scarlet berry—
         What part have India's exiles in their mirth?

   Full day behind the tamarisks—the sky is blue and staring—
     As the cattle crawl afield beneath the yoke,
   And they bear One o'er the field-path, who is past all hope or caring,
     To the ghat below the curling wreaths of smoke.

       Call on Rama, going slowly, as ye bear a brother lowly—
         Call on Rama—he may hear, perhaps, your voice!
       With our hymn-books and our psalters we appeal to other altars,
         And today we bid "good Christian men rejoice!"

   High noon behind the tamarisks—the sun is hot above us—
     As at Home the Christmas Day is breaking wan.
   They will drink our healths at dinner—those who tell us how they love us,
     And forget us till another year be gone!

       Oh the toil that knows no breaking! Oh the Heimweh, ceaseless, aching!
         Oh the black dividing Sea and alien Plain!
       Youth was cheap—wherefore we sold it.
         Gold was good—we hoped to hold it,
       And today we know the fulness of our gain.

   Grey dusk behind the tamarisks—the parrots fly together—
     As the sun is sinking slowly over Home;
   And his last ray seems to mock us shackled in a lifelong tether.
     That drags us back howe'er so far we roam.

       Hard her service, poor her payment—she is ancient, tattered raiment—
         India, she the grim Stepmother of our kind.
       If a year of life be lent her, if her temple's shrine we enter,
         The door is shut—we may not look behind.

   Black night behind the tamarisks—the owls begin their chorus—
     As the conches from the temple scream and bray.
   With the fruitless years behind us, and the hopeless years before us,
     Let us honor, O my brother, Christmas Day!

       Call a truce, then, to our labors—let us feast with friends and
   neighbors,
         And be merry as the custom of our caste;
       For if "faint and forced the laughter," and if sadness follow after,
         We are richer by one mocking Christmas past.





PAGETT, M.P.

   The toad beneath the harrow knows
   Exactly where each tooth-point goes.
   The butterfly upon the road
   Preaches contentment to that toad.

   Pagett, M.P., was a liar, and a fluent liar therewith—
   He spoke of the heat of India as the "Asian Solar Myth";
   Came on a four months' visit, to "study the East," in November,
   And I got him to sign an agreement vowing to stay till September.

   March came in with the koil. Pagett was cool and gay,
   Called me a "bloated Brahmin," talked of my "princely pay."
   March went out with the roses. "Where is your heat?" said he.
   "Coming," said I to Pagett, "Skittles!" said Pagett, M.P.

   April began with the punkah, coolies, and prickly-heat,—
   Pagett was dear to mosquitoes, sandflies found him a treat.
   He grew speckled and mumpy—hammered, I grieve to say,
   Aryan brothers who fanned him, in an illiberal way.

   May set in with a dust-storm,—Pagett went down with the sun.
   All the delights of the season tickled him one by one.
   Imprimis—ten day's "liver"—due to his drinking beer;
   Later, a dose of fever—slight, but he called it severe.

   Dysent'ry touched him in June, after the Chota Bursat—
   Lowered his portly person—made him yearn to depart.
   He didn't call me a "Brahmin," or "bloated," or "overpaid,"
   But seemed to think it a wonder that any one stayed.

   July was a trifle unhealthy,—Pagett was ill with fear.
   'Called it the "Cholera Morbus," hinted that life was dear.
   He babbled of "Eastern Exile," and mentioned his home with tears;
   But I haven't seen my children for close upon seven years.

   We reached a hundred and twenty once in the Court at noon,
   (I've mentioned Pagett was portly) Pagett, went off in a swoon.
   That was an end to the business; Pagett, the perjured, fled
   With a practical, working knowledge of "Solar Myths" in his head.

   And I laughed as I drove from the station, but the mirth died out on my lips
   As I thought of the fools like Pagett who write of their "Eastern trips,"
   And the sneers of the traveled idiots who duly misgovern the land,
   And I prayed to the Lord to deliver another one into my hand.





THE SONG OF THE WOMEN

   How shall she know the worship we would do her?
     The walls are high, and she is very far.
   How shall the woman's message reach unto her
     Above the tumult of the packed bazaar?
       Free wind of March, against the lattice blowing,
       Bear thou our thanks, lest she depart unknowing.

   Go forth across the fields we may not roam in,
     Go forth beyond the trees that rim the city,
   To whatsoe'er fair place she hath her home in,
     Who dowered us with wealth of love and pity.
       Out of our shadow pass, and seek her singing—
       "I have no gifts but Love alone for bringing."

   Say that we be a feeble folk who greet her,
     But old in grief, and very wise in tears;
   Say that we, being desolate, entreat her
     That she forget us not in after years;
       For we have seen the light, and it were grievous
       To dim that dawning if our lady leave us.

   By life that ebbed with none to stanch the failing
     By Love's sad harvest garnered in the spring,
   When Love in ignorance wept unavailing
     O'er young buds dead before their blossoming;
       By all the grey owl watched, the pale moon viewed,
       In past grim years, declare our gratitude!

   By hands uplifted to the Gods that heard not,
     By fits that found no favor in their sight,
   By faces bent above the babe that stirred not,
     By nameless horrors of the stifling night;
       By ills foredone, by peace her toils discover,
       Bid Earth be good beneath and Heaven above her!

   If she have sent her servants in our pain
     If she have fought with Death and dulled his sword;
   If she have given back our sick again.
     And to the breast the waking lips restored,
       Is it a little thing that she has wrought?
       Then Life and Death and Motherhood be nought.

   Go forth, O wind, our message on thy wings,
     And they shall hear thee pass and bid thee speed,
   In reed-roofed hut, or white-walled home of kings,
     Who have been helpen by her in their need.

       All spring shall give thee fragrance, and the wheat
       Shall be a tasselled floorcloth to thy feet.

   Haste, for our hearts are with thee, take no rest!
     Loud-voiced ambassador, from sea to sea
   Proclaim the blessing, manifold, confessed.
     Of those in darkness by her hand set free.

       Then very softly to her presence move,
       And whisper: "Lady, lo, they know and love!"





A BALLAD OF JAKKO HILL

   One moment bid the horses wait,
     Since tiffin is not laid till three,
   Below the upward path and straight
     You climbed a year ago with me.

   Love came upon us suddenly
     And loosed—an idle hour to kill—
   A headless, armless armory
     That smote us both on Jakko Hill.

   Ah Heaven! we would wait and wait
     Through Time and to Eternity!
   Ah Heaven! we could conquer Fate
     With more than Godlike constancy
   I cut the date upon a tree—
     Here stand the clumsy figures still:
   "10-7-85, A.D."
     Damp with the mist of Jakko Hill.

   What came of high resolve and great,
     And until Death fidelity!
   Whose horse is waiting at your gate?
     Whose 'rickshaw-wheels ride over me?
   No Saint's, I swear; and—let me see
     Tonight what names your programme fill—
   We drift asunder merrily,
     As drifts the mist on Jakko Hill.

                   L'ENVOI.

   Princess, behold our ancient state
     Has clean departed; and we see
   'Twas Idleness we took for Fate
     That bound light bonds on you and me.

   Amen! Here ends the comedy
     Where it began in all good will;
   Since Love and Leave together flee
     As driven mist on Jakko Hill!





THE PLEA OF THE SIMLA DANCERS

       Too late, alas! the song
       To remedy the wrong;—
   The rooms are taken from us, swept and
         garnished for their fate.
       But these tear-besprinkled pages
       Shall attest to future ages
   That we cried against the crime of it—
         too late, alas! too late!

   "What have we ever done to bear this grudge?"
     Was there no room save only in Benmore
   For docket, duftar, and for office drudge,
     That you usurp our smoothest dancing floor?
   Must babus do their work on polished teak?
     Are ball-rooms fittest for the ink you spill?
   Was there no other cheaper house to seek?
     You might have left them all at Strawberry Hill.

   We never harmed you! Innocent our guise,
     Dainty our shining feet, our voices low;
   And we revolved to divers melodies,
     And we were happy but a year ago.

   Tonight, the moon that watched our lightsome wiles—
     That beamed upon us through the deodars—
   Is wan with gazing on official files,
     And desecrating desks disgust the stars.

   Nay! by the memory of tuneful nights—
     Nay! by the witchery of flying feet—
   Nay! by the glamour of foredone delights—
     By all things merry, musical, and meet—
   By wine that sparkled, and by sparkling eyes—
     By wailing waltz—by reckless galop's strain—
   By dim verandas and by soft replies,
     Give us our ravished ball-room back again!

   Or—hearken to the curse we lay on you!
     The ghosts of waltzes shall perplex your brain,
   And murmurs of past merriment pursue
     Your 'wildered clerks that they indite in vain;
   And when you count your poor Provincial millions,
     The only figures that your pen shall frame
   Shall be the figures of dear, dear cotillions
     Danced out in tumult long before you came.

   Yea! "See Saw" shall upset your estimates,
     "Dream Faces" shall your heavy heads bemuse,
   Because your hand, unheeding, desecrates
     Our temple; fit for higher, worthier use.
   And all the long verandas, eloquent
     With echoes of a score of Simla years,
   Shall plague you with unbidden sentiment—
     Babbling of kisses, laughter, love, and tears.

   So shall you mazed amid old memories stand,
     So shall you toil, and shall accomplish nought,
   And ever in your ears a phantom Band
     Shall blare away the staid official thought.

   Wherefore—and ere this awful curse he spoken,
     Cast out your swarthy sacrilegious train,
   And give—ere dancing cease and hearts be broken—
     Give us our ravished ball-room back again!





THE BALLAD OF FISHER'S BOARDING-HOUSE

           That night, when through the mooring-chains
               The wide-eyed corpse rolled free,
             To blunder down by Garden Reach
               And rot at Kedgeree,
             The tale the Hughli told the shoal
               The lean shoal told to me.

   'T was Fultah Fisher's boarding-house,
     Where sailor-men reside,
   And there were men of all the ports
     From Mississip to Clyde,
   And regally they spat and smoked,
     And fearsomely they lied.

   They lied about the purple Sea
     That gave them scanty bread,
   They lied about the Earth beneath,
     The Heavens overhead,
   For they had looked too often on
     Black rum when that was red.

   They told their tales of wreck and wrong,
     Of shame and lust and fraud,
   They backed their toughest statements with
     The Brimstone of the Lord,
   And crackling oaths went to and fro
     Across the fist-banged board.

   And there was Hans the blue-eyed Dane,
     Bull-throated, bare of arm,
   Who carried on his hairy chest
     The maid Ultruda's charm—
   The little silver crucifix
     That keeps a man from harm.

   And there was Jake Without-the-Ears,
     And Pamba the Malay,
   And Carboy Gin the Guinea cook,
     And Luz from Vigo Bay,
   And Honest Jack who sold them slops
     And harvested their pay.

   And there was Salem Hardieker,
     A lean Bostonian he—
   Russ, German, English, Halfbreed, Finn,
     Yank, Dane, and Portuguee,
   At Fultah Fisher's boarding-house
     They rested from the sea.

   Now Anne of Austria shared their drinks,
     Collinga knew her fame,
   From Tarnau in Galicia
     To Juan Bazaar she came,
   To eat the bread of infamy
     And take the wage of shame.

   She held a dozen men to heel—
     Rich spoil of war was hers,
   In hose and gown and ring and chain,
     From twenty mariners,
   And, by Port Law, that week, men called
     her Salem Hardieker's.

   But seamen learnt—what landsmen know—
     That neither gifts nor gain
   Can hold a winking Light o' Love
     Or Fancy's flight restrain,
   When Anne of Austria rolled her eyes
     On Hans the blue-eyed Dane.

   Since Life is strife, and strife means knife,
     From Howrah to the Bay,
   And he may die before the dawn
     Who liquored out the day,
   In Fultah Fisher's boarding-house
     We woo while yet we may.

   But cold was Hans the blue-eyed Dane,
     Bull-throated, bare of arm,
   And laughter shook the chest beneath
     The maid Ultruda's charm—
   The little silver crucifix
     That keeps a man from harm.

   "You speak to Salem Hardieker;
     "You was his girl, I know.

   "I ship mineselfs tomorrow, see,
     "Und round the Skaw we go,
   "South, down the Cattegat, by Hjelm,
     "To Besser in Saro."

   When love rejected turns to hate,
     All ill betide the man.

   "You speak to Salem Hardieker"—
     She spoke as woman can.
   A scream—a sob—"He called me—names!"
     And then the fray began.

   An oath from Salem Hardieker,
     A shriek upon the stairs,
   A dance of shadows on the wall,
     A knife-thrust unawares—
   And Hans came down, as cattle drop,
     Across the broken chairs.
   *     *      *        *       *       *

   In Anne of Austria's trembling hands
     The weary head fell low:—
   "I ship mineselfs tomorrow, straight
     "For Besser in Saro;
   "Und there Ultruda comes to me
     "At Easter, und I go—

   "South, down the Cattegat—What's here?
     "There—are—no—lights—to guide!"
   The mutter ceased, the spirit passed,
     And Anne of Austria cried
   In Fultah Fisher's boarding-house
     When Hans the mighty died.

   Thus slew they Hans the blue-eyed Dane,
     Bull-throated, bare of arm,
   But Anne of Austria looted first
     The maid Ultruda's charm—
   The little silver crucifix
     That keeps a man from harm.





AS THE BELL CLINKS

   As I left the Halls at Lumley, rose the vision of a comely
   Maid last season worshipped dumbly, watched with fervor from afar;
   And I wondered idly, blindly, if the maid would greet me kindly.

   That was all—the rest was settled by the clinking tonga-bar.
   Yea, my life and hers were coupled by the tonga coupling-bar.

   For my misty meditation, at the second changin'-station,
   Suffered sudden dislocation, fled before the tuneless jar
   Of a Wagner obbligato, scherzo, doublehand staccato,
   Played on either pony's saddle by the clacking tonga-bar—

   Played with human speech, I fancied, by the jigging, jolting bar.

   "She was sweet," thought I, "last season, but 'twere surely wild unreason
   Such tiny hope to freeze on as was offered by my Star,
   When she whispered, something sadly: 'I—we feel your going badly!'"
   "And you let the chance escape you?" rapped the rattling tonga-bar.

   "What a chance and what an idiot!" clicked the vicious tonga-bar.

   Heart of man—oh, heart of putty! Had I gone by Kakahutti,
   On the old Hill-road and rutty, I had 'scaped that fatal car.
   But his fortune each must bide by, so I watched the milestones slide by,
   To "You call on Her tomorrow!"—fugue with cymbals by the bar—

   "You must call on Her tomorrow!"—post-horn gallop by the bar.

   Yet a further stage my goal on—we were whirling down to Solon,
   With a double lurch and roll on, best foot foremost, ganz und gar—
   "She was very sweet," I hinted. "If a kiss had been imprinted?"—
   "'Would ha' saved a world of trouble!" clashed the busy tonga-bar.

   "'Been accepted or rejected!" banged and clanged the tonga-bar.

   Then a notion wild and daring, 'spite the income tax's paring,
   And a hasty thought of sharing—less than many incomes are,
   Made me put a question private, you can guess what I would drive at.
   "You must work the sum to prove it," clanked the careless tonga-bar.

   "Simple Rule of Two will prove it," lilted back the tonga-bar.

   It was under Khyraghaut I mused. "Suppose the maid be haughty—
   (There are lovers rich—and rotty)—wait some wealthy Avatar?
   Answer monitor untiring, 'twixt the ponies twain perspiring!"
   "Faint heart never won fair lady," creaked the straining tonga-bar.

   "Can I tell you ere you ask Her?" pounded slow the tonga-bar.

   Last, the Tara Devi turning showed the lights of Simla burning,
   Lit my little lazy yearning to a fiercer flame by far.

   As below the Mall we jingled, through my very heart it tingled—
   Did the iterated order of the threshing tonga-bar—

   "Try your luck—you can't do better!" twanged the loosened tonga-bar.





AN OLD SONG

   So long as 'neath the Kalka hills
     The tonga-horn shall ring,
   So long as down the Solon dip
     The hard-held ponies swing,
   So long as Tara Devi sees
     The lights of Simla town,
   So long as Pleasure calls us up,
     Or Duty drives us down,
       If you love me as I love you
       What pair so happy as we two?

   So long as Aces take the King,
     Or backers take the bet,
   So long as debt leads men to wed,
     Or marriage leads to debt,
   So long as little luncheons, Love,
     And scandal hold their vogue,
   While there is sport at Annandale
     Or whisky at Jutogh,
       If you love me as I love you
       What knife can cut our love in two?

   So long as down the rocking floor
     The raving polka spins,
   So long as Kitchen Lancers spur
     The maddened violins,
   So long as through the whirling smoke
     We hear the oft-told tale—
   "Twelve hundred in the Lotteries,"
     And Whatshername for sale?
       If you love me as I love you
       We'll play the game and win it too.

   So long as Lust or Lucre tempt
     Straight riders from the course,
   So long as with each drink we pour
     Black brewage of Remorse,
   So long as those unloaded guns
     We keep beside the bed,
   Blow off, by obvious accident,
     The lucky owner's head,
       If you love me as I love you
       What can Life kill or Death undo?

   So long as Death 'twixt dance and dance
     Chills best and bravest blood,
   And drops the reckless rider down
     The rotten, rain-soaked khud,
   So long as rumours from the North
     Make loving wives afraid,
   So long as Burma takes the boy
     Or typhoid kills the maid,
       If you love me as I love you
       What knife can cut our love in two?

   By all that lights our daily life
     Or works our lifelong woe,
   From Boileaugunge to Simla Downs
     And those grim glades below,
   Where, heedless of the flying hoof
     And clamour overhead,
   Sleep, with the grey langur for guard
     Our very scornful Dead,
       If you love me as I love you
       All Earth is servant to us two!

   By Docket, Billetdoux, and File,
     By Mountain, Cliff, and Fir,
   By Fan and Sword and Office-box,
     By Corset, Plume, and Spur
   By Riot, Revel, Waltz, and War,
     By Women, Work, and Bills,
   By all the life that fizzes in
     The everlasting Hills,
       If you love me as I love you
       What pair so happy as we two?





CERTAIN MAXIMS OF HAFIZ

      I.
   If It be pleasant to look on, stalled in the packed serai,
   Does not the Young Man try Its temper and pace ere he buy?
   If She be pleasant to look on, what does the Young Man say?
   "Lo! She is pleasant to look on, give Her to me today!"

      II.
   Yea, though a Kafir die, to him is remitted Jehannum
   If he borrowed in life from a native at sixty per cent. per annum.

      III.
   Blister we not for bursati? So when the heart is vexed,
   The pain of one maiden's refusal is drowned in the pain of the next.

      IV.
   The temper of chums, the love of your wife, and a new piano's tune—
   Which of the three will you trust at the end of an Indian June?

      V.
   Who are the rulers of Ind—to whom shall we bow the knee?
   Make your peace with the women, and men will make you L. G.

      VI.
   Does the woodpecker flit round the young ferash?
   Does grass clothe a new-built wall?
   Is she under thirty, the woman who holds a boy in her thrall?

      VII.
   If She grow suddenly gracious—reflect. Is it all for thee?
   The black-buck is stalked through the bullock, and Man through jealousy.

      VIII.
   Seek not for favor of women. So shall you find it indeed.
   Does not the boar break cover just when you're lighting a weed?

      IX.
   If He play, being young and unskilful, for shekels of silver and gold,
   Take his money, my son, praising Allah. The kid was ordained to be sold.

      X.
   With a "weed" among men or horses verily this is the best,
   That you work him in office or dog-cart lightly—but give him no rest.

      XI.
   Pleasant the snaffle of Courtship, improving the manners and carriage;
   But the colt who is wise will abstain from the terrible thorn-bit of Marriage.

      XII.
   As the thriftless gold of the babul, so is the gold that we spend
   On a derby Sweep, or our neighbor's wife, or the horse that we buy from a
   friend.

      XIII.
   The ways of man with a maid be strange, yet simple and tame
   To the ways of a man with a horse, when selling or racing that same.

      XIV.
   In public Her face turneth to thee, and pleasant Her smile when ye meet.
   It is ill. The cold rocks of El-Gidar smile thus on the waves at their feet.

   In public Her face is averted, with anger. She nameth thy name.
   It is well. Was there ever a loser content with the loss of the game?

      XV.
   If She have spoken a word, remember thy lips are sealed,
   And the Brand of the Dog is upon him by whom is the secret revealed.

   If She have written a letter, delay not an instant, but burn it.
   Tear it to pieces, O Fool, and the wind to her mate shall return it!

   If there be trouble to Herward, and a lie of the blackest can clear,
   Lie, while thy lips can move or a man is alive to hear.

      XVI.
   My Son, if a maiden deny thee and scufflingly bid thee give o'er,
   Yet lip meets with lip at the last word—get out!
     She has been there before.
   They are pecked on the ear and the chin and the nose who are lacking in lore.

      XVII.
   If we fall in the race, though we win, the hoof-slide is scarred on the
   course.
   Though Allah and Earth pardon Sin, remaineth forever Remorse.

      XVIII.
   "By all I am misunderstood!" if the Matron shall say, or the Maid:
   "Alas! I do not understand," my son, be thou nowise afraid.

   In vain in the sight of the Bird is the net of the Fowler displayed.

      XIX.
   My son, if I, Hafiz, the father, take hold of thy knees in my pain,
   Demanding thy name on stamped paper, one day or one hour—refrain.

   Are the links of thy fetters so light that thou cravest another man's chain?





THE GRAVE OF THE HUNDRED HEAD

   There's a widow in sleepy Chester
     Who weeps for her only son;
   There's a grave on the Pabeng River,
     A grave that the Burmans shun,
   And there's Subadar Prag Tewarri
     Who tells how the work was done.

   A Snider squibbed in the jungle,
     Somebody laughed and fled,
   And the men of the First Shikaris
     Picked up their Subaltern dead,
   With a big blue mark in his forehead
     And the back blown out of his head.

   Subadar Prag Tewarri,
     Jemadar Hira Lal,
   Took command of the party,
     Twenty rifles in all,
   Marched them down to the river
     As the day was beginning to fall.

   They buried the boy by the river,
     A blanket over his face—
   They wept for their dead Lieutenant,
     The men of an alien race—
   They made a samadh in his honor,
     A mark for his resting-place.

   For they swore by the Holy Water,
     They swore by the salt they ate,
   That the soul of Lieutenant Eshmitt Sahib
     Should go to his God in state;
   With fifty file of Burman
     To open him Heaven's gate.

   The men of the First Shikaris
     Marched till the break of day,
   Till they came to the rebel village,
     The village of Pabengmay—
   A jingal covered the clearing,
     Calthrops hampered the way.

   Subadar Prag Tewarri,
     Bidding them load with ball,
   Halted a dozen rifles
     Under the village wall;
   Sent out a flanking-party
     With Jemadar Hira Lal.

   The men of the First Shikaris
     Shouted and smote and slew,
   Turning the grinning jingal
     On to the howling crew.
   The Jemadar's flanking-party
     Butchered the folk who flew.

   Long was the morn of slaughter,
     Long was the list of slain,
   Five score heads were taken,
     Five score heads and twain;
   And the men of the First Shikaris
     Went back to their grave again,

   Each man bearing a basket
     Red as his palms that day,
   Red as the blazing village—
     The village of Pabengmay,
   And the "drip-drip-drip" from the baskets
     Reddened the grass by the way.

   They made a pile of their trophies
     High as a tall man's chin,
   Head upon head distorted,
     Set in a sightless grin,
   Anger and pain and terror
     Stamped on the smoke-scorched skin.

   Subadar Prag Tewarri
     Put the head of the Boh
   On the top of the mound of triumph,
     The head of his son below,
   With the sword and the peacock-banner
     That the world might behold and know.

   Thus the samadh was perfect,
     Thus was the lesson plain
   Of the wrath of the First Shikaris—
     The price of a white man slain;
   And the men of the First Shikaris
     Went back into camp again.

   Then a silence came to the river,
     A hush fell over the shore,
   And Bohs that were brave departed,
     And Sniders squibbed no more;
       For the Burmans said
       That a kullah's head
   Must be paid for with heads five score.

   There's a widow in sleepy Chester
     Who weeps for her only son;
   There's a grave on the Pabeng River,
     A grave that the Burmans shun,
   And there's Subadar Prag Tewarri
     Who tells how the work was done.





THE MOON OF OTHER DAYS

   Beneath the deep veranda's shade,
     When bats begin to fly,
   I sit me down and watch—alas!—
     Another evening die.

   Blood-red behind the sere ferash
     She rises through the haze.
   Sainted Diana! can that be
     The Moon of Other Days?

   Ah! shade of little Kitty Smith,
     Sweet Saint of Kensington!
   Say, was it ever thus at Home
     The Moon of August shone,
   When arm in arm we wandered long
     Through Putney's evening haze,
   And Hammersmith was Heaven beneath
     The Moon of Other Days?

   But Wandle's stream is Sutlej now,
     And Putney's evening haze
   The dust that half a hundred kine
     Before my window raise.
   Unkempt, unclean, athwart the mist
     The seething city looms,
   In place of Putney's golden gorse
     The sickly babul blooms.

   Glare down, old Hecate, through the dust,
     And bid the pie-dog yell,
   Draw from the drain its typhoid-germ,
     From each bazaar its smell;
   Yea, suck the fever from the tank
     And sap my strength therewith:
   Thank Heaven, you show a smiling face
     To little Kitty Smith!
THE OVERLAND MAIL
   (Foot-Service to the Hills)

   In the name of the Empress of India, make way,
     O Lords of the Jungle, wherever you roam.
   The woods are astir at the close of the day—
     We exiles are waiting for letters from Home.
   Let the robber retreat—let the tiger turn tail—
   In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail!

   With a jingle of bells as the dusk gathers in,
     He turns to the foot-path that heads up the hill—
   The bags on his back and a cloth round his chin,
     And, tucked in his waist-belt, the Post Office bill:
   "Despatched on this date, as received by the rail,
   Per runner, two bags of the Overland Mail."

   Is the torrent in spate? He must ford it or swim.
     Has the rain wrecked the road? He must climb by the cliff.
   Does the tempest cry "Halt"? What are tempests to him?
     The Service admits not a "but" or and "if."
   While the breath's in his mouth, he must bear without fail,
   In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.

   From aloe to rose-oak, from rose-oak to fir,
     From level to upland, from upland to crest,
   From rice-field to rock-ridge, from rock-ridge to spur,
     Fly the soft sandalled feet, strains the brawny brown chest.
   From rail to ravine—to the peak from the vale—
   Up, up through the night goes the Overland Mail.

   There's a speck on the hillside, a dot on the road—
     A jingle of bells on the foot-path below—
   There's a scuffle above in the monkey's abode—
     The world is awake, and the clouds are aglow.

   For the great Sun himself must attend to the hail:
   "In the name of the Empress the Overland Mail!"
WHAT THE PEOPLE SAID
   June 21st, 1887

   By the well, where the bullocks go
   Silent and blind and slow—
   By the field where the young corn dies
   In the face of the sultry skies,
   They have heard, as the dull Earth hears
   The voice of the wind of an hour,
   The sound of the Great Queen's voice:
   "My God hath given me years,
   Hath granted dominion and power:
   And I bid you, O Land, rejoice."

   And the ploughman settles the share
   More deep in the grudging clod;
   For he saith: "The wheat is my care,
   And the rest is the will of God.

   He sent the Mahratta spear
   As He sendeth the rain,
   And the Mlech, in the fated year,
   Broke the spear in twain.

   And was broken in turn. Who knows
   How our Lords make strife?
   It is good that the young wheat grows,
   For the bread is Life."

   Then, far and near, as the twilight drew,
   Hissed up to the scornful dark
   Great serpents, blazing, of red and blue,
   That rose and faded, and rose anew.

   That the Land might wonder and mark
   "Today is a day of days," they said,
   "Make merry, O People, all!"
   And the Ploughman listened and bowed his head:
   "Today and tomorrow God's will," he said,
   As he trimmed the lamps on the wall.

   "He sendeth us years that are good,
   As He sendeth the dearth,
   He giveth to each man his food,
   Or Her food to the Earth.

   Our Kings and our Queens are afar—
   On their peoples be peace—
   God bringeth the rain to the Bar,
   That our cattle increase."

   And the Ploughman settled the share
   More deep in the sun-dried clod:
   "Mogul Mahratta, and Mlech from the North,
   And White Queen over the Seas—
   God raiseth them up and driveth them forth
   As the dust of the ploughshare flies in the breeze;
   But the wheat and the cattle are all my care,
   And the rest is the will of God."





THE UNDERTAKER'S HORSE

   "To-tschin-shu is condemned to death.
   How can he drink tea with the Executioner?"
   Japanese Proverb.

   The eldest son bestrides him,
   And the pretty daughter rides him,
   And I meet him oft o' mornings on the Course;
   And there kindles in my bosom
   An emotion chill and gruesome
   As I canter past the Undertaker's Horse.

   Neither shies he nor is restive,
   But a hideously suggestive
   Trot, professional and placid, he affects;
   And the cadence of his hoof-beats
   To my mind this grim reproof beats:—
   "Mend your pace, my friend, I'm coming. Who's the next?"

   Ah! stud-bred of ill-omen,
   I have watched the strongest go—men
   Of pith and might and muscle—at your heels,
   Down the plantain-bordered highway,
   (Heaven send it ne'er be my way!)
   In a lacquered box and jetty upon wheels.

   Answer, sombre beast and dreary,
   Where is Brown, the young, the cheery,
   Smith, the pride of all his friends and half the Force?
   You were at that last dread dak
   We must cover at a walk,
   Bring them back to me, O Undertaker's Horse!

   With your mane unhogged and flowing,
   And your curious way of going,
   And that businesslike black crimping of your tail,
   E'en with Beauty on your back, Sir,
   Pacing as a lady's hack, Sir,
   What wonder when I meet you I turn pale?

   It may be you wait your time, Beast,
   Till I write my last bad rhyme, Beast—
   Quit the sunlight, cut the rhyming, drop the glass—
   Follow after with the others,
   Where some dusky heathen smothers
   Us with marigolds in lieu of English grass.

   Or, perchance, in years to follow,
   I shall watch your plump sides hollow,
   See Carnifex (gone lame) become a corse—
   See old age at last o'erpower you,
   And the Station Pack devour you,
   I shall chuckle then, O Undertaker's Horse!

   But to insult, jibe, and quest, I've
   Still the hideously suggestive
   Trot that hammers out the unrelenting text,
   And I hear it hard behind me
   In what place soe'er I find me:—
   "'Sure to catch you sooner or later. Who's the next?"





THE FALL OF JOCK GILLESPIE

   This fell when dinner-time was done—
     'Twixt the first an' the second rub—
   That oor mon Jock cam' hame again
     To his rooms ahist the Club.

   An' syne he laughed, an' syne he sang,
     An' syne we thocht him fou,
   An' syne he trumped his partner's trick,
     An' garred his partner rue.

   Then up and spake an elder mon,
     That held the Spade its Ace—
   "God save the lad! Whence comes the licht
     "That wimples on his face?"

   An' Jock he sniggered, an' Jock he smiled,
     An' ower the card-brim wunk:—
   "I'm a' too fresh fra' the stirrup-peg,
     "May be that I am drunk."

   "There's whusky brewed in Galashils
     "An' L. L. L. forbye;
   "But never liquor lit the lowe
     "That keeks fra' oot your eye.

   "There's a third o' hair on your dress-coat breast,
     "Aboon the heart a wee?"
   "Oh! that is fra' the lang-haired Skye
     "That slobbers ower me."

   "Oh! lang-haired Skyes are lovin' beasts,
     "An' terrier dogs are fair,
   "But never yet was terrier born,
     "Wi' ell-lang gowden hair!

   "There's a smirch o' pouther on your breast,
     "Below the left lappel?"
   "Oh! that is fra' my auld cigar,
     "Whenas the stump-end fell."

   "Mon Jock, ye smoke the Trichi coarse,
     "For ye are short o' cash,
   "An' best Havanas couldna leave
     "Sae white an' pure an ash.

   "This nicht ye stopped a story braid,
     "An' stopped it wi' a curse.
   "Last nicht ye told that tale yoursel'—
     "An' capped it wi' a worse!

   "Oh! we're no fou! Oh! we're no fou!
     "But plainly we can ken
   "Ye're fallin', fallin' fra the band
     "O' cantie single men!"

   An' it fell when sirris-shaws were sere,
     An' the nichts were lang and mirk,
   In braw new breeks, wi' a gowden ring,
     Oor Jock gaed to the Kirk!





ARITHMETIC ON THE FRONTIER

   A great and glorious thing it is
     To learn, for seven years or so,
   The Lord knows what of that and this,
     Ere reckoned fit to face the foe—
   The flying bullet down the Pass,
   That whistles clear: "All flesh is grass."

   Three hundred pounds per annum spent
     On making brain and body meeter
   For all the murderous intent
     Comprised in "villainous saltpetre!"
   And after—ask the Yusufzaies
   What comes of all our 'ologies.

   A scrimmage in a Border Station—
     A canter down some dark defile—
   Two thousand pounds of education
     Drops to a ten-rupee jezail—
   The Crammer's boast, the Squadron's pride,
   Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

   No proposition Euclid wrote,
     No formulae the text-books know,
   Will turn the bullet from your coat,
     Or ward the tulwar's downward blow
   Strike hard who cares—shoot straight who can—
   The odds are on the cheaper man.

   One sword-knot stolen from the camp
     Will pay for all the school expenses
   Of any Kurrum Valley scamp
     Who knows no word of moods and tenses,
   But, being blessed with perfect sight,
   Picks off our messmates left and right.

   With home-bred hordes the hillsides teem,
     The troop-ships bring us one by one,
   At vast expense of time and steam,
     To slay Afridis where they run.

   The "captives of our bow and spear"
   Are cheap—alas! as we are dear.





THE BETROTHED

   "You must choose between me and your cigar."
          —BREACH OF PROMISE CASE, CIRCA 1885.

   Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
   For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.

   We quarrelled about Havanas—we fought o'er a good cheroot,
   And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.

   Open the old cigar-box—let me consider a space;
   In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie's face.

   Maggie is pretty to look at—Maggie's a loving lass,
   But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.

   There's peace in a Larranaga, there's calm in a Henry Clay;
   But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away—

   Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown—
   But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o' the talk o' the town!

   Maggie, my wife at fifty—grey and dour and old—
   With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!

   And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
   And Love's torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar—

   The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket—
   With never a new one to light tho' it's charred and black to the socket!

   Open the old cigar-box—let me consider a while.
   Here is a mild Manila—there is a wifely smile.

   Which is the better portion—bondage bought with a ring,
   Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?

   Counsellors cunning and silent—comforters true and tried,
   And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?

   Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
   Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,

   This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
   With only a Suttee's passion—to do their duty and burn.

   This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
   Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.

   The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
   When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.

   I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
   So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.

   I will scent 'em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
   And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.

   For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
   The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o' Teen.

   And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
   But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;

   And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
   Of stumps that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.

   And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
   But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-the-Wisp of Love.

   Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
   Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?

   Open the old cigar-box—let me consider anew—
   Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

   A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
   And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.

   Light me another Cuba—I hold to my first-sworn vows.
   If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggie for Spouse!





A TALE OF TWO CITIES

   Where the sober-colored cultivator smiles
       On his byles;
   Where the cholera, the cyclone, and the crow
       Come and go;
   Where the merchant deals in indigo and tea,
       Hides and ghi;
   Where the Babu drops inflammatory hints
       In his prints;
   Stands a City—Charnock chose it—packed away
       Near a Bay—
   By the Sewage rendered fetid, by the sewer
       Made impure,
   By the Sunderbunds unwholesome, by the swamp
       Moist and damp;
   And the City and the Viceroy, as we see,
       Don't agree.

   Once, two hundred years ago, the trader came
       Meek and tame.

   Where his timid foot first halted, there he stayed,
       Till mere trade
   Grew to Empire, and he sent his armies forth
       South and North
   Till the country from Peshawur to Ceylon
       Was his own.

   Thus the midday halt of Charnock—more's the pity!
       Grew a City.

   As the fungus sprouts chaotic from its bed,
       So it spread—
   Chance-directed, chance-erected, laid and built
       On the silt—
   Palace, byre, hovel—poverty and pride—
       Side by side;
   And, above the packed and pestilential town,
       Death looked down.

   But the Rulers in that City by the Sea
       Turned to flee—
   Fled, with each returning spring-tide from its ills
       To the Hills.

   From the clammy fogs of morning, from the blaze
       Of old days,
   From the sickness of the noontide, from the heat,
       Beat retreat;
   For the country from Peshawur to Ceylon
       Was their own.

   But the Merchant risked the perils of the Plain
       For his gain.

   Now the resting-place of Charnock, 'neath the palms,
       Asks an alms,
   And the burden of its lamentation is,
       Briefly, this:
   "Because for certain months, we boil and stew,
       So should you.

   Cast the Viceroy and his Council, to perspire
       In our fire!"
   And for answer to the argument, in vain
       We explain
   That an amateur Saint Lawrence cannot fry:
       "All must fry!"
   That the Merchant risks the perils of the Plain
       For gain.

   Nor can Rulers rule a house that men grow rich in,
       From its kitchen.

   Let the Babu drop inflammatory hints
     In his prints;
   And mature—consistent soul—his plan for stealing
     To Darjeeling:
   Let the Merchant seek, who makes his silver pile,
       England's isle;
   Let the City Charnock pitched on—evil day!
       Go Her way.

   Though the argosies of Asia at Her doors
       Heap their stores,
   Though Her enterprise and energy secure
       Income sure,
   Though "out-station orders punctually obeyed"
       Swell Her trade—
   Still, for rule, administration, and the rest,
       Simla's best.

   The End
   *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *





VOLUME II BALLADS AND BARRACK-ROOM BALLADS





BALLADS





THE BALLAD OF EAST AND WEST

        Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall
   meet,
        Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment
   Seat;
        But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
        When two strong men stand face to face,
          tho' they come from the ends of the earth!

   Kamal is out with twenty men to raise the Border-side,
   And he has lifted the Colonel's mare that is the Colonel's pride:
   He has lifted her out of the stable-door between the dawn and the day,
   And turned the calkins upon her feet, and ridden her far away.

   Then up and spoke the Colonel's son that led a troop of the Guides:
   "Is there never a man of all my men can say where Kamal hides?"
   Then up and spoke Mahommed Khan, the son of the Ressaldar:
   "If ye know the track of the morning-mist, ye know where his pickets are.

   "At dusk he harries the Abazai—at dawn he is into Bonair,
   But he must go by Fort Bukloh to his own place to fare,
   So if ye gallop to Fort Bukloh as fast as a bird can fly,
   By the favour of God ye may cut him off ere he win to the Tongue of Jagai.

   "But if he be past the Tongue of Jagai, right swiftly turn ye then,
   For the length and the breadth of that grisly plain is sown with Kamal's men.
   There is rock to the left, and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
   And ye may hear a breech-bolt snick where never a man is seen."

   The Colonel's son has taken a horse, and a raw rough dun was he,
   With the mouth of a bell and the heart of Hell and the head of the gallows-
   tree.

   The Colonel's son to the Fort has won, they bid him stay to eat—
   Who rides at the tail of a Border thief, he sits not long at his meat.

   He's up and away from Fort Bukloh as fast as he can fly,
   Till he was aware of his father's mare in the gut of the Tongue of Jagai,
   Till he was aware of his father's mare with Kamal upon her back,
   And when he could spy the white of her eye, he made the pistol crack.

   He has fired once, he has fired twice, but the whistling ball went wide.
   "Ye shoot like a soldier," Kamal said.  "Show now if ye can ride."

   It's up and over the Tongue of Jagai, as blown dustdevils go,
   The dun he fled like a stag of ten, but the mare like a barren doe.

   The dun he leaned against the bit and slugged his head above,
   But the red mare played with the snaffle-bars, as a maiden plays with a glove.

   There was rock to the left and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
   And thrice he heard a breech-bolt snick tho' never a man was seen.

   They have ridden the low moon out of the sky, their hoofs drum up the dawn,
   The dun he went like a wounded bull, but the mare like a new-roused fawn.

   The dun he fell at a water-course—in a woful heap fell he,
   And Kamal has turned the red mare back, and pulled the rider free.

   He has knocked the pistol out of his hand—small room was there to strive,
   "'Twas only by favour of mine," quoth he, "ye rode so long alive:
   There was not a rock for twenty mile, there was not a clump of tree,
   But covered a man of my own men with his rifle cocked on his knee.

   "If I had raised my bridle-hand, as I have held it low,
   The little jackals that flee so fast were feasting all in a row:
   If I had bowed my head on my breast, as I have held it high,
   The kite that whistles above us now were gorged till she could not fly."
   Lightly answered the Colonel's son:  "Do good to bird and beast,
   But count who come for the broken meats before thou makest a feast.

   "If there should follow a thousand swords to carry my bones away,
   Belike the price of a jackal's meal were more than a thief could pay.

   "They will feed their horse on the standing crop, their men on the garnered
   grain,
   The thatch of the byres will serve their fires when all the cattle are slain.

   "But if thou thinkest the price be fair,—thy brethren wait to sup,
   The hound is kin to the jackal-spawn,—howl, dog, and call them up!
   And if thou thinkest the price be high, in steer and gear and stack,
   Give me my father's mare again, and I'll fight my own way back!"

   Kamal has gripped him by the hand and set him upon his feet.
   "No talk shall be of dogs," said he, "when wolf and gray wolf meet.

   "May I eat dirt if thou hast hurt of me in deed or breath;
   What dam of lances brought thee forth to jest at the dawn with Death?"
   Lightly answered the Colonel's son:  "I hold by the blood of my clan:
   Take up the mare for my father's gift—by God, she has carried a man!"
   The red mare ran to the Colonel's son, and nuzzled against his breast;
   "We be two strong men," said Kamal then, "but she loveth the younger best.

   So she shall go with a lifter's dower, my turquoise-studded rein,
   My broidered saddle and saddle-cloth, and silver stirrups twain."
   The Colonel's son a pistol drew and held it muzzle-end,
   "Ye have taken the one from a foe," said he;
     "will ye take the mate from a friend?"
   "A gift for a gift," said Kamal straight; "a limb for the risk of a limb.

   "Thy father has sent his son to me, I'll send my son to him!"
   With that he whistled his only son, that dropped from a mountain-crest—
   He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance in rest.

   "Now here is thy master," Kamal said, "who leads a troop of the Guides,
   And thou must ride at his left side as shield on shoulder rides.
   Till Death or I cut loose the tie, at camp and board and bed,
   Thy life is his—thy fate it is to guard him with thy head.

   "So, thou must eat the White Queen's meat, and all her foes are thine,
   And thou must harry thy father's hold for the peace of the Border-line,
   And thou must make a trooper tough and hack thy way to power—
   Belike they will raise thee to Ressaldar when I am hanged in Peshawur."

   They have looked each other between the eyes, and there they found no fault,
   They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on leavened bread and salt:
   They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on fire and fresh-cut sod,
   On the hilt and the haft of the Khyber knife, and the Wondrous Names of God.

   The Colonel's son he rides the mare and Kamal's boy the dun,
   And two have come back to Fort Bukloh where there went forth but one.

   And when they drew to the Quarter-Guard, full twenty swords flew clear—
   There was not a man but carried his feud with the blood of the mountaineer.

   "Ha' done! ha' done!" said the Colonel's son.
     "Put up the steel at your sides!
   Last night ye had struck at a Border thief—
     tonight 'tis a man of the Guides!"

        Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
        Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
        But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
        When two strong men stand face to face,
          tho' they come from the ends of the earth!





THE LAST SUTTEE

   Not many years ago a King died in one of the Rajpoot States. His wives,
   disregarding the orders of the English against Suttee, would have broken out
   of the palace had not the gates been barred.

   But one of them, disguised as the King's favourite dancing-girl, passed
   through the line of guards and reached the pyre.  There, her courage failing,
   she prayed her cousin, a baron of the court, to kill her.  This he did, not
   knowing who she was.
Udai Chand lay sick to death
       In his hold by Gungra hill.
   All night we heard the death-gongs ring
   For the soul of the dying Rajpoot King,
   All night beat up from the women's wing
       A cry that we could not still.

   All night the barons came and went,
       The lords of the outer guard:
   All night the cressets glimmered pale
   On Ulwar sabre and Tonk jezail,
   Mewar headstall and Marwar mail,
       That clinked in the palace yard.

   In the Golden room on the palace roof
       All night he fought for air:
   And there was sobbing behind the screen,
   Rustle and whisper of women unseen,
   And the hungry eyes of the Boondi Queen
       On the death she might not share.

   He passed at dawn—the death-fire leaped
       From ridge to river-head,
   From the Malwa plains to the Abu scars:
   And wail upon wail went up to the stars
   Behind the grim zenana-bars,
       When they knew that the King was dead.

   The dumb priest knelt to tie his mouth
       And robe him for the pyre.
   The Boondi Queen beneath us cried:
   "See, now, that we die as our mothers died
   In the bridal-bed by our master's side!
       Out, women!—to the fire!"

   We drove the great gates home apace:
       White hands were on the sill:
   But ere the rush of the unseen feet
   Had reached the turn to the open street,
   The bars shot down, the guard-drum beat—
       We held the dovecot still.

   A face looked down in the gathering day,
       And laughing spoke from the wall:
   "Ohe', they mourn here:  let me by—
   Azizun, the  Lucknow nautch-girl, I!
   When the house is rotten, the rats must fly,
       And I seek another thrall.

   "For I ruled the King as ne'er did Queen,—
       Tonight the Queens rule me!
   Guard them safely, but let me go,
   Or ever they pay the debt they owe
   In scourge and torture!"  She leaped below,
       And the grim guard watched her flee.

   They knew that the King had spent his soul
       On a North-bred dancing-girl:
   That he prayed to a flat-nosed Lucknow god,
   And kissed the ground where her feet had trod,
   And doomed to death at her drunken nod,
       And swore by her lightest curl.

   We bore the King to his fathers' place,
       Where the tombs of the Sun-born stand:
   Where the gray apes swing, and the peacocks preen
   On fretted pillar and jewelled screen,
   And the wild boar couch in the house of the Queen
       On the drift of the desert sand.

   The herald read his titles forth,
       We set the logs aglow:
   "Friend of the English, free from fear,
   Baron of Luni to Jeysulmeer,
   Lord of the Desert of Bikaneer,
       King of the Jungle,—go!"

   All night the red flame stabbed the sky
       With wavering wind-tossed spears:
   And out of a shattered temple crept
   A woman who veiled her head and wept,
   And called on the King—but the great King slept,
       And turned not for her tears.

   Small thought had he to mark the strife—
       Cold fear with hot desire—
   When thrice she leaped from the leaping flame,
   And thrice she beat her breast for shame,
   And thrice like a wounded dove she came
       And moaned about the fire.

   One watched, a bow-shot from the blaze,
       The silent streets between,
   Who had stood by the King in sport and fray,
   To blade in ambush or boar at bay,
   And he was a baron old and gray,
       And kin to the Boondi Queen.

   He said: "O shameless, put aside
       The veil upon thy brow!
   Who held the King and all his land
   To the wanton will of a harlot's hand!
   Will the white ash rise from the blistered brand?
       Stoop down, and call him now!"

   Then she:  "By the faith of my tarnished soul,
       All things I did not well,
   I had hoped to clear ere the fire died,
   And lay me down by my master's side
   To rule in Heaven his only bride,
       While the others howl in Hell.

   "But I have felt the fire's breath,
       And hard it is to die!
   Yet if I may pray a Rajpoot lord
   To sully the steel of a Thakur's sword
   With base-born blood of a trade abhorred,"—
       And the Thakur answered, "Ay."

   He drew and struck:  the straight blade drank
       The life beneath the breast.

   "I had looked for the Queen to face the flame,
   But the harlot dies for the Rajpoot dame—
   Sister of mine, pass, free from shame,
       Pass with thy King to rest!"

   The black log crashed above the white:
       The little flames and lean,
   Red as slaughter and blue as steel,
   That whistled and fluttered from head to heel,
   Leaped up anew, for they found their meal
       On the heart of—the Boondi Queen!





THE BALLAD OF THE KING'S MERCY

     Abdhur Rahman, the Durani Chief,
       of him is the story told.
     His mercy fills the Khyber hills—
       his grace is manifold;
     He has taken toll of the North and the South—
       his glory reacheth far,
     And they tell the tale of his charity
       from Balkh to Kandahar.
Before the old Peshawur Gate, where Kurd and Kaffir meet,
   The Governor of Kabul dealt the Justice of the Street,
   And that was strait as running noose and swift as plunging knife,
   Tho' he who held the longer purse might hold the longer life.
There was a hound of Hindustan had struck a Euzufzai,
   Wherefore they spat upon his face and led him out to die.

   It chanced the King went forth that hour when throat was bared to knife;
   The Kaffir grovelled under-hoof and clamoured for his life.
Then said the King:  "Have hope, O friend!  Yea, Death disgraced is hard;
   Much honour shall be thine"; and called the Captain of the Guard,
   Yar Khan, a bastard of the Blood, so city-babble saith,
   And he was honoured of the King—the which is salt to Death;
   And he was son of Daoud Shah, the Reiver of the Plains,
   And blood of old Durani Lords ran fire in his veins;
   And 'twas to tame an Afghan pride nor Hell nor Heaven could bind,
   The King would make him butcher to a yelping cur of Hind.
"Strike!" said the King. "King's blood art thou—his death shall be his
   pride!"
   Then louder, that the crowd might catch:  "Fear not—his arms are tied!"
   Yar Khan drew clear the Khyber knife, and struck, and sheathed again.
   "O man, thy will is done," quoth he; "a King this dog hath slain."

     Abdhur Rahman, the Durani Chief,
       to the North and the South is sold.
     The North and the South shall open their mouth
       to a Ghilzai flag unrolled,
     When the big guns speak to the Khyber peak,
       and his dog-Heratis fly:
     Ye have heard the song—How long? How long?
       Wolves of the Abazai!

   That night before the watch was set, when all the streets were clear,
   The Governor of Kabul spoke:  "My King, hast thou no fear?
   Thou knowest—thou hast heard,"—his speech died at his master's face.

   And grimly said the Afghan King:  "I rule the Afghan race.
   My path is mine—see thou to thine—tonight upon thy bed
   Think who there be in Kabul now that clamour for thy head."

   That night when all the gates were shut to City and to throne,
   Within a little garden-house the King lay down alone.

   Before the sinking of the moon, which is the Night of Night,
   Yar Khan came softly to the King to make his honour white.
   The children of the town had mocked beneath his horse's hoofs,
   The harlots of the town had hailed him "butcher!" from their roofs.

   But as he groped against the wall, two hands upon him fell,
   The King behind his shoulder spake:  "Dead man, thou dost not well!
   'Tis ill to jest with Kings by day and seek a boon by night;
   And that thou bearest in thy hand is all too sharp to write.

   "But three days hence, if God be good, and if thy strength remain,
   Thou shalt demand one boon of me and bless me in thy pain.
   For I am merciful to all, and most of all to thee.

   "My butcher of the shambles, rest—no knife hast thou for me!"

     Abdhur Rahman, the Durani Chief,
       holds hard by the South and the North;
     But the Ghilzai knows, ere the melting snows,
       when the swollen banks break forth,
     When the red-coats crawl to the sungar wall,
       and his Usbeg lances fail:
     Ye have heard the song—How long? How long?
       Wolves of the Zuka Kheyl!

   They stoned him in the rubbish-field when dawn was in the sky,
   According to the written word, "See that he do not die."

   They stoned him till the stones were piled above him on the plain,
   And those the labouring limbs displaced they tumbled back again.
One watched beside the dreary mound that veiled the battered
   thing,
   And him the King with laughter called the Herald of the King.
It was upon the second night, the night of Ramazan,
   The watcher leaning earthward heard the message of Yar Khan.

   From shattered breast through shrivelled lips broke forth the rattling breath,
   "Creature of God, deliver me from agony of Death."

   They sought the King among his girls, and risked their lives thereby:
   "Protector of the Pitiful, give orders that he die!"

   "Bid him endure until the day," a lagging answer came;
   "The night is short, and he can pray and learn to bless my name."

   Before the dawn three times he spoke, and on the day once more:
   "Creature of God, deliver me, and bless the King therefor!"

   They shot him at the morning prayer, to ease him of his pain,
   And when he heard the matchlocks clink, he blessed the King again.

   Which thing the singers made a song for all the world to sing,
   So that the Outer Seas may know the mercy of the King.

     Abdhur Rahman, the Durani Chief,
       of him is the story told,
     He has opened his mouth to the North and the South,
       they have stuffed his mouth with gold.

     Ye know the truth of his tender ruth—
       and sweet his favours are:
     Ye have heard the song—How long? How long?
       from Balkh to Kandahar.





THE BALLAD OF THE KING'S JEST

   When spring-time flushes the desert grass,
   Our kafilas wind through the Khyber Pass.

   Lean are the camels but fat the frails,
   Light are the purses but heavy the bales,
   As the snowbound trade of the North comes down
   To the market-square of Peshawur town.

   In a turquoise twilight, crisp and chill,
   A kafila camped at the foot of the hill.

   Then blue smoke-haze of the cooking rose,
   And tent-peg answered to hammer-nose;
   And the picketed ponies, shag and wild,
   Strained at their ropes as the feed was piled;
   And the bubbling camels beside the load
   Sprawled for a furlong adown the road;
   And the Persian pussy-cats, brought for sale,
   Spat at the dogs from the camel-bale;
   And the tribesmen bellowed to hasten the food;
   And the camp-fires twinkled by Fort Jumrood;
   And there fled on the wings of the gathering dusk
   A savour of camels and carpets and musk,
   A murmur of voices, a reek of smoke,
   To tell us the trade of the Khyber woke.

   The lid of the flesh-pot chattered high,
   The knives were whetted and—then came I
   To Mahbub Ali the muleteer,
   Patching his bridles and counting his gear,
   Crammed with the gossip of half a year.

   But Mahbub Ali the kindly said,
   "Better is speech when the belly is fed."
   So we plunged the hand to the mid-wrist deep
   In a cinnamon stew of the fat-tailed sheep,
   And he who never hath tasted the food,
   By Allah! he knoweth not bad from good.

   We cleansed our beards of the mutton-grease,
   We lay on the mats and were filled with peace,
   And the talk slid north, and the talk slid south,
   With the sliding puffs from the hookah-mouth.

   Four things greater than all things are,—
   Women and Horses and Power and War.

   We spake of them all, but the last the most,
   For I sought a word of a Russian post,
   Of a shifty promise, an unsheathed sword
   And a gray-coat guard on the Helmund ford.

   Then Mahbub Ali lowered his eyes
   In the fashion of one who is weaving lies.

   Quoth he: "Of the Russians who can say?
   When the night is gathering all is gray.
   But we look that the gloom of the night shall die
   In the morning flush of a blood-red sky.

   "Friend of my heart, is it meet or wise
   To warn a King of his enemies?
   We know what Heaven or Hell may bring,
   But no man knoweth the mind of the King.

   "That unsought counsel is cursed of God
   Attesteth the story of Wali Dad.

   "His sire was leaky of tongue and pen,
   His dam was a clucking Khuttuck hen;
   And the colt bred close to the vice of each,
   For he carried the curse of an unstanched speech.

   "Therewith madness—so that he sought
   The favour of kings at the Kabul court;
   And travelled, in hope of honour, far
   To the line where the gray-coat squadrons are.

   "There have I journeyed too—but I
   Saw naught, said naught, and—did not die!
   He harked to rumour, and snatched at a breath
   Of 'this one knoweth' and 'that one saith',—
   Legends that ran from mouth to mouth
   Of a gray-coat coming, and sack of the South.

   "These have I also heard—they pass
   With each new spring and the winter grass.

   "Hot-foot southward, forgotten of God,
   Back to the city ran Wali Dad,
   Even to Kabul—in full durbar
   The King held talk with his Chief in War.

   "Into the press of the crowd he broke,
   And what he had heard of the coming spoke.
"Then Gholam Hyder, the Red Chief, smiled,
   As a mother might on a babbling child;
   But those who would laugh restrained their breath,
   When the face of the King showed dark as death.

   "Evil it is in full durbar
   To cry to a ruler of gathering war!
   Slowly he led to a peach-tree small,
   That grew by a cleft of the city wall.

   "And he said to the boy: 'They shall praise thy zeal
   So long as the red spurt follows the steel.

   "And the Russ is upon us even now?
   Great is thy prudence—await them, thou.
   Watch from the tree.  Thou art young and strong,
   Surely thy vigil is not for long.

   "The Russ is upon us, thy clamour ran?
   Surely an hour shall bring their van.
   Wait and watch.  When the host is near,
   Shout aloud that my men may hear.'

   "Friend of my heart, is it meet or wise
   To warn a King of his enemies?
   A guard was set that he might not flee—
   A score of bayonets ringed the tree.

   "The peach-bloom fell in showers of snow,
   When he shook at his death as he looked below.
   By the power of God, who alone is great,
   Till the seventh day he fought with his fate.

   "Then madness took him, and men declare
   He mowed in the branches as ape and bear,
   And last as a sloth, ere his body failed,
   And he hung as a bat in the forks, and wailed,
   And sleep the cord of his hands untied,
   And he fell, and was caught on the points and died.

   "Heart of my heart, is it meet or wise
   To warn a King of his enemies?
   We know what Heaven or Hell may bring,
   But no man knoweth the mind of the King.

   "Of the gray-coat coming who can say?
   When the night is gathering all is gray.

   "To things greater than all things are,
   The first is Love, and the second War.

   "And since we know not how War may prove,
   Heart of my heart, let us talk of Love!"





THE BALLAD OF BOH DA THONE

             This is the ballad of Boh Da Thone,
             Erst a Pretender to Theebaw's throne,
             Who harried the district of Alalone:
             How he met with his fate and the V.P.P.

             At the hand of Harendra Mukerji,
             Senior Gomashta, G.B.T.

   Boh Da Thone was a warrior bold:
   His sword and his Snider were bossed with gold,

   And the Peacock Banner his henchmen bore
   Was stiff with bullion, but stiffer with gore.

   He shot at the strong and he slashed at the weak
   From the Salween scrub to the Chindwin teak:

   He crucified noble, he sacrificed mean,
   He filled old ladies with kerosene:

   While over the water the papers cried,
   "The patriot fights for his countryside!"

   But little they cared for the Native Press,
   The worn white soldiers in Khaki dress,

   Who tramped through the jungle and camped in the byre,
   Who died in the swamp and were tombed in the mire,

   Who gave up their lives, at the Queen's Command,
   For the Pride of their Race and the Peace of the Land.

   Now, first of the foemen of Boh Da Thone
   Was Captain O'Neil of the "Black Tyrone",
   And his was a Company, seventy strong,
   Who hustled that dissolute Chief along.

   There were lads from Galway and Louth and Meath
   Who went to their death with a joke in their teeth,
   And worshipped with fluency, fervour, and zeal
   The mud on the boot-heels of "Crook" O'Neil.

   But ever a blight on their labours lay,
   And ever their quarry would vanish away,
   Till the sun-dried boys of the Black Tyrone
   Took a brotherly interest in Boh Da Thone:
   And, sooth, if pursuit in possession ends,
   The Boh and his trackers were best of friends.

   The word of a scout—a march by night—
   A rush through the mist—a scattering fight—
   A volley from cover—a corpse in the clearing—
   The glimpse of a loin-cloth and heavy jade earring—
   The flare of a village—the tally of slain—
   And...the Boh was abroad "on the raid" again!

   They cursed their luck, as the Irish will,
   They gave him credit for cunning and skill,
   They buried their dead, they bolted their beef,
   And started anew on the track of the thief
   Till, in place of the "Kalends of Greece", men said,
   "When Crook and his darlings come back with the head."

   They had hunted the Boh from the hills to the plain—
   He doubled and broke for the hills again:
   They had crippled his power for rapine and raid,
   They had routed him out of his pet stockade,
   And at last, they came, when the Day Star tired,
   To a camp deserted—a village fired.

   A black cross blistered the Morning-gold,
   And the body upon it was stark and cold.
   The wind of the dawn went merrily past,
   The high grass bowed her plumes to the blast.

   And out of the grass, on a sudden, broke
   A spirtle of fire, a whorl of smoke—

   And Captain O'Neil of the Black Tyrone
   Was blessed with a slug in the ulnar-bone—
   The gift of his enemy Boh Da Thone.

   (Now a slug that is hammered from telegraph-wire
   Is a thorn in the flesh and a rankling fire.)

   The shot-wound festered—as shot-wounds may
   In a steaming barrack at Mandalay.

   The left arm throbbed, and the Captain swore,
   "I'd like to be after the Boh once more!"
   The fever held him—the Captain said,
   "I'd give a hundred to look at his head!"

   The Hospital punkahs creaked and whirred,
   But Babu Harendra (Gomashta) heard.

   He thought of the cane-brake, green and dank,
   That girdled his home by the Dacca tank.
   He thought of his wife and his High School son,
   He thought—but abandoned the thought—of a gun.
   His sleep was broken by visions dread
   Of a shining Boh with a silver head.

   He kept his counsel and went his way,
   And swindled the cartmen of half their pay.

   And the months went on, as the worst must do,
   And the Boh returned to the raid anew.

   But the Captain had quitted the long-drawn strife,
   And in far Simoorie had taken a wife.
   And she was a damsel of delicate mould,
   With hair like the sunshine and heart of gold,

   And little she knew the arms that embraced
   Had cloven a man from the brow to the waist:
   And little she knew that the loving lips
   Had ordered a quivering life's eclipse,

   And the eye that lit at her lightest breath
   Had glared unawed in the Gates of Death.

   (For these be matters a man would hide,
   As a general rule, from an innocent Bride.)

   And little the Captain thought of the past,
   And, of all men, Babu Harendra last.

   But slow, in the sludge of the Kathun road,
   The Government Bullock Train toted its load.
   Speckless and spotless and shining with ghee,
   In the rearmost cart sat the Babu-jee.

   And ever a phantom before him fled
   Of a scowling Boh with a silver head.

   Then the lead-cart stuck, though the coolies slaved,
   And the cartmen flogged and the escort raved;
   And out of the jungle, with yells and squeals,
   Pranced Boh Da Thone, and his gang at his heels!

   Then belching blunderbuss answered back
   The Snider's snarl and the carbine's crack,
   And the blithe revolver began to sing
   To the blade that twanged on the locking-ring,
   And the brown flesh blued where the bay'net kissed,
   As the steel shot back with a wrench and a twist,
   And the great white bullocks with onyx eyes
   Watched the souls of the dead arise,
   And over the smoke of the fusillade
   The Peacock Banner staggered and swayed.

   Oh, gayest of scrimmages man may see
   Is a well-worked rush on the G.B.T.!

   The Babu shook at the horrible sight,
   And girded his ponderous loins for flight,
   But Fate had ordained that the Boh should start
   On a lone-hand raid of the rearmost cart,
   And out of that cart, with a bellow of woe,
   The Babu fell—flat on the top of the Boh!

   For years had Harendra served the State,
   To the growth of his purse and the girth of his pet.

   There were twenty stone, as the tally-man knows,
   On the broad of the chest of this best of Bohs.
   And twenty stone from a height discharged
   Are bad for a Boh with a spleen enlarged.

   Oh, short was the struggle—severe was the shock—
   He dropped like a bullock—he lay like a block;
   And the Babu above him, convulsed with fear,
   Heard the labouring life-breath hissed out in his ear.

   And thus in a fashion undignified
   The princely pest of the Chindwin died.

   Turn now to Simoorie where, lapped in his ease,
   The Captain is petting the Bride on his knees,
   Where the whit of the bullet, the wounded man's scream
   Are mixed as the mist of some devilish dream—
   Forgotten, forgotten the sweat of the shambles
   Where the hill-daisy blooms and the gray monkey gambols,
   From the sword-belt set free and released from the steel,
   The Peace of the Lord is with Captain O'Neil.

   Up the hill to Simoorie—most patient of drudges—
   The bags on his shoulder, the mail-runner trudges.

   "For Captain O'Neil, Sahib.  One hundred and ten
   Rupees to collect on delivery."
                                    Then

   (Their breakfast was stopped while the screw-jack and hammer
   Tore waxcloth, split teak-wood, and chipped out the dammer;)

   Open-eyed, open-mouthed, on the napery's snow,
   With a crash and a thud, rolled—the Head of the Boh!

   And gummed to the scalp was a letter which ran:—
                  "IN FIELDING FORCE SERVICE.

                       Encampment,
   —th Jan.

   "Dear Sir,—I have honour to send, as you said,
   For final approval (see under) Boh's Head;

   "Was took by myself in most bloody affair.

   By High Education brought pressure to bear.

   "Now violate Liberty, time being bad,
   To mail V.P.P. (rupees hundred)  Please add

   "Whatever Your Honour can pass.  Price of Blood
   Much cheap at one hundred, and children want food;

   "So trusting Your Honour will somewhat retain
   True love and affection for Govt. Bullock Train,

   "And show awful kindness to satisfy me,
           I am,
               Graceful Master,
                             Your
                               H. MUKERJI."

   As the rabbit is drawn to the rattlesnake's power,
   As the smoker's eye fills at the opium hour,
   As a horse reaches up to the manger above,
   As the waiting ear yearns for the whisper of love,
   From the arms of the Bride, iron-visaged and slow,
   The Captain bent down to the Head of the Boh.

   And e'en as he looked on the Thing where It lay
   'Twixt the winking new spoons and the napkins' array,
   The freed mind fled back to the long-ago days—
   The hand-to-hand scuffle—the smoke and the blaze—
   The forced march at night and the quick rush at dawn—
   The banjo at twilight, the burial ere morn—
   The stench of the marshes—the raw, piercing smell
   When the overhand stabbing-cut silenced the yell—
   The oaths of his Irish that surged when they stood
   Where the black crosses hung o'er the Kuttamow flood.

   As a derelict ship drifts away with the tide
   The Captain went out on the Past from his Bride,

   Back, back, through the springs to the chill of the year,
   When he hunted the Boh from Maloon to Tsaleer.

   As the shape of a corpse dimmers up through deep water,
   In his eye lit the passionless passion of slaughter,
   And men who had fought with O'Neil for the life
   Had gazed on his face with less dread than his wife.

   For she who had held him so long could not hold him—
   Though a four-month Eternity should have controlled him—
   But watched the twin Terror—the head turned to head—
   The scowling, scarred Black, and the flushed savage Red—
   The spirit that changed from her knowing and flew to
   Some grim hidden Past she had never a clue to.

   But It knew as It grinned, for he touched it unfearing,
   And muttered aloud, "So you kept that jade earring!"

   Then nodded, and kindly, as friend nods to friend,
   "Old man, you fought well, but you lost in the end."

   The visions departed, and Shame followed Passion:—
   "He took what I said in this horrible fashion,

   "I'll write to Harendra!"  With language unsainted
   The Captain came back to the Bride... who had fainted.

   And this is a fiction?  No.  Go to Simoorie
   And look at their baby, a twelve-month old Houri,
   A pert little, Irish-eyed Kathleen Mavournin—
   She's always about on the Mall of a mornin'—

   And you'll see, if her right shoulder-strap is displaced,
   This:  Gules upon argent, a Boh's Head, erased!





THE LAMENT OF THE BORDER CATTLE THIEF

   O woe is me for the merry life
    I led beyond the Bar,
   And a treble woe for my winsome wife
    That weeps at Shalimar.

   They have taken away my long jezail,
    My shield and sabre fine,
   And heaved me into the Central jail
    For lifting of the kine.

   The steer may low within the byre,
    The Jat may tend his grain,
   But there'll be neither loot nor fire
    Till I come back again.

   And God have mercy on the Jat
    When once my fetters fall,
   And Heaven defend the farmer's hut
    When I am loosed from thrall.

   It's woe to bend the stubborn back
    Above the grinching quern,
   It's woe to hear the leg-bar clack
    And jingle when I turn!

   But for the sorrow and the shame,
    The brand on me and mine,
   I'll pay you back in leaping flame
    And loss of the butchered kine.

   For every cow I spared before
    In charity set free,
   If I may reach my hold once more
    I'll reive an honest three.

   For every time I raised the low
    That scared the dusty plain,
   By sword and cord, by torch and tow
    I'll light the land with twain!

   Ride hard, ride hard to Abazai,
    Young Sahib with the yellow hair—
   Lie close, lie close as khuttucks lie,
    Fat herds below Bonair!

   The one I'll shoot at twilight-tide,
    At dawn I'll drive the other;
   The black shall mourn for hoof and hide,
    The white man for his brother.

   'Tis war, red war, I'll give you then,
    War till my sinews fail;
   For the wrong you have done to a chief of men,
    And a thief of the Zukka Kheyl.

   And if I fall to your hand afresh
    I give you leave for the sin,
   That you cram my throat with the foul pig's flesh,
    And swing me in the skin!





THE RHYME OF THE THREE CAPTAINS

   This ballad appears to refer to one of the exploits of the notorious Paul
   Jones, the American pirate.  It is founded on fact.
... At the close of a winter day,
   Their anchors down, by London town, the Three Great Captains lay;
   And one was Admiral of the North from Solway Firth to Skye,
   And one was Lord of the Wessex coast and all the lands thereby,
   And one was Master of the Thames from Limehouse to Blackwall,
   And he was Captain of the Fleet—the bravest of them all.

   Their good guns guarded their great gray sides that were thirty foot in the
   sheer,
   When there came a certain trading-brig with news of a privateer.

   Her rigging was rough with the clotted drift that drives in a Northern breeze,
   Her sides were clogged with the lazy weed that spawns in the Eastern seas.

   Light she rode in the rude tide-rip, to left and right she rolled,
   And the skipper sat on the scuttle-butt and stared at an empty hold.

   "I ha' paid Port dues for your Law," quoth he, "and where is the Law ye boast
   If I sail unscathed from a heathen port to be robbed on a Christian coast?
   Ye have smoked the hives of the Laccadives as we burn the lice in a bunk,
   We tack not now to a Gallang prow or a plunging Pei-ho junk;
   I had no fear but the seas were clear as far as a sail might fare
   Till I met with a lime-washed Yankee brig that rode off Finisterre.

   "There were canvas blinds to his bow-gun ports to screen the weight he bore,
   And the signals ran for a merchantman from Sandy Hook to the Nore.

   "He would not fly the Rovers' flag—the bloody or the black,
   But now he floated the Gridiron and now he flaunted the Jack.
   He spoke of the Law as he crimped my crew—he swore it was only a loan;
   But when I would ask for my own again, he swore it was none of my own.

   "He has taken my little parrakeets that nest beneath the Line,
   He has stripped my rails of the shaddock-frails and the green unripened pine;
   He has taken my bale of dammer and spice I won beyond the seas,
   He has taken my grinning heathen gods—and what should he want o' these?
   My foremast would not mend his boom, my deckhouse patch his boats;
   He has whittled the two, this Yank Yahoo, to peddle for shoe-peg oats.

   "I could not fight for the failing light and a rough beam-sea beside,
   But I hulled him once for a clumsy crimp and twice because he lied.

   "Had I had guns (as I had goods) to work my Christian harm,
   I had run him up from his quarter-deck to trade with his own yard-arm;
   I had nailed his ears to my capstan-head, and ripped them off with a saw,
   And soused them in the bilgewater, and served them to him raw;
   I had flung him blind in a rudderless boat to rot in the rocking dark,
   I had towed him aft of his own craft, a bait for his brother shark;
   I had lapped him round with cocoa husk, and drenched him with the oil,
   And lashed him fast to his own mast to blaze above my spoil;
   I had stripped his hide for my hammock-side, and tasselled his beard i' the
   mesh,
   And spitted his crew on the live bamboo that grows through the gangrened
   flesh;
   I had hove him down by the mangroves brown, where the mud-reef sucks and
   draws,
   Moored by the heel to his own keel to wait for the land-crab's claws!
   He is lazar within and lime without, ye can nose him far enow,
   For he carries the taint of a musky ship—the reek of the slaver's dhow!"
   The skipper looked at the tiering guns and the bulwarks tall and cold,
   And the Captains Three full courteously peered down at the gutted hold,
   And the Captains Three called courteously from deck to scuttle-butt:—
   "Good Sir, we ha' dealt with that merchantman or ever your teeth were cut.

   "Your words be words of a lawless race, and the Law it standeth thus:
   He comes of a race that have never a Law, and he never has boarded us.

   "We ha' sold him canvas and rope and spar—we know that his price is fair,
   And we know that he weeps for the lack of a Law as he rides off Finisterre.

   "And since he is damned for a gallows-thief by you and better than you,
   We hold it meet that the English fleet should know that we hold him true."
   The skipper called to the tall taffrail:—"And what is that to me?
   Did ever you hear of a Yankee brig that rifled a Seventy-three?
   Do I loom so large from your quarter-deck that I lift like a ship o' the Line?
   He has learned to run from a shotted gun and harry such craft as mine.

   "There is never a Law on the Cocos Keys to hold a white man in,
   But we do not steal the niggers' meal, for that is a nigger's sin.

   "Must he have his Law as a quid to chaw, or laid in brass on his wheel?
   Does he steal with tears when he buccaneers? 'Fore Gad, then, why does he
   steal?"
   The skipper bit on a deep-sea word, and the word it was not sweet,
   For he could see the Captains Three had signalled to the Fleet.

   But three and two, in white and blue, the whimpering flags began:—
   "We have heard a tale of a—foreign sail, but he is a merchantman."
   The skipper peered beneath his palm and swore by the Great Horn Spoon:—
   "'Fore Gad, the Chaplain of the Fleet would bless my picaroon!"
   By two and three the flags blew free to lash the laughing air:—
   "We have sold our spars to the merchantman—we know that his price is fair."
   The skipper winked his Western eye, and swore by a China storm:—
   "They ha' rigged him a Joseph's jury-coat to keep his honour warm."
   The halliards twanged against the tops, the bunting bellied broad,
   The skipper spat in the empty hold and mourned for a wasted cord.

   Masthead—masthead, the signal sped by the line o' the British craft;
   The skipper called to his Lascar crew, and put her about and laughed:—
   "It's mainsail haul, my bully boys all—we'll out to the seas again—
   Ere they set us to paint their pirate saint, or scrub at his grapnel-chain.

   "It's fore-sheet free, with her head to the sea, and the swing of the unbought
   brine—
   We'll make no sport in an English court till we come as a ship o' the Line:
   Till we come as a ship o' the Line, my lads, of thirty foot in the sheer,
   Lifting again from the outer main with news of a privateer;
   Flying his pluck at our mizzen-truck for weft of Admiralty,
   Heaving his head for our dipsey-lead in sign that we keep the sea.

   "Then fore-sheet home as she lifts to the foam—we stand on the outward tack,
   We are paid in the coin of the white man's trade—the bezant is hard, ay, and
   black.

   "The frigate-bird shall carry my word to the Kling and the Orang-Laut
   How a man may sail from a heathen coast to be robbed in a Christian port;
   How a man may be robbed in Christian port while Three Great Captains there
   Shall dip their flag to a slaver's rag—to show that his trade is fair!"





THE BALLAD OF THE CLAMPHERDOWN

   It was our war-ship Clampherdown
    Would sweep the Channel clean,
   Wherefore she kept her hatches close
   When the merry Channel chops arose,
    To save the bleached marine.

   She had one bow-gun of a hundred ton,
    And a great stern-gun beside;
   They dipped their noses deep in the sea,
   They racked their stays and stanchions free
    In the wash of the wind-whipped tide.

   It was our war-ship Clampherdown,
    Fell in with a cruiser light
   That carried the dainty Hotchkiss gun
   And a pair o' heels wherewith to run
    From the grip of a close-fought fight.

   She opened fire at seven miles—
    As ye shoot at a bobbing cork—
   And once she fired and twice she fired,
   Till the bow-gun drooped like a lily tired
    That lolls upon the stalk.

   "Captain, the bow-gun melts apace,
    The deck-beams break below,
   'Twere well to rest for an hour or twain,
   And patch the shattered plates again."
    And he answered, "Make it so."

   She opened fire within the mile—
    As ye shoot at the flying duck—
   And the great stern-gun shot fair and true,
   With the heave of the ship, to the stainless blue,
    And the great stern-turret stuck.

   "Captain, the turret fills with steam,
    The feed-pipes burst below—
   You can hear the hiss of the helpless ram,
   You can hear the twisted runners jam."
    And he answered, "Turn and go!"

   It was our war-ship Clampherdown,
    And grimly did she roll;
   Swung round to take the cruiser's fire
   As the White Whale faces the Thresher's ire
    When they war by the frozen Pole.

   "Captain, the shells are falling fast,
    And faster still fall we;
   And it is not meet for English stock
   To bide in the heart of an eight-day clock
    The death they cannot see."

   "Lie down, lie down, my bold A.B.,
    We drift upon her beam;
   We dare not ram, for she can run;
   And dare ye fire another gun,
    And die in the peeling steam?"

   It was our war-ship Clampherdown
    That carried an armour-belt;
   But fifty feet at stern and bow
   Lay bare as the paunch of the purser's sow,
    To the hail of the Nordenfeldt.

   "Captain, they hack us through and through;
    The chilled steel bolts are swift!
   We have emptied the bunkers in open sea,
   Their shrapnel bursts where our coal should be."
    And he answered, "Let her drift."

   It was our war-ship Clampherdown,
    Swung round upon the tide,
   Her two dumb guns glared south and north,
   And the blood and the bubbling steam ran forth,
    And she ground the cruiser's side.

   "Captain, they cry, the fight is done,
    They bid you send your sword."
   And he answered, "Grapple her stern and bow.
   They have asked for the steel.  They shall have it now;
    Out cutlasses and board!"

   It was our war-ship Clampherdown
    Spewed up four hundred men;
   And the scalded stokers yelped delight,
   As they rolled in the waist and heard the fight
    Stamp o'er their steel-walled pen.

   They cleared the cruiser end to end,
    From conning-tower to hold.
   They fought as they fought in Nelson's fleet;
   They were stripped to the waist, they were bare to the feet,
    As it was in the days of old.

   It was the sinking Clampherdown
    Heaved up her battered side—
   And carried a million pounds in steel,
   To the cod and the corpse-fed conger-eel,
    And the scour of the Channel tide.

   It was the crew of the Clampherdown
    Stood out to sweep the sea,
   On a cruiser won from an ancient foe,
   As it was in the days of long ago,
    And as it still shall be.





THE BALLAD OF THE "BOLIVAR"

        Seven men from all the world, back to Docks again,
        Rolling down the Ratcliffe Road drunk and raising Cain:
        Give the girls another drink 'fore we sign away—
        We that took the Bolivar out across the Bay!

   We put out from Sunderland loaded down with rails;
    We put back to Sunderland 'cause our cargo shifted;
   We put out from Sunderland—met the winter gales—
    Seven days and seven nights to the Start we drifted.

       Racketing her rivets loose, smoke-stack white as snow,
       All the coals adrift adeck, half the rails below,
       Leaking like a lobster-pot, steering like a dray—
       Out we took the Bolivar, out across the Bay!

   One by one the Lights came up, winked and let us by;
    Mile by mile we waddled on, coal and fo'c'sle short;
   Met a blow that laid us down, heard a bulkhead fly;
    Left the Wolf behind us with a two-foot list to port.

       Trailing like a wounded duck, working out her soul;
       Clanging like a smithy-shop after every roll;
       Just a funnel and a mast lurching through the spray—
       So we threshed the Bolivar out across the Bay!

   'Felt her hog and felt her sag, betted when she'd break;
    Wondered every time she raced if she'd stand the shock;
   Heard the seas like drunken men pounding at her strake;
    Hoped the Lord 'ud keep his thumb on the plummer-block.

       Banged against the iron decks, bilges choked with coal;
       Flayed and frozen foot and hand, sick of heart and soul;
       Last we prayed she'd buck herself into judgment Day—
       Hi! we cursed the Bolivar—knocking round the Bay!

   O her nose flung up to sky, groaning to be still—
    Up and down and back we went, never time for breath;
   Then the money paid at Lloyd's caught her by the heel,
    And the stars ran round and round dancin' at our death.

       Aching for an hour's sleep, dozing off between;
       'Heard the rotten rivets draw when she took it green;
       'Watched the compass chase its tail like a cat at play—
       That was on the Bolivar, south across the Bay.
Once we saw between the squalls, lyin' head to swell—
    Mad with work and weariness, wishin' they was we—
   Some damned Liner's lights go by like a long hotel;
    Cheered her from the Bolivar—swampin' in the sea.

       Then a grayback cleared us out, then the skipper laughed;
       "Boys, the wheel has gone to Hell—rig the winches aft!
       Yoke the kicking rudder-head—get her under way!"
       So we steered her, pulley-haul, out across the Bay!

   Just a pack o' rotten plates puttied up with tar,
   In we came, an' time enough, 'cross Bilbao Bar.

       Overloaded, undermanned, meant to founder, we
       Euchred God Almighty's storm, bluffed the Eternal Sea!

        Seven men from all the world, back to town again,
        Rollin' down the Ratcliffe Road drunk and raising Cain:
        Seven men from out of Hell.  Ain't the owners gay,
        'Cause we took the "Bolivar" safe across the Bay?





THE ENGLISH FLAG

        Above the portico a flag-staff, bearing the Union Jack,
        remained fluttering in the flames for some time, but ultimately
        when it fell the crowds rent the air with shouts,
        and seemed to see significance in the incident.—DAILY PAPERS.
Winds of the World, give answer!  They are whimpering to and fro—
   And what should they know of England who only England know?—
   The poor little street-bred people that vapour and fume and brag,
   They are lifting their heads in the stillness to yelp at the English Flag!

   Must we borrow a clout from the Boer—to plaster anew with dirt?
   An Irish liar's bandage, or an English coward's shirt?

   We may not speak of England; her Flag's to sell or share.
   What is the Flag of England?  Winds of the World, declare!

   The North Wind blew:—"From Bergen my steel-shod vanguards go;
   I chase your lazy whalers home from the Disko floe;
   By the great North Lights above me I work the will of God,
   And the liner splits on the ice-field or the Dogger fills with cod.

   "I barred my gates with iron, I shuttered my doors with flame,
   Because to force my ramparts your nutshell navies came;
   I took the sun from their presence, I cut them down with my blast,
   And they died, but the Flag of England blew free ere the spirit passed.

   "The lean white bear hath seen it in the long, long Arctic night,
   The musk-ox knows the standard that flouts the Northern Light:
   What is the Flag of England?  Ye have but my bergs to dare,
   Ye have but my drifts to conquer.  Go forth, for it is there!"

   The South Wind sighed:—"From the Virgins my mid-sea course was ta'en
   Over a thousand islands lost in an idle main,
   Where the sea-egg flames on the coral and the long-backed breakers croon
   Their endless ocean legends to the lazy, locked lagoon.

   "Strayed amid lonely islets, mazed amid outer keys,
   I waked the palms to laughter—I tossed the scud in the breeze—
   Never was isle so little, never was sea so lone,
   But over the scud and the palm-trees an English flag was flown.

   "I have wrenched it free from the halliard to hang for a wisp on the Horn;
   I have chased it north to the Lizard—ribboned and rolled and torn;
   I have spread its fold o'er the dying, adrift in a hopeless sea;
   I have hurled it swift on the slaver, and seen the slave set free.

   "My basking sunfish know it, and wheeling albatross,
   Where the lone wave fills with fire beneath the Southern Cross.
   What is the Flag of England?  Ye have but my reefs to dare,
   Ye have but my seas to furrow.  Go forth, for it is there!"

   The East Wind roared:—"From the Kuriles, the Bitter Seas, I come,
   And me men call the Home-Wind, for I bring the English home.
   Look—look well to your shipping!  By the breath of my mad typhoon
   I swept your close-packed Praya and beached your best at Kowloon!

   "The reeling junks behind me and the racing seas before,
   I raped your richest roadstead—I plundered Singapore!
   I set my hand on the Hoogli; as a hooded snake she rose,
   And I flung your stoutest steamers to roost with the startled crows.

   "Never the lotus closes, never the wild-fowl wake,
   But a soul goes out on the East Wind that died for England's sake—
   Man or woman or suckling, mother or bride or maid—
   Because on the bones of the English the English Flag is stayed.

   "The desert-dust hath dimmed it, the flying wild-ass knows,
   The scared white leopard winds it across the taintless snows.
   What is the Flag of England?  Ye have but my sun to dare,
   Ye have but my sands to travel.  Go forth, for it is there!"

   The West Wind called:—"In squadrons the thoughtless galleons fly
   That bear the wheat and cattle lest street-bred people die.
   They make my might their porter, they make my house their path,
   Till I loose my neck from their rudder and whelm them all in my wrath.

   "I draw the gliding fog-bank as a snake is drawn from the hole,
   They bellow one to the other, the frighted ship-bells toll,
   For day is a drifting terror till I raise the shroud with my breath,
   And they see strange bows above them and the two go locked to death.

   "But whether in calm or wrack-wreath, whether by dark or day,
   I heave them whole to the conger or rip their plates away,
   First of the scattered legions, under a shrieking sky,
   Dipping between the rollers, the English Flag goes by.

   "The dead dumb fog hath wrapped it—the frozen dews have kissed—
   The naked stars have seen it, a fellow-star in the mist.
   What is the Flag of England?  Ye have but my breath to dare,
   Ye have but my waves to conquer.  Go forth, for it is there!"
"CLEARED"
   (In Memory of a Commission)

   Help for a patriot distressed, a spotless spirit hurt,
   Help for an honorable clan sore trampled in the dirt!
   From Queenstown Bay to Donegal, O listen to my song,
   The honorable gentlemen have suffered grievous wrong.

   Their noble names were mentioned—O the burning black disgrace!—
   By a brutal Saxon paper in an Irish shooting-case;
   They sat upon it for a year, then steeled their heart to brave it,
   And "coruscating innocence" the learned Judges gave it.

   Bear witness, Heaven, of that grim crime beneath the surgeon's knife,
   The honorable gentlemen deplored the loss of life;
   Bear witness of those chanting choirs that burk and shirk and snigger,
   No man laid hand upon the knife or finger to the trigger!

   Cleared in the face of all mankind beneath the winking skies,
   Like phoenixes from Phoenix Park (and what lay there) they rise!
   Go shout it to the emerald seas-give word to Erin now,
   Her honorable gentlemen are cleared—and this is how:

   They only paid the Moonlighter his cattle-hocking price,
   They only helped the murderer with council's best advice,
   But—sure it keeps their honor white—the learned Court believes
   They never gave a piece of plate to murderers and thieves.

   They ever told the ramping crowd to card a woman's hide,
   They never marked a man for death—what fault of theirs he died?—
   They only said "intimidate," and talked and went away—
   By God, the boys that did the work were braver men than they!

   Their sin it was that fed the fire—small blame to them that heard
   The "bhoys" get drunk on rhetoric, and madden at the word—
   They knew whom they were talking at, if they were Irish too,
   The gentlemen that lied in Court, they knew and well they knew.

   They only took the Judas-gold from Fenians out of jail,
   They only fawned for dollars on the blood-dyed Clan-na-Gael.
   If black is black or white is white, ill black and white it's down,
   They're only traitors to the Queen and rebels to the Crown.

   "Cleared," honorable gentlemen.  Be thankful it's no more:
   The widow's curse is on your house, the dead are at your door.
   On you the shame of open shame, on you from North to South
   The band of every honest man flat-heeled across your mouth.

   "Less black than we were painted"?—Faith, no word of black was said;
   The lightest touch was human blood, and that, ye know, runs red.
   It's sticking to your fist today for all your sneer and scoff,
   And by the Judge's well-weighed word you cannot wipe it off.

   Hold up those hands of innocence—go, scare your sheep, together,
   The blundering, tripping tups that bleat behind the old bell-wether;
   And if they snuff the taint and break to find another pen,
   Tell them it's tar that glistens so, and daub them yours again!

   "The charge is old"?—As old as Cain—as fresh as yesterday;
   Old as the Ten Commandments, have ye talked those laws away?
   If words are words, or death is death, or powder sends the ball,
   You spoke the words that sped the shot—the curse be on you all.

   "Our friends believe"? Of course they do—as sheltered women may;
   But have they seen the shrieking soul ripped from the quivering clay?
   They—If their own front door is shut, they'll swear the whole world's warm;
   What do they know of dread of death or hanging fear of harm?

   The secret half a country keeps, the whisper in the lane,
   The shriek that tells the shot went home behind the broken pane,
   The dry blood crisping in the sun that scares the honest bees,
   And shows the "bhoys" have heard your talk—what do they know of these?

   But you—you know—ay, ten times more; the secrets of the dead,
   Black terror on the country-side by word and whisper bred,
   The mangled stallion's scream at night, the tail-cropped heifer's low.
   Who set the whisper going first? You know, and well you know!

   My soul!  I'd sooner lie in jail for murder plain and straight,
   Pure crime I'd done with my own hand for money, lust, or hate,
   Than take a seat in Parliament by fellow-felons cheered,
   While one of those "not provens" proved me cleared as you are cleared.

   Cleared—you that "lost" the League accounts—go, guard our honor still,
   Go, help to make our country's laws that broke God's laws at will—
   One hand stuck out behind the back, to signal "strike again";
   The other on your dress-shirt front to show your heart is @dane,

   If black is black or white is white, in black and white it's down,
   You're only traitors to the Queen and but rebels to the Crown
   If print is print or words are words, the learned Court perpends:
   We are not ruled by murderers, only—by their friends.





AN IMPERIAL RESCRIPT

   Now this is the tale of the Council the German Kaiser decreed,
   To ease the strong of their burden, to help the weak in their need,
   He sent a word to the peoples, who struggle, and pant, and sweat,
   That the straw might be counted fairly and the tally of bricks be set.

   The Lords of Their Hands assembled; from the East and the West they drew—
   Baltimore, Lille, and Essen, Brummagem, Clyde, and Crewe.
   And some were black from the furnace, and some were brown from the soil,
   And some were blue from the dye-vat; but all were wearied of toil.

   And the young King said:—"I have found it, the road to the rest ye seek:
   The strong shall wait for the weary, the hale shall halt for the weak;
   With the even tramp of an army where no man breaks from the line,
   Ye shall march to peace and plenty in the bond of brotherhood—sign!"

   The paper lay on the table, the strong heads bowed thereby,
   And a wail went up from the peoples:—"Ay, sign—give rest, for we die!"
   A hand was stretched to the goose-quill, a fist was cramped to scrawl,
   When—the laugh of a blue-eyed maiden ran clear through the council-hall.

   And each one heard Her laughing as each one saw Her plain—
   Saidie, Mimi, or Olga, Gretchen, or Mary Jane.
   And the Spirit of Man that is in Him to the light of the vision woke;
   And the men drew back from the paper, as a Yankee delegate spoke:—

   "There's a girl in Jersey City who works on the telephone;
   We're going to hitch our horses and dig for a house of our own,
   With gas and water connections, and steam-heat through to the top;
   And, W. Hohenzollern, I guess I shall work till I drop."

   And an English delegate thundered:—"The weak an' the lame be blowed!
   I've a berth in the Sou'-West workshops, a home in the Wandsworth Road;
   And till the 'sociation has footed my buryin' bill,
   I work for the kids an' the missus.  Pull up?  I be damned if I will!"

   And over the German benches the bearded whisper ran:—
   "Lager, der girls und der dollars, dey makes or dey breaks a man.
   If Schmitt haf collared der dollars, he collars der girl deremit;
   But if Schmitt bust in der pizness, we collars der girl from Schmitt."

   They passed one resolution:—"Your sub-committee believe
   You can lighten the curse of Adam when you've lightened the curse of Eve.
   But till we are built like angels, with hammer and chisel and pen,
   We will work for ourself and a woman, for ever and ever, amen."

   Now this is the tale of the Council the German Kaiser held—
   The day that they razored the Grindstone, the day that the Cat was belled,
   The day of the Figs from Thistles, the day of the Twisted Sands,
   The day that the laugh of a maiden made light of the Lords of Their Hands.





TOMLINSON

   Now Tomlinson gave up the ghost in his house in Berkeley Square,
   And a Spirit came to his bedside and gripped him by the hair—
   A Spirit gripped him by the hair and carried him far away,
   Till he heard as the roar of a rain-fed ford the roar of the Milky Way:
   Till he heard the roar of the Milky Way die down and drone and cease,
   And they came to the Gate within the Wall where Peter holds the keys.

   "Stand up, stand up now, Tomlinson, and answer loud and high
   The good that ye did for the sake of men or ever ye came to die—
   The good that ye did for the sake of men in little earth so lone!"
   And the naked soul of Tomlinson grew white as a rain-washed bone.

   "O I have a friend on earth," he said, "that was my priest and guide,
   And well would he answer all for me if he were by my side."
   —"For that ye strove in neighbour-love it shall be written fair,
   But now ye wait at Heaven's Gate and not in Berkeley Square:
   Though we called your friend from his bed this night, he could not speak for
   you,
   For the race is run by one and one and never by two and two."
   Then Tomlinson looked up and down, and little gain was there,
   For the naked stars grinned overhead, and he saw that his soul was bare:
   The Wind that blows between the worlds, it cut him like a knife,
   And Tomlinson took up his tale and spoke of his good in life.

   "This I have read in a book," he said, "and that was told to me,
   And this I have thought that another man thought of a Prince in Muscovy."
   The good souls flocked like homing doves and bade him clear the path,
   And Peter twirled the jangling keys in weariness and wrath.

   "Ye have read, ye have heard, ye have thought," he said, "and the tale is yet
   to run:
   By the worth of the body that once ye had, give answer—what ha'ye done?"
   Then Tomlinson looked back and forth, and little good it bore,
   For the Darkness stayed at his shoulder-blade and Heaven's Gate before:—
   "O this I have felt, and this I have guessed, and this I have heard men say,
   And this they wrote that another man wrote of a carl in Norroway."
   —"Ye have read, ye have felt, ye have guessed, good lack! Ye have hampered
   Heaven's Gate;
   There's little room between the stars in idleness to prate!
   O none may reach by hired speech of neighbour, priest, and kin
   Through borrowed deed to God's good meed that lies so fair within;
   Get hence, get hence to the Lord of Wrong, for doom has yet to run,
   And... the faith that ye share with Berkeley Square uphold you, Tomlinson!"

   The Spirit gripped him by the hair, and sun by sun they fell
   Till they came to the belt of Naughty Stars that rim the mouth of Hell:
   The first are red with pride and wrath, the next are white with pain,
   But the third are black with clinkered sin that cannot burn again:
   They may hold their path, they may leave their path, with never a soul to
   mark,
   They may burn or freeze, but they must not cease in the Scorn of the Outer
   Dark.

   The Wind that blows between the worlds, it nipped him to the bone,
   And he yearned to the flare of Hell-Gate there as the light of his own hearth-
   stone.

   The Devil he sat behind the bars, where the desperate legions drew,
   But he caught the hasting Tomlinson and would not let him through.

   "Wot ye the price of good pit-coal that I must pay?" said he,
   "That ye rank yoursel' so fit for Hell and ask no leave of me?
   I am all o'er-sib to Adam's breed that ye should give me scorn,
   For I strove with God for your First Father the day that he was born.

   "Sit down, sit down upon the slag, and answer loud and high
   The harm that ye did to the Sons of Men or ever you came to die."
   And Tomlinson looked up and up, and saw against the night
   The belly of a tortured star blood-red in Hell-Mouth light;
   And Tomlinson looked down and down, and saw beneath his feet
   The frontlet of a tortured star milk-white in Hell-Mouth heat.

   "O I had a love on earth," said he, "that kissed me to my fall,
   And if ye would call my love to me I know she would answer all."
   —"All that ye did in love forbid it shall be written fair,
   But now ye wait at Hell-Mouth Gate and not in Berkeley Square:
   Though we whistled your love from her bed tonight, I trow she would not run,
   For the sin ye do by two and two ye must pay for one by one!"
   The Wind that blows between the worlds, it cut him like a knife,
   And Tomlinson took up the tale and spoke of his sin in life:—
   "Once I ha' laughed at the power of Love and twice at the grip of the Grave,
   And thrice I ha' patted my God on the head that men might call me brave."
   The Devil he blew on a brandered soul and set it aside to cool:—
   "Do ye think I would waste my good pit-coal on the hide of a brain-sick fool?
   I see no worth in the hobnailed mirth or the jolthead jest ye did
   That I should waken my gentlemen that are sleeping three on a grid."
   Then Tomlinson looked back and forth, and there was little grace,
   For Hell-Gate filled the houseless Soul with the Fear of Naked Space.

   "Nay, this I ha' heard," quo'  Tomlinson, "and this was noised abroad,
   And this I ha' got from a Belgian book on the word of a dead French lord."
   —"Ye ha' heard, ye ha' read, ye ha' got, good lack! and the tale begins
   afresh—
   Have ye sinned one sin for the pride o' the eye or the sinful lust of the
   flesh?"
   Then Tomlinson he gripped the bars and yammered, "Let me in—
   For I mind that I borrowed my neighbour's wife to sin the deadly sin."
   The Devil he grinned behind the bars, and banked the fires high:
   "Did ye read of that sin in a book?" said he; and Tomlinson said, "Ay!"
   The Devil he blew upon his nails, and the little devils ran,
   And he said:  "Go husk this whimpering thief that comes in the guise of a man:
   Winnow him out 'twixt star and star, and sieve his proper worth:
   There's sore decline in Adam's line if this be spawn of earth."

   Empusa's crew, so naked-new they may not face the fire,
   But weep that they bin too small to sin to the height of their desire,
   Over the coal they chased the Soul, and racked it all abroad,
   As children rifle a caddis-case or the raven's foolish hoard.

   And back they came with the tattered Thing, as children after play,
   And they said:  "The soul that he got from God he has bartered clean away.

   "We have threshed a stook of print and book, and winnowed a chattering wind
   And many a soul wherefrom he stole, but his we cannot find:
   We have handled him, we have dandled him, we have seared him to the bone,
   And sure if tooth and nail show truth he has no soul of his own."
   The Devil he bowed his head on his breast and rumbled deep and low:—
   "I'm all o'er-sib to Adam's breed that I should bid him go.

   "Yet close we lie, and deep we lie, and if I gave him place,
   My gentlemen that are so proud would flout me to my face;
   They'd call my house a common stews and me a careless host,
   And—I would not anger my gentlemen for the sake of a shiftless ghost."
   The Devil he looked at the mangled Soul that prayed to feel the flame,
   And he thought of Holy Charity, but he thought of his own good name:—
   "Now ye could haste my coal to waste, and sit ye down to fry:
   Did ye think of that theft for yourself?" said he; and Tomlinson said, "Ay!"
   The Devil he blew an outward breath, for his heart was free from care:—
   "Ye have scarce the soul of a louse," he said, "but the roots of sin are
   there,
   And for that sin should ye come in were I the lord alone.
   But sinful pride has rule inside—and mightier than my own.

   "Honour and Wit, fore-damned they sit, to each his priest and whore:
   Nay, scarce I dare myself go there, and you they'd torture sore.

   "Ye are neither spirit nor spirk," he said; "ye are neither book nor brute—
   Go, get ye back to the flesh again for the sake of Man's repute.

   "I'm all o'er-sib to Adam's breed that I should mock your pain,
   But look that ye win to worthier sin ere ye come back again.
   Get hence, the hearse is at your door—the grim black stallions wait—
   They bear your clay to place today.  Speed, lest ye come too late!
   Go back to Earth with a lip unsealed—go back with an open eye,
   And carry my word to the Sons of Men or ever ye come to die:
   That the sin they do by two and two they must pay for one by one—
   And... the God that you took from a printed book be with you, Tomlinson!"

   *   *    *   *   *   *   *





BARRACK-ROOM BALLADS

    Dedication

        To T. A.

            I have made for you a song,
            And it may be right or wrong,
        But only you can tell me if it's true;
            I have tried for to explain
            Both your pleasure and your pain,
        And, Thomas, here's my best respects to you!

            O there'll surely come a day
            When they'll give you all your pay,
        And treat you as a Christian ought to do;
            So, until that day comes round,
            Heaven keep you safe and sound,
        And, Thomas, here's my best respects to you!
                             —R. K.

   DANNY DEEVER

   "What are the bugles blowin' for?" said Files-on-Parade.

   "To turn you out, to turn you out", the Colour-Sergeant said.

   "What makes you look so white, so white?" said Files-on-Parade.

   "I'm dreadin' what I've got to watch", the Colour-Sergeant said.

       For they're hangin' Danny Deever, you can hear the Dead March play,
       The regiment's in 'ollow square—they're hangin' him today;
       They've taken of his buttons off an' cut his stripes away,
       An' they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.

   "What makes the rear-rank breathe so 'ard?" said Files-on-Parade.

   "It's bitter cold, it's bitter cold", the Colour-Sergeant said.

   "What makes that front-rank man fall down?" said Files-on-Parade.

   "A touch o' sun, a touch o' sun", the Colour-Sergeant said.

       They are hangin' Danny Deever, they are marchin' of 'im round,
       They 'ave 'alted Danny Deever by 'is coffin on the ground;
       An' 'e'll swing in 'arf a minute for a sneakin' shootin' hound—
       O they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'!

   "'Is cot was right-'and cot to mine", said Files-on-Parade.

   "'E's sleepin' out an' far tonight", the Colour-Sergeant said.

   "I've drunk 'is beer a score o' times", said Files-on-Parade.

   "'E's drinkin' bitter beer alone", the Colour-Sergeant said.

       They are hangin' Danny Deever, you must mark 'im to 'is place,
       For 'e shot a comrade sleepin'—you must look 'im in the face;
       Nine 'undred of 'is county an' the regiment's disgrace,
       While they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.

   "What's that so black agin' the sun?" said Files-on-Parade.

   "It's Danny fightin' 'ard for life", the Colour-Sergeant said.

   "What's that that whimpers over'ead?" said Files-on-Parade.

   "It's Danny's soul that's passin' now", the Colour-Sergeant said.

       For they're done with Danny Deever, you can 'ear the quickstep play,
       The regiment's in column, an' they're marchin' us away;
       Ho! the young recruits are shakin', an' they'll want their beer today,
       After hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.





TOMMY

   I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
   The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
   The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
   I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
       O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
       But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
       The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
       O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

   I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
   They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
   They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
   But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
       For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
       But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
       The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
       O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

   Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
   Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
   An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
   Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

       Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
       But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
       The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
       O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

   We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
   But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
   An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
   Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
       While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
       But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
       There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
       O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

   You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
   We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
   Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
   The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

       For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
       But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
       An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
       An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool—you bet that Tommy sees!
FUZZY-WUZZY
   (Soudan Expeditionary Force)

   We've fought with many men acrost the seas,
     An' some of 'em was brave an' some was not:
   The Paythan an' the Zulu an' Burmese;
     But the Fuzzy was the finest o' the lot.

   We never got a ha'porth's change of 'im:
     'E squatted in the scrub an' 'ocked our 'orses,
   'E cut our sentries up at Suakim,
     An' 'e played the cat an' banjo with our forces.

       So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan;
       You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man;
       We gives you your certificate, an' if you want it signed
       We'll come an' 'ave a romp with you whenever you're inclined.

   We took our chanst among the Khyber 'ills,
     The Boers knocked us silly at a mile,
   The Burman give us Irriwaddy chills,
     An' a Zulu impi dished us up in style:
   But all we ever got from such as they
     Was pop to what the Fuzzy made us swaller;
   We 'eld our bloomin' own, the papers say,
     But man for man the Fuzzy knocked us 'oller.

       Then 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an' the missis and the kid;
       Our orders was to break you, an' of course we went an' did.
       We sloshed you with Martinis, an' it wasn't 'ardly fair;
       But for all the odds agin' you, Fuzzy-Wuz, you broke the square.

   'E 'asn't got no papers of 'is own,
     'E 'asn't got no medals nor rewards,
   So we must certify the skill 'e's shown
     In usin' of 'is long two-'anded swords:
   When 'e's 'oppin' in an' out among the bush
     With 'is coffin-'eaded shield an' shovel-spear,
   An 'appy day with Fuzzy on the rush
     Will last an 'ealthy Tommy for a year.

       So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an' your friends which are no more,
       If we 'adn't lost some messmates we would 'elp you to deplore;
       But give an' take's the gospel, an' we'll call the bargain fair,
       For if you 'ave lost more than us, you crumpled up the square!

   'E rushes at the smoke when we let drive,
     An', before we know, 'e's 'ackin' at our 'ead;
   'E's all 'ot sand an' ginger when alive,
     An' 'e's generally shammin' when 'e's dead.

   'E's a daisy, 'e's a ducky, 'e's a lamb!
     'E's a injia-rubber idiot on the spree,
   'E's the on'y thing that doesn't give a damn
     For a Regiment o' British Infantree!
       So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan;
       You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man;
       An' 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, with your 'ayrick 'ead of 'air—
       You big black boundin' beggar—for you broke a British square!





SOLDIER, SOLDIER

   "Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
   Why don't you march with my true love?"
   "We're fresh from off the ship an' 'e's maybe give the slip,
   An' you'd best go look for a new love."
       New love!  True love!
       Best go look for a new love,
       The dead they cannot rise, an' you'd better dry your eyes,
       An' you'd best go look for a new love.

   "Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
   What did you see o' my true love?"
   "I seed 'im serve the Queen in a suit o' rifle-green,
   An' you'd best go look for a new love."

   "Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
   Did ye see no more o' my true love?"
   "I seed 'im runnin' by when the shots begun to fly—
   But you'd best go look for a new love."

   "Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
   Did aught take 'arm to my true love?"
   "I couldn't see the fight, for the smoke it lay so white—
   An' you'd best go look for a new love."

   "Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
   I'll up an' tend to my true love!"
   "'E's lying on the dead with a bullet through 'is 'ead,
   An' you'd best go look for a new love."

   "Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
   I'll down an' die with my true love!"
   "The pit we dug'll 'ide 'im an' the twenty men beside 'im—
   An' you'd best go look for a new love."

   "Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
   Do you bring no sign from my true love?"
   "I bring a lock of 'air that 'e allus used to wear,
   An' you'd best go look for a new love."

   "Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
   O then I know it's true I've lost my true love!"
   "An' I tell you truth again—when you've lost the feel o' pain
   You'd best take me for your true love."
       True love!  New love!
       Best take 'im for a new love,
       The dead they cannot rise, an' you'd better dry your eyes,
       An' you'd best take 'im for your true love.





SCREW-GUNS

   Smokin' my pipe on the mountings,
              sniffin' the mornin' cool,
   I walks in my old brown gaiters
              along o' my old brown mule,
   With seventy gunners be'ind me,
              an' never a beggar forgets
   It's only the pick of the Army
              that handles the dear little pets—'Tss! 'Tss!
       For you all love the screw-guns—the screw-guns they all love you!
       So when we call round with a few guns,
                 o' course you will know what to do—hoo! hoo!
       Jest send in your Chief an' surrender—
                 it's worse if you fights or you runs:
       You can go where you please, you can skid up the trees,
                 but you don't get away from the guns!

   They sends us along where the roads are, but mostly we goes where they ain't:
   We'd climb up the side of a sign-board an' trust to the stick o' the paint:
   We've chivied the Naga an' Looshai,
             we've give the Afreedeeman fits,
   For we fancies ourselves at two thousand,
             we guns that are built in two bits—'Tss! 'Tss!
       For you all love the screw-guns...

   If a man doesn't work, why, we drills 'im
             an' teaches 'im 'ow to behave;
   If a beggar can't march, why, we kills 'im
             an' rattles 'im into 'is grave.
   You've got to stand up to our business
             an' spring without snatchin' or fuss.
   D'you say that you sweat with the field-guns?
             By God, you must lather with us—'Tss! 'Tss!
       For you all love the screw-guns...

   The eagles is screamin' around us,
             the river's a-moanin' below,
   We're clear o' the pine an' the oak-scrub,
             we're out on the rocks an' the snow,
   An' the wind is as thin as a whip-lash
             what carries away to the plains
   The rattle an' stamp o' the lead-mules—
             the jinglety-jink o' the chains—'Tss! 'Tss!
       For you all love the screw-guns...

   There's a wheel on the Horns o' the Mornin',
             an' a wheel on the edge o' the Pit,
   An' a drop into nothin' beneath you as straight as a beggar can spit:
   With the sweat runnin' out o' your shirt-sleeves,
             an' the sun off the snow in your face,
   An' 'arf o' the men on the drag-ropes
             to hold the old gun in 'er place—'Tss! 'Tss!
       For you all love the screw-guns...

   Smokin' my pipe on the mountings,
              sniffin' the mornin' cool,
   I climbs in my old brown gaiters
              along o' my old brown mule.
   The monkey can say what our road was—
              the wild-goat 'e knows where we passed.

   Stand easy, you long-eared old darlin's!
              Out drag-ropes!  With shrapnel!  Hold fast—'Tss! 'Tss!

       For you all love the screw-guns—the screw-guns they all love
   you!
       So when we take tea with a few guns,
                 o' course you will know what to do—hoo! hoo!
       Jest send in your Chief an' surrender—
                 it's worse if you fights or you runs:
       You may hide in the caves, they'll be only your graves,
                 but you can't get away from the guns!





GUNGA DIN

   You may talk o' gin and beer
   When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
   An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
   But when it comes to slaughter
   You will do your work on water,
   An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.

   Now in Injia's sunny clime,
   Where I used to spend my time
   A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,
   Of all them blackfaced crew
   The finest man I knew
   Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.

         He was "Din! Din! Din!
     You limpin' lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!
         Hi! slippy hitherao!
         Water, get it!  Panee lao!1
     You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din."

   The uniform 'e wore
   Was nothin' much before,
   An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,
   For a piece o' twisty rag
   An' a goatskin water-bag
   Was all the field-equipment 'e could find.

   When the sweatin' troop-train lay
   In a sidin' through the day,
   Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,
   We shouted "Harry By!" 2
   Till our throats were bricky-dry,
   Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.

         It was "Din! Din! Din!
     You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?
         You put some juldee 3 in it
         Or I'll marrow 4 you this minute
     If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"

   'E would dot an' carry one
   Till the longest day was done;
   An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.

   If we charged or broke or cut,
   You could bet your bloomin' nut,
   'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.
   With 'is mussick 5 on 'is back,
   'E would skip with our attack,
   An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire",
   An' for all 'is dirty 'ide
   'E was white, clear white, inside
   When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!
         It was "Din! Din! Din!"
     With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.

         When the cartridges ran out,
         You could hear the front-files shout,
     "Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"

   I shan't forgit the night
   When I dropped be'ind the fight
   With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been.
   I was chokin' mad with thirst,
   An' the man that spied me first
   Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.
   'E lifted up my 'ead,
   An' he plugged me where I bled,
   An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water-green:
   It was crawlin' and it stunk,
   But of all the drinks I've drunk,
   I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.

         It was "Din! Din! Din!
     'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;
         'E's chawin' up the ground,
         An' 'e's kickin' all around:
     For Gawd's sake git the water, Gunga Din!"

   'E carried me away
   To where a dooli lay,
   An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.
   'E put me safe inside,
   An' just before 'e died,
   "I 'ope you liked your drink", sez Gunga Din.
   So I'll meet 'im later on
   At the place where 'e is gone—
   Where it's always double drill and no canteen;
   'E'll be squattin' on the coals
   Givin' drink to poor damned souls,
   An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
         Yes, Din! Din! Din!
     You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
         Though I've belted you and flayed you,
         By the livin' Gawd that made you,
     You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

   1 Bring water swiftly.
   2 Mr Atkins' equivalent for "O Brother."
   3 Hit you.
   4 Be quick.
   5 Water skin.
OONTS
   (Northern India Transport Train)

   Wot makes the soldier's 'eart to @penk, wot makes 'im to perspire?
   It isn't standin' up to charge nor lyin' down to fire;
   But it's everlastin' waitin' on a everlastin' road
   For the commissariat camel an' 'is commissariat load.
       O the oont, 1 O the oont, O the commissariat oont!
        With 'is silly neck a-bobbin' like a basket full o' snakes;
       We packs 'im like an idol, an' you ought to 'ear 'im grunt,
        An' when we gets 'im loaded up 'is blessed girth-rope breaks.

   Wot makes the rear-guard swear so 'ard when night is drorin' in,
   An' every native follower is shiverin' for 'is skin?
   It ain't the chanst o' being rushed by Paythans from the 'ills,
   It's the commissariat camel puttin' on 'is bloomin' frills!
       O the oont, O the oont, O the hairy scary oont!
        A-trippin' over tent-ropes when we've got the night alarm!
       We socks 'im with a stretcher-pole an' 'eads 'im off in front,
        An' when we've saved 'is bloomin' life 'e chaws our bloomin' arm.

   The 'orse 'e knows above a bit, the bullock's but a fool,
   The elephant's a gentleman, the battery-mule's a mule;
   But the commissariat cam-u-el, when all is said an' done,
   'E's a devil an' a ostrich an' a orphan-child in one.
       O the oont, O the oont, O the Gawd-forsaken oont!
        The lumpy-'umpy 'ummin'-bird a-singin' where 'e lies,
       'E's blocked the whole division from the rear-guard to the front,
        An' when we get him up again—the beggar goes an' dies!

   'E'll gall an' chafe an' lame an' fight—'e smells most awful vile;
   'E'll lose 'isself for ever if you let 'im stray a mile;
   'E's game to graze the 'ole day long an' 'owl the 'ole night through,
   An' when 'e comes to greasy ground 'e splits 'isself in two.
       O the oont, O the oont, O the floppin', droppin' oont!
        When 'is long legs give from under an' 'is meltin' eye is dim,
       The tribes is up be'ind us, and the tribes is out in front—
        It ain't no jam for Tommy, but it's kites an' crows for 'im.

   So when the cruel march is done, an' when the roads is blind,
   An' when we sees the camp in front an' 'ears the shots be'ind,
   Ho! then we strips 'is saddle off, and all 'is woes is past:
   'E thinks on us that used 'im so, and gets revenge at last.
       O the oont, O the oont, O the floatin', bloatin' oont!
        The late lamented camel in the water-cut 'e lies;
       We keeps a mile be'ind 'im an' we keeps a mile in front,
        But 'e gets into the drinkin'-casks, and then o' course we dies.

   1 Camel—oo is pronounced like u in "bull," but by Mr. Atkins to
   rhyme with "front."





LOOT

   If you've ever stole a pheasant-egg be'ind the keeper's back,
    If you've ever snigged the washin' from the line,
   If you've ever crammed a gander in your bloomin' 'aversack,
    You will understand this little song o' mine.

   But the service rules are 'ard, an' from such we are debarred,
    For the same with English morals does not suit.

       (Cornet:  Toot! toot!)
   W'y, they call a man a robber if 'e stuffs 'is marchin' clobber
    With the—
   (Chorus)  Loo! loo!  Lulu! lulu!  Loo! loo!  Loot! loot! loot!
                  Ow the loot!
                  Bloomin' loot!
               That's the thing to make the boys git up an' shoot!
                It's the same with dogs an' men,
                If you'd make 'em come again
               Clap 'em forward with a Loo! loo! Lulu! Loot!
       (ff)  Whoopee!  Tear 'im, puppy!  Loo! loo! Lulu!  Loot! loot! loot!

   If you've knocked a nigger edgeways when 'e's thrustin' for your life,
    You must leave 'im very careful where 'e fell;
   An' may thank your stars an' gaiters if you didn't feel 'is knife
    That you ain't told off to bury 'im as well.

   Then the sweatin' Tommies wonder as they spade the beggars under
    Why lootin' should be entered as a crime;
   So if my song you'll 'ear, I will learn you plain an' clear
    'Ow to pay yourself for fightin' overtime.

   (Chorus)  With the loot,...

   Now remember when you're 'acking round a gilded Burma god
    That 'is eyes is very often precious stones;
   An' if you treat a nigger to a dose o' cleanin'-rod
    'E's like to show you everything 'e owns.

   When 'e won't prodooce no more, pour some water on the floor
    Where you 'ear it answer 'ollow to the boot
       (Cornet:  Toot! toot!)—
   When the ground begins to sink, shove your baynick down the chink,
    An' you're sure to touch the—
   (Chorus)  Loo! loo!  Lulu!   Loot! loot! loot!
                  Ow the loot!...

   When from 'ouse to 'ouse you're 'unting, you must always work in pairs—
    It 'alves the gain, but safer you will find—
   For a single man gets bottled on them twisty-wisty stairs,
    An' a woman comes and clobs 'im from be'ind.

   When you've turned 'em inside out, an' it seems beyond a doubt
    As if there weren't enough to dust a flute
       (Cornet:  Toot! toot!)—
   Before you sling your 'ook, at the 'ousetops take a look,
    For it's underneath the tiles they 'ide the loot.

   (Chorus)  Ow the loot!...

   You can mostly square a Sergint an' a Quartermaster too,
    If you only take the proper way to go;
   I could never keep my pickin's, but I've learned you all I knew—
    An' don't you never say I told you so.

   An' now I'll bid good-bye, for I'm gettin' rather dry,
    An' I see another tunin' up to toot
       (Cornet:  Toot! toot!)—
   So 'ere's good-luck to those that wears the Widow's clo'es,
    An' the Devil send 'em all they want o' loot!
   (Chorus)     Yes, the loot,
                  Bloomin' loot!
               In the tunic an' the mess-tin an' the boot!
                It's the same with dogs an' men,
                If you'd make 'em come again
      (fff)  Whoop 'em forward with a Loo! loo!  Lulu!  Loot! loot! loot!
               Heeya!  Sick 'im, puppy!  Loo! loo!  Lulu!  Loot! loot! loot!





'SNARLEYOW'

   This 'appened in a battle to a batt'ry of the corps
   Which is first among the women an' amazin' first in war;
   An' what the bloomin' battle was I don't remember now,
   But Two's off-lead 'e answered to the name o' Snarleyow.

       Down in the Infantry, nobody cares;
       Down in the Cavalry, Colonel 'e swears;
       But down in the lead with the wheel at the flog
       Turns the bold Bombardier to a little whipped dog!

   They was movin' into action, they was needed very sore,
   To learn a little schoolin' to a native army corps,
   They 'ad nipped against an uphill, they was tuckin' down the brow,
   When a tricky, trundlin' roundshot give the knock to Snarleyow.

   They cut 'im loose an' left 'im—'e was almost tore in two—
   But he tried to follow after as a well-trained 'orse should do;
   'E went an' fouled the limber, an' the Driver's Brother squeals:
   "Pull up, pull up for Snarleyow—'is head's between 'is 'eels!"

   The Driver 'umped 'is shoulder, for the wheels was goin' round,
   An' there ain't no "Stop, conductor!" when a batt'ry's changin' ground;
   Sez 'e:  "I broke the beggar in, an' very sad I feels,
   But I couldn't pull up, not for you—your 'ead between your 'eels!"

   'E 'adn't 'ardly spoke the word, before a droppin' shell
   A little right the batt'ry an' between the sections fell;
   An' when the smoke 'ad cleared away, before the limber wheels,
   There lay the Driver's Brother with 'is 'ead between 'is 'eels.

   Then sez the Driver's Brother, an' 'is words was very plain,
   "For Gawd's own sake get over me, an' put me out o' pain."
   They saw 'is wounds was mortial, an' they judged that it was best,
   So they took an' drove the limber straight across 'is back an' chest.

   The Driver 'e give nothin' 'cept a little coughin' grunt,
   But 'e swung 'is 'orses 'andsome when it came to "Action Front!"
   An' if one wheel was juicy, you may lay your Monday head
   'Twas juicier for the niggers when the case begun to spread.

   The moril of this story, it is plainly to be seen:
   You 'avn't got no families when servin' of the Queen—
   You 'avn't got no brothers, fathers, sisters, wives, or sons—
   If you want to win your battles take an' work your bloomin' guns!

       Down in the Infantry, nobody cares;
       Down in the Cavalry, Colonel 'e swears;
       But down in the lead with the wheel at the flog
       Turns the bold Bombardier to a little whipped dog!





THE WIDOW AT WINDSOR

   'Ave you 'eard o' the Widow at Windsor
    With a hairy gold crown on 'er 'ead?
   She 'as ships on the foam—she 'as millions at 'ome,
    An' she pays us poor beggars in red.
       (Ow, poor beggars in red!)

   There's 'er nick on the cavalry 'orses,
    There's 'er mark on the medical stores—
   An' 'er troopers you'll find with a fair wind be'ind
    That takes us to various wars.
       (Poor beggars!—barbarious wars!)
          Then 'ere's to the Widow at Windsor,
           An' 'ere's to the stores an' the guns,
          The men an' the 'orses what makes up the forces
           O' Missis Victorier's sons.
          (Poor beggars! Victorier's sons!)

   Walk wide o' the Widow at Windsor,
    For 'alf o' Creation she owns:
   We 'ave bought 'er the same with the sword an' the flame,
    An' we've salted it down with our bones.
       (Poor beggars!—it's blue with our bones!)
   Hands off o' the sons o' the Widow,
    Hands off o' the goods in 'er shop,
   For the Kings must come down an' the Emperors frown
    When the Widow at Windsor says "Stop"!
       (Poor beggars!—we're sent to say "Stop"!)
          Then 'ere's to the Lodge o' the Widow,
           From the Pole to the Tropics it runs—
          To the Lodge that we tile with the rank an' the file,
           An' open in form with the guns.
          (Poor beggars!—it's always they guns!)

   We 'ave 'eard o' the Widow at Windsor,
    It's safest to let 'er alone:
   For 'er sentries we stand by the sea an' the land
    Wherever the bugles are blown.
       (Poor beggars!—an' don't we get blown!)
   Take 'old o' the Wings o' the Mornin',
    An' flop round the earth till you're dead;
   But you won't get away from the tune that they play
    To the bloomin' old rag over'ead.
       (Poor beggars!—it's 'ot over'ead!)
          Then 'ere's to the sons o' the Widow,
           Wherever, 'owever they roam.
          'Ere's all they desire, an' if they require
           A speedy return to their 'ome.
          (Poor beggars!—they'll never see 'ome!)





BELTS

   There was a row in Silver Street that's near to Dublin Quay,
   Between an Irish regiment an' English cavalree;
   It started at Revelly an' it lasted on till dark:
   The first man dropped at Harrison's, the last forninst the Park.

       For it was:—"Belts, belts, belts, an' that's one for you!"
       An' it was "Belts, belts, belts, an' that's done for you!"
       O buckle an' tongue
       Was the song that we sung
       From Harrison's down to the Park!

   There was a row in Silver Street—the regiments was out,
   They called us "Delhi Rebels", an' we answered "Threes about!"
   That drew them like a hornet's nest—we met them good an' large,
   The English at the double an' the Irish at the charge.

       Then it was:—"Belts...

   There was a row in Silver Street—an' I was in it too;
   We passed the time o' day, an' then the belts went whirraru!
   I misremember what occurred, but subsequint the storm
   A Freeman's Journal Supplemint was all my uniform.

       O it was:—"Belts...
There was a row in Silver Street—they sent the Polis there,
   The English were too drunk to know, the Irish didn't care;
   But when they grew impertinint we simultaneous rose,
   Till half o' them was Liffey mud an' half was tatthered clo'es.

       For it was:—"Belts...

   There was a row in Silver Street—it might ha' raged till now,
   But some one drew his side-arm clear, an' nobody knew how;
   'Twas Hogan took the point an' dropped; we saw the red blood run:
   An' so we all was murderers that started out in fun.

       While it was:—"Belts...

   There was a row in Silver Street—but that put down the shine,
   Wid each man whisperin' to his next: "'Twas never work o' mine!"
   We went away like beaten dogs, an' down the street we bore him,
   The poor dumb corpse that couldn't tell the bhoys were sorry for him.

       When it was:—"Belts...

   There was a row in Silver Street—it isn't over yet,
   For half of us are under guard wid punishments to get;
   'Tis all a merricle to me as in the Clink I lie:
   There was a row in Silver Street—begod, I wonder why!

       But it was:—"Belts, belts, belts, an' that's one for you!"
       An' it was "Belts, belts, belts, an' that's done for you!"
       O buckle an' tongue
       Was the song that we sung
       From Harrison's down to the Park!





THE YOUNG BRITISH SOLDIER

   When the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East
   'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
   An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
      Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.

         Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
         Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
         Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
            So-oldier of the Queen!

   Now all you recruities what's drafted today,
   You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay,
   An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
      A soldier what's fit for a soldier.

         Fit, fit, fit for a soldier...

   First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts,
   For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts—
   Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts—
      An' it's bad for the young British soldier.

         Bad, bad, bad for the soldier...

   When the cholera comes—as it will past a doubt—
   Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,
   For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
      An' it crumples the young British soldier.

         Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier...

   But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
   You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
   If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
      An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.

         Fool, fool, fool of a soldier...

   If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
   Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
   Be handy and civil, and then you will find
      That it's beer for the young British soldier.

         Beer, beer, beer for the soldier...

   Now, if you must marry, take care she is old—
   A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told,
   For beauty won't help if your rations is cold,
      Nor love ain't enough for a soldier.

         'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier...

   If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
   To shoot when you catch 'em—you'll swing, on my oath!—
   Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er:  that's Hell for them both,
      An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier.

         Curse, curse, curse of a soldier...

   When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
   Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
   Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
      And march to your front like a soldier.

         Front, front, front like a soldier...

   When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
   Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
   She's human as you are—you treat her as sich,
      An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.

         Fight, fight, fight for the soldier...

   When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine,
   The guns o' the enemy wheel into line,
   Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine,
      For noise never startles the soldier.

         Start-, start-, startles the soldier...

   If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
   Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
   So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
      And wait for supports like a soldier.

         Wait, wait, wait like a soldier...

   When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
   And the women come out to cut up what remains,
   Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
      An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.

         Go, go, go like a soldier,
         Go, go, go like a soldier,
         Go, go, go like a soldier,
            So-oldier of the Queen!





MANDALAY

   By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea,
   There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
   For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
   "Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"
       Come you back to Mandalay,
       Where the old Flotilla lay:
       Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay?
       On the road to Mandalay,
       Where the flyin'-fishes play,
       An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

   'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green,
   An' 'er name was Supi-yaw-lat—jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen,
   An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot,
   An' a-wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot:
       Bloomin' idol made o'mud—
       Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd—
       Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud!
       On the road to Mandalay...

   When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow,
   She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kulla-lo-lo!"
   With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek agin' my cheek
   We useter watch the steamers an' the hathis pilin' teak.
       Elephints a-pilin' teak
       In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
       Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak!
       On the road to Mandalay...

   But that's all shove be'ind me—long ago an' fur away,
   An' there ain't no 'busses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay;
   An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
   "If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else."
       No! you won't 'eed nothin' else
       But them spicy garlic smells,
       An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;
       On the road to Mandalay...

   I am sick o' wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones,
   An' the blasted Henglish drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
   Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
   An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand?
       Beefy face an' grubby 'and—
       Law! wot do they understand?
       I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
       On the road to Mandalay...

   Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
   Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;
   For the temple-bells are callin', an' it's there that I would be—
   By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
       On the road to Mandalay,
       Where the old Flotilla lay,
       With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
       On the road to Mandalay,
       Where the flyin'-fishes play,
       An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
TROOPIN'
   (Our Army in the East)

   Troopin', troopin', troopin' to the sea:
   'Ere's September come again—the six-year men are free.
   O leave the dead be'ind us, for they cannot come away
   To where the ship's a-coalin' up that takes us 'ome today.

      We're goin' 'ome, we're goin' 'ome,
       Our ship is at the shore,
      An' you must pack your 'aversack,
       For we won't come back no more.

      Ho, don't you grieve for me,
       My lovely Mary-Ann,
      For I'll marry you yit on a fourp'ny bit
       As a time-expired man.

   The Malabar's in 'arbour with the Jumner at 'er tail,
   An' the time-expired's waitin' of 'is orders for to sail.
   Ho! the weary waitin' when on Khyber 'ills we lay,
   But the time-expired's waitin' of 'is orders 'ome today.

   They'll turn us out at Portsmouth wharf in cold an' wet an' rain,
   All wearin' Injian cotton kit, but we will not complain;
   They'll kill us of pneumonia—for that's their little way—
   But damn the chills and fever, men, we're goin' 'ome today!

   Troopin', troopin', winter's round again!
   See the new draf's pourin' in for the old campaign;
   Ho, you poor recruities, but you've got to earn your pay—
   What's the last from Lunnon, lads?  We're goin' there today.

   Troopin', troopin', give another cheer—
   'Ere's to English women an' a quart of English beer.
   The Colonel an' the regiment an' all who've got to stay,
   Gawd's mercy strike 'em gentle—Whoop! we're goin' 'ome today.

       We're goin' 'ome, we're goin' 'ome,
        Our ship is at the shore,
       An' you must pack your 'aversack,
        For we won't come back no more.

       Ho, don't you grieve for me,
        My lovely Mary-Ann,
       For I'll marry you yit on a fourp'ny bit
        As a time-expired man.





FORD O' KABUL RIVER

   Kabul town's by Kabul river—
    Blow the bugle, draw the sword—
   There I lef' my mate for ever,
    Wet an' drippin' by the ford.
       Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
        Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
       There's the river up and brimmin', an' there's 'arf a squadron swimmin'
        'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

   Kabul town's a blasted place—
    Blow the bugle, draw the sword—
   'Strewth I sha'n't forget 'is face
    Wet an' drippin' by the ford!
       Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
        Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
       Keep the crossing-stakes beside you, an' they will surely guide you
        'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

   Kabul town is sun and dust—
    Blow the bugle, draw the sword—
   I'd ha' sooner drownded fust
    'Stead of 'im beside the ford.
       Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
        Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
       You can 'ear the 'orses threshin', you can 'ear the men a-splashin',
        'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

   Kabul town was ours to take—
    Blow the bugle, draw the sword—
   I'd ha' left it for 'is sake—
    'Im that left me by the ford.
       Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
        Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
       It's none so bloomin' dry there; ain't you never comin' nigh there,
        'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark?

   Kabul town'll go to hell—
    Blow the bugle, draw the sword—
   'Fore I see him 'live an' well—
    'Im the best beside the ford.
       Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
        Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
       Gawd 'elp 'em if they blunder, for their boots'll pull 'em under,
        By the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

   Turn your 'orse from Kabul town—
    Blow the bugle, draw the sword—
   'Im an' 'arf my troop is down,
    Down an' drownded by the ford.
       Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
        Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
       There's the river low an' fallin', but it ain't no use o' callin'
        'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.





ROUTE MARCHIN'

   We're marchin' on relief over Injia's sunny plains,
   A little front o' Christmas-time an' just be'ind the Rains;
   Ho! get away you bullock-man, you've 'eard the bugle blowed,
   There's a regiment a-comin' down the Grand Trunk Road;
       With its best foot first
       And the road a-sliding past,
       An' every bloomin' campin'-ground exactly like the last;
       While the Big Drum says,
       With 'is "rowdy-dowdy-dow!"—
       "Kiko kissywarsti don't you hamsher argy jow?" 2

   Oh, there's them Injian temples to admire when you see,
   There's the peacock round the corner an' the monkey up the tree,
   An' there's that rummy silver grass a-wavin' in the wind,
   An' the old Grand Trunk a-trailin' like a rifle-sling be'ind.

       While it's best foot first,...

   At half-past five's Revelly, an' our tents they down must come,
   Like a lot of button mushrooms when you pick 'em up at 'ome.
   But it's over in a minute, an' at six the column starts,
   While the women and the kiddies sit an' shiver in the carts.

       An' it's best foot first,...

   Oh, then it's open order, an' we lights our pipes an' sings,
   An' we talks about our rations an' a lot of other things,
   An' we thinks o' friends in England, an' we wonders what they're at,
   An' 'ow they would admire for to hear us sling the bat.1

       An' it's best foot first,...

   It's none so bad o' Sunday, when you're lyin' at your ease,
   To watch the kites a-wheelin' round them feather-'eaded trees,
   For although there ain't no women, yet there ain't no barrick-yards,
   So the orficers goes shootin' an' the men they plays at cards.

       Till it's best foot first,...

   So 'ark an' 'eed, you rookies, which is always grumblin' sore,
   There's worser things than marchin' from Umballa to Cawnpore;
   An' if your 'eels are blistered an' they feels to 'urt like 'ell,
   You drop some tallow in your socks an' that will make 'em well.

       For it's best foot first,...

   We're marchin' on relief over Injia's coral strand,
   Eight 'undred fightin' Englishmen, the Colonel, and the Band;
   Ho! get away you bullock-man, you've 'eard the bugle blowed,
   There's a regiment a-comin' down the Grand Trunk Road;
       With its best foot first
       And the road a-sliding past,
       An' every bloomin' campin'-ground exactly like the last;
       While the Big Drum says,
       With 'is "rowdy-dowdy-dow!"—
       "Kiko kissywarsti don't you hamsher argy jow?"2

   1 Thomas's first and firmest conviction is that he is a profound Orientalist
   and a fluent speaker of Hindustani.  As a matter of fact, he depends largely
   on the sign-language.
   2 Why don't you get on

   The end

   *    *    *    *    *    *





VOLUME III. THE PHANTOM 'RICKSHAW AND OTHER GHOST STORIES





THE PHANTOM 'RICKSHAW

     May no ill dreams disturb my rest,
     Nor Powers of Darkness me molest.
             —Evening Hymn.

ONE of the few advantages that India has over England is a great Knowability. After five years' service a man is directly or indirectly acquainted with the two or three hundred Civilians in his Province, all the Messes of ten or twelve Regiments and Batteries, and some fifteen hundred other people of the non-official caste. In ten years his knowledge should be doubled, and at the end of twenty he knows, or knows something about, every Englishman in the Empire, and may travel anywhere and everywhere without paying hotel-bills.

Globe-trotters who expect entertainment as a right, have, even within my memory, blunted this open-heartedness, but none the less today, if you belong to the Inner Circle and are neither a Bear nor a Black Sheep, all houses are open to you, and our small world is very, very kind and helpful.

Rickett of Kamartha stayed with Polder of Kumaon some fifteen years ago. He meant to stay two nights, but was knocked down by rheumatic fever, and for six weeks disorganized Polder's establishment, stopped Polder's work, and nearly died in Polder's bedroom. Polder behaves as though he had been placed under eternal obligation by Rickett, and yearly sends the little Ricketts a box of presents and toys. It is the same everywhere. The men who do not take the trouble to conceal from you their opinion that you are an incompetent ass, and the women who blacken your character and misunderstand your wife's amusements, will work themselves to the bone in your behalf if you fall sick or into serious trouble.

Heatherlegh, the Doctor, kept, in addition to his regular practice, a hospital on his private account—an arrangement of loose boxes for Incurables, his friend called it—but it was really a sort of fitting-up shed for craft that had been damaged by stress of weather. The weather in India is often sultry, and since the tale of bricks is always a fixed quantity, and the only liberty allowed is permission to work overtime and get no thanks, men occasionally break down and become as mixed as the metaphors in this sentence.

Heatherlegh is the dearest doctor that ever was, and his invariable prescription to all his patients is, "lie low, go slow, and keep cool." He says that more men are killed by overwork than the importance of this world justifies. He maintains that overwork slew Pansay, who died under his hands about three years ago. He has, of course, the right to speak authoritatively, and he laughs at my theory that there was a crack in Pansay's head and a little bit of the Dark World came through and pressed him to death. "Pansay went off the handle," says Heatherlegh, "after the stimulus of long leave at Home. He may or he may not have behaved like a blackguard to Mrs. Keith-Wessington. My notion is that the work of the Katabundi Settlement ran him off his legs, and that he took to brooding and making much of an ordinary P. & 0. flirtation. He certainly was engaged to Miss Mannering, and she certainly broke off the engagement. Then he took a feverish chill and all that nonsense about ghosts developed. Overwork started his illness, kept it alight, and killed him poor devil. Write him off to the System—one man to take the work of two and a half men."

I do not believe this. I used to sit up with Pansay sometimes when Heatherlegh was called out to patients, and I happened to be within claim. The man would make me most unhappy by describing in a low, even voice, the procession that was always passing at the bottom of his bed. He had a sick man's command of language.

When he recovered I suggested that he should write out the whole affair from beginning to end, knowing that ink might assist him to ease his mind. When little boys have learned a new bad word they are never happy till they have chalked it up on a door. And this also is Literature.

He was in a high fever while he was writing, and the blood-and-thunder Magazine diction he adopted did not calm him. Two months afterward he was reported fit for duty, but, in spite of the fact that he was urgently needed to help an undermanned Commission stagger through a deficit, he preferred to die; vowing at the last that he was hag-ridden. I got his manuscript before he died, and this is his version of the affair, dated 1885:

My doctor tells me that I need rest and change of air. It is not improbable that I shall get both ere long—rest that neither the red-coated messenger nor the midday gun can break, and change of air far beyond that which any homeward-bound steamer can give me. In the meantime I am resolved to stay where I am; and, in flat defiance of my doctor's orders, to take all the world into my confidence. You shall learn for yourselves the precise nature of my malady; and shall, too, judge for yourselves whether any man born of woman on this weary earth was ever so tormented as I.

Speaking now as a condemned criminal might speak ere the drop-bolts are drawn, my story, wild and hideously improbable as it may appear, demands at least attention. That it will ever receive credence I utterly disbelieve. Two months ago I should have scouted as mad or drunk the man who had dared tell me the like. Two months ago I was the happiest man in India. Today, from Peshawur to the sea, there is no one more wretched. My doctor and I are the only two who know this. His explanation is, that my brain, digestion, and eyesight are all slightly affected; giving rise to my frequent and persistent "delusions." Delusions, indeed! I call him a fool; but he attends me still with the same unwearied smile, the same bland professional manner, the same neatly trimmed red whiskers, till I begin to suspect that I am an ungrateful, evil-tempered invalid. But you shall judge for yourselves.

Three years ago it was my fortune—my great misfortune—to sail from Gravesend to Bombay, on return from long leave, with one Agnes Keith-Wessington, wife of an officer on the Bombay side. It does not in the least concern you to know what manner of woman she was. Be content with the knowledge that, ere the voyage had ended, both she and I were desperately and unreasoningly in love with one another. Heaven knows that I can make the admission now without one particle of vanity. In matters of this sort there is always one who gives and another who accepts. From the first day of our ill-omened attachment, I was conscious that Agnes's passion was a stronger, a more dominant, and—if I may use the expression—a purer sentiment than mine. Whether she recognized the fact then, I do not know. Afterward it was bitterly plain to both of us.

Arrived at Bombay in the spring of the year, we went our respective ways, to meet no more for the next three or four months, when my leave and her love took us both to Simla. There we spent the season together; and there my fire of straw burned itself out to a pitiful end with the closing year. I attempt no excuse. I make no apology. Mrs. Wessington had given up much for my sake, and was prepared to give up all. From my own lips, in August, 1882, she learned that I was sick of her presence, tired of her company, and weary of the sound of her voice. Ninety-nine women out of a hundred would have wearied of me as I wearied of them; seventy-five of that number would have promptly avenged themselves by active and obtrusive flirtation with other men. Mrs. Wessington was the hundredth. On her neither my openly expressed aversion nor the cutting brutalities with which I garnished our interviews had the least effect. "Jack, darling!" was her one eternal cuckoo cry: "I'm sure it's all a mistake—a hideous mistake; and we'll be good friends again some day. Please forgive me, Jack, dear."

I was the offender, and I knew it. That knowledge transformed my pity into passive endurance, and, eventually, into blind hate—the same instinct, I suppose, which prompts a man to savagely stamp on the spider he has but half killed. And with this hate in my bosom the season of 1882 came to an end.

Next year we met again at Simla—she with her monotonous face and timid attempts at reconciliation, and I with loathing of her in every fibre of my frame. Several times I could not avoid meeting her alone; and on each occasion her words were identically the same. Still the unreasoning wail that it was all a "mistake"; and still the hope of eventually "making friends." I might have seen had I cared to look, that that hope only was keeping her alive. She grew more wan and thin month by month. You will agree with me, at least, that such conduct would have driven any one to despair. It was uncalled for; childish; unwomanly. I maintain that she was much to blame. And again, sometimes, in the black, fever-stricken night-watches, I have begun to think that I might have been a little kinder to her. But that really is a "delusion." I could not have continued pretending to love her when I didn't; could I? It would have been unfair to us both.

Last year we met again—on the same terms as before. The same weary appeal, and the same curt answers from my lips. At least I would make her see how wholly wrong and hopeless were her attempts at resuming the old relationship. As the season wore on, we fell apart—that is to say, she found it difficult to meet me, for I had other and more absorbing interests to attend to. When I think it over quietly in my sick-room, the season of 1884 seems a confused nightmare wherein light and shade were fantastically intermingled—my courtship of little Kitty Mannering; my hopes, doubts, and fears; our long rides together; my trembling avowal of attachment; her reply; and now and again a vision of a white face flitting by in the 'rickshaw with the black and white liveries I once watched for so earnestly; the wave of Mrs. Wessington's gloved hand; and, when she met me alone, which was but seldom, the irksome monotony of her appeal. I loved Kitty Mannering; honestly, heartily loved her, and with my love for her grew my hatred for Agnes. In August Kitty and I were engaged. The next day I met those accursed "magpie" jhampanies at the back of Jakko, and, moved by some passing sentiment of pity, stopped to tell Mrs. Wessington everything. She knew it already.

"So I hear you're engaged, Jack dear." Then, without a moment's pause—"I'm sure it's all a mistake—a hideous mistake. We shall be as good friends some day, Jack, as we ever were."

My answer might have made even a man wince. It cut the dying woman before me like the blow of a whip. "Please forgive me, Jack; I didn't mean to make you angry; but it's true, it's true!"

And Mrs. Wessington broke down completely. I turned away and left her to finish her journey in peace, feeling, but only for a moment or two, that I had been an unutterably mean hound. I looked back, and saw that she had turned her 'rickshaw with the idea, I suppose, of overtaking me.

The scene and its surroundings were photographed on my memory.

The rain-swept sky (we were at the end of the wet weather), the sodden, dingy pines, the muddy road, and the black powder-riven cliffs formed a gloomy background against which the black and white liveries of the jhampanies, the yellow-paneled 'rickshaw and Mrs. Wessington's down-bowed golden head stood out clearly. She was holding her handkerchief in her left hand and was leaning hack exhausted against the 'rickshaw cushions. I turned my horse up a bypath near the Sanjowlie Reservoir and literally ran away. Once I fancied I heard a faint call of "Jack!" This may have been imagination. I never stopped to verify it. Ten minutes later I came across Kitty on horseback; and, in the delight of a long ride with her, forgot all about the interview.

A week later Mrs. Wessington died, and the inexpressible burden of her existence was removed from my life. I went Plainsward perfectly happy. Before three months were over I had forgotten all about her, except that at times the discovery of some of her old letters reminded me unpleasantly of our bygone relationship. By January I had disinterred what was left of our correspondence from among my scattered belongings and had burned it. At the beginning of April of this year, 1885, I was at Simla—semi-deserted Simla—once more, and was deep in lover's talks and walks with Kitty. It was decided that we should be married at the end of June. You will understand, therefore, that, loving Kitty as I did, I am not saying too much when I pronounce myself to have been, at that time, the happiest man in India.

Fourteen delightful days passed almost before I noticed their flight.

Then, aroused to the sense of what was proper among mortals circumstanced as we were, I pointed out to Kitty that an engagement ring was the outward and visible sign of her dignity as an engaged girl; and that she must forthwith come to Hamilton's to be measured for one. Up to that moment, I give you my word, we had completely forgotten so trivial a matter. To Hamilton's we accordingly went on the 15th of April, 1885. Remember that—whatever my doctor may say to the contrary—I was then in perfect health, enjoying a well-balanced mind and an absolute tranquil spirit. Kitty and I entered Hamilton's shop together, and there, regardless of the order of affairs, I measured Kitty for the ring in the presence of the amused assistant. The ring was a sapphire with two diamonds. We then rode out down the slope that leads to the Combermere Bridge and Peliti's shop.

While my Waler was cautiously feeling his way over the loose shale, and Kitty was laughing and chattering at my side—while all Simla, that is to say as much of it as had then come from the Plains, was grouped round the Reading-room and Peliti's veranda,—I was aware that some one, apparently at a vast distance, was calling me by my Christian name. It struck me that I had heard the voice before, but when and where I could not at once determine. In the short space it took to cover the road between the path from Hamilton's shop and the first plank of the Combermere Bridge I had thought over half a dozen people who might have committed such a solecism, and had eventually decided that it must have been singing in my ears. Immediately opposite Peliti's shop my eye was arrested by the sight of four jharnpanies in "magpie" livery, pulling a yellow-paneled, cheap, bazar 'rickshaw. In a moment my mind flew back to the previous season and Mrs. Wessington with a sense of irritation and disgust. Was it not enough that the woman was dead and done with, without her black and white servitors reappearing to spoil the day's happiness? Whoever employed them now I thought I would call upon, and ask as a personal favor to change her jhampanies' livery. I would hire the men myself, and, if necessary, buy their coats from off their backs. It is impossible to say here what a flood of undesirable memories their presence evoked.

"Kitty," I cried, "there are poor Mrs. Wessington's jhampanies turned up again! I wonder who has them now?"

Kitty had known Mrs. Wessington slightly last season, and had always been interested in the sickly woman. "What? Where?" she asked. "I can't see them anywhere."

Even as she spoke her horse, swerving from a laden mule, threw himself directly in front of the advancing 'rickshaw. I had scarcely time to utter a word of warning when, to my unutterable horror, horse and rider passed through men and carriage as if they had been thin air.

"What's the matter?" cried Kitty; "what made you call out so foolishly, Jack? If I am engaged I don't want all creation to know about it. There was lots of space between the mule and the veranda; and, if you think I can't ride—

"—There!"

Whereupon wilful Kitty set off, her dainty little head in the air, at a hand-gallop in the direction of the Bandstand; fully expecting, as she herself afterward told me, that I should follow her. What was the matter? Nothing indeed. Either that I was mad or drunk, or that Simla was haunted with devils. I reined in my impatient cob, and turned round. The 'rickshaw had turned too, and now stood immediately facing me, near the left railing of the Combermere Bridge.

"Jack! Jack, darling!" (There was no mistake about the words this time: they rang through my brain as if they had been shouted in my ear.) "It's some hideous mistake, I'm sure. Please forgive me, jack, and let's be friends again."

The 'rickshaw-hood had fallen back, and inside, as I hope and pray daily for the death I dread by night, sat Mrs. Keith-Wessington, handkerchief in hand, and golden head bowed on her breast.

How long I stared motionless I do not know. Finally, I was aroused by my syce taking the Waler's bridle and asking whether I was ill. From the horrible to the commonplace is but a step. I tumbled off my horse and dashed, half fainting, into Peliti's for a glass of cherry-brandy. There two or three couples were gathered round the coffee-tables discussing the gossip of the day. Their trivialities were more comforting to me just then than the consolations of religion could have been. I plunged into the midst of the conversation at once; chatted, laughed, and jested with a face (when I caught a glimpse of it in a mirror) as white and drawn as that of a corpse. Three or four mem noticed my condition; and, evidently setting it down to the results of over-many pegs, charitably endeavoured to draw me apart from the rest of the loungers. But I refused to be led away. I wanted the company of my kind—as a child rushes into the midst of the dinner-party after a fright in the dark. I must have talked for about ten minutes or so, though it seemed an eternity to me, when I heard Kitty's clear voice outside inquiring for me. In another minute she had entered the shop, prepared to roundly upbraid me for failing so signally in my duties. Something in my face stopped her.

"Why, Jack," she cried, "what have you been doing? What has happened? Are you ill?" Thus driven into a direct lie, I said that the sun had been a little too much for me. It was close upon five o'clock of a cloudy April afternoon, and the sun had been hidden all day. I saw my mistake as soon as the words were out of my mouth: attempted to recover it; blundered hopelessly and followed Kitty in a regal rage, out of doors, amid the smiles of my acquaintances. I made some excuse (I have forgotten what) on the score of my feeling faint; and cantered away to my hotel, leaving Kitty to finish the ride by herself.

In my room I sat down and tried calmly to reason out the matter.

Here was I, Theobald Jack Pansay, a well-educated Bengal Civilian in the year of grace, 1885, presumably sane, certainly healthy, driven in terror from my sweetheart's side by the apparition of a woman who had been dead and buried eight months ago. These were facts that I could not blink. Nothing was further from my thought than any memory of Mrs. Wessington when Kitty and I left Hamilton's shop. Nothing was more utterly commonplace than the stretch of wall opposite Peliti's. It was broad daylight. The road was full of people; and yet here, look you, in defiance of every law of probability, in direct outrage of Nature's ordinance, there had appeared to me a face from the grave.

Kitty's Arab had gone through the 'rickshaw: so that my first hope that some woman marvelously like Mrs. Wessington had hired the carriage and the coolies with their old livery was lost. Again and again I went round this treadmill of thought; and again and again gave up baffled and in despair. The voice was as inexplicable as the apparition. I had originally some wild notion of confiding it all to Kitty; of begging her to marry me at once; and in her arms defying the ghostly occupant of the 'rickshaw. "After all," I argued, "the presence of the 'rickshaw is in itself enough to prove the existence of a spectral illusion. One may see ghosts of men and women, but surely never of coolies and carriages. The whole thing is absurd. Fancy the ghost of a hill-man!"

Next morning I sent a penitent note to Kitty, imploring her to overlook my strange conduct of the previous afternoon. My Divinity was still very wroth, and a personal apology was necessary. I explained, with a fluency born of night-long pondering over a falsehood, that I had been attacked with sudden palpitation of the heart—the result of indigestion. This eminently practical solution had its effect; and Kitty and I rode out that afternoon with the shadow of my first lie dividing us.

Nothing would please her save a canter round Jakko. With my nerves still unstrung from the previous night I feebly protested against the notion, suggesting Observatory Hill, Jutogh, the Boileaugunge road—anything rather than the Jakko round. Kitty was angry and a little hurt: so I yielded from fear of provoking further misunderstanding, and we set out together toward Chota Simla. We walked a greater part of the way, and, according to our custom, cantered from a mile or so below the Convent to the stretch of level road by the Sanjowlie Reservoir. The wretched horses appeared to fly, and my heart beat quicker and quicker as we neared the crest of the ascent. My mind had been full of Mrs. Wessington all the afternoon; and every inch of the Jakko road bore witness to our oldtime walks and talks. The bowlders were full of it; the pines sang it aloud overhead; the rain-fed torrents giggled and chuckled unseen over the shameful story; and the wind in my ears chanted the iniquity aloud.

As a fitting climax, in the middle of the level men call the Ladies' Mile the Horror was awaiting me. No other 'rickshaw was in sight—only the four black and white jhampanies, the yellow-paneled carriage, and the golden head of the woman within—all apparently just as I had left them eight months and one fortnight ago! For an instant I fancied that Kitty must see what I saw—we were so marvelously sympathetic in all things. Her next words undeceived me—"Not a soul in sight! Come along, Jack, and I'll race you to the Reservoir buildings!" Her wiry little Arab was off like a bird, my Waler following close behind, and in this order we dashed under the cliffs. Half a minute brought us within fifty yards of the 'rickshaw. I pulled my Waler and fell back a little. The 'rickshaw was directly in the middle of the road; and once more the Arab passed through it, my horse following. "Jack! Jack dear! Please forgive me," rang with a wail in my ears, and, after an interval:—"It's a mistake, a hideous mistake!"

I spurred my horse like a man possessed. When I turned my head at the Reservoir works, the black and white liveries were still waiting—patiently waiting—under the grey hillside, and the wind brought me a mocking echo of the words I had just heard. Kitty bantered me a good deal on my silence throughout the remainder of the ride. I had been talking up till then wildly and at random.

To save my life I could not speak afterward naturally, and from Sanjowlie to the Church wisely held my tongue.

I was to dine with the Mannerings that night, and had barely time to canter home to dress. On the road to Elysium Hill I overheard two men talking together in the dusk.—"It's a curious thing," said one, "how completely all trace of it disappeared. You know my wife was insanely fond of the woman ('never could see anything in her myself), and wanted me to pick up her old 'rickshaw and coolies if they were to be got for love or money. Morbid sort of fancy I call it; but I've got to do what the Memsahib tells me.

"Would you believe that the man she hired it from tells me that all four of the men—they were brothers—died of cholera on the way to Hardwar, poor devils, and the 'rickshaw has been broken up by the man himself. 'Told me he never used a dead Memsahib's 'rickshaw. 'Spoiled his luck.' Queer notion, wasn't it? Fancy poor little Mrs. Wessington spoiling any one's luck except her own!" I laughed aloud at this point; and my laugh jarred on me as I uttered it. So there were ghosts of 'rickshaws after all, and ghostly employments in the other world! How much did Mrs. Wessington give her men? What were their hours? Where did they go?

And for visible answer to my last question I saw the infernal Thing blocking my path in the twilight. The dead travel fast, and by short cuts unknown to ordinary coolies. I laughed aloud a second time and checked my laughter suddenly, for I was afraid I was going mad. Mad to a certain extent I must have been, for I recollect that I reined in my horse at the head of the 'rickshaw, and politely wished Mrs. Wessington "Good evening." Her answer was one I knew only too well. I listened to the end; and replied that I had heard it all before, but should be delighted if she had anything further to say. Some malignant devil stronger than I must have entered into me that evening, for I have a dim recollection of talking the commonplaces of the day for five minutes to the Thing in front of me.

"Mad as a hatter, poor devil—or drunk. Max, try and get him to come home."

Surely that was not Mrs. Wessington's voice! The two men had overheard me speaking to the empty air, and had returned to look after me. They were very kind and considerate, and from their words evidently gathered that I was extremely drunk. I thanked them confusedly and cantered away to my hotel, there changed, and arrived at the Mannerings' ten minutes late. I pleaded the darkness of the night as an excuse; was rebuked by Kitty for my unlover-like tardiness; and sat down.

The conversation had already become general; and under cover of it, I was addressing some tender small talk to my sweetheart when I was aware that at the further end of the table a short red-whiskered man was describing, with much broidery, his encounter with a mad unknown that evening.

A few sentences convinced me that he was repeating the incident of half an hour ago. In the middle of the story he looked round for applause, as professional story-tellers do, caught my eye, and straightway collapsed. There was a moment's awkward silence, and the red-whiskered man muttered something to the effect that he had "forgotten the rest," thereby sacrificing a reputation as a good story-teller which he had built up for six seasons past. I blessed him from the bottom of my heart, and—went on with my fish.

In the fulness of time that dinner came to an end; and with genuine regret I tore myself away from Kitty—as certain as I was of my own existence that It would be waiting for me outside the door. The red-whiskered man, who had been introduced to me as Doctor Heatherlegh, of Simla, volunteered to bear me company as far as our roads lay together. I accepted his offer with gratitude.

My instinct had not deceived me. It lay in readiness in the Mall, and, in what seemed devilish mockery of our ways, with a lighted head-lamp. The red-whiskered man went to the point at once, in a manner that showed he bad been thinking over it all dinner time.

"I say, Pansay, what the deuce was the matter with you this evening on the Elysium road?" The suddenness of the question wrenched an answer from me before I was aware.

"That!" said I, pointing to It.

"That may be either D. T. or Eyes for aught I know. Now you don't liquor. I saw as much at dinner, so it can't be D. T. There's nothing whatever where you're pointing, though you're sweating and trembling with fright like a scared pony. Therefore, I conclude that it's Eyes. And I ought to understand all about them. Come along home with me. I'm on the Blessington lower road."

To my intense delight the 'rickshaw instead of waiting for us kept about twenty yards ahead—and this, too whether we walked, trotted, or cantered. In the course of that long night ride I had told my companion almost as much as I have told you here.

"Well, you've spoiled one of the best tales I've ever laid tongue to," said he, "but I'll forgive you for the sake of what you've gone through. Now come home and do what I tell you; and when I've cured you, young man, let this be a lesson to you to steer clear of women and indigestible food till the day of your death."

The 'rickshaw kept steady in front; and my red-whiskered friend seemed to derive great pleasure from my account of its exact whereabouts.

"Eyes, Pansay—all Eyes, Brain, and Stomach. And the greatest of these three is Stomach. You've too much conceited Brain, too little Stomach, and thoroughly unhealthy Eyes. Get your Stomach straight and the rest follows. And all that's French for a liver pill.

"I'll take sole medical charge of you from this hour! for you're too interesting a phenomenon to be passed over."

By this time we were deep in the shadow of the Blessington lower road and the 'rickshaw came to a dead stop under a pine-clad, over-hanging shale cliff. Instinctively I halted too, giving my reason. Heatherlegh rapped out an oath.

"Now, if you think I'm going to spend a cold night on the hillside for the sake of a stomach-cum-Brain-cum-Eye illusion—Lord, ha' mercy! What's that?"

There was a muffled report, a blinding smother of dust just in front of us, a crack, the noise of rent boughs, and about ten yards of the cliff-side—pines, undergrowth, and all—slid down into the road below, completely blocking it up. The uprooted trees swayed and tottered for a moment like drunken giants in the gloom, and then fell prone among their fellows with a thunderous crash. Our two horses stood motionless and sweating with fear. As soon as the rattle of falling earth and stone had subsided, my companion muttered:—"Man, if we'd gone forward we should have been ten feet deep in our graves by now. 'There are more things in heaven and earth...' Come home, Pansay, and thank God. I want a peg badly."

We retraced our way over the Church Ridge, and I arrived at Dr. Heatherlegh's house shortly after midnight.

His attempts toward my cure commenced almost immediately, and for a week I never left his sight. Many a time in the course of that week did I bless the good fortune which had thrown me in contact with Simla's best and kindest doctor. Day by day my spirits grew lighter and more equable. Day by day, too, I became more and more inclined to fall in with Heatherlegh's "spectral illusion" theory, implicating eyes, brain, and stomach. I wrote to Kitty, telling her that a slight sprain caused by a fall from my horse kept me indoors for a few days; and that I should be recovered before she had time to regret my absence.

Heatherlegh's treatment was simple to a degree. It consisted of liver pills, cold-water baths, and strong exercise, taken in the dusk or at early dawn—for, as he sagely observed:—"A man with a sprained ankle doesn't walk a dozen miles a day, and your young woman might be wondering if she saw you."

At the end of the week, after much examination of pupil and pulse, and strict injunction' as to diet and pedestrianism, Heatherlegh dismissed me as brusquely as he had taken charge of me. Here is his parting benediction:—"Man, I can certify to your mental cure, and that's as much as to say I've cured most of your bodily ailments. Now, get your traps out of this as soon as you can; and be off to make love to Miss Kitty."

I was endeavoring to express my thanks for his kindness. He cut me short.

"Don't think I did this because I like you. I gather that you've behaved like a blackguard all through. But, all the same, you re a phenomenon, and as queer a phenomenon as you are a blackguard. No!"—checking me a second time—"not a rupee please. Go out and see if you can find the eyes-brain-and-stomach business again. I'll give you a lakh for each time you see it."

Half an hour later I was in the Mannerings' drawing-room with Kitty—drunk with the intoxication of present happiness and the fore-knowledge that I should never more be troubled with Its hideous presence. Strong in the sense of my new-found security, I proposed a ride at once; and, by preference, a canter round Jakko.

Never had I felt so well, so overladen with vitality and mere animal spirits, as I did on the afternoon of the 30th of April. Kitty was delighted at the change in my appearance, and complimented me on it in her delightfully frank and outspoken manner. We left the Mannerings' house together, laughing and talking, and cantered along the Chota Simla road as of old.

I was in haste to reach the Sanjowlie Reservoir and there make my assurance doubly sure. The horses did their best, but seemed all too slow to my impatient mind. Kitty was astonished at my boisterousness. "Why, Jack!" she cried at last, "you are behaving like a child. What are you doing?"

We were just below the Convent, and from sheer wantonness I was making my Waler plunge and curvet across the road as I tickled it with the loop of my riding-whip.

"Doing?" I answered; "nothing, dear. That's just it. If you'd been doing nothing for a week except lie up, you'd be as riotous as I."

"'Singing and murmuring in your feastful mirth, Joying to feel yourself alive; Lord over Nature, Lord of the visible Earth, Lord of the senses five.'"

My quotation was hardly out of my lips before we had rounded the corner above the Convent; and a few yards further on could see across to Sanjowlie. In the centre of the level road stood the black and white liveries, the yellow-paneled 'rickshaw, and Mrs. Keith-Wessington. I pulled up, looked, rubbed my eyes, and, I believe must have said something. The next thing I knew was that I was lying face downward on the road with Kitty kneeling above me in tears.

"Has it gone, child?" I gasped. Kitty only wept more bitterly.

"Has what gone, Jack dear? what does it all mean? There must be a mistake somewhere, Jack. A hideous mistake." Her last words brought me to my feet—mad—raving for the time being.

"Yes, there is a mistake somewhere," I repeated, "a hideous mistake. Come and look at It."

I have an indistinct idea that I dragged Kitty by the wrist along the road up to where It stood, and implored her for pity's sake to speak to It; to tell It that we were betrothed; that neither Death nor Hell could break the tie between us; and Kitty only knows how much more to the same effect. Now and again I appealed passionately to the Terror in the 'rickshaw to bear witness to all I had said, and to release me from a torture that was killing me. As I talked I suppose I must have told Kitty of my old relations with Mrs. Wessington, for I saw her listen intently with white face and blazing eyes.

"Thank you, Mr. Pansay," she said, "that's quite enough. Syce ghora lao."

The syces, impassive as Orientals always are, had come up with the recaptured horses; and as Kitty sprang into her saddle I caught hold of the bridle, entreating her to hear me out and forgive. My answer was the cut of her riding-whip across my face from mouth to eye, and a word or two of farewell that even now I cannot write down. So I judged, and judged rightly, that Kitty knew all; and I staggered back to the side of the 'rickshaw. My face was cut and bleeding, and the blow of the riding-whip had raised a livid blue wheal on it. I had no self-respect. Just then, Heatherlegh, who must have been following Kitty and me at a distance, cantered up.

"Doctor," I said, pointing to my face, "here's Miss Mannering's signature to my order of dismissal and—I'll thank you for that lakh as soon as convenient."

Heatherlegh's face, even in my abject misery, moved me to laughter.

"I'll stake my professional reputation"—he began.

"Don't be a fool," I whispered. "I've lost my life's happiness and you'd better take me home."

As I spoke the 'rickshaw was gone. Then I lost all knowledge of what was passing. The crest of Jakko seemed to heave and roll like the crest of a cloud and fall in upon me.

Seven days later (on the 7th of May, that is to say) I was aware that I was lying in Heatherlegh's room as weak as a little child. Heatherlegh was watching me intently from behind the papers on his writing-table. His first words were not encouraging; but I was too far spent to be much moved by them.

"Here's Miss Kitty has sent back your letters. You corresponded a good deal, you young people. Here's a packet that looks like a ring, and a cheerful sort of a note from Mannering Papa, which I've taken the liberty of reading and burning. The old gentleman's not pleased with you."

"And Kitty?" I asked, dully.

"Rather more drawn than her father from what she says. By the same token you must have been letting out any number of queer reminiscences just before I met you. 'Says that a man who would have behaved to a woman as you did to Mrs. Wessington ought to kill himself out of sheer pity for his kind. She's a hot-headed little virago, your mash. 'Will have it too that you were suffering from D. T. when that row on the Jakko road turned up. 'Says she'll die before she ever speaks to you again."

I groaned and turned over to the other side.

"Now you've got your choice, my friend. This engagement has to be broken off; and the Mannerings don't want to be too hard on you. Was it broken through D. T. or epileptic fits? Sorry I can't offer you a better exchange unless you'd prefer hereditary insanity. Say the word and I'll tell 'em it's fits. All Simla knows about that scene on the Ladies' Mile. Come! I'll give you five minutes to think over it."

During those five minutes I believe that I explored thoroughly the lowest circles of the Inferno which it is permitted man to tread on earth. And at the same time I myself was watching myself faltering through the dark labyrinths of doubt, misery, and utter despair. I wondered, as Heatherlegh in his chair might have wondered, which dreadful alternative I should adopt. Presently I heard myself answering in a voice that I hardly recognized, "—They're confoundedly particular about morality in these parts. Give 'em fits, Heatherlegh, and my love. Now let me sleep a bit longer."

Then my two selves joined, and it was only I (half crazed, devil-driven I) that tossed in my bed, tracing step by step the history of the past month.

"But I am in Simla," I kept repeating to myself. "I, Jack Pansay, am in Simla and there are no ghosts here. It's unreasonable of that woman to pretend there are. Why couldn't Agnes have left me alone? I never did her any harm. It might just as well have been me as Agnes. Only I'd never have come hack on purpose to kill her. Why can't I be left alone—left alone and happy?"

It was high noon when I first awoke, and the sun was low in the sky before I slept—slept as the tortured criminal sleeps on his rack, too worn to feel further pain.

Next day I could not leave my bed. Heatherlegh told me in the morning that he had received an answer from Mr. Mannering, and that, thanks to his (Heatherlegh's) friendly offices, the story of my affliction had traveled through the length and breadth of Simla, where I was on all sides much pitied.

"And that's rather more than you deserve," he concluded, pleasantly, "though the Lord knows you've been going through a pretty severe mill. Never mind; we'll cure you yet, you perverse phenomenon."

I declined firmly to be cured. "You've been much too good to me already, old man," said I; "but I don't think I need trouble you further."

In my heart I knew that nothing Heatherlegh could do would lighten the burden that had been laid upon me.

With that knowledge came also a sense of hopeless, impotent rebellion against the unreasonableness of it all. There were scores of men no better than I whose punishments had at least been reserved for another world; and I felt that it was bitterly, cruelly unfair that I alone should have been singled out for so hideous a fate. This mood would in time give place to another where it seemed that the 'rickshaw and I were the only realities in a world of shadows; that Kitty was a ghost; that Mannering, Heatherlegh, and all the other men and women I knew were all ghosts; and the great, grey hills themselves but vain shadows devised to torture me. From mood to mood I tossed backward and forward for seven weary days; my body growing daily stronger and stronger, until the bedroom looking-glass told me that I had returned to everyday life, and was as other men once more. Curiously enough my face showed no signs of the struggle I had gone through. It was pale indeed, but as expressionless and commonplace as ever. I had expected some permanent alteration—visible evidence of the disease that was eating me away. I found nothing.

On the 15th of May, I left Heatherlegh's house at eleven o'clock in the morning; and the instinct of the bachelor drove me to the Club. There I found that every man knew my story as told by Heatherlegh, and was, in clumsy fashion, abnormally kind and attentive. Nevertheless I recognized that for the rest of my natural life I should be among but not of my fellows; and I envied very bitterly indeed the laughing coolies on the Mall below. I lunched at the Club, and at four o'clock wandered aimlessly down the Mall in the vague hope of meeting Kitty. Close to the Band-stand the black and white liveries joined me; and I heard Mrs. Wessington's old appeal at my side. I had been expecting this ever since I came out; and was only surprised at her delay. The phantom 'rickshaw and I went side by side along the Chota Simla road in silence. Close to the bazar, Kitty and a man on horseback overtook and passed us. For any sign she gave I might have been a dog in the road. She did not even pay me the compliment of quickening her pace; though the rainy afternoon had served for an excuse.

So Kitty and her companion, and I and my ghostly Light-o'-Love, crept round Jakko in couples. The road was streaming with water; the pines dripped like roof-pipes on the rocks below, and the air was full of fine, driving rain. Two or three times I found myself saying to myself almost aloud: "I'm Jack Pansay on leave at Simla—at Simla! Everyday, ordinary Simla. I mustn't forget that—I mustn't forget that." Then I would try to recollect some of the gossip I had heard at the Club: the prices of So-and-So's horses—anything, in fact, that related to the workaday Anglo-Indian world I knew so well. I even repeated the multiplication-table rapidly to myself, to make quite sure that I was not taking leave of my senses. It gave me much comfort; and must have prevented my hearing Mrs. Wessington for a time.

Once more I wearily climbed the Convent slope and entered the level road. Here Kitty and the man started off at a canter, and I was left alone with Mrs. Wessington. "Agnes," said I, "will you put back your hood and tell me what it all means?" The hood dropped noiselessly, and I was face to face with my dead and buried mistress. She was wearing the dress in which I had last seen her alive; carried the same tiny handkerchief in her right hand; and the same cardcase in her left. (A woman eight months dead with a cardcase!) I had to pin myself down to the multiplication-table, and to set both hands on the stone parapet of the road, to assure myself that that at least was real.

"Agnes," I repeated, "for pity's sake tell me what it all means." Mrs. Wessington leaned forward, with that odd, quick turn of the head I used to know so well, and spoke.

If my story had not already so madly overleaped the hounds of all human belief I should apologize to you now. As I know that no one—no, not even Kitty, for whom it is written as some sort of justification of my conduct—will believe me, I will go on. Mrs. Wessington spoke and I walked with her from the Sanjowlie road to the turning below the Commander-in-Chief's house as I might walk by the side of any living woman's 'rickshaw, deep in conversation. The second and most tormenting of my moods of sickness had suddenly laid hold upon me, and like the Prince in Tennyson's poem, "I seemed to move amid a world of ghosts." There had been a garden-party at the Commander-in-Chief's, and we two joined the crowd of homeward-bound folk. As I saw them then it seemed that they were the shadows—impalpable, fantastic shadows—that divided for Mrs. Wessington's 'rickshaw to pass through. What we said during the course of that weird interview I cannot—indeed, I dare not—tell. Heatherlegh's comment would have been a short laugh and a remark that I had been "mashing a brain-eye-and-stomach chimera." It was a ghastly and yet in some indefinable way a marvelously dear experience. Could it be possible, I wondered, that I was in this life to woo a second time the woman I had killed by my own neglect and cruelty?

I met Kitty on the homeward road—a shadow among shadows.

If I were to describe all the incidents of the next fortnight in their order, my story would never come to an end; and your patience would Be exhausted. Morning after morning and evening after evening the ghostly 'rickshaw and I used to wander through Simla together. Wherever I went there the four black and white liveries followed me and bore me company to and from my hotel. At the Theatre I found them amid the crowd of yelling jhampanies; outside the Club veranda, after a long evening of whist; at the Birthday Ball, waiting patiently for my reappearance; and in broad daylight when I went calling. Save that it cast no shadow, the 'rickshaw was in every respect as real to look upon as one of wood and iron. More than once, indeed, I have had to check myself from warning some hard-riding friend against cantering over it. More than once I have walked down the Mall deep in conversation with Mrs. Wessington to the unspeakable amazement of the passers-by.

Before I had been out and about a week I learned that the "fit" theory had been discarded in favor of insanity. However, I made no change in my mode of life. I called, rode, and dined out as freely as ever. I had a passion for the society of my kind which I had never felt before; I hungered to be among the realities of life; and at the same time I felt vaguely unhappy when I had been separated too long from my ghostly companion. It would be almost impossible to describe my varying moods from the 15th of May up to today.

The presence of the 'rickshaw filled me by turns with horror, blind fear, a dim sort of pleasure, and utter despair. I dared not leave Simla; and I knew that my stay there was killing me. I knew, moreover, that it was my destiny to die slowly and a little every day. My only anxiety was to get the penance over as quietly as might be. Alternately I hungered for a sight of Kitty and watched her outrageous flirtations with my successor—to speak more accurately, my successors—with amused interest. She was as much out of my life as I was out of hers. By day I wandered with Mrs. Wessington almost content. By night I implored Heaven to let me return to the world as I used to know it. Above all these varying moods lay the sensation of dull, numbing wonder that the Seen and the Unseen should mingle so strangely on this earth to hound one poor soul to its grave.


August 27.—Heatherlegh has been indefatigable in his attendance on me; and only yesterday told me that I ought to send in an application for sick leave. An application to escape the company of a phantom! A request that the Government would graciously permit me to get rid of five ghosts and an airy 'rickshaw by going to England. Heatherlegh's proposition moved me to almost hysterical laughter. I told him that I should await the end quietly at Simla; and I am sure that the end is not far off. Believe me that I dread its advent more than any word can say; and I torture myself nightly with a thousand speculations as to the manner of my death.

Shall I die in my bed decently and as an English gentleman should die; or, in one last walk on the Mall, will my soul be wrenched from me to take its place forever and ever by the side of that ghastly phantasm? Shall I return to my old lost allegiance in the next world, or shall I meet Agnes loathing her and bound to her side through all eternity? Shall we two hover over the scene of our lives till the end of Time? As the day of my death draws nearer, the intense horror that all living flesh feels toward escaped spirits from beyond the grave grows more and more powerful. It is an awful thing to go down quick among the dead with scarcely one-half of your life completed. It is a thousand times more awful to wait as I do in your midst, for I know not what unimaginable terror. Pity me, at least on the score of my "delusion," for I know you will never believe what I have written here Yet as surely as ever a man was done to death by the Powers of Darkness I am that man.

In justice, too, pity her. For as surely as ever woman was killed by man, I killed Mrs. Wessington. And the last portion of my punishment is ever now upon me.






MY OWN TRUE GHOST STORY

   As I came through the Desert thus it was—
   As I came through the Desert.
              —The City of Dreadful Night.

Somewhere in the Other World, where there are books and pictures and plays and shop windows to look at, and thousands of men who spend their lives in building up all four, lives a gentleman who writes real stories about the real insides of people; and his name is Mr. Walter Besant. But he will insist upon treating his ghosts—he has published half a workshopful of them—with levity. He makes his ghost-seers talk familiarly, and, in some cases, flirt outrageously, with the phantoms. You may treat anything, from a Viceroy to a Vernacular Paper, with levity; but you must behave reverently toward a ghost, and particularly an Indian one.

There are, in this land, ghosts who take the form of fat, cold, pobby corpses, and hide in trees near the roadside till a traveler passes. Then they drop upon his neck and remain. There are also terrible ghosts of women who have died in child-bed. These wander along the pathways at dusk, or hide in the crops near a village, and call seductively. But to answer their call is death in this world and the next. Their feet are turned backward that all sober men may recognize them. There are ghosts of little children who have been thrown into wells. These haunt well curbs and the fringes of jungles, and wail under the stars, or catch women by the wrist and beg to be taken up and carried. These and the corpse ghosts, however, are only vernacular articles and do not attack Sahibs. No native ghost has yet been authentically reported to have frightened an Englishman; but many English ghosts have scared the life out of both white and black.

Nearly every other Station owns a ghost. There are said to be two at Simla, not counting the woman who blows the bellows at Syree dak-bungalow on the Old Road; Mussoorie has a house haunted of a very lively Thing; a White Lady is supposed to do night-watchman round a house in Lahore; Dalhousie says that one of her houses "repeats" on autumn evenings all the incidents of a horrible horse-and-precipice accident; Murree has a merry ghost, and, now that she has been swept by cholera, will have room for a sorrowful one; there are Officers' Quarters in Mian Mir whose doors open without reason, and whose furniture is guaranteed to creak, not with the heat of June but with the weight of Invisibles who come to lounge in the chairs; Peshawur possesses houses that none will willingly rent; and there is something—not fever—wrong with a big bungalow in Allahabad. The older Provinces simply bristle with haunted houses, and march phantom armies along their main thoroughfares.

Some of the dak-bungalows on the Grand Trunk Road have handy little cemeteries in their compound—witnesses to the "changes and chances of this mortal life" in the days when men drove from Calcutta to the Northwest. These bungalows are objectionable places to put up in. They are generally very old, always dirty, while the khansamah is as ancient as the bungalow. He either chatters senilely, or falls into the long trances of age. In both moods he is useless. If you get angry with him, he refers to some Sahib dead and buried these thirty years, and says that when he was in that Sahib's service not a khansamah in the Province could touch him. Then he jabbers and mows and trembles and fidgets among the dishes, and you repent of your irritation.

In these dak-bungalows, ghosts are most likely to be found, and when found, they should be made a note of. Not long ago it was my business to live in dak-bungalows. I never inhabited the same house for three nights running, and grew to be learned in the breed. I lived in Government-built ones with red brick walls and rail ceilings, an inventory of the furniture posted in every room, and an excited snake at the threshold to give welcome. I lived in "converted" ones—old houses officiating as dak-bungalows—where nothing was in its proper place and there wasn't even a fowl for dinner. I lived in second-hand palaces where the wind blew through open-work marble tracery just as uncomfortably as through a broken pane. I lived in dak-bungalows where the last entry in the visitors' book was fifteen months old, and where they slashed off the curry-kid's head with a sword. It was my good luck to meet all sorts of men, from sober traveling missionaries and deserters flying from British Regiments, to drunken loafers who threw whisky bottles at all who passed; and my still greater good fortune just to escape a maternity case. Seeing that a fair proportion of the tragedy of our lives out here acted itself in dak-bungalows, I wondered that I had met no ghosts. A ghost that would voluntarily hang about a dak-bungalow would be mad of course; but so many men have died mad in dak-bungalows that there must be a fair percentage of lunatic ghosts.

In due time I found my ghost, or ghosts rather, for there were two of them. Up till that hour I had sympathized with Mr. Besant's method of handling them, as shown in "The Strange Case of Mr. Lucraft and Other Stories." I am now in the Opposition.

We will call the bungalow Katmal dak-bungalow. But THAT was the smallest part of the horror. A man with a sensitive hide has no right to sleep in dak-bungalows. He should marry. Katmal dak-bungalow was old and rotten and unrepaired. The floor was of worn brick, the walls were filthy, and the windows were nearly black with grime. It stood on a bypath largely used by native Sub-Deputy Assistants of all kinds, from Finance to Forests; but real Sahibs were rare. The khansamah, who was nearly bent double with old age, said so.

When I arrived, there was a fitful, undecided rain on the face of the land, accompanied by a restless wind, and every gust made a noise like the rattling of dry bones in the stiff toddy palms outside. The khansamah completely lost his head on my arrival. He had served a Sahib once. Did I know that Sahib? He gave me the name of a well-known man who has been buried for more than a quarter of a century, and showed me an ancient daguerreotype of that man in his prehistoric youth. I had seen a steel engraving of him at the head of a double volume of Memoirs a month before, and I felt ancient beyond telling.

The day shut in and the khansamah went to get me food. He did not go through the pretense of calling it "khana"—man's victuals. He said "ratub," and that means, among other things, "grub"—dog's rations. There was no insult in his choice of the term. He had forgotten the other word, I suppose.

While he was cutting up the dead bodies of animals, I settled myself down, after exploring the dak-bungalow. There were three rooms, beside my own, which was a corner kennel, each giving into the other through dingy white doors fastened with long iron bars. The bungalow was a very solid one, but the partition walls of the rooms were almost jerry-built in their flimsiness. Every step or bang of a trunk echoed from my room down the other three, and every footfall came back tremulously from the far walls. For this reason I shut the door. There were no lamps—only candles in long glass shades. An oil wick was set in the bathroom.

For bleak, unadulterated misery that dak-bungalow was the worst of the many that I had ever set foot in. There was no fireplace, and the windows would not open; so a brazier of charcoal would have been useless. The rain and the wind splashed and gurgled and moaned round the house, and the toddy palms rattled and roared.

Half a dozen jackals went through the compound singing, and a hyena stood afar off and mocked them. A hyena would convince a Sadducee of the Resurrection of the Dead—the worst sort of Dead. Then came the ratub—a curious meal, half native and half English in composition—with the old khansamah babbling behind my chair about dead and gone English people, and the wind-blown candles playing shadow-bo-peep with the bed and the mosquito-curtains. It was just the sort of dinner and evening to make a man think of every single one of his past sins, and of all the others that he intended to commit if he lived.

Sleep, for several hundred reasons, was not easy. The lamp in the bath-room threw the most absurd shadows into the room, and the wind was beginning to talk nonsense.

Just when the reasons were drowsy with blood-sucking I heard the regular—"Let—us—take—and—heave—him—over" grunt of doolie-bearers in the compound. First one doolie came in, then a second, and then a third. I heard the doolies dumped on the ground, and the shutter in front of my door shook. "That's some one trying to come in," I said. But no one spoke, and I persuaded myself that it was the gusty wind. The shutter of the room next to mine was attacked, flung back, and the inner door opened. "That's some Sub-Deputy Assistant," I said, "and he has brought his friends with him. Now they'll talk and spit and smoke for an hour."

But there were no voices and no footsteps. No one was putting his luggage into the next room. The door shut, and I thanked Providence that I was to be left in peace. But I was curious to know where the doolies had gone. I got out of bed and looked into the darkness. There was never a sign of a doolie. Just as I was getting into bed again, I heard, in the next room, the sound that no man in his senses can possibly mistake—the whir of a billiard ball down the length of the slates when the striker is stringing for break. No other sound is like it. A minute afterwards there was another whir, and I got into bed. I was not frightened—indeed I was not. I was very curious to know what had become of the doolies. I jumped into bed for that reason.

Next minute I heard the double click of a cannon and my hair sat up. It is a mistake to say that hair stands up. The skin of the head tightens and you can feel a faint, prickly, bristling all over the scalp. That is the hair sitting up.

There was a whir and a click, and both sounds could only have been made by one thing—a billiard ball. I argued the matter out at great length with myself; and the more I argued the less probable it seemed that one bed, one table, and two chairs—all the furniture of the room next to mine—could so exactly duplicate the sounds of a game of billiards. After another cannon, a three—cushion one to judge by the whir, I argued no more. I had found my ghost and would have given worlds to have escaped from that dak-bungalow. I listened, and with each listen the game grew clearer.

There was whir on whir and click on click. Sometimes there was a double click and a whir and another click. Beyond any sort of doubt, people were playing billiards in the next room. And the next room was not big enough to hold a billiard table!

Between the pauses of the wind I heard the game go forward—stroke after stroke. I tried to believe that I could not hear voices; but that attempt was a failure.

Do you know what fear is? Not ordinary fear of insult, injury or death, but abject, quivering dread of something that you cannot see—fear that dries the inside of the mouth and half of the throat—fear that makes you sweat on the palms of the hands, and gulp in order to keep the uvula at work? This is a fine Fear—a great cowardice, and must be felt to be appreciated. The very improbability of billiards in a dak-bungalow proved the reality of the thing. No man—drunk or sober—could imagine a game at billiards, or invent the spitting crack of a "screw-cannon."

A severe course of dak-bungalows has this disadvantage—it breeds infinite credulity. If a man said to a confirmed dak-bungalow-haunter:—"There is a corpse in the next room, and there's a mad girl in the next but one, and the woman and man on that camel have just eloped from a place sixty miles away," the hearer would not disbelieve because he would know that nothing is too wild, grotesque, or horrible to happen in a dak-bungalow.

This credulity, unfortunately, extends to ghosts. A rational person fresh from his own house would have turned on his side and slept. I did not. So surely as I was given up as a bad carcass by the scores of things in the bed because the bulk of my blood was in my heart, so surely did I hear every stroke of a long game at billiards played in the echoing room behind the iron-barred door. My dominant fear was that the players might want a marker. It was an absurd fear; because creatures who could play in the dark would be above such superfluities. I only know that that was my terror; and it was real.

After a long, long while the game stopped, and the door banged. I slept because I was dead tired. Otherwise I should have preferred to have kept awake. Not for everything in Asia would I have dropped the door-bar and peered into the dark of the next room.

When the morning came, I considered that I had done well and wisely, and inquired for the means of departure.

"By the way, khansamah," I said, "what were those three doolies doing in my compound in the night?"

"There were no doolies," said the khansamah.

I went into the next room and the daylight streamed through the open door. I was immensely brave. I would, at that hour, have played Black Pool with the owner of the big Black Pool down below.

"Has this place always been a dak-bungalow?" I asked.

"No," said the khansamah. "Ten or twenty years ago, I have forgotten how long, it was a billiard room."

"A how much?"

"A billiard room for the Sahibs who built the Railway. I was khansamah then in the big house where all the Railway-Sahibs lived, and I used to come across with brandy-shrab. These three rooms were all one, and they held a big table on which the Sahibs played every evening. But the Sahibs are all dead now, and the Railway runs, you say, nearly to Kabul."

"Do you remember anything about the Sahibs?"

"It is long ago, but I remember that one Sahib, a fat man and always angry, was playing here one night, and he said to me:—'Mangal Khan, brandy-pani do,' and I filled the glass, and he bent over the table to strike, and his head fell lower and lower till it hit the table, and his spectacles came off, and when we—the Sahibs and I myself—ran to lift him he was dead. I helped to carry him out. Aha, he was a strong Sahib! But he is dead and I, old Mangal Khan, am still living, by your favor."

That was more than enough! I had my ghost—a firsthand, authenticated article. I would write to the Society for Psychical Research—I would paralyze the Empire with the news! But I would, first of all, put eighty miles of assessed crop land between myself and that dak-bungalow before nightfall. The Society might send their regular agent to investigate later on.

I went into my own room and prepared to pack after noting down the facts of the case. As I smoked I heard the game begin again,—with a miss in balk this time, for the whir was a short one.

The door was open and I could see into the room. Click—click! That was a cannon. I entered the room without fear, for there was sunlight within and a fresh breeze without. The unseen game was going on at a tremendous rate. And well it might, when a restless little rat was running to and fro inside the dingy ceiling-cloth, and a piece of loose window-sash was making fifty breaks off the window-bolt as it shook in the breeze!

Impossible to mistake the sound of billiard balls! Impossible to mistake the whir of a ball over the slate! But I was to be excused. Even when I shut my enlightened eyes the sound was marvelously like that of a fast game.

Entered angrily the faithful partner of my sorrows, Kadir Baksh.

"This bungalow is very bad and low-caste! No wonder the Presence was disturbed and is speckled. Three sets of doolie-bearers came to the bungalow late last night when I was sleeping outside, and said that it was their custom to rest in the rooms set apart for the English people! What honor has the khansamah? They tried to enter, but I told them to go. No wonder, if these Oorias have been here, that the Presence is sorely spotted. It is shame, and the work of a dirty man!"

Kadir Baksh did not say that he had taken from each gang two annas for rent in advance, and then, beyond my earshot, had beaten them with the big green umbrella whose use I could never before divine. But Kadir Baksh has no notions of morality.

There was an interview with the khansamah, but as he promptly lost his head, wrath gave place to pity, and pity led to a long conversation, in the course of which he put the fat Engineer-Sahib's tragic death in three separate stations—two of them fifty miles away. The third shift was to Calcutta, and there the Sahib died while driving a dogcart.

If I had encouraged him the khansamah would have wandered all through Bengal with his corpse.

I did not go away as soon as I intended. I stayed for the night, while the wind and the rat and the sash and the window-bolt played a ding-dong "hundred and fifty up." Then the wind ran out and the billiards stopped, and I felt that I had ruined my one genuine, hall-marked ghost story.

Had I only stopped at the proper time, I could have made anything out of it.

That was the bitterest thought of all!





THE STRANGE RIDE OF MORROWBIE JUKES

   Alive or dead-there is no other way.
               —Native Proverb.

THERE is, as the conjurers say, no deception about this tale. Jukes by accident stumbled upon a village that is well known to exist, though he is the only Englishman who has been there. A somewhat similar institution used to flourish on the outskirts of Calcutta, and there is a story that if you go into the heart of Bikanir, which is in the heart of the Great Indian Desert, you shall come across not a village but a town where the Dead who did not die but may not live have established their headquarters. And, since it is perfectly true that in the same Desert is a wonderful city where all the rich money lenders retreat after they have made their fortunes (fortunes so vast that the owners cannot trust even the strong hand of the Government to protect them, but take refuge in the waterless sands), and drive sumptuous C-spring barouches, and buy beautiful girls and decorate their palaces with gold and ivory and Minton tiles and mother-of-pearl, I do not see why Jukes's tale should not be true. He is a Civil Engineer, with a head for plans and distances and things of that kind, and he certainly would not take the trouble to invent imaginary traps. He could earn more by doing his legitimate work. He never varies the tale in the telling, and grows very hot and indignant when he thinks of the disrespectful treatment he received. He wrote this quite straightforwardly at first, but he has since touched it up in places and introduced Moral Reflections, thus:

In the beginning it all arose from a slight attack of fever. My work necessitated my being in camp for some months between Pakpattan and Muharakpur—a desolate sandy stretch of country as every one who has had the misfortune to go there may know. My coolies were neither more nor less exasperating than other gangs, and my work demanded sufficient attention to keep me from moping, had I been inclined to so unmanly a weakness.

On the 23d December, 1884, I felt a little feverish. There was a full moon at the time, and, in consequence, every dog near my tent was baying it. The brutes assembled in twos and threes and drove me frantic. A few days previously I had shot one loud-mouthed singer and suspended his carcass in terrorem about fifty yards from my tent-door. But his friends fell upon, fought for, and ultimately devoured the body; and, as it seemed to me, sang their hymns of thanksgiving afterward with renewed energy.

The light-heartedness which accompanies fever acts differently on different men. My irritation gave way, after a short time, to a fixed determination to slaughter one huge black and white beast who had been foremost in song and first in flight throughout the evening. Thanks to a shaking hand and a giddy head I had already missed him twice with both barrels of my shot-gun, when it struck me that my best plan would be to ride him down in the open and finish him off with a hog-spear. This, of course, was merely the semi-delirious notion of a fever patient; but I remember that it struck me at the time as being eminently practical and feasible.

I therefore ordered my groom to saddle Pornic and bring him round quietly to the rear of my tent. When the pony was ready, I stood at his head prepared to mount and dash out as soon as the dog should again lift up his voice. Pornic, by the way, had not been out of his pickets for a couple of days; the night air was crisp and chilly; and I was armed with a specially long and sharp pair of persuaders with which I had been rousing a sluggish cob that afternoon. You will easily believe, then, that when he was let go he went quickly. In one moment, for the brute bolted as straight as a die, the tent was left far behind, and we were flying over the smooth sandy soil at racing speed.

In another we had passed the wretched dog, and I had almost forgotten why it was that I had taken the horse and hogspear.

The delirium of fever and the excitement of rapid motion through the air must have taken away the remnant of my senses. I have a faint recollection of standing upright in my stirrups, and of brandishing my hog-spear at the great white Moon that looked down so calmly on my mad gallop; and of shouting challenges to the camel-thorn bushes as they whizzed past. Once or twice I believe, I swayed forward on Pornic's neck, and literally hung on by my spurs—as the marks next morning showed.

The wretched beast went forward like a thing possessed, over what seemed to be a limitless expanse of moonlit sand. Next, I remember, the ground rose suddenly in front of us, and as we topped the ascent I saw the waters of the Sutlej shining like a silver bar below. Then Pornic blundered heavily on his nose, and we rolled together down some unseen slope.

I must have lost consciousness, for when I recovered I was lying on my stomach in a heap of soft white sand, and the dawn was beginning to break dimly over the edge of the slope down which I had fallen. As the light grew stronger I saw that I was at the bottom of a horse-shoe shaped crater of sand, opening on one side directly on to the shoals of the Sutlej. My fever had altogether left me, and, with the exception of a slight dizziness in the head, I felt no had effects from the fall over night.

Pornic, who was standing a few yards away, was naturally a good deal exhausted, but had not hurt himself in the least. His saddle, a favorite polo one, was much knocked about, and had been twisted under his belly. It took me some time to put him to rights, and in the meantime I had ample opportunities of observing the spot into which I had so foolishly dropped.

At the risk of being considered tedious, I must describe it at length: inasmuch as an accurate mental picture of its peculiarities will be of material assistance in enabling the reader to understand what follows.

Imagine then, as I have said before, a horseshoe-shaped crater of sand with steeply graded sand walls about thirty-five feet high. (The slope, I fancy, must have been about 65 degrees.) This crater enclosed a level piece of ground about fifty yards long by thirty at its broadest part, with a crude well in the centre. Round the bottom of the crater, about three feet from the level of the ground proper, ran a series of eighty-three semi-circular ovoid, square, and multilateral holes, all about three feet at the mouth. Each hole on inspection showed that it was carefully shored internally with drift-wood and bamboos, and over the mouth a wooden drip-board projected, like the peak of a jockey's cap, for two feet. No sign of life was visible in these tunnels, but a most sickening stench pervaded the entire amphitheatre—a stench fouler than any which my wanderings in Indian villages have introduced me to.

Having remounted Pornic, who was as anxious as I to get back to camp, I rode round the base of the horseshoe to find some place whence an exit would be practicable. The inhabitants, whoever they might be, had not thought fit to put in an appearance, so I was left to my own devices. My first attempt to "rush" Pornic up the steep sand-banks showed me that I had fallen into a trap exactly on the same model as that which the ant-lion sets for its prey. At each step the shifting sand poured down from above in tons, and rattled on the drip-boards of the holes like small shot. A couple of ineffectual charges sent us both rolling down to the bottom, half choked with the torrents of sand; and I was constrained to turn my attention to the river-bank.

Here everything seemed easy enough. The sand hills ran down to the river edge, it is true, but there were plenty of shoals and shallows across which I could gallop Pornic, and find my way back to terra firma by turning sharply to the right or left. As I led Pornic over the sands I was startled by the faint pop of a rifle across the river; and at the same moment a bullet dropped with a sharp "whit" close to Pornic's head.

There was no mistaking the nature of the missile-a regulation Martini-Henry "picket." About five hundred yards away a country-boat was anchored in midstream; and a jet of smoke drifting away from its bows in the still morning air showed me whence the delicate attention had come. Was ever a respectable gentleman in such an impasse? The treacherous sand slope allowed no escape from a spot which I had visited most involuntarily, and a promenade on the river frontage was the signal for a bombardment from some insane native in a boat. I'm afraid that I lost my temper very much indeed.

Another bullet reminded me that I had better save my breath to cool my porridge; and I retreated hastily up the sands and back to the horseshoe, where I saw that the noise of the rifle had drawn sixty-five human beings from the badger-holes which I had up till that point supposed to be untenanted. I found myself in the midst of a crowd of spectators—about forty men, twenty women, and one child who could not have been more than five years old. They were all scantily clothed in that salmon-colored cloth which one associates with Hindu mendicants, and, at first sight, gave me the impression of a band of loathsome fakirs. The filth and repulsiveness of the assembly were beyond all description, and I shuddered to think what their life in the badger-holes must be.

Even in these days, when local self government has destroyed the greater part of a native's respect for a Sahib, I have been accustomed to a certain amount of civility from my inferiors, and on approaching the crowd naturally expected that there would be some recognition of my presence. As a matter of fact there was; but it was by no means what I had looked for.

The ragged crew actually laughed at me—such laughter I hope I may never hear again. They cackled, yelled, whistled, and howled as I walked into their midst; some of them literally throwing themselves down on the ground in convulsions of unholy mirth. In a moment I had let go Pornic's head, and irritated beyond expression at the morning's adventure, commenced cuffing those nearest to me with all the force I could. The wretches dropped under my blows like nine-pins, and the laughter gave place to wails for mercy; while those yet untouched clasped me round the knees, imploring me in all sorts of uncouth tongues to spare them.

In the tumult, and just when I was feeling very much ashamed of myself for having thus easily given way to my temper, a thin, high voice murmured in English from behind my shoulder: "—Sahib! Sahib! Do you not know me? Sahib, it is Gunga Dass, the telegraph-master."

I spun round quickly and faced the speaker.

Gunga Dass, (I have, of course, no hesitation in mentioning the man's real name) I had known four years before as a Deccanee Brahmin loaned by the Punjab Government to one of the Khalsia States. He was in charge of a branch telegraph-office there, and when I had last met him was a jovial, full-stomached, portly Government servant with a marvelous capacity for making had puns in English—a peculiarity which made me remember him long after I had forgotten his services to me in his official capacity. It is seldom that a Hindu makes English puns.

Now, however, the man was changed beyond all recognition. Caste-mark, stomach, slate-colored continuations, and unctuous speech were all gone. I looked at a withered skeleton, turban-less and almost naked, with long matted hair and deep-set codfish-eyes.

But for a crescent-shaped scar on the left cheek—the result of an accident for which I was responsible I should never have known him. But it was indubitably Gunga Dass, and—for this I was thankful—an English-speaking native who might at least tell me the meaning of all that I had gone through that day.

The crowd retreated to some distance as I turned toward the miserable figure, and ordered him to show me some method of escaping from the crate. He held a freshly plucked crow in his hand, and in reply to my question climbed slowly on a platform of sand which ran in front of the holes, and commenced lighting a fire there in silence. Dried bents, sand-poppies, and driftwood burn quickly; and I derived much consolation from the fact that he lit them with an ordinary sulphur-match. When they were in a bright glow, and the crow was neatly spitted in front thereof, Gunga Dass began without a word of preamble:

"There are only two kinds of men, Sar. The alive and the dead. When you are dead you are dead, but when you are alive you live." (Here the crow demanded his attention for an instant as it twirled before the fire in danger of being burned to a cinder.) "If you die at home and do not die when you come to the ghat to be burned you come here."

The nature of the reeking village was made plain now, and all that I had known or read of the grotesque and the horrible paled before the fact just communicated by the ex-Brahmin. Sixteen years ago, when I first landed in Bombay, I had been told by a wandering Armenian of the existence, somewhere in India, of a place to which such Hindus as had the misfortune to recover from trance or catalepsy were conveyed and kept, and I recollect laughing heartily at what I was then pleased to consider a traveler's tale.

Sitting at the bottom of the sand-trap, the memory of Watson's Hotel, with its swinging punkahs, white-robed attendants, and the sallow-faced Armenian, rose up in my mind as vividly as a photograph, and I burst into a loud fit of laughter. The contrast was too absurd!

Gunga Dass, as he bent over the unclean bird, watched me curiously. Hindus seldom laugh, and his surroundings were not such as to move Gunga Dass to any undue excess of hilarity. He removed the crow solemnly from the wooden spit and as solemnly devoured it. Then he continued his story, which I give in his own words:

"In epidemics of the cholera you are carried to be burned almost before you are dead. When you come to the riverside the cold air, perhaps, makes you alive, and then, if you are only little alive, mud is put on your nose and mouth and you die conclusively. If you are rather more alive, more mud is put; but if you are too lively they let you go and take you away. I was too lively, and made protestation with anger against the indignities that they endeavored to press upon me. In those days I was Brahmin and proud man.

"Now I am dead man and eat"—here he eyed the well-gnawed breast bone with the first sign of emotion that I had seen in him since we met—"crows, and other things. They took me from my sheets when they saw that I was too lively and gave me medicines for one week, and I survived successfully. Then they sent me by rail from my place to Okara Station, with a man to take care of me; and at Okara Station we met two other men, and they conducted we three on camels, in the night, from Okara Station to this place, and they propelled me from the top to the bottom, and the other two succeeded, and I have been here ever since two and a half years. Once I was Brahmin and proud man, and now I eat crows."

"There is no way of getting out?"

"None of what kind at all. When I first came I made experiments frequently and all the others also, but we have always succumbed to the sand which is precipitated upon our heads."

"But surely," I broke in at this point, "the river-front is open, and it is worth while dodging the bullets; while at night"—I had already matured a rough plan of escape which a natural instinct of selfishness forbade me sharing with Gunga Dass. He, however, divined my unspoken thought almost as soon as it was formed; and, to my intense astonishment, gave vent to a long low chuckle of derision—the laughter, be it understood, of a superior or at least of an equal.

"You will not"—he had dropped the Sir completely after his opening sentence—"make any escape that way. But you can try. I have tried. Once only."

The sensation of nameless terror and abject fear which I had in vain attempted to strive against overmastered me completely. My long fast—it was now close upon ten o'clock, and I had eaten nothing since tiffin on the previous day—combined with the violent and unnatural agitation of the ride had exhausted me, and I verily believe that, for a few minutes, I acted as one mad. I hurled myself against the pitiless sand-slope. I ran round the base of the crater, blaspheming and praying by turns. I crawled out among the sedges of the river-front, only to be driven back each time in an agony of nervous dread by the rifle-bullets which cut up the sand round me—for I dared not face the death of a mad dog among that hideous crowd—and finally fell, spent and raving, at the curb of the well. No one had taken the slightest notion of an exhibition which makes me blush hotly even when I think of it now.

Two or three men trod on my panting body as they drew water, but they were evidently used to this sort of thing, and had no time to waste upon me. The situation was humiliating. Gunga Dass, indeed, when he had banked the embers of his fire with sand, was at some pains to throw half a cupful of fetid water over my head, an attention for which I could have fallen on my knees and thanked him, but he was laughing all the while in the same mirthless, wheezy key that greeted me on my first attempt to force the shoals. And so, in a semi-comatose condition, I lay till noon.

Then, being only a man after all, I felt hungry, and intimated as much to Gunga Dass, whom I had begun to regard as my natural protector. Following the impulse of the outer world when dealing with natives, I put my hand into my pocket and drew out four annas. The absurdity of the gift struck me at once, and I was about to replace the money.

Gunga Dass, however, was of a different opinion. "Give me the money," said he; "all you have, or I will get help, and we will kill you!" All this as if it were the most natural thing in the world!

A Briton's first impulse, I believe, is to guard the contents of his pockets; but a moment's reflection convinced me of the futility of differing with the one man who had it in his power to make me comfortable; and with whose help it was possible that I might eventually escape from the crater. I gave him all the money in my possession, Rs. 9-8-5—nine rupees eight annas and five pie—for I always keep small change as bakshish when I am in camp. Gunga Dass clutched the coins, and hid them at once in his ragged loin cloth, his expression changing to something diabolical as he looked round to assure himself that no one had observed us.

"Now I will give you something to eat," said he.

What pleasure the possession of my money could have afforded him I am unable to say; but inasmuch as it did give him evident delight I was not sorry that I had parted with it so readily, for I had no doubt that he would have had me killed if I had refused. One does not protest against the vagaries of a den of wild beasts; and my companions were lower than any beasts. While I devoured what Gunga Dass had provided, a coarse chapatti and a cupful of the foul well-water, the people showed not the faintest sign of curiosity—that curiosity which is so rampant, as a rule, in an Indian village.

I could even fancy that they despised me. At all events they treated me with the most chilling indifference, and Gunga Dass was nearly as bad. I plied him with questions about the terrible village, and received extremely unsatisfactory answers. So far as I could gather, it had been in existence from time immemorial—whence I concluded that it was at least a century old—and during that time no one had ever been known to escape from it. [I had to control myself here with both hands, lest the blind terror should lay hold of me a second time and drive me raving round the crater.] Gunga Dass took a malicious pleasure in emphasizing this point and in watching me wince. Nothing that I could do would induce him to tell me who the mysterious "They" were.

"It is so ordered," he would reply, "and I do not yet know any one who has disobeyed the orders."

"Only wait till my servants find that I am missing," I retorted, "and I promise you that this place shall be cleared off the face of the earth, and I'll give you a lesson in civility, too, my friend."

"Your servants would be torn in pieces before they came near this place; and, besides, you are dead, my dear friend. It is not your fault, of course, but none the less you are dead and buried."

At irregular intervals supplies of food, I was told, were dropped down from the land side into the amphitheatre, and the inhabitants fought for them like wild beasts. When a man felt his death coming on he retreated to his lair and died there. The body was sometimes dragged out of the hole and thrown on to the sand, or allowed to rot where it lay.

The phrase "thrown on to the sand" caught my attention, and I asked Gunga Dass whether this sort of thing was not likely to breed a pestilence.

"That," said he, with another of his wheezy chuckles, "you may see for yourself subsequently. You will have much time to make observations."

Whereat, to his great delight, I winced once more and hastily continued the conversation:—"And how do you live here from day to day? What do you do?" The question elicited exactly the same answer as before coupled with the information that "this place is like your European heaven; there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage."

Gunga Dass had been educated at a Mission School, and, as he himself admitted, had he only changed his religion "like a wise man," might have avoided the living grave which was now his portion. But as long as I was with him I fancy he was happy.

Here was a Sahib, a representative of the dominant race, helpless as a child and completely at the mercy of his native neighbors. In a deliberate lazy way he set himself to torture me as a schoolboy would devote a rapturous half-hour to watching the agonies of an impaled beetle, or as a ferret in a blind burrow might glue himself comfortably to the neck of a rabbit. The burden of his conversation was that there was no escape "of no kind whatever," and that I should stay here till I died and was "thrown on to the sand." If it were possible to forejudge the conversation of the Damned on the advent of a new soul in their abode, I should say that they would speak as Gunga Dass did to me throughout that long afternoon. I was powerless to protest or answer; all my energies being devoted to a struggle against the inexplicable terror that threatened to overwhelm me again and again. I can compare the feeling to nothing except the struggles of a man against the overpowering nausea of the Channel passage—only my agony was of the spirit and infinitely more terrible.

As the day wore on, the inhabitants began to appear in full strength to catch the rays of the afternoon sun, which were now sloping in at the mouth of the crater. They assembled in little knots, and talked among themselves without even throwing a glance in my direction. About four o'clock, as far as I could judge Gunga Dass rose and dived into his lair for a moment, emerging with a live crow in his hands. The wretched bird was in a most draggled and deplorable condition, but seemed to be in no way afraid of its master, Advancing cautiously to the river front, Gunga Dass stepped from tussock to tussock until he had reached a smooth patch of sand directly in the line of the boat's fire. The occupants of the boat took no notice. Here he stopped, and, with a couple of dexterous turns of the wrist, pegged the bird on its back with outstretched wings. As was only natural, the crow began to shriek at once and beat the air with its claws. In a few seconds the clamor had attracted the attention of a bevy of wild crows on a shoal a few hundred yards away, where they were discussing something that looked like a corpse. Half a dozen crows flew over at once to see what was going on, and also, as it proved, to attack the pinioned bird. Gunga Dass, who had lain down on a tussock, motioned to me to be quiet, though I fancy this was a needless precaution. In a moment, and before I could see how it happened, a wild crow, who had grappled with the shrieking and helpless bird, was entangled in the latter's claws, swiftly disengaged by Gunga Dass, and pegged down beside its companion in adversity. Curiosity, it seemed, overpowered the rest of the flock, and almost before Gunga Dass and I had time to withdraw to the tussock, two more captives were struggling in the upturned claws of the decoys. So the chase—if I can give it so dignified a name—continued until Gunga Dass had captured seven crows. Five of them he throttled at once, reserving two for further operations another day. I was a good deal impressed by this, to me, novel method of securing food, and complimented Gunga Dass on his skill.

"It is nothing to do," said he. "Tomorrow you must do it for me. You are stronger than I am."

This calm assumption of superiority Upset me not a little, and I answered peremptorily;—"Indeed, you old ruffian! What do you think I have given you money for?"

"Very well," was the unmoved reply. "Perhaps not tomorrow, nor the day after, nor subsequently; but in the end, and for many years, you will catch crows and eat crows, and you will thank your European God that you have crows to catch and eat."

I could have cheerfully strangled him for this; but judged it best under the circumstances to smother my resentment. An hour later I was eating one of the crows; and, as Gunga Dass had said, thanking my God that I had a crow to eat. Never as long as I live shall I forget that evening meal. The whole population were squatting on the hard sand platform opposite their dens, huddled over tiny fires of refuse and dried rushes. Death, having once laid his hand upon these men and forborne to strike, seemed to stand aloof from them now; for most of our company were old men, bent and worn and twisted with years, and women aged to all appearance as the Fates themselves. They sat together in knots and talked—God only knows what they found to discuss—in low equable tones, curiously in contrast to the strident babble with which natives are accustomed to make day hideous. Now and then an access of that sudden fury which had possessed me in the morning would lay hold on a man or woman; and with yells and imprecations the sufferer would attack the steep slope until, baffled and bleeding, he fell back on the platform incapable of moving a limb. The others would never even raise their eyes when this happened, as men too well aware of the futility of their fellows' attempts and wearied with their useless repetition. I saw four such outbursts in the course of the evening.

Gunga Dass took an eminently business-like view of my situation, and while we were dining—I can afford to laugh at the recollection now, but it was painful enough at the time-propounded the terms on which he would consent to "do" for me. My nine rupees eight annas, he argued, at the rate of three annas a day, would provide me with food for fifty-one days, or about seven weeks; that is to say, he would be willing to cater for me for that length of time. At the end of it I was to look after myself. For a further consideration—videlicet my boots—he would be willing to allow me to occupy the den next to his own, and would supply me with as much dried grass for bedding as he could spare.

"Very well, Gunga Dass," I replied; "to the first terms I cheerfully agree, but, as there is nothing on earth to prevent my killing you as you sit here and taking everything that you have" (I thought of the two invaluable crows at the time), "I flatly refuse to give you my boots and shall take whichever den I please."

The stroke was a bold one, and I was glad when I saw that it had succeeded. Gunga Dass changed his tone immediately, and disavowed all intention of asking for my boots. At the time it did not strike me as at all strange that I, a Civil Engineer, a man of thirteen years' standing in the Service, and, I trust, an average Englishman, should thus calmly threaten murder and violence against the man who had, for a consideration it is true, taken me under his wing. I had left the world, it seemed, for centuries. I was as certain then as I am now of my own existence, that in the accursed settlement there was no law save that of the strongest; that the living dead men had thrown behind them every canon of the world which had cast them out; and that I had to depend for my own life on my strength and vigilance alone. The crew of the ill-fated Mignonette are the only men who would understand my frame of mind. "At present," I argued to myself, "I am strong and a match for six of these wretches. It is imperatively necessary that I should, for my own sake, keep both health and strength until the hour of my release comes—if it ever does."

Fortified with these resolutions, I ate and drank as much as I could, and made Gunga Dass understand that I intended to be his master, and that the least sign of insubordination on his part would be visited with the only punishment I had it in my power to inflict—sudden and violent death. Shortly after this I went to bed.

That is to say, Gunga Dass gave me a double armful of dried bents which I thrust down the mouth of the lair to the right of his, and followed myself, feet foremost; the hole running about nine feet into the sand with a slight downward inclination, and being neatly shored with timbers. From my den, which faced the river-front, I was able to watch the waters of the Sutlej flowing past under the light of a young moon and compose myself to sleep as best I might.

The horrors of that night I shall never forget. My den was nearly as narrow as a coffin, and the sides had been worn smooth and greasy by the contact of innumerable naked bodies, added to which it smelled abominably. Sleep was altogether out of question to one in my excited frame of mind. As the night wore on, it seemed that the entire amphitheatre was filled with legions of unclean devils that, trooping up from the shoals below, mocked the unfortunates in their lairs.

Personally I am not of an imaginative temperament,—very few Engineers are,—but on that occasion I was as completely prostrated with nervous terror as any woman. After half an hour or so, however, I was able once more to calmly review my chances of escape. Any exit by the steep sand walls was, of course, impracticable. I had been thoroughly convinced of this some time before. It was possible, just possible, that I might, in the uncertain moonlight, safely run the gauntlet of the rifle shots. The place was so full of terror for me that I was prepared to undergo any risk in leaving it. Imagine my delight, then, when after creeping stealthily to the river-front I found that the infernal boat was not there. My freedom lay before me in the next few steps!

By walking out to the first shallow pool that lay at the foot of the projecting left horn of the horseshoe, I could wade across, turn the flank of the crater, and make my way inland. Without a moment's hesitation I marched briskly past the tussocks where Gunga Dass had snared the crows, and out in the direction of the smooth white sand beyond. My first step from the tufts of dried grass showed me how utterly futile was any hope of escape; for, as I put my foot down, I felt an indescribable drawing, sucking motion of the sand below. Another moment and my leg was swallowed up nearly to the knee. In the moonlight the whole surface of the sand seemed to be shaken with devilish delight at my disappointment. I struggled clear, sweating with terror and exertion, back to the tussocks behind me and fell on my face.

My only means of escape from the semicircle was protected with a quicksand!

How long I lay I have not the faintest idea; but I was roused at last by the malevolent chuckle of Gunga Dass at my ear. "I would advise you, Protector of the Poor" (the ruffian was speaking English) "to return to your house. It is unhealthy to lie down here. Moreover, when the boat returns, you will most certainly be rifled at." He stood over me in the dim light of the dawn, chuckling and laughing to himself. Suppressing my first impulse to catch the man by the neck and throw him on to the quicksand, I rose sullenly and followed him to the platform below the burrows.

Suddenly, and futilely as I thought while I spoke, I asked—"Gunga Dass, what is the good of the boat if I can't get out anyhow?" I recollect that even in my deepest trouble I had been speculating vaguely on the waste of ammunition in guarding an already well protected foreshore.

Gunga Dass laughed again and made answer:—"They have the boat only in daytime. It is for the reason that there is a way. I hope we shall have the pleasure of your company for much longer time. It is a pleasant spot when you have been here some years and eaten roast crow long enough."

I staggered, numbed and helpless, toward the fetid burrow allotted to me, and fell asleep. An hour or so later I was awakened by a piercing scream—the shrill, high-pitched scream of a horse in pain. Those who have once heard that will never forget the sound. I found some little difficulty in scrambling out of the burrow. When I was in the open, I saw Pornic, my poor old Pornic, lying dead on the sandy soil. How they had killed him I cannot guess. Gunga Dass explained that horse was better than crow, and "greatest good of greatest number is political maxim. We are now Republic, Mister Jukes, and you are entitled to a fair share of the beast. If you like, we will pass a vote of thanks. Shall I propose?"

Yes, we were a Republic indeed! A Republic of wild beasts penned at the bottom of a pit, to eat and fight and sleep till we died. I attempted no protest of any kind, but sat down and stared at the hideous sight in front of me. In less time almost than it takes me to write this, Pornic's body was divided, in some unclear way or other; the men and women had dragged the fragments on to the platform and were preparing their normal meal. Gunga Dass cooked mine. The almost irresistible impulse to fly at the sand walls until I was wearied laid hold of me afresh, and I had to struggle against it with all my might. Gunga Dass was offensively jocular till I told him that if he addressed another remark of any kind whatever to me I should strangle him where he sat. This silenced him till silence became insupportable, and I bade him say something.

"You will live here till you die like the other Feringhi," he said, coolly, watching me over the fragment of gristle that he was gnawing.

"What other Sahib, you swine? Speak at once, and don't stop to tell me a lie."

"He is over there," answered Gunga Dass, pointing to a burrow-mouth about four doors ta the left of my own. "You can see for yourself. He died in the burrow as you will die, and I will die, and as all these men and women and the one child will also die."

"For pity's sake tell me all you know about him. Who was he? When did he come, and when did he die?"

This appeal was a weak step on my part. Gunga Dass only leered and replied:—"I will not—unless you give me something first."

Then I recollected where I was, and struck the man between the eyes, partially stunning him. He stepped down from the platform at once, and, cringing and fawning and weeping and attempting to embrace my feet, led me round to the burrow which he had indicated.

"I know nothing whatever about the gentleman. Your God be my witness that I do not. He was as anxious to escape as you were, and he was shot from the boat, though we all did all things to prevent him from attempting. He was shot here." Gunga Dass laid his hand on his lean stomach and bowed to the earth.

"Well, and what then? Go on!"

"And then—and then, Your Honor, we carried him in to his house and gave him water, and put wet cloths on the wound, and he laid down in his house and gave up the ghost."

"In how long? In how long?"

"About half an hour, after he received his wound. I call Vishnu to witness," yelled the wretched man, "that I did everything for him. Everything which was possible, that I did!"

He threw himself down on the ground and clasped my ankles. But I had my doubts about Gunga Dass's benevolence, and kicked him off as he lay protesting.

"I believe you robbed him of everything he had. But I can find out in a minute or two. How long was the Sahib here?"

"Nearly a year and a half. I think he must have gone mad. But hear me swear, Protector of the Poor! Won't Your Honor hear me swear that I never touched an article that belonged to him? What is Your Worship going to do?"

I had taken Gunga Dass by the waist and had hauled him on to the platform opposite the deserted burrow. As I did so I thought of my wretched fellow-prisoner's unspeakable misery among all these horrors for eighteen months, and the final agony of dying like a rat in a hole, with a bullet-wound in the stomach. Gunga Dass fancied I was going to kill him and howled pitifully. The rest of the population, in the plethora that follows a full flesh meal, watched us without stirring.

"Go inside, Gunga Dass," said I, "and fetch it out."

I was feeling sick and faint with horror now. Gunga Dass nearly rolled off the platform and howled aloud.

"But I am Brahmin, Sahib—a high-caste Brahmin. By your soul, by your father's soul, do not make me do this thing!"

"Brahmin or no Brahmin, by my soul and my father's soul, in you go!" I said, and, seizing him by the shoulders, I crammed his head into the mouth of the burrow, kicked the rest of him in, and, sitting down, covered my face with my hands.

At the end of a few minutes I heard a rustle and a creak; then Gunga Dass in a sobbing, choking whisper speaking to himself; then a soft thud—and I uncovered my eyes.

The dry sand had turned the corpse entrusted to its keeping into a yellow-brown mummy. I told Gunga Dass to stand off while I examined it.

The body—clad in an olive-green hunting-suit much stained and worn, with leather pads on the shoulders—was that of a man between thirty and forty, above middle height, with light, sandy hair, long mustache, and a rough unkempt beard. The left canine of the upper jaw was missing, and a portion of the lobe of the right ear was gone. On the second finger of the left hand was a ring—a shield-shaped bloodstone set in gold, with a monogram that might have been either "B.K." or "B.L." On the third finger of the right hand was a silver ring in the shape of a coiled cobra, much worn and tarnished. Gunga Dass deposited a handful of trifles he had picked out of the burrow at my feet, and, covering the face of the body with my handkerchief, I turned to examine these. I give the full list in the hope that it may lead to the identification of the unfortunate man:

1. Bowl of a briarwood pipe, serrated at the edge; much worn and blackened; bound with string at the crew.

2. Two patent-lever keys; wards of both broken.

3. Tortoise-shell-handled penknife, silver or nickel name-plate, marked with monogram "B.K."

4. Envelope, postmark Undecipherable, bearing a Victorian stamp, addressed to "Miss Mon-" (rest illegible) -"ham-'nt."

5. Imitation crocodile-skin notebook with pencil. First forty-five pages blank; four and a half illegible; fifteen others filled with private memoranda relating chiefly to three persons—a Mrs. L. Singleton, abbreviated several times to "Lot Single," "Mrs. S. May," and "Garmison," referred to in places as "Jerry" or "Jack."

6. Handle of small-sized hunting-knife. Blade snapped short. Buck's horn, diamond cut, with swivel and ring on the butt; fragment of cotton cord attached.

It must not be supposed that I inventoried all these things on the spot as fully as I have here written them down. The notebook first attracted my attention, and I put it in my pocket with a view of studying it later on.

The rest of the articles I conveyed to my burrow for safety's sake, and there being a methodical man, I inventoried them. I then returned to the corpse and ordered Gunga Dass to help me to carry it out to the river-front. While we were engaged in this, the exploded shell of an old brown cartridge dropped out of one of the pockets and rolled at my feet. Gunga Dass had not seen it; and I fell to thinking that a man does not carry exploded cartridge-cases, especially "browns," which will not bear loading twice, about with him when shooting. In other words, that cartridge-case had been fired inside the crater. Consequently there must be a gun somewhere. I was on the verge of asking Gunga Dass, but checked myself, knowing that he would lie. We laid the body down on the edge of the quicksand by the tussocks. It was my intention to push it out and let it be swallowed up—the only possible mode of burial that I could think of. I ordered Gunga Dass to go away.

Then I gingerly put the corpse out on the quicksand. In doing so—it was lying face downward—I tore the frail and rotten khaki shooting-coat open, disclosing a hideous cavity in the back. I have already told you that the dry sand had, as it were, mummified the body. A moment's glance showed that the gaping hole had been caused by a gun-shot wound; the gun must have been fired with the muzzle almost touching the back. The shooting-coat, being intact, had been drawn over the body after death, which must have been instantaneous. The secret of the poor wretch's death was plain to me in a flash. Some one of the crater, presumably Gunga Dass, must have shot him with his own gun—the gun that fitted the brown cartridges. He had never attempted to escape in the face of the rifle-fire from the boat.

I pushed the corpse out hastily, and saw it sink from sight literally in a few seconds. I shuddered as I watched. In a dazed, half-conscious way I turned to peruse the notebook. A stained and discolored slip of paper bad been inserted between the binding and the back, and dropped out as I opened the pages. This is what it contained:—"Four out from crow-clump: three left; nine out; two right; three back; two left; fourteen out; two left; seven out; one left; nine back; two right; six back; four right; seven back." The paper had been burned and charred at the edges. What it meant I could not understand. I sat down on the dried bents turning it over and over between my fingers, until I was aware of Gunga Dass standing immediately behind me with glowing eyes and outstretched hands.

"Have you got it?" he panted. "Will you not let me look at it also? I swear that I will return it."

"Got what? Return what?" asked.

"That which you have in your hands. It will help us both." He stretched out his long, bird-like talons, trembling with eagerness.

"I could never find it," he continued. "He had secreted it about his person. Therefore I shot him, but nevertheless I was unable to obtain it."

Gunga Dass had quite forgotten his little fiction about the rifle-bullet. I received the information perfectly calmly. Morality is blunted by consorting with the Dead who are alive.

"What on earth are you raving about? What is it you want me to give you?"

"The piece of paper in the notebook. It will help us both. Oh, you fool! You fool! Can you not see what it will do for us? We shall escape!"

His voice rose almost to a scream, and he danced with excitement before me. I own I was moved at the chance of my getting away.

"Don't skip! Explain yourself. Do you mean to say that this slip of paper will help us? What does it mean?"

"Read it aloud! Read it aloud! I beg and I pray you to read it aloud."

I did so. Gunga Dass listened delightedly, and drew an irregular line in the sand with his fingers.

"See now! It was the length of his gun-barrels without the stock. I have those barrels. Four gun-barrels out from the place where I caught crows straight out; do you follow me? Then three left—Ah! how well I remember when that man worked it out night after night Then nine out, and so on. Out is always straight before you across the quicksand. He told me so before I killed him."

"But if you knew all this why didn't you get out before?"

"I did not know it. He told me that he was working it out a year and a half ago, and how he was working it out night after night when the boat had gone away, and he could get out near the quicksand safely. Then he said that we would get away together. But I was afraid that he would leave me behind one night when he had worked it all out, and so I shot him. Besides, it is not advisable that the men who once get in here should escape. Only I, and I am a Brahmin."

The prospect of escape had brought Gunga Dass's caste back to him. He stood up, walked about and gesticulated violently. Eventually I managed to make him talk soberly, and he told me how this Englishman had spent six months night after night in exploring, inch by inch, the passage across the quicksand; how he had declared it to be simplicity itself up to within about twenty yards of the river bank after turning the flank of the left horn of the horseshoe. This much he had evidently not completed when Gunga Dass shot him with his own gun.

In my frenzy of delight at the possibilities of escape I recollect shaking hands effusively with Gunga Dass, after we had decided that we were to make an attempt to get away that very night. It was weary work waiting throughout the afternoon.

About ten o'clock, as far as I could judge, when the Moon had just risen above the lip of the crater, Gunga Dass made a move for his burrow to bring out the gun-barrels whereby to measure our path. All the other wretched inhabitants had retired to their lairs long ago. The guardian boat drifted downstream some hours before, and we were utterly alone by the crow-clump. Gunga Dass, while carrying the gun-barrels, let slip the piece of paper which was to be our guide. I stooped down hastily to recover it, and, as I did so, I was aware that the diabolical Brahmin was aiming a violent blow at the back of my head with the gun-barrels. It was too late to turn round. I must have received the blow somewhere on the nape of my neck. A hundred thousand fiery stars danced before my eyes, and I fell forwards senseless at the edge of, the quicksand.

When I recovered consciousness, the Moon was going down, and I was sensible of intolerable pain in the back of my head. Gunga Dass had disappeared and my mouth was full of blood. I lay down again and prayed that I might die without more ado. Then the unreasoning fury which I had before mentioned, laid hold upon me, and I staggered inland toward the walls of the crater. It seemed that some one was calling to me in a whisper—"Sahib! Sahib! Sahib!" exactly as my bearer used to call me in the morning I fancied that I was delirious until a handful of sand fell at my feet. Then I looked up and saw a head peering down into the amphitheatre—the head of Dunnoo, my dog-boy, who attended to my collies. As soon as he had attracted my attention, he held up his hand and showed a rope. I motioned, staggering to and fro for the while, that he should throw it down. It was a couple of leather punkah-ropes knotted together, with a loop at one end. I slipped the loop over my head and under my arms; heard Dunnoo urge something forward; was conscious that I was being dragged, face downward, up the steep sand slope, and the next instant found myself choked and half fainting on the sand hills overlooking the crater. Dunnoo, with his face ashy grey in the moonlight, implored me not to stay but to get back to my tent at once.

It seems that he had tracked Pornic's footprints fourteen miles across the sands to the crater; had returned and told my servants, who flatly refused to meddle with any one, white or black, once fallen into the hideous Village of the Dead; whereupon Dunnoo had taken one of my ponies and a couple of punkah-ropes, returned to the crater, and hauled me out as I have described.

To cut a long story short, Dunnoo is now my personal servant on a gold mohur a month—a sum which I still think far too little for the services he has rendered. Nothing on earth will induce me to go near that devilish spot again, or to reveal its whereabouts more clearly than I have done. Of Gunga Dass I have never found a trace, nor do I wish to do. My sole motive in giving this to be published is the hope that some one may possibly identify, from the details and the inventory which I have given above, the corpse of the man in the olive-green hunting-suit.






THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING

   Brother to a Prince and fellow to a beggar if he be found worthy.

The Law, as quoted, lays down a fair conduct of life, and one not easy to follow. I have been fellow to a beggar again and again under circumstances which prevented either of us finding out whether the other was worthy. I have still to be brother to a Prince, though I once came near to kinship with what might have been a veritable King, and was promised the reversion of a Kingdom—army, law-courts, revenue, and policy all complete. But, today, I greatly fear that my King is dead, and if I want a crown I must go hunt it for myself.

The beginning of everything was in a railway-train upon the road to Mhow from Ajmir. There had been a Deficit in the Budget, which necessitated travelling, not Second-class, which is only half as dear as First-Class, but by Intermediate, which is very awful indeed. There are no cushions in the Intermediate class, and the population are either Intermediate, which is Eurasian, or native, which for a long night journey is nasty, or Loafer, which is amusing though intoxicated. Intermediates do not buy from refreshment-rooms. They carry their food in bundles and pots, and buy sweets from the native sweetmeat-sellers, and drink the roadside water. This is why in hot weather Intermediates are taken out of the carriages dead, and in all weathers are most properly looked down upon.

My particular Intermediate happened to be empty till I reached Nasirabad, when the big black-browed gentleman in shirt-sleeves entered, and, following the custom of Intermediates, passed the time of day. He was a wanderer and a vagabond like myself, but with an educated taste for whisky. He told tales of things he had seen and done, of out-of-the-way corners of the Empire into which he had penetrated, and of adventures in which he risked his life for a few days' food.

"If India was filled with men like you and me, not knowing more than the crows where they'd get their next day's rations, it isn't seventy millions of revenue the land would be paying—it's seven hundred millions," said he; and as I looked at his mouth and chin I was disposed to agree with him.

We talked politics,—the politics of Loaferdom that sees things from the under side where the lath and plaster is not smoothed off,—and we talked postal arrangements because my friend wanted to send a telegram back from the next station to Ajmir, the turning-off place from the Bombay to the Mhow line as you travel westward. My friend had no money beyond eight annas which he wanted for dinner, and I had no money at all, owing to the hitch in the Budget before mentioned. Further, I was going into a wilderness where, though I should resume touch with the Treasury, there were no telegraph offices. I was, therefore, unable to help him in any way.

"We might threaten a Station-master, and make him send a wire on tick," said my friend, "but that'd mean inquiries for you and for me, and I've got my hands full these days. Did you say you were travelling back along this line within any days?"

"Within ten," I said.

"Can't you make it eight?" said he. "Mine is rather urgent business."

"I can send your telegrams within ten days if that will serve you," I said.

"I couldn't trust the wire to fetch him, now I think of it. It's this way. He leaves Delhi on the 23rd for Bombay. That means he'll be running through Ajmir about the night of the 23rd."

"But I'm going into the Indian Desert," I explained.

"Well and good," said he. "You'll be changing at Marwar Junction to get into Jodhpore territory,—you must do that,—and he'll be coming through Marwar Junction in the early morning of the 24th by the Bombay Mail. Can you be at Marwar Junction on that time? 'T won't be inconveniencing you, because I know that there's precious few pickings to be got out of these Central India States—even though you pretend to be correspondent of the 'Backwoodsman.'"

"Have you ever tried that trick?" I asked.

"Again and again, but the Residents find you out, and then you get escorted to the Border before you've time to get your knife into them. But about my friend here. I must give him a word o' mouth to tell him what's come to me, or else he won't know where to go. I would take it more than kind of you if you was to come out of Central India in time to catch him at Marwar Junction, and say to him, 'He has gone South for the week.' He'll know what that means. He's a big man with a red beard, and a great swell he is.

"You'll find him sleeping like a gentleman with all his luggage round him in a Second-class apartment. But don't you be afraid.

"Slip down the window and say, 'He has gone South for the week,' and he'll tumble. It's only cutting your time of stay in those parts by two days. I ask you as a stranger—going to the West," he said, with emphasis.

"Where have you come from?" said I.

"From the East," said he, "and I am hoping that you will give him the message on the square—for the sake of my Mother as well as your own."

Englishmen are not usually softened by appeals to the memory of their mothers; but for certain reasons, which will be fully apparent, I saw fit to agree.

"It's more than a little matter," said he, "and that's why I asked you to do it—and now I know that I can depend on you doing it. A Second-class carriage at Marwar Junction, and a red-haired man asleep in it. You'll be sure to remember. I get out at the next station, and I must hold on there till he comes or sends me what I want."

"I'll give the message if I catch him," I said, "and for the sake of your Mother as well as mine I'll give you a word of advice. Don't try to run the Central India States just now as the correspondent of the 'Backwoodsman.' There's a real one knocking about here, and it might lead to trouble."

"Thank you," said he, simply; "and when will the swine be gone? I can't starve because he's ruining my work. I wanted to get hold of the Degumber Rajah down here about his father's widow, and give him a jump."

"What did he do to his father's widow, then?"

"Filled her up with red pepper and slippered her to death as she hung from a beam. I found that out myself, and I'm the only man that would dare going into the State to get hush-money for it. They'll try to poison me, same as they did in Chortumna when I went on the loot there. But you'll give the man at Marwar Junction my message?"

He got out at a little roadside station, and I reflected. I had heard, more than once, of men personating correspondents of newspapers and bleeding small Native States with threats of exposure, but I had never met any of the caste before. They lead a hard life, and generally die with great suddenness. The Native States have a wholesome horror of English newspapers, which may throw light on their peculiar methods of government, and do their best to choke correspondents with champagne, or drive them out of their mind with four-in-hand barouches. They do not understand that nobody cares a straw for the internal administration of Native States so long as oppression and crime are kept within decent limits, and the ruler is not drugged, drunk, or diseased from one end of the year to the other. They are the dark places of the earth, full of unimaginable cruelty, touching the Railway and the Telegraph on one side, and, on the other, the days of Harun-al-Raschid. When I left the train I did business with divers Kings, and in eight days passed through many changes of life. Sometimes I wore dress-clothes and consorted with Princes and Politicals, drinking from crystal and eating from silver. Sometimes I lay out upon the ground and devoured what I could get, from a plate made of leaves, and drank the running water, and slept under the same rug as my servant. It was all in the day's work.

Then I headed for the Great Indian Desert upon the proper date, as I had promised, and the night Mail set me down at Marwar Junction, where a funny little, happy-go-lucky, native managed railway runs to Jodhpore. The Bombay Mail from Delhi makes a short halt at Marwar. She arrived just as I got in, and I had just time to hurry to her platform and go down the carriages. There was only one Second-class on the train. I slipped the window and looked down upon a flaming-red beard, half covered by a railway-rug. That was my man, fast asleep, and I dug him gently in the ribs.

He woke with a grunt, and I saw his face in the light of the lamps.

It was a great and shining face.

"Tickets again?" said he.

"No," said I. "I am to tell you that he is gone South for the week. He has gone South for the week!"

The train had begun to move out. The red man rubbed his eyes.

"He has gone South for the week," he repeated. "Now that's just like his impidence. Did he say that I was to give you anything? 'Cause I won't."

"He didn't," I said, and dropped away, and watched the red lights die out in the dark. It was horribly cold because the wind was blowing off the sands. I climbed into my own train—not an Intermediate carriage this time—and went to sleep.

If the man with the beard had given me a rupee I should have kept it as a memento of a rather curious affair. But the consciousness of having done my duty was my only reward.

Later on I reflected that two gentlemen like my friends could not do any good if they foregathered and personated correspondents of newspapers, and might, if they blackmailed one of the little rat-trap States of Central India or Southern Rajputana, get themselves into serious difficulties. I therefore took some trouble to describe them as accurately as I could remember to people who would be interested in deporting them; and succeeded, so I was later informed, in having them headed back from the Degumber borders.

Then I became respectable, and returned to an office where there were no Kings and no incidents outside the daily manufacture of a newspaper. A newspaper office seems to attract every conceivable sort of person, to the prejudice of discipline. Zenana-mission ladies arrive, and beg that the Editor will instantly abandon all his duties to describe a Christian prize-giving in a back slum of a perfectly inaccessible village; Colonels who have been overpassed for command sit down and sketch the outline of a series of ten, twelve, or twenty-four leading articles on Seniority versus Selection; missionaries wish to know why they have not been permitted to escape from their regular vehicles of abuse, and swear at a brother missionary under special patronage of the editorial We. Stranded theatrical companies troop up to explain that they cannot pay for their advertisements, but on their return from New Zealand or Tahiti will do so with interest; inventors of patent punka-pulling machines, carriage couplings, and unbreakable swords and axletrees call with specifications in their pockets and hours at their disposal; tea companies enter and elaborate their prospectuses with the office pens; secretaries of ball committees clamour to have the glories of their last dance more fully described; strange ladies rustle in and say, "I want a hundred lady's cards printed at once, please," which is manifestly part of an Editor's duty; and every dissolute ruffian that ever tramped the Grand Trunk Road makes it his business to ask for employment as a proof-reader. And, all the time, the telephone-bell is ringing madly, and Kings are being killed on the Continent, and Empires are saying, "You're another," and Mister Gladstone is calling down brimstone upon the British Dominions, and the little black copyboys are whining, "kaa-pi chay-ha-yeh" ("Copy wanted"), like tired bees, and most of the paper is as blank as Modred's shield.

But that is the amusing part of the year. There are six other months when none ever come to call, and the thermometer walks inch by inch up to the top of the glass, and the office is darkened to just above reading-light, and the press-machines are red-hot to touch, and nobody writes anything but accounts of amusements in the Hill-stations or obituary notices. Then the telephone becomes a tinkling terror, because it tells you of the sudden deaths of men and women that you knew intimately, and the prickly heat covers you with a garment, and you sit down and write: "A slight increase of sickness is reported from the Khuda Janta Khan District. The outbreak is purely sporadic in its nature, and, thanks to the energetic efforts of the District authorities, is now almost at an end. It is, however, with deep regret we record the death," etc.

Then the sickness really breaks out, and the less recording and reporting the better for the peace of the subscribers. But the Empires and the Kings continue to divert themselves as selfishly as before, and the Foreman thinks that a daily paper really ought to come out once in twenty-four hours, and all the people at the Hill-stations in the middle of their amusements say, "Good gracious! why can't the paper be sparkling? I'm sure there's plenty going on up here."

That is the dark half of the moon, and, as the advertisements say, "must be experienced to be appreciated."

It was in that season, and a remarkably evil season, that the paper began running the last issue of the week on Saturday night, which is to say Sunday morning, after the custom of a London paper. This was a great convenience, for immediately after the paper was put to bed the dawn would lower the thermometer from 96 degrees to almost 84 degrees for half an hour, and in that chill—you have no idea how cold is 84 degrees on the grass until you begin to pray for it—a very tired man could get off to sleep ere the heat roused him.

One Saturday night it was my pleasant duty to put the paper to bed alone. A King or courtier or a courtesan or a Community was going to die or get a new Constitution, or do something that was important on the other side of the world, and the paper was to be held open till the latest possible minute in order to catch the telegram.

It was a pitchy-black night, as stifling as a June night can be, and the loo, the red-hot wind from the westward, was booming among the tinder-dry trees and pretending that the rain was on its heels.

Now and again a spot of almost boiling water would fall on the dust with the flop of a frog, but all our weary world knew that was only pretence. It was a shade cooler in the press-room than the office, so I sat there, while the type ticked and clicked, and the night-jars hooted at the windows, and the all but naked compositors wiped the sweat from their foreheads and called for water. The thing that was keeping us back, whatever it was, would not come off, though the loo dropped and the last type was set, and the whole round earth stood still in the choking heat, with its finger on its lip, to wait the event. I drowsed, and wondered whether the telegraph was a blessing, and whether this dying man, or struggling people, might be aware of the inconvenience the delay was causing. There was no special reason beyond the heat and worry to make tension, but, as the clock-hands crept up to three o'clock and the machines spun their fly-wheels two and three times to see that all was in order, before I said the word that would set them off, I could have shrieked aloud.

Then the roar and rattle of the wheels shivered the quiet into little bits. I rose to go away, but two men in white clothes stood in front of me. The first one said, "It's him!" The second said, "So it is!" And they both laughed almost as loudly as the machinery roared, and mopped their foreheads. We seed there was a light burning across the road, and we were sleeping in that ditch there for coolness, and I said to my friend here, "The office is open. Let's come along and speak to him as turned us back from Degumber State," said the smaller of the two. He was the man I had met in the Mhow train, and his fellow was the red-bearded man of Marwar Junction. There was no mistaking the eyebrows of the one or the beard of the other.

I was not pleased, because I wished to go to sleep, not to squabble with loafers. "What do you want?" I asked.

"Half an hour's talk with you, cool and comfortable, in the office," said the red-bearded man. "We'd like some drink,—the Contrack doesn't begin yet, Peachey, so you needn't look,—but what we really want is advice. We don't want money. We ask you as a favour, because we found out you did us a bad turn about Degumber State."

I led from the press-room to the stifling office with the maps on the walls, and the red-haired man rubbed his hands. "That's something like," said he. "This was the proper shop to come to.

"Now, Sir, let me introduce you to Brother Peachey Carnehan, that's him, and Brother Daniel Dravot, that is me, and the less said about our professions the better, for we have been most things in our time—soldier, sailor, compositor, photographer, proof-reader, street-preacher, and correspondents of the 'Backwoodsman' when we thought the paper wanted one. Carnehan is sober, and so am I. Look at us first, and see that's sure. It will save you cutting into my talk. We'll take one of your cigars apiece, and you shall see us light up."

I watched the test. The men were absolutely sober, so I gave them each a tepid whisky-and-soda.

"Well and good," said Carnehan of the eyebrows, wiping the froth from his moustache. "Let me talk now, Dan. We have been all over India, mostly on foot. We have been boiler-fitters, engine-drivers, petty contractors, and all that, and we have decided that India isn't big enough for such as us."

They certainly were too big for the office. Dravot's beard seemed to fill half the room and Carnehan's shoulders the other half, as they sat on the big table. Carnehan continued: "The country isn't half worked out because they that governs it won't let you touch it. They spend all their blessed time in governing it, and you can't lift a spade, nor chip a rock, nor look for oil, nor anything like that, without all the Government saying, 'Leave it alone, and let us govern.' Therefore, such as it is, we will let it alone, and go away to some other place where a man isn't crowded and can come to his own. We are not little men, and there is nothing that we are afraid of except Drink, and we have signed a Contrack on that.

"Therefore we are going away to be Kings."

"Kings in our own right," muttered Dravot.

"Yes, of course," I said. "You've been tramping in the sun, and it's a very warm night, and hadn't you better sleep over the notion? Come tomorrow."

"Neither drunk nor sunstruck," said Dravot. "We have slept over the notion half a year, and require to see Books and Atlases, and we have decided that there is only one place now in the world that two strong men can Sar-a-whack. They call it Kafiristan. By my reckoning it's the top right-hand corner of Afghanistan, not more than three hundred miles from Peshawar. They have two and thirty heathen idols there, and we'll be the thirty-third and fourth. It's a mountaineous country, the women of those parts are very beautiful."

"But that is provided against in the Contrack," said Carnehan. "Neither Women nor Liquor, Daniel."

"And that's all we know, except that no one has gone there, and they fight, and in any place where they fight a man who knows how to drill men can always be a King. We shall go to those parts and say to any King we find, 'D' you want to vanquish your foes?' and we will show him how to drill men; for that we know better than anything else. Then we will subvert that King and seize his Throne and establish a Dy-nasty."

"You'll be cut to pieces before you're fifty miles across the Border," I said. "You have to travel through Afghanistan to get to that country. It's one mass of mountains and peaks and glaciers, and no Englishman has been through it. The people are utter brutes, and even if you reached them you couldn't do anything."

"That's more like," said Carnehan. "If you could think us a little more mad we would be more pleased. We have come to you to know about this country, to read a book about it, and to be shown maps. We want you to tell us that we are fools and to show us your books." He turned to the bookcases.

"Are you at all in earnest?" I said.

"A little," said Dravot, sweetly. "As big a map as you have got, even if it's all blank where Kafiristan is, and any books you've got. We can read, though we aren't very educated."

I uncased the big thirty-two-miles-to-the-inch map of India and two smaller Frontier maps, hauled down volume INF-KAN of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," and the men consulted them.

"See here!" said Dravot, his thumb on the map. "Up to Jagdallak, Peachey and me know the road. We was there with Robert's Army. We'll have to turn off to the right at Jagdallak through Laghmann territory. Then we get among the hills—fourteen thousand feet—fifteen thousand—it will be cold work there, but it don't look very far on the map."

I handed him Wood on the "Sources of the Oxus." Carnehan was deep in the "Encyclopaedia."

"They're a mixed lot," said Dravot, reflectively; "and it won't help us to know the names of their tribes. The more tribes the more they'll fight, and the better for us. From Jagdallak to Ashang. H'mm!"

"But all the information about the country is as sketchy and inaccurate as can be," I protested. "No one knows anything about it really. Here's the file of the 'United Services' Institute.' Read what Bellew says."

"Blow Bellew!" said Carnehan. "Dan, they're a stinkin' lot of heathens, but this book here says they think they're related to us English."

I smoked while the men poured over Raverty, Wood, the maps, and the "Encyclopaedia."

"There is no use your waiting," said Dravot, politely. "It's about four o'clock now. We'll go before six o'clock if you want to sleep, and we won't steal any of the papers. Don't you sit up. We're two harmless lunatics, and if you come tomorrow evening down to the Serai we'll say goodbye to you."

"You are two fools," I answered. "You'll be turned back at the Frontier or cut up the minute you set foot in Afghanistan. Do you want any money or a recommendation down-country? I can help you to the chance of work next week."

"Next week we shall be hard at work ourselves, thank you," said Dravot. "It isn't so easy being a King as it looks. When we've got our Kingdom in going order we'll let you know, and you can come up and help us govern it."

"Would two lunatics make a Contrack like that?" said Carnehan, with subdued pride, showing me a greasy half-sheet of notepaper on which was written the following. I copied it, then and there, as a curiosity.

This Contrack between me and you persuing witnesseth in the name of God—Amen and so forth.

(One) That me and you will settle this matter together; i.e., to be Kings of Kafiristan.

(Two)That you and me will not, while this matter is being settled, look at any Liquor, nor any Woman, black, white, or brown, so as to get mixed up with one or the other harmful.

(Three) That we conduct ourselves with Dignity and Discretion, and if one of us gets into trouble the other will stay by him.

Signed by you and me this day.

Peachey Taliaferro Carnehan.

Daniel Dravot.

Both Gentlemen at Large.

"There was no need for the last article," said Carnehan, blushing modestly; "but it looks regular. Now you know the sort of men that loafers are,—we are loafers, Dan, until we get out of India,—and do you think that we would sign a Contrack like that unless we was in earnest? We have kept away from the two things that make life worth having."

"You won't enjoy your lives much longer if you are going to try this idiotic adventure. Don't set the office on fire," I said, "and go away before nine o'clock."

I left them still poring over the maps and making notes on the back of the "Contrack." "Be sure to come down to the Serai tomorrow," were their parting words.

The Kumharsen Serai is the great foursquare sink of humanity where the strings of camels and horses from the North load and unload. All the nationalities of Central Asia may be found there, and most of the folk of India proper. Balkh and Bokhara there meet Bengal and Bombay, and try to draw eye-teeth. You can buy ponies, turquoises, Persian pussy-cats, saddle-bags, fat-tailed sheep, and musk in the Kumharsen Serai, and get many strange things for nothing. In the afternoon I went down to see whether my friends intended to keep their word or were lying there drunk.

A priest attired in fragments of ribbons and rags stalked up to me, gravely twisting a child's paper whirligig. Behind him was his servant bending under the load of a crate of mud toys. The two were loading up two camels, and the inhabitants of the Serai watched them with shrieks of laughter.

"The priest is mad," said a horse-dealer to me. "He is going up to Kabul to sell toys to the Amir. He will either be raised to honour or have his head cut off. He came in here this morning and has been behaving madly ever since."

"The witless are under the protection of God," stammered a flat-cheeked Usbeg in broken Hindi. "They foretell future events."

"Would they could have foretold that my caravan would have been cut up by the Shinwaris almost within shadow of the Pass!" grunted the Eusufzai agent of a Rajputana trading-house whose goods had been diverted into the hands of other robbers just across the Border, and whose misfortunes were the laughing-stock of the bazaar. "Ohe', priest, whence come you and whither do you go?"

"From Roum have I come," shouted the priest, waving his whirligig; "from Roum, blown by the breath of a hundred devils across the sea! O thieves, robbers, liars, the blessing of Pir Khan on pigs, dogs, and perjurers! Who will take the Protected of God to the North to sell charms that are never still to the Amir? The camels shall not gall, the sons shall not fall sick, and the wives shall remain faithful while they are away, of the men who give me place in their caravan. Who will assist me to slipper the King of the Roos with a golden slipper with a silver heel? The protection of Pir Khan be upon his labours!" He spread out the skirts of his gabardine and pirouetted between the lines of tethered horses.

"There starts a caravan from Peshawar to Kabul in twenty days, Huzrut," said the Eusufzai trader. "My camels go therewith. Do thou also go and bring us good luck."

"I will go even now!" shouted the priest. "I will depart upon my winged camels, and be at Peshawar in a day! Ho! Hazar Mir Khan," he yelled to his servant, "drive out the camels, but let me first mount my own."

He leaped on the back of his beast as it knelt, and, turning round to me, cried, "Come thou also, Sahib, a little along the road, and I will sell thee a charm—an amulet that shall make thee King of Kafiristan."

Then the light broke upon me, and I followed the two camels out of the Serai till we reached open road and the priest halted.

"What d' you think o' that?" said he in English. "Carnehan can't talk their patter, so I've made him my servant. He makes a handsome servant. 'T isn't for nothing that I've been knocking about the country for fourteen years. Didn't I do that talk neat? We'll hitch on to a caravan at Peshawar till we get to Jagdallak, and then we'll see if we can get donkeys for our camels, and strike into Kafiristan. Whirligigs for the Amir, O Lor'! Put your hand under the camelbags and tell me what you feel."

I felt the butt of a Martini, and another and another.

"Twenty of 'em," said Dravot, placidly. "Twenty of 'em and ammunition to correspond, under the whirligigs and the mud dolls."

"Heaven help you if you are caught with those things!" I said. "A Martini is worth her weight in silver among the Pathans."

"Fifteen hundred rupees of capital—every rupee we could beg, borrow, or steal—are invested on these two camels," said Dravot.

"We won't get caught. We're going through the Khaiber with a regular caravan. Who'd touch a poor mad priest?"

"Have you got everything you want?" I asked, overcome with astonishment.

"Not yet, but we shall soon. Give us a memento of your kindness, Brother. You did me a service yesterday, and that time in Marwar. Half my Kingdom shall you have, as the saying is." I slipped a small charm compass from my watch-chain and handed it up to the priest.

"Goodbye," said Dravot, giving me hand cautiously. "It's the last time we'll shake hands with an Englishman these many days. Shake hands with him, Carnehan," he cried, as the second camel passed me.

Carnehan leaned down and shook hands. Then the camels passed away along the dusty road, and I was left alone to wonder. My eye could detect no failure in the disguises. The scene in the Serai proved that they were complete to the native mind. There was just the chance, therefore, that Carnehan and Dravot would be able to wander through Afghanistan without detection. But, beyond, they would find death—certain and awful death.

Ten days later a native correspondent, giving me the news of the day from Peshawar, wound up his letter with: "There has been much laughter here on account of a certain mad priest who is going in his estimation to sell petty gauds and insignificant trinkets which he ascribes as great charms to H. H. the Amir of Bokhara. He passed through Peshawar and associated himself to the Second Summer caravan that goes to Kabul. The merchants are pleased because through superstition they imagine that such mad fellows bring good fortune."

The two, then, were beyond the Border. I would have prayed for them, but that night a real King died in Europe, and demanded an obituary notice.

The wheel of the world swings through the same phases again and again. Summer passed and winter thereafter, and came and passed again. The daily paper continued and I with it, and upon the third summer there fell a hot night, a night issue, and a strained waiting for something to be telegraphed from the other side of the world, exactly as had happened before. A few great men had died in the past two years, the machines worked with more clatter, and some of the trees in the office garden were a few feet taller. But that was all the difference.

I passed over to the press-room, and went through just such a scene as I have already described. The nervous tension was stronger than it had been two years before, and I felt the heat more acutely. At three o'clock I cried, "Print off," and turned to go, when there crept to my chair what was left of a man. He was bent into a circle, his head was sunk between his shoulders, and he moved his feet one over the other like a bear. I could hardly see whether he walked or crawled—this rag-wrapped, whining cripple who addressed me by name, crying that he was come back. "Can you give me a drink?" he whimpered. "For the Lord's sake, give me a drink!"

I went back to the office, the man following with groans of pain, and I turned up the lamp.

"Don't you know me?" he gasped, dropping into a chair, and he turned his drawn face, surmounted by a shock of gray hair, to the light.

I looked at him intently. Once before had I seen eyebrows that met over the nose in an inch-broad black band, but for the life of me I could not tell where.

"I don't know you," I said, handing him the whisky. "What can I do for you?"

He took a gulp of the spirit raw, and shivered in spite of the suffocating heat.

"I've come back," he repeated; "and I was the King of Kafiristan—me and Dravot—crowned Kings we was! In this office we settled it—you setting there and giving us the books. I am Peachey,—Peachey Taliaferro Carnehan,—and you've been setting here ever since—O Lord!"

I was more than a little astonished, and expressed my feelings accordingly.

"It's true," said Carnehan, with a dry cackle, nursing his feet, which were wrapped in rags—"true as gospel. Kings we were, with crowns upon our heads—me and Dravot—poor Dan—oh, poor, poor Dan, that would never take advice, not though I begged of him!"

"Take the whisky," I said, "and take your own time. Tell me all you can recollect of everything from beginning to end. You got across the Border on your camels, Dravot dressed as a mad priest and you his servant. Do you remember that?"

"I ain't mad—yet, but I shall be that way soon. Of course I remember. Keep looking at me, or maybe my words will go all to pieces. Keep looking at me in my eyes and don't say anything."

I leaned forward and looked into his face as steadily as I could. He dropped one hand upon the table and I grasped it by the wrist. It was twisted like a bird's claw, and upon the back was a ragged, red, diamond-shaped scar.

"No, don't look there. Look at me," said Carnehan. "That comes afterward, but for the Lord's sake don't distrack me. We left with that caravan, me and Dravot playing all sorts of antics to amuse the people we were with. Dravot used to make us laugh in the evenings when all the people was cooking their dinners—cooking their dinners, and... what did they do then? They lit little fires with sparks that went into Dravot's beard, and we all laughed—fit to die. Little red fires they was, going into Dravot's big red beard—so funny." His eyes left mine and he smiled foolishly.

"You went as far as Jagdallak with that caravan," I said, at a venture, "after you had lit those fires. To Jagdallak, where you turned off to try to get into Kafiristan."

"No, we didn't, neither. What are you talking about? We turned off before Jagdallak, because we heard the roads was good. But they wasn't good enough for our two camels—mine and Dravot's. When we left the caravan, Dravot took off all his clothes and mine too, and said we would be heathen, because the Kafirs didn't allow Mohammedans to talk to them. So we dressed betwixt and between, and such a sight as Daniel Dravot I never saw yet nor expect to see again. He burned half his beard, and slung a sheepskin over his shoulder, and shaved his head into patterns. He shaved mine too, and made me wear outrageous things to look like a heathen. That was in a most mountaineous country, and our camels couldn't go along any more because of the mountains. They were tall and black, and coming home I saw them fight like wild goats—there are lots of goats in Kafiristan. And these mountains, they never keep still, no more than the goats. Always fighting they are, and don't let you sleep at night."

"Take some more whisky," I said, very slowly. "What did you and Daniel Dravot do when the camels could go no farther because of the rough roads that led into Kafiristan?"

"What did which do? There was a party called Peachey Taliaferro Carnehan that was with Dravot. Shall I tell you about him? He died out there in the cold. Slap from the bridge fell old Peachey, turning and twisting in the air like a penny whirligig that you can sell to the Amir. No; they was two for three ha'pence, those whirligigs, or I am much mistaken and woful sore... And then these camels were no use, and Peachey said to Dravot, 'For the Lord's sake let's get out of this before our heads are chopped off,' and with that they killed the camels all among the mountains, not having anything in particular to eat, but first they took off the boxes with the guns and the ammunition, till two men came along driving four mules. Dravot up and dances in front of them, singing, 'Sell me four mules.' Says the first man, 'If you are rich enough to buy, you are rich enough to rob;' but before ever he could put his hand to his knife, Dravot breaks his neck over his knee, and the other party runs away. So Carnehan loaded the mules with the rifles that was taken off the camels, and together we starts forward into those bitter-cold mountaineous parts, and never a road broader than the back of your hand."

He paused for a moment, while I asked him if he could remember the nature of the country through which he had journeyed.

"I am telling you as straight as I can, but my head isn't as good as it might be. They drove nails through it to make me hear better how Dravot died. The country was mountaineous and the mules were most contrary, and the inhabitants was dispersed and solitary. They went up and up, and down and down, and that other party, Carnehan, was imploring of Dravot not to sing and whistle so loud, for fear of bringing down the tremenjus avalanches. But Dravot says that if a King couldn't sing it wasn't worth being King, and whacked the mules over the rump, and never took no heed for ten cold days. We came to a big level valley all among the mountains, and the mules were near dead, so we killed them, not having anything in special for them or us to eat. We sat upon the boxes, and played odd and even with the cartridges that was jolted out.

"Then ten men with bows and arrows ran down that valley, chasing twenty men with bows and arrows, and the row was tremenjus.

"They was fair men—fairer than you or me—with yellow hair and remarkable well built. Says Dravot, unpacking the guns, 'This is the beginning of the business. We'll fight for the ten men,' and with that he fires two rifles at the twenty men, and drops one of them at two hundred yards from the rock where he was sitting. The other men began to run, but Carnehan and Dravot sits on the boxes picking them off at all ranges, up and down the valley. Then we goes up to the ten men that had run across the snow too, and they fires a footy little arrow at us. Dravot he shoots above their heads, and they all falls down flat. Then he walks over them and kicks them, and then he lifts them up and shakes hands all round to make them friendly like. He calls them and gives them the boxes to carry, and waves his hand for all the world as though he was King already. They takes the boxes and him across the valley and up the hill into a pine wood on the top, where there was half a dozen big stone idols. Dravot he goes to the biggest—a fellow they call Imbra—and lays a rifle and a cartridge at his feet, rubbing his nose respectfully with his own nose, patting him on the head, and nods his head, and says, 'That's all right. I'm in the know too, and these old jimjams are my friends.' Then he opens his mouth and points down it, and when the first man brings him food, he says, 'No;' and when the second man brings him food, he says 'no;' but when one of the old priests and the boss of the village brings him food, he says, 'Yes;' very haughty, and eats it slow. That was how he came to our first village without any trouble, just as though we had tumbled from the skies. But we tumbled from one of those damned rope-bridges, you see, and—you couldn't expect a man to laugh much after that?"

"Take some more whisky and go on," I said. "That was the first village you came into. How did you get to be King?"

"I wasn't King," said Carnehan. "Dravot he was the King, and a handsome man he looked with the gold crown on his head and all. Him and the other party stayed in that village, and every morning Dravot sat by the side of old Imbra, and the people came and worshipped. That was Dravot's order. Then a lot of men came into the valley, and Carnehan Dravot picks them off with the rifles before they knew where they was, and runs down into the valley and up again the other side, and finds another village, same as the first one, and the people all falls down flat on their faces, and Dravot says, 'Now what is the trouble between you two villages?' and the people points to a woman, as fair as you or me, that was carried off, and Dravot takes her back to the first village and counts up the dead—eight there was. For each dead man Dravot pours a little milk on the ground and waves his arms like a whirligig, and 'That's all right,' says he. Then he and Carnehan takes the big boss of each village by the arm, and walks them down the valley, and shows them how to scratch a line with a spear right down the valley, and gives each a sod of turf from both sides of the line. Then all the people comes down and shouts like the devil and all, and Dravot says, 'Go and dig the land, and be fruitful and multiply,' which they did, though they didn't understand. Then we asks the names of things in their lingo—bread and water and fire and idols and such; and Dravot leads the priest of each village up to the idol, and says he must sit there and judge the people, and if anything goes wrong he is to be shot.

"Next week they was all turning up the land in the valley as quiet as bees and much prettier, and the priests heard all the complaints and told Dravot in dumb-show what it was about. 'That's just the beginning,' says Dravot. 'They think we're Gods.' He and Carnehan picks out twenty good men and shows them how to click off a rifle and form fours and advance in line; and they was very pleased to do so, and clever to see the hang of it. Then he takes out his pipe and his baccy-pouch, and leaves one at one village and one at the other, and off we two goes to see what was to be done in the next valley. That was all rock, and there was a little village there, and Carnehan says, 'Send 'em to the old valley to plant,' and takes 'em there and gives 'em some land that wasn't took before. They were a poor lot, and we blooded 'em with a kid before letting 'em into the new Kingdom. That was to impress the people, and then they settled down quiet, and Carnehan went back to Dravot, who had got into another valley, all snow and ice and most mountaineous.

"There was no people there, and the Army got afraid; so Dravot shoots one of them, and goes on till he finds some people in a village, and the Army explains that unless the people wants to be killed they had better not shoot their little matchlocks, for they had matchlocks. We makes friends with the priest, and I stays there alone with two of the Army, teaching the men how to drill; and a thundering big Chief comes across the snow with kettledrums and horns twanging, because he heard there was a new God kicking about. Carnehan sights for the brown of the men half a mile across the snow and wings one of them. Then he sends a message to the Chief that, unless he wished to be killed, he must come and shake hands with me and leave his arms behind. The Chief comes alone first, and Carnehan shakes hands with him and whirls his arms about, same as Dravot used, and very much surprised that Chief was, and strokes my eyebrows. Then Carnehan goes alone to the Chief, and asks him in dumb-show if he had an enemy he hated. 'I have,' says the chief. So Carnehan weeds out the pick of his men, and sets the two of the Army to show them drill, and at the end of two weeks the men can manoeuvre about as well as Volunteers. So he marches with the Chief to a great big plain on the top of a mountain, and the Chief's men rushes into a village and takes it, we three Martinis firing into the brown of the enemy. So we took that village too, and I gives the Chief a rag from my coat, and says, 'Occupy till I come;' which was scriptural. By way of a reminder, when me and the Army was eighteen hundred yards away, I drops a bullet near him standing on the snow, and all the people falls flat on their faces. Then I sends a letter to Dravot wherever he be by land or by sea."

At the risk of throwing the creature out of train I interrupted: "How could you write a letter up yonder?"

"The letter?—oh!—the letter! Keep looking at me between the eyes, please. It was a string-talk letter, that we'd learned the way of it from a blind beggar in the Punjab."

I remember that there had once come to the office a blind man with a knotted twig, and a piece of string which he wound round the twig according to some cipher of his own. He could, after the lapse of days or hours, repeat the sentence which he had reeled up.

He had reduced the alphabet to eleven primitive sounds, and tried to teach me his method, but I could not understand.

"I sent that letter to Dravot," said Carnehan, "and told him to come back because this Kingdom was growing too big for me to handle; and then I struck for the first valley, to see how the priests were working. They called the village we took along with the Chief, Bashkai, and the first village we took, Er-Heb. The priests at Er-Heb was doing all right, but they had a lot of pending cases about land to show me, and some men from another village had been firing arrows at night. I went out and looked for that village, and fired four rounds at it from a thousand yards. That used all the cartridges I cared to spend, and I waited for Dravot, who had been away two or three months, and I kept my people quiet.

"One morning I heard the devil's own noise of drums and horns, and Dan Dravot marches down the hill with his Army and a tail of hundreds of men, and, which was the most amazing, a great gold crown on his head. 'My Gord, Carnehan,' says Daniel, 'this is a tremenjus business, and we've got the whole country as far as it's worth having. I am the son of Alexander by Queen Semiramis, and you're my younger brother and a God too! It's the biggest thing we've ever seen. I've been marching and fighting for six weeks with the Army, and every footy little village for fifty miles has come in rejoiceful; and more than that, I've got the key of the whole show, as you'll see, and I've got a crown for you! I told 'em to make two of 'em at a place called Shu, where the gold lies in the rock like suet in mutton. Gold I've seen, and turquoise I've kicked out of the cliffs, and there's garnets in the sands of the river, and here's a chunk of amber that a man brought me. Call up all the priests and, here, take your crown.'

"One of the men opens a black hair bag, and I slips the crown on. It was too small and too heavy, but I wore it for the glory. Hammered gold it was—five pounds weight, like a hoop of a barrel.

"'Peachey,' says Dravot, 'we don't want to fight no more. The Craft's the trick, so help me!' and he brings forward that same Chief that I left at Bashkai—Billy Fish we called him afterward, because he was so like Billy Fish that drove the big tank-engine at Mach on the Bolan in the old days. 'Shake hands with him,' says Dravot; and I shook hands and nearly dropped, for Billy Fish gave me the Grip. I said nothing, but tried him with the Fellow-craft Grip. He answers all right, and I tried the Master's Grip, but that was a slip. 'A Fellow-craft he is!' I says to Dan. 'Does he know the word?' 'He does,' says Dan, 'and all the priests know. It's a miracle! The Chiefs and the priests can work a Fellow-craft Lodge in a way that's very like ours, and they've cut the marks on the rocks, but they don't know the Third Degree, and they've come to find out. It's Gord's Truth. I've known these long years that the Afghans knew up to the Fellow-craft Degree, but this is a miracle. A God and a Grand Master of the Craft am I, and a Lodge in the Third Degree I will open, and we'll raise the head priests and the Chiefs of the villages.'

"'It's against all the law,' I says, 'holding a Lodge without warrant from any one; and you know we never held office in any Lodge.'

"'It's a master stroke o' policy,' says Dravot. 'It means running the country as easy as a four-wheeled bogie on a down grade. We can't stop to inquire now, or they'll turn against us. I've forty Chiefs at my heel, and passed and raised according to their merit they shall be. Billet these men on the villages, and see that we run up a Lodge of some kind. The temple of Imbra will do for a Lodge-room. The women must make aprons as you show them. I'll hold a levee of Chiefs tonight and Lodge tomorrow.'

"I was fair run off my legs, but I wasn't such a fool as not to see what a pull this Craft business gave us. I showed the priests' families how to make aprons of the degrees, but for Dravot's apron the blue border and marks was made of turquoise lumps on white hide, not cloth. We took a great square stone in the temple for the Master's chair, and little stones for the officer's chairs, and painted the black pavement with white squares, and did what we could to make things regular.

"At the levee which was held that night on the hillside with big bonfires, Dravot gives out that him and me were Gods and sons of Alexander, and Passed Grand Masters in the Craft, and was come to make Kafiristan a country where every man should eat in peace and drink in quiet, and specially obey us. Then the Chiefs come round to shake hands, and they were so hairy and white and fair it was just shaking hands with old friends. We gave them names according as they was like men we had known in India—Billy Fish, Holly Dilworth, Pikky Kergan, that was Bazaar-master when I was at Mhow, and so on, and so on.

"The most amazing miracles was at Lodge next night. One of the old priests was watching us continuous, and I felt uneasy, for I knew we'd have to fudge the Ritual, and I didn't know what the men knew. The old priest was a stranger come in from beyond the village of Bashkai. The minute Dravot puts on the Master's apron that the girls had made for him, the priest fetches a whoop and a howl, and tries to overturn the stone that Dravot was sitting on. 'It's all up now,' I says. 'That comes of meddling with the Craft without warrant!' Dravot never winked an eye, not when ten priests took and tilted over the Grand Master's chair—which was to say, the stone of Imbra. The priest begins rubbing the bottom end of it to clear away the black dirt, and presently he shows all the other priests the Master's Mark, same as was on Dravot's apron, cut into the stone. Not even the priests of the temple of Imbra knew it was there. The old chap falls flat on his face at Dravot's feet and kisses 'em. 'Luck again,' says Dravot, across the Lodge, to me; 'they say it's the missing Mark that no one could understand the why of.

"'We're more than safe now.' Then he bangs the butt of his gun for a gavel and says, 'By virtue of the authority vested in me by my own right hand and the help of Peachey, I declare myself Grand Master of all Freemasonry in Kafiristan in this the Mother Lodge o' the country, and King of Kafiristan equally with Peachey!' At that he puts on his crown and I puts on mine,—I was doing Senior Warden,—and we opens the Lodge in most ample form. It was an amazing miracle! The priests moved in Lodge through the first two degrees almost without telling, as if the memory was coming back to them. After that Peachey and Dravot raised such as was worthy—high priests and Chiefs of far-off villages. Billy Fish was the first, and I can tell you we scared the soul out of him. It was not in any way according to Ritual, but it served our turn. We didn't raise more than ten of the biggest men, because we didn't want to make the Degree common. And they was clamouring to be raised.

"'In another six months,' says Dravot, 'we'll hold another Communication and see how you are working.' Then he asks them about their villages, and learns that they was fighting one against the other, and were sick and tired of it. And when they wasn't doing that they was fighting with the Mohammedans. 'You can fight those when they come into our country,' says Dravot. 'Tell off every tenth man of your tribes for a Frontier guard, and send two hundred at a time to this valley to be drilled. Nobody is going to be shot or speared any more so long as he does well, and I know that you won't cheat me, because you're white people—sons of Alexander—and not like common black Mohammedans. You are my people, and, by God,' says he, running off into English at the end, 'I'll make a damned fine Nation of you, or I'll die in the making!'

"I can't tell all we did for the next six months, because Dravot did a lot I couldn't see the hang of, and he learned their lingo in a way I never could. My work was to help the people plough, and now and again go out with some of the Army and see what the other villages were doing, and make 'em throw rope bridges across the ravines which cut up the country horrid. Dravot was very kind to me, but when he walked up and down in the pine wood pulling that bloody red beard of his with both fists I knew he was thinking plans I could not advise about, and I just waited for orders.

"But Dravot never showed me disrespect before the people. They were afraid of me and the Army, but they loved Dan. He was the best of friends with the priests and the Chiefs; but any one could come across the hills with a complaint, and Dravot would hear him out fair, and call four priests together and say what was to be done.

"He used to call in Billy Fish from Bashkai, and Pikky Kergan from Shu, and an old Chief we called Kafuzelum,—it was like enough to his real name,—and hold councils with 'em when there was any fighting to be done in small villages. That was his Council of War, and the four priests of Bashkai, Shu, Khawak, and Madora was his Privy Council. Between the lot of 'em they sent me, with forty men and twenty rifles, and sixty men carrying turquoises, into the Ghorband country to buy those hand-made Martini rifles, that come out of the Amir's workshops at Kabul, from one of the Amir's Herati regiments that would have sold the very teeth out of their mouths for turquoises.

"I stayed in Ghorband a month, and gave the Governor there the pick of my baskets for hush-money, and bribed the Colonel of the regiment some more, and, between the two and the tribes-people, we got more than a hundred hand-made Martinis, a hundred good Kohat Jezails that'll throw to six hundred yards, and forty man—loads of very bad ammunition for the rifles. I came back with what I had, and distributed 'em among the men that the Chiefs sent in to me to drill. Dravot was too busy to attend to those things, but the old Army that we first made helped me, and we turned out five hundred men that could drill, and two hundred that knew how to hold arms pretty straight. Even those cork-screwed, hand-made guns was a miracle to them. Dravot talked big about powder-shops and factories, walking up and down in the pine wood when the winter was coming on.

"'I won't make a Nation,' says he. 'I'll make an Empire! These men aren't niggers; they're English! Look at their eyes—look at their mouths. Look at the way they stand up. They sit on chairs in their own houses. They're the Lost Tribes, or something like it, and they've grown to be English. I'll take a census in the spring if the priests don't get frightened. There must be a fair two million of 'em in these hills. The villages are full o' little children. Two million people—two hundred and fifty thousand fighting men—and all English! They only want the rifles and a little drilling. Two hundred and fifty thousand men, ready to cut in on Russia's right flank when she tries for India! Peachey, man,' he says, chewing his beard in great hunks, 'we shall be Emperors—Emperors of the Earth! Rajah Brooke will be a suckling to us. I'll treat with the Viceroy on equal terms. I'll ask him to send me twelve picked English—twelve that I know of—to help us govern a bit. There's Mackray, Serjeant Pensioner at Segowli—many's the good dinner he's given me, and his wife a pair of trousers. There's Donkin, the Warder of Tounghoo Jail; there's hundreds that I could lay my hand on if I was in India. The Viceroy shall do it for me; I'll send a man through in the spring for those men, and I'll write for a dispensation from the Grand Lodge for what I've done as Grand Master. That—and all the Sniders that'll be thrown out when the native troops in India take up the Martini. They'll be worn smooth, but they'll do for fighting in these hills. Twelve English, a hundred thousand Sniders run through the Amir's country in driblets,—I'd be content with twenty thousand in one year,—and we'd be an Empire.

"When everything was shipshape I'd hand over the crown—this crown I'm wearing now—to Queen Victoria on my knees, and she'd say, 'Rise up, Sir Daniel Dravot.' Oh, it's big! It's big, I tell you! But there's so much to be done in every place—Bashkai, Khawak, Shu, and everywhere else.

"'What is it?' I says. 'There are no more men coming in to be drilled this autumn. Look at those fat black clouds. They're bringing the snow.'

"'It isn't that,' says Daniel, putting his hand very hard on my shoulder; 'and I don't wish to say anything that's against you, for no other living man would have followed me and made me what I am as you have done. You're a first-class Commander-in-Chief, and the people know you; but—it's a big country, and somehow you can't help me, Peachey, in the way I want to be helped.'

"'Go to your blasted priests, then!' I said, and I was sorry when I made that remark, but it did hurt me sore to find Daniel talking so superior, when I'd drilled all the men and done all he told me.

"'Don't let's quarrel, Peachey,' says Daniel, without cursing. 'You're a King too, and the half of this Kingdom is yours; but can't you see, Peachey, we want cleverer men than us now—three or four of 'em, that we can scatter about for our Deputies. It's a hugeous great State, and I can't always tell the right thing to do, and I haven't time for all I want to do, and here's the winter coming on and all.'

"He put half his beard into his mouth, all red like the gold of his crown.

"'I'm sorry, Daniel,' says I. 'I've done all I could. I've drilled the men and shown the people how to stack their oats better; and I've brought in those tinware rifles from Ghorband—but I know what you're driving at. I take it Kings always feel oppressed that way.'

"'There's another thing too,' says Dravot, walking up and down. 'The winter's coming, and these people won't be giving much trouble, and if they do we can't move about. I want a wife.'

"'For Gord's sake leave the women alone!' I says. 'We've both got all the work we can, though I am a fool. Remember the Contrack, and keep clear o' women.'"

"'The Contrack only lasted till such time as we was Kings; and Kings we have been these months past,' says Dravot, weighing his crown in his hand. 'You go get a wife too, Peachey—a nice, strappin', plump girl that'll keep you warm in the winter. They're prettier than English girls, and we can take the pick of 'em. Boil 'em once or twice in hot water, and they'll come out like chicken and ham.'

"'Don't tempt me!' I says. 'I will not have any dealings with a woman, not till we are a dam' side more settled than we are now. I've been doing the work o' two men, and you've been doing the work of three. Let's lie off a bit, and see if we can get some better tobacco from Afghan country and run in some good liquor; and no women.'"

"'Who's talking o' women?' says Dravot. 'I said wife—a Queen to breed a King's son for the King. A Queen out of the strongest tribe, that'll make them your blood-brothers, and that'll lie by your side and tell you all the people thinks about you and their own affairs. That's what I want.'

"'Do you remember that Bengali woman I kept at Mogul Serai when I was a plate-layer?' says I. 'A fat lot o' good she was to me. She taught me the lingo and one or two other things; but what happened? She ran away with the Station-master's servant and half my month's pay. Then she turned up at Dadur Junction in tow of a half-caste, and had the impidence to say I was her husband—all among the drivers in the running-shed too!'

"'We've done with that,' says Dravot; 'these women are whiter than you or me, and a Queen I will have for the winter months.'

"'For the last time o' asking, Dan, do not,' I says. 'It'll only bring us harm. The Bible says that Kings ain't to waste their strength on women, 'specially when they've got a new raw Kingdom to work over.'

"'For the last time of answering, I will,' said Dravot, and he went away through the pine trees looking like a big red devil, the sun being on his crown and beard and all.

"But getting a wife was not as easy as Dan thought. He put it before the Council, and there was no answer till Billy Fish said that he'd better ask the girls. Dravot damned them all round.

"'What's wrong with me?' he shouts, standing by the idol Imbra. 'Am I a dog, or am I not enough of a man for your wenches? Haven't I put the shadow of my hand over this country? Who stopped the last Afghan raid?' It was me really, but Dravot was too angry to remember. 'Who bought your guns? Who repaired the bridges? Who's the Grand Master of the sign cut in the stone?' says he, and he thumped his hand on the block that he used to sit on in Lodge, and at Council, which opened like Lodge always. Billy Fish said nothing, and no more did the others. 'Keep your hair on, Dan,' said I, 'and ask the girls. That's how it's done at Home, and these people are quite English.'

"'The marriage of the King is a matter of State,' says Dan, in a white-hot rage, for he could feel, I hope, that he was going against his better mind. He walked out of the Council-room, and the others sat still, looking at the ground.

"'Billy Fish,' says I to the Chief of Bashkai, 'what's the difficulty here? A straight answer to a true friend.'

"'You know,' says Billy Fish. 'How should a man tell you who knows everything? How can daughters of men marry Gods or Devils? It's not proper.'

"I remembered something like that in the Bible; but, if after seeing us as long as they had, they still believed we were Gods, it wasn't for me to undeceive them.

"'A God can do anything,' says I. 'If the King is fond of a girl he'll not let her die.' 'She'll have to,' said Billy Fish. 'There are all sorts of Gods and Devils in these mountains, and now and again a girl marries one of them and isn't seen any more. Besides, you two know the Mark cut in the stone. Only the Gods know that. We thought you were men till you showed the sign of the Master.'

"I wished then that we had explained about the loss of the genuine secrets of a Master Mason at the first go-off; but I said nothing. All that night there was a blowing of horns in a little dark temple half-way down the hill, and I heard the girl crying fit to die. One of the priests told us that she was being prepared to marry the King.

"'I'll have no nonsense of that kind,' says Dan. 'I don't want to interfere with your customs, but I'll take my own wife.' 'The girl's a little bit afraid,' says the priest. 'She thinks she's going to die, and they are a-heartening of her up down in the temple.'

"'Hearten her very tender, then,' says Dravot, 'or I'll hearten you with the butt of a gun so you'll never want to be heartened again.'

"He licked his lips, did Dan, and stayed up walking about more than half the night, thinking of the wife that he was going to get in the morning. I wasn't any means comfortable, for I knew that dealings with a woman in foreign parts, though you was a crowned King twenty times over, could not but be risky. I got up very early in the morning while Dravot was asleep, and I saw the priests talking together in whispers, and the Chiefs talking together too, and they looked at me out of the corners of their eyes.

"'What is up, Fish?' I say to the Bashkai man, who was wrapped up in his furs and looking splendid to behold.

"'I can't rightly say,' says he; 'but if you can make the King drop all this nonsense about marriage, you'll be doing him and me and yourself a great service.'

"'That I do believe,' says I. 'But sure, you know, Billy, as well as me, having fought against and for us, that the King and me are nothing more than two of the finest men that God Almighty ever made. Nothing more, I do assure you.'

"'That may be,' says Billy Fish, 'and yet I should be sorry if it was.' He sinks his head upon his great fur cloak for a minute and thinks. 'King,' says he, 'be you man or God or Devil, I'll stick by you today. I have twenty of my men with me, and they will follow me. We'll go to Bashkai until the storm blows over.'

"A little snow had fallen in the night, and everything was white except the greasy fat clouds that blew down and down from the north. Dravot came out with his crown on his head, swinging his arms and stamping his feet, and looking more pleased than Punch.

"'For the last time, drop it, Dan,' says I, in a whisper; 'Billy Fish here says that there will be a row.'

"'A row among my people!' says Dravot. 'Not much. Peachey, you're a fool not to get a wife too. Where's the girl?' says he, with a voice as loud as the braying of a jackass. 'Call up all the Chiefs and priests, and let the Emperor see if his wife suits him.'

"There was no need to call any one. They were all there leaning on their guns and spears round the clearing in the centre of the pine wood. A lot of priests went down to the little temple to bring up the girl, and the horns blew fit to wake the dead. Billy Fish saunters round and gets as close to Daniel as he could, and behind him stood his twenty men with matchlocks—not a man of them under six feet. I was next to Dravot, and behind me was twenty men of the regular Army. Up comes the girl, and a strapping wench she was, covered with silver and turquoises, but white as death, and looking back every minute at the priests.

"'She'll do,' said Dan, looking her over. 'What's to be afraid of, lass? Come and kiss me.' He puts his arm round her. She shuts her eyes, gives a bit of a squeak, and down goes her face in the side of Dan's flaming-red beard.

"'The slut's bitten me!' says he, clapping his hand to his neck, and, sure enough, his hand was red with blood. Billy Fish and two of his matchlock men catches hold of Dan by the shoulders and drags him into the Bashkai lot, while the priests howls in their lingo, 'Neither God nor Devil, but a man!' I was all taken aback, for a priest cut at me in front, and the Army behind began firing into the Bashkai men.

"'God A'mighty!' says Dan, 'what is the meaning o' this?'

"'Come back! Come away!' says Billy Fish. 'Ruin and Mutiny is the matter. We'll break for Bashkai if we can.'

"I tried to give some sort of orders to my men,—the men o' the regular Army,—but it was no use, so I fired into the brown of 'em with an English Martini and drilled three beggars in a line. The valley was full of shouting, howling creatures, and every soul was shrieking, 'Not a God nor a Devil, but only a man!' The Bashkai troops stuck to Billy Fish all they were worth, but their matchlocks wasn't half as good as the Kabul breech-loaders, and four of them dropped. Dan was bellowing like a bull, for he was very wrathy; and Billy Fish had a hard job to prevent him running out at the crowd.

"'We can't stand,' says Billy Fish. 'Make a run for it down the valley! The whole place is against us.' The matchlock-men ran, and we went down the valley in spite of Dravot. He was swearing horrible and crying out that he was a King. The priests rolled great stones on us, and the regular Army fired hard, and there wasn't more than six men, not counting Dan, Billy Fish, and Me, that came down to the bottom of the valley alive.

"Then they stopped firing, and the horns in the temple blew again.

"'Come away—for Gord's sake come away!' says Billy Fish. 'They'll send runners out to all the villages before ever we get to Bashkai. I can protect you there, but I can't do anything now."

"My own notion is that Dan began to go mad in his head from that hour. He stared up and down like a stuck pig. Then he was all for walking back alone and killing the priests with his bare hands; which he could have done. 'An Emperor am I,' says Daniel, 'and next year I shall be a Knight of the Queen.'

"'All right, Dan,' says I; 'but come along now while there's time.'

"'It's your fault,' says he, 'for not looking after your Army better. There was mutiny in the midst, and you didn't know—you damned engine-driving, plate-laying, missionary's-pass-hunting hound!' He sat upon a rock and called me every foul name he could lay tongue to. I was too heart-sick to care, though it was all his foolishness that brought the smash.

"'I'm sorry, Dan,' says I, 'but there's no accounting for natives. This business is our Fifty-seven. Maybe we'll make something out of it yet, when we've got to Bashkai.'

"'Let's get to Bashkai, then,' says Dan, 'and, by God, when I come back here again I'll sweep the valley so there isn't a bug in a blanket left!'

"We walked all that day, and all that night Dan was stumping up and down on the snow, chewing his beard and muttering to himself.

"'There's no hope o' getting clear,' said Billy Fish. 'The priests have sent runners to the villages to say that you are only men. Why didn't you stick on as Gods till things was more settled? I'm a dead man,' says Billy Fish, and he throws himself down on the snow and begins to pray to his Gods.

"Next morning we was in a cruel bad country—all up and down, no level ground at all, and no food, either. The six Bashkai men looked at Billy Fish hungry-way as if they wanted to ask something, but they never said a word. At noon we came to the top of a flat mountain all covered with snow, and when we climbed up into it, behold, there was an Army in position waiting in the middle!

"'The runners have been very quick,' says Billy Fish, with a little bit of a laugh. 'They are waiting for us.'

"Three or four men began to fire from the enemy's side, and a chance shot took Daniel in the calf of the leg. That brought him to his senses. He looks across the snow at the Army, and sees the rifles that we had brought into the country.

"'We're done for,' says he. 'They are Englishmen, these people,—and it's my blasted nonsense that has brought you to this. Get back, Billy Fish, and take your men away; you've done what you could, and now cut for it. Carnehan,' says he, 'shake hands with me and go along with Billy, Maybe they won't kill you. I'll go and meet 'em alone. It's me that did it! Me, the King!'

"'Go!' says I. 'Go to Hell, Dan! I'm with you here. Billy Fish, you clear out, and we two will meet those folk.'

"'I'm a Chief,' says Billy Fish, quite quiet. 'I stay with you. My men can go.'

"The Bashkai fellows didn't wait for a second word, but ran off, and Dan and Me and Billy Fish walked across to where the drums were drumming and the horns were horning. It was cold—awful cold. I've got that cold in the back of my head now. There's a lump of it there."

The punka-coolies had gone to sleep. Two kerosene lamps were blazing in the office, and the perspiration poured down my face and splashed on the blotter as I leaned forward. Carnehan was shivering, and I feared that his mind might go. I wiped my face, took a fresh grip of the piteously mangled hands, and said, "What happened after that?"

The momentary shift of my eyes had broken the clear current.

"What was you pleased to say?" whined Carnehan. "They took them without any sound. Not a little whisper all along the snow, not though the King knocked down the first man that set hand on him—not though old Peachey fired his last cartridge into the brown of 'em. Not a single solitary sound did those swines make. They just closed up tight, and I tell you their furs stunk. There was a man called Billy Fish, a good friend of us all, and they cut his throat, Sir, then and there, like a pig; and the King kicks up the bloody snow and says, 'We've had a dashed fine run for our money. What's coming next?' But Peachey, Peachey Taliaferro, I tell you, Sir, in confidence as betwixt two friends, he lost his head, Sir. No, he didn't, neither. The King lost his head, so he did, all along o' one of those cunning rope bridges. Kindly let me have the paper-cutter, Sir. It tilted this way. They marched him a mile across that snow to a rope bridge over a ravine with a river at the bottom. You may have seen such. They prodded him behind like an ox. 'Damn your eyes!' says the King. 'D' you suppose I can't die like a gentleman?'

"He turns to Peachey—Peachey that was crying like a child. 'I've brought you to this, Peachey,' says he. 'Brought you out of your happy life to be killed in Kafiristan, where you was late Commander-in-Chief of the Emperor's forces. Say you forgive me, Peachey.' 'I do,' says Peachey. 'Fully and freely do I forgive you, Dan.' 'Shake hands, Peachey,' says he. 'I'm going now.' Out he goes, looking neither right nor left, and when he was plumb in the middle of those dizzy dancing ropes, 'Cut you beggars,' he shouts; and they cut, and old Dan fell, turning round and round and round, twenty thousand miles, for he took half an hour to fall till he struck the water, and I could see his body caught on a rock with the gold crown close beside.

"But do you know what they did to Peachey between two pine trees? They crucified him, Sir, as Peachey's hand will show. They used wooden pegs for his hands and feet; but he didn't die. He hung there and screamed, and they took him down next day, and said it was a miracle that he wasn't dead. They took him down—poor old Peachey that hadn't done them any harm—that hadn't done them any—"

He rocked to and fro and wept bitterly, wiping his eyes with the back of his scarred hands and moaning like a child for some ten minutes.

"They was cruel enough to feed him up in the temple, because they said he was more of a God than old Daniel that was a man. Then they turned him out on the snow, and told him to go home, and Peachey came home in about a year, begging along the roads quite safe; for Daniel Dravot he walked before and said, 'Come along, Peachey. It's a big thing we're doing.' The mountains they danced at night, and the mountains they tried to fall on Peachey's head, but Dan he held up his hand, and Peachey came along bent double. He never let go of Dan's hand, and he never let go of Dan's head. They gave it to him as a present in the temple, to remind him not to come again; and though the crown was pure gold and Peachey was starving, never would Peachey sell the same. You know Dravot, Sir! You knew Right Worshipful Brother Dravot! Look at him now!"

He fumbled in the mass of rags round his bent waist; brought out a black horsehair bag embroidered with silver thread; and shook therefrom on to my table—the dried, withered head of Daniel Dravot! The morning sun, that had long been paling the lamps, struck the red beard and blind sunken eyes; struck, too, a heavy circlet of gold studded with raw turquoises, that Carnehan placed tenderly on the battered temples.

"You be'old now," said Carnehan, "the Emperor in his 'abit as he lived—the King of Kafiristan with his crown upon his head. Poor old Daniel that was a monarch once!"

I shuddered, for, in spite of defacements manifold, I recognised the head of the man of Marwar Junction. Carnehan rose to go. I attempted to stop him. He was not fit to walk abroad. "Let me take away the whisky, and give me a little money," he gasped. "I was a King once. I'll go to the Deputy Commissioner and ask to set in the Poorhouse till I get my health. No, thank you, I can't wait till you get a carriage for me. I've urgent private affairs—in the south—at Marwar."

He shambled out of the office and departed in the direction of the Deputy Commissioner's house. That day at noon I had occasion to go down the blinding-hot Mall, and I saw a crooked man crawling along the white dust of the roadside, his hat in his hand, quavering dolorously after the fashion of street-singers at Home. There was not a soul in sight, and he was out of all possible earshot of the houses. And he sang through his nose, turning his head from right to left:

    "The Son of Man goes forth to war,
    A golden crown to gain;
    His blood-red banner streams afar—
    Who follows in His train?"

I waited to hear no more, but put the poor wretch into my carriage and drove him off to the nearest missionary for eventual transfer to the Asylum. He repeated the hymn twice while he was with me, whom he did not in the least recognise, and I left him singing it to the missionary.

Two days later I inquired after his welfare of the Superintendent of the Asylum.

"He was admitted suffering from sunstroke. He died early yesterday morning," said the Superintendent. "Is it true that he was half an hour bareheaded in the sun at midday?"

"Yes," said I; "but do you happen to know if he had anything upon him by any chance when he died?"

"Not to my knowledge," said the Superintendent.

And there the matter rests.






"THE FINEST STORY IN THE WORLD"

  "O' ever the knightly years were gone
  With the old world to the grave,
  I was a king in Babylon
  And you were a Christian slave."
                —W. E. Henley.

His name was Charlie Mears; he was the only son of his mother who was a widow, and he lived in the north of London, coming into the City every day to work in a bank. He was twenty years old and suffered from aspirations. I met him in a public billiard-saloon where the marker called him by his given name, and he called the marker "Bulls-eyes." Charley explained, a little nervously, that he had only come to the place to look on, and since looking on at games of skill is not a cheap amusement for the young, I suggested that Charlie should go back to his mother.

That was our first step toward better acquaintance. He would call on me sometimes in the evenings instead of running about London with his fellow-clerks; and before long, speaking of himself as a young man must, he told me of his aspirations, which were all literary. He desired to make himself an undying name chiefly through verse, though he was not above sending stories of love and death to the drop-a-penny-in-the-slot journals. It was my fate to sit still while Charlie read me poems of many hundred lines, and bulky fragments of plays that would surely shake the world. My reward was his unreserved confidence, and the self-revelations and troubles of a young man are almost as holy as those of a maiden.

Charlie had never fallen in love, but was anxious to do so on the first opportunity; he believed in all things good and all things honorable, but, at the same time, was curiously careful to let me see that he knew his way about the world as befitted a bank clerk on twenty-five shillings a week. He rhymed "dove" with "love" and "moon" with "June," and devoutly believed that they had never so been rhymed before. The long lame gaps in his plays he filled up with hasty words of apology and description and swept on, seeing all that he intended to do so clearly that he esteemed it already done, and turned to me for applause.

I fancy that his mother did not encourage his aspirations, and I know that his writing-table at home was the edge of his washstand. This he told me almost at the outset of our acquaintance; when he was ravaging my bookshelves, and a little before I was implored to speak the truth as to his chances of "writing something really great, you know." Maybe I encouraged him too much, for, one night, he called on me, his eyes flaming with excitement, and said breathlessly:

"Do you mind—can you let me stay here and write all this evening? I won't interrupt you, I won't really. There's no place for me to write in at my mother's."

"What's the trouble?" I said, knowing well what that trouble was.

"I've a notion in my head that would make the most splendid story that was ever written. Do let me write it out here. It's such a notion!"

There was no resisting the appeal. I set him a table; he hardly thanked me, but plunged into the work at once. For half an hour the pen scratched without stopping. Then Charlie sighed and tugged his hair. The scratching grew slower, there were more erasures, and at last ceased. The finest story in the world would not come forth.

"It looks such awful rot now" he said, mournfully. "And yet it seemed so good when I was thinking about it. What's wrong?"

I could not dishearten him by saying the truth. So I answered: "Perhaps you don't feel in the mood for writing."

"Yes I do—except when I look at this stuff. Ugh!"

"Read me what you've done," I said. He read, and it was wondrous bad and he paused at all the specially turgid sentences, expecting a little approval; for he was proud of those sentences, as I knew he would be.

"It needs compression," I suggested, cautiously.

"I hate cutting my things down. I don't think you could alter a word here without spoiling the sense. It reads better aloud than when I was writing it."

"Charlie, you're suffering from an alarming disease afflicting a numerous class. Put the thing by, and tackle it again in a week."

"I want to do it at once. What do you think of it?"

"How can I judge from a half-written tale? Tell me the story as it lies in your head."

Charlie told, and in the telling there was everything that his ignorance had so carefully prevented from escaping into the written word. I looked at him, and wondering whether it were possible, that he did not know the originality, the power of the notion that had come in his way? It was distinctly a Notion among notions. Men had been puffed up with pride by notions not a tithe as excellent and practicable. But Charlie babbled on serenely, interrupting the current of pure fancy with samples of horrible sentences that he purposed to use. I heard him out to the end. It would be folly to allow his idea to remain in his own inept hands, when I could do so much with it. Not all that could be done indeed; but, oh so much!

"What do you think?" he said, at last. "I fancy I shall call it 'The Story of a Ship.'"

"I think the idea's pretty good; but you won't Be able to handle it for ever so long. Now I—"

"Would it be of any use to you? Would you care to take it? I should be proud," said Charlie, promptly.

There are few things sweeter in this world than the guileless, hot-headed, intemperate, open admiration of a junior. Even a woman in her blindest devotion does not fall into the gait of the man she adores, tilt her bonnet to the angle at which he wears his hat, or interlard her speech with his pet oaths. And Charlie did all these things. Still it was necessary to salve my conscience before I possessed myself of Charlie's thoughts.

"Let's make a bargain. I'll give you a fiver for the notion," I said.

Charlie became a bank-clerk at once.

"Oh, that's impossible. Between two pals, you know, if I may call you so, and speaking as a man of the world, I couldn't. Take the notion if it's any use to you. I've heaps more."

He had—none knew this better than I—but they were the notions of other men.

"Look at it as a matter of business—between men of the world," I returned. "Five pounds will buy you any number of poetry-books. Business is business, and you may be sure I shouldn't give that price unless—"

"Oh, if you put it that way," said Charlie, visibly moved by the thought of the books. The bargain was clinched with an agreement that he should at unstated intervals come to me with all the notions that he possessed, should have a table of his own to write at, and unquestioned right to inflict upon me all his poems and fragments of poems. Then I said, "Now tell me how you came by this idea."

"It came by itself." Charlie's eyes opened a little.

"Yes, but you told me a great deal about the hero that you must have read before somewhere."

"I haven't any time for reading, except when you let me sit here, and on Sundays I'm on my bicycle or down the river all day. There's nothing wrong about the hero, is there?"

"Tell me again and I shall understand clearly. You say that your hero went pirating. How did he live?"

"He was on the lower deck of this ship-thing that I was telling you about."

"What sort of ship?"

"It was the kind rowed with oars, and the sea spurts through the oar-holes and the men row sitting up to their knees in water. Then there's a bench running down between the two lines of oars and an overseer with a whip walks up and down the bench to make the men work."

"How do you know that?"

"It's in the table. There's a rope running overhead, looped to the upper deck, for the overseer to catch hold of when the ship rolls. When the overseer misses the rope once and falls among the rowers, remember the hero laughs at him and gets licked for it. He's chained to his oar of course—the hero."

"How is he chained?"

"With an iron band round his waist fixed to the bench he sits on, and a sort of handcuff on his left wrist chaining him to the oar. He's on the lower deck where the worst men are sent, and the only light comes from the hatchways and through the oar-holes. Can't you imagine the sunlight just squeezing through between the handle and the hole and wobbling about as the ship moves?"

"I can, but I can't imagine your imagining it."

"How could it be any other way? Now you listen to me. The long oars on the upper deck are managed by four men to each bench, the lower ones by three, and the lowest of all by two. Remember it's quite dark on the lowest deck and all the men there go mad. When a man dies at his oar on that deck he isn't thrown overboard, but cut up in his chains and stuffed through the oar-hole in little pieces."

"Why?" I demanded, amazed, not so much at the information as the tone of command in which it was flung out.

"To save trouble and to frighten the others. It needs two overseers to drag a man's body up to the top deck; and if the men at the lower deck oars were left alone, of course they'd stop rowing and try to pull up the benches by all standing up together in their chains."

"You've a most provident imagination. Where have you been reading about galleys and galley-slaves?"

"Nowhere that I remember. I row a little when I get the chance. But, perhaps, if you say so, I may have read something."

He went away shortly afterward to deal with booksellers, and I wondered how a bank clerk aged twenty could put into my hands with a profligate abundance of detail, all given with absolute assurance, the story of extravagant and bloodthirsty adventure, riot, piracy, and death in unnamed seas. He had led his hero a desperate dance through revolt against the overseas, to command of a ship of his own, and ultimate establishment of a kingdom on an island "somewhere in the sea, you know"; and, delighted with my paltry five pounds, had gone out to buy the notions of other men, that these might teach him how to write. I had the consolation of knowing that this notion was mine by right of purchase, and I thought that I could make something of it.

When next he came to me he was drunk—royally drunk on many poets for the first time revealed to him. His pupils were dilated, his words tumbled over each other, and he wrapped himself in quotations. Most of all was he drunk with Longfellow.

"Isn't it splendid? Isn't it superb?" he cried, after hasty greetings.

"Listen to this—

"'Wouldst thou,' so the helmsman answered, 'Know the secret of the sea? Only those who brave its dangers Comprehend its mystery.'

"By gum!

"'Only those who brave its dangers Comprehend its mystery.'" he repeated twenty times, walking up and down the room and forgetting me. "But I can understand it too," he said to himself. "I don't know how to thank you for that fiver. And this; listen—

"'I remember the black wharves and the ships And the sea-tides tossing free, And the Spanish sailors with bearded lips, And the beauty and mystery of the ships, And the magic of the sea.'

"I haven't braved any dangers, but I feel as if I knew all about it."

"You certainly seem to have a grip of the sea. Have you ever seen it?"

"When I was a little chap I went to Brighton once; we used to live in Coventry, though, before we came to London. I never saw it.

"'When descends on the Atlantic The gigantic Storm-wind of the Equinox.'"

He shook me by the shoulder to make me understand the passion that was shaking himself.

"When that storm comes," he continued, "I think that all the oars in the ship that I was talking about get broken, and the rowers have their chests smashed in by the bucking oar-heads. By the way, have you done anything with that notion of mine yet?"

"No. I was waiting to hear more of it from you. Tell me how in the world you're so certain about the fittings of the ship. You know nothing of ships."

"I don't know. It's as real as anything to me until I try to write it down. I was thinking about it only last night in bed, after you had loaned me 'Treasure Island'; and I made up a whole lot of new things to go into the story."

"What sort of things?"

"About the food the men ate; rotten figs and black beans and wine in a skin bag, passed from bench to bench."

"Was the ship built so long ago as that?"

"As what? I don't know whether it was long ago or not. It's only a notion, but sometimes it seems just as real as if it was true. Do I bother you with talking about it?"

"Not in the least. Did you make up anything else?"

"Yes, but it's nonsense." Charlie flushed a little.

"Never mind; let's hear about it."

"Well, I was thinking over the story, and after awhile I got out of bed and wrote down on a piece of paper the sort of stuff the men might be supposed to scratch on their oars with the edges of their handcuffs. It seemed to make the thing more lifelike. It is so real to me, y'know."

"Have you the paper on you?"

"Ye-es, but what's the use of showing it? It's only a lot of scratches. All the same, we might have 'em reproduced in the book on the front page."

"I'll attend to those details. Show me what your men wrote."

He pulled out of his pocket a sheet of note-paper, with a single line of scratches upon it, and I put this carefully away.

"What is it supposed to mean in English?" I said.

"Oh, I don't know. Perhaps it means 'I'm beastly tired.' It's great nonsense," he repeated, "but all those men in the ship seem as real people to me. Do do something to the notion soon; I should like to see it written and printed."

"But all you've told me would make a long book."

"Make it then. You've only to sit down and write it out."

"Give me a little time. Have you any more notions?"

"Not just now. I'm reading all the books I've bought. They're splendid."

When he had left I looked at the sheet of note-paper with the inscription upon it. Then I took my head tenderly between both hands, to make certain that it was not coming off or turning round.

Then—but there seemed to be no interval between quitting my rooms and finding myself arguing with a policeman outside a door marked Private in a corridor of the British Museum. All I demanded, as politely as possible, was "the Greek antiquity man." The policeman knew nothing except the rules of the Museum, and it became necessary to forage through all the houses and offices inside the gates. An elderly gentleman called away from his lunch put an end to my search by holding the note-paper between finger and thumb and sniffing at it scornfully.

"What does this mean? H'mm," said he. "So far as I can ascertain it is an attempt to write extremely corrupt Greek on the part"—here he glared at me with intention—"of an extremely illiterate—ah—person." He read slowly from the paper, "Pollock, Erckman, Tauchnitz, Henniker"—four names familiar to me.

"Can you tell me what the corruption is supposed to mean—the gist of the thing?" I asked.

"'I have been—many times—overcome with weariness in this particular employment. That is the meaning.'" He returned me the paper, and I fled without a word of thanks, explanation, or apology.

I might have been excused for forgetting much. To me of all men had been given the chance to write the most marvelous tale in the world, nothing less than the story of a Greek galley-slave, as told by himself. Small wonder that his dreaming had seemed real to Charlie. The Fates that are so careful to shut the doors of each successive life behind us had, in this case, been neglectful, and Charlie was looking, though that he did not know, where never man had been permitted to look with full knowledge since Time began. Above all he was absolutely ignorant of the knowledge sold to me for five pounds; and he would retain that ignorance, for bank-clerks do not understand metempsychosis, and a sound commercial education does not include Greek. He would supply me—here I capered among the dumb gods of Egypt and laughed in their battered faces—with material to make my tale sure—so sure that the world would hail it as an impudent and vamped fiction. And I—I alone would know that it was absolutely and literally true. I alone held this jewel to my hand for the cutting and polishing.

Therefore I danced again among the gods till a policeman saw me and took steps in my direction.

It remained now only to encourage Charlie to talk, and here there was no difficulty. But I had forgotten those accursed books of poetry. He came to me time after time, as useless as a surcharged phonograph—drunk on Byron, Shelley, or Keats. Knowing now what the boy had been in his past lives, and desperately anxious not to lose one word of his babble, I could not hide from him my respect and interest. He misconstrued both into respect for the present soul of Charlie Mears, to whom life was as new as it was to Adam, and interest in his readings; and stretched my patience to breaking point by reciting poetry—not his own now, but that of others. I wished every English poet blotted out of the memory of mankind. I blasphemed the mightiest names of song because they had drawn Charlie from the path of direct narrative, and would, later, spur him to imitate them; but I choked down my impatience until the first flood of enthusiasm should have spent itself and the boy returned to his dreams.

"What's the use of my telling you what I think, when these chaps wrote things for the angels to read?" he growled, one evening. "Why don't you write something like theirs?"

"I don't think you're treating me quite fairly," I said, speaking under strong restraint.

"I've given you the story," he said, shortly replunging into "Lara."

"But I want the details."

"The things I make up about that damned ship that you call a galley? They're quite easy. You can just make 'em up yourself. Turn up the gas a little, I want to go on reading."

I could have broken the gas globe over his head for his amazing stupidity. I could indeed make up things for myself did I only know what Charlie did not know that he knew. But since the doors were shut behind me I could only wait his youthful pleasure and strive to keep him in good temper. One minute's want of guard might spoil a priceless revelation: now and again he would toss his books aside—he kept them in my rooms, for his mother would have been shocked at the waste of good money had she seen them—and launched into his sea dreams. Again I cursed all the poets of England. The plastic mind of the bank-clerk had been overlaid, colored and distorted by that which he had read, and the result as delivered was a confused tangle of other voices most like the muttered song through a City telephone in the busiest part of the day.

He talked of the galley—his own galley had he but known it—with illustrations borrowed from the "Bride of Abydos." He pointed the experiences of his hero with quotations from "The Corsair," and threw in deep and desperate moral reflections from "Cain" and "Manfred," expecting me to use them all. Only when the talk turned on Longfellow were the jarring cross-currents dumb, and I knew that Charlie was speaking the truth as he remembered it.

"What do you think of this?" I said one evening, as soon as I understood the medium in which his memory worked best, and, before he could expostulate read him the whole of "The Saga of King Olaf!"

He listened open-mouthed, flushed his hands drumming on the back of the sofa where he lay, till I came to the Songs of Emar Tamberskelver and the verse:

"Emar then, the arrow taking From the loosened string, Answered: 'That was Norway breaking 'Neath thy hand, O King.'"

He gasped with pure delight of sound.

"That's better than Byron, a little," I ventured.

"Better? Why it's true! How could he have known?"

I went back and repeated:

    "'What was that?' said Olaf, standing
    On the quarter-deck,
    'Something heard I like the stranding
    Of a shattered wreck.'"

"How could he have known how the ships crash and the oars rip out and go z-zzp all along the line? Why only the other night—But go back please and read 'The Skerry of Shrieks' again."

"No, I'm tired. Let's talk. What happened the other night?"

"I had an awful nightmare about that galley of ours. I dreamed I was drowned in a fight. You see we ran alongside another ship in harbor. The water was dead still except where our oars whipped it up. You know where I always sit in the galley?" He spoke haltingly at first, under a fine English fear of being laughed at.

"No. That's news to me," I answered, meekly, my heart beginning to beat.

"On the fourth oar from the bow on the right side on the upper deck. There were four of us at the oar, all chained. I remember watching the water and trying to get my handcuffs off before the row began. Then we closed up on the other ship, and all their fighting men jumped over our bulwarks, and my bench broke and I was pinned down with the three other fellows on top of me, and the big oar jammed across our backs."

"Well?" Charlie's eyes were alive and alight. He was looking at the wall behind my chair.

"I don't know how we fought. The men were trampling all over my back, and I lay low. Then our rowers on the left side—tied to their oars, you know—began to yell and back water. I could hear the water sizzle, and we spun round like a cockchafer and I knew, lying where I was, that there was a galley coming up bow-on, to ram us on the left side. I could just lift up my head and see her sail over the bulwarks. We wanted to meet her bow to bow, but it was too late. We could only turn a little bit because the galley on our right had hooked herself on to us and stopped our moving. Then, by gum! there was a crash! Our left oars began to break as the other galley, the moving one y'know, stuck her nose into them. Then the lower-deck oars shot up through the deck-planking, butt first, and one of them jumped clean up into the air and came down again close to my head."

"How was that managed?"

"The moving galley's bow was plunking them back through their own oarholes, and I could hear the devil of a shindy in the decks below. Then her nose caught us nearly in the middle, and we tilted sideways, and the fellows in the right-hand galley unhitched their hooks and ropes, and threw things on to our upper deck—arrows, and hot pitch or something that stung, and we went up and up and up on the left side, and the right side dipped, and I twisted my head round and saw the water stand still as it topped the right bulwarks, and then it curled over and crashed down on the whole lot of us on the right side, and I felt it hit my back, and I woke."

"One minute, Charlie. When the sea topped the bulwarks, what did it look like?" I had my reasons for asking. A man of my acquaintance had once gone down with a leaking ship in a still sea, and had seen the water-level pause for an instant ere it fell on the deck.

"It looked just like a banjo-string drawn tight, and it seemed to stay there for years," said Charlie.

Exactly! The other man had said: "It looked like a silver wire laid down along the bulwarks, and I thought it was never going to break." He had paid everything except the bare life for this little valueless piece of knowledge, and I had traveled ten thousand weary miles to meet him and take his knowledge at second hand. But Charlie, the bank-clerk, on twenty-five shillings a week, he who had never been out of sight of a London omnibus, knew it all. It was no consolation to me that once in his lives he had been forced to die for his gains. I also must have died scores of times, but behind me, because I could have used my knowledge, the doors were shut.

"And then?" I said, trying to put away the devil of envy.

"The funny thing was, though, in all the mess I didn't feel a bit astonished or frightened. It seemed as if I'd been in a good many fights, because I told my next man so when the row began. But that cad of an overseer on my deck wouldn't unloose our chains and give us a chance. He always said that we'd all Be set free after a battle, but we never were; We never were." Charlie shook his head mournfully.

"What a scoundrel!"

"I should say he was. He never gave us enough to eat, and sometimes we were so thirsty that we used to drink salt-water. I can taste that salt-water still.''

"Now tell me something about the harbor where the fight was fought."

"I didn't dream about that. I know it was a harbor, though; because we were tied up to a ring on a white wall and all the face of the stone under water was covered with wood to prevent our ram getting chipped when the tide made us rock."

"That's curious. Our hero commanded the galley? Didn't he?"

"Didn't he just! He stood by the bows and shouted like a good 'un. He was the man who killed the overseer."

"But you were all drowned together, Charlie, weren't you?"

"I can't make that fit quite," he said with a puzzled look. "The galley must have gone down with all hands and yet I fancy that the hero went on living afterward. Perhaps he climbed into the attacking ship. I wouldn't see that, of course. I was dead, you know."

He shivered slightly and protested that he could remember no more.

I did not press him further, but to satisfy myself that he lay in ignorance of the workings of his own mind, deliberately introduced him to Mortimer Collins's "Transmigration," and gave him a sketch of the plot before he opened the pages.

"What rot it all is!" he said, frankly, at the end of an hour. "I don't understand his nonsense about the Red Planet Mars and the King, and the rest of it. Chuck me the Longfellow again."

I handed him the book and wrote out as much as I could remember of his description of the sea-fight, appealing to him from time to time for confirmation of fact or detail. He would answer without raising his eyes from the book, as assuredly as though all his knowledge lay before flint on the printed page. I spoke under the normal key of my voice that the current might not be broken, and I know that he was not aware of what he was saying, for his thoughts were out on the sea with Longfellow.

"Charlie," I asked, "when the rowers on the galleys mutinied how did they kill their overseers?"

"Tore up the benches and brained 'em. That happened when a heavy sea was running. An overseer on the lower deck slipped from the centre plank and fell among the rowers. They choked him to death against the side of the ship with their chained hands quite quietly, and it was too dark for the other overseer to see what had happened. When he asked, he was pulled down too and choked, and the lower deck fought their way up deck by deck, with the pieces of the broken benches banging behind 'em. How they howled!"

"And what happened after that?"

"I don't know. The hero went away—red hair and red beard and all. That was after he had captured our galley, I think."

The sound of my voice irritated him, and he motioned slightly with his left hand as a man does when interruption jars.

"You never told me he was redheaded before, or that he captured your galley," I said, after a discreet interval.

Charlie did not raise his eyes.

"He was as red as a red bear," said he, abstractedly. "He came from the north; they said so in the galley when he looked for rowers—not slaves, but free men. Afterward—years and years afterward—news came from another ship, or else he came back"—His lips moved in silence. He was rapturously retasting some poem before him.

"Where had he been, then?" I was almost whispering that the sentence might come gentle to whichever section of Charlie's brain was working on my behalf.

"To the Beaches—the Long and Wonderful Beaches!" was the reply, after a minute of silence.

"To Furdurstrandi?" I asked, tingling from head to foot.

"Yes, to Furdurstrandi," he pronounced the word in a new fashion "And I too saw"—The voice failed.

"Do you know what you have said?" I shouted, incautiously.

He lifted his eyes, fully roused now. "No!" he snapped. "I wish you'd let a chap go on reading. Hark to this:

"'But Othere, the old sea captain, He neither paused nor stirred Till the king listened, and then

   Once more took up his pen
   And wrote down every word.

   "'And to the King of the Saxons
   In witness of the truth,
   Raising his noble head,
   He stretched his brown hand and said,
   "Behold this walrus tooth."

"By Jove, what chaps those must have been, to go sailing all over the shop never knowing where they'd fetch the land! Hah!"

"Charlie," I pleaded, "if you'll only be sensible for a minute or two I'll make our hero in our tale every inch as good as Othere."

"Umph! Longfellow wrote that poem. I don't care about writing things any more. I want to read." He was thoroughly out of tune now, and raging over my own ill-luck, I left him.

Conceive yourself at the door of the world's treasure-house guarded by a child—an idle irresponsible child playing knuckle-bones—on whose favor depends the gift of the key, and you will imagine one-half my torment. Till that evening Charlie had spoken nothing that might not lie within the experiences of a Greek galley-slave. But now, or there was no virtue in books, he had talked of some desperate adventure of the Vikings, of Thorfin Karlsefne's sailing to Wineland, which is America, in the ninth or tenth century. The battle in the harbor he had seen; and his own death he had described. But this was a much more startling plunge into the past. Was it possible that he had skipped half a dozen lives and was then dimly remembering some episode of a thousand years later? It was a maddening jumble, and the worst of it was that Charlie Mears in his normal condition was the last person in the world to clear it up. I could only wait and watch, but I went to bed that night full of the wildest imaginings. There was nothing that was not possible if Charlie's detestable memory only held good.

I might rewrite the Saga of Thorfin Karlsefne as it had never been written before, might tell the story of the first discovery of America, myself the discoverer. But I was entirely at Charlie's mercy, and so long as there was a three-and-six-penny Bohn volume within his reach Charlie would not tell. I dared not curse him openly; I hardly dared jog his memory, for I was dealing with the experiences of a thousand years ago, told through the mouth of a boy of today; and a boy of today is affected by every change of tone and gust of opinion, so that he lies even when he desires to speak the truth.

I saw no more of him for nearly a week. When next I met him it was in Gracechurch Street with a billbook chained to his waist.

Business took him over London Bridge and I accompanied him. He was very full of the importance of that book and magnified it.

As we passed over the Thames we paused to look at a steamer unloading great slabs of white and brown marble. A barge drifted under the steamer's stern and a lonely cow in that barge bellowed.

Charlie's face changed from the face of the bank-clerk to that of an unknown and—though he would not have believed this—a much shrewder man. He flung out his arm across the parapet of the bridge, and laughing very loudly, said: "When they heard our bulls bellow the Skroelings ran away!"

I waited only for an instant, but the barge and the cow had disappeared under the bows of the steamer before I answered.

"Charlie, what do you suppose are Skroelings?"

"Never heard of 'em before. They sound like a new kind of seagull. What a chap you are for asking questions!" he replied. "I have to go to the cashier of the Omnibus Company yonder. Will you wait for me and we can lunch somewhere together? I've a notion for a poem."

"No, thanks. I'm off. You're sure you know nothing about Skroelings?"

"Not unless he's been entered for the Liverpool Handicap." He nodded and disappeared in the crowd.

Now it is written in the Saga of Eric the Red or that of Thorfin Karlsefne, that nine hundred years ago when Karlsefne's galleys came to Leif's booths, which Leif had erected in the unknown land called Markland, which may or may not have been Rhode Island, the Skroelings—and the Lord He knows who these may or may not have been—came to trade with the Vikings, and ran away because they were frightened at the bellowing of the cattle which Thorfin had brought with him in the ships. But what in the world could a Greek slave know of that affair? I wandered up and down among the streets trying to unravel the mystery, and the more I considered it, the more baffling it grew. One thing only seemed certain and that certainty took away my breath for the moment. If I came to full knowledge of anything at all, it would not be one life of the soul in Charlie Mears's body, but half a dozen—half a dozen several and separate existences spent on blue water in the morning of the world!

Then I walked round the situation.

Obviously if I used my knowledge I should stand alone and unapproachable until all men were as wise as myself. That would be something, but manlike I was ungrateful. It seemed bitterly unfair that Charlie's memory should fail me when I needed it most.

Great Powers above—I looked up at them through the fog smoke—did the Lords of Life and Death know what this meant to me? Nothing less than eternal fame of the best kind; that comes from One, and is shared by one alone. I would be content—remembering Clive, I stood astounded at my own moderation,—with the mere right to tell one story, to work out one little contribution to the light literature of the day. If Charlie were permitted full recollection for one hour—for sixty short minutes—of existences that had extended over a thousand years—I would forego all profit and honor from all that I should make of his speech. I would take no share in the commotion that would follow throughout the particular corner of the earth that calls itself "the world." The thing should be put forth anonymously. Nay, I would make other men believe that they had written it. They would hire bull-hided self-advertising Englishmen to bellow it abroad. Preachers would found a fresh conduct of life upon it, swearing that it was new and that they had lifted the fear of death from all mankind. Every Orientalist in Europe would patronize it discursively with Sanskrit and Pali texts. Terrible women would invent unclean variants of the men's belief for the elevation of their sisters. Churches and religions would war over it. Between the hailing and re-starting of an omnibus I foresaw the scuffles that would arise among half a dozen denominations all professing "the doctrine of the True Metempsychosis as applied to the world and the New Era"; and saw, too, the respectable English newspapers shying, like frightened kine, over the beautiful simplicity of the tale. The mind leaped forward a hundred—two hundred—a thousand years. I saw with sorrow that men would mutilate and garble the story; that rival creeds would turn it upside down till, at last, the western world which clings to the dread of death more closely than the hope of life, would set it aside as an interesting superstition and stampede after some faith so long forgotten that it seemed altogether new. Upon this I changed the terms of the bargain that I would make with the Lords of Life and Death. Only let me know, let me write, the story with sure knowledge that I wrote the truth, and I would burn the manuscript as a solemn sacrifice. Five minutes after the last line was written I would destroy it all. But I must be allowed to write it with absolute certainty.

There was no answer. The flaming colors of an Aquarium poster caught my eye and I wondered whether it would be wise or prudent to lure Charlie into the hands of the professional mesmerist, and whether, if he were under his power, he would speak of his past lives. If he did, and if people believed him—but Charlie would be frightened and flustered, or made conceited by the interviews. In either case he would begin to lie, through fear or vanity. He was safest in my own hands.

"They are very funny fools, your English," said a voice at my elbow, and turning round I recognized a casual acquaintance, a young Bengali law student, called Grish Chunder, whose father had sent him to England to become civilized. The old man was a retired native official, and on an income of five pounds a month contrived to allow his son two hundred pounds a year, and the run of his teeth in a city where he could pretend to be the cadet of a royal house, and tell stories of the brutal Indian bureaucrats who ground the faces of the poor.

Grish Chunder was a young, fat, full-bodied Bengali dressed with scrupulous care in frock coat, tall hat, light trousers and tan gloves. But I had known him in the days when the brutal Indian Government paid for his university education, and he contributed cheap sedition to Sachi Durpan, and intrigued with the wives of his schoolmates.

"That is very funny and very foolish," he said, nodding at the poster. "I am going down to the Northbrook Club. Will you come too?"

I walked with him for some time. "You are not well," he said. "What is there in your mind? You do not talk."

"Grish Chunder, you've been too well educated to believe in a God, haven't you?"

"Oah, yes, here! But when I go home I must conciliate popular superstition, and make ceremonies of purification, and my women will anoint idols."

"And bang up tulsi and feast the purohit, and take you back into caste again and make a good khuttri of you again, you advanced social Free-thinker. And you'll eat desi food, and like it all, from the smell in the courtyard to the mustard oil over you."

"I shall very much like it," said Grish Chunder, unguardedly. "Once a Hindu—always a Hindu. But I like to know what the English think they know."

"I'll tell you something that one Englishman knows. It's an old tale to you."

I began to tell the story of Charlie in English, but Grish Chunder put a question in the vernacular, and the history went forward naturally in the tongue best suited for its telling. After all it could never have been told in English. Grish Chunder heard me, nodding from time to time, and then came up to my rooms where I finished the tale.

"Beshak," he said, philosophically. "Lekin darwaza band hai. (Without doubt, but the door is shut.) I have heard of this remembering of previous existences among my people. It is of course an old tale with us, but, to happen to an Englishman—a cow-fed Malechk—an outcast. By Jove, that is most peculiar!"

"Outcast yourself, Grish Chunder! You eat cow-beef every day. Let's think the thing over. The boy remembers his incarnations."

"Does he know that?" said Grish Chunder, quietly, swinging his legs as he sat on my table. He was speaking in English now.

"He does not know anything. Would I speak to you if he did? Go on!"

"There is no going on at all. If you tell that to your friends they will say you are mad and put it in the papers. Suppose, now, you prosecute for libel."

"Let's leave that out of the question entirely. Is there any chance of his being made to speak?"

"There is a chance. Oah, yess! But if he spoke it would mean that all this world would end now—instanto—fall down on your head. These things are not allowed, you know. As I said, the door is shut."

"Not a ghost of a chance?"

"How can there be? You are a Christian, and it is forbidden to eat, in your books, of the Tree of Life, or else you would never die. How shall you all fear death if you all know what your friend does not know that he knows? I am afraid to be kicked, but I am not afraid to die, because I know what I know. You are not afraid to be kicked, but you are afraid to die. If you were not, by God! you English would be all over the shop in an hour, upsetting the balances of power, and making commotions. It would not be good. But no fear. He will remember a little and a little less, and he will call it dreams. Then he will forget altogether. When I passed my First Arts Examination in Calcutta that was all in the cram-book on Wordsworth. Trailing clouds of glory, you know."

"This seems to be an exception to the rule."

"There are no exceptions to rules. Some are not so hard-looking as others, but they are all the same when you touch. If this friend of yours said so-and-so and so-and-so, indicating that he remembered all his lost lives, or one piece of a lost life, he would not be in the bank another hour. He would be what you called sack because he was mad, and they would send him to an asylum for lunatics. You can see that, my friend."

"Of course I can, but I wasn't thinking of him. His name need never appear in the story."

"Ah! I see. That story will never be written. You can try."

"I am going to."

"For your own credit and for the sake of money, of course?"

"No. For the sake of writing the story. On my honor that will be all."

"Even then there is no chance. You cannot play with the Gods. It is a very pretty story now. As they say, Let it go on that—I mean at that. Be quick; he will not last long."

"How do you mean?"

"What I say. He has never, so far, thought about a woman."

"Hasn't he though!" I remembered some of Charlie's confidences.

"I mean no woman has thought about him. When that comes; bushogya—all up' I know. There are millions of women here. Housemaids, for instance."

I winced at the thought of my story being ruined by a housemaid.

And yet nothing was more probable.

Grish Chunder grinned.

"Yes—also pretty girls—cousins of his house, and perhaps not of his house. One kiss that he gives back again and remembers will cure all this nonsense or else"—

"Or else what? Remember he does not know that he knows."

"I know that. Or else, if nothing happens he will become immersed in the trade and the financial speculations like the rest. It must be so. You can see that it must be so. But the woman will come first, I think."

There was a rap at the door, and Charlie charged in impetuously. He had been released from office, and by the look in his eyes I could see that he had come over for a long talk; most probably with poems in his pockets. Charlie's poems were very wearying, but sometimes they led him to talk about the galley.

Grish Chunder looked at him keenly for a minute.

"I beg your pardon," Charlie said, uneasily; "I didn't know you had any one with you."

"I am going," said Grish Chunder.

He drew me into the lobby as he departed.

"That is your man," he said, quickly. "I tell you he will never speak all you wish. That is rot—bosh. But he would be most good to make to see things. Suppose now we pretend that it was only play"—I had never seen Grish Chunder so excited—"and pour the ink-pool into his hand. Eh, what do you think? I tell you that he could see anything that a man could see. Let me get the ink and the camphor. He is a seer and he will tell us very many things."

"He may be all you say, but I'm not going to trust him to your Gods and devils."

"It will not hurt him. He will only feel a little stupid and dull when he wakes up. You have seen boys look into the ink-pool before."

"That is the reason why I am not going to see it any more. You'd better go, Grish Chunder."

He went, declaring far down the staircase that it was throwing away my only chance of looking into the future.

This left me unmoved, for I was concerned for the past, and no peering of hypnotized boys into mirrors and ink-pools would help me do that. But I recognized Grish Chunder's point of view and sympathized with it.

"What a big black brute that was!" said Charlie, when I returned to him. "Well, look here, I've just done a poem; dil it instead of playing dominoes after lunch. May I read it?"

"Let me read it to myself."

"Then you miss the proper expression. Besides, you always make my things sound as if the rhymes were all wrong."

"Read it aloud, then. You're like the rest of 'em."

Charlie mouthed me his poem, and it was not much worse than the average of his verses. He had been reading his book faithfully, but he was not pleased when I told him that I preferred my Longfellow undiluted with Charlie.

Then we began to go through the MS. line by line; Charlie parrying every objection and correction with: "Yes, that may be better, but you don't catch what I'm driving at."

Charlie was, in one way at least, very like one kind of poet.

There was a pencil scrawl at the back of the paper and "What's that?" I said.

"Oh that's not poetry 't all. It's some rot I wrote last night before I went to bed and it was too much bother to hunt for rhymes; so I made it a sort of a blank verse instead."

Here is Charlie's "blank verse":

"We pulled for you when the wind was against us and the sails were low.

"Will you never let us go?

"We ate bread and onions when you took towns or ran aboard quickly when you were beaten back by the foe,

"The captains walked up and down the deck in fair weather singing songs, but we were below,

"We fainted with our chins on the oars and you did not see that we were idle for we still swung to and fro.

"Will you never let us go?

"The salt made the oar handles like sharkskin; our knees were cut to the bone with salt cracks; our hair was stuck to our foreheads; and our lips were cut to our gums and you whipped us because we could not row.

"Will you never let us go?

"But in a little time we shall run out of the portholes as the water runs along the oarblade, and though you tell the others to row after us you will never catch us till you catch the oar-thresh and tie up the winds in the belly of the sail. Aho! "Will you never let us go?"

"H'm. What's oar-thresh, Charlie?"

"The water washed up by the oars. That's the sort of song they might sing in the galley, y'know. Aren't you ever going to finish that story and give me some of the profits?"

"It depends on yourself. If you had only told me more about your hero in the first instance it might have been finished by now. You're so hazy in your notions."

"I only want to give you the general notion of it—the knocking about from place to place and the fighting and all that. Can't you fill in the rest yourself? Make the hero save a girl on a pirate-galley and marry her or do something."

"You're a really helpful collaborator. I suppose the hero went through some few adventures before he married."

"Well then, make him a very artful card—a low sort of man—a sort of political man who went about making treaties and breaking them—a black-haired chap who hid behind the mast when the fighting began."

"But you said the other day that he was red-haired."

"I couldn't have. Make him black-haired of course. You've no imagination."

Seeing that I had just discovered the entire principles upon which the half-memory falsely called imagination is based, I felt entitled to laugh, but forbore, for the sake of the tale.

"You're right. You're the man with imagination. A black-haired chap in a decked ship," I said.

"No, an open ship—like a big boat."

This was maddening.

"Your ship has been built and designed, closed and decked in; you said so yourself," I protested.

"No, no, not that ship. That was open, or half decked because—By Jove you're right. You made me think of the hero as a red-haired chap. Of course if he were red, the ship would be an open one with painted sails."

Surely, I thought he would remember now that he had served in two galleys at least—in a three-decked Greek one under the black-haired "political man," and again in a Viking's open sea-serpent under the man "red as a red bear" who went to Markland. The devil prompted me to speak.

"Why, 'of course,' Charlie?" said I. "I don't know. Are you making fun of me?"

The current was broken for the time being. I took up a notebook and pretended to make many entries in it.

"It's a pleasure to work with an imaginative chap like yourself," I said after a pause. "The way that you've brought out the character of the hero is simply wonderful."

"Do you think so?" he answered, with a pleased flush. "I often tell myself that there's more in me than my—than people think."

"There's an enormous amount in you."

"Then, won't you let me send an essay on The Ways of Bank Clerks to Tit-Bits, and get the guinea prize?"

"That wasn't exactly what I meant, old fellow: perhaps it would be better to wait a little and go ahead with the galley-story."

"Ah, but I sha'n't get the credit of that. Tit-Bits would publish my name and address if I win. What are you grinning at? They would."

"I know it. Suppose you go for a walk. I want to look through my notes about our story."

Now this reprehensible youth who left me, a little hurt and put back, might for aught he or I knew have been one of the crew of the Argo—had been certainly slave or comrade to Thorfin Karlsefne. Therefore he was deeply interested in guinea competitions. Remembering what Grish Chunder had said I laughed aloud. The Lords of Life and Death would never allow Charlie Mears to speak with full knowledge of his pasts, and I must even piece out what he had told me with my own poor inventions while Charlie wrote of the ways of bank-clerks.

I got together and placed on one file all my notes; and the net result was not cheering. I read them a second time. There was nothing that might not have been compiled at second-hand from other people's books—except, perhaps, the story of the fight in the harbor. The adventures of a Viking bad been written many times before; the history of a Greek galley-slave was no new thing, and though I wrote both, who could challenge or confirm the accuracy of my details? I might as well tell a tale of two thousand years hence. The Lords of Life and Death were as cunning as Grish Chunder had hinted. They would allow nothing to escape that might trouble or make easy the minds of men. Though I was convinced of this, yet I could not leave the tale alone. Exaltation followed reaction, not once, but twenty times in the next few weeks. My moods varied with the March sunlight and flying clouds. By night or in the beauty of a spring morning I perceived that I could write that tale and shift continents thereby. In the wet, windy afternoons, I saw that the tale might indeed be written, but would be nothing more than a faked, false-varnished, sham-rusted piece of Wardour Street work at the end. Then I blessed Charlie in many ways—though it was no fault of his. He seemed to be busy with prize competitions, and I saw less and less of him as the weeks went by and the earth cracked and grew ripe to spring, and the buds swelled in their sheaths. He did not care to read or talk of what he had read, and there was a new ring of self-assertion in his voice. I hardly cared to remind him of the galley when we met; but Charlie alluded to it on every occasion, always as a story from which money was to be made.

"I think I deserve twenty-five per cent., don't I, at least," he said, with beautiful frankness. "I supplied all the ideas, didn't I?"

This greediness for silver was a new side in his nature. I assumed that it had been developed in the City, where Charlie was picking up the curious nasal drawl of the underbred City man.

"When the thing's done we'll talk about it. I can't make anything of it at present. Red-haired or black-haired hero are equally difficult."

He was sitting by the fire staring at the red coals. "I can't understand what you find so difficult. It's all as clean as mud to me," he replied. A jet of gas puffed out between the bars, took light and whistled softly. "Suppose we take the red-haired hero's adventures first, from the time that he came south to my galley and captured it and sailed to the Beaches."

I knew better now than to interrupt Charlie. I was out of reach of pen and paper, and dared not move to get them lest I should break the current. The gas-jet puffed and whinnied, Charlie's voice dropped almost to a whisper, and he told a tale of the sailing of an open galley to Furdurstrandi, of sunsets on the open sea, seen under the curve of the one sail evening after evening when the galley's beak was notched into the centre of the sinking disc, and "we sailed by that for we had no other guide," quoth Charlie. He spoke of a landing on an island and explorations in its woods, where the crew killed three men whom they found asleep under the pines. Their ghosts, Charlie said, followed the galley, swimming and choking in the water, and the crew cast lots and threw one of their number overboard as a sacrifice to the strange gods whom they had offended. Then they ate sea-weed when their provisions failed, and their legs swelled, and their leader, the red-haired man, killed two rowers who mutinied, and after a year spent among the woods they set sail for their own country, and a wind that never failed carried them back so safely that they all slept at night. This and much more Charlie told. Sometimes the voice fell so low that I could not catch the words, though every nerve was on the strain. He spoke of their leader, the red-haired man, as a pagan speaks of his God; for it was he who cheered them and slew them impartially as he thought best for their needs; and it was he who steered them for three days among floating ice, each floe crowded with strange beasts that "tried to sail with us," said Charlie, "and we beat them back with the handles of the oars."

The gas-jet went out, a burned coal gave way, and the fire settled down with a tiny crash to the bottom of the grate. Charlie ceased speaking, and I said no word.

"By Jove!" he said, at last, shaking his head. "I've been staring at the fire till I'm dizzy. What was I going to say?"

"Something about the galley."

"I remember now. It's 25 per cent. of the profits, isn't it?"

"It's anything you like when I've done the tale."

"I wanted to be sure of that. I must go now. I've, I've an appointment." And he left me.

Had my eyes not been held I might have known that that broken muttering over the fire was the swan-song of Charlie Mears. But I thought it the prelude to fuller revelation. At last and at last I should cheat the Lords of Life and Death!

When next Charlie came to me I received him with rapture. He was nervous and embarrassed, but his eyes were very full of light, and his lips a little parted.

"I've done a poem," he said; and then quickly: "it's the best I've ever done. Read it." He thrust it into my hand and retreated to the window.

I groaned inwardly. It would be the work of half an hour to criticise—that is to say praise—the poem sufficiently to please Charlie. Then I had good reason to groan, for Charlie, discarding his favorite centipede metres, had launched into shorter and choppier verse, and verse with a motive at the back of it. This is what I read:

    "The day is most fair, the cheery wind
    Halloos behind the hill,
    Where bends the wood as seemeth good,

    And the sapling to his will!
    Riot O wind; there is that in my blood
    That would not have thee still!

    "She gave me herself, O Earth, O Sky:
    Grey sea, she is mine alone—I
    Let the sullen boulders hear my cry,
    And rejoice tho' they be but stone!

    'Mine! I have won her O good brown earth,
    Make merry! 'Tis bard on Spring;
    Make merry; my love is doubly worth
    All worship your fields can bring!
    Let the hind that tills you feel my mirth
    At the early harrowing."

"Yes, it's the early harrowing, past a doubt," I said, with a dread at my heart. Charlie smiled, but did not answer.

   "Red cloud of the sunset, tell it abroad; I am victor.
    Greet me O Sun, Dominant master and absolute lord
    Over the soul of one!"

"Well?" said Charlie, looking over my shoulder.

I thought it far from well, and very evil indeed, when he silently laid a photograph on the paper—the photograph of a girl with a curly head, and a foolish slack mouth.

"Isn't it—isn't it wonderful?" he whispered, pink to the tips of his ears, wrapped in the rosy mystery of first love. "I didn't know; I didn't think—it came like a thunderclap."

"Yes. It comes like a thunderclap. Are you very happy, Charlie?"

"My God—she—she loves me!" He sat down repeating the last words to himself. I looked at the hairless face, the narrow shoulders already bowed by desk-work, and wondered when, where, and bow he had loved in his past lives.

"What will your mother say?" I asked, cheerfully.

"I don't care a damn what she says."

At twenty the things for which one does not care a damn should, properly, be many, but one must not include mothers in the list. I told him this gently; and he described Her, even as Adam must have described to the newly named beasts the glory and tenderness and beauty of Eve. Incidentally I learned that She was a tobacconist's assistant with a weakness for pretty dress, and had told him four or five times already that She had never been kissed by a man before.

Charlie spoke on, and on, and on; while I, separated from him by thousands of years, was considering the beginnings of things. Now I understood why the Lords of Life and Death shut the doors so carefully behind us. It is that we may not remember our first wooings. Were it not so, our world would be without inhabitants in a hundred years.

"Now, about that galley-story," I said, still more cheerfully, in a pause in the rush of the speech.

Charlie looked up as though he had been hit. "The galley—what galley? Good heavens, don't joke, man! This is serious! You don't know how serious it is!"

Grish Chunder was right. Charlie had tasted the love of woman that kills remembrance, and the "finest story" in the world would never be written.






VOLUME IV UNDER THE DEODARS





THE EDUCATION OF OTIS YEERE

I

    In the pleasant orchard-closes
    "God bless all our gains," say we;
    But "May God bless all our losses,"
    Better suits with our degree.
                  —The Lost Bower.

This is the history of a failure; but the woman who failed said that it might be an instructive tale to put into print for the benefit of the younger generation. The younger generation does not want instruction, being perfectly willing to instruct if any one will listen to it. None the less, here begins the story where every right-minded story should begin, that is to say at Simla, where all things begin and many come to an evil end.

The mistake was due to a very clever woman making a blunder and not retrieving it. Men are licensed to stumble, but a clever woman's mistake is outside the regular course of Nature and Providence; since all good people know that a woman is the only infallible thing in this world, except Government Paper of the '70 issue, bearing interest at four and a half per cent. Yet, we have to remember that six consecutive days of rehearsing the leading part of The Fallen Age, at the New Gaiety Theatre where the plaster is not yet properly dry, might have brought about an unhingement of spirits which, again, might have led to eccentricities.

Mrs. Hauksbee came to "The Foundry" to tiffin with Mrs. Mallowe, her one bosom friend, for she was in no sense "a woman's woman." And it was a woman's tiffin, the door shut to all the world; and they both talked chiffons, which is French for Mysteries.

"I've enjoyed an interval of sanity," Mrs. Hauksbee announced, after tiffin was over and the two were comfortably settled in the little writing-room that opened out of Mrs. Mallowe's bedroom.

"My dear girl, what has he done?" said Mrs. Mallowe, sweetly. It is noticeable that ladies of a certain age call each other "dear girl," just as commissioners of twenty-eight years' standing address their equals in the Civil List as "my boy."

"There's no he in the case. Who am I that an imaginary man should be always credited to me? Am I an Apache?"

"No, dear, but somebody's scalp is generally drying at your wigwam-door. Soaking, rather."

This was an allusion to the Hawley Boy, who was in the habit of riding all across Simla in the Rains, to call on Mrs. Hauksbee. That lady laughed.

"For my sins, the Aide at Tyrconnel last night told me off to The Mussuck. Hsh! Don't laugh. One of my most devoted admirers. When the duff came—some one really ought to teach them to make pudding at Tyrconnel—The Mussuck was at liberty to attend to me."

"Sweet soul! I know his appetite," said Mrs. Mallowe. "Did he, oh did he, begin his wooing?"

"By a special mercy of Providence, no. He explained his importance as a Pillar of the Empire. I didn't laugh."

"Lucy, I don't believe you."

"Ask Captain Sangar; he was on the other side. Well, as I was saying, The Mussuck dilated."

"I think I can see him doing it," said Mrs. Mallowe, pensively, scratching her fox-terrier's ears.

"I was properly impressed. Most properly. I yawned openly. 'Strict supervision, and play them off one against the other,' said The Mussuck, shoveling down his ice by tureenfuls, I assure you. 'That, Mrs. Hauksbee, is the secret of our Government.'"

Mrs. Mallowe laughed long and merrily. "And what did you say?"

"Did you ever know me at loss for an answer yet? I said: 'So I have observed in my dealings with you.' The Mussuck swelled with pride. He is coming to call on me tomorrow. The Hawley Boy is coming too."

"'Strict supervision and play them off one against the other. That, Mrs. Hauksbee, is the secret of our Government.' And I dare say if we could get to The Mussuck's heart, we should find that he considers himself a man of the world."

"As he is of the other two things. I like The Mussuck, and I won't have you call him names. He amuses me."

"He has reformed you, too, by what appears. Explain the interval of sanity, and hit Tim on the nose with the paper-cutter, please. That dog is too fond of sugar. Do you take milk in yours?"

"No, thanks. Polly, I'm wearied of this life. It's hollow."

"Turn religious, then. I always said that Rome would be your fate."

"Only exchanging half a dozen attaches in red for one and in black, and if I fasted, the wrinkles would come, and never, never go. Has it ever struck you, dear, that I'm getting old?"

"Thanks for your courtesy. I'll return it. Ye-es we are both not exactly—how shall I put it?"

"What we have been. 'I feel it in my bones,' as Mrs. Crossley says. Polly, I've wasted my life."

"As how?"

"Never mind how. I feel it. I want to be a Power before I die."

"Be a Power then. You've wits enough for anything—and beauty?"

Mrs. Hauksbee pointed a teaspoon straight at her hostess. "Polly, if you heap compliments on me like this, I shall cease to believe that you're a woman. Tell me how I am to be a Power."

"Inform The Mussuck that he is the most fascinating and slimmest man in Asia, and he'll tell you anything and everything you please."

"Bother The Mussuck! I mean an intellectual Power—not a gas-power. Polly, I'm going to start a salon."

Mrs. Mallowe turned lazily on the sofa and rested her head on her hand. "Hear the words of the Preacher, the son of Baruch," she said.

"Will you talk sensibly?"

"I will, dear, for I see that you are going to make a mistake."

"I never made a mistake in my life at least, never one that I couldn't explain away afterward."

"Going to make a mistake," went on Mrs. Mallowe, composedly. "It is impossible to start a salon in Simla. A bar would be much more to the point."

"Perhaps, but why? It seems so easy."

"Just what makes it so difficult. How many clever women are there in Simla?"

"Myself and yourself," said Mrs. Hauksbee, without a moment's hesitation.

"Modest woman! Mrs. Feardon would thank you for that. And how many clever men?"

"Oh—er—hundreds," said Mrs. Hauksbee, vaguely.

"What a fatal blunder! Not one. They are all bespoke of the Government. Take my husband, for instance. Jack was a clever man, though I say so who shouldn't. Government has eaten him up. All his ideas and powers of conversation—he really used to be a good talker, even to his wife, in the old days—are taken from him by this—this kitchen-sink of a Government. That's the case with every man up here who is at work. I don't suppose a Russian convict under the knout is able to amuse the rest of his gang; and all our men-folk here are gilded convicts."

"But there are scores—"

"I know what you're going to say. Scores of idle men up on leave. I admit it, but they are all of two objectionable sets, The Civilian who'd be delightful if he had the military man's knowledge of the world and style, and the military man who'd be adorable if lie had the Civilian's culture."

"Detestable word! Have Civilians Culchaw? I never studied the breed deeply."

"Don't make fun of Jack's service. Yes. They're like the teapots in the Lakka Bazar—good material but not polished. They can't help themselves, poor dears. A Civilian only begins to be tolerable after he has knocked about the world for fifteen years."

"And a military man?"

"When he has had the same amount of service. The young of both species are horrible. You would have scores of them in your salon."

"I would not!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, fiercely. "I would tell the bearer to darwaza band them. I'd put their own colonels and commissioners at the door to turn them away. I'd give them to the Topsham girl to play with."

"The Topsham girl would be grateful for the gift. But to go back to the salon. Allowing that you had gathered all your men and women together, what would you do with them? Make them talk? They would all with one accord begin to flirt. Your salon would become a glorified Peliti's—a 'Scandal Point' by lamplight."

"There's a certain amount of wisdom in that view."

"There's all the wisdom in the world in it. Surely, twelve Simla seasons ought to have taught you that you can't focus anything in India; and a salon, to be any good at all, must be permanent. In two seasons your roomful would be scattered all over Asia. We are only little bits of dirt on the hillsides—here one day and blown down the khud the next. We have lost the art of talking—at least our men have. We have no cohesion"—

"George Eliot in the flesh," interpolated Mrs. Hauksbee, wickedly.

"And collectively, my dear scoffer, we, men and women alike, have no influence.

"Come into the veranda and look at the Mall!"

The two looked down on the now rapidly filling road, for all Simla was abroad to steal a stroll between a shower and a fog.

"How do you propose to fix that river? Look! There's The Mussuck—head of goodness knows what. He is a power in the land, though he does eat like a costermonger. There's Colonel Blone, and General Grucher, and Sir Dugald Delane, and Sir Henry Haughton, and Mr. Jellalatty. All Heads of Departments, and all powerful."

"And all my fervent admirers," said Mrs. Hauksbee, piously. "Sir Henry Haughton raves about me. But go on."

"One by one, these men are worth something. Collectively, they're just a mob of Anglo-Indians. Who cares for what Anglo-Indians say? Your salon won't weld the Departments together and make you mistress of India, dear. And these creatures won't talk administrative 'shop' in a crowd—your salon—because they are so afraid of the men in the lower ranks overhearing it. They have forgotten what of Literature and Art they ever knew, and the women"—

"Can't talk about anything except the last Gymkhana, or the sins of their last nurse. I was calling on Mrs. Derwills this morning."

"You admit that? They can talk to the subalterns though, and the subalterns can talk to them. Your salon would suit their views admirably, if you respected the religious prejudices of the country and provided plenty of kala juggahs."

"Plenty of kala juggahs. Oh my poor little idea! Kala juggahs in a salon! But who made you so awfully clever?"

"Perhaps I've tried myself; or perhaps I know a woman who has. I have preached and expounded the whole matter and the conclusion thereof"—

"You needn't go on. 'Is Vanity.' Polly, I thank you. These vermin—" Mrs. Hauksbee waved her hand from the veranda to two men in the crowd below who had raised their hats to her—"these vermin shall not rejoice in a new Scandal Point or an extra Peliti's. I will abandon the notion of a salon. It did seem so tempting, though. But what shall I do? I must do something."

"Why? Are not Abana and Pharphar"—

"Jack has made you nearly as bad as himself! I want to, of course. I'm tired of everything and everybody, from a moonlight picnic at Seepee to the blandishments of The Mussuck."

"Yes—that comes, too, sooner or later, Have you nerve enough to make your bow yet?"

Mrs. Hauksbee's mouth shut grimly. Then she laughed. "I think I see myself doing it. Big pink placards on the Mall: 'Mrs. Hauksbee! Positively her last appearance on any stage! This is to give notice!' No more dances; no more rides; no more luncheons; no more theatricals with supper to follow; no more sparring with one's dearest, dearest friend; no more fencing with an inconvenient man who hasn't wit enough to clothe what he's pleased to call his sentiments in passable speech; no more parading of The Mussuck while Mrs. Tarkass calls all round Simla, spreading horrible stories about me? No more of anything that is thoroughly wearying, abominable and detestable, but, all the same, makes life worth the having. Yes! I see it all! Don't interrupt, Polly, I'm inspired. A mauve and white striped 'cloud' round my excellent shoulders, a seat in the fifth row of the Gaiety, and both horses sold. Delightful vision! A comfortable armchair, situated in three different draughts, at every ballroom; and nice, large, sensible shoes for all the couples to stumble over as they go into the veranda! Then at supper. Can't you imagine the scene? The greedy mob gone away. Reluctant subaltern, pink all over like a newly-powdered baby—they really ought to tan subalterns before they are exported—Polly—sent back by the hostess to do his duty. Slouches up to me across the room, tugging at a glove two sizes too large for him—I hate a man who wears gloves like overcoats—and trying to look as if he'd thought of it from the first. 'May I ah—have the pleasure 'f takin' you 'nt' supper?' Then I get up with a hungry smile. Just like this."

"Lucy, how can you be so absurd?"

"And sweep out on his arm. So! After supper I shall go away early, you know, because I shall be afraid of catching cold. No one will look for my 'rickshaw. Mine, so please you! I shall stand, always with that mauve and white 'cloud' over my head, while the wet soaks into my dear, old, venerable feet and Tom swears and shouts for the mem-sahib's gharri. Then home to bed at half-past eleven! Truly excellent life helped out by the visits of the Padri, just fresh from burying somebody down below there." She pointed through the pines, toward the Cemetery, and continued with vigorous dramatic gesture—"Listen! I see it all down, down even to the stays! Such stays! Six-eight a pair, Polly, with red flannel—or list is it?—that they put into the tops of those fearful things. I can draw you a picture of them."

"Lucy, for Heaven's sake, don't go waving your arms about in that idiotic manner! Recollect, every one can see you from the Mall."

"Let them see! They'll think I am rehearsing for The Fallen Angel. Look! There's The Mussuck. How badly he rides. There!"

She blew a kiss to the venerable Indian administrator with infinite grace.

"Now," she continued, "he'll be chaffed about that at the Club in the delicate manner those brutes of men affect, and the Hawley Boy will tell me all about it—softening the details for fear of shocking me. That boy is too good to live, Polly. I've serious thoughts of recommending him to throw up his Commission and go into the Church. In his present frame of mind he would obey me. Happy, happy child."

"Never again," said Mrs. Mallowe, with an affectation of indignation, "shall you tiffin here! 'Lucindy, your behavior is scand'lus.'"

"All your fault," retorted Mrs. Hauksbee, "for suggesting such a thing as my abdication. No! Jamais—nevaire! I will act, dance, ride, frivol, talk scandal, dine out, and appropriate the legitimate captives of any woman I choose until I d-r-r-rop or a better woman than I puts me to shame before all Simla—and it's dust and ashes in my mouth while I'm doing it!"

She swept into the drawing-room, Mrs. Mallowe followed and put an arm round her waist.

"I'm not!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, defiantly, rummaging for her handkerchief. "I've been dining out the last ten nights, and rehearsing in the afternoon. You'd be tired yourself. It's only because I'm tired."

Mrs. Mallowe did not offer Mrs. Hauksbee any pity or ask her to lie down, but gave her another cup of tea, and went on with the talk.

"I've been through that too, dear," she said.

"I remember," said Mrs. Hauksbee, a gleam of fun on her face. "In '84 wasn't it? You went out a great deal less next season."

Mrs. Mallowe smiled in a superior and Sphinxlike fashion.

"I became an Influence," said she.

"Good gracious, child, you didn't join the Theosophists and kiss Buddha's big toe, did you? I tried to get into their set once, but they cast me out for a skeptic—without a chance of improving my poor little mind, too."

"No, I didn't Theosophilander. Jack says"—

"Never mind Jack. What a husband says is known before. What did you do?"

"I made a lasting impression."

"So have I—for four months. But that didn't console me in the least. I hated the man. Will you stop smiling in that inscrutable way and tell me what you mean?"

Mrs. Mallowe told.

* * * * * *

"And—you—mean—to—say that it is absolutely Platonic on both sides?"

"Absolutely, or I should never have taken it up."

"And his last promotion was due to you?"

Mrs. Mallowe nodded.

"And you warned him against the Topsham girl?"

Another nod.

"And told him of Sir Dugald Delane's private memo about him?"

A third nod.

"Why?"

"What a question to ask a woman! Because it amused me at first. I am proud of my property now. If I live he shall continue to be successful. Yes, I will put him upon the straight road to Knighthood, and everything else that a man values. The rest depends upon himself."

"Polly, you are a most extraordinary woman."

"Not in the least. I'm concentrated, that's all. You diffuse yourself, dear; and though all Simla knows your skill in managing a team"—

"Can't you choose a prettier word?"

"Team, of half a dozen, from The Mussuck to the Hawley Boy, you gain nothing by it. Not even amusement."

"And you?"

"Try my recipe. Take a man, not a boy, mind, but an almost mature, unattached man, and be this guide, philosopher, and friend. You'll find it the most interesting occupation that you ever embarked on. It can be done—you needn't look like that—because I've done it."

"There's an element of risk about it that makes the notion attractive. I'll get such a man and say to him, 'Now, understand that there must be no flirtation. Do exactly what I tell you, profit by my instruction and counsels, and all will yet be well,' as Toole says. Is that the idea?"

"More or less," said Mrs. Mallowe with an unfathomable smile. "But be sure he understands that there must be no flirtation."

II

     Dribble-dribble-trickle-trickle
     What a lot of raw dust!
     My dollie's had an accident
     And out came all the sawdust! —Nursery Rhyme.

So Mrs. Hauksbee, in "The Foundry" which overlooks Simla Mall, sat at the feet of Mrs. Mallowe and gathered wisdom. The end of the Conference was the Great Idea upon which Mrs. Hauksbee so plumed herself.

"I warn you," said Mrs. Mallowe, beginning to repent of her suggestion, "that the matter is not half so easy as it looks. Any woman—even the Topsham girl—can catch a man, but very, very few know how to manage him when caught."

"My child," was the answer, "I've been a female St. Simon Stylites looking down upon men for these—these years past. Ask The Mussuck whether I can manage them."

Mrs. Hauksbee departed humming, "I'll go to him and say to him in manner most ironical." Mrs. Mallowe laughed to herself. Then she grew suddenly sober. "I wonder whether I've done well in advising that amusement? Lucy's a clever woman, but a thought too careless."

A week later, the two met at a Monday Pop. "Well?" said Mrs. Mallowe.

"I've caught him!" said Mrs. Hauksbee; her eyes were dancing with merriment.

"Who is it, mad woman? I'm sorry I ever spoke to you about it."

"Look between the pillars. In the third row; fourth from the end. You can see his face now. Look!"

"Otis Yeere! Of all the improbable and impossible people! I don't believe you."

"Hsh! Wait till Mrs. Tarkass begins murdering Milton Wellings; and I'll tell you all about it. S-s-ss! That woman's voice always reminds me of an Underground train coming into Earl's Court with the brakes on. Now listen. It is really Otis Yeere."

"So I see, but does it follow that he is your property?"

"He is! By right of trove. I found him, lonely and unbefriended, the very next night after our talk, at the Dugald Delane's burra-khana. I liked his eyes, and I talked to him. Next day he called. Next day we went for a ride together, and today he's tied to my 'rickshaw-wheels hand and foot. You'll see when the concert's over. He doesn't know I'm here yet."

"Thank goodness you haven't chosen a boy. What are you going to do with him, assuming that you've got him?"

"Assuming, indeed! Does a woman—do I—ever make a mistake in that sort of thing? First"—Mrs. Hauksbee ticked off the items ostentatiously on her little gloved fingers—"First, my dear, I shall dress him properly. At present his raiment is a disgrace, and he wears a dress shirt like a crumpled sheet of the 'Pioneer'. Secondly, after I have made him presentable, I shall form his manners—his morals are above reproach."

"You seem to have discovered a great deal about him considering the shortness of your acquaintance."

"Surely you ought to know that the first proof a man gives of his interest in a woman is by talking to her about his own sweet self. If the woman listens without yawning, he begins to like her. If she flatters the animal's vanity, he ends by adoring her."

"In some cases."

"Never mind the exceptions. I know which one you are thinking of. Thirdly, and lastly, after he is polished and made pretty, I shall, as you said, be his guide, philosopher and friend, and he shall become a success—as great a success as your friend. I always wondered how that man got on. Did The Mussuck come to you with the Civil List and, dropping on one knee—no, two knees, a' la Gibbon—hand it to you and say, 'Adorable angel, choose your friend's appointment'?"

"Lucy, your long experiences of the Military Department have demoralized you. One doesn't do that sort of thing on the Civil Side."

"No disrespect meant to Jack's Service, my dear. I only asked for information. Give me three months, and see what changes I shall work in my prey."

"Go your own way since you must. But I'm sorry that I was weak enough to suggest the amusement."

"'I am all discretion, and may be trusted to an in-finite extent,'" quoted Mrs. Hauksbee from The Fallen Angel; and the conversation ceased with Mrs. Tarkass's last, long-drawn war-whoop.

Her bitterest enemies—and she had many—could hardly accuse Mrs. Hauksbee of wasting her time. Otis Yeere was one of those wandering "dumb" characters, foredoomed through life to be nobody's property. Ten years in Her Majesty's Bengal Civil Service, spent, for the most part, in undesirable Districts, had given him little to be proud of, and nothing to bring confidence. Old enough to have lost the first fine careless rapture that showers on the immature 'Stunt imaginary Commissionerships and Stars, and sends him into the collar with coltish earnestness and abandon; too young to be yet able to look back upon the progress he had made, and thank Providence that under the conditions of the day he had come even so far, he stood upon the "dead-centre" of his career. And when a man stands still, he feels the slightest impulse from without. Fortune had ruled that Otis Yeere should be, for the first part of his service, one of the rank and file who are ground up in the wheels of the Administration; losing heart and soul, and mind and strength, in the process. Until steam replaces manual power in the working of the Empire, there must always be this percentage—must always be the men who are used up, expended, in the mere mechanical routine. For these promotion is far off and the mill-grind of every day very near and instant. The Secretariats know them only by name; they are not the picked men of the Districts with the Divisions and Collectorates awaiting them. They are simply the rank and file—the food for fever—sharing with the ryot and the plough-bullock the honor of being the plinth on which the State rests. The older ones have lost their aspirations; the younger are putting theirs aside with a sigh. Both learn to endure patiently until the end of the day. Twelve years in the rank and file, men say, will sap the hearts of the bravest and dull the wits of the most keen.

Out of this life Otis Yeere had fled for a few months, drifting, for the sake of a little masculine society, into Simla. When his leave was over he would return to his swampy, sour-green, undermanned district, the native Assistant, the native Doctor, the native Magistrate, the steaming, sweltering Station, the ill-kempt City, and the undisguised insolence of the Municipality that babbled away the lives of men. Life was cheap, however. The soil spawned humanity, as it bred frogs in the Rains, and the gap of the sickness of one season was filled to overflowing by the fecundity of the next. Otis was unfeignedly thankful to lay down his work for a little while and escape from the seething, whining, weakly hive, impotent to help itself, but strong in its power to cripple, thwart, and annoy the weary-eyed man who, by official irony, was said to be "in charge" of it.


"I knew there were women-dowdies in Bengal. They come up here sometimes. But I didn't know that there were men-dowdies, too."

Then, for the first time, it occurred to Otis Yeere that his clothes were rather ancestral in appearance. It will be seen from the above that his friendship with Mrs Hauksbee had made great strides.

As that lady truthfully says, a man is never so happy as when he is talking about himself. From Otis Yeere's lips Mrs Hauksbee, before long, learned everything that she wished to know about the subject of her experiment; learned what manner of life he had led in what she vaguely called "those awful cholera districts"; learned too, but this knowledge came later, what manner of life he had purposed to lead and what dreams he had dreamed in the year of grace '77, before the reality had knocked the heart out of him. Very pleasant are the shady bridle-paths round Prospect Hill for the telling of such confidences.

"Not yet," said Mrs. Hauksbee to Mrs. Mallowe. "Not yet. I must wait until the man is properly dressed, at least. Great Heavens, is it possible that he doesn't know what an honor it is to be taken up by Me!"

Mrs. Hauksbee did not reckon false modesty as one of her failings.

"Always with Mrs. Hauksbee!" murmured Mrs. Mallowe, with her sweetest smile, to Otis. "Oh you men, you men! Here are our Punjabis growling because you've monopolized the nicest woman in Simla. They'll tear you to pieces on the Mall, some day, Mr. Yeere."

Mrs. Mallowe rattled down-hill, having satisfied herself, by a glance through the fringe of her sunshade, of the effect of her words.

The shot went home. Of a surety Otis Yeere was somebody in this bewildering whirl of Simla—had monopolized the nicest woman in it and the Punjabis were growling. The notion justified a mild glow of vanity. He had never looked upon his acquaintance with Mrs. Hauksbee as a matter for general interest.

The knowledge of envy was a pleasant feeling to the man of no account. It was intensified later in the day when a luncher at the Club said, spitefully, "Well, for a debilitated Ditcher, Yeere, you are going it. Hasn't any kind friend told you that she's the most dangerous woman in Simla?"

Yeere chuckled and passed out. When, oh when, would his new clothes be ready? He descended into the Mall to inquire; and Mrs. Hauksbee, coming over the Church Ridge in her 'rickshaw, looked down upon him approvingly. "He's learning to carry himself as if he were a man, instead of a piece of furniture, and"—she screwed up her eyes to see the better through the sunlight—"he is a man when he holds himself like that. Oh blessed Conceit, what should we be without you?"

With the new clothes came a new stock of self-confidence. Otis Yeere discovered that he could enter a room without breaking into a gentle perspiration—could cross one, even to talk to Mrs. Hauksbee, as though rooms were meant to be crossed. He was for the first time in nine years proud of himself, and contented with his life, satisfied with his new clothes, and rejoicing in the friendship of Mrs. Hauksbee.

"Conceit is what the poor fellow wants," she said in confidence to Mrs. Mallowe. "I believe they must use Civilians to plough the fields with in Lower Bengal. You see I have to begin from the very beginning—haven't I? But you'll admit, won't you, dear, that he is immensely improved since I took him in hand. Only give me a little more time and he won't know himself."

Indeed, Yeere was rapidly beginning to forget what he had been. One of his own rank and file put the matter brutally when he asked Yeere, in reference to nothing, "And who has been making you a Member of Council, lately? You carry the side of half a dozen of 'em."

"I—I'm awf'ly sorry. I didn't mean it, you know," said Yeere, apologetically.

"There'll be no holding you," continued the old stager, grimly. "Climb down, Otis—climb down, and get all that beastly affectation knocked out of you with fever! Three thousand a month wouldn't support it."

Yeere repeated the incident to Mrs. Hauksbee. He had come to look upon her as his Mother Confessor.

"And you apologized!" she said. "Oh, shame! I hate a man who apologizes. Never apologize for what your friend called 'side.' Never! It's a man's business to be insolent and overbearing until he meets with a stronger. Now, you bad boy, listen to me."

Simply and straightforwardly, as the 'rickshaw loitered round Jakko, Mrs. Hauksbee preached to Otis Yeere the Great Gospel of Conceit, illustrating it with living pictures encountered during their Sunday afternoon stroll.

"Good gracious!" she ended, with the personal argument, "you'll apologize next for being my attache?"

"Never!" said Otis Yeere. "That's another thing altogether. I shall always be"—

"What's coming?" thought Mrs. Hauksbee.

"Proud of that," said Otis.

"Safe for the present," she said to herself.

"But I'm afraid I have grown conceited. Like Jeshurun, you know. When he waxed fat, then he kicked. It's the having no worry on one's mind and the Hill air, I suppose."

"Hill air, indeed!" said Mrs. Hauksbee to herself. "He'd have been hiding in the Club till the last day of his leave, if I hadn't discovered him." And aloud—"Why shouldn't you be? You have every right to."

"I! Why?"

"Oh, hundreds of things. I'm not going to waste this lovely afternoon by explaining; but I know you have. What was that heap of manuscript you showed me about the grammar of the aboriginal—what's their names?"

"Gullals. A piece of nonsense. I've far too much work to do to bother over Gullals now. You should see my District. Come down with your husband some day and I'll show you round. Such a lovely place in the Rains! A sheet of water with the railway-embankment and the snakes sticking out, and, in the summer, green flies and green squash. The people would die of fear if you shook a dogwhip at 'em. But they know you're forbidden to do that, so they conspire to make your life a burden to you. My District's worked by some man at Darjiling, on the strength of u native pleader's false reports. Oh, it's a heavenly place!"

Otis Yeere laughed bitterly.

"There's not the least necessity that you should stay in it. Why do you?"

"Because I must. How'm I to get out of it?"

"How! In a hundred and fifty ways. If there weren't so many people on the road, I'd like to box your ears. Ask, my dear boy, ask! Look, There is young Hexarly with six years' service and half your talents. He asked for what he wanted, and he got it. See, down by the Convent! There's McArthurson who has come to his present position by asking—sheer, downright asking—after he had pushed himself out of the rank and file. One man is as good as another in your service—believe me. I've seen Simla for more seasons than I care to think about. Do you suppose men are chosen for appointments because of their special fitness beforehand? You have all passed a high test—what do you call it?—in the beginning, and, except for the few who have gone altogether to the bad, you can all work hard. Asking does the rest. Call it cheek, call it insolence, call it anything you like, but ask! Men argue—yes, I know what men say—that a man, by the mere audacity of his request, must have some good in him. A weak man doesn't say: 'Give me this and that.' He whines 'Why haven't I been given this and that?' If you were in the Army, I should say learn to spin plates or play a tambourine with your toes. As it is—ask! You belong to a Service that ought to be able to command the Channel Fleet, or set a leg at twenty minutes' notice, and yet you hesitate over asking to escape from a squashy green district where you admit you are not master. Drop the Bengal Government altogether. Even Darjiling is a little out-of-the-way hole. I was there once, and the rents were extortionate. Assert yourself. Get the Government of India to take you over. Try to get on the Frontier, where every man has a grand chance if he can trust himself. Go somewhere! Do something! You have twice the wits and three times the presence of the men up here, and, and"—

Mrs. Hauksbee paused for breath; then continued—"and in any way you look at it, you ought to. You who could go so far!"

"I don't know," said Yeere, rather taken aback by the unexpected eloquence. "1 haven't such a good opinion of myself."

It was not strictly Platonic, but it was Policy. Mrs. Hauksbee laid her hand lightly upon the ungloved paw that rested on the turned-back 'rickshaw hood, and, looking the man full in the face, said tenderly, almost too tenderly, "I believe in you if you mistrust yourself. Is that enough, my friend?"

"It is enough," answered Otis, very solemnly.

He was silent for a long time, redreaming the dreams that he had dreamed eight years ago, but through them all ran, as sheet-lightning through golden cloud, the light of Mrs. Hauksbee's violet eyes.

Curious and impenetrable are the mazes of Simla life—the only existence in this desolate land worth the living. Gradually it went abroad among men and women, in the pauses between dance, play and Gymkhana, that Otis Yeere, the man with the newly-lit light of self-confidence in his eyes, had "done something decent" in the wilds whence he came. He had brought an erring Municipality to reason, appropriated the funds on his own responsibility, and saved the lives of hundreds, He knew more about the Gullals than any living man. Had a vast knowledge of the aboriginal tribes; was, in spite of his juniority, the greatest authority on the aboriginal Gullals. No one quite knew who or what the Gullals were till The Mussuck, who had been calling on Mrs. Hauksbee, and prided himself upon picking people's brains, explained they were a tribe of ferocious hillmen, somewhere near Sikkim, whose friendship even the Great Indian Empire would find it worth her while to secure. Now we know that Otis Yeere had showed Mrs. Hauksbee his MS notes of six years' standing on the same Gullals. He had told her, too, how, sick and shaken with the fever their negligence had bred, crippled by the loss of his pet clerk, and savagely angry at the desolation in his charge, he had once damned the collective eyes of his "intelligent local board" for a set of haramzadas. Which act of "brutal and tyrannous oppression" won him a Reprimand Royal from the Bengal Government; but in the anecdote as amended for Northern consumption we find no record of this. Hence we are forced to conclude that Mrs. Hauksbee "edited" his reminiscences before sowing them in idle ears, ready, as she well knew, to exaggerate good or evil. And Otis Yeere bore himself as befitted the hero of many tales.

"You can talk to me when you don't fall into a brown study. Talk now, and talk your brightest and best," said Mrs. Hauksbee.

Otis needed no spur. Look to a man who has the counsel of a woman of or above the world to back him. So long as he keeps his head, he can meet both sexes on equal ground—an advantage never intended by Providence, who fashioned Man on one day and Woman on another, in sign that neither should know more than a very little of the other's life. Such a man goes far, or, the counsel being withdrawn, collapses suddenly while his world seeks the reason.

Generalled by Mrs. Hauksbee who, again, had all Mrs. Mallowe's wisdom at her disposal, proud of himself and, in the end, believing in himself because he was believed in, Otis Yeere stood ready for any fortune that might befall, certain that it would be good. He would fight for his own hand, and intended that this second struggle should lead to better issue than the first helpless surrender of the bewildered 'Stunt.

What might have happened, it is impossible to say. This lamentable thing befell, bred directly by a statement of Mrs. Hauksbee that she would spend the next season in Darjiling.

"Are you certain of that?" said Otis Yeere.

"Quite. We're writing about a house now."

Otis Yeere "stopped dead," as Mrs. Hauksbee put it in discussing the relapse with Mrs. Mallowe.

"He has behaved," she said, angrily, "just like Captain Kerrington's pony—only Otis is a donkey—at the last Gymkhana. Planted his forefeet and refused to go on another step. Polly, my man's going to disappoint me. What shall I do?"

As a rule, Mrs. Mallowe does not approve of staring, but on this occasion she opened her eyes to the utmost.

"You have managed cleverly so far," she said. "Speak to him, and ask him what he means."

"I will—at tonight's dance."

"No-o, not at a dance," said Mrs. Mallowe, cautiously. "Men are never themselves quite at dances. Better wait till tomorrow morning."

"Nonsense. If he's going to revert in this insane way, there isn't a day to lose. Are you going? No? Then sit up for me, there's a dear. I shan't stay longer than supper under any circumstances."

Mrs. Mallowe waited through the evening, looking long and earnestly into the fire, and sometimes smiling to herself.


"Oh! oh! oh! The man's an idiot! A raving, positive idiot! I'm sorry I ever saw him!"

Mrs. Hauksbee burst into Mrs. Mallowe's house, at midnight, almost in tears.

"What in the world has happened?" said Mrs. Mallowe, but her eyes showed that she had guessed an answer.

"Happened! Everything has happened! He was there. I went to him and said, 'Now, what does this nonsense mean?' Don't laugh, dear, I can't bear it. But you know what I mean I said. Then it was a square, and I sat it out with him and wanted an explanation, and he said—Oh! I haven't patience with such idiots! You know what I said about going to Darjiling next year? It doesn't matter to me where I go. I'd have changed the Station and lost the rent to have saved this. He said, in so many words, that he wasn't going to try to work up any more, because—because he would be shifted into a province away from Darjiling, and his own District, where these creatures are, is within a day's journey"—

"Ah-hh!" said Mrs. Mallowe, in a tone of one who has successfully tracked an obscure word through a large dictionary.

"Did you ever hear of anything so mad—so absurd? And he had the ball at his feet. He had only to kick it! I would have made him anything! Anything in the wide world. He could have gone to the world's end. I would have helped him. I made him, didn't I, Polly? Didn't I create that man? Doesn't he owe everything to me? And to reward me, just when everything was nicely arranged, by this lunacy that spoiled everything!"

"Very few men understand your devotion thoroughly."

"Oh, Polly, don't laugh at me! I give men up from this hour. I could have killed him then and there. What right had this man—this Thing I had picked out of his filthy paddy-fields—to make love to me?"

"He did that, did he?"

"He did. I don't remember half he said, I was so angry. Oh, but such a funny thing happened! I can't help laughing at it now, though I felt nearly ready to cry with rage. He raved and I stormed—I'm afraid we must have made an awful noise in our kala juggah. Protect my character, dear, if it's all over Simla by tomorrow—and then he bobbed forward in the middle of this insanity—I firmly believe the man's demented—and kissed me!"

"Morals above reproach," purred Mrs. Mallowe.

"So they were—so they are! It was the most absurd kiss. I don't believe he'd ever kissed a woman in his life before. I threw my head back, and it was a sort of slidy, pecking dab, just on the end of the chin—here." Mrs. Hauksbee tapped her masculine little chin with her fan. "Then, of course, I was furiously angry, and told him that he was no gentleman, and I was sorry I'd ever met him, and so on. He was crushed so easily that I couldn't be very angry. Then I came away straight to you."

"Was this before or after supper?"

"Oh! before—oceans before. Isn't it perfectly disgusting?"

"Let me think. I withhold judgment till tomorrow. Morning brings counsel."

But morning brought only a servant with a dainty bouquet of Annandale roses for Mrs. Hauksbee to wear at the dance at Viceregal Lodge that night.

"He doesn't seem to be very penitent," said Mrs. Mallowe. "What's the billet-doux in the centre?"

Mrs. Hauksbee opened the neatly folded note,—another accomplishment that she had taught Otis,—read it, and groaned tragically.

"Last wreck of a feeble intellect! Poetry! Is it his own, do you think? Oh, that I ever built my hopes on such a maudlin idiot!"

"No. It's a quotation from Mrs. Browning, and, in view of the facts of the case, as Jack says, uncommonly well chosen. Listen:

   "'Sweet thou has trod on a heart—
    Pass! There's a world full of men
   And women as fair as thou art,
    Must do such things now and then.

   "'Thou only hast stepped unaware—
    Malice not one can impute;
   And why should a heart have been there,
    In the way of a fair woman's foot?'

"I didn't—I didn't—I didn't!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, angrily, her eyes filling with tears; "there was no malice at all. Oh, it's too vexatious!"

"You've misunderstood the compliment," said Mrs. Mallowe. "He clears you completely and—ahem—I should think by this, that he has cleared completely too. My experience of men is that when they begin to quote poetry, they are going to flit. Like swans singing before they die, you know."

"Polly, you take my sorrows in a most unfeeling way."

"Do I? Is it so terrible? If he's hurt your vanity, I should say that you've done a certain amount of damage to his heart."

"Oh, you never can tell about a man!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, with deep scorn.


Reviewing the matter as an impartial outsider, it strikes me that I'm about the only person who has profited by the education of Otis Yeere. It comes to twenty-seven pages and bittock.





AT THE PIT'S MOUTH

   Men say it was a stolen tide—
    The Lord that sent it he knows all,
   But in mine ear will aye abide
    The message that the bells let fall,
   And awesome bells they were to me,
   That in the dark rang, "Enderby."
                 —Jean Ingelow.

Once upon a time there was a man and his Wife and a Tertium Quid.

All three were unwise, but the Wife was the unwisest. The Man should have looked after his Wife, who should have avoided the Tertium Quid, who, again, should have married a wife of his own, after clean and open flirtations, to which nobody can possibly object, round Jakko or Observatory Hill. When you see a young man with his pony in a white lather, and his hat on the back of his head flying down-hill at fifteen miles an hour to meet a girl who will be properly surprised to meet him, you naturally approve of that young man, and wish him Staff Appointments, and take an interest in his welfare, and, as the proper time comes, give them sugar-tongs or side-saddles, according to your means and generosity.

The Tertium Quid flew down-hill on horseback, but it was to meet the Man's Wife; and when he flew up-hill it was for the same end. The Man was in the Plains, earning money for his Wife to spend on dresses and four-hundred-rupee bracelets, and inexpensive luxuries of that kind. He worked very hard, and sent her a letter or a post-card daily. She also wrote to him daily, and said that she was longing for him to come up to Simla. The Tertium Quid used to lean over her shoulder and laugh as she wrote the notes. Then the two would ride to the Post Office together.

Now, Simla is a strange place and its customs are peculiar; nor is any man who has not spent at least ten seasons there qualified to pass judgment on circumstantial evidence, which is the most untrustworthy in the Courts. For these reasons, and for others which need not appear, I decline to state positively whether there was anything irretrievably wrong in the relations between the Man's Wife and the Tertium Quid. If there was, and hereon you must form your own opinion, it was the Man's Wife's fault. She was kittenish in her manners, wearing generally an air of soft and fluffy innocence. But she was deadly learned and evil-instructed; and, now and again, when the mask dropped, men saw this, shuddered and almost drew back. Men are occasionally particular, and the least particular men are always the most exacting.

Simla is eccentric in its fashion of tearing friendships. Certain attachments which have set and crystallized through half a dozen seasons acquire almost the sanctity of the marriage bond, and are revered as such. Again, certain attachments equally old, and, to all appearance, equally venerable, never seem to win any recognized official status; while a chance-sprung acquaintance now two months born, steps into the place which by right belongs to the senior. There is no law reducible to print which regulates these affairs.

Some people have a gift which secures them infinite toleration, and others have not. The Man's Wife had not. If she looked over the garden wall, for instance, women taxed her with stealing their husbands. She complained pathetically that she was not allowed to choose her own friends. When she put up her big white muff to her lips, and gazed over it and under her eyebrows at you as she said this thing, you felt that she had been infamously misjudged, and that all the other women's instincts were all wrong; which was absurd. She was not allowed to own the Tertium Quid in peace; and was so strangely constructed that she would not have enjoyed peace had she been so permitted. She preferred some semblance of intrigue to cloak even her most commonplace actions.

After two months of riding, first round Jakko, then Elysium, then Summer Hill, then Observatory Hill, then under Jutogh, and lastly up and down the Cart Road as far as the Tara Devi gap in the dusk, she said to the Tertium Quid, "Frank, people say we are too much together, and people are so horrid."

The Tertium Quid pulled his moustache, and replied that horrid people were unworthy of the consideration of nice people.

"But they have done more than talk—they have written—written to my hubby—I'm sure of it," said the Man's Wife, and she pulled a letter from her husband out of her saddle-pocket and gave it to the Tertium Quid.

It was an honest letter, written by an honest man, then stewing in the Plains on two hundred rupees a month (for he allowed his wife eight hundred and fifty), and in a silk banian and cotton trousers. It is said that, perhaps, she had no thought of the unwisdom of allowing her name to be so generally coupled with the Tertium Quid's; that she was too much of a child to understand the dangers of that sort of thing; that he, her husband, was the last man in the world to interfere jealously with her little amusements and interests, but that it would be better were she to drop the Tertium Quid quietly and for her husband's sake. The letter was sweetened with many pretty little pet names, and it amused the Tertium Quid considerably. He and She laughed over it, so that you, fifty yards away, could see their shoulders shaking while the horses slouched along side by side.

Their conversation was not worth reporting. The upshot of it was that, next day, no one saw the Man's Wife and the Tertium Quid together. They had both gone down to the Cemetery, which, as a rule, is only visited officially by the inhabitants of Simla.

A Simla funeral with the clergyman riding, the mourners riding, and the coffin creaking as it swings between the bearers, is one of the most depressing things on this earth, particularly when the procession passes under the wet, dank dip beneath the Rockcliffe Hotel, where the sun is shut out and all the hill streams are wailing and weeping together as they go down the valleys.

Occasionally folk tend the graves, but we in India shift and are transferred so often that, at the end of the second year, the Dead have no friends—only acquaintances who are far too busy amusing themselves up the hill to attend to old partners. The idea of using a Cemetery as a rendezvous is distinctly a feminine one. A man would have said simply "Let people talk. We'll go down the Mall." A woman is made differently, especially if she be such a woman as the Man's Wife. She and the Tertium Quid enjoyed each other's society among the graves of men and women whom they had known and danced with aforetime.

They used to take a big horse-blanket and sit on the grass a little to the left of the lower end, where there is a dip in the ground and where the occupied graves stop short and the ready-made ones are not ready. Each well-regulated India Cemetery keeps half a dozen graves permanently open for contingencies and incidental wear and tear. In the Hills these are more usually baby's size, because children who come up weakened and sick from the Plains often succumb to the effects of the Rains in the Hills or get pneumonia from their ayahs taking them through damp pine-woods after the sun has set. In Cantonments, of course, the man's size is more in request; these arrangements varying with the climate and population.

One day when the Man's Wife and the Tertium Quid had just arrived in the Cemetery, they saw some coolies breaking ground. They had marked out a full-size grave, and the Tertium Quid asked them whether any Sahib was sick. They said that they did not know; but it was an order that they should dig a Sahib's grave.

"Work away," said the Tertium Quid, "and let's see how it's done."

The coolies worked away, and the Man's Wife and the Tertium Quid watched and talked for a couple of hours while the grave was being deepened Then a coolie, taking the earth in blankets as it was thrown up, jumped over the grave.

"That's queer," said the Tertium Quid. "Where's my ulster?"

"What's queer?" said the Man's Wife.

"I have got a chill down my back just as if a goose had walked over my grave."

"Why do you look at the thing, then?" said the Man's Wife. "Let us go."

The Tertium Quid stood at the head of the grave, and stared without answering for a space. Then he said, dropping a pebble down, "It is nasty and cold; horribly cold. I don't think I shall come to the Cemetery any more. I don't think grave-digging is cheerful."

The two talked and agreed that the Cemetery was depressing. They also arranged for a ride next day out from the Cemetery through the Mashobra Tunnel up to Fagoo and back, because all the world was going to a garden-party at Viceregal Lodge, and all the people of Mashobra would go too.

Coming up the Cemetery road, the Tertium Quid's horse tried to bolt up hill, being tired with standing so long, and managed to strain a back sinew.

"I shall have to take the mare tomorrow," said the Tertium Quid, "and she will stand nothing heavier than a snaffle."

They made their arrangements to meet in the Cemetery, after allowing all the Mashobra people time to pass into Simla. That night it rained heavily, and next day, when the Tertium Quid came to the trysting-place, he saw that the new grave had a foot of water in it, the ground being a tough and sour clay.

"'Jove! That looks beastly," said the Tertium Quid. "Fancy being boarded up and dropped into that well!"

They then started off to Fagoo, the mare playing with the snaffle and picking her way as though she were shod with satin, and the sun shining divinely. The road below Mashobra to Fagoo is officially styled the Himalayan-Thibet Road; but in spite of its name it is not much more than six feet wide in most places, and the drop into the valley below must be anything between one and two thousand feet.

"Now we're going to Thibet," said the Man's Wife merrily, as the horses drew near to Fagoo. She was riding on the cliff-side.

"Into Thibet," said the Tertium Quid, "ever so far from people who say horrid things, and hubbies who write stupid letters. With you—to the end of the world!"

A coolie carrying a log of wood came round a corner, and the mare went wide to avoid him—forefeet in and haunches out, as a sensible mare should go.

"To the world's end," said the Man's Wife, and looked unspeakable things over her near shoulder at the Tertium Quid.

He was smiling, but, while she looked, the smile froze stiff as it were on his face, and changed to a nervous grin—the sort of grin men wear when they are not quite easy in their saddles. The mare seemed to be sinking by the stem, and her nostrils cracked while she was trying to realize what was happening. The rain of the night before had rotted the drop-side of the Himalayan-Thibet Road, and it was giving way under her. "What are you doing?" said the Man's Wife. The Tertium Quid gave no answer. He grinned nervously and set his spurs into the mare, who rapped with her forefeet on the road, and the struggle began. The Man's Wife screamed, "Oh, Frank, get off!"

But the Tertium Quid was glued to the saddle—his face blue and white—and he looked into the Man's Wife's eyes. Then the Man's Wife clutched at the mare's head and caught her by the nose instead of the bridle. The brute threw up her head and went down with a scream, the Tertium Quid upon her, and the nervous grin still set on his face.

The Man's Wife heard the tinkle-tinkle of little stones and loose earth falling off the roadway, and the sliding roar of the man and horse going down. Then everything was quiet, and she called on Frank to leave his mare and walk up. But Frank did not answer. He was underneath the mare, nine hundred feet below, spoiling a patch of Indian corn.

As the revellers came hack from Viceregal Lodge in the mists of the evening, they met a temporarily insane woman, on a temporarily mad horse, swinging round the corners, with her eyes and her mouth open, and her head like the head of the Medusa. She was stopped by a man at the risk of his life, and taken out of the saddle, a limp heap, and put on the bank to explain herself. This wasted twenty minutes, and then she was sent home in a lady's 'rickshaw, still with her mouth open and her hands picking at her riding-gloves.

She was in bed through the following three days, which were rainy; so she missed attending the funeral of the Tertium Quid, who was lowered into eighteen inches of water, instead of the twelve to which he had first objected.





A WAYSIDE COMEDY

  Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore
  the misery of man is great upon him.
              —Eccles. viii. 6.

Fate and the Government of India have turned the Station of Kashima into a prison; and, because there is no help for the poor souls who are now lying there in torment, I write this story, praying that the Government of India may be moved to scatter the European population to the four winds.

Kashima is bound on all sides by the rock-tipped circle of the Dosehri hills. In Spring, it is ablaze with roses; in Summer, the roses die and the hot winds blow from the hills; in Autumn, the white mists from the hills cover the place as with water; and in Winter the frosts nip everything young and tender to earth-level. There is but one view in Kashima—a stretch of perfectly flat pasture and plough-land, running up to the grey-blue scrub of the Dosehri hills.

There are no amusements, except snipe and tiger shooting; but the tigers have been long since hunted from their lairs in the rock-caves, and the snipe only come once a year. Narkarra—one hundred and forty-three miles by road—is the nearest station to Kashima. But Kashima never goes to Narkarra, where there are at least twelve English people. It stays within the circle of the Dosehri hills.

All Kashima acquits Mrs. Vansuythen of any intention to do harm; but all Kashima knows that she, and she alone, brought about their pain.

Boulte, the Engineer, Mrs. Boulte, and Captain Kurrell know this. They are the English population of Kashima, if we except Major Vansuythen, who is of no importance whatever, and Mrs. Vansuythen, who is the most important of all.

You must remember, though you will not understand, that all laws weaken in a small and hidden community where there is no public opinion. When a man is absolutely alone in a Station he runs a certain risk of falling into evil ways. The risk is multiplied by every addition to the population up to twelve—the Jury-number. After that, fear and consequent restraint begin, and human action becomes less grotesquely jerky.

There was deep peace in Kashima till Mrs. Vansuythen arrived. She was a charming woman, every one said so everywhere; and she charmed every one. In spite of this, or, perhaps, because of this, since Fate is so perverse, she cared only for one man, and he was Major Vansuythen. Had she been plain or stupid, this matter would have been intelligible to Kashima. But she was a fair woman, with very still grey eyes, the color of a lake just before the light of the sun touches it. No man who had seen those eyes, could, later on, explain what fashion of woman she was to look upon. The eyes dazzled him. Her own sex said that she was "not bad looking, but spoiled by pretending to be so grave." And yet her gravity was natural It was not her habit to smile. She merely went through life, looking at those who passed; and the women objected while the men fell down and worshipped.

She knows and is deeply sorry for the evil she has done to Kashima; but Major Vansuythen cannot understand why Mrs. Boulte does not drop in to afternoon tea at least three times a week. "When there are only two women in one Station, they ought to see a great deal of each other," says Major Vansuythen.

Long and long before ever Mrs. Vansuythen came out of those far-away places where there is society and amusement, Kurrell had discovered that Mrs. Boulte was the one woman in the world for him and—you dare not blame them. Kashima was as out of the world as Heaven or the Other Place, and the Dosehri hills kept their secret well. Boulte had no concern in the matter. He was in camp for a fortnight at a time. He was a hard, heavy man, and neither Mrs. Boulte nor Kurrell pitied him. They had all Kashima and each other for their very, very own; and Kashima was the Garden of Eden in those days. When Boulte returned from his wanderings he would slap Kurrell between the shoulders and call him "old fellow," and the three would dine together. Kashima was happy then when the judgment of God seemed almost as distant as Narkarra or the railway that ran down to the sea. But the Government sent Major Vansuythen to Kashima, and with him came his wife.

The etiquette of Kashima is much the same as that of a desert island. When a stranger is cast away there, all hands go down to the shore to make him welcome. Kashima assembled at the masonry platform close to the Narkarra Road, and spread tea for the Vansuythens. That ceremony was reckoned a formal call, and made them free of the Station, its rights and privileges. When the Vansuythens were settled down, they gave a tiny housewarming to all Kashima; and that made Kashima free of their house, according to the immemorial usage of the Station.

Then the Rains came, when no one could go into camp, and the Narkarra Road was washed away by the Kasun River, and in the cup-like pastures of Kashima the cattle waded knee-deep. The clouds dropped down from the Dosehri hills and covered everything.

At the end of the Rains, Boulte's manner toward his wife changed and became demonstratively affectionate. They had been married twelve years, and the change startled Mrs. Boulte, who hated her husband with the hate of a woman who has met with nothing but kindness from her mate, and, in the teeth of this kindness, had done him a great wrong. Moreover, she had her own trouble to fight with—her watch to keep over her own property, Kurrell. For two months the Rains had hidden the Dosehri hills and many other things besides; but when they lifted, they showed Mrs. Boulte that her man among men, her Ted—for she called him Ted in the old days when Boulte was out of earshot—was slipping the links of the allegiance.

"The Vansuythen Woman has taken him," Mrs. Boulte said to herself; and when Boulte was away, wept over her belief, in the face of the over-vehement blandishments of Ted. Sorrow in Kashima is as fortunate as Love, because there is nothing to weaken it save the flight of Time. Mrs. Boulte had never breathed her suspicion to Kurrell because she was not certain; and her nature led her to be very certain before she took steps in any direction. That is why she behaved as she did.

Boulte came into the house one evening, and leaned against the door-posts of the drawing-room, chewing his moustache. Mrs. Boulte was putting some flowers into a vase. There is a pretence of civilization even in Kashima.

"Little woman," said Boulte, quietly, "do you care for me?"

"Immensely," said she, with a laugh. "Can you ask it?"

"But I'm serious," said Boulte. "Do you care for me?"

Mrs. Boulte dropped the flowers, and turned round quickly. "Do you want an honest answer?"

"Ye-es, I've asked for it."

Mrs. Boulte spoke in a low, even voice for five minutes, very distinctly, that there might be no misunderstanding her meaning. When Samson broke the pillars of Gaza, he did a little thing, and one not to be compared to the deliberate pulling down of a woman's homestead about her own ears. There was no wise female friend to advise Mrs. Boulte, the singularly cautious wife, to hold her hand. She struck at Boulte's heart, because her own was sick with suspicion of Kurrell, and worn out with the long strain of watching alone through the Rains. There was no plan or purpose in her speaking. The sentences made themselves; and Boulte listened leaning against the door-post with his hands in his pockets. When all was over, and Mrs. Boulte began to breathe through her nose before breaking out into tears, he laughed and stared straight in front of him at the Dosehri hills.

"Is that all?" he said. "Thanks, I only wanted to know, you know."

"What are you going to do?" said the woman, between her sobs.

"Do! Nothing. What should I do? Kill Kurrell or send you Home, or apply for leave to get a divorce? It's two days' dak into Narkarra." He laughed again and went on: "I'll tell you what you can do. You can ask Kurrell to dinner tomorrow—no, on Thursday, that will allow you time to pack—and you can bolt with him. I give you my word I won't follow."

He took up his helmet and went out of the room, and Mrs. Boulte sat till the moonlight streaked the floor, thinking and thinking and thinking. She had done her best upon the spur of the moment to pull the house down; but it would not fall. Moreover, she could not understand her husband, and she was afraid. Then the folly of her useless truthfulness struck her, and she was ashamed to write to Kurrell, saying: "I have gone mad and told everything. My husband says that I am free to elope with you. Get a dak for Thursday, and we will fly after dinner." There was a cold-bloodedness about that procedure which did not appeal to her. So she sat still in her own house and thought.

At dinner-time Boulte came back from his walk, white and worn and haggard, and the woman was touched at his distress. As the evening wore on, she muttered some expression of sorrow, something approaching to contrition. Boulte came out of a brown study and said, "Oh, that! I wasn't thinking about that. By the way, what does Kurrell say to the elopement?"

"I haven't seen him," said Mrs. Boulte. "Good God! is that all?"

But Boulte was not listening, and her sentence ended in a gulp.

The next day brought no comfort to Mrs. Boulte, for Kurrell did not appear, and the new life that she, in the five minutes' madness of the previous evening, had hoped to build out of the ruins of the old, seemed to be no nearer.

Boulte ate his breakfast, advised her to see her Arab pony fed in the veranda, and went out. The morning wore through, and at midday the tension became unendurable. Mrs. Boulte could not cry. She had finished her crying in the night, and now she did not want to be left alone. Perhaps the Vansuythen woman would talk to her; and, since talking opens the heart, perhaps there might be some comfort to be found in her company. She was the only other woman in the Station.

In Kashima there are no regular calling-hours. Every one can drop in upon every one else at pleasure. Mrs. Boulte put on a big terai hat, and walked across to the Vansuythens's house to borrow last week's Queen. The two compounds touched, and instead of going up the drive, she crossed through the gap in the cactus-hedge, entering the house from the back. As she passed through the dining-room, she heard, behind the purdah that cloaked the drawing-room door, her husband's voice, saying—"But on my Honor! On my Soul and Honor, I tell you she doesn't care for me. She told me so last night. I would have told you then if Vansuythen hadn't been with you. If it is for her sake that you'll have nothing to say to me, you can make your mind easy. It's Kurrell."

"What?" said Mrs. Vansuythen, with an hysterical little laugh. "Kurrell! Oh, it can't be. You two must have made some horrible mistake. Perhaps you—you lost your temper, or misunderstood, or something. Things can't be as wrong as you say."

Mrs. Vansuythen had shifted her defence to avoid the man's pleading, and was desperately trying to keep him to a side-issue.

"There must be some mistake," she insisted, "and it can be all put right again."

Boulte laughed grimly.

"It can't be Captain Kurrell! He told me that he had never taken the least—the least interest in your wife, Mr. Boulte. Oh, do listen! He said he had not. He swore he had not," said Mrs. Vansuythen.

The purdah rustled, and the speech was cut short by the entry of a little, thin woman with big rings round her eyes. Mrs. Vansuythen stood up with a gasp.

"What was that you said?" asked Mrs. Boulte. "Never mind that man. What did Ted say to you? What did he say to you? What did he say to you?"

Mrs. Vansuythen sat down helplessly on the sofa, overborne by the trouble of her questioner.

"He said—I can't remember exactly what he said—but I understood him to say—that is—But, really, Mrs. Boulte, isn't it rather a strange question?"

"Will you tell me what he said?" repeated Mrs. Boulte.

Even a tiger will fly before a bear robbed of her whelps, and Mrs. Vansuythen was only an ordinarily good woman. She began in a sort of desperation: "Well, he said that he never cared for you at all, and, of course, there was not the least reason why he should have, and—and—that was all."

"You said he swore he had not cared for me. Was that true?"

"Yes," said Mrs. Vansuythen, very softly.

Mrs. Boulte wavered for an instant where she stood, and then fell forward fainting.

"What did I tell you?" said Boulte, as though the conversation had been unbroken. "You can see for yourself she cares for him." The light began to break into his dull mind, and he went on—"And he—what was he saying to you?"

But Mrs. Vansuythen, with no heart for explanations or impassioned protestations, was kneeling over Mrs. Boulte.

"Oh, you brute!" she cried. "Are all men like this? Help me to get her into my room—and her face is cut against the table. Oh, will you be quiet, and help me to carry her? I hate you, and I hate Captain Kurrell. Lift her up carefully and now—go! Go away!"

Boulte carried his wife into Mrs. Vansuythen's bedroom and departed before the storm of that lady's wrath and disgust, impenitent and burning with jealousy. Kurrell had been making love to Mrs. Vansuythen—would do Vansuythen as great a wrong as he had done Boulte, who caught himself considering whether Mrs. Vansuythen would faint if she discovered that the man she loved had foresworn her.

In the middle of these meditations, Kurrell came cantering along the road and pulled up with a cheery, "Good mornin'. 'Been mashing Mrs. Vansuythen as usual, eh? Bad thing for a sober, married man, that. What will Mrs Boulte say?"

Boulte raised his head and said, slowly, "Oh, you liar!"

Kurrell's face changed. "What's that?" he asked, quickly.

"Nothing much," said Boulte. "Has my wife told you that you two are free to go off whenever you please? She has been good enough to explain the situation to me. You've been a true friend to me, Kurrell—old man—haven't you?"

Kurrell groaned, and tried to frame some sort of idiotic sentence about being willing to give "satisfaction." But his interest in the woman was dead, had died out in the Rains, and, mentally, he was abusing her for her amazing indiscretion. It would have been so easy to have broken off the thing gently and by degrees, and now he was saddled with—Boulte's voice recalled him.

"I don't think I should get any satisfaction from killing you, and I'm pretty sure you'd get none from killing me."

Then in a querulous tone, ludicrously disproportioned to his wrongs, Boulte added—"'Seems rather a pity that you haven't the decency to keep to the woman, now you've got her. You've been a true friend to her too, haven't you?"

Kurrell stared long and gravely. The situation was getting beyond him.

"What do you mean?" he said.

Boulte answered, more to himself than the questioner: "My wife came over to Mrs. Vansuythen's just now; and it seems you'd been telling Mrs. Vansuythen that you'd never cared for Emma. I suppose you lied, as usual. What had Mrs. Vansuythen to do with you, or you with her? Try to speak the truth for once in a way."

Kurrell took the double insult without wincing, and replied by another question: "Go on. What happened?"

"Emma fainted," said Boulte, simply. "But, look here, what had you been saying to Mrs. Vansuythen?"

Kurrell laughed. Mrs. Boulte had, with unbridled tongue, made havoc of his plans; and he could at least retaliate by hurting the man in whose eyes he was humiliated and shown dishonorable.

"Said to her? What does a man tell a lie like that for? I suppose I said pretty much what you've said, unless I'm a good deal mistaken."

"I spoke the truth," said Boulte, again more to himself than Kurrell. "Emma told me she hated me. She has no right in me."

"No! I suppose not. You're only her husband, y'know. And what did Mrs. Vansuythen say after you had laid your disengaged heart at her feet?"

Kurrell felt almost virtuous as he put the question.

"I don't think that matters," Boulte replied; "and it doesn't concern you."

"But it does! I tell you it does" began Kurrell, shamelessly.

The sentence was cut by a roar of laughter from Boulte's lips. Kurrell was silent for an instant, and then he, too, laughed—laughed long and loudly, rocking in his saddle. It was an unpleasant sound—the mirthless mirth of these men on the long, white line of the Narkarra Road. There were no strangers in Kashima, or they might have thought that captivity within the Dosehri hills had driven half the European population mad. The laughter ended abruptly, and Kurrell was the first to speak.

"Well, what are you going to do?"

Boulte looked up the road, and at the hills. "Nothing," said he, quietly; "what's the use? It's too ghastly for anything. We must let the old life go on. I can only call you a hound and a liar, and I can't go on calling you names forever. Besides which, I don't feel that I'm much better. We can't get out of this place. What is there to do?"

Kurrell looked round the rat-pit of Kashima and made no reply. The injured husband took up the wondrous tale.

"Ride on, and speak to Emma if you want to. God knows I don't care what you do."

He walked forward and left Kurrell gazing blankly after him. Kurrell did not ride on either to see Mrs. Boulte or Mrs. Vansuythen. He sat in his saddle and thought, while his pony grazed by the roadside.

The whir of approaching wheels roused him. Mrs. Vansuythen was driving home Mrs. Boulte, white and wan, with a cut on her forehead.

"Stop, please," said Mrs. Boulte "I want to speak to Ted."

Mrs. Vansuythen obeyed, but as Mrs. Boulte leaned forward, putting her hand upon the splash-board of the dog-cart, Kurrell spoke.

"I've seen your husband, Mrs. Boulte."

There was no necessity for any further explanation. The man's eyes were fixed, not upon Mrs. Boulte, but her companion. Mrs. Boulte saw the look.

"Speak to him!" she pleaded, turning to the woman at her side. "Oh, speak to him! Tell him what you told me just now. Tell him you hate him. Tell him you hate him!"

She bent forward and wept bitterly, while the sais, impassive, went forward to hold the horse. Mrs. Vansuythen turned scarlet and dropped the reins. She wished to be no party to such unholy explanations.

"I've nothing to do with it," she began, coldly; but Mrs. Boulte's sobs overcame her, and she addressed herself to the man. "I don't know what I am to say, Captain Kurrell. I don't know what I can call you. I think you've—you've behaved abominably, and she has cut her forehead terribly against the table."

"It doesn't hurt. It isn't anything," said Mrs. Boulte feebly. "That doesn't matter. Tell him what you told me. Say you don't care for him. Oh, Ted, won't you believe her?"

"Mrs. Boulte has made me understand that you were—that you were fond of her once upon a time," went on Mrs. Vansuythen.

"Well!" said Kurrell brutally. "It seems to me that Mrs. Boulte had better be fond of her own husband first."

"Stop!" said Mrs. Vansuythen. "Hear me first. I don't care—I don't want to know anything about you and Mrs. Boulte; but I want you to know that I hate you, that I think you are a cur, and that I'll never, never speak to you again. Oh, I don't dare to say what I think of you, you—man! Sais, gorah ko jane do."

"I want to speak to Ted," moaned Mrs. Boulte, but the dog-cart rattled on, and Kurrell was left on the road, shamed, and boiling with wrath against Mrs. Boulte.

He waited till Mrs. Vansuythen was driving back to her own house, and, she being freed from the embarrassment of Mrs. Boulte's presence, learned for the second time her opinion of himself and his actions.

In the evenings, it was the wont of all Kashima to meet at the platform on the Narkarra Road, to drink tea, and discuss the trivialities of the day. Major Vansuythen and his wife found themselves alone at the gathering-place for almost the first time in their remembrance; and the cheery Major, in the teeth of his wife's remarkably reasonable suggestion that the rest of the Station might be sick, insisted upon driving round to the two bungalows and unearthing the population.

"Sitting in the twilight!" said he, with great indignation to the Boultes. "That'll never do! Hang it all, we're one family here! You must come out, and so must Kurrell. I'll make him bring his banjo." So great is the power of honest simplicity and a good digestion over guilty consciences that all Kashima did turn out, even down to the banjo; and the Major embraced the company in one expansive grin. As he grinned, Mrs. Vansuythen raised her eyes for an instant and looked at all Kashima. Her meaning was clear. Major Vansuythen would never know anything. He was to be the outsider in that happy family whose cage was the Dosehri hills.

"You're singing villainously out of tune, Kurrell," said the Major, truthfully. "Pass me that banjo."

And he sang in excruciating-wise till the stars came out and all Kashima went to dinner.


That was the beginning of the New Life of Kashima—the life that Mrs. Boulte made when her tongue was loosened in the twilight.

Mrs. Vansuythen has never told the Major; and since be insists upon keeping up a burdensome geniality, she has been compelled to break her vow of not speaking to Kurrell. This speech, which must of necessity preserve the semblance of politeness and interest, serves admirably to keep alive the flame of jealousy and dull hatred in Boulte's bosom, as it awakens the same passions in his wife's heart. Mrs. Boulte hates Mrs. Vansuythen because she has taken Ted from her, and, in some curious fashion, hates her because Mrs. Vansuythen—and here the wife's eyes see far more clearly than the husband's—detests Ted. And Ted—that gallant captain and honorable man—knows now that it is possible to hate a woman once loved, to the verge of wishing to silence her forever with blows. Above all, is he shocked that Mrs. Boulte cannot see the error of her ways.

Boulte and he go out tiger-shooting together in all friendship. Boulte has put their relationship on a most satisfactory footing.

"You're a blackguard," he says to Kurrell, "and I've lost any self-respect I may ever have had; but when you're with me, I can feel certain that you are not with Mrs. Vansuythen, or making Emma miserable."

Kurrell endures anything that Boulte may say to him. Sometimes they are away for three days together, and then the Major insists upon his wife going over to sit with Mrs. Boulte; although Mrs. Vansuythen has repeatedly declared that she prefers her husband's company to any in the world. From the way in which she clings to him, she would certainly seem to be speaking the truth.

But of course, as the Major says, "in a little Station we must all be friendly."





THE HILL OF ILLUSION

   What rendered vain their deep desire?
   A God, a God their severance ruled,
   And bade between their shores to be
   The unplumbed, salt, estranging sea.
               —Matthew Arnold.

HE. Tell your jhampanis not to hurry so, dear. They forget I'm fresh from the Plains.

SHE. Sure proof that I have not been going out with any one. Yes, they are an untrained crew. Where do we go?

HE. As usual—to the world's end. No, Jakko.

SHE. Have your pony led after you, then. It's a long round.

HE. And for the last time, thank Heaven!

SHE. Do you mean that still? I didn't dare to write to you about it... all these months.

HE. Mean it! I've been shaping my affairs to that end since Autumn. What makes you speak as though it had occurred to you for the first time?

SHE. I! Oh! I don't know. I've had long enough to think, too.

HE. And you've changed your mind?

SHE. No. You ought to know that I am a miracle of constancy. What are your—arrangements?

HE. Ours, Sweetheart, please.

SHE. Ours, be it then. My poor boy, how the prickly heat has marked your forehead! Have you ever tried sulphate of copper in water?

HE. It'll go away in a day or two up here. The arrangements are simple enough. Tonga in the early morning—reach Kalka at twelve—Umballa at seven—down, straight by night train, to Bombay, and then the steamer of the 21st for Rome. That's my idea. The Continent and Sweden—a ten-week honeymoon.

SHE. Ssh! Don't talk of it in that way. It makes me afraid. Guy, how long have we two been insane?

HE. Seven months and fourteen days; I forget the odd hours exactly, but I'll think.

SHE. I only wanted to see if you remembered. Who are those two on the Blessington Road?

HE. Eabrey and the Penner woman. What do they matter to us? Tell me everything that you've been doing and saying and thinking.

SHE. Doing little, saying less, and thinking a great deal. I've hardly been out at all.

Ha. That was wrong of you. You haven't been moping?

SHE. Not very much. Can you wonder that I'm disinclined for amusement?

HE. Frankly, I do. Where was the difficulty?

SHE. In this only. The more people I know and the more I'm known here, the wider spread will be the news of the crash when it comes. I don't like that.

HE. Nonsense. We shall be out of it.

SHE. You think so?

HE. I'm sure of it, if there is any power in steam or horse-flesh to carry us away. Ha! ha!

SHE. And the fun of the situation comes in—where, my Lancelot?

HE. Nowhere, Guinevere. I was only thinking of something.

SHE. They say men have a keener sense of humor than women. Now I was thinking of the scandal.

HE. Don't think of anything so ugly. We shall be beyond it.

SHE. It will be there all the same in the mouths of Simla—telegraphed over India, and talked of at the dinners—and when He goes out they will stare at Him to see how He takes it. And we shall be dead, Guy dear—dead and cast into the outer darkness where there is—

HE. Love at least. Isn't that enough?

SHE. I have said so.

HE. And you think so still?

SHE. What do you think?

Ha. What have I done? It means equal ruin to me, as the world reckons it—outcasting, the loss of my appointment, the breaking of my life's work. I pay my price.

SHE. And are you so much above the world that you can afford to pay it? Am I?

Ha. My Divinity—what else?

SHE. A very ordinary woman I'm afraid, but, so far, respectable. How'd you do, Mrs. Middleditch? Your husband? I think he's riding down to Annandale with Colonel Statters. Yes, isn't it divine after the rain?—Guy, how long am I to be allowed to bow to Mrs. Middleditch? Till the 17th?

HE. Frowsy Scotchwoman? What is the use of bringing her into the discussion? You were saying?

SHE. Nothing. Have you ever seen a man hanged?

HE. Yes. Once.

SHE. What was it for?

HE. Murder, of course.

SHE. Murder. Is that so great a sin after all? I wonder how he felt before the drop fell.

HE. I don't think he felt much. What a gruesome little woman it is this evening! You're shivering. Put on your cape, dear.

SHE. I think I will. Oh! Look at the mist coming over Sanjaoli; and I thought we should have sunshine on the Ladies' Mile! Let's turn back.

HE. What's the good? There's a cloud on Elysium Hill, and that means it's foggy all down the Mall. We'll go on. It'll blow away before we get to the Convent, perhaps. 'Jove! It is chilly.

SHE. You feel it, fresh from below. Put on your ulster. What do you think of my cape?

HE. Never ask a man his opinion of a woman's dress when he is desperately and abjectly in love with the wearer. Let me look. Like everything else of yours it's perfect. Where did you get it from?

SHE. He gave it me, on Wednesday... our wedding-day, you know.

HE. The deuce He did! He's growing generous in his old age. D'you like all that frilly, bunchy stuff at the throat? I don't.

SHE. Don't you?

   "Kind Sir, O' your courtesy,
   As you go by the town, Sir,
   Pray you O' your love for me,
   Buy me a russet gown, Sir."

HE. I won't say: "Keek into the draw-well, Janet, Janet." Only wait a little, darling, and you shall be stocked with russet gowns and everything else.

SHE. And when the frocks wear out, you'll get me new ones—and everything else?

HE. Assuredly.

SHE. I wonder!

HE. Look here, Sweetheart, I didn't spend two days and two nights in the train to hear you wonder. I thought we'd settled all that at Shaifazehat.

SHE (dreamily). At Shaifazehat? Does the Station go on still? That was ages and ages ago. It must be crumbling to pieces. All except the Amirtollah kutcha road. I don't believe that could crumble till the Day of Judgment.

Ha. You think so? What is the mood now?

SHE. I can't tell. How cold it is! Let us get on quickly.

Ha. Better walk a little. Stop your jhampanis and get out. What's the matter with you this evening, dear?

SHE. Nothing. You must grow accustomed to my ways. If I'm boring you I can go home. Here's Captain Congleton coming; I dare say he'll be willing to escort me.

Ha. Goose! Between us, too! Damn Captain Congleton. There!

SHE. Chivalrous Knight! Is it your habit to swear much in talking? It jars a little, and you might swear at me.

HE. My angel! I didn't know what I was saying; and you changed so quickly that I couldn't follow. I'll apologize in dust and ashes.

SHE. There'll be enough of those later on. Good night, Captain Congleton. Going to the singing-quadrilles already? What dances am I giving you next week? No! You must have written them down wrong. Five and Seven, I said. If you've made a mistake, I certainly don't intend to suffer for it. You must alter your programme.

HE. I thought you told me that you had not been going out much this season?

SHE. Quite true, but when I do I dance with Captain Congleton. He dances very nicely.

HE. And sit out with him, I suppose?

SHE. Yes. Have you any objection? Shall I stand under the chandelier in future?

HE. What does he talk to you about?

SHE. What do men talk about when they sit out?

Ha. Ugh! Don't! Well now I'm up, you must dispense with the fascinating Congleton for a while. I don't like him.

SHE. (after a pause). Do you know what you have said?

HE. 'Can't say that I do exactly. I'm not in the best of tempers.

SHE. So I see... and feel. My true and faithful lover, where is your "eternal constancy," "unalterable trust," and "reverent devotion"? I remember those phrases; you seem to have forgotten them. I mention a man's name—

HE. A good deal more than that.

SHE. Well, speak to him about a dance—perhaps the last dance that I shall ever dance in my life before I... before I go away; and you at once distrust and insult me.

HE. I never said a word.

SHE. How much did you imply? Guy, is this amount of confidence to be our stock to start the new life on?

HE. No, of course not. I didn't mean that. On my word of honor, I didn't. Let it pass, dear. Please let it pass.

SHE. This once—yes—and a second time, and again and again, all through the years when I shall be unable to resent it. You want too much, my Lancelot, and... you know too much.

HE. How do you mean?

SHE. That is a part of the punishment. There cannot be perfect trust between us.

HE. In Heaven's name, why not?

SHE. Hush! The Other Place is quite enough. Ask yourself.

HE. I don't follow.

SHE. You trust me so implicitly that when I look at another man—Never mind, Guy. Have you ever made love to a girl—a good girl?

HE. Something of the sort. Centuries ago—in the Dark Ages, before I ever met you, dear.

SHE. Tell me what you said to her.

HE. What does a man say to a girl? I've forgotten.

SHE. I remember. He tells her that he trusts her and worships the ground she walks on, and that he'll love and honor and protect her till her dying day; and so she marries in that belief. At least, I speak of one girl who was not protected.

HE. Well, and then?

SHE. And then, Guy, and then, that girl needs ten times the love and trust and honor—yes, honor—that was enough when she was only a mere wife if—if—the other life she chooses to lead is to be made even bearable. Do you understand?

HE. Even bearable! It'll he Paradise.

SHE. Ah! Can you give me all I've asked for—not now, nor a few months later, but when you begin to think of what you might have done if you had kept your own appointment and your caste here—when you begin to look upon me as a drag and a burden? I shall want it most, then, Guy, for there will be no one in the wide world but you.

HE. You're a little over-tired tonight, Sweetheart, and you're taking a stage view of the situation. After the necessary business in the Courts, the road is clear to—

SHE. "The holy state of matrimony!" Ha! ha! ha!

HE. Ssh! Don't laugh in that horrible way!

SHE. I-I c-c-c-can't help it! Isn't it too absurd! Ah! Ha! ha! ha! Guy, stop me quick or I shall—l-l-laugh till we get to the Church.

HE. For goodness' sake, stop! Don't make an exhibition of yourself. What is the matter with you?

SHE. N-nothing. I'm better now.

HE. That's all right. One moment, dear. There's a little wisp of hair got loose from behind your right ear and it's straggling over your cheek. So!

SHE. Thank'oo. I'm 'fraid my hat's on one side, too.

HE. What do you wear these huge dagger bonnet-skewers for? They're big enough to kill a man with.

SHE. Oh! Don't kill me, though. You're sticking it into my head! Let me do it. You men are so clumsy.

HE. Have you had many opportunities of comparing us—in this sort of work?

SHE. Guy, what is my name?

HE. Eh! I don't follow.

SHE. Here's my cardcase. Can you read?

HE. Yes. Well?

SHE. Well, that answers your question. You know the other man's name. Am I sufficiently humbled, or would you like to ask me if there is any one else?

HE. I see now. My darling, I never meant that for an instant. I was only joking. There! Lucky there's no one on the road. They'd be scandalized.

SHE. They'll be more scandalized before the end.

HE. Do-on't! I don't like you to talk in that way.

SHE. Unreasonable man! Who asked me to face the situation and accept it? Tell me, do I look like Mrs. Penner? Do I look like a naughty woman? Swear I don't! Give me your word of honor, my honorable friend, that I'm not like Mrs. Buzgago. That's the way she stands, with her hands clasped at the back of her head. D'you like that?

HE. Don't be affected.

SHE. I'm not. I'm Mrs. Buzgago. Listen!

    Pendant une anne' toute entiere
    Le regiment n'a pas r'paru.
    Au Ministere de la Guerre
    On le r'porta comme perdu.

    On se r'noncait a r'trouver sa trace,
    Quand un matin subitement,
    On le vit r'paraitre sur la place
    L'Colonel toujours en avant.

That's the way she rolls her r's. Am I like her?

HE. No, but I object when you go on like an actress and sing stuff of that kind. Where in the world did you pick up the Chanson du Colonel? It isn't a drawing-room song. It isn't proper.

SHE. Mrs. Buzgago taught it me. She is both drawing-room and proper, and in another month she'll shut her drawing-room to me, and thank God she isn't as improper as I am. Oh, Guy, Guy! I wish I was like some women and had no scruples about—what is it Keene says?—"Wearing a corpse's hair and being false to the bread they eat."

HE. I am only a man of limited intelligence, and just now, very bewildered. When you have quite finished flashing through all your moods tell me, and I'll try to understand the last one.

SHE. Moods, Guy! I haven't any. I'm sixteen years old and you're just twenty, and you've been waiting for two hours outside the school in the cold. And now I've met you, and now we're walking home together. Does that suit you, My Imperial Majesty?

HE. No. We aren't children. Why can't you be rational?

SHE. He asks me that when I'm going to commit suicide for his sake, and, and—I don't want to be French and rave about my mother, but have I ever told you that I have a mother, and a brother who was my pet before I married? He's married now. Can't you imagine the pleasure that the news of the elopement will give him? Have you any people at Home, Guy, to be pleased with your performances?

HE. One or two. One can't make omelets without breaking eggs.

SHE (slowly). I don't see the necessity—

HE. Hah! What do you mean?

SHE. Shall I speak the truth?

HE. Under the circumstances, perhaps it would be as well.

SHE. Guy, I'm afraid.

HE. I thought we'd settled all that. What of?

SHE. Of you.

HE. Oh, damn it all! The old business! This is too had!

SHE. Of you.

HE. And what now?

SHE. What do you think of me?

HE. Beside the question altogether. What do you intend to do?

SHE. I daren't risk it. I'm afraid. If I could only cheat—

HE. A la Buzgago? No, thanks. That's the one point on which I have any notion of Honor. I won't eat his salt and steal too. I'll loot openly or not at all.

SHE. I never meant anything else.

HE. Then, why in the world do you pretend not to be willing to come?

SHE. It's not pretence, Guy. I am afraid.

HE. Please explain.

SHE. It can't last, Guy. It can't last. You'll get angry, and then you'll swear, and then you'll get jealous, and then you'll mistrust me—you do now—and you yourself will be the best reason for doubting. And I—what shall I do? I shall be no better than Mrs. Buzgago found out—no better than any one. And you'll know that. Oh, Guy, can't you see?

HE. I see that you are desperately unreasonable, little woman.

SHE. There! The moment I begin to object, you get angry. What will you do when I am only your property—stolen property? It can't be, Guy. It can't be! I thought it could, but it can't. You'll get tired of me.

HE. I tell you I shall not. Won't anything make you understand that?

SHE. There, can't you see? If you speak to me like that now, you'll call me horrible names later, if I don't do everything as you like. And if you were cruel to me, Guy, where should I go—where should I go? I can't trust you. Oh! I can't trust you!

HE. I suppose I ought to say that I can trust you. I've ample reason.

SHE. Please don't, dear. It hurts as much as if you hit me.

HE. It isn't exactly pleasant for me.

SHE. I can't help it. I wish I were dead! I can't trust you, and I don't trust myself. Oh, Guy, let it die away and be forgotten!

HE. Too late now. I don't understand you—I won't—and I can't trust myself to talk this evening. May I call tomorrow?

SHE. Yes. No! Oh, give me time! The day after. I get into my 'rickshaw here and meet Him at Peliti's. You ride.

HE. I'll go on to Peliti's too. I think I want a drink. My world's knocked about my ears and the stars are falling. Who are those brutes howling in the Old Library?

SHE. They're rehearsing the singing-quadrilles for the Fancy Ball. Can't you hear Mrs. Buzgago's voice? She has a solo. It's quite a new idea. Listen.

MRS. BUZGAGO (in the Old Library, con. molt. exp.).

See-saw! Margery Daw! Sold her bed to lie upon straw. Wasn't she a silly slut To sell her bed and lie upon dirt?

Captain Congleton, I'm going to alter that to "flirt." It sound better.

HE. No, I've changed my mind about the drink. Good night, little lady. I shall see you tomorrow?

SHE. Yes. Good night, Guy. Don't be angry with me.

HE. Angry! You know I trust you absolutely. Good night and—God bless you!

(Three seconds later. Alone.) Hmm! I'd give something to discover whether there's another man at the back of all this.





A SECOND-RATE WOMAN

   Est fuga, volvitur rota,
    On we drift; where looms the dim port?
   One Two Three Four Five contribute their quota:
    Something is gained if one caught but the import,
   Show it us, Hugues of Saxe-Gotha.

   —Master Hugues of Saxe-Gotha.

"DRESSED! Don't tell me that woman ever dressed in her life. She stood in the middle of her room while her ayah—no, her husband—it must have been a man—threw her clothes at her. She then did her hair with her fingers, and rubbed her bonnet in the flue under the bed. I know she did, as well as if I had assisted at the orgy. Who is she?" said Mrs. Hauksbee.

"Don't!" said Mrs. Mallowe, feebly. "You make my head ache. I'm miserable today. Stay me with fondants, comfort me with chocolates, for I am—Did you bring anything from Peliti's?"

"Questions to begin with. You shall have the sweets when you have answered them. Who and what is the creature? There were at least half a dozen men round her, and she appeared to be going to sleep in their midst."

"Delville," said Mrs. Mallowe, "'Shady' Delville, to distinguish her from Mrs. Jim of that ilk. She dances as untidily as she dresses, I believe, and her husband is somewhere in Madras. Go and call, if you are so interested."

"What have I to do with Shigramitish women? She merely caught my attention for a minute, and I wondered at the attraction that a dowd has for a certain type of man. I expected to see her walk out of her clothes—until I looked at her eyes."

"Hooks and eyes, surely," drawled Mrs. Mallowe.

"Don't be clever, Polly. You make my head ache. And round this hayrick stood a crowd of men—a positive crowd!"

"Perhaps they also expected"—

"Polly, don't be Rabelaisian!"

Mrs. Mallowe curled herself up comfortably on the sofa, and turned her attention to the sweets. She and Mrs. Hauksbee shared the same house at Simla; and these things befell two seasons after the matter of Otis Yeere, which has been already recorded.

Mrs. Hauksbee stepped into the veranda and looked down upon the Mall, her forehead puckered with thought.

"Hah!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, shortly. "Indeed!"

"What is it?" said Mrs. Mallowe, sleepily.

"That dowd and The Dancing Master—to whom I object."

"Why to The Dancing Master? He is a middle-aged gentleman, of reprobate and romantic tendencies, and tries to be a friend of mine."

"Then make up your mind to lose him. Dowds cling by nature, and I should imagine that this animal—how terrible her bonnet looks from above!—is specially clingsome."

"She is welcome to The Dancing Master so far as I am concerned. I never could take an interest in a monotonous liar. The frustrated aim of his life is to persuade people that he is a bachelor."

"0—oh! I think I've met that sort of man before. And isn't he?"

"No. He confided that to me a few days ago. Ugh! Some men ought to Be killed."

"What happened then?"

"He posed as the horror of horrors—a misunderstood man. Heaven knows the femme incomprise is sad enough and had enough—but the other thing!"

"And so fat too! I should have laughed in his face. Men seldom confide in me. How is it they come to you?"

"For the sake of impressing me with their careers in the past. Protect me from men with confidences!"

"And yet you encourage them?"

"What can I do? They talk. I listen, and they vow that I am sympathetic. I know I always profess astonishment even when the plot is—of the most old possible."

"Yes. Men are so unblushingly explicit if they are once allowed to talk, whereas women's confidences are full of reservations and fibs, except"—

"When they go mad and babble of the Unutterabilities after a week's acquaintance. Really, if you come to consider, we know a great deal more of men than of our own sex."

"And the extraordinary thing is that men will never believe it. They say we are trying to hide something."

"They are generally doing that on their own account. Alas! These chocolates pall upon me, and I haven't eaten more than a dozen. I think I shall go to sleep."

"Then you'll get fat dear. If you took more exercise and a more intelligent interest in your neighbors you would—"

"Be as much loved as Mrs. Hauksbee. You're a darling in many ways and I like you—you are not a woman's woman—but why do you trouble yourself about mere human beings?"

"Because in the absence of angels, who I am sure would be horribly dull, men and women are the most fascinating things in the whole wide world, lazy one. I am interested in The Dowd—I am interested in The Dancing Master—I am interested in the Hawley Boy—and I am interested in you."

"Why couple me with the Hawley Boy? He is your property."

"Yes, and in his own guileless speech, I'm making a good thing out of him. When he is slightly more reformed, and has passed his Higher Standard, or whatever the authorities think fit to exact from him, I shall select a pretty little girl, the Holt girl, I think, and"—here she waved her hands airily—"'whom Mrs. Hauksbee hath joined together let no man put asunder.' That's all."

"And when you have yoked May Holt with the most notorious detrimental in Simla, and earned the undying hatred of Mamma Holt, what will you do with me, Dispenser of the Destinies of the Universe?"

Mrs. Hauksbee dropped into a low chair in front of the fire, and, chin in band, gazed long and steadfastly at Mrs. Mallowe.

"I do not know," she said, shaking her head, "what I shall do with you, dear. It's obviously impossible to marry you to some one else—your husband would object and the experiment might not be successful after all. I think I shall begin by preventing you from—what is it?—'sleeping on ale-house benches and snoring in the sun.'"

"Don't! I don't like your quotations. They are so rude. Go to the Library and bring me new books."

"While you sleep? No! If you don't come with me, I shall spread your newest frock on my 'rickshaw-bow, and when any one asks me what I am doing, I shall say that I am going to Phelps's to get it let out. I shall take care that Mrs. MacNamara sees me. Put your things on, there's a good girl."

Mrs. Mallowe groaned and obeyed, and the two went off to the Library, where they found Mrs. Delville and the man who went by the nickname of The Dancing Master. By that time Mrs Mallowe was awake and eloquent.

"That is the Creature!" said Mrs Hauksbee, with the air of one pointing out a slug in the road.

"No," said Mrs. Mallowe. "The man is the Creature. Ugh! Good-evening, Mr. Bent. I thought you were coming to tea this evening."

"Surely it was for tomorrow, was it not?" answered The Dancing Master. "I understood... I fancied... I'm so sorry... How very unfortunate!..."

But Mrs. Mallowe had passed on.

"For the practiced equivocator you said he was," murmured Mrs. Hauksbee, "he strikes me as a failure. Now wherefore should he have preferred a walk with The Dowd to tea with us? Elective affinities, I suppose—both grubby. Polly, I'd never forgive that woman as long as the world rolls."

"I forgive every woman everything," said Mrs. Mallowe. "He will be a sufficient punishment for her. What a common voice she has!"

Mrs. Delville's voice was not pretty, her carriage was even less lovely, and her raiment was strikingly neglected. All these things Mrs. Mallowe noticed over the top of a magazine.

"Now what is there in her?" said Mrs. Hauksbee. "Do you see what I meant about the clothes falling off? If I were a man I would perish sooner than be seen with that rag-bag. And yet, she has good eyes, but—oh!"

"What is it?"

"She doesn't know how to use them! On my Honor, she does not. Look! Oh look! Untidiness I can endure, but ignorance never! The woman's a fool."

"H'sh! She'll hear you."

"All the women in Simla are fools. She'll think I mean some one else. Now she's going out. What a thoroughly objectionable couple she and The Dancing Master make! Which reminds me. Do you suppose they'll ever dance together?"

"Wait and see. I don't envy her the conversation of The Dancing Master—loathly man. His wife ought to be up here before long."

"Do you know anything about him?"

"Only what he told me. It may be all a fiction. He married a girl bred in the country, I think, and, being an honorable, chivalrous soul, told me that he repented his bargain and sent her to her mother as often as possible—a person who has lived in the Doon since the memory of man and goes to Mussoorie when other people go Home. The wife is with her at present. So he says."

'Babies?'

"One only, but he talks of his wife in a revolting way. I hated him for it. He thought he was being epigrammatic and brilliant."

"That is a vice peculiar to men. I dislike him because he is generally in the wake of some girl, disappointing the Eligibles. He will persecute May Holt no more, unless I am much mistaken."

"No. I think Mrs. Delville may occupy his attention for a while."

"Do you suppose she knows that he is the head of a family?"

"Not from his lips. He swore me to eternal secrecy. Wherefore I tell you. Don't you know that type of man?"

"Not intimately, thank goodness! As a general rule, when a man begins to abuse his wife to me, I find that the Lord gives me wherewith to answer him according to his folly; and we part with a coolness between us. I laugh."

"I'm different. I've no sense of humor."

"Cultivate it, then. It has been my mainstay for more years than I care to think about. A well-educated sense of Humor will save a woman when Religion, Training, and Home influences fail; and we may all need salvation sometimes."

"Do you suppose that the Delville woman has humor?"

"Her dress betrays her. How can a Thing who wears her supple'ment under her left arm have any notion of the fitness of things—much less their folly? If she discards The Dancing Master after having once seen him dance, I may respect her, Otherwise—

"But are we not both assuming a great deal too much, dear? You saw the woman at Peliti's—half an hour later you saw her walking with The Dancing Master—an hour later you met her here at the Library."

"Still with The Dancing Master, remember."

"Still with The Dancing Master, I admit, but why on the strength of that should you imagine"—

"I imagine nothing. I have no imagination. I am only convinced that The Dancing Master is attracted to The Dowd because he is objectionable in every way and she in every other. If I know the man as you have described him, he holds his wife in slavery at present."

"She is twenty years younger than he."

"Poor wretch! And, in the end, after he has posed and swaggered and lied—he has a mouth under that ragged moustache simply made for lies—he will be rewarded according to his merits."

"I wonder what those really are," said Mrs. Mallowe.

But Mrs. Hauksbee, her face close to the shelf of the new books, was humming softly: "What shall he have who killed the Deer!" She was a lady of unfettered speech.

One month later, she announced her intention of calling upon Mrs. Delville. Both Mrs. Hauksbee and Mrs. Mallowe were in morning wrappers, and there was a great peace in the land.

"I should go as I was," said Mrs. Mallowe. "It would be a delicate compliment to her style."

Mrs. Hauksbee studied herself in the glass.

"Assuming for a moment that she ever darkened these doors, I should put on this robe, after all the others, to show her what a morning wrapper ought to be. It might enliven her. As it is, I shall go in the dove-colored—sweet emblem of youth and innocence—and shall put on my new gloves."

"If you really are going, dirty tan would be too good; and you know that dove—color spots with the rain."

"I care not. I may make her envious. At least I shall try, though one cannot expect very much from a woman who puts a lace tucker into her habit."

"Just Heavens! When did she do that?"

"Yesterday—riding with The Dancing Master. I met them at the back of Jakko, and the rain had made the lace lie down. To complete the effect, she was wearing an unclean terai with the elastic under her chin. I felt almost too well content to take the trouble to despise her."

"The Hawley Boy was riding with you. What did he think?"

"Does a boy ever notice these things? Should I like him if he did? He stared in the rudest way, and just when I thought he had seen the elastic, he said, 'There's something very taking about that face.' I rebuked him on the spot. I don't approve of boys being taken by faces."

"Other than your own. I shouldn't be in the least surprised if the Hawley Boy immediately went to call."

"I forbade him. Let her be satisfied with The Dancing Master, and his wife when she comes up. I'm rather curious to see Mrs. Bent and the Delville woman together."

Mrs. Hauksbee departed and, at the end of an hour, returned slightly flushed.

"There is no limit to the treachery of youth! I ordered the Hawley Boy, as he valued my patronage, not to call. The first person I stumble over—literally stumble over—in her poky, dark, little drawing-room is, of course, the Hawley Boy. She kept us waiting ten minutes, and then emerged as though he had been tipped out of the dirty-clothes basket. You know my way, dear, when I am all put out. I was Superior, crrrushingly Superior! 'Lifted my eyes to Heaven, and had heard of nothing—'dropped my eyes on the carpet and 'really didn't know'—'played with my cardcase and 'supposed so.' The Hawley Boy giggled like a girl, and I had to freeze him with scowls between the sentences."

"And she?"

"She sat in a heap on the edge of a couch, and managed to convey the impression that she was suffering from stomach-ache, at the very least. It was all I could do not to ask after her symptoms. When I rose she grunted just like a buffalo in the water—too lazy to move."

"Are you certain?"—

"Am I blind, Polly? Laziness, sheer laziness, nothing else—or her garments were only constructed for sitting down in. I stayed for a quarter of an hour trying to penetrate the gloom, to guess what her surroundings were like, while she stuck out her tongue."

"Lu—cy!"

"Well—I'll withdraw the tongue, though I'm sure if she didn't do it when I was in the room, she did the minute I was outside. At any rate, she lay in a lump and grunted. Ask the Hawley Boy, dear. I believe the grunts were meant for sentences, but she spoke so indistinctly that I can't swear to it."

"You are incorrigible, simply."

"I am not! Treat me civilly, give me peace with honor, don't put the only available seat facing the window, and a child may eat jam in my lap before Church. But I resent being grunted at. Wouldn't you? Do you suppose that she communicates her views on life and love to The Dancing Master in a set of modulated 'Grmphs'?"

"You attach too much importance to The Dancing Master."

"He came as we went, and The Dowd grew almost cordial at the sight of him. He smiled greasily, and moved about that darkened dog-kennel in a suspiciously familiar way."

"Don't be uncharitable. Any sin but that I'll forgive."

"Listen to the voice of History. I am only describing what I saw. He entered, the heap on the sofa revived slightly, and the Hawley Boy and I came away together. He is disillusioned, but I felt it my duty to lecture him severely for going there. And that's all."

"Now for Pity's sake leave the wretched creature and The Dancing Master alone. They never did you any harm."

"No harm? To dress as an example and a stumbling-block for half Simla, and then to find this Person who is dressed by the hand of God—not that I wish to disparage Him for a moment, but you know the tikka-dhurzie way He attires those lilies of the field—this Person draws the eyes of men—and some of them nice men? It's almost enough to make one discard clothing. I told the Hawley Boy so."

"And what did that sweet youth do?"

"Turned shell-pink and looked across the far blue hills like a distressed cherub. Am I talking wildly, Polly? Let me say my say, and I shall be calm. Otherwise I may go abroad and disturb Simla with a few original reflections. Excepting always your own sweet self, there isn't a single woman in the land who understands me when I am—what's the word?"

"Tete-Fele'e," suggested Mrs. Mallowe.

"Exactly! And now let us have tiffin. The demands of Society are exhausting, and as Mrs. Delville says"—Here Mrs. Hauksbee, to the horror of the khitmatgars, lapsed into a series of grunts, while Mrs. Mallowe stared in lazy surprise.

"'God gie us a gude conceit of oorselves,'" said Mrs. Hauksbee, piously, returning to her natural speech. "Now, in any other woman that would have been vulgar. I am consumed with curiosity to see Mrs. Bent. I expect complications."

"Woman of one idea," said Mrs. Mallowe, shortly; "all complications are as old as the hills! I have lived through or near all—all—ALL!"

"And yet do not understand that men and women never behave twice alike. I am old who was young—if ever I put my head in your lap, you dear, big sceptic, you will learn that my parting is gauze—but never, no never have I lost my interest in men and women. Polly, I shall see this business Out to the bitter end."

"I am going to sleep," said Mrs. Mallowe, calmly. "I never interfere with men or women unless I am compelled," and she retired with dignity to her own room.

Mrs. Hauksbee's curiosity was not long left ungratified, for Mrs. Bent came up to Simla a few days after the conversation faithfully reported above, and pervaded the Mall by her husband's side.

"Behold!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, thoughtfully rubbing her nose. "That is the last link of the chain, if we omit the husband of the Delville, whoever he may be. Let me consider. The Bents and the Delvilles inhabit the same hotel; and the Delville is detested by the Waddy—do you know the Waddy?—who is almost as big a dowd. The Waddy also abominates the male Bent, for which, if her other sins do not weigh too heavily, she will eventually be caught up to Heaven."

"Don't be irreverent," said Mrs. Mallowe. "I like Mrs. Bent's face."

"I am discussing the Waddy," returned Mrs. Hauksbee, loftily. "The Waddy will take the female Bent apart, after having borrowed—yes!—everything that she can, from hairpins to babies' bottles. Such, my dear, is life in a hotel. The Waddy will tell the female Bent facts and fictions about The Dancing Master and The Dowd."

"Lucy, I should like you better if you were not always looking into people's back bedrooms."

"Anybody can look into their front drawing-rooms; and remember whatever I do, and whatever I look, I never talk—as the Waddy will. Let us hope that The Dancing Master's greasy smile and manner of the pedagogue will soften the heart of that cow, his wife. If mouths speak truth, I should think that little Mrs. Bent could get very angry on occasion.

"But what reason has she for being angry?"

"What reason! The Dancing Master in himself is a reason. How does it go? 'If in his life some trivial errors fall, Look in his face and you'll believe them all.' I am prepared to credit any evil of The Dancing Master, because I hate him so. And The Dowd is so disgustingly badly dressed"—

"That she, too, is capable of every iniquity? I always prefer to believe the best of everybody. It saves so much trouble."

"Very good. I prefer to believe the worst. It saves useless expenditure of sympathy. And you may be quite certain that the Waddy believes with me."

Mrs. Mallowe sighed and made no answer.

The conversation was holden after dinner while Mrs. Hauksbee was dressing for a dance.

"I am too tired to go," pleaded Mrs. Mallowe, and Mrs. Hauksbee left her in peace till two in the morning, when she was aware of emphatic knocking at her door.

"Don't be very angry, dear," said Mrs. Hauksbee. "My idiot of an ayah has gone home, and, as I hope to sleep tonight, there isn't a soul in the place to unlace me."

"Oh, this is too bad!" said Mrs. Mallowe sulkily.

"'Can't help it. I'm a lone, lorn grass-widow, dear, but I will not sleep in my stays. And such news, too! Oh, do unlace me, there's a darling! The Dowd—The Dancing Master—I and the Hawley Boy—You know the North veranda?"

"How can I do anything if you spin round like this?" protested Mrs. Mallowe, fumbling with the knot of the laces.

"Oh, I forget. I must tell my tale without the aid of your eyes. Do you know you've lovely eyes, dear? Well to begin with, I took the Hawley Boy to a kala juggah."

"Did he want much taking?"

"Lots! There was an arrangement of loose-boxes in kanats, and she was in the next one talking to him."

"Which? How? Explain."

"You know what I mean—The Dowd and The Dancing Master. We could hear every word and we listened shamelessly—'specially the Hawley Boy. Polly, I quite love that woman!"

"This is interesting. There! Now turn round. What happened?"

"One moment. Ah-h! Blessed relief. I've been looking forward to taking them off for the last half-hour—which is ominous at my time of life. But, as I was saying, we listened and heard The Dowd drawl worse than ever. She drops her final g's like a barmaid or a blue-blooded Aide-de-Camp. 'Look he-ere, you're gettin' too fond 0' me,' she said, and The Dancing Master owned it was so in language that nearly made me ill. The Dowd reflected for a while. Then we heard her say, 'Look he-ere, Mister Bent, why are you such an awful liar?' I nearly exploded while The Dancing Master denied the charge. It seems that he never told her he was a married man."

"I said he wouldn't."

"And she had taken this to heart, on personal grounds, I suppose. She drawled along for five minutes, reproaching him with his perfidy and grew quite motherly. 'Now you've got a nice little wife of your own—you have,' she said. 'She's ten times too good for a fat old man like you, and, look he-ere, you never told me a word about her, and I've been thinkin' about it a good deal, and I think you're a liar.' Wasn't that delicious? The Dancing Master maundered and raved till the Hawley Boy suggested that he should burst in and beat him. His voice runs up into an impassioned squeak when he is afraid. The Dowd must be an extraordinary woman. She explained that had he been a bachelor she might not have objected to his devotion; but since he was a married man and the father of a very nice baby, she considered him a hypocrite, and this she repeated twice. She wound up her drawl with: 'An I'm tellin' you this because your wife is angry with me, an' I hate quarrellin' with any other woman, an' I like your wife. You know how you have behaved for the last six weeks. You shouldn't have done it, indeed you shouldn't. You're too old an' fat.' Can't you imagine how The Dancing Master would wince at that! 'Now go away,' she said. 'I don't want to tell you what I think of you, because I think you are not nice. I'll stay he-ere till the next dance begins.' Did you think that the creature had so much in her?"

"I never studied her as closely as you did. It sounds unnatural. What happened?"

"The Dancing Master attempted blandishment, reproof, jocularity, and the style of the Lord High Warden, and I had almost to pinch the Hawley Boy to make him keep quiet. She grunted at the end of each sentence and, in the end he went away swearing to himself, quite like a man in a novel. He looked more objectionable than ever. I laughed. I love that woman—in spite of her clothes. And now I'm going to bed. What do you think of it?"

"I sha'n't begin to think till the morning," said Mrs. Mallowe, yawning "Perhaps she spoke the truth. They do fly into it by accident sometimes."

Mrs. Hauksbee's account of her eavesdropping was an ornate one but truthful in the main. For reasons best known to herself, Mrs. "Shady" Delville had turned upon Mr Bent and rent him limb from limb, casting him away limp and disconcerted ere she withdrew the light of her eyes from him permanently. Being a man of resource, and anything but pleased in that he had been called both old and fat, he gave Mrs. Bent to understand that he had, during her absence in the Doon, been the victim of unceasing persecution at the hands of Mrs. Delville, and he told the tale so often and with such eloquence that he ended in believing it, while his wife marvelled at the manners and customs of "some women." When the situation showed signs of languishing, Mrs. Waddy was always on hand to wake the smouldering fires of suspicion in Mrs. Bent's bosom and to contribute generally to the peace and comfort of the hotel. Mr. Bent's life was not a happy one, for if Mrs. Waddy's story were true, he was, argued his wife, untrustworthy to the last degree. If his own statement was true, his charms of manner and conversation were so great that he needed constant surveillance. And he received it, till he repented genuinely of his marriage and neglected his personal appearance. Mrs. Delville alone in the hotel was unchanged. She removed her chair some six paces toward the head of the table, and occasionally in the twilight ventured on timid overtures of friendship to Mrs. Bent, which were repulsed.

"She does it for my sake," hinted the Virtuous Bent.

"A dangerous and designing woman," purred Mrs. Waddy.

Worst of all, every other hotel in Simla was full!


"Polly, are you afraid of diphtheria?"

"Of nothing in the world except smallpox. Diphtheria kills, but it doesn't disfigure. Why do you ask?"

"Because the Bent baby has got it, and the whole hotel is upside down in consequence. The Waddy has 'set her five young on the rail' and fled. The Dancing Master fears for his precious throat, and that miserable little woman, his wife, has no notion of what ought to be done. She wanted to put it into a mustard bath—for croup!"

"Where did you learn all this?"

"Just now, on the Mall. Dr. Howlen told me. The Manager of the hotel is abusing the Bents, and the Bents are abusing the manager. They are a feckless couple."

"Well. What's on your mind?"

"This; and I know it's a grave thing to ask. Would you seriously object to my bringing the child over here, with its mother?"

"On the most strict understanding that we see nothing of The Dancing Master."

"He will be only too glad to stay away. Polly, you're an angel. The woman really is at her wits' end."

"And you know nothing about her, careless, and would hold her up to public scorn if it gave you a minute's amusement. Therefore you risk your life for the sake of her brat. No, Loo, I'm not the angel. I shall keep to my rooms and avoid her. But do as you please—only tell me why you do it."

Mrs. Hauksbee's eyes softened; she looked out of the window and back into Mrs. Mallowe's face.

"I don't know," said Mrs. Hauksbee, simply.

"You dear!"

"Polly!—and for aught you knew you might have taken my fringe off. Never do that again without warning. Now we'll get the rooms ready. I don't suppose I shall be allowed to circulate in society for a month."

"And I also. Thank goodness I shall at last get all the sleep I want."

Much to Mrs. Bent's surprise she and the baby were brought over to the house almost before she knew where she was. Bent was devoutly and undisguisedly thankful, for he was afraid of the infection, and also hoped that a few weeks in the hotel alone with Mrs. Delville might lead to explanations. Mrs. Bent had thrown her jealousy to the winds in her fear for her child's life.

"We can give you good milk," said Mrs. Hauksbee to her, "and our house is much nearer to the Doctor's than the hotel, and you won't feel as though you were living in a hostile camp Where is the dear Mrs. Waddy? She seemed to be a particular friend of yours."

"They've all left me," said Mrs. Bent, bitterly. "Mrs. Waddy went first. She said I ought to be ashamed of myself for introducing diseases there, and I am sure it wasn't my fault that little Dora"—

"How nice!" cooed Mrs. Hauksbee. "The Waddy is an infectious disease herself—'more quickly caught than the plague and the taker runs presently mad.' I lived next door to her at the Elysium, three years ago. Now see, you won't give us the least trouble, and I've ornamented all the house with sheets soaked in carbolic. It smells comforting, doesn't it? Remember I'm always in call, and my ayah's at your service when yours goes to her meals and—and... if you cry I'll never forgive you."

Dora Bent occupied her mother's unprofitable attention through the day and the night. The Doctor called thrice in the twenty-four hours, and the house reeked with the smell of the Condy's Fluid, chlorine-water, and carbolic acid washes. Mrs. Mallowe kept to her own rooms—she considered that she had made sufficient concessions in the cause of humanity—and Mrs. Hauksbee was more esteemed by the Doctor as a help in the sick-room than the half-distraught mother.

"I know nothing of illness," said Mrs. Hauksbee to the Doctor. "Only tell me what to do, and I'll do it."

"Keep that crazy woman from kissing the child, and let her have as little to do with the nursing as you possibly can," said the Doctor; "I'd turn her out of the sick-room, but that I honestly believe she'd die of anxiety. She is less than no good, and I depend on you and the ayahs, remember."

Mrs. Hauksbee accepted the responsibility, though it painted olive hollows under her eyes and forced her to her oldest dresses. Mrs. Bent clung to her with more than childlike faith.

"I know you'll, make Dora well, won't you?" she said at least twenty times a day; and twenty times a day Mrs. Hauksbee answered valiantly, "Of course I will."

But Dora did not improve, and the Doctor seemed to be always in the house.

"There's some danger of the thing taking a bad turn," he said; "I'll come over between three and four in the morning tomorrow."

"Good gracious!" said Mrs. Hauksbee. "He never told me what the turn would be! My education has been horribly neglected; and I have only this foolish mother-woman to fall back upon."

The night wore through slowly, and Mrs. Hauksbee dozed in a chair by the fire. There was a dance at the Viceregal Lodge, and she dreamed of it till she was aware of Mrs. Bent's anxious eyes staring into her own.

"Wake up! Wake up! Do something!" cried Mrs. Bent, piteously. "Dora's choking to death! Do you mean to let her die?"

Mrs. Hauksbee jumped to her feet and bent over the bed. The child was fighting for breath, while the mother wrung her hands despairing.

"Oh, what can I do? What can you do? She won't stay still! I can't hold her. Why didn't the Doctor say this was coming?" screamed Mrs. Bent. "Won't you help me? She's dying!"

"I-I've never seen a child die before!" stammered Mrs. Hauksbee, feebly, and then—let none blame her weakness after the strain of long watching—she broke down, and covered her face with her hands. The ayahs on the threshold snored peacefully.

There was a rattle of 'rickshaw wheels below, the clash of an opening door, a heavy step on the stairs, and Mrs. Delville entered to find Mrs. Bent screaming for the Doctor as she ran round the room. Mrs. Hauksbee, her hands to her ears, and her face buried in the chintz of a chair, was quivering with pain at each cry from the bed, and murmuring, "Thank God, I never bore a child! Oh! thank God, I never bore a child!"

Mrs. Delville looked at the bed for an instant, took Mrs. Bent by the shoulders, and said, quietly, "Get me some caustic. Be quick."

The mother obeyed mechanically. Mrs. Delville had thrown herself down by the side of the child and was opening its mouth.

"Oh, you're killing her!" cried Mrs. Bent. "Where's the Doctor! Leave her alone!"

Mrs. Delville made no reply for a minute, but busied herself with the child.

"Now the caustic, and hold a lamp behind my shoulder. Will you do as you are told? The acid-bottle, if you don't know what I mean," she said.

A second time Mrs. Delville bent over the child. Mrs. Hauksbee, her face still hidden, sobbed and shivered. One of the ayahs staggered sleepily into the room, yawning: "Doctor Sahib come."

Mrs. Delville turned her head.

"You're only just in time," she said. "It was chokin' her when I came in, an' I've burned it."

"There was no sign of the membrane getting to the air-passages after the last steaming. It was the general weakness, I feared," said the Doctor half to himself, and he whispered as he looked. "You've done what I should have been afraid to do without consultation."

"She was dyin'," said Mrs. Delville, under her breath. "Can you do anythin'? What a mercy it was I went to the dance!"

Mrs. Hauksbee raised her head.

"Is it all over?" she gasped. "I'm useless—I'm worse than useless! What are you doing here?"

She stared at Mrs. Delville, and Mrs. Bent, realizing for the first time who was the Goddess from the Machine, stared also.

Then Mrs. Delville made explanation, putting on a dirty long glove and smoothing a crumpled and ill-fitting ball-dress.

"I was at the dance, an' the Doctor was tellin' me about your baby bein' so ill. So I came away early, an' your door was open, an' I-I lost my boy this way six months ago, an' I've been tryin' to forget it ever since, an' I-I-I-am very sorry for intrudin' an' anythin' that has happened."

Mrs. Bent was putting out the Doctor's eye with a lamp as he stooped over Dora.

"Take it away," said the Doctor. "I think the child will do, thanks to you, Mrs. Delville. I should have come too late, but, I assure you"—he was addressing himself to Mrs. Delville—"I had not the faintest reason to expect this. The membrane must have grown like a mushroom. Will one of you help me, please?"

He had reason for the last sentence. Mrs. Hauksbee had thrown herself into Mrs. Delville's arms, where she was weeping bitterly, and Mrs. Bent was unpicturesquely mixed up with both, while from the tangle came the sound of many sobs and much promiscuous kissing.

"Good gracious! I've spoilt all your beautiful roses!" said Mrs. Hauksbee, lifting her head from the lump of crushed gum and calico atrocities on Mrs. Delville's shoulder and hurrying to the Doctor.

Mrs. Delville picked up her shawl, and slouched out of the room, mopping her eyes with the glove that she had not put on.

"I always said she was more than a woman," sobbed Mrs. Hauksbee, hysterically, "and that proves it!"


Six weeks later, Mrs. Bent and Dora had returned to the hotel. Mrs. Hauksbee had come out of the Valley of Humiliation, had ceased to reproach herself for her collapse in an hour of need, and was even beginning to direct the affairs of the world as before.

"So nobody died, and everything went off as it should, and I kissed The Dowd, Polly. I feel so old. Does it show in my face?"

"Kisses don't as a rule, do they? Of course you know what the result of The Dowd's providential arrival has been."

"They ought to build her a statue—only no sculptor dare copy those skirts."

"Ah!" said Mrs. Mallowe, quietly. "She has found another reward. The Dancing Master has been smirking through Simla giving every one to understand that she came because of her undying love for him—for him—to save his child, and all Simla naturally believes this."

"But Mrs. Bent"—

"Mrs. Bent believes it more than any one else. She won't speak to The Dowd now. Isn't The Dancing Master an angel?"

Mrs. Hauksbee lifted up her voice and raged till bedtime. The doors of the two rooms stood open.

"Polly," said a voice from the darkness, "what did that American-heiress-globe-trotter-girl say last season when she was tipped out of her 'rickshaw turning a corner? Some absurd adjective that made the man who picked her up explode."

"'Paltry,'" said Mrs. Mallowe. "Through her nose—like this—'Ha-ow pahltry!'"

"Exactly," said the voice. "Ha-ow pahltry it all is!"

"Which?"

"Everything. Babies, Diphtheria, Mrs. Bent and The Dancing Master, I whooping in a chair, and The Dowd dropping in from the clouds. I wonder what the motive was—all the motives."

"Um!"

"What do you think?"

"Don't ask me. She was a woman. Go to sleep."






ONLY A SUBALTERN

     ... Not only to enforce by command but to encourage by
     example the energetic discharge of duty and the steady
     endurance of the difficulties and privations inseparable
     from Military Service. —Bengal Army Regulations.

THEY made Bobby Wick pass an examination at Sandhurst. He was a gentleman before he was gazetted, so, when the Empress announced that "Gentleman-Cadet Robert Hanna Wick" was posted as Second Lieutenant to the Tyneside Tail Twisters at Kram Bokhar, he became an officer and a gentleman, which is an enviable thing; and there was joy in the house of Wick where Mamma Wick and all the little Wicks fell upon their knees and offered incense to Bobby by virtue of his achievements.

Papa Wick had been a Commissioner in his day, holding authority over three millions of men in the Chota-Buldana Division, building great works for the good of the land, and doing his best to make two blades of grass grow where there was but one before. Of course, nobody knew anything about this in the little English village where he was just "old Mr. Wick" and had forgotten that he was a Companion of the Order of the Star of India.

He patted Bobby on the shoulder and said: "Well done, my boy!"

There followed, while the uniform was being prepared, an interval of pure delight, during which Bobby took brevet-rank as a "man" at the women-swamped tennis-parties and tea-fights of the village, and, I dare say, had his joining-time been extended, would have fallen in love with several girls at once. Little country villages at Home are very full of nice girls, because all the young men come out to India to make their fortunes.

"India," said Papa Wick, "is the place. I've had thirty years of it and, begad, I'd like to go back again. When you join the Tail Twisters you'll be among friends, if every one hasn't forgotten Wick of Chota-Buldana, and a lot of people will be kind to you for our sakes. The mother will tell you more about outfit than I can, but remember this. Stick to your Regiment, Bobby—stick to your Regiment. You'll see men all round you going into the Staff Corps, and doing every possible sort of duty but regimental, and you may be tempted to follow suit. Now so long as you keep within your allowance, and I haven't stinted you there, stick to the Line, the whole Line and nothing but the Line. Be careful how you back another young fool's bill, and if you fall in love with a woman twenty years older than yourself, don't tell me about it, that's all."

With these counsels, and many others equally valuable, did Papa Wick fortify Bobby ere that last awful night at Portsmouth when the Officers' Quarters held more inmates than were provided for by the Regulations, and the liberty-men of the ships fell foul of the drafts for India, and the battle raged from the Dockyard Gates even to the slums of Longport, while the drabs of Fratton came down and scratched the faces of the Queen's Officers.

Bobby Wick, with an ugly bruise on his freckled nose, a sick and shaky detachment to manoeuvre inship and the comfort of fifty scornful females to attend to, had no time to feel homesick till the Malabar reached mid-Channel, when he doubled his emotions with a little guard-visiting and a great many other matters.

The Tail Twisters were a most particular Regiment. Those who knew them least said that they were eaten up with "side." But their reserve and their internal arrangements generally were merely protective diplomacy. Some five years before, the Colonel commanding had looked into the fourteen fearless eyes of seven plump and juicy subalterns who had all applied to enter the Staff Corps, and had asked them why the three stars should he, a colonel of the Line, command a dashed nursery for double-dashed bottle-suckers who put on condemned tin spurs and rode qualified mokes at the hiatused heads of forsaken Black Regiments. He was a rude man and a terrible. Wherefore the remnant took measures [with the half-butt as an engine of public opinion] till the rumor went abroad that young men who used the Tail Twisters as a crutch to the Staff Corps, had many and varied trials to endure. However a regiment had just as much right to its own secrets as a woman.

When Bobby came up from Deolali and took his place among the Tail Twisters, it was gently But firmly borne in upon him that the Regiment was his father and his mother and his indissolubly wedded wife, and that there was no crime under the canopy of heaven blacker than that of bringing shame on the Regiment, which was the best-shooting, best-drilled, best-set-up, bravest, most illustrious, and in all respects most desirable Regiment within the compass of the Seven Seas. He was taught the legends of the Mess Plate from the great grinning Golden Gods that had come out of the Summer Palace in Pekin to the silver-mounted markhor-horn snuff-mull presented by the last C. 0. [he who spake to the seven subalterns]. And every one of those legends told him of battles fought at long odds, without fear as without support; of hospitality catholic as an Arab's; of friendships deep as the sea and steady as the fighting-line; of honor won by hard roads for honor's sake; and of instant and unquestioning devotion to the Regiment—the Regiment that claims the lives of all and lives forever.

More than once, too, he came officially into contact with the Regimental colors, which looked like the lining of a bricklayer's hat on the end of a chewed stick. Bobby did not kneel and worship them, because British subalterns are not constructed in that manner. Indeed, he condemned them for their weight at the very moment that they were filling with awe and other more noble sentiments.

But best of all was the occasion when he moved with the Tail Twisters, in review order at the breaking of a November day. Allowing for duty-men and sick, the Regiment was one thousand and eighty strong, and Bobby belonged to them; for was he not a Subaltern of the Line the whole Line and nothing but the Line—as the tramp of two thousand one hundred and sixty sturdy ammunition boots attested. He would not have changed places with Deighton of the Horse Battery, whirling by in a pillar of cloud to a chorus of "Strong right! Strong left!" or Hogan-Yale of the White Hussars, leading his squadron for all it was worth, with the price of horseshoes thrown in; or "Tick" Boileau, trying to live up to his fierce blue and gold turban while the wasps of the Bengal Cavalry stretched to a gallop in the wake of the long, lollopping Walers of the White Hussars.

They fought through the clear cool day, and Bobby felt a little thrill run down his spine when he heard the tinkle-tinkle-tinkle of the empty cartridge-cases hopping from the breech-blocks after the roar of the volleys; for he knew that he should live to hear that sound in action. The review ended in a glorious chase across the plain—batteries thundering after cavalry to the huge disgust of the White Hussars, and the Tyneside Tail Twisters hunting a Sikh Regiment, till the lean lathy Singhs panted with exhaustion. Bobby was dusty and dripping long before noon, but his enthusiasm was merely focused—not diminished.

He returned to sit at the feet of Revere, his "skipper," that is to say, the Captain of his Company, and to be instructed in the dark art and mystery of managing men, which is a very large part of the Profession of Arms.

"If you haven't a taste that way," said Revere, between his puffs of his cheroot, "you'll never be able to get the hang of it, but remember Bobby, 'tisn't the best drill, though drill is nearly everything, that hauls a Regiment through Hell and out on the other side. It's the man who knows how to handle men—goat-men, swine-men, dog-men, and so on."

"Dormer, for instance," said Bobby. "I think he comes under the head of fool-men. He mopes like a sick owl."

"That's where you make your mistake, my son. Dormer isn't a fool yet, but he's a dashed dirty soldier, and his room corporal makes fun of his socks before kit-inspection. Dormer, being two-thirds pure brute, goes into a corner and growls."

"How do you know?" said Bobby, admiringly.

"Because a Company commander has to know these things—because, if he does not know, he may have crime—ay, murder—brewing under his very nose and yet not see that it's there. Dormer is being badgered out of his mind—big as he is—and he hasn't intellect enough to resent it. He's taken to quiet boozing and, Bobby, when the butt of a room goes on the drink, or takes to moping by himself, measures are necessary to pull him out of himself."

"What measures? 'Man can't run round coddling his men forever."

"No. The men would precious soon show him that he was not wanted. You've got to"—Here the Color-sergeant entered with some papers; Bobby reflected for a while as Revere looked through the Company forms.

"Does Dormer do anything, Sergeant?" Bobby asked, with the air of one continuing an interrupted conversation.

"No, sir. Does 'is dooty like a hortomato," said the Sergeant, who delighted in long words. "A dirty soldier, and 'e's under full stoppages for new kit. It's covered with scales, sir."

"Scales? What scales?"

"Fish-scales, sir. 'E's always pokin' in the mud by the river an' a-cleanin' them muchly-fish with 'is thumbs." Revere was still absorbed in the Company papers, and the Sergeant, who was sternly fond of Bobby, continued,—"'E generally goes down there when 'e's got 'is skinful, beggin' your pardon, sir, an' they do say that the more lush in-he-briated 'e is, the more fish 'e catches. They call 'im the Looney Fish-monger in the Comp'ny, sir."

Revere signed the last paper and the Sergeant retreated.

"It's a filthy amusement," sighed Bobby to himself. Then aloud to Revere: "Are you really worried about Dormer?"

"A little. You see he's never mad enough to send to a hospital, or drunk enough to run in, but at any minute he may flare up, brooding and sulking as he does. He resents any interest being shown in him, and the only time I took him out shooting he all but shot me by accident."

"I fish," said Bobby, with a wry face. "I hire a country-boat and go down the river from Thursday to Sunday, and the amiable Dormer goes with me—if you can spare us both."

"You blazing young fool!" said Revere, but his heart was full of much more pleasant words.

Bobby, the Captain of a dhoni, with Private Dormer for mate, dropped down the river on Thursday morning—the Private at the bow, the Subaltern at the helm. The Private glared uneasily at the Subaltern, who respected the reserve of the Private.

After six hours, Dormer paced to the stern, saluted, and said—"Beg y'pardon, sir, but was you ever on the Durh'm Canal?"

"No," said Bobby Wick. "Come and have some tiffin."

They ate in silence. As the evening fell, Private Dormer broke forth, speaking to himself—"Hi was on the Durh'm Canal, jes' such a night, come next week twelve month, a-trailin' of my toes in the water." He smoked and said no more till bedtime.

The witchery of the dawn turned the grey river-reaches to purple, gold, and opal; and it was as though the lumbering dhoni crept across the splendors of a new heaven.

Private Dormer popped his head out of his blanket and gazed at the glory below and around.

"Well—damn-my-eyes!" said Private Dormer, in an awed whisper. "This 'ere is like a bloomin' gallantry-show!" For the rest of the day he was dumb, but achieved an ensanguined filthiness through the cleaning of big fish.

The boat returned on Saturday evening. Dormer had been struggling with speech since noon. As the lines and luggage were being disembarked, he found tongue.

"Beg y'pardon—sir," he said, "but would you—would you min' shakin' 'ands with me, sir?"

"Of course not," said Bobby, and he shook accordingly. Dormer returned to barracks and Bobby to mess.

"He wanted a little quiet and some fishing, I think," said Bobby. "My aunt, but he's a filthy sort of animal! Have you ever seen him clean 'them, muchly-fish with 'is thumbs'?"

"Anyhow," said Revere, three weeks later, "he's doing his best to keep his things clean."

When the spring died, Bobby joined in the general scramble for Hill leave, and to his surprise and delight secured three months.

"As good a boy as I want," said Revere, the admiring skipper.

"The best of the batch," said the Adjutant to the Colonel. "Keep back that young skrim-shanker Porkiss, sir, and let Revere make him sit up."

So Bobby departed joyously to Simla Pahar with a tin box of gorgeous raiment.

"Son of Wick—old Wick of Chota-Buldana? Ask him to dinner, dear," said the aged men.

"What a nice boy!" said the matrons and the maids.

"First-class place, Simla. Oh, ri-ipping!" said Bobby Wick, and ordered new white cord breeches on the strength of it.

"We're in a bad way," wrote Revere to Bobby at the end of two months. "Since you left, the Regiment has taken to fever and is fairly rotten with it—two hundred in hospital, about a hundred in cells—drinking to keep off fever—and the Companies on parade fifteen file strong at the outside. There's rather more sickness in the out-villages than I care for, but then I'm so blistered with prickly-heat that I'm ready to hang myself. What's the yarn about your mashing a Miss Haverley up there? Not serious, I hope? You're over-young to hang millstones round your neck, and the Colonel will turf you out of that in double-quick time if you attempt it."

It was not the Colonel that brought Bobby out of Simla, but a much more to be respected Commandant. The sick ness in the out-villages spread, the Bazar was put out of bounds, and then came the news that the Tail Twisters must go into camp. The message flashed to the Hill stations.—"Cholera—Leave stopped—Officers recalled." Alas, for the white gloves in the neatly soldered boxes, the rides and the dances and picnics that were to he, the loves half spoken, and the debts unpaid! Without demur and without question, fast as tongue could fly or pony gallop, hack to their Regiments and their Batteries, as though they were hastening to their weddings, fled the subalterns.

Bobby received his orders on returning from a dance at Viceregal Lodge where he had—but only the Haverley girl knows what Bobby had said or how many waltzes he had claimed for the next ball. Six in the morning saw Bobby at the Tonga Office in the drenching rain, the whirl of the last waltz still in his ears, and an intoxication due neither to wine nor waltzing in his brain.

"Good man!" shouted Deighton of the Horse Battery, through the mists. "Whar you raise dat tonga? I'm coming with you. Ow! But I've had a head and a half. I didn't sit out all night. They say the Battery's awful bad," and he hummed dolorously—Leave the what at the what's-its-name, Leave the flock without shelter, Leave the corpse uninterred, Leave the bride at the altar!

"My faith! It'll be more bally corpse than bride, though, this journey. Jump in, Bobby. Get on, Coachman!"

On the Umballa platform waited a detachment of officers discussing the latest news from the stricken cantonment, and it was here that Bobby learned the real condition of the Tail Twisters.

"They went into camp," said an elderly Major recalled from the whist-tables at Mussoorie to a sickly Native Regiment, "they went into camp with two hundred and ten sick in carts. Two hundred and ten fever cases only, and the balance looking like so many ghosts with sore eyes. A Madras Regiment could have walked through 'em."

"But they were as fit as be-damned when I left them!" said Bobby.

"Then you'd better make them as fit as be-damned when you rejoin," said the Major, brutally.

Bobby pressed his forehead against the rain-splashed windowpane as the train lumbered across the sodden Doab, and prayed for the health of the Tyneside Tail Twisters. Naini Tal had sent down her contingent with all speed; the lathering ponies of the Dalhousie Road staggered into Pathankot, taxed to the full stretch of their strength; while from cloudy Darjiling the Calcutta Mail whirled up the last straggler of the little army that was to fight a fight, in which was neither medal nor honor for the winning, against an enemy none other than "the sickness that destroyeth in the noonday."

And as each man reported himself, he said: "This is a bad business," and went about his own forthwith, for every Regiment and Battery in the cantonment was under canvas, the sickness bearing them company.

Bobby fought his way through the rain to the Tail Twisters' temporary mess, and Revere could have fallen on the boy's neck for the joy of seeing that ugly, wholesome phiz once more.

"Keep 'em amused and interested," said Revere. "They went on the drink, poor fools, after the first two cases, and there was no improvement. Oh, it's good to have you back, Bobby! Porkiss is a—never mind."

Deighton came over from the Artillery camp to attend a dreary mess dinner, and contributed to the general gloom by nearly weeping over the condition of his beloved Battery. Porkiss so far forgot himself as to insinuate that the presence of the officers could do no earthly good, and that the best thing would be to send the entire Regiment into hospital and "let the doctors look after them." Porkiss was demoralized with fear, nor was his peace of mind restored when Revere said coldly: "Oh! The sooner you go out the better, if that's your way of thinking. Any public school could send us fifty good men in your place, but it takes time, time, Porkiss, and money, and a certain amount of trouble, to make a Regiment. 'S'pose you're the person we go into camp for, eh?"

Whereupon Porkiss was overtaken with a great and chilly fear which a drenching in the rain did not allay, and, two days later, quitted this world for another where, men do fondly hope, allowances are made for the weaknesses of the flesh. The Regimental Sergeant-Major looked wearily across the Sergeants' Mess tent when the news was announced.

"There goes the worst of them," he said. "It'll take the best, and then, please God, it'll stop." The Sergeants were silent till one said: "It couldn't be him!" and all knew of whom Travis was thinking.

Bobby Wick stormed through the tents of his Company, rallying, rebuking mildly, as is consistent with the Regulations, chaffing the faint-hearted: haling the sound into the watery sunlight when there was a break in the weather, and bidding them be of good cheer for their trouble was nearly at an end; scuttling on his dun pony round the outskirts of the camp and heading back men who, with the innate perversity of British soldier's, were always wandering into infected villages, or drinking deeply from rain-flooded marshes; comforting the panic-stricken with rude speech, and more than once tending the dying who had no friends—the men without "townies"; organizing, with banjos and burned cork, Sing-songs which should allow the talent of the Regiment full play; and generally, as he explained, "playing the giddy garden-goat all round."

"You're worth half a dozen of us, Bobby," said Revere in a moment of enthusiasm. "How the devil do you keep it up?"

Bobby made no answer, but had Revere looked into the breast-pocket of his coat he might have seen there a sheaf of badly-written letters which perhaps accounted for the power that possessed the boy. A letter came to Bobby every other day. The spelling was not above reproach, but the sentiments must have been most satisfactory, for on receipt Bobby's eyes softened marvelously, and he was wont to fall into a tender abstraction for a while ere, shaking his cropped head, he charged into his work.

By what power he drew after him the hearts of the roughest, and the Tail Twisters counted in their ranks some rough diamonds indeed, was a mystery to both skipper and C. O., who learned from the regimental chaplain that Bobby was considerably more in request in the hospital tents than the Reverend John Emery.

"The men seem fond of you. Are you in the hospitals much?" said the Colonel, who did his daily round and ordered the men to get well with a hardness that did not cover his bitter grief.

"A little, sir," said Bobby.

"Shouldn't go there too often if I were you. They say it's not contagious, but there's no use in running unnecessary risks. We can't afford to have you down, y'know."

Six days later, it was with the utmost difficulty that the post-runner plashed his way out to the camp with mailbags, for the rain was falling in torrents. Bobby received a letter, bore it off to his tent, and, the programme for the next week's Sing-song being satisfactorily disposed of, sat down to answer it. For an hour the unhandy pen toiled over the paper, and where sentiment rose to more than normal tide-level Bobby Wick stuck out his tongue and breathed heavily. He was not used to letter-writing.

"Beg y'pardon, sir," said a voice at the tent door; "but Dormer's 'orrid bad, sir, an' they've taken him orf, sir.

"Damn Private Dormer and you too!" said Bobby Wick running the blotter over the half-finished letter. "Tell him I'll come in the morning."

"'E's awful bad, sir," said the voice, hesitatingly. There was an undecided squelching of heavy boots.

"Well?" said Bobby, impatiently.

"Excusin' 'imself before an' for takin' the liberty, 'e says it would be a comfort for to assist 'im, sir, if"—

"Tattoo lao! Get my pony! Here, come in out of the rain till I'm ready. What blasted nuisances you are! That's brandy. Drink some; you want it. Hang on to my stirrup and tell me if I go mo fast."

Strengthened by a four-finger "nip" which he swallowed without a wink, the Hospital Orderly kept up with the slipping, mud-stained, and very disgusted pony as it shambled to the hospital tent.

Private Dormer was certainly "'orrid bad." He had all but reached the stage of collapse and was not pleasant to look upon.

"What's this, Dormer?" said Bobby, bending over the man. "You're not going out this time. You've got to come fishin' with me once or twice more yet."

The blue lips parted and in the ghost of a whisper said,—"Beg y'pardon, sir, disturbin' of you now, but would you min' 'oldin' my 'and, sir?"

Bobby sat on the side of the bed, and the icy cold hand closed on his own like a vice, forcing a lady's ring which was on the little finger deep into the flesh. Bobby set his lips and waited, the water dripping from the hem of his trousers. An hour passed and the grasp of the hand did not relax, nor did the expression on the drawn face change. Bobby with infinite craft lit himself a cheroot with the left hand—his right arm was numbed to the elbow—and resigned himself to a night of pain.

Dawn showed a very white-faced Subaltern sitting on the side of a sick man's cot, and a Doctor in the doorway using language unfit for publication.

"Have you been here all night, you young ass?" said the Doctor.

"There or thereabouts," said Bobby, ruefully. "He's frozen on to me."

Dormer's mouth shut with a click. He turned his head and sighed. The clinging band opened, and Bobby's arm fell useless at his side.

"He'll do," said the Doctor, quietly. "It must have been a toss-up all through the night. 'Think you're to be congratulated on this case."

"Oh, bosh!" said Bobby. "I thought the man had gone out long ago—only—only I didn't care to take my hand away. Rub my arm down, there's a good chap. What a grip the brute has! I'm chilled to the marrow!" He passed out of the tent shivering.

Private Dormer was allowed to celebrate his repulse of Death by strong waters. Four days later, he sat on the side of his cot and said to the patients mildly: "I'd 'a' liken to 'a' spoken to 'im—so I should."

But at that time Bobby was reading yet another letter—he had the most persistent correspondent of any man in camp—and was even then about to write that the sickness had abated, and in another week at the outside would be gone. He did not intend to say that the chill of a sick man's hand seemed to have struck into the heart whose capacities for affection he dwelt on at such length. He did intend to enclose the illustrated programme of the forthcoming Sing-song whereof he was not a little proud. He also intended to write on many other matters which do not concern us, and doubtless would have done so but for the slight feverish headache which made him dull and unresponsive at mess.

"You are overdoing it, Bobby," said his skipper. "'Might give the rest of us credit of doing a little work. You go on as if you were the whole Mess rolled into one. Take it easy."

"I will," said Bobby. "I'm feeling done up, somehow." Revere looked at him anxiously and said nothing.

There was a flickering of lanterns about the camp that night, and a rumor that brought men out of their cots to the tent doors, a paddling of the naked feet of doolie-bearers and the rush of a galloping horse.

"Wot's up?" asked twenty tents; and through twenty tents ran the answer—"Wick, 'e's down."

They brought the news to Revere and he groaned. "Any one but Bobby and I shouldn't have cared! The Sergeant-Major was right."

"Not going out this journey," gasped Bobby, as he was lifted from the doolie. "Not going out this journey." Then with an air of supreme conviction—"I can't, you see."

"Not if I can do anything!" said the Surgeon-Major, who had hastened over from the mess where he had been dining.

He and the Regimental Surgeon fought together with Death for the life of Bobby Wick. Their work was interrupted by a hairy apparition in a blue-grey dressing-gown who stared in horror at the bed and cried—"Oh, my Gawd. It can't be 'im!" until an indignant Hospital Orderly whisked him away.

If care of man and desire to live could have done aught, Bobby would have been saved. As it was, he made a fight of three days, and the Surgeon-Major's brow uncreased. "We'll save him yet," he said; and the Surgeon, who, though he ranked with the Captain, had a very youthful heart, went out upon the word and pranced joyously in the mud.

"Not going out this journey," whispered Bobby Wick, gallantly, at the end of the third day.

"Bravo!" said the Surgeon-Major. "That's the way to look at it, Bobby."

As evening fell a grey shade gathered round Bobby's mouth, and he turned his face to the tent wall wearily. The Surgeon-Major frowned.

"I'm awfully tired," said Bobby, very faintly. "What's the use of bothering me with medicine? I-don't-want-it. Let me alone."

The desire for life had departed, and Bobby was content to drift away on the easy tide of Death.

"It's no good," said the Surgeon-Major. "He doesn't want to live. He's meeting it, poor child." And he blew his nose.

Half a mile away, the regimental band was playing the overture to the Sing-song, for the men had been told that Bobby was out of danger. The clash of the brass and the wail of the horns reached Bobby's ears.

    Is there a single joy or pain,
    That I should never kno-ow?
    You do not love me, 'tis in vain,
    Bid me goodbye and go!

An expression of hopeless irritation crossed the boy's face, and he tried to shake his head.

The Surgeon-Major bent down—"What is it? Bobby?"—

"Not that waltz," muttered Bobby. "That's our own—our very ownest own. Mummy dear."

With this he sank into the stupor that gave place to death early next morning.

Revere, his eyes red at the rims and his nose very white, went into Bobby's tent to write a letter to Papa Wick which should bow the white head of the ex-Commissioner of Chota-Buldana in the keenest sorrow of his life. Bobby's little store of papers lay in confusion on the table, and among them a half-finished letter. The last sentence ran: "So you see, darling, there is really no fear, because as long as I know you care for me and I care for you, nothing can touch me."

Revere stayed in the tent for an hour. When he came out, his eyes were redder than ever.


Private Conklin sat on a turned-down bucket, and listened to a not unfamiliar tune. Private Conklin was a convalescent and should have been tenderly treated.

"Ho!" said Private Conklin. "There's another bloomin' orf'cer dead."

The bucket shot from under him, and his eyes filled with a smithyful of sparks. A tall man in a blue-grey bedgown was regarding him with deep disfavor.

"You ought to take shame for yourself, Conky! Orf'cer?—bloomin' orf'cer? I'll learn you to misname the likes of 'im. Hangel! Bloomin' Hangel! That's wot 'e is!"

And the Hospital Orderly was so satisfied with the justice of the punishment that he did not even order Private Dormer back to his cot.






IN THE MATTER OF A PRIVATE

   Hurrah! hurrah! a soldier's life for me!
   Shout, boys, shout! for it makes you jolly and free.
             —The Ramrod Corps.

People who have seen, say that one of the quaintest spectacles of human frailty is an outbreak of hysterics in a girls' school. It starts without warning, generally on a hot afternoon among the elder pupils. A girl giggles till the giggle gets beyond control. Then she throws up her head, and cries, "Honk, honk, honk," like a wild goose, and tears mix with the laughter. If the mistress be wise she will rap out something severe at this point to check matters. If she be tender-hearted, and send for a drink of water, the chances are largely in favor of another girl laughing at the afflicted one and herself collapsing. Thus the trouble spreads, and may end in half of what answers to the Lower Sixth of a boys' school rocking and whooping together. Given a week of warm weather, two stately promenades per diem, a heavy mutton and rice meal in the middle of the day, a certain amount of nagging from the teachers, and a few other things, some amazing effects develop. At least this is what folk say who have had experience.

Now, the Mother Superior of a Convent and the Colonel of a British Infantry Regiment would be justly shocked at any comparison being made between their respective charges. But it is a fact that, under certain circumstances, Thomas in bulk can be worked up into dithering, rippling hysteria. He does not weep, but he shows his trouble unmistakably, and the consequences get into the newspapers, and all the good people who hardly know a Martini from a Snider say: "Take away the brute's ammunition!"

Thomas isn't a brute, and his business, which is to look after the virtuous people, demands that he shall have his ammunition to his hand. He doesn't wear silk stockings, and he really ought to be supplied with a new Adjective to help him to express his opinions; but, for all that, he is a great man. If you call him "the heroic defender of the national honor" one day, and "a brutal and licentious soldiery" the next, you naturally bewilder him, and he looks upon you with suspicion. There is nobody to speak for Thomas except people who have theories to work off on him; and nobody understands Thomas except Thomas, and he does not always know what is the matter with himself.

That is the prologue. This is the story:

Corporal Slane was engaged to be married to Miss Jhansi M'Kenna, whose history is well known in the regiment and elsewhere. He had his Colonel's permission, and, being popular with the men, every arrangement had been made to give the wedding what Private Ortheris called "eeklar." It fell in the heart of the hot weather, and, after the wedding, Slane was going up to the Hills with the Bride. None the less, Slane's grievance was that the affair would Be only a hired-carriage wedding, and he felt that the "eeklar" of that was meagre. Miss M'Kenna did not care so much. The Sergeant's wife was helping her to make her wedding-dress, and she was very busy. Slane was, just then, the only moderately contented man in barracks. All the rest were more or less miserable.

And they had so much to make them happy, too. All their work was over at eight in the morning, and for the rest of the day they could lie on their backs and smoke Canteen-plug and swear at the punkah-coolies. They enjoyed a fine, full flesh meal in the middle of the day, and then threw themselves down on their cots and sweated and slept till it was cool enough to go out with their "towny," whose vocabulary contained less than six hundred words, and the Adjective, and whose views on every conceivable question they had heard many times before.

There was the Canteen, of course, and there was the Temperance Room with the second-hand papers in it; but a man of any profession cannot read for eight hours a day in a temperature of 96 degrees or 98 degrees in the shade, running up sometimes to 103 degrees at midnight. Very few men, even though they get a pannikin of flat, stale, muddy beer and hide it under their cots, can continue drinking for six hours a day. One man tried, but he died, and nearly the whole regiment went to his funeral because it gave them something to do. It was too early for the excitement of fever or cholera. The men could only wait and wait and wait, and watch the shadow of the barrack creeping across the blinding white dust. That was a gay life.

They lounged about cantonments—it was too hot for any sort of game, and almost too hot for vice—and fuddled themselves in the evening, and filled themselves to distension with the healthy nitrogenous food provided for them, and the more they stoked the less exercise they took and more explosive they grew. Then tempers began to wear away, and men fell a-brooding over insults real or imaginary, for they had nothing else to think of. The tone of the repartees changed, and instead of saying light-heartedly: "I'll knock your silly face in," men grew laboriously polite and hinted that the cantonments were not big enough for themselves and their enemy, and that there would be more space for one of the two in another place.

It may have been the Devil who arranged the thing, but the fact of the case is that Losson had for a long time been worrying Simmons in an aimless way. It gave him occupation. The two had their cots side by side, and would sometimes spend a long afternoon swearing at each other; but Simmons was afraid of Losson and dared not challenge him to a fight. He thought over the words in the hot still nights, and half the hate he felt toward Losson be vented on the wretched punkah-coolie.

Losson bought a parrot in the bazar, and put it into a little cage, and lowered the cage into the cool darkness of a well, and sat on the well-curb, shouting bad language down to the parrot. He taught it to say: "Simmons, ye so-oor," which means swine, and several other things entirely unfit for publication. He was a big gross man, and he shook like a jelly when the parrot had the sentence correctly. Simmons, however, shook with rage, for all the room were laughing at him—the parrot was such a disreputable puff of green feathers and it looked so human when it chattered. Losson used to sit, swinging his fat legs, on the side of the cot, and ask the parrot what it thought of Simmons. The parrot would answer: "Simmons, ye so-oor." "Good boy," Losson used to say, scratching the parrot's head; "ye 'ear that, Sim?"

And Simmons used to turn over on his stomach and make answer: "I 'ear. Take 'eed you don't 'ear something one of these days."

In the restless nights, after he had been asleep all day, fits of blind rage came upon Simmons and held him till he trembled all over, while he thought in how many different ways he would slay Losson. Sometimes he would picture himself trampling the life out of the man, with heavy ammunition-boots, and at others smashing in his face with the butt, and at others jumping on his shoulders and dragging the head back till the neckbone cracked. Then his mouth would feel hot and fevered, and he would reach out for another sup of the beer in the pannikin.

But the fancy that came to him most frequently and stayed with him longest was one connected with the great roll of fat under Losson's right ear. He noticed it first on a moonlight night, and thereafter it was always before his eyes. It was a fascinating roll of fat. A man could get his hand upon it and tear away one side of the neck; or he could place the muzzle of a rifle on it and blow away all the head in a flash. Losson had no right to be sleek and contented and well-to-do, when he, Simmons, was the butt of the room, Some day, perhaps, he would show those who laughed at the "Simmons, ye so-oor" joke, that he was as good as the rest, and held a man's life in the crook of his forefinger. When Losson snored, Simmons hated him more bitterly than ever. Why should Losson be able to sleep when Simmons had to stay awake hour after hour, tossing and turning on the tapes, with the dull liver pain gnawing into his right side and his head throbbing and aching after Canteen? He thought over this for many nights, and the world became unprofitable to him. He even blunted his naturally fine appetite with beer and tobacco; and all the while the parrot talked at and made a mock of him.

The heat continued and the tempers wore away more quickly than before. A Sergeant's wife died of heat-apoplexy in the night, and the rumor ran abroad that it was cholera. Men rejoiced openly, hoping that it would spread and send them into camp. But that was a false alarm.

It was late on a Tuesday evening, and the men were waiting in the deep double verandas for "Last Posts," when Simmons went to the box at the foot of his bed, took out his pipe, and slammed the lid down with a bang that echoed through the deserted barrack like the crack of a rifle. Ordinarily speaking, the men would have taken no notice; but their nerves were fretted to fiddle-strings. They jumped up, and three or four clattered into the barrack-room only to find Simmons kneeling by his box.

"Owl It's you, is it?" they said and laughed foolishly. "We t h o u g h t 'twas"—Simmons rose slowly. If the accident had so shaken his fellows, what would not the reality do?

"You thought it was—did you? And what makes you think?" he said, lashing himself into madness as he went on; "to Hell with your thinking, ye dirty spies."

"Simmons, ye so-oor," chuckled the parrot in the veranda, sleepily, recognizing a well-known voice. Now that was absolutely all.

The tension snapped. Simmons fell back on the arm-rack deliberately,—the men were at the far end of the room,—and took out his rifle and packet of ammunition. "Don't go playing the goat, Sim!" said Losson. "Put it down," but there was a quaver in his voice. Another man stooped, slipped his boot and hurled it at Simmons's head. The prompt answer was a shot which, fired at random, found its billet in Losson's throat. Losson fell forward without a word, and the others scattered.

"You thought it was!" yelled Simmons. "You're drivin' me to it! I tell you you're drivin' me to it! Get up, Losson, an' don't lie shammin' there—you an' your blasted parrit that druv me to it!"

But there was an unaffected reality about Losson's pose that showed Simmons what he had done. The men were still clamoring on the veranda. Simmons appropriated two more packets of ammunition and ran into the moonlight, muttering: "I'll make a night of it. Thirty roun's, an' the last for myself. Take you that, you dogs!"

He dropped on one knee and fired into the brown of the men on the veranda, but the bullet flew high, and landed in the brickwork with a vicious phat that made some of the younger ones turn pale. It is, as musketry theorists observe, one thing to fire and another to be fired at.

Then the instinct of the chase flared up. The news spread from barrack to barrack, and the men doubled out intent on the capture of Simmons, the wild beast, who was heading for the Cavalry parade-ground, stopping now and again to send back a shot and a curse in the direction of his pursuers.

"I'll learn you to spy on me!" he shouted; "I'll learn you to give me dorg's names! Come on the 'ole lot o' you! Colonel John Anthony Deever, C.B.!"—he turned toward the Infantry Mess and shook his rifle—"you think yourself the devil of a man—but I tell you that if you put your ugly old carcass outside o' that door, I'll make you the poorest-lookin' man in the army. Come out, Colonel John Anthony Deever, C.B.! Come out and see me practiss on the rainge. I'm the crack shot of the 'ole bloomin' battalion." In proof of which statement Simmons fired at the lighted windows of the mess-house.

"Private Simmons, E Comp'ny, on the Cavalry p'rade-ground, Sir, with thirty rounds," said a Sergeant breathlessly to the Colonel. "Shootin' right and lef', Sir. Shot Private Losson. What's to be done, Sir?"

Colonel John Anthony Deever, C.B., sallied out, only to be saluted by s spurt of dust at his feet.

"Pull up!" said the Second in Command; "I don't want my step in that way, Colonel. He's as dangerous as a mad dog."

"Shoot him like one, then," said the Colonel, bitterly, "if he won't take his chance, My regiment, too! If it had been the Towheads I could have under stood."

Private Simmons had occupied a strong position near a well on the edge of the parade-ground, and was defying the regiment to come on. The regiment was not anxious to comply, for there is small honor in being shot by a fellow-private. Only Corporal Slane, rifle in band, threw himself down on the ground, and wormed his way toward the well.

"Don't shoot," said he to the men round him; "like as not you'll hit me. I'll catch the beggar, livin'."

Simmons ceased shouting for a while, and the noise of trap-wheels could be heard across the plain. Major Oldyn, commanding the Horse Battery, was coming back from a dinner in the Civil Lines; was driving after his usual custom—that is to say, as fast as the horse could go.

"A orf'cer! A blooming spangled orf'cer," shrieked Simmons; "I'll make a scarecrow of that orf'cer!" The trap stopped.

"What's this?" demanded the Major of Gunners. "You there, drop your rifle."

"Why, it's Jerry Blazes! I ain't got no quarrel with you, Jerry Blazes. Pass frien', an' all's well!"

But Jerry Blazes had not the faintest intention of passing a dangerous murderer. He was, as his adoring Battery swore long and fervently, without knowledge of fear, and they were surely the best judges, for Jerry Blazes, it was notorious, had done his possible to kill a man each time the Battery went out.

He walked toward Simmons, with the intention of rushing him, and knocking him down.

"Don't make me do it, Sir," said Simmons; "I ain't got nothing agin you. Ah! you would?"—the Major broke into a run—"Take that then!"

The Major dropped with a bullet through his shoulder, and Simmons stood over him. He had lost the satisfaction of killing Losson in the desired way: hut here was a helpless body to his hand. Should be slip in another cartridge, and blow off the head, or with the butt smash in the white face? He stopped to consider, and a cry went up from the far side of the parade-ground: "He's killed Jerry Blazes!" But in the shelter of the well-pillars Simmons was safe except when he stepped out to fire. "I'll blow yer 'andsome 'ead off, Jerry Blazes," said Simmons, reflectively. "Six an' three is nine an one is ten, an' that leaves me another nineteen, an' one for myself." He tugged at the string of the second packet of ammunition. Corporal Slane crawled out of the shadow of a bank into the moonlight.

"I see you!" said Simmons. "Come a bit furder on an' I'll do for you."

"I'm comm'," said Corporal Slane, briefly; "you've done a bad day's work, Sim. Come out 'ere an' come back with me."

"Come to,"—laughed Simmons, sending a cartridge home with his thumb. "Not before I've settled you an' Jerry Blazes."

The Corporal was lying at full length in the dust of the parade-ground, a rifle under him. Some of the less-cautious men in the distance shouted: "Shoot 'im! Shoot 'im, Slane!"

"You move 'and or foot, Slane," said Simmons, "an' I'll kick Jerry Blazes' 'ead in, and shoot you after."

"I ain't movin'," said the Corporal, raising his head; "you daren't 'it a man on 'is legs. Let go o' Jerry Blazes an' come out o' that with your fistes. Come an' 'it me. You daren't, you bloomin' dog-shooter!"

"I dare."

"You lie, you man-sticker. You sneakin', Sheeny butcher, you lie. See there!" Slane kicked the rifle away, and stood up in the peril of his life. "Come on, now!"

The temptation was more than Simmons could resist, for the Corporal in his white clothes offered a perfect mark.

"Don't misname me," shouted Simmons, firing as he spoke. The shot missed, and the shooter, blind with rage, threw his rifle down and rushed at Slane from the protection of the well. Within striking distance, he kicked savagely at Slane's stomach, but the weedy Corporal knew something of Simmons's weakness, and knew, too, the deadly guard for that kick. Bowing forward and drawing up his right leg till the heel of the right foot was set some three inches above the inside of the left knee-cap, he met the blow standing on one leg—exactly as Gonds stand when they meditate—and ready for the fall that would follow. There was an oath, the Corporal fell over his own left as shinbone met shinbone, and the Private collapsed, his right leg broken an inch above the ankle.

"'Pity you don't know that guard, Sim," said Slane, spitting out the dust as he rose. Then raising his voice, "Come an' take him orf. I've bruk 'is leg." This was not strictly true, for the Private had accomplished his own downfall, since it is the special merit of that leg-guard that the harder the kick the greater the kicker's discomfiture.

Slane walked to Jerry Blazes and hung over him with ostentatious anxiety, while Simmons, weeping with pain, was carried away. "'Ope you ain't 'urt badly, Sir," said Slane. The Major had fainted, and there was an ugly, ragged hole through the top of his arm. Slane knelt down and murmured. "S'elp me, I believe 'e's dead. Well, if that ain't my blooming luck all over!"

But the Major was destined to lead his Battery afield for many a long day with unshaken nerve. He was removed, and nursed and petted into convalescence, while the Battery discussed the wisdom of capturing Simmons, and blowing him from a gun. They idolized their Major, and his reappearance on parade brought about a scene nowhere provided for in the Army Regulations.

Great, too, was the glory that fell to Slane's share. The Gunners would have made him drunk thrice a day for at least a fortnight. Even the Colonel of his own regiment complimented him upon his coolness, and the local paper called him a hero. These things did not puff him up. When the Major offered him money and thanks, the virtuous Corporal took the one and put aside the other. But he had a request to make and prefaced it with many a "Beg y'pardon, Sir." Could the Major see his way to letting the Slane-M'Kenna wedding be adorned by the presence of four Battery horses to pull a hired barouche? The Major could, and so could the Battery. Excessively so. It was a gorgeous wedding.


"Wot did I do it for?" said Corporal Slane. "For the 'orses O' course. Jhansi ain't a beauty to look at, but I wasn't goin' to 'ave a hired turn-out. Jerry Blazes? If I 'adn't 'a' wanted something, Sim might ha' blowed Jerry Blazes' blooming 'ead into Hirish stew for aught I'd 'a' cared."

And they hanged Private Simmons—hanged him as high as Haman in hollow square of the regiment; and the Colonel said it was Drink; and the Chaplain was sure it was the Devil; and Simmons fancied it was both, but he didn't know, and only hoped his fate would be a warning to his companions; and half a dozen "intelligent publicists" wrote six beautiful leading articles on "'The Prevalence of Crime in the Army."

But not a soul thought of comparing the "bloody-minded Simmons" to the squawking, gaping schoolgirl with which this story opens.





THE ENLIGHTENMENTS OF PAGETT, M.P.

   "Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring
   with their importunate chink while thousands of great cattle,
   reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are
   silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the
   only inhabitants of the field—that, of course, they are many in
   number or that, after all, they are other than the little,
   shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome insects of
   the hour."
              —Burke: "Reflections on the Revolution in France."

They were sitting in the veranda of "the splendid palace of an Indian Pro-Consul"; surrounded by all the glory and mystery of the immemorial East. In plain English it was a one-storied, ten-roomed, whitewashed, mud-roofed bungalow, set in a dry garden of dusty tamarisk trees and divided from the road by a low mud wall. The green parrots screamed overhead as they flew in battalions to the river for their morning drink. Beyond the wall, clouds of fine dust showed where the cattle and goats of the city were passing afield to graze. The remorseless white light of the winter sunshine of Northern India lay upon everything and improved nothing, from the whining Persian-wheel by the lawn-tennis court to the long perspective of level road and the blue, domed tombs of Mohammedan saints just visible above the trees.

"A Happy New Year," said Orde to his guest. "It's the first you've ever spent out of England, isn't it?"

"Yes. 'Happy New Year," said Pagett, smiling at the sunshine. "What a divine climate you have here! Just think of the brown cold fog hanging over London now!" And he rubbed his hands.

It was more than twenty years since he had last seen Orde, his schoolmate, and their paths in the world had divided early. The one had quitted college to become a cog-wheel in the machinery of the great Indian Government; the other more blessed with goods, had been whirled into a similar position in the English scheme. Three successive elections had not affected Pagett's position with a loyal constituency, and he had grown insensibly to regard himself in some sort as a pillar of the Empire, whose real worth would be known later on. After a few years of conscientious attendance at many divisions, after newspaper battles innumerable and the publication of interminable correspondence, and more hasty oratory than in his calmer moments he cared to think upon, it occurred to him, as it had occurred to many of his fellows in Parliament, that a tour to India would enable him to sweep a larger lyre and address himself to the problems of Imperial administration with a firmer hand. Accepting, therefore, a general invitation extended to him by Orde some years before, Pagett bad taken ship to Karachi, and only overnight had been received with joy by the Deputy-Commissioner of Amara. They had sat late, discussing the changes and chances of twenty years, recalling the names of the dead, and weighing the futures of the living, as is the custom of men meeting after intervals of action.

Next morning they smoked the after-breakfast pipe in the veranda, still regarding each other curiously, Pagett, in a light grey frock-coat and garments much too thin for the time of the year, and a puggried sun-hat carefully and wonderfully made, Orde in a shooting coat, riding breeches, brown cowhide boots with spurs, and a battered flax helmet. He had ridden some miles in the early morning to inspect a doubtful river dam. The men's faces differed as much as their attire. Orde's worn and wrinkled around the eyes, and grizzled at the temples, was the harder and more square of the two, and it was with something like envy that the owner looked at the comfortable outlines of Pagett's blandly receptive countenance, the clear skin, the untroubled eye, and the mobile, clean-shaved lips.

"And this is India!" said Pagett for the twentieth time staring long and intently at the grey feathering of the tamarisks.

"One portion of India only. It's very much like this for 300 miles in every direction. By the way, now that you have rested a little—I wouldn't ask the old question before—what d'you think of the country?"

"'Tis the most pervasive country that ever yet was seen. I acquired several pounds of your country coming up from Karachi. The air is heavy with it, and for miles and miles along that distressful eternity of rail there's no horizon to show where air and earth separate."

"Yes. It isn't easy to see truly or far in India. But you had a decent passage out, hadn't you?"

"Very good on the whole. Your Anglo-Indian may be unsympathetic about one's political views; but he has reduced ship life to a science."

"The Anglo-Indian is a political orphan, and if he's wise he won't be in a hurry to be adopted by your party grandmothers. But how were your companions, unsympathetic?"

"Well, there was a man called Dawlishe, a judge somewhere in this country it seems, and a capital partner at whist by the way, and when I wanted to talk to him about the progress of India in a political sense (Orde hid a grin, which might or might not have been sympathetic), the National Congress movement, and other things in which, as a Member of Parliament, I'm of course interested, he shifted the subject, and when I once cornered him, he looked me calmly in the eye, and said: 'That's all Tommy rot. Come and have a game at Bull.' You may laugh; but that isn't the way to treat a great and important question; and, knowing who I was, well, I thought it rather rude, don't you know; and yet Dawlishe is a thoroughly good fellow."

"Yes; he's a friend of mine, and one of the straightest men I know. I suppose, like many Anglo-Indians, he felt it was hopeless to give you any just idea of any Indian question without the documents before you, and in this case the documents you want are the country and the people."

"Precisely. That was why I came straight to you, bringing an open mind to bear on things. I'm anxious to know what popular feeling in India is really like y'know, now that it has wakened into political life. The National Congress, in spite of Dawlishe, must have caused great excitement among the masses?"

"On the contrary, nothing could be more tranquil than the state of popular feeling; and as to excitement, the people would as soon be excited over the 'Rule of Three' as over the Congress."

"Excuse me, Orde, but do you think you are a fair judge? Isn't the official Anglo-Indian naturally jealous of any external influences that might move the masses, and so much opposed to liberal ideas, truly liberal ideas, that he can scarcely be expected to regard a popular movement with fairness?"

"What did Dawlishe say about Tommy Rot? Think a moment, old man. You and I were brought up together; taught by the same tutors, read the same books, lived the same life, and new languages, and work among new races; while you, more fortunate, remain at home. Why should I change my mind—our mind—because I change my sky? Why should I and the few hundred Englishmen in my service become unreasonable, prejudiced fossils, while you and your newer friends alone remain bright and open-minded? You surely don't fancy civilians are members of a Primrose League?"

"Of course not, but the mere position of an English official gives him a point of view which cannot but bias his mind on this question." Pagett moved his knee up and down a little uneasily as he spoke.

"That sounds plausible enough, but, like more plausible notions on Indian matters, I believe it's a mistake. You'll find when you come to consult the unofficial Briton that our fault, as a class—I speak of the civilian now—is rather to magnify the progress that has been made toward liberal institutions. It is of English origin, such as it is, and the stress of our work since the Mutiny—only thirty years ago—has been in that direction. No, I think you will get no fairer or more dispassionate view of the Congress business than such men as I can give you. But I may as well say at once that those who know most of India, from the inside, are inclined to wonder at the noise our scarcely begun experiment makes in England."

"But surely the gathering together of Congress delegates is of itself a new thing."

"There's nothing new under the sun When Europe was a jungle half Asia flocked to the canonical conferences of Buddhism; and for centuries the people have gathered at Pun, Hurdwar, Trimbak, and Benares in immense numbers. A great meeting, what you call a mass meeting, is really one of the oldest and most popular of Indian institutions in this topsy-turvy land, and though they have been employed in clerical work for generations they have no practical knowledge of affairs. A ship's clerk is a useful person, but he is scarcely the captain; and an orderly room writer, however smart he may be, is not the colonel. You see, the writer class in India has never till now aspired to anything like command. It wasn't allowed to. The Indian gentleman, for thousands of years past, has resembled Victor Hugo's noble:

"'Un vrai sire Chatelain Laisse ecrire Le vilain. Sa main digne Quand il signe Egratigne Le velin.'

"And the little egratignures he most likes to make have been scored pretty deeply by the sword."

"But this is childish and mediaeval nonsense!"

"Precisely; and from your, or rather our, point of view the pen is mightier than the sword. In this country it's otherwise. The fault lies in our Indian balances, not yet adjusted to civilized weights and measures."

"Well, at all events, this literary class represent the natural aspirations and wishes of the people at large, though it may not exactly lead them, and, in spite of all you say, Orde, I defy you to find a really sound English Radical who would not sympathize with those aspirations."

Pagett spoke with some warmth, and he had scarcely ceased when a well-appointed dog-cart turned into the compound gates, and Orde rose saying: "Here is Edwards, the Master of the Lodge I neglect so diligently, come to talk about accounts, I suppose."

As the vehicle drove up under the porch Pagett also rose, saying with the trained effusion born of much practice: "But this is also my friend, my old and valued friend Edwards. I'm delighted to see you. I knew you were in India, but not exactly where."

"Then it isn't accounts, Mr. Edwards," said Orde, cheerily.

"Why, no, sir; I heard Mr. Pagett was coming, and as our works were closed for the New Year I thought I would drive over and see him."

"A very happy thought. Mr. Edwards, you may not know, Orde, was a leading member of our Radical Club at Switchton when I was beginning political life, and I owe much to his exertions. There's no pleasure like meeting an old friend, except, perhaps, making a new one. I suppose, Mr. Edwards, you stick to the good old cause?"

"Well, you see, sir, things are different out here. There's precious little one can find to say against the Government, which was the main of our talk at home, and them that do say things are not the sort o' people a man who respects himself would like to be mixed up with. There are no politics, in a manner of speaking, in India. It's all work."

"Surely you are mistaken, my good friend. Why I have come all the way from England just to see the working of this great National movement."

"I don't know where you're going to find the nation as moves to begin with, and then you'll be hard put to it to find what they are moving about. It's like this, sir," said Edwards, who had not quite relished being called "my good friend." "They haven't got any grievance—nothing to hit with, don't you see, sir; and then there's not much to hit against, because the Government is more like a kind of general Providence, directing an old-established state of things, than that at home, where there's something new thrown down for us to fight about every three months."

"You are probably, in your workshops, full of English mechanics, out of the way of learning what the masses think."

"I don't know so much about that. There are four of us English foremen, and between seven and eight hundred native fitters, smiths, carpenters, painters, and such like."

"And they are full of the Congress, of course?"

"Never hear a word of it from year's end to year's end, and I speak the talk too. But I wanted to ask how things are going on at home—old Tyler and Brown and the rest?"

"We will speak of them presently, but your account of the indifference of your men surprises me almost as much as your own. I fear you are a backslider from the good old doctrine, Edwards." Pagett spoke as one who mourned the death of a near relative.

"Not a bit, Sir, but I should be if I took up with a parcel of baboos, pleaders, and schoolboys, as never did a day's work in their lives, and couldn't if they tried. And if you was to poll us English railway men, mechanics, tradespeople, and the like of that all up and down the country from Peshawur to Calcutta, you would find us mostly in a tale together. And yet you'd know we're the same English you pay some respect to at home at 'lection time, and we have the pull o' knowing something about it."

"This is very curious, but you will let me come and see you, and perhaps you will kindly show me the railway works, and we will talk things over at leisure. And about all old friends and old times," added Pagett, detecting with quick insight a look of disappointment in the mechanic's face.

Nodding briefly to Orde, Edwards mounted his dog-cart and drove off.

"It's very disappointing," said the Member to Orde, who, while his friend discoursed with Edwards, had been looking over a bundle of sketches drawn on grey paper in purple ink, brought to him by a Chuprassee.

"Don't let it trouble you, old chap," 'said Orde, sympathetically. "Look here a moment, here are some sketches by the man who made the carved wood screen you admired so much in the dining-room, and wanted a copy of, and the artist himself is here too."

"A native?" said Pagett.

"Of course," was the reply, "Bishen Singh is his name, and he has two brothers to help him. When there is an important job to do, the three go into partnership, but they spend most of their time and all their money in litigation over an inheritance, and I'm afraid they are getting involved, Thoroughbred Sikhs of the old rock, obstinate, touchy, bigoted, and cunning, but good men for all that. Here is Bishen Singh—shall we ask him about the Congress?"

But Bishen Singh, who approached with a respectful salaam, had never heard of it, and he listened with a puzzled face and obviously feigned interest to Orde's account of its aims and objects, finally shaking his vast white turban with great significance when he learned that it was promoted by certain pleaders named by Orde, and by educated natives. He began with labored respect to explain how he was a poor man with no concern in such matters, which were all under the control of God, but presently broke out of Urdu into familiar Punjabi, the mere sound of which had a rustic smack of village smoke-reek and plough-tail, as he denounced the wearers of white coats, the jugglers with words who filched his field from him, the men whose backs were never bowed in honest work; and poured ironical scorn on the Bengali. He and one of his brothers had seen Calcutta, and being at work there had Bengali carpenters given to them as assistants.

"Those carpenters!" said Bishen Singh. "Black apes were more efficient workmates, and as for the Bengali babu—tchick!" The guttural click needed no interpretation, but Orde translated the rest, while Pagett gazed with interest at the wood-carver.

"He seems to have a most illiberal prejudice against the Bengali," said the M.P.

"Yes, it's very sad that for ages outside Bengal there should be so bitter a prejudice. Pride of race, which also means race-hatred, is the plague and curse of India and it spreads far," Orde pointed with his riding-whip to the large map of India on the veranda wall.

"See! I begin with the North," said he. "There's the Afghan, and, as a highlander, he despises all the dwellers in Hindoostan—with the exception of the Sikh, whom he hates as cordially as the Sikh hates him. The Hindu loathes Sikh and Afghan, and the Rajput—that's a little lower down across this yellow blot of desert—has a strong objection, to put it mildly, to the Maratha who, by the way, poisonously hates the Afghan. Let's go North a minute. The Sindhi hates everybody I've mentioned. Very good, we'll take less warlike races. The cultivator of Northern India domineers over the man in the next province, and the Behari of the Northwest ridicules the Bengali. They are all at one on that point. I'm giving you merely the roughest possible outlines of the facts, of course."

Bishen Singh, his clean cut nostrils still quivering, watched the large sweep of the whip as it traveled from the frontier, through Sindh, the Punjab and Rajputana, till it rested by the valley of the Jumna.

"Hate—eternal and inextinguishable hate," concluded Orde, flicking the lash of the whip across the large map from East to West as he sat down. "Remember Canning's advice to Lord Granville, 'Never write or speak of Indian things without looking at a map.'"

Pagett opened his eyes, Orde resumed. "And the race-hatred is only a part of it. What's really the matter with Bishen Singh is class-hatred, which, unfortunately, is even more intense and more widely spread. That's one of the little drawbacks of caste, which some of your recent English writers find an impeccable system."

The wood-carver was glad to be recalled to the business of his craft, and his eyes shone as he received instructions for a carved wooden doorway for Pagett, which he promised should be splendidly executed and despatched to England in six months. It is an irrelevant detail, but in spite of Orde's reminders, fourteen months elapsed before the work was finished. Business over, Bishen Singh hung about, reluctant to take his leave, and at last joining his hands and approaching Orde with bated breath and whispering humbleness, said he had a petition to make. Orde's face suddenly lost all trace of expression. "Speak on, Bishen Singh," said he, and the carver in a whining tone explained that his case against his brothers was fixed for hearing before a native judge and—here he dropped his voice still lower till he was summarily stopped by Orde, who sternly pointed to the gate with an emphatic Begone!

Bishen Singh, showing but little sign of discomposure, salaamed respectfully to the friends and departed.

Pagett looked inquiry; Orde, with complete recovery of his usual urbanity, replied: "It's nothing, only the old story, he wants his case to be tried by an English judge—they all do that—but when he began to hint that the other side were in improper relations with the native judge I had to shut him up. Gunga Ram, the man he wanted to make insinuations about, may not be very bright; but he's as honest as daylight on the bench. But that's just what one can't get a native to believe."

"Do you really mean to say these people prefer to have their cases tried by English judges?"

"Why, certainly."

Pagett drew a long breath. "I didn't know that before." At this point a phaeton entered the compound, and Orde rose with "Confound it, there's old Rasul Ali Khan come to pay one of his tiresome duty calls. I'm afraid we shall never get through our little Congress discussion."

Pagett was an almost silent spectator of the grave formalities of a visit paid by a punctilious old Mahommedan gentleman to an Indian official; and was much impressed by the distinction of manner and fine appearance of the Mohammedan landholder. When the exchange of polite banalities came to a pause, he expressed a wish to learn the courtly visitor's opinion of the National Congress.

Orde reluctantly interpreted, and with a smile which even Mohammedan politeness could not save from bitter scorn, Rasul Ali Khan intimated that he knew nothing about it and cared still less. It was a kind of talk encouraged by the Government for some mysterious purpose of its own, and for his own part he wondered and held his peace.

Pagett was far from satisfied with this, and wished to have the old gentleman's opinion on the propriety of managing all Indian affairs on the basis of an elective system.

Orde did his best to explain, but it was plain the visitor was bored and bewildered. Frankly, he didn't think much of committees; they had a Municipal Committee at Lahore and had elected a menial servant, an orderly, as a member. He had been informed of this on good authority, and after that, committees had ceased to interest him. But all was according to the rule of Government, and, please God, it was all for the best.

"What an old fossil it is!" cried Pagett, as Orde returned from seeing his guest to the door; "just like some old blue-blooded hidalgo of Spain. What does he really think of the Congress after all, and of the elective system?"

"Hates it all like poison. When you are sure of a majority, election is a fine system; but you can scarcely expect the Mahommedans, the most masterful and powerful minority in the country, to contemplate their own extinction with joy. The worst of it is that he and his co-religionists, who are many, and the landed proprietors, also, of Hindu race, are frightened and put out by this election business and by the importance we have bestowed on lawyers, pleaders, writers, and the like, who have, up to now, been in abject submission to them. They say little, but after all they are the most important fagots in the great bundle of communities, and all the glib bunkum in the world would not pay for their estrangement. They have controlled the land."

"But I am assured that experience of local self-government in your municipalities has been most satisfactory, and when once the principle is accepted in your centres, don't you know, it is bound to spread, and these important—ah—people of yours would learn it like the rest. I see no difficulty at all," and the smooth lips closed with the complacent snap habitual to Pagett, M.P., the "man of cheerful yesterdays and confident tomorrows."

Orde looked at him with a dreary smile.

"The privilege of election has been most reluctantly withdrawn from scores of municipalities, others have had to be summarily suppressed, and, outside the Presidency towns, the actual work done has been badly performed. This is of less moment, perhaps—it only sends up the local death-rates—than the fact that the public interest in municipal elections, never very strong, has waned, and is waning, in spite of careful nursing on the part of Government servants."

"Can you explain this lack of interest?" said Pagett, putting aside the rest of Orde's remarks.

"You may find a ward of the key in the fact that only one in every thousand of our population can spell. Then they are infinitely more interested in religion and caste questions than in any sort of politics. When the business of mere existence is over, their minds are occupied by a series of interests, pleasures, rituals, superstitions, and the like, based on centuries of tradition and usage. You, perhaps, find it hard to conceive of people absolutely devoid of curiosity, to whom the book, the daily paper, and the printed speech are unknown, and you would describe their life as blank. That's a profound mistake. You are in another land, another century, down on the bed-rock of society, where the family merely, and not the community, is all-important. The average Oriental cannot be brought to look beyond his clan. His life, too, is more complete and self-sufficing, and less sordid and low-thoughted than you might imagine. It is bovine and slow in some respects, but it is never empty. You and I are inclined to put the cart before the horse, and to forget that it is the man that is elemental, not the book. 'The corn and the cattle are all my care, And the rest is the will of God.' Why should such folk look up from their immemorially appointed round of duty and interests to meddle with the unknown and fuss with voting-papers. How would you, atop of all your interests care to conduct even one-tenth of your life according to the manners and customs of the Papuans, let's say? That's what it comes to."

"But if they won't take the trouble to vote, why do you anticipate that Mohammedans, proprietors, and the rest would be crushed by majorities of them?"

Again Pagett disregarded the closing sentence.

"Because, though the landholders would not move a finger on any purely political question, they could be raised in dangerous excitement by religious hatreds. Already the first note of this has been sounded by the people who are trying to get up an agitation on the cow-killing question, and every year there is trouble over the Mohammedan Muharrum processions.

"But who looks after the popular rights, being thus unrepresented?"

"The Government of Her Majesty the Queen, Empress of India, in which, if the Congress promoters are to be believed, the people have an implicit trust; for the Congress circular, specially prepared for rustic comprehension, says the movement is 'for the remission of tax, the advancement of Hindustan, and the strengthening of the British Government.' This paper is headed in large letters-'MAY THE PROSPERITY OF THE EMPIRE OF INDIA ENDURE.'"

"Really!" said Pagett, "that shows some cleverness. But there are things better worth imitation in our English methods of—er—political statement than this sort of amiable fraud."

"Anyhow," resumed Orde, "you perceive that not a word is said about elections and the elective principle, and the reticence of the Congress promoters here shows they are wise in their generation."

"But the elective principle must triumph in the end, and the little difficulties you seem to anticipate would give way on the introduction of a well-balanced scheme, capable of indefinite extension."

"But is it possible to devise a scheme which, always assuming that the people took any interest in it, without enormous expense, ruinous dislocation of the administration and danger to the public peace, can satisfy the aspirations of Mr. Hume and his following, and yet safeguard the interests of the Mahommedans, the landed and wealthy classes, the Conservative Hindus, the Eurasians, Parsees, Sikhs, Rajputs, native Christians, domiciled Europeans and others, who are each important and powerful in their way?"

Pagett's attention, however, was diverted to the gate, where a group of cultivators stood in apparent hesitation.

"Here are the twelve Apostles, by Jove—come straight out of Raffaele's cartoons," said the M.P., with the fresh appreciation of a newcomer.

Orde, loth to be interrupted, turned impatiently toward the villagers, and their leader, handing his long staff to one of his companions, advanced to the house.

"It is old Jelbo, the Lumherdar, or head-man of Pind Sharkot, and a very intelligent man for a villager."

The Jat farmer had removed his shoes and stood smiling on the edge of the veranda. His strongly marked features glowed with russet bronze, and his bright eyes gleamed under deeply set brows, contracted by lifelong exposure to sunshine. His beard and moustache streaked with grey swept from bold cliffs of brow and cheek in the large sweeps one sees drawn by Michael Angelo, and strands of long black hair mingled with the irregularly piled wreaths and folds of his turban. The drapery of stout blue cotton cloth thrown over his broad shoulders and girt round his narrow loins, hung from his tall form in broadly sculptured folds, and he would have made a superb model for an artist in search of a patriarch.

Orde greeted him cordially, and after a polite pause the countryman started off with a long story told with impressive earnestness. Orde listened and smiled, interrupting the speaker at times to argue and reason with him in a tone which Pagett could hear was kindly, and finally checking the flux of words was about to dismiss him, when Pagett suggested that he should be asked about the National Congress.

But Jelbo had never heard of it. He was a poor man and such things, by the favor of his Honor, did not concern him.

"What's the matter with your big friend that he was so terribly in earnest?" asked Pagett, when he had left.

"Nothing much. He wants the blood of the people in the next village, who have had smallpox and cattle plague pretty badly, and by the help of a wizard, a currier, and several pigs have passed it on to his own village. 'Wants to know if they can't be run in for this awful crime. It seems they made a dreadful charivari at the village boundary, threw a quantity of spell-bearing objects over the border, a buffalo's skull and other things; then branded a chamur—what you would call a currier—on his hinder parts and drove him and a number of pigs over into Jelbo's village. Jelbo says he can bring evidence to prove that the wizard directing these proceedings, who is a Sansi, has been guilty of theft, arson, cattle-killing, perjury and murder, but would prefer to have him punished for bewitching them and inflicting smallpox."

"And how on earth did you answer such a lunatic?"

"Lunatic!—the old fellow is as sane as you or I; and he has some ground of complaint against those Sansis. I asked if he would like a native superintendent of police with some men to make inquiries, but he objected on the grounds the police were rather worse than smallpox and criminal tribes put together."

"Criminal tribes—er—I don't quite understand," said Pagett.

"We have in India many tribes of people who in the slack anti-British days became robbers, in various kind, and preyed on the people. They are being restrained and reclaimed little by little, and in time will become useful citizens, but they still cherish hereditary traditions of crime, and are a difficult lot to deal with. By the way what about the political rights of these folk under your schemes? The country people call them vermin, but I suppose they would be electors with the rest."

"Nonsense—special provision would be made for them in a well-considered electoral scheme, and they would doubtless be treated with fitting severity," said Pagett, with a magisterial air.

"Severity, yes—but whether it would be fitting is doubtful. Even those poor devils have rights, and, after all, they only practice what they have been taught."

"But criminals, Orde!"

"Yes, criminals with codes and rituals of crime, gods and godlings of crime, and a hundred songs and sayings in praise of it. Puzzling, isn't it?"

"It's simply dreadful. They ought to be put down at once. Are there many of them?"

"Not more than about sixty thousand in this province, for many of the tribes broadly described as criminal are really vagabond and criminal only on occasion, while others are being settled and reclaimed. They are of great antiquity, a legacy from the past, the golden, glorious Aryan past of Max Muller, Birdwood and the rest of your spindrift philosophers."

An orderly brought a card to Orde, who took it with a movement of irritation at the interruption, and banded it to Pagett; a large card with a ruled border in red ink, and in the centre in schoolboy copper plate, Mr. Dma Nath. "Give salaam," said the civilian, and there entered in haste a slender youth, clad in a closely fitting coat of grey homespun, tight trousers, patent-leather shoes, and a small black velvet cap. His thin cheek twitched, and his eyes wandered restlessly, for the young man was evidently nervous and uncomfortable, though striving to assume a free and easy air.

"Your honor may perhaps remember me," he said in English, and Orde scanned him keenly.

"I know your face somehow. You belonged to the Shershah district I think, when I was in charge there?"

"Yes, Sir, my father is writer at Shershah, and your honor gave me a prize when I was first in the Middle School examination five years ago. Since then I have prosecuted my studies, and I am now second year's student in the Mission College—"

"Of course: you are Kedar Nath's son—the boy who said he liked geography better than play or sugar cakes, and I didn't believe you. How is your father getting on?"

"He is well, and he sends his salaam, but his circumstances are depressed, and he also is down on his luck."

"You learn English idioms at the Mission College, it seems."

"Yes, sir, they are the best idioms, and my father ordered me to ask your honor to say a word for him to the present incumbent of your honor's shoes, the latchet of which he is not worthy to open, and who knows not Joseph; for things are different at Shershah now, and my father wants promotion."

"Your father is a good man, and I will do what I can for him."

At this point a telegram was handed to Orde, who, after glancing at it, said he must leave his young friend whom he introduced to Pagett, "a member of the English House of Commons who wishes to learn about India."

Orde had scarcely retired with his telegram when Pagett began:

"Perhaps you can tell me something of the National Congress movement?"

"Sir, it is the greatest movement of modern times, and one in which all educated men like us must join. All our students are for the Congress."

"Excepting, I suppose, Mahommedans, and the Christians?" said Pagett, quick to use his recent instruction.

"These are some mere exceptions to the universal rule."

"But the people outside the College, the working classes, the agriculturists; your father and mother, for instance."

"My mother," said the young man, with a visible effort to bring himself to pronounce the word, "has no ideas, and my father is not agriculturist, nor working class; he is of the Kayeth caste; but he had not the advantage of a collegiate education, and he does not know much of the Congress. It is a movement for the educated young-man"—connecting adjective and noun in a sort of vocal hyphen.

"Ah, yes," said Pagett, feeling he was a little off the rails, "and what are the benefits you expect to gain by it?"

"Oh, sir, everything. England owes its greatness to Parliamentary institutions, and we should at once gain the same high position in scale of nations. Sir, we wish to have the sciences, the arts, the manufactures, the industrial factories, with steam engines, and other motive powers and public meetings, and debates. Already we have a debating club in connection with the college, and elect a Mr. Speaker. Sir, the progress must come. You also are a Member of Parliament and worship the great Lord Ripon," said the youth, breathlessly, and his black eyes flashed as he finished his commaless sentences.

"Well," said Pagett, drily, "it has not yet occurred to me to worship his Lordship, although I believe he is a very worthy man, and I am not sure that England owes quite all the things you name to the House of Commons. You see, my young friend, the growth of a nation like ours is slow, subject to many influences, and if you have read your history aright"—

"Sir. I know it all—all! Norman Conquest, Magna Charta, Runnymede, Reformation, Tudors, Stuarts, Mr. Milton and Mr. Burke, and I have read something of Mr. Herbert Spencer and Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall,' Reynolds' 'Mysteries of the Court,' and"—

Pagett felt like one who had pulled the string of a shower-bath unawares, and hastened to stop the torrent with a question as to what particular grievances of the people of India the attention of an elected assembly should be first directed. But young Mr. Dma Nath was slow to particularize. There were many, very many demanding consideration. Mr. Pagett would like to hear of one or two typical examples. The Repeal of the Arms Act was at last named, and the student learned for the first time that a license was necessary before an Englishman could carry a gun in England. Then natives of India ought to be allowed to become Volunteer Riflemen if they chose, and the absolute equality of the Oriental with his European fellow-subject in civil status should be proclaimed on principle, and the Indian Army should be considerably reduced. The student was not, however, prepared with answers to Mr. Pagett's mildest questions on these points, and he returned to vague generalities, leaving the M.P. so much impressed with the crudity of his views that he was glad on Orde's return to say goodbye to his "very interesting" young friend.

"What do you think of young India?" asked Orde.

"Curious, very curious—and callow."

"And yet," the civilian replied, "one can scarcely help sympathizing with him for his mere youth's sake. The young orators of the Oxford Union arrived at the same conclusions and showed doubtless just the same enthusiasm. If there were any political analogy between India and England, if the thousand races of this Empire were one, if there were any chance even of their learning to speak one language, if, in short, India were a Utopia of the debating-room, and not a real land, this kind of talk might be worth listening to, but it is all based on false analogy and ignorance of the facts."

"But he is a native and knows the facts."

"He is a sort of English schoolboy, but married three years, and the father of two weaklings, and knows less than most English schoolboys. You saw all he is and knows, and such ideas as he has acquired are directly hostile to the most cherished convictions of the vast majority of the people."

"But what does he mean by saying he is a student of a mission college? Is he a Christian?"

"He meant just what he said, and he is not a Christian, nor ever will he be. Good people in America, Scotland and England, most of whom would never dream of collegiate education for their own sons, are pinching themselves to bestow it in pure waste on Indian youths. Their scheme is an oblique, subterranean attack on heathenism; the theory being that with the jam of secular education, leading to a University degree, the pill of moral or religious instruction may he coaxed down the heathen gullet."

"But does it succeed; do they make converts?"

"They make no converts, for the subtle Oriental swallows the jam and rejects the pill; but the mere example of the sober, righteous, and godly lives of the principals and professors who are most excellent and devoted men, must have a certain moral value. Yet, as Lord Lansdowne pointed out the other day, the market is dangerously overstocked with graduates of our Universities who look for employment in the administration. An immense number are employed, but year by year the college mills grind out increasing lists of youths foredoomed to failure and disappointment, and meanwhile, trades, manufactures, and the industrial arts are neglected, and in fact regarded with contempt by our new literary mandarins in posse."

"But our young friend said he wanted steam-engines and factories," said Pagett.

"Yes, he would like to direct such concerns. He wants to begin at the top, for manual labor is held to be discreditable, and he would never defile his hands by the apprenticeship which the architects, engineers, and manufacturers of England cheerfully undergo; and he would be aghast to learn that the leading names of industrial enterprise in England belonged a generation or two since, or now belong, to men who wrought with their own hands. And, though he talks glibly of manufacturers, he refuses to see that the Indian manufacturer of the future will be the despised workman of the present. It was proposed, for example, a few weeks ago, that a certain municipality in this province should establish an elementary technical school for the sons of workmen. The stress of the opposition to the plan came from a pleader who owed all he had to a college education bestowed on him gratis by Government and missions. You would have fancied some fine old crusted Tory squire of the last generation was speaking. 'These people,' he said, 'want no education, for they learn their trades from their fathers, and to teach a workman's son the elements of mathematics and physical science would give him ideas above his business. They must be kept in their place, and it was idle to imagine that there was any science in wood or iron work.' And he carried his point. But the Indian workman will rise in the social scale in spite of the new literary caste."

"In England we have scarcely begun to realize that there is an industrial class in this country, yet, I suppose, the example of men, like Edwards for instance, must tell," said Pagett, thoughtfully.

"That you shouldn't know much about it is natural enough, for there are but few sources of information. India in this, as in other respects, is like a badly kept ledger—not written up to date. And men like Edwards are, in reality, missionaries, who by precept and example are teaching more lessons than they know. Only a few, however, of their crowds of subordinates seem to care to try to emulate them, and aim at individual advancement; the rest drop into the ancient Indian caste groove."

"How do you mean?" asked Pagett.

"Well, it is found that the new railway and factory workmen, the fitter, the smith, the engine-driver, and the rest are already forming separate hereditary castes. You may notice this down at Jamalpur in Bengal, one of the oldest railway centres; and at other places, and in other industries, they are following the same inexorable Indian law."

"Which means?" queried Pagett.

"It means that the rooted habit of the people is to gather in small self-contained, self-sufficing family groups with no thought or care for any interests but their own—a habit which is scarcely compatible with the right acceptation of the elective principle."

"Yet you must admit, Orde, that though our young friend was not able to expound the faith that is in him, your Indian army is too big."

"Not nearly big enough for its main purpose. And, as a side issue, there are certain powerful minorities of fighting folk whose interests an Asiatic Government is bound to consider. Arms is as much a means of livelihood as civil employ under Government and law. And it would be a heavy strain on British bayonets to hold down Sikhs, Jats, Bilochis, Rohillas, Rajputs, Bhils, Dogras, Pathans, and Gurkhas to abide by the decisions of a numerical majority opposed to their interests. Leave the 'numerical majority' to itself without the British bayonets—a flock of sheep might as reasonably hope to manage a troop of collies."

"This complaint about excessive growth of the army is akin to another contention of the Congress party. They protest against the malversation of the whole of the moneys raised by additional taxes as a Famine Insurance Fund to other purposes. You must be aware that this special Famine Fund has all been spent on frontier roads and defences and strategic railway schemes as a protection against Russia."

"But there was never a special famine fund raised by special taxation and put by as in a box. No sane administrator would dream of such a thing. In a time of prosperity a finance minister, rejoicing in a margin, proposed to annually apply a million and a half to the construction of railways and canals for the protection of districts liable to scarcity, and to the reduction of the annual loans for public works. But times were not always prosperous, and the finance minister had to choose whether he would bang up the insurance scheme for a year or impose fresh taxation. When a farmer hasn't got the little surplus he hoped to have for buying a new wagon and draining a low-lying field corner, you don't accuse him of malversation, if he spends what he has on the necessary work of the rest of his farm."

A clatter of hoofs was heard, and Orde looked up with vexation, but his brow cleared as a horseman halted under the porch.

"Hello, Orde! just looked in to ask if you are coming to polo on Tuesday: we want you badly to help to crumple up the Krab Bokhar team."

Orde explained that he had to go out into the District, and while the visitor complained that though good men wouldn't play, duffers were always keen, and that his side would probably be beaten, Pagett rose to look at his mount, a red, lathered Biloch mare, with a curious lyrelike incurving of the ears. "Quite a little thoroughbred in all other respects," said the M.P., and Orde presented Mr. Reginald Burke, Manager of the Siad and Sialkote Bank to his friend.

"Yes, she's as good as they make 'em, and she's all the female I possess and spoiled in consequence, aren't you, old girl?" said Burke, patting the mare's glossy neck as she backed and plunged.

"Mr. Pagett," said Orde, "has been asking me about the Congress. What is your opinion?" Burke turned to the M. P. with a frank smile.

"Well, if it's all the same to you, sir, I should say, Damn the Congress, but then I'm no politician, but only a business man."

"You find it a tiresome subject?"

"Yes, it's all that, and worse than that, for this kind of agitation is anything but wholesome for the country."

"How do you mean?"

"It would be a long job to explain, and Sara here won't stand, but you know how sensitive capital is, and how timid investors are. All this sort of rot is likely to frighten them, and we can't afford to frighten them. The passengers aboard an Ocean steamer don't feel reassured when the ship's way is stopped, and they hear the workmen's hammers tinkering at the engines down below. The old Ark's going on all right as she is, and only wants quiet and room to move. Them's my sentiments, and those of some other people who have to do with money and business."

"Then you are a thick-and-thin supporter of the Government as it is."

"Why, no! The Indian Government is much too timid with its money—like an old maiden aunt of mine—always in a funk about her investments. They don't spend half enough on railways for instance, and they are slow in a general way, and ought to be made to sit up in all that concerns the encouragement of private enterprise, and coaxing out into use the millions of capital that lie dormant in the country."

The mare was dancing with impatience, and Burke was evidently anxious to be off, so the men wished him goodbye.

"Who is your genial friend who condemns both Congress and Government in a breath?" asked Pagett, with an amused smile.

"Just now he is Reggie Burke, keener on polo than on anything else, but if you go to the Sind and Sialkote Bank tomorrow you would find Mr. Reginald Burke a very capable man of business, known and liked by an immense constituency North and South of this."

"Do you think he is right about the Government's want of enterprise?"

"I should hesitate to say. Better consult the merchants and chambers of commerce in Cawnpore, Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta. But though these bodies would like, as Reggie puts it, to make Government sit up, it is an elementary consideration in governing a country like India, which must be administered for the benefit of the people at large, that the counsels of those who resort to it for the sake of making money should be judiciously weighed and not allowed to overpower the rest. They are welcome guests here, as a matter of course, but it has been found best to restrain their influence. Thus the rights of plantation laborers, factory operatives, and the like, have been protected, and the capitalist, eager to get on, has not always regarded Government action with favor. It is quite conceivable that under an elective system the commercial communities of the great towns might find means to secure majorities on labor questions and on financial matters."

"They would act at least with intelligence and consideration."

"Intelligence, yes; but as to consideration, who at the present moment most bitterly resents the tender solicitude of Lancashire for the welfare and protection of the Indian factory operative? English and native capitalists running cotton mills and factories."

"But is the solicitude of Lancashire in this matter entirely disinterested?"

"It is no business of mine to say. I merely indicate an example of how a powerful commercial interest might hamper a Government intent in the first place on the larger interests of humanity."

Orde broke off to listen a moment. "There's Dr. Lathrop talking to my wife in the drawing-room," said he.

"Surely not; that's a lady's voice, and if my ears don't deceive me, an American."

"Exactly, Dr. Eva McCreery Lathrop, chief of the new Women's Hospital here, and a very good fellow forbye. Good morning, Doctor," he said, as a graceful figure came out on the veranda, "you seem to be in trouble. I hope Mrs. Orde was able to help you."

"Your wife is real kind and good, I always come to her when I'm in a fix but I fear it's more than comforting I want."

"You work too hard and wear yourself out," said Orde, kindly. "Let me introduce my friend, Mr. Pagett, just fresh from home, and anxious to learn his India. You could tell him something of that more important half of which a mere man knows so little."

"Perhaps I could if I'd any heart to do it, but I'm in trouble, I've lost a case, a case that was doing well, through nothing in the world but inattention on the part of a nurse I had begun to trust. And when I spoke only a small piece of my mind she collapsed in a whining heap on the floor. It is hopeless."

The men were silent, for the blue eyes of the lady doctor were dim. Recovering herself she looked up with a smile, half sad, half humorous, "And I am in a whining heap, too; but what phase of Indian life are you particularly interested in, sir?"

"Mr. Pagett intends to study the political aspect of things and the possibility of bestowing electoral institutions on the people."

"Wouldn't it be as much to the purpose to bestow point-lace collars on them? They need many things more urgently than votes. Why it's like giving a bread-pill for a broken leg."

"Er—I don't quite follow," said Pagett, uneasily.

"Well, what's the matter with this country is not in the least political, but an all round entanglement of physical, social, and moral evils and corruptions, all more or less due to the unnatural treatment of women. You can't gather figs from thistles, and so long as the system of infant marriage, the prohibition of the remarriage of widows, the lifelong imprisonment of wives and mothers in a worse than penal confinement, and the withholding from them of any kind of education or treatment as rational beings continues, the country can't advance a step. Half of it is morally dead, and worse than dead, and that's just the half from which we have a right to look for the best impulses. It's right here where the trouble is, and not in any political considerations whatsoever."

"But do they marry so early?" said Pagett, vaguely.

"The average age is seven, but thousands are married still earlier. One result is that girls of twelve and thirteen have to bear the burden of wifehood and motherhood, and, as might be expected, the rate of mortality both for mothers and children is terrible. Pauperism, domestic unhappiness, and a low state of health are only a few of the consequences of this. Then, when, as frequently happens, the boy-husband dies prematurely, his widow is condemned to worse than death. She may not remarry, must live a secluded and despised life, a life so unnatural that she sometimes prefers suicide; more often she goes astray. You don't know in England what such words as 'infant-marriage,' 'baby-wife,' 'girl-mother,' and 'virgin-widow' mean; but they mean unspeakable horrors here."

"Well, but the advanced political party here will surely make it their business to advocate social reforms as well as political ones," said Pagett.

"Very surely they will do no such thing," said the lady doctor, emphatically. "I wish I could make you understand. Why, even of the funds devoted to the Marchioness of Dufferin's organization for medical aid to the women of India, it was said in print and in speech, that they would be better spent on more college scholarships for men. And in all the advanced parties' talk—God forgive them—and in all their programmes, they carefully avoid all such subjects. They will talk about the protection of the cow, for that's an ancient superstition—they can all understand that; but the protection of the women is a new and dangerous idea." She turned to Pagett impulsively:

"You are a member of the English Parliament. Can you do nothing? The foundations of their life are rotten—utterly and bestially rotten. I could tell your wife things that I couldn't tell you. I know the inner life that belongs to the native, and I know nothing else; and believe me you might as well try to grow golden-rod in a mushroom-pit as to make anything of a people that are born and reared as these—these things 're. The men talk of their rights and privileges. I have seen the women that bear these very men, and again—may God forgive the men!"

Pagett's eyes opened with a large wonder. Dr. Lathrop rose tempestuously.

"I must be off to lecture," said she, "and I'm sorry that I can't show you my hospitals; but you had better believe, sir, that it's more necessary for India than all the elections in creation."

"That's a woman with a mission, and no mistake," said Pagett, after a pause.

"Yes; she believes in her work, and so do I," said Orde. "I've a notion that in the end it will be found that the most helpful work done for India in this generation was wrought by Lady Dufferin in drawing attention—what work that was, by the way, even with her husband's great name to back it to the needs of women here. In effect, native habits and beliefs are an organized conspiracy against the laws of health and happy life—but there is some dawning of hope now."

"How d'you account for the general indifference, then?"

"I suppose it's due in part to their fatalism and their utter indifference to all human suffering. How much do you imagine the great province of the Punjab with over twenty million people and half a score rich towns has contributed to the maintenance of civil dispensaries last year? About seven thousand rupees."

"That's seven hundred pounds," said Pagett, quickly.

"I wish it was," replied Orde; "but anyway, it's an absurdly inadequate sum, and shows one of the blank sides of Oriental character."

Pagett was silent for a long time. The question of direct and personal pain did not lie within his researches. He preferred to discuss the weightier matters of the law, and contented himself with murmuring: "They'll do better later on." Then, with a rush, returning to his first thought:

"But, my dear Orde, if it's merely a class movement of a local and temporary character, how d' you account for Bradlaugh, who is at least a man of sense, taking it up?"

"I know nothing of the champion of the New Brahmins but what I see in the papers. I suppose there is something tempting in being hailed by a large assemblage as the representative of the aspirations of two hundred and fifty millions of people. Such a man looks 'through all the roaring and the wreaths,' and does not reflect that it is a false perspective, which, as a matter of fact, hides the real complex and manifold India from his gaze. He can scarcely be expected to distinguish between the ambitions of a new oligarchy and the real wants of the people of whom he knows nothing. But it's strange that a professed Radical should come to be the chosen advocate of a movement which has for its aim the revival of an ancient tyranny. Shows how even Radicalism can fall into academic grooves and miss the essential truths of its own creed. Believe me, Pagett, to deal with India you want first-hand knowledge and experience. I wish he would come and live here for a couple of years or so."

"Is not this rather an ad hominem style of argument?"

"Can't help it in a case like this. Indeed, I am not sure you ought not to go further and weigh the whole character and quality and upbringing of the man. You must admit that the monumental complacency with which he trotted out his ingenious little Constitution for India showed a strange want of imagination and the sense of humor."

"No, I don't quite admit it," said Pagett.

"Well, you know him and I don't, but that's how it strikes a stranger." He turned on his heel and paced the veranda thoughtfully. "And, after all, the burden of the actual, daily unromantic toil falls on the shoulders of the men out here, and not on his own. He enjoys all the privileges of recommendation without responsibility, and we—well, perhaps, when you've seen a little more of India you'll understand. To begin with, our death rate's five times higher than yours—I speak now for the brutal bureaucrat—and we work on the refuse of worked-out cities and exhausted civilizations, among the bones of the dead. In the case of the Congress meetings, the only notable fact is that the priests of the altar are British, not Buddhist, Jain or Brahminical, and that the whole thing is a British contrivance kept alive by the efforts of Messrs. Hume, Eardley, Norton, and Digby."

"You mean to say, then, it's not a spontaneous movement?"

"What movement was ever spontaneous in any true sense of the word? This seems to be more factitious than usual. You seem to know a great deal about it; try it by the touchstone of subscriptions, a coarse but fairly trustworthy criterion, and there is scarcely the color of money in it. The delegates write from England that they are out of pocket for working expenses, railway fares, and stationery—the mere pasteboard and scaffolding of their show. It is, in fact, collapsing from mere financial inanition."

"But you cannot deny that the people of India, who are, perhaps, too poor to subscribe, are mentally and morally moved by the agitation," Pagett insisted.

"That is precisely what I do deny. The native side of the movement is the work of a limited class, a microscopic minority, as Lord Dufferin described it, when compared with the people proper, but still a very interesting class, seeing that it is of our own creation. It is composed almost entirely of those of the literary or clerkly castes who have received an English education."

"Surely that's a very important class. Its members must be the ordained leaders of popular thought."

"Anywhere else they might be leaders, but they have no social weight here."

Pagett laughed. "That's an epigrammatic way of putting it, Orde."

"Is it? Let's see," said the Deputy Commissioner of Amara, striding into the sunshine toward a half-naked gardener potting roses. He took the man's hoe, and went to a rain-scarped bank at the bottom of the garden.

"Come here, Pagett," he said, and cut at the sun-baked soil. After three strokes there rolled from under the blade of the hoe the half of a clanking skeleton that settled at Pagett's feet in an unseemly jumble of bones. The M.P. drew back.

"Our houses are built on cemeteries," said Orde. "There are scores of thousands of graves within ten miles."

Pagett was contemplating the skull with the awed fascination of a man who has but little to do with the dead. "India's a very curious place," said he, after a pause.

"Ah? You'll know all about it in three months. Come in to lunch," said Orde.





VOLUME V PLAIN TALES FROM THE HILLS





LISPETH

   Look, you have cast out Love! What Gods are these
     You bid me please?
   The Three in One, the One in Three? Not so!
     To my own Gods I go.
   It may be they shall give me greater ease
   Than your cold Christ and tangled Trinities.
            —The Convert.

She was the daughter of Sonoo, a Hill-man, and Jadeh his wife. One year their maize failed, and two bears spent the night in their only poppy-field just above the Sutlej Valley on the Kotgarh side; so, next season, they turned Christian, and brought their baby to the Mission to be baptized. The Kotgarh Chaplain christened her Elizabeth, and "Lispeth" is the Hill or pahari pronunciation.

Later, cholera came into the Kotgarh Valley and carried off Sonoo and Jadeh, and Lispeth became half-servant, half-companion to the wife of the then Chaplain of Kotgarh. This was after the reign of the Moravian missionaries, but before Kotgarh had quite forgotten her title of "Mistress of the Northern Hills."

Whether Christianity improved Lispeth, or whether the gods of her own people would have done as much for her under any circumstances, I do not know; but she grew very lovely. When a Hill girl grows lovely, she is worth traveling fifty miles over bad ground to look upon. Lispeth had a Greek face—one of those faces people paint so often, and see so seldom. She was of a pale, ivory color and, for her race, extremely tall. Also, she possessed eyes that were wonderful; and, had she not been dressed in the abominable print-cloths affected by Missions, you would, meeting her on the hill-side unexpectedly, have thought her the original Diana of the Romans going out to slay.

Lispeth took to Christianity readily, and did not abandon it when she reached womanhood, as do some Hill girls. Her own people hated her because she had, they said, become a memsahib and washed herself daily; and the Chaplain's wife did not know what to do with her. Somehow, one cannot ask a stately goddess, five foot ten in her shoes, to clean plates and dishes. So she played with the Chaplain's children and took classes in the Sunday School, and read all the books in the house, and grew more and more beautiful, like the Princesses in fairy tales. The Chaplain's wife said that the girl ought to take service in Simla as a nurse or something "genteel." But Lispeth did not want to take service. She was very happy where she was.

When travellers—there were not many in those years—came to Kotgarh, Lispeth used to lock herself into her own room for fear they might take her away to Simla, or somewhere out into the unknown world.

One day, a few months after she was seventeen years old, Lispeth went out for a walk. She did not walk in the manner of English ladies—a mile and a half out, and a ride back again. She covered between twenty and thirty miles in her little constitutionals, all about and about, between Kotgarh and Narkunda. This time she came back at full dusk, stepping down the breakneck descent into Kotgarh with something heavy in her arms. The Chaplain's wife was dozing in the drawing-room when Lispeth came in breathing hard and very exhausted with her burden. Lispeth put it down on the sofa, and said simply:

"This is my husband. I found him on the Bagi Road. He has hurt himself. We will nurse him, and when he is well, your husband shall marry him to me."

This was the first mention Lispeth had ever made of her matrimonial views, and the Chaplain's wife shrieked with horror. However, the man on the sofa needed attention first. He was a young Englishman, and his head had been cut to the bone by something jagged. Lispeth said she had found him down the khud, so she had brought him in.

He was breathing queerly and was unconscious.

He was put to bed and tended by the Chaplain, who knew something of medicine; and Lispeth waited outside the door in case she could be useful. She explained to the Chaplain that this was the man she meant to marry; and the Chaplain and his wife lectured her severely on the impropriety of her conduct. Lispeth listened quietly, and repeated her first proposition. It takes a great deal of Christianity to wipe out uncivilized Eastern instincts, such as falling in love at first sight. Lispeth, having found the man she worshipped, did not see why she should keep silent as to her choice. She had no intention of being sent away, either. She was going to nurse that Englishman until he was well enough to marry her. This was her little programme.

After a fortnight of slight fever and inflammation, the Englishman recovered coherence and thanked the Chaplain and his wife, and Lispeth—especially Lispeth—for their kindness. He was a traveller in the East, he said—they never talked about "globe-trotters" in those days, when the P. & O. fleet was young and small—and had come from Dehra Dun to hunt for plants and butterflies among the Simla hills. No one at Simla, therefore, knew anything about him. He fancied he must have fallen over the cliff while stalking a fern on a rotten tree-trunk, and that his coolies must have stolen his baggage and fled. He thought he would go back to Simla when he was a little stronger. He desired no more mountaineering.

He made small haste to go away, and recovered his strength slowly.

Lispeth objected to being advised either by the Chaplain or his wife; so the latter spoke to the Englishman, and told him how matters stood in Lispeth's heart. He laughed a good deal, and said it was very pretty and romantic, a perfect idyl of the Himalayas; but, as he was engaged to a girl at Home, he fancied that nothing would happen. Certainly he would behave with discretion. He did that. Still he found it very pleasant to talk to Lispeth, and walk with Lispeth, and say nice things to her, and call her pet names while he was getting strong enough to go away. It meant nothing at all to him, and everything in the world to Lispeth. She was very happy while the fortnight lasted, because she had found a man to love.

Being a savage by birth, she took no trouble to hide her feelings, and the Englishman was amused. When he went away, Lispeth walked with him, up the Hill as far as Narkunda, very troubled and very miserable. The Chaplain's wife, being a good Christian and disliking anything in the shape of fuss or scandal—Lispeth was beyond her management entirely—had told the Englishman to tell Lispeth that he was coming back to marry her. "She is but a child, you know, and, I fear, at heart a heathen," said the Chaplain's wife. So all the twelve miles up the hill the Englishman, with his arm around Lispeth's waist, was assuring the girl that he would come back and marry her; and Lispeth made him promise over and over again. She wept on the Narkunda Ridge till he had passed out of sight along the Muttiani path.

Then she dried her tears and went in to Kotgarh again, and said to the Chaplain's wife: "He will come back and marry me. He has gone to his own people to tell them so." And the Chaplain's wife soothed Lispeth and said: "He will come back." At the end of two months, Lispeth grew impatient, and was told that the Englishman had gone over the seas to England. She knew where England was, because she had read little geography primers; but, of course, she had no conception of the nature of the sea, being a Hill girl.

There was an old puzzle-map of the World in the House. Lispeth had played with it when she was a child. She unearthed it again, and put it together of evenings, and cried to herself, and tried to imagine where her Englishman was. As she had no ideas of distance or steamboats, her notions were somewhat erroneous. It would not have made the least difference had she been perfectly correct; for the Englishman had no intention of coming back to marry a Hill girl. He forgot all about her by the time he was butterfly-hunting in Assam. He wrote a book on the East afterwards. Lispeth's name did not appear.

At the end of three months, Lispeth made daily pilgrimage to Narkunda to see if her Englishman was coming along the road. It gave her comfort, and the Chaplain's wife, finding her happier, thought that she was getting over her "barbarous and most indelicate folly." A little later the walks ceased to help Lispeth and her temper grew very bad. The Chaplain's wife thought this a profitable time to let her know the real state of affairs—that the Englishman had only promised his love to keep her quiet—that he had never meant anything, and that it was "wrong and improper" of Lispeth to think of marriage with an Englishman, who was of a superior clay, besides being promised in marriage to a girl of his own people. Lispeth said that all this was clearly impossible, because he had said he loved her, and the Chaplain's wife had, with her own lips, asserted that the Englishman was coming back.

"How can what he and you said be untrue?" asked Lispeth.

"We said it as an excuse to keep you quiet, child," said the Chaplain's wife.

"Then you have lied to me," said Lispeth, "you and he?"

The Chaplain's wife bowed her head, and said nothing. Lispeth was silent, too for a little time; then she went out down the valley, and returned in the dress of a Hill girl—infamously dirty, but without the nose and ear rings. She had her hair braided into the long pig-tail, helped out with black thread, that Hill women wear.

"I am going back to my own people," said she. "You have killed Lispeth. There is only left old Jadeh's daughter—the daughter of a pahari and the servant of Tarka Devi. You are all liars, you English."

By the time that the Chaplain's wife had recovered from the shock of the announcement that Lispeth had 'verted to her mother's gods, the girl had gone; and she never came back.

She took to her own unclean people savagely, as if to make up the arrears of the life she had stepped out of; and, in a little time, she married a wood-cutter who beat her, after the manner of paharis, and her beauty faded soon.

"There is no law whereby you can account for the vagaries of the heathen," said the Chaplain's wife, "and I believe that Lispeth was always at heart an infidel." Seeing she had been taken into the Church of England at the mature age of five weeks, this statement does not do credit to the Chaplain's wife.

Lispeth was a very old woman when she died. She always had a perfect command of English, and when she was sufficiently drunk, could sometimes be induced to tell the story of her first love-affair.

It was hard then to realize that the bleared, wrinkled creature, so like a wisp of charred rag, could ever have been "Lispeth of the Kotgarh Mission."





THREE AND—AN EXTRA.

   "When halter and heel ropes are slipped, do not give chase with
   sticks but with gram." —Punjabi Proverb.

After marriage arrives a reaction, sometimes a big, sometimes a little one; but it comes sooner or later, and must be tided over by both parties if they desire the rest of their lives to go with the current.

In the case of the Cusack-Bremmils this reaction did not set in till the third year after the wedding. Bremmil was hard to hold at the best of times; but he was a beautiful husband until the baby died and Mrs. Bremmil wore black, and grew thin, and mourned as if the bottom of the universe had fallen out. Perhaps Bremmil ought to have comforted her. He tried to do so, I think; but the more he comforted the more Mrs. Bremmil grieved, and, consequently, the more uncomfortable Bremmil grew. The fact was that they both needed a tonic. And they got it. Mrs. Bremmil can afford to laugh now, but it was no laughing matter to her at the time.

You see, Mrs. Hauksbee appeared on the horizon; and where she existed was fair chance of trouble. At Simla her bye-name was the "Stormy Petrel." She had won that title five times to my own certain knowledge. She was a little, brown, thin, almost skinny, woman, with big, rolling, violet-blue eyes, and the sweetest manners in the world. You had only to mention her name at afternoon teas for every woman in the room to rise up, and call her—well—NOT blessed. She was clever, witty, brilliant, and sparkling beyond most of her kind; but possessed of many devils of malice and mischievousness. She could be nice, though, even to her own sex. But that is another story.

Bremmil went off at score after the baby's death and the general discomfort that followed, and Mrs. Hauksbee annexed him. She took no pleasure in hiding her captives. She annexed him publicly, and saw that the public saw it. He rode with her, and walked with her, and talked with her, and picnicked with her, and tiffined at Peliti's with her, till people put up their eyebrows and said: "Shocking!" Mrs. Bremmil stayed at home turning over the dead baby's frocks and crying into the empty cradle. She did not care to do anything else. But some eight dear, affectionate lady-friends explained the situation at length to her in case she should miss the cream of it. Mrs. Bremmil listened quietly, and thanked them for their good offices. She was not as clever as Mrs. Hauksbee, but she was no fool. She kept her own counsel, and did not speak to Bremmil of what she had heard. This is worth remembering. Speaking to, or crying over, a husband never did any good yet.

When Bremmil was at home, which was not often, he was more affectionate than usual; and that showed his hand. The affection was forced partly to soothe his own conscience and partly to soothe Mrs. Bremmil. It failed in both regards.

Then "the A.-D.-C. in Waiting was commanded by Their Excellencies, Lord and Lady Lytton, to invite Mr. and Mrs. Cusack-Bremmil to Peterhoff on July 26th at 9.30 P. M."—"Dancing" in the bottom-left-hand corner.

"I can't go," said Mrs. Bremmil, "it is too soon after poor little Florrie—but it need not stop you, Tom."

She meant what she said then, and Bremmil said that he would go just to put in an appearance. Here he spoke the thing which was not; and Mrs. Bremmil knew it. She guessed—a woman's guess is much more accurate than a man's certainty—that he had meant to go from the first, and with Mrs. Hauksbee. She sat down to think, and the outcome of her thoughts was that the memory of a dead child was worth considerably less than the affections of a living husband.

She made her plan and staked her all upon it. In that hour she discovered that she knew Tom Bremmil thoroughly, and this knowledge she acted on.

"Tom," said she, "I shall be dining out at the Longmores' on the evening of the 26th. You'd better dine at the club."

This saved Bremmil from making an excuse to get away and dine with Mrs. Hauksbee, so he was grateful, and felt small and mean at the same time—which was wholesome. Bremmil left the house at five for a ride. About half-past five in the evening a large leather-covered basket came in from Phelps' for Mrs. Bremmil. She was a woman who knew how to dress; and she had not spent a week on designing that dress and having it gored, and hemmed, and herring-boned, and tucked and rucked (or whatever the terms are) for nothing. It was a gorgeous dress—slight mourning. I can't describe it, but it was what The Queen calls "a creation"—a thing that hit you straight between the eyes and made you gasp. She had not much heart for what she was going to do; but as she glanced at the long mirror she had the satisfaction of knowing that she had never looked so well in her life. She was a large blonde and, when she chose, carried herself superbly.

After the dinner at the Longmores, she went on to the dance—a little late—and encountered Bremmil with Mrs. Hauksbee on his arm.

That made her flush, and as the men crowded round her for dances she looked magnificent. She filled up all her dances except three, and those she left blank. Mrs. Hauksbee caught her eye once; and she knew it was war—real war—between them. She started handicapped in the struggle, for she had ordered Bremmil about just the least little bit in the world too much; and he was beginning to resent it. Moreover, he had never seen his wife look so lovely.

He stared at her from doorways, and glared at her from passages as she went about with her partners; and the more he stared, the more taken was he. He could scarcely believe that this was the woman with the red eyes and the black stuff gown who used to weep over the eggs at breakfast.

Mrs. Hauksbee did her best to hold him in play, but, after two dances, he crossed over to his wife and asked for a dance.

"I'm afraid you've come too late, MISTER Bremmil," she said, with her eyes twinkling.

Then he begged her to give him a dance, and, as a great favor, she allowed him the fifth waltz. Luckily it stood vacant on his programme. They danced it together, and there was a little flutter round the room. Bremmil had a sort of notion that his wife could dance, but he never knew she danced so divinely. At the end of that waltz he asked for another—as a favor, not as a right; and Mrs. Bremmil said: "Show me your programme, dear!" He showed it as a naughty little schoolboy hands up contraband sweets to a master.

There was a fair sprinkling of "H" on it besides "H" at supper.

Mrs. Bremmil said nothing, but she smiled contemptuously, ran her pencil through 7 and 9—two "H's"—and returned the card with her own name written above—a pet name that only she and her husband used. Then she shook her finger at him, and said, laughing: "Oh, you silly, SILLY boy!"

Mrs. Hauksbee heard that, and—she owned as much—felt that she had the worst of it. Bremmil accepted 7 and 9 gratefully. They danced 7, and sat out 9 in one of the little tents. What Bremmil said and what Mrs. Bremmil said is no concern of any one's.

When the band struck up "The Roast Beef of Old England," the two went out into the verandah, and Bremmil began looking for his wife's dandy (this was before 'rickshaw days) while she went into the cloak-room. Mrs. Hauksbee came up and said: "You take me in to supper, I think, Mr. Bremmil." Bremmil turned red and looked foolish. "Ah—h'm! I'm going home with my wife, Mrs. Hauksbee. I think there has been a little mistake." Being a man, he spoke as though Mrs. Hauksbee were entirely responsible.

Mrs. Bremmil came out of the cloak-room in a swansdown cloak with a white "cloud" round her head. She looked radiant; and she had a right to.

The couple went off in the darkness together, Bremmil riding very close to the dandy.

Then says Mrs. Hauksbee to me—she looked a trifle faded and jaded in the lamplight: "Take my word for it, the silliest woman can manage a clever man; but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool."

Then we went in to supper.





THROWN AWAY.

   "And some are sulky, while some will plunge
     [So ho! Steady! Stand still, you!]
   Some you must gentle, and some you must lunge.
     [There! There! Who wants to kill you?]
   Some—there are losses in every trade—
     Will break their hearts ere bitted and made,
     Will fight like fiends as the rope cuts hard,
   And die dumb-mad in the breaking-yard."
          —Toolungala Stockyard Chorus.

To rear a boy under what parents call the "sheltered life system" is, if the boy must go into the world and fend for himself, not wise. Unless he be one in a thousand he has certainly to pass through many unnecessary troubles; and may, possibly, come to extreme grief simply from ignorance of the proper proportions of things.

Let a puppy eat the soap in the bath-room or chew a newly-blacked boot. He chews and chuckles until, by and by, he finds out that blacking and Old Brown Windsor make him very sick; so he argues that soap and boots are not wholesome. Any old dog about the house will soon show him the unwisdom of biting big dogs' ears. Being young, he remembers and goes abroad, at six months, a well-mannered little beast with a chastened appetite. If he had been kept away from boots, and soap, and big dogs till he came to the trinity full-grown and with developed teeth, just consider how fearfully sick and thrashed he would be! Apply that motion to the "sheltered life," and see how it works. It does not sound pretty, but it is the better of two evils.

There was a Boy once who had been brought up under the "sheltered life" theory; and the theory killed him dead. He stayed with his people all his days, from the hour he was born till the hour he went into Sandhurst nearly at the top of the list. He was beautifully taught in all that wins marks by a private tutor, and carried the extra weight of "never having given his parents an hour's anxiety in his life." What he learnt at Sandhurst beyond the regular routine is of no great consequence. He looked about him, and he found soap and blacking, so to speak, very good. He ate a little, and came out of Sandhurst not so high as he went in.

Them there was an interval and a scene with his people, who expected much from him. Next a year of living "unspotted from the world" in a third-rate depot battalion where all the juniors were children, and all the seniors old women; and lastly he came out to India, where he was cut off from the support of his parents, and had no one to fall back on in time of trouble except himself.

Now India is a place beyond all others where one must not take things too seriously—the midday sun always excepted. Too much work and too much energy kill a man just as effectively as too much assorted vice or too much drink. Flirtation does not matter because every one is being transferred and either you or she leave the Station, and never return. Good work does not matter, because a man is judged by his worst output and another man takes all the credit of his best as a rule. Bad work does not matter, because other men do worse, and incompetents hang on longer in India than anywhere else. Amusements do not matter, because you must repeat them as soon as you have accomplished them once, and most amusements only mean trying to win another person's money.

Sickness does not matter, because it's all in the day's work, and if you die another man takes over your place and your office in the eight hours between death and burial. Nothing matters except Home furlough and acting allowances, and these only because they are scarce. This is a slack, kutcha country where all men work with imperfect instruments; and the wisest thing is to take no one and nothing in earnest, but to escape as soon as ever you can to some place where amusement is amusement and a reputation worth the having.

But this Boy—the tale is as old as the Hills—came out, and took all things seriously. He was pretty and was petted. He took the pettings seriously, and fretted over women not worth saddling a pony to call upon. He found his new free life in India very good.

It DOES look attractive in the beginning, from a Subaltern's point of view—all ponies, partners, dancing, and so on. He tasted it as the puppy tastes the soap. Only he came late to the eating, with a growing set of teeth. He had no sense of balance—just like the puppy—and could not understand why he was not treated with the consideration he received under his father's roof. This hurt his feelings.

He quarrelled with other boys, and, being sensitive to the marrow, remembered these quarrels, and they excited him. He found whist, and gymkhanas, and things of that kind (meant to amuse one after office) good; but he took them seriously too, just as he took the "head" that followed after drink. He lost his money over whist and gymkhanas because they were new to him.

He took his losses seriously, and wasted as much energy and interest over a two-gold-mohur race for maiden ekka-ponies with their manes hogged, as if it had been the Derby. One-half of this came from inexperience—much as the puppy squabbles with the corner of the hearth-rug—and the other half from the dizziness bred by stumbling out of his quiet life into the glare and excitement of a livelier one. No one told him about the soap and the blacking because an average man takes it for granted that an average man is ordinarily careful in regard to them. It was pitiful to watch The Boy knocking himself to pieces, as an over-handled colt falls down and cuts himself when he gets away from the groom.

This unbridled license in amusements not worth the trouble of breaking line for, much less rioting over, endured for six months—all through one cold weather—and then we thought that the heat and the knowledge of having lost his money and health and lamed his horses would sober The Boy down, and he would stand steady. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred this would have happened. You can see the principle working in any Indian Station. But this particular case fell through because The Boy was sensitive and took things seriously—as I may have said some seven times before. Of course, we couldn't tell how his excesses struck him personally.

They were nothing very heart-breaking or above the average. He might be crippled for life financially, and want a little nursing.

Still the memory of his performances would wither away in one hot weather, and the shroff would help him to tide over the money troubles. But he must have taken another view altogether and have believed himself ruined beyond redemption. His Colonel talked to him severely when the cold weather ended. That made him more wretched than ever; and it was only an ordinary "Colonel's wigging!"

What follows is a curious instance of the fashion in which we are all linked together and made responsible for one another. THE thing that kicked the beam in The Boy's mind was a remark that a woman made when he was talking to her. There is no use in repeating it, for it was only a cruel little sentence, rapped out before thinking, that made him flush to the roots of his hair. He kept himself to himself for three days, and then put in for two days' leave to go shooting near a Canal Engineer's Rest House about thirty miles out. He got his leave, and that night at Mess was noisier and more offensive than ever. He said that he was "going to shoot big game," and left at half-past ten o'clock in an ekka.

Partridge—which was the only thing a man could get near the Rest House—is not big game; so every one laughed.

Next morning one of the Majors came in from short leave, and heard that The Boy had gone out to shoot "big game." The Major had taken an interest in The Boy, and had, more than once, tried to check him in the cold weather. The Major put up his eyebrows when he heard of the expedition and went to The Boy's room, where he rummaged.

Presently he came out and found me leaving cards on the Mess.

There was no one else in the ante-room.

He said: "The Boy has gone out shooting. DOES a man shoot [missing] with a revolver and a writing-case?"

I said: "Nonsense, Major!" for I saw what was in his mind.

He said: "Nonsense or nonsense, I'm going to the Canal now—at once. I don't feel easy."

Then he thought for a minute, and said: "Can you lie?"

"You know best," I answered. "It's my profession."

"Very well," said the Major; "you must come out with me now—at once—in an ekka to the Canal to shoot black-buck. Go and put on shikar-kit—quick—and drive here with a gun."

The Major was a masterful man; and I knew that he would not give orders for nothing. So I obeyed, and on return found the Major packed up in an ekka—gun-cases and food slung below—all ready for a shooting-trip.

He dismissed the driver and drove himself. We jogged along quietly while in the station; but as soon as we got to the dusty road across the plains, he made that pony fly. A country-bred can do nearly anything at a pinch. We covered the thirty miles in under three hours, but the poor brute was nearly dead.

Once I said: "What's the blazing hurry, Major?"

He said, quietly: "The Boy has been alone, by himself, for—one, two, five—fourteen hours now! I tell you, I don't feel easy."

This uneasiness spread itself to me, and I helped to beat the pony.

When we came to the Canal Engineer's Rest House the Major called for The Boy's servant; but there was no answer. Then we went up to the house, calling for The Boy by name; but there was no answer.

"Oh, he's out shooting," said I.

Just then I saw through one of the windows a little hurricane-lamp burning. This was at four in the afternoon. We both stopped dead in the verandah, holding our breath to catch every sound; and we heard, inside the room, the "brr—brr—brr" of a multitude of flies. The Major said nothing, but he took off his helmet and we entered very softly.

The Boy was dead on the charpoy in the centre of the bare, lime-washed room. He had shot his head nearly to pieces with his revolver. The gun-cases were still strapped, so was the bedding, and on the table lay The Boy's writing-case with photographs. He had gone away to die like a poisoned rat!

The Major said to himself softly: "Poor Boy! Poor, POOR devil!" Then he turned away from the bed and said: "I want your help in this business."

Knowing The Boy was dead by his own hand, I saw exactly what that help would be, so I passed over to the table, took a chair, lit a cheroot, and began to go through the writing-case; the Major looking over my shoulder and repeating to himself: "We came too late!—Like a rat in a hole!—Poor, POOR devil!"

The Boy must have spent half the night in writing to his people, and to his Colonel, and to a girl at Home; and as soon as he had finished, must have shot himself, for he had been dead a long time when we came in.

I read all that he had written, and passed over each sheet to the Major as I finished it.

We saw from his accounts how very seriously he had taken everything. He wrote about "disgrace which he was unable to bear"—"indelible shame"—"criminal folly"—"wasted life," and so on; besides a lot of private things to his Father and Mother too much too sacred to put into print. The letter to the girl at Home was the most pitiful of all; and I choked as I read it. The Major made no attempt to keep dry-eyed. I respected him for that. He read and rocked himself to and fro, and simply cried like a woman without caring to hide it. The letters were so dreary and hopeless and touching. We forgot all about The Boy's follies, and only thought of the poor Thing on the charpoy and the scrawled sheets in our hands. It was utterly impossible to let the letters go Home.

They would have broken his Father's heart and killed his Mother after killing her belief in her son.

At last the Major dried his eyes openly, and said: "Nice sort of thing to spring on an English family! What shall we do?"

I said, knowing what the Major had brought me but for: "The Boy died of cholera. We were with him at the time. We can't commit ourselves to half-measures. Come along."

Then began one of the most grimy comic scenes I have ever taken part in—the concoction of a big, written lie, bolstered with evidence, to soothe The Boy's people at Home. I began the rough draft of a letter, the Major throwing in hints here and there while he gathered up all the stuff that The Boy had written and burnt it in the fireplace. It was a hot, still evening when we began, and the lamp burned very badly. In due course I got the draft to my satisfaction, setting forth how The Boy was the pattern of all virtues, beloved by his regiment, with every promise of a great career before him, and so on; how we had helped him through the sickness—it was no time for little lies, you will understand—and how he had died without pain. I choked while I was putting down these things and thinking of the poor people who would read them.

Then I laughed at the grotesqueness of the affair, and the laughter mixed itself up with the choke—and the Major said that we both wanted drinks.

I am afraid to say how much whiskey we drank before the letter was finished. It had not the least effect on us. Then we took off The Boy's watch, locket, and rings.

Lastly, the Major said: "We must send a lock of hair too. A woman values that."

But there were reasons why we could not find a lock fit to send.

The Boy was black-haired, and so was the Major, luckily. I cut off a piece of the Major's hair above the temple with a knife, and put it into the packet we were making. The laughing-fit and the chokes got hold of me again, and I had to stop. The Major was nearly as bad; and we both knew that the worst part of the work was to come.

We sealed up the packet, photographs, locket, seals, ring, letter, and lock of hair with The Boy's sealing-wax and The Boy's seal.

Then the Major said: "For God's sake let's get outside—away from the room—and think!"

We went outside, and walked on the banks of the Canal for an hour, eating and drinking what we had with us, until the moon rose. I know now exactly how a murderer feels. Finally, we forced ourselves back to the room with the lamp and the Other Thing in it, and began to take up the next piece of work. I am not going to write about this. It was too horrible. We burned the bedstead and dropped the ashes into the Canal; we took up the matting of the room and treated that in the same way. I went off to a village and borrowed two big hoes—I did not want the villagers to help—while the Major arranged—the other matters. It took us four hours' hard work to make the grave. As we worked, we argued out whether it was right to say as much as we remembered of the Burial of the Dead.

We compromised things by saying the Lord's Prayer with a private unofficial prayer for the peace of the soul of The Boy. Then we filled in the grave and went into the verandah—not the house—to lie down to sleep. We were dead-tired.

When we woke the Major said, wearily: "We can't go back till tomorrow. We must give him a decent time to die in. He died early THIS morning, remember. That seems more natural." So the Major must have been lying awake all the time, thinking.

I said: "Then why didn't we bring the body back to the cantonments?"

The Major thought for a minute:—"Because the people bolted when they heard of the cholera. And the ekka has gone!"

That was strictly true. We had forgotten all about the ekka-pony, and he had gone home.

So, we were left there alone, all that stifling day, in the Canal Rest House, testing and re-testing our story of The Boy's death to see if it was weak at any point. A native turned up in the afternoon, but we said that a Sahib was dead of cholera, and he ran away. As the dusk gathered, the Major told me all his fears about The Boy, and awful stories of suicide or nearly-carried-out suicide—tales that made one's hair crisp. He said that he himself had once gone into the same Valley of the Shadow as the Boy, when he was young and new to the country; so he understood how things fought together in The Boy's poor jumbled head. He also said that youngsters, in their repentant moments, consider their sins much more serious and ineffaceable than they really are. We talked together all through the evening, and rehearsed the story of the death of The Boy. As soon as the moon was up, and The Boy, theoretically, just buried, we struck across country for the Station. We walked from eight till six o'clock in the morning; but though we were dead-tired, we did not forget to go to The Boy's room and put away his revolver with the proper amount of cartridges in the pouch. Also to set his writing-case on the table. We found the Colonel and reported the death, feeling more like murderers than ever. Then we went to bed and slept the clock round; for there was no more in us.

The tale had credence as long as was necessary, for every one forgot about The Boy before a fortnight was over. Many people, however, found time to say that the Major had behaved scandalously in not bringing in the body for a regimental funeral. The saddest thing of all was a letter from The Boy's mother to the Major and me—with big inky blisters all over the sheet. She wrote the sweetest possible things about our great kindness, and the obligation she would be under to us as long as she lived.

All things considered, she WAS under an obligation; but not exactly as she meant.





MISS YOUGHAL'S SAIS.

   When Man and Woman are agreed, what can the Kazi do? —Mahomedan
   Proverb.

Some people say that there is no romance in India. Those people are wrong. Our lives hold quite as much romance as is good for us.

Sometimes more.

Strickland was in the Police, and people did not understand him; so they said he was a doubtful sort of man and passed by on the other side. Strickland had himself to thank for this. He held the extraordinary theory that a Policeman in India should try to know as much about the natives as the natives themselves. Now, in the whole of Upper India, there is only ONE man who can pass for Hindu or Mohammedan, chamar or faquir, as he pleases. He is feared and respected by the natives from the Ghor Kathri to the Jamma Musjid; and he is supposed to have the gift of invisibility and executive control over many Devils. But what good has this done him with the Government? None in the world. He has never got Simla for his charge; and his name is almost unknown to Englishmen.

Strickland was foolish enough to take that man for his model; and, following out his absurd theory, dabbled in unsavory places no respectable man would think of exploring—all among the native riff-raff. He educated himself in this peculiar way for seven years, and people could not appreciate it. He was perpetually "going Fantee" among the natives, which, of course, no man with any sense believes in. He was initiated into the Sat Bhai at Allahabad once, when he was on leave; he knew the Lizard-Song of the Sansis, and the Halli-Hukk dance, which is a religious can-can of a startling kind. When a man knows who dances the Halli-Hukk, and how, and when, and where, he knows something to be proud of. He has gone deeper than the skin. But Strickland was not proud, though he had helped once, at Jagadhri, at the Painting of the Death Bull, which no Englishman must even look upon; had mastered the thieves'-patter of the changars; had taken a Eusufzai horse-thief alone near Attock; and had stood under the mimbar-board of a Border mosque and conducted service in the manner of a Sunni Mollah.

His crowning achievement was spending eleven days as a faquir in the gardens of Baba Atal at Amritsar, and there picking up the threads of the great Nasiban Murder Case. But people said, justly enough: "Why on earth can't Strickland sit in his office and write up his diary, and recruit, and keep quiet, instead of showing up the incapacity of his seniors?" So the Nasiban Murder Case did him no good departmentally; but, after his first feeling of wrath, he returned to his outlandish custom of prying into native life. By the way, when a man once acquires a taste for this particular amusement, it abides with him all his days. It is the most fascinating thing in the world; Love not excepted. Where other men took ten days to the Hills, Strickland took leave for what he called shikar, put on the disguise that appealed to him at the time, stepped down into the brown crowd, and was swallowed up for a while. He was a quiet, dark young fellow—spare, black-eyes—and, when he was not thinking of something else, a very interesting companion. Strickland on Native Progress as he had seen it was worth hearing. Natives hated Strickland; but they were afraid of him. He knew too much.

When the Youghals came into the station, Strickland—very gravely, as he did everything—fell in love with Miss Youghal; and she, after a while, fell in love with him because she could not understand him. Then Strickland told the parents; but Mrs. Youghal said she was not going to throw her daughter into the worst paid Department in the Empire, and old Youghal said, in so many words, that he mistrusted Strickland's ways and works, and would thank him not to speak or write to his daughter any more. "Very well," said Strickland, for he did not wish to make his lady-love's life a burden. After one long talk with Miss Youghal he dropped the business entirely.

The Youghals went up to Simla in April.

In July, Strickland secured three months' leave on "urgent private affairs." He locked up his house—though not a native in the Providence would wittingly have touched "Estreekin Sahib's" gear for the world—and went down to see a friend of his, an old dyer, at Tarn Taran.

Here all trace of him was lost, until a sais met me on the Simla Mall with this extraordinary note:

"Dear old man,

"Please give bearer a box of cheroots—Supers, No. I, for preference. They are freshest at the Club. I'll repay when I reappear; but at present I'm out of Society.

"Yours,

"E. STRICKLAND."

I ordered two boxes, and handed them over to the sais with my love.

That sais was Strickland, and he was in old Youghal's employ, attached to Miss Youghal's Arab. The poor fellow was suffering for an English smoke, and knew that whatever happened I should hold my tongue till the business was over.

Later on, Mrs. Youghal, who was wrapped up in her servants, began talking at houses where she called of her paragon among saises—the man who was never too busy to get up in the morning and pick flowers for the breakfast-table, and who blacked—actually BLACKED—the hoofs of his horse like a London coachman! The turnout of Miss Youghal's Arab was a wonder and a delight. Strickland—Dulloo, I mean—found his reward in the pretty things that Miss Youghal said to him when she went out riding. Her parents were pleased to find she had forgotten all her foolishness for young Strickland and said she was a good girl.

Strickland vows that the two months of his service were the most rigid mental discipline he has ever gone through. Quite apart from the little fact that the wife of one of his fellow-saises fell in love with him and then tried to poison him with arsenic because he would have nothing to do with her, he had to school himself into keeping quiet when Miss Youghal went out riding with some man who tried to flirt with her, and he was forced to trot behind carrying the blanket and hearing every word! Also, he had to keep his temper when he was slanged in "Benmore" porch by a policeman—especially once when he was abused by a Naik he had himself recruited from Isser Jang village—or, worse still, when a young subaltern called him a pig for not making way quickly enough.

But the life had its compensations. He obtained great insight into the ways and thefts of saises—enough, he says, to have summarily convicted half the chamar population of the Punjab if he had been on business. He became one of the leading players at knuckle-bones, which all jhampanis and many saises play while they are waiting outside the Government House or the Gaiety Theatre of nights; he learned to smoke tobacco that was three-fourths cowdung; and he heard the wisdom of the grizzled Jemadar of the Government House saises, whose words are valuable. He saw many things which amused him; and he states, on honor, that no man can appreciate Simla properly, till he has seen it from the sais's point of view.

He also says that, if he chose to write all he saw, his head would be broken in several places.

Strickland's account of the agony he endured on wet nights, hearing the music and seeing the lights in "Benmore," with his toes tingling for a waltz and his head in a horse-blanket, is rather amusing. One of these days, Strickland is going to write a little book on his experiences. That book will be worth buying; and even more, worth suppressing.

Thus, he served faithfully as Jacob served for Rachel; and his leave was nearly at an end when the explosion came. He had really done his best to keep his temper in the hearing of the flirtations I have mentioned; but he broke down at last. An old and very distinguished General took Miss Youghal for a ride, and began that specially offensive "you're-only-a-little-girl" sort of flirtation—most difficult for a woman to turn aside deftly, and most maddening to listen to. Miss Youghal was shaking with fear at the things he said in the hearing of her sais. Dulloo—Strickland—stood it as long as he could. Then he caught hold of the General's bridle, and, in most fluent English, invited him to step off and be heaved over the cliff. Next minute Miss Youghal began crying; and Strickland saw that he had hopelessly given himself away, and everything was over.

The General nearly had a fit, while Miss Youghal was sobbing out the story of the disguise and the engagement that wasn't recognized by the parents. Strickland was furiously angry with himself and more angry with the General for forcing his hand; so he said nothing, but held the horse's head and prepared to thrash the General as some sort of satisfaction, but when the General had thoroughly grasped the story, and knew who Strickland was, he began to puff and blow in the saddle, and nearly rolled off with laughing. He said Strickland deserved a V. C., if it were only for putting on a sais's blanket. Then he called himself names, and vowed that he deserved a thrashing, but he was too old to take it from Strickland. Then he complimented Miss Youghal on her lover.

The scandal of the business never struck him; for he was a nice old man, with a weakness for flirtations. Then he laughed again, and said that old Youghal was a fool. Strickland let go of the cob's head, and suggested that the General had better help them, if that was his opinion. Strickland knew Youghal's weakness for men with titles and letters after their names and high official position.

"It's rather like a forty-minute farce," said the General, "but begad, I WILL help, if it's only to escape that tremendous thrashing I deserved. Go along to your home, my sais-Policeman, and change into decent kit, and I'll attack Mr. Youghal. Miss Youghal, may I ask you to canter home and wait?".........

About seven minutes later, there was a wild hurroosh at the Club.

A sais, with a blanket and head-rope, was asking all the men he knew: "For Heaven's sake lend me decent clothes!" As the men did not recognize him, there were some peculiar scenes before Strickland could get a hot bath, with soda in it, in one room, a shirt here, a collar there, a pair of trousers elsewhere, and so on. He galloped off, with half the Club wardrobe on his back, and an utter stranger's pony under him, to the house of old Youghal.

The General, arrayed in purple and fine linen, was before him.

What the General had said Strickland never knew, but Youghal received Strickland with moderate civility; and Mrs. Youghal, touched by the devotion of the transformed Dulloo, was almost kind.

The General beamed, and chuckled, and Miss Youghal came in, and almost before old Youghal knew where he was, the parental consent had been wrenched out and Strickland had departed with Miss Youghal to the Telegraph Office to wire for his kit. The final embarrassment was when an utter stranger attacked him on the Mall and asked for the stolen pony.

So, in the end, Strickland and Miss Youghal were married, on the strict understanding that Strickland should drop his old ways, and stick to Departmental routine, which pays best and leads to Simla.

Strickland was far too fond of his wife, just then, to break his word, but it was a sore trial to him; for the streets and the bazars, and the sounds in them, were full of meaning to Strickland, and these called to him to come back and take up his wanderings and his discoveries. Some day, I will tell you how he broke his promise to help a friend. That was long since, and he has, by this time, been nearly spoilt for what he would call shikar. He is forgetting the slang, and the beggar's cant, and the marks, and the signs, and the drift of the undercurrents, which, if a man would master, he must always continue to learn.

But he fills in his Departmental returns beautifully.





YOKED WITH AN UNBELIEVER.

   I am dying for you, and you are dying for another. —Punjabi
   Proverb.

When the Gravesend tender left the P. & 0. steamer for Bombay and went back to catch the train to Town, there were many people in it crying. But the one who wept most, and most openly was Miss Agnes Laiter. She had reason to cry, because the only man she ever loved—or ever could love, so she said—was going out to India; and India, as every one knows, is divided equally between jungle, tigers, cobras, cholera, and sepoys.

Phil Garron, leaning over the side of the steamer in the rain, felt very unhappy too; but he did not cry. He was sent out to "tea." What "tea" meant he had not the vaguest idea, but fancied that he would have to ride on a prancing horse over hills covered with tea-vines, and draw a sumptuous salary for doing so; and he was very grateful to his uncle for getting him the berth. He was really going to reform all his slack, shiftless ways, save a large proportion of his magnificent salary yearly, and, in a very short time, return to marry Agnes Laiter. Phil Garron had been lying loose on his friends' hands for three years, and, as he had nothing to do, he naturally fell in love. He was very nice; but he was not strong in his views and opinions and principles, and though he never came to actual grief his friends were thankful when he said good-bye, and went out to this mysterious "tea" business near Darjiling. They said:—"God bless you, dear boy! Let us never see your face again,"—or at least that was what Phil was given to understand.

When he sailed, he was very full of a great plan to prove himself several hundred times better than any one had given him credit for—to work like a horse, and triumphantly marry Agnes Laiter. He had many good points besides his good looks; his only fault being that he was weak, the least little bit in the world weak. He had as much notion of economy as the Morning Sun; and yet you could not lay your hand on any one item, and say: "Herein Phil Garron is extravagant or reckless." Nor could you point out any particular vice in his character; but he was "unsatisfactory" and as workable as putty.

Agnes Laiter went about her duties at home—her family objected to the engagement—with red eyes, while Phil was sailing to Darjiling—"a port on the Bengal Ocean," as his mother used to tell her friends. He was popular enough on board ship, made many acquaintances and a moderately large liquor bill, and sent off huge letters to Agnes Laiter at each port. Then he fell to work on this plantation, somewhere between Darjiling and Kangra, and, though the salary and the horse and the work were not quite all he had fancied, he succeeded fairly well, and gave himself much unnecessary credit for his perseverance.

In the course of time, as he settled more into collar, and his work grew fixed before him, the face of Agnes Laiter went out of his mind and only came when he was at leisure, which was not often. He would forget all about her for a fortnight, and remember her with a start, like a school-boy who has forgotten to learn his lesson.

She did not forget Phil, because she was of the kind that never forgets. Only, another man—a really desirable young man—presented himself before Mrs. Laiter; and the chance of a marriage with Phil was as far off as ever; and his letters were so unsatisfactory; and there was a certain amount of domestic pressure brought to bear on the girl; and the young man really was an eligible person as incomes go; and the end of all things was that Agnes married him, and wrote a tempestuous whirlwind of a letter to Phil in the wilds of Darjiling, and said she should never know a happy moment all the rest of her life. Which was a true prophecy.

Phil got that letter, and held himself ill-treated. This was two years after he had come out; but by dint of thinking fixedly of Agnes Laiter, and looking at her photograph, and patting himself on the back for being one of the most constant lovers in history, and warming to the work as he went on, he really fancied that he had been very hardly used. He sat down and wrote one final letter—a really pathetic "world without end, amen," epistle; explaining how he would be true to Eternity, and that all women were very much alike, and he would hide his broken heart, etc., etc.; but if, at any future time, etc., etc., he could afford to wait, etc., etc., unchanged affections, etc., etc., return to her old love, etc., etc., for eight closely-written pages. From an artistic point of view, it was very neat work, but an ordinary Philistine, who knew the state of Phil's real feelings—not the ones he rose to as he went on writing—would have called it the thoroughly mean and selfish work of a thoroughly mean and selfish, weak man. But this verdict would have been incorrect. Phil paid for the postage, and felt every word he had written for at least two days and a half.

It was the last flicker before the light went out.

That letter made Agnes Laiter very unhappy, and she cried and put it away in her desk, and became Mrs. Somebody Else for the good of her family. Which is the first duty of every Christian maid.

Phil went his ways, and thought no more of his letter, except as an artist thinks of a neatly touched-in sketch. His ways were not bad, but they were not altogether good until they brought him across Dunmaya, the daughter of a Rajput ex-Subadar-Major of our Native Army. The girl had a strain of Hill blood in her, and, like the Hill women, was not a purdah nashin. Where Phil met her, or how he heard of her, does not matter. She was a good girl and handsome, and, in her way, very clever and shrewd; though, of course, a little hard. It is to be remembered that Phil was living very comfortably, denying himself no small luxury, never putting by an anna, very satisfied with himself and his good intentions, was dropping all his English correspondents one by one, and beginning more and more to look upon this land as his home. Some men fall this way; and they are of no use afterwards. The climate where he was stationed was good, and it really did not seem to him that there was anything to go Home for.

He did what many planters have done before him—that is to say, he made up his mind to marry a Hill girl and settle down. He was seven and twenty then, with a long life before him, but no spirit to go through with it. So he married Dunmaya by the forms of the English Church, and some fellow-planters said he was a fool, and some said he was a wise man. Dunmaya was a thoroughly honest girl, and, in spite of her reverence for an Englishman, had a reasonable estimate of her husband's weaknesses. She managed him tenderly, and became, in less than a year, a very passable imitation of an English lady in dress and carriage. [It is curious to think that a Hill man, after a lifetime's education, is a Hill man still; but a Hill woman can in six months master most of the ways of her English sisters. There was a coolie woman once. But that is another story.] Dunmaya dressed by preference in black and yellow, and looked well.

Meantime the letter lay in Agnes's desk, and now and again she would think of poor resolute hard-working Phil among the cobras and tigers of Darjiling, toiling in the vain hope that she might come back to him. Her husband was worth ten Phils, except that he had rheumatism of the heart. Three years after he was married—and after he had tried Nice and Algeria for his complaint—he went to Bombay, where he died, and set Agnes free. Being a devout woman, she looked on his death and the place of it, as a direct interposition of Providence, and when she had recovered from the shock, she took out and reread Phil's letter with the "etc., etc.," and the big dashes, and the little dashes, and kissed it several times. No one knew her in Bombay; she had her husband's income, which was a large one, and Phil was close at hand. It was wrong and improper, of course, but she decided, as heroines do in novels, to find her old lover, to offer him her hand and her gold, and with him spend the rest of her life in some spot far from unsympathetic souls. She sat for two months, alone in Watson's Hotel, elaborating this decision, and the picture was a pretty one. Then she set out in search of Phil Garron, Assistant on a tea plantation with a more than usually unpronounceable name..........

She found him. She spent a month over it, for his plantation was not in the Darjiling district at all, but nearer Kangra. Phil was very little altered, and Dunmaya was very nice to her.

Now the particular sin and shame of the whole business is that Phil, who really is not worth thinking of twice, was and is loved by Dunmaya, and more than loved by Agnes, the whole of whose life he seems to have spoilt.

Worst of all, Dunmaya is making a decent man of him; and he will be ultimately saved from perdition through her training.

Which is manifestly unfair.





FALSE DAWN.

   Tonight God knows what thing shall tide,
     The Earth is racked and faint—
   Expectant, sleepless, open-eyed;
   And we, who from the Earth were made,
     Thrill with our Mother's pain.
                —In Durance.

No man will ever know the exact truth of this story; though women may sometimes whisper it to one another after a dance, when they are putting up their hair for the night and comparing lists of victims. A man, of course, cannot assist at these functions. So the tale must be told from the outside—in the dark—all wrong.

Never praise a sister to a sister, in the hope of your compliments reaching the proper ears, and so preparing the way for you later on. Sisters are women first, and sisters afterwards; and you will find that you do yourself harm.

Saumarez knew this when he made up his mind to propose to the elder Miss Copleigh. Saumarez was a strange man, with few merits, so far as men could see, though he was popular with women, and carried enough conceit to stock a Viceroy's Council and leave a little over for the Commander-in-Chief's Staff. He was a Civilian. Very many women took an interest in Saumarez, perhaps, because his manner to them was offensive. If you hit a pony over the nose at the outset of your acquaintance, he may not love you, but he will take a deep interest in your movements ever afterwards. The elder Miss Copleigh was nice, plump, winning and pretty. The younger was not so pretty, and, from men disregarding the hint set forth above, her style was repellant and unattractive. Both girls had, practically, the same figure, and there was a strong likeness between them in look and voice; though no one could doubt for an instant which was the nicer of the two.

Saumarez made up his mind, as soon as they came into the station from Behar, to marry the elder one. At least, we all made sure that he would, which comes to the same thing. She was two and twenty, and he was thirty-three, with pay and allowances of nearly fourteen hundred rupees a month. So the match, as we arranged it, was in every way a good one. Saumarez was his name, and summary was his nature, as a man once said. Having drafted his Resolution, he formed a Select Committee of One to sit upon it, and resolved to take his time. In our unpleasant slang, the Copleigh girls "hunted in couples." That is to say, you could do nothing with one without the other. They were very loving sisters; but their mutual affection was sometimes inconvenient. Saumarez held the balance-hair true between them, and none but himself could have said to which side his heart inclined; though every one guessed. He rode with them a good deal and danced with them, but he never succeeded in detaching them from each other for any length of time.

Women said that the two girls kept together through deep mistrust, each fearing that the other would steal a march on her. But that has nothing to do with a man. Saumarez was silent for good or bad, and as business—likely attentive as he could be, having due regard to his work and his polo. Beyond doubt both girls were fond of him.

As the hot weather drew nearer, and Saumarez made no sign, women said that you could see their trouble in the eyes of the girls—that they were looking strained, anxious, and irritable. Men are quite blind in these matters unless they have more of the woman than the man in their composition, in which case it does not matter what they say or think. I maintain it was the hot April days that took the color out of the Copleigh girls' cheeks. They should have been sent to the Hills early. No one—man or woman—feels an angel when the hot weather is approaching. The younger sister grew more cynical—not to say acid—in her ways; and the winningness of the elder wore thin. There was more effort in it.

Now the Station wherein all these things happened was, though not a little one, off the line of rail, and suffered through want of attention. There were no gardens or bands or amusements worth speaking of, and it was nearly a day's journey to come into Lahore for a dance. People were grateful for small things to interest them.

About the beginning of May, and just before the final exodus of Hill-goers, when the weather was very hot and there were not more than twenty people in the Station, Saumarez gave a moonlight riding-picnic at an old tomb, six miles away, near the bed of the river. It was a "Noah's Ark" picnic; and there was to be the usual arrangement of quarter-mile intervals between each couple, on account of the dust. Six couples came altogether, including chaperons. Moonlight picnics are useful just at the very end of the season, before all the girls go away to the Hills. They lead to understandings, and should be encouraged by chaperones; especially those whose girls look sweetish in riding habits. I knew a case once. But that is another story. That picnic was called the "Great Pop Picnic," because every one knew Saumarez would propose then to the eldest Miss Copleigh; and, beside his affair, there was another which might possibly come to happiness.

The social atmosphere was heavily charged and wanted clearing.

We met at the parade-ground at ten: the night was fearfully hot.

The horses sweated even at walking-pace, but anything was better than sitting still in our own dark houses. When we moved off under the full moon we were four couples, one triplet, and Mr. Saumarez rode with the Copleigh girls, and I loitered at the tail of the procession, wondering with whom Saumarez would ride home. Every one was happy and contented; but we all felt that things were going to happen. We rode slowly: and it was nearly midnight before we reached the old tomb, facing the ruined tank, in the decayed gardens where we were going to eat and drink. I was late in coming up; and before I went into the garden, I saw that the horizon to the north carried a faint, dun-colored feather. But no one would have thanked me for spoiling so well-managed an entertainment as this picnic—and a dust-storm, more or less, does no great harm.

We gathered by the tank. Some one had brought out a banjo—which is a most sentimental instrument—and three or four of us sang.

You must not laugh at this. Our amusements in out-of-the-way Stations are very few indeed. Then we talked in groups or together, lying under the trees, with the sun-baked roses dropping their petals on our feet, until supper was ready. It was a beautiful supper, as cold and as iced as you could wish; and we stayed long over it.

I had felt that the air was growing hotter and hotter; but nobody seemed to notice it until the moon went out and a burning hot wind began lashing the orange-trees with a sound like the noise of the sea. Before we knew where we were, the dust-storm was on us, and everything was roaring, whirling darkness. The supper-table was blown bodily into the tank. We were afraid of staying anywhere near the old tomb for fear it might be blown down. So we felt our way to the orange-trees where the horses were picketed and waited for the storm to blow over. Then the little light that was left vanished, and you could not see your hand before your face. The air was heavy with dust and sand from the bed of the river, that filled boots and pockets and drifted down necks and coated eyebrows and moustaches. It was one of the worst dust-storms of the year.

We were all huddled together close to the trembling horses, with the thunder clattering overhead, and the lightning spurting like water from a sluice, all ways at once. There was no danger, of course, unless the horses broke loose. I was standing with my head downward and my hands over my mouth, hearing the trees thrashing each other. I could not see who was next me till the flashes came.

Then I found that I was packed near Saumarez and the eldest Miss Copleigh, with my own horse just in front of me. I recognized the eldest Miss Copleigh, because she had a pagri round her helmet, and the younger had not. All the electricity in the air had gone into my body and I was quivering and tingling from head to foot—exactly as a corn shoots and tingles before rain. It was a grand storm.

The wind seemed to be picking up the earth and pitching it to leeward in great heaps; and the heat beat up from the ground like the heat of the Day of Judgment.

The storm lulled slightly after the first half-hour, and I heard a despairing little voice close to my ear, saying to itself, quietly and softly, as if some lost soul were flying about with the wind: "O my God!" Then the younger Miss Copleigh stumbled into my arms, saying: "Where is my horse? Get my horse. I want to go home. I WANT to go home. Take me home."

I thought that the lightning and the black darkness had frightened her; so I said there was no danger, but she must wait till the storm blew over. She answered: "It is not THAT! It is not THAT! I want to go home! O take me away from here!"

I said that she could not go till the light came; but I felt her brush past me and go away. It was too dark to see where. Then the whole sky was split open with one tremendous flash, as if the end of the world were coming, and all the women shrieked.

Almost directly after this, I felt a man's hand on my shoulder and heard Saumarez bellowing in my ear. Through the rattling of the trees and howling of the wind, I did not catch his words at once, but at last I heard him say: "I've proposed to the wrong one! What shall I do?" Saumarez had no occasion to make this confidence to me. I was never a friend of his, nor am I now; but I fancy neither of us were ourselves just then. He was shaking as he stood with excitement, and I was feeling queer all over with the electricity.

I could not think of anything to say except:—"More fool you for proposing in a dust-storm." But I did not see how that would improve the mistake.

Then he shouted: "Where's Edith—Edith Copleigh?" Edith was the youngest sister. I answered out of my astonishment:—"What do you want with HER?" Would you believe it, for the next two minutes, he and I were shouting at each other like maniacs—he vowing that it was the youngest sister he had meant to propose to all along, and I telling him till my throat was hoarse that he must have made a mistake! I can't account for this except, again, by the fact that we were neither of us ourselves. Everything seemed to me like a bad dream—from the stamping of the horses in the darkness to Saumarez telling me the story of his loving Edith Copleigh since the first. He was still clawing my shoulder and begging me to tell him where Edith Copleigh was, when another lull came and brought light with it, and we saw the dust-cloud forming on the plain in front of us. So we knew the worst was over. The moon was low down, and there was just the glimmer of the false dawn that comes about an hour before the real one. But the light was very faint, and the dun cloud roared like a bull. I wondered where Edith Copleigh had gone; and as I was wondering I saw three things together: First Maud Copleigh's face come smiling out of the darkness and move towards Saumarez, who was standing by me. I heard the girl whisper, "George," and slide her arm through the arm that was not clawing my shoulder, and I saw that look on her face which only comes once or twice in a lifetime—when a woman is perfectly happy and the air is full of trumpets and gorgeous-colored fire and the Earth turns into cloud because she loves and is loved. At the same time, I saw Saumarez's face as he heard Maud Copleigh's voice, and fifty yards away from the clump of orange-trees I saw a brown holland habit getting upon a horse.

It must have been my state of over-excitement that made me so quick to meddle with what did not concern me. Saumarez was moving off to the habit; but I pushed him back and said:—"Stop here and explain. I'll fetch her back!" and I ran out to get at my own horse. I had a perfectly unnecessary notion that everything must be done decently and in order, and that Saumarez's first care was to wipe the happy look out of Maud Copleigh's face. All the time I was linking up the curb-chain I wondered how he would do it.

I cantered after Edith Copleigh, thinking to bring her back slowly on some pretence or another. But she galloped away as soon as she saw me, and I was forced to ride after her in earnest. She called back over her shoulder—"Go away! I'm going home. Oh, go away!" two or three times; but my business was to catch her first, and argue later. The ride just fitted in with the rest of the evil dream. The ground was very bad, and now and again we rushed through the whirling, choking "dust-devils" in the skirts of the flying storm. There was a burning hot wind blowing that brought up a stench of stale brick-kilns with it; and through the half light and through the dust-devils, across that desolate plain, flickered the brown holland habit on the gray horse. She headed for the Station at first. Then she wheeled round and set off for the river through beds of burnt down jungle-grass, bad even to ride a pig over. In cold blood I should never have dreamed of going over such a country at night, but it seemed quite right and natural with the lightning crackling overhead, and a reek like the smell of the Pit in my nostrils. I rode and shouted, and she bent forward and lashed her horse, and the aftermath of the dust-storm came up and caught us both, and drove us downwind like pieces of paper.

I don't know how far we rode; but the drumming of the horse-hoofs and the roar of the wind and the race of the faint blood-red moon through the yellow mist seemed to have gone on for years and years, and I was literally drenched with sweat from my helmet to my gaiters when the gray stumbled, recovered himself, and pulled up dead lame. My brute was used up altogether. Edith Copleigh was in a sad state, plastered with dust, her helmet off, and crying bitterly. "Why can't you let me alone?" she said. "I only wanted to get away and go home. Oh, PLEASE let me go!"

"You have got to come back with me, Miss Copleigh. Saumarez has something to say to you."

It was a foolish way of putting it; but I hardly knew Miss Copleigh; and, though I was playing Providence at the cost of my horse, I could not tell her in as many words what Saumarez had told me. I thought he could do that better himself. All her pretence about being tired and wanting to go home broke down, and she rocked herself to and fro in the saddle as she sobbed, and the hot wind blew her black hair to leeward. I am not going to repeat what she said, because she was utterly unstrung.

This, if you please, was the cynical Miss Copleigh. Here was I, almost an utter stranger to her, trying to tell her that Saumarez loved her and she was to come back to hear him say so! I believe I made myself understood, for she gathered the gray together and made him hobble somehow, and we set off for the tomb, while the storm went thundering down to Umballa and a few big drops of warm rain fell. I found out that she had been standing close to Saumarez when he proposed to her sister and had wanted to go home and cry in peace, as an English girl should. She dabbled her eyes with her pocket-handkerchief as we went along, and babbled to me out of sheer lightness of heart and hysteria. That was perfectly unnatural; and yet, it seemed all right at the time and in the place. All the world was only the two Copleigh girls, Saumarez and I, ringed in with the lightning and the dark; and the guidance of this misguided world seemed to lie in my hands.

When we returned to the tomb in the deep, dead stillness that followed the storm, the dawn was just breaking and nobody had gone away. They were waiting for our return. Saumarez most of all.

His face was white and drawn. As Miss Copleigh and I limped up, he came forward to meet us, and, when he helped her down from her saddle, he kissed her before all the picnic. It was like a scene in a theatre, and the likeness was heightened by all the dust-white, ghostly-looking men and women under the orange-trees, clapping their hands, as if they were watching a play—at Saumarez's choice. I never knew anything so un-English in my life.

Lastly, Saumarez said we must all go home or the Station would come out to look for us, and WOULD I be good enough to ride home with Maud Copleigh? Nothing would give me greater pleasure, I said.

So, we formed up, six couples in all, and went back two by two; Saumarez walking at the side of Edith Copleigh, who was riding his horse.

The air was cleared; and little by little, as the sun rose, I felt we were all dropping back again into ordinary men and women and that the "Great Pop Picnic" was a thing altogether apart and out of the world—never to happen again. It had gone with the dust-storm and the tingle in the hot air.

I felt tired and limp, and a good deal ashamed of myself as I went in for a bath and some sleep.

There is a woman's version of this story, but it will never be written. ... unless Maud Copleigh cares to try.





THE RESCUE OF PLUFFLES.

   Thus, for a season, they fought it fair—
     She and his cousin May—
   Tactful, talented, debonnaire,
     Decorous foes were they;
   But never can battle of man compare
     With merciless feminine fray.
              —Two and One.

Mrs. Hauksbee was sometimes nice to her own sex. Here is a story to prove this; and you can believe just as much as ever you please.

Pluffles was a subaltern in the "Unmentionables." He was callow, even for a subaltern. He was callow all over—like a canary that had not finished fledging itself. The worst of it was he had three times as much money as was good for him; Pluffles' Papa being a rich man and Pluffles being the only son. Pluffles' Mamma adored him. She was only a little less callow than Pluffles and she believed everything he said.

Pluffles' weakness was not believing what people said. He preferred what he called "trusting to his own judgment." He had as much judgment as he had seat or hands; and this preference tumbled him into trouble once or twice. But the biggest trouble Pluffles ever manufactured came about at Simla—some years ago, when he was four-and-twenty.

He began by trusting to his own judgment, as usual, and the result was that, after a time, he was bound hand and foot to Mrs. Reiver's 'rickshaw wheels.

There was nothing good about Mrs. Reiver, unless it was her dress.

She was bad from her hair—which started life on a Brittany's girl's head—to her boot-heels, which were two and three-eighth inches high. She was not honestly mischievous like Mrs. Hauksbee; she was wicked in a business-like way.

There was never any scandal—she had not generous impulses enough for that. She was the exception which proved the rule that Anglo-Indian ladies are in every way as nice as their sisters at Home.

She spent her life in proving that rule.

Mrs. Hauksbee and she hated each other fervently. They heard far too much to clash; but the things they said of each other were startling—not to say original. Mrs. Hauksbee was honest—honest as her own front teeth—and, but for her love of mischief, would have been a woman's woman. There was no honesty about Mrs. Reiver; nothing but selfishness. And at the beginning of the season, poor little Pluffles fell a prey to her. She laid herself out to that end, and who was Pluffles, to resist? He went on trusting to his judgment, and he got judged.

I have seen Hayes argue with a tough horse—I have seen a tonga-driver coerce a stubborn pony—I have seen a riotous setter broken to gun by a hard keeper—but the breaking-in of Pluffles of the "Unmentionables" was beyond all these. He learned to fetch and carry like a dog, and to wait like one, too, for a word from Mrs. Reiver. He learned to keep appointments which Mrs. Reiver had no intention of keeping. He learned to take thankfully dances which Mrs. Reiver had no intention of giving him. He learned to shiver for an hour and a quarter on the windward side of Elysium while Mrs. Reiver was making up her mind to come for a ride. He learned to hunt for a 'rickshaw, in a light dress-suit under a pelting rain, and to walk by the side of that 'rickshaw when he had found it. He learned what it was to be spoken to like a coolie and ordered about like a cook. He learned all this and many other things besides. And he paid for his schooling.

Perhaps, in some hazy way, he fancied that it was fine and impressive, that it gave him a status among men, and was altogether the thing to do. It was nobody's business to warn Pluffles that he was unwise. The pace that season was too good to inquire; and meddling with another man's folly is always thankless work.

Pluffles' Colonel should have ordered him back to his regiment when he heard how things were going. But Pluffles had got himself engaged to a girl in England the last time he went home; and if there was one thing more than another which the Colonel detested, it was a married subaltern. He chuckled when he heard of the education of Pluffles, and said it was "good training for the boy." But it was not good training in the least. It led him into spending money beyond his means, which were good: above that, the education spoilt an average boy and made it a tenth-rate man of an objectionable kind. He wandered into a bad set, and his little bill at Hamilton's was a thing to wonder at.

Then Mrs. Hauksbee rose to the occasion. She played her game alone, knowing what people would say of her; and she played it for the sake of a girl she had never seen. Pluffles' fiancee was to come out, under the chaperonage of an aunt, in October, to be married to Pluffles.

At the beginning of August, Mrs. Hauksbee discovered that it was time to interfere. A man who rides much knows exactly what a horse is going to do next before he does it. In the same way, a woman of Mrs. Hauksbee's experience knows accurately how a boy will behave under certain circumstances—notably when he is infatuated with one of Mrs. Reiver's stamp. She said that, sooner or later, little Pluffles would break off that engagement for nothing at all—simply to gratify Mrs. Reiver, who, in return, would keep him at her feet and in her service just so long as she found it worth her while.

She said she knew the signs of these things. If she did not, no one else could.

Then she went forth to capture Pluffles under the guns of the enemy; just as Mrs. Cusack-Bremmil carried away Bremmil under Mrs. Hauksbee's eyes.

This particular engagement lasted seven weeks—we called it the Seven Weeks' War—and was fought out inch by inch on both sides. A detailed account would fill a book, and would be incomplete then.

Any one who knows about these things can fit in the details for himself. It was a superb fight—there will never be another like it as long as Jakko stands—and Pluffles was the prize of victory.

People said shameful things about Mrs. Hauksbee. They did not know what she was playing for. Mrs. Reiver fought, partly because Pluffles was useful to her, but mainly because she hated Mrs. Hauksbee, and the matter was a trial of strength between them. No one knows what Pluffles thought. He had not many ideas at the best of times, and the few he possessed made him conceited. Mrs. Hauksbee said:—"The boy must be caught; and the only way of catching him is by treating him well."

So she treated him as a man of the world and of experience so long as the issue was doubtful. Little by little, Pluffles fell away from his old allegiance and came over to the enemy, by whom he was made much of. He was never sent on out-post duty after 'rickshaws any more, nor was he given dances which never came off, nor were the drains on his purse continued. Mrs. Hauksbee held him on the snaffle; and after his treatment at Mrs. Reiver's hands, he appreciated the change.

Mrs. Reiver had broken him of talking about himself, and made him talk about her own merits. Mrs. Hauksbee acted otherwise, and won his confidence, till he mentioned his engagement to the girl at Home, speaking of it in a high and mighty way as a "piece of boyish folly." This was when he was taking tea with her one afternoon, and discoursing in what he considered a gay and fascinating style.

Mrs. Hauksbee had seen an earlier generation of his stamp bud and blossom, and decay into fat Captains and tubby Majors.

At a moderate estimate there were about three and twenty sides to that lady's character. Some men say more. She began to talk to Pluffles after the manner of a mother, and as if there had been three hundred years, instead of fifteen, between them. She spoke with a sort of throaty quaver in her voice which had a soothing effect, though what she said was anything but soothing. She pointed out the exceeding folly, not to say meanness, of Pluffles' conduct, and the smallness of his views. Then he stammered something about "trusting to his own judgment as a man of the world;" and this paved the way for what she wanted to say next. It would have withered up Pluffles had it come from any other woman; but in the soft cooing style in which Mrs. Hauksbee put it, it only made him feel limp and repentant—as if he had been in some superior kind of church. Little by little, very softly and pleasantly, she began taking the conceit out of Pluffles, as you take the ribs out of an umbrella before re-covering it. She told him what she thought of him and his judgment and his knowledge of the world; and how his performances had made him ridiculous to other people; and how it was his intention to make love to herself if she gave him the chance. Then she said that marriage would be the making of him; and drew a pretty little picture—all rose and opal—of the Mrs. Pluffles of the future going through life relying on the "judgment" and "knowledge of the world" of a husband who had nothing to reproach himself with. How she reconciled these two statements she alone knew. But they did not strike Pluffles as conflicting.

Hers was a perfect little homily—much better than any clergyman could have given—and it ended with touching allusions to Pluffles' Mamma and Papa, and the wisdom of taking his bride Home.

Then she sent Pluffles out for a walk, to think over what she had said. Pluffles left, blowing his nose very hard and holding himself very straight. Mrs. Hauksbee laughed.

What Pluffles had intended to do in the matter of the engagement only Mrs. Reiver knew, and she kept her own counsel to her death. She would have liked it spoiled as a compliment, I fancy.

Pluffles enjoyed many talks with Mrs. Hauksbee during the next few days. They were all to the same end, and they helped Pluffles in the path of Virtue.

Mrs. Hauksbee wanted to keep him under her wing to the last.

Therefore she discountenanced his going down to Bombay to get married. "Goodness only knows what might happen by the way!" she said. "Pluffles is cursed with the curse of Reuben, and India is no fit place for him!"

In the end, the fiancee arrived with her aunt; and Pluffles, having reduced his affairs to some sort of order—here again Mrs. Hauksbee helped him—was married.

Mrs. Hauksbee gave a sigh of relief when both the "I wills" had been said, and went her way.

Pluffles took her advice about going Home. He left the Service, and is now raising speckled cattle inside green painted fences somewhere at Home. I believe he does this very judiciously. He would have come to extreme grief out here.

For these reasons if any one says anything more than usually nasty about Mrs. Hauksbee, tell him the story of the Rescue of Pluffles.





CUPID'S ARROWS.

  Pit where the buffalo cooled his hide,
  By the hot sun emptied, and blistered and dried;
  Log in the reh-grass, hidden and alone;
  Bund where the earth-rat's mounds are strown;
  Cave in the bank where the sly stream steals;
  Aloe that stabs at the belly and heels,
  Jump if you dare on a steed untried—Safer it is to go wide—
  go wide!
  Hark, from in front where the best men ride:—
  "Pull to the off, boys! Wide! Go wide!"
               —The Peora Hunt.

Once upon a time there lived at Simla a very pretty girl, the daughter of a poor but honest District and Sessions Judge. She was a good girl, but could not help knowing her power and using it.

Her Mamma was very anxious about her daughter's future, as all good Mammas should be.

When a man is a Commissioner and a bachelor and has the right of wearing open-work jam-tart jewels in gold and enamel on his clothes, and of going through a door before every one except a Member of Council, a Lieutenant-Governor, or a Viceroy, he is worth marrying. At least, that is what ladies say. There was a Commissioner in Simla, in those days, who was, and wore, and did, all I have said. He was a plain man—an ugly man—the ugliest man in Asia, with two exceptions. His was a face to dream about and try to carve on a pipe-head afterwards. His name was Saggott—Barr-Saggott—Anthony Barr-Saggott and six letters to follow.

Departmentally, he was one of the best men the Government of India owned. Socially, he was like a blandishing gorilla.

When he turned his attentions to Miss Beighton, I believe that Mrs.

Beighton wept with delight at the reward Providence had sent her in her old age.

Mr. Beighton held his tongue. He was an easy-going man.

Now a Commissioner is very rich. His pay is beyond the dreams of avarice—is so enormous that he can afford to save and scrape in a way that would almost discredit a Member of Council. Most Commissioners are mean; but Barr-Saggott was an exception. He entertained royally; he horsed himself well; he gave dances; he was a power in the land; and he behaved as such.

Consider that everything I am writing of took place in an almost pre-historic era in the history of British India. Some folk may remember the years before lawn-tennis was born when we all played croquet. There were seasons before that, if you will believe me, when even croquet had not been invented, and archery—which was revived in England in 1844—was as great a pest as lawn-tennis is now. People talked learnedly about "holding" and "loosing," "steles," "reflexed bows," "56-pound bows," "backed" or "self-yew bows," as we talk about "rallies," "volleys," "smashes," "returns," and "16-ounce rackets."

Miss Beighton shot divinely over ladies' distance—60 yards, that is—and was acknowledged the best lady archer in Simla. Men called her "Diana of Tara-Devi."

Barr-Saggott paid her great attention; and, as I have said, the heart of her mother was uplifted in consequence. Kitty Beighton took matters more calmly. It was pleasant to be singled out by a Commissioner with letters after his name, and to fill the hearts of other girls with bad feelings. But there was no denying the fact that Barr-Saggott was phenomenally ugly; and all his attempts to adorn himself only made him more grotesque. He was not christened "The Langur"—which means gray ape—for nothing. It was pleasant, Kitty thought, to have him at her feet, but it was better to escape from him and ride with the graceless Cubbon—the man in a Dragoon Regiment at Umballa—the boy with a handsome face, and no prospects. Kitty liked Cubbon more than a little. He never pretended for a moment the he was anything less than head over heels in love with her; for he was an honest boy. So Kitty fled, now and again, from the stately wooings of Barr-Saggott to the company of young Cubbon, and was scolded by her Mamma in consequence. "But, Mother," she said, "Mr. Saggott is such—such a—is so FEARFULLY ugly, you know!"

"My dear," said Mrs. Beighton, piously, "we cannot be other than an all-ruling Providence has made us. Besides, you will take precedence of your own Mother, you know! Think of that and be reasonable."

Then Kitty put up her little chin and said irreverent things about precedence, and Commissioners, and matrimony. Mr. Beighton rubbed the top of his head; for he was an easy-going man.

Late in the season, when he judged that the time was ripe, Barr-Saggott developed a plan which did great credit to his administrative powers. He arranged an archery tournament for ladies, with a most sumptuous diamond-studded bracelet as prize.

He drew up his terms skilfully, and every one saw that the bracelet was a gift to Miss Beighton; the acceptance carrying with it the hand and the heart of Commissioner Barr-Saggott. The terms were a St. Leonard's Round—thirty-six shots at sixty yards—under the rules of the Simla Toxophilite Society.

All Simla was invited. There were beautifully arranged tea-tables under the deodars at Annandale, where the Grand Stand is now; and, alone in its glory, winking in the sun, sat the diamond bracelet in a blue velvet case. Miss Beighton was anxious—almost too anxious to compete. On the appointed afternoon, all Simla rode down to Annandale to witness the Judgment of Paris turned upside down.

Kitty rode with young Cubbon, and it was easy to see that the boy was troubled in his mind. He must be held innocent of everything that followed. Kitty was pale and nervous, and looked long at the bracelet. Barr-Saggott was gorgeously dressed, even more nervous than Kitty, and more hideous than ever.

Mrs. Beighton smiled condescendingly, as befitted the mother of a potential Commissioneress, and the shooting began; all the world standing in a semicircle as the ladies came out one after the other.

Nothing is so tedious as an archery competition. They shot, and they shot, and they kept on shooting, till the sun left the valley, and little breezes got up in the deodars, and people waited for Miss Beighton to shoot and win. Cubbon was at one horn of the semicircle round the shooters, and Barr-Saggott at the other. Miss Beighton was last on the list. The scoring had been weak, and the bracelet, PLUS Commissioner Barr-Saggott, was hers to a certainty.

The Commissioner strung her bow with his own sacred hands. She stepped forward, looked at the bracelet, and her first arrow went true to a hair—full into the heart of the "gold"—counting nine points.

Young Cubbon on the left turned white, and his Devil prompted Barr-Saggott to smile. Now horses used to shy when Barr-Saggott smiled.

Kitty saw that smile. She looked to her left-front, gave an almost imperceptible nod to Cubbon, and went on shooting.

I wish I could describe the scene that followed. It was out of the ordinary and most improper. Miss Kitty fitted her arrows with immense deliberation, so that every one might see what she was doing. She was a perfect shot; and her 46-pound bow suited her to a nicety. She pinned the wooden legs of the target with great care four successive times. She pinned the wooden top of the target once, and all the ladies looked at each other. Then she began some fancy shooting at the white, which, if you hit it, counts exactly one point. She put five arrows into the white. It was wonderful archery; but, seeing that her business was to make "golds" and win the bracelet, Barr-Saggott turned a delicate green like young water-grass. Next, she shot over the target twice, then wide to the left twice—always with the same deliberation—while a chilly hush fell over the company, and Mrs. Beighton took out her handkerchief. Then Kitty shot at the ground in front of the target, and split several arrows. Then she made a red—or seven points—just to show what she could do if she liked, and finished up her amazing performance with some more fancy shooting at the target-supports. Here is her score as it was picked off:—

  Gold. Red. Blue. Black. White. Total Hits.  Total Score Miss Beighton
  1      1    0     0      5        7                  21

Barr-Saggott looked as if the last few arrowheads had been driven into his legs instead of the target's, and the deep stillness was broken by a little snubby, mottled, half-grown girl saying in a shrill voice of triumph: "Then I'VE won!"

Mrs. Beighton did her best to bear up; but she wept in the presence of the people. No training could help her through such a disappointment. Kitty unstrung her bow with a vicious jerk, and went back to her place, while Barr-Saggott was trying to pretend that he enjoyed snapping the bracelet on the snubby girl's raw, red wrist. It was an awkward scene—most awkward. Every one tried to depart in a body and leave Kitty to the mercy of her Mamma.

But Cubbon took her away instead, and—the rest isn't worth printing.





HIS CHANCE IN LIFE.

     Then a pile of heads be laid—
     Thirty thousand heaped on high—
     All to please the Kafir maid,
     Where the Oxus ripples by.

     Grimly spake Atulla Khan:—
     "Love hath made this thing a Man."
             —Oatta's Story.

If you go straight away from Levees and Government House Lists, past Trades' Balls—far beyond everything and everybody you ever knew in your respectable life—you cross, in time, the Border line where the last drop of White blood ends and the full tide of Black sets in. It would be easier to talk to a new-made Duchess on the spur of the moment than to the Borderline folk without violating some of their conventions or hurting their feelings. The Black and the White mix very quaintly in their ways. Sometimes the White shows in spurts of fierce, childish pride—which is Pride of Race run crooked—and sometimes the Black in still fiercer abasement and humility, half heathenish customs and strange, unaccountable impulses to crime. One of these days, this people—understand they are far lower than the class whence Derozio, the man who imitated Byron, sprung—will turn out a writer or a poet; and then we shall know how they live and what they feel. In the meantime, any stories about them cannot be absolutely correct in fact or inference.

Miss Vezzis came from across the Borderline to look after some children who belonged to a lady until a regularly ordained nurse could come out. The lady said Miss Vezzis was a bad, dirty nurse and inattentive. It never struck her that Miss Vezzis had her own life to lead and her own affairs to worry over, and that these affairs were the most important things in the world to Miss Vezzis.

Very few mistresses admit this sort of reasoning. Miss Vezzis was as black as a boot, and to our standard of taste, hideously ugly.

She wore cotton-print gowns and bulged shoes; and when she lost her temper with the children, she abused them in the language of the Borderline—which is part English, part Portuguese, and part Native. She was not attractive; but she had her pride, and she preferred being called "Miss Vezzis."

Every Sunday she dressed herself wonderfully and went to see her Mamma, who lived, for the most part, on an old cane chair in a greasy tussur-silk dressing-gown and a big rabbit-warren of a house full of Vezzises, Pereiras, Ribieras, Lisboas and Gansalveses, and a floating population of loafers; besides fragments of the day's bazar, garlic, stale incense, clothes thrown on the floor, petticoats hung on strings for screens, old bottles, pewter crucifixes, dried immortelles, pariah puppies, plaster images of the Virgin, and hats without crowns. Miss Vezzis drew twenty rupees a month for acting as nurse, and she squabbled weekly with her Mamma as to the percentage to be given towards housekeeping.

When the quarrel was over, Michele D'Cruze used to shamble across the low mud wall of the compound and make love to Miss Vezzis after the fashion of the Borderline, which is hedged about with much ceremony. Michele was a poor, sickly weed and very black; but he had his pride. He would not be seen smoking a huqa for anything; and he looked down on natives as only a man with seven-eighths native blood in his veins can. The Vezzis Family had their pride too. They traced their descent from a mythical plate-layer who had worked on the Sone Bridge when railways were new in India, and they valued their English origin. Michele was a Telegraph Signaller on Rs. 35 a month. The fact that he was in Government employ made Mrs. Vezzis lenient to the shortcomings of his ancestors.

There was a compromising legend—Dom Anna the tailor brought it from Poonani—that a black Jew of Cochin had once married into the D'Cruze family; while it was an open secret that an uncle of Mrs. D'Cruze was at that very time doing menial work, connected with cooking, for a Club in Southern India! He sent Mrs D'Cruze seven rupees eight annas a month; but she felt the disgrace to the family very keenly all the same.

However, in the course of a few Sundays, Mrs. Vezzis brought herself to overlook these blemishes and gave her consent to the marriage of her daughter with Michele, on condition that Michele should have at least fifty rupees a month to start married life upon. This wonderful prudence must have been a lingering touch of the mythical plate-layer's Yorkshire blood; for across the Borderline people take a pride in marrying when they please—not when they can.

Having regard to his departmental prospects, Miss Vezzis might as well have asked Michele to go away and come back with the Moon in his pocket. But Michele was deeply in love with Miss Vezzis, and that helped him to endure. He accompanied Miss Vezzis to Mass one Sunday, and after Mass, walking home through the hot stale dust with her hand in his, he swore by several Saints, whose names would not interest you, never to forget Miss Vezzis; and she swore by her Honor and the Saints—the oath runs rather curiously; "In nomine Sanctissimae—" (whatever the name of the she-Saint is) and so forth, ending with a kiss on the forehead, a kiss on the left cheek, and a kiss on the mouth—never to forget Michele.

Next week Michele was transferred, and Miss Vezzis dropped tears upon the window-sash of the "Intermediate" compartment as he left the Station.

If you look at the telegraph-map of India you will see a long line skirting the coast from Backergunge to Madras. Michele was ordered to Tibasu, a little Sub-office one-third down this line, to send messages on from Berhampur to Chicacola, and to think of Miss Vezzis and his chances of getting fifty rupees a month out of office hours. He had the noise of the Bay of Bengal and a Bengali Babu for company; nothing more. He sent foolish letters, with crosses tucked inside the flaps of the envelopes, to Miss Vezzis.

When he had been at Tibasu for nearly three weeks his chance came.

Never forget that unless the outward and visible signs of Our Authority are always before a native he is as incapable as a child of understanding what authority means, or where is the danger of disobeying it. Tibasu was a forgotten little place with a few Orissa Mohamedans in it. These, hearing nothing of the Collector-Sahib for some time, and heartily despising the Hindu Sub-Judge, arranged to start a little Mohurrum riot of their own. But the Hindus turned out and broke their heads; when, finding lawlessness pleasant, Hindus and Mahomedans together raised an aimless sort of Donnybrook just to see how far they could go. They looted each other's shops, and paid off private grudges in the regular way. It was a nasty little riot, but not worth putting in the newspapers.

Michele was working in his office when he heard the sound that a man never forgets all his life—the "ah-yah" of an angry crowd.

[When that sound drops about three tones, and changes to a thick, droning ut, the man who hears it had better go away if he is alone.] The Native Police Inspector ran in and told Michele that the town was in an uproar and coming to wreck the Telegraph Office.

The Babu put on his cap and quietly dropped out of the window; while the Police Inspector, afraid, but obeying the old race-instinct which recognizes a drop of White blood as far as it can be diluted, said:—"What orders does the Sahib give?"

The "Sahib" decided Michele. Though horribly frightened, he felt that, for the hour, he, the man with the Cochin Jew and the menial uncle in his pedigree, was the only representative of English authority in the place. Then he thought of Miss Vezzis and the fifty rupees, and took the situation on himself. There were seven native policemen in Tibasu, and four crazy smooth-bore muskets among them. All the men were gray with fear, but not beyond leading. Michele dropped the key of the telegraph instrument, and went out, at the head of his army, to meet the mob. As the shouting crew came round a corner of the road, he dropped and fired; the men behind him loosing instinctively at the same time.

The whole crowd—curs to the backbone—yelled and ran; leaving one man dead, and another dying in the road. Michele was sweating with fear, but he kept his weakness under, and went down into the town, past the house where the Sub-Judge had barricaded himself. The streets were empty. Tibasu was more frightened than Michele, for the mob had been taken at the right time.

Michele returned to the Telegraph-Office, and sent a message to Chicacola asking for help. Before an answer came, he received a deputation of the elders of Tibasu, telling him that the Sub-Judge said his actions generally were "unconstitional," and trying to bully him. But the heart of Michele D'Cruze was big and white in his breast, because of his love for Miss Vezzis, the nurse-girl, and because he had tasted for the first time Responsibility and Success. Those two make an intoxicating drink, and have ruined more men than ever has Whiskey. Michele answered that the Sub-Judge might say what he pleased, but, until the Assistant Collector came, the Telegraph Signaller was the Government of India in Tibasu, and the elders of the town would be held accountable for further rioting. Then they bowed their heads and said: "Show mercy!" or words to that effect, and went back in great fear; each accusing the other of having begun the rioting.

Early in the dawn, after a night's patrol with his seven policemen, Michele went down the road, musket in hand, to meet the Assistant Collector, who had ridden in to quell Tibasu. But, in the presence of this young Englishman, Michele felt himself slipping back more and more into the native, and the tale of the Tibasu Riots ended, with the strain on the teller, in an hysterical outburst of tears, bred by sorrow that he had killed a man, shame that he could not feel as uplifted as he had felt through the night, and childish anger that his tongue could not do justice to his great deeds. It was the White drop in Michele's veins dying out, though he did not know it.

But the Englishman understood; and, after he had schooled those men of Tibasu, and had conferred with the Sub-Judge till that excellent official turned green, he found time to draught an official letter describing the conduct of Michele. Which letter filtered through the Proper Channels, and ended in the transfer of Michele up-country once more, on the Imperial salary of sixty-six rupees a month.

So he and Miss Vezzis were married with great state and ancientry; and now there are several little D'Cruzes sprawling about the verandahs of the Central Telegraph Office.

But, if the whole revenue of the Department he serves were to be his reward Michele could never, never repeat what he did at Tibasu for the sake of Miss Vezzis the nurse-girl.

Which proves that, when a man does good work out of all proportion to his pay, in seven cases out of nine there is a woman at the back of the virtue.

The two exceptions must have suffered from sunstroke.





WATCHES OF THE NIGHT.

   What is in the Brahmin's books that is in the Brahmin's heart.
   Neither you nor I knew there was so much evil in the world.
        —Hindu Proverb.

This began in a practical joke; but it has gone far enough now, and is getting serious.

Platte, the Subaltern, being poor, had a Waterbury watch and a plain leather guard.

The Colonel had a Waterbury watch also, and for guard, the lip-strap of a curb-chain. Lip-straps make the best watch guards.

They are strong and short. Between a lip-strap and an ordinary leather guard there is no great difference; between one Waterbury watch and another there is none at all. Every one in the station knew the Colonel's lip-strap. He was not a horsey man, but he liked people to believe he had been one once; and he wove fantastic stories of the hunting-bridle to which this particular lip-strap had belonged. Otherwise he was painfully religious.

Platte and the Colonel were dressing at the Club—both late for their engagements, and both in a hurry. That was Kismet. The two watches were on a shelf below the looking-glass—guards hanging down. That was carelessness. Platte changed first, snatched a watch, looked in the glass, settled his tie, and ran. Forty seconds later, the Colonel did exactly the same thing; each man taking the other's watch.

You may have noticed that many religious people are deeply suspicious. They seem—for purely religious purposes, of course—to know more about iniquity than the Unregenerate. Perhaps they were specially bad before they became converted! At any rate, in the imputation of things evil, and in putting the worst construction on things innocent, a certain type of good people may be trusted to surpass all others. The Colonel and his Wife were of that type. But the Colonel's Wife was the worst. She manufactured the Station scandal, and—TALKED TO HER AYAH! Nothing more need be said. The Colonel's Wife broke up the Laplaces's home. The Colonel's Wife stopped the Ferris-Haughtrey engagement. The Colonel's Wife induced young Buxton to keep his wife down in the Plains through the first year of the marriage. Whereby little Mrs.

Buxton died, and the baby with her. These things will be remembered against the Colonel's Wife so long as there is a regiment in the country.

But to come back to the Colonel and Platte. They went their several ways from the dressing-room. The Colonel dined with two Chaplains, while Platte went to a bachelor-party, and whist to follow.

Mark how things happen! If Platte's sais had put the new saddle-pad on the mare, the butts of the terrets would not have worked through the worn leather, and the old pad into the mare's withers, when she was coming home at two o'clock in the morning. She would not have reared, bolted, fallen into a ditch, upset the cart, and sent Platte flying over an aloe-hedge on to Mrs. Larkyn's well-kept lawn; and this tale would never have been written. But the mare did all these things, and while Platte was rolling over and over on the turf, like a shot rabbit, the watch and guard flew from his waistcoat—as an Infantry Major's sword hops out of the scabbard when they are firing a feu de joie—and rolled and rolled in the moonlight, till it stopped under a window.

Platte stuffed his handkerchief under the pad, put the cart straight, and went home.

Mark again how Kismet works! This would not happen once in a hundred years. Towards the end of his dinner with the two Chaplains, the Colonel let out his waistcoat and leaned over the table to look at some Mission Reports. The bar of the watch-guard worked through the buttonhole, and the watch—Platte's watch—slid quietly on to the carpet. Where the bearer found it next morning and kept it.

Then the Colonel went home to the wife of his bosom; but the driver of the carriage was drunk and lost his way. So the Colonel returned at an unseemly hour and his excuses were not accepted. If the Colonel's Wife had been an ordinary "vessel of wrath appointed for destruction," she would have known that when a man stays away on purpose, his excuse is always sound and original. The very baldness of the Colonel's explanation proved its truth.

See once more the workings of Kismet! The Colonel's watch which came with Platte hurriedly on to Mrs. Larkyn's lawn, chose to stop just under Mrs. Larkyn's window, where she saw it early in the morning, recognized it, and picked it up. She had heard the crash of Platte's cart at two o'clock that morning, and his voice calling the mare names. She knew Platte and liked him. That day she showed him the watch and heard his story. He put his head on one side, winked and said:—"How disgusting! Shocking old man! with his religious training, too! I should send the watch to the Colonel's Wife and ask for explanations."

Mrs. Larkyn thought for a minute of the Laplaces—whom she had known when Laplace and his wife believed in each other—and answered:—"I will send it. I think it will do her good. But remember, we must NEVER tell her the truth."

Platte guessed that his own watch was in the Colonel's possession, and thought that the return of the lip-strapped Waterbury with a soothing note from Mrs. Larkyn, would merely create a small trouble for a few minutes. Mrs. Larkyn knew better. She knew that any poison dropped would find good holding-ground in the heart of the Colonel's Wife.

The packet, and a note containing a few remarks on the Colonel's calling-hours, were sent over to the Colonel's Wife, who wept in her own room and took counsel with herself.

If there was one woman under Heaven whom the Colonel's Wife hated with holy fervor, it was Mrs. Larkyn. Mrs. Larkyn was a frivolous lady, and called the Colonel's Wife "old cat." The Colonel's Wife said that somebody in Revelations was remarkably like Mrs. Larkyn.

She mentioned other Scripture people as well. From the Old Testament. [But the Colonel's Wife was the only person who cared or dared to say anything against Mrs. Larkyn. Every one else accepted her as an amusing, honest little body.] Wherefore, to believe that her husband had been shedding watches under that "Thing's" window at ungodly hours, coupled with the fact of his late arrival on the previous night, was.....

At this point she rose up and sought her husband. He denied everything except the ownership of the watch. She besought him, for his Soul's sake, to speak the truth. He denied afresh, with two bad words. Then a stony silence held the Colonel's Wife, while a man could draw his breath five times.

The speech that followed is no affair of mine or yours. It was made up of wifely and womanly jealousy; knowledge of old age and sunken cheeks; deep mistrust born of the text that says even little babies' hearts are as bad as they make them; rancorous hatred of Mrs. Larkyn, and the tenets of the creed of the Colonel's Wife's upbringing.

Over and above all, was the damning lip-strapped Waterbury, ticking away in the palm of her shaking, withered hand. At that hour, I think, the Colonel's Wife realized a little of the restless suspicions she had injected into old Laplace's mind, a little of poor Miss Haughtrey's misery, and some of the canker that ate into Buxton's heart as he watched his wife dying before his eyes. The Colonel stammered and tried to explain. Then he remembered that his watch had disappeared; and the mystery grew greater. The Colonel's Wife talked and prayed by turns till she was tired, and went away to devise means for "chastening the stubborn heart of her husband." Which translated, means, in our slang, "tail-twisting."

You see, being deeply impressed with the doctrine of Original Sin, she could not believe in the face of appearances. She knew too much, and jumped to the wildest conclusions.

But it was good for her. It spoilt her life, as she had spoilt the life of the Laplaces. She had lost her faith in the Colonel, and—here the creed suspicion came in—he might, she argued, have erred many times, before a merciful Providence, at the hands of so unworthy an instrument as Mrs. Larkyn, had established his guilt.

He was a bad, wicked, gray-haired profligate. This may sound too sudden a revulsion for a long-wedded wife; but it is a venerable fact that, if a man or woman makes a practice of, and takes a delight in, believing and spreading evil of people indifferent to him or her, he or she will end in believing evil of folk very near and dear. You may think, also, that the mere incident of the watch was too small and trivial to raise this misunderstanding. It is another aged fact that, in life as well as racing, all the worst accidents happen at little ditches and cut-down fences. In the same way, you sometimes see a woman who would have made a Joan of Arc in another century and climate, threshing herself to pieces over all the mean worry of housekeeping. But that is another story.

Her belief only made the Colonel's Wife more wretched, because it insisted so strongly on the villainy of men. Remembering what she had done, it was pleasant to watch her unhappiness, and the penny-farthing attempts she made to hide it from the Station. But the Station knew and laughed heartlessly; for they had heard the story of the watch, with much dramatic gesture, from Mrs. Larkyn's lips.

Once or twice Platte said to Mrs. Larkyn, seeing that the Colonel had not cleared himself:—"This thing has gone far enough. I move we tell the Colonel's Wife how it happened." Mrs. Larkyn shut her lips and shook her head, and vowed that the Colonel's Wife must bear her punishment as best she could. Now Mrs. Larkyn was a frivolous woman, in whom none would have suspected deep hate. So Platte took no action, and came to believe gradually, from the Colonel's silence, that the Colonel must have "run off the line" somewhere that night, and, therefore, preferred to stand sentence on the lesser count of rambling into other people's compounds out of calling hours. Platte forgot about the watch business after a while, and moved down-country with his regiment. Mrs. Larkyn went home when her husband's tour of Indian service expired. She never forgot.

But Platte was quite right when he said that the joke had gone too far. The mistrust and the tragedy of it—which we outsiders cannot see and do not believe in—are killing the Colonel's Wife, and are making the Colonel wretched. If either of them read this story, they can depend upon its being a fairly true account of the case, and can "kiss and make friends."

Shakespeare alludes to the pleasure of watching an Engineer being shelled by his own Battery. Now this shows that poets should not write about what they do not understand. Any one could have told him that Sappers and Gunners are perfectly different branches of the Service. But, if you correct the sentence, and substitute Gunner for Sapper, the moral comes just the same.





THE OTHER MAN.

   When the earth was sick and the skies were gray,
     And the woods were rotted with rain,
   The Dead Man rode through the autumn day
     To visit his love again.
             —Old Ballad.

Far back in the "seventies," before they had built any Public Offices at Simla, and the broad road round Jakko lived in a pigeon-hole in the P. W. D. hovels, her parents made Miss Gaurey marry Colonel Schreiderling. He could not have been MUCH more than thirty-five years her senior; and, as he lived on two hundred rupees a month and had money of his own, he was well off. He belonged to good people, and suffered in the cold weather from lung complaints. In the hot weather he dangled on the brink of heat-apoplexy; but it never quite killed him.

Understand, I do not blame Schreiderling. He was a good husband according to his lights, and his temper only failed him when he was being nursed. Which was some seventeen days in each month. He was almost generous to his wife about money matters, and that, for him, was a concession. Still Mrs. Schreiderling was not happy. They married her when she was this side of twenty and had given all her poor little heart to another man. I have forgotten his name, but we will call him the Other Man. He had no money and no prospects.

He was not even good-looking; and I think he was in the Commissariat or Transport. But, in spite of all these things, she loved him very madly; and there was some sort of an engagement between the two when Schreiderling appeared and told Mrs. Gaurey that he wished to marry her daughter. Then the other engagement was broken off—washed away by Mrs. Gaurey's tears, for that lady governed her house by weeping over disobedience to her authority and the lack of reverence she received in her old age. The daughter did not take after her mother. She never cried. Not even at the wedding.

The Other Man bore his loss quietly, and was transferred to as bad a station as he could find. Perhaps the climate consoled him. He suffered from intermittent fever, and that may have distracted him from his other trouble. He was weak about the heart also. Both ways. One of the valves was affected, and the fever made it worse.

This showed itself later on.

Then many months passed, and Mrs. Schreiderling took to being ill.

She did not pine away like people in story books, but she seemed to pick up every form of illness that went about a station, from simple fever upwards. She was never more than ordinarily pretty at the best of times; and the illness made her ugly. Schreiderling said so. He prided himself on speaking his mind.

When she ceased being pretty, he left her to her own devices, and went back to the lairs of his bachelordom. She used to trot up and down Simla Mall in a forlorn sort of way, with a gray Terai hat well on the back of her head, and a shocking bad saddle under her.

Schreiderling's generosity stopped at the horse. He said that any saddle would do for a woman as nervous as Mrs. Schreiderling. She never was asked to dance, because she did not dance well; and she was so dull and uninteresting, that her box very seldom had any cards in it. Schreiderling said that if he had known that she was going to be such a scare-crow after her marriage, he would never have married her. He always prided himself on speaking his mind, did Schreiderling!

He left her at Simla one August, and went down to his regiment.

Then she revived a little, but she never recovered her looks. I found out at the Club that the Other Man is coming up sick—very sick—on an off chance of recovery. The fever and the heart-valves had nearly killed him. She knew that, too, and she knew—what I had no interest in knowing—when he was coming up. I suppose he wrote to tell her. They had not seen each other since a month before the wedding. And here comes the unpleasant part of the story.

A late call kept me down at the Dovedell Hotel till dusk one evening. Mrs. Schreidlerling had been flitting up and down the Mall all the afternoon in the rain. Coming up along the Cart-road, a tonga passed me, and my pony, tired with standing so long, set off at a canter. Just by the road down to the Tonga Office Mrs. Schreiderling, dripping from head to foot, was waiting for the tonga. I turned up-hill, as the tonga was no affair of mine; and just then she began to shriek. I went back at once and saw, under the Tonga Office lamps, Mrs. Schreiderling kneeling in the wet road by the back seat of the newly-arrived tonga, screaming hideously.

Then she fell face down in the dirt as I came up.

Sitting in the back seat, very square and firm, with one hand on the awning-stanchion and the wet pouring off his hat and moustache, was the Other Man—dead. The sixty-mile up-hill jolt had been too much for his valve, I suppose. The tonga-driver said:—"The Sahib died two stages out of Solon. Therefore, I tied him with a rope, lest he should fall out by the way, and so came to Simla. Will the Sahib give me bukshish? IT," pointing to the Other Man, "should have given one rupee."

The Other Man sat with a grin on his face, as if he enjoyed the joke of his arrival; and Mrs. Schreiderling, in the mud, began to groan. There was no one except us four in the office and it was raining heavily. The first thing was to take Mrs. Schreiderling home, and the second was to prevent her name from being mixed up with the affair. The tonga-driver received five rupees to find a bazar 'rickshaw for Mrs. Schreiderling. He was to tell the tonga Babu afterwards of the Other Man, and the Babu was to make such arrangements as seemed best.

Mrs. Schreiderling was carried into the shed out of the rain, and for three-quarters of an hour we two waited for the 'rickshaw. The Other Man was left exactly as he had arrived. Mrs. Schreiderling would do everything but cry, which might have helped her. She tried to scream as soon as her senses came back, and then she began praying for the Other Man's soul. Had she not been as honest as the day, she would have prayed for her own soul too. I waited to hear her do this, but she did not. Then I tried to get some of the mud off her habit. Lastly, the 'rickshaw came, and I got her away—partly by force. It was a terrible business from beginning to end; but most of all when the 'rickshaw had to squeeze between the wall and the tonga, and she saw by the lamp-light that thin, yellow hand grasping the awning-stanchion.

She was taken home just as every one was going to a dance at Viceregal Lodge—"Peterhoff" it was then—and the doctor found that she had fallen from her horse, that I had picked her up at the back of Jakko, and really deserved great credit for the prompt manner in which I had secured medical aid. She did not die—men of Schreiderling's stamp marry women who don't die easily. They live and grow ugly.

She never told of her one meeting, since her marriage, with the Other Man; and, when the chill and cough following the exposure of that evening, allowed her abroad, she never by word or sign alluded to having met me by the Tonga Office. Perhaps she never knew.

She used to trot up and down the Mall, on that shocking bad saddle, looking as if she expected to meet some one round the corner every minute. Two years afterward, she went Home, and died—at Bournemouth, I think.

Schreiderling, when he grew maudlin at Mess, used to talk about "my poor dear wife." He always set great store on speaking his mind, did Schreiderling!





CONSEQUENCES.

   Rosicrucian subtleties
   In the Orient had rise;
   Ye may find their teachers still
   Under Jacatala's Hill.

   Seek ye Bombast Paracelsus,
   Read what Flood the Seeker tells us
   Of the Dominant that runs
   Through the cycles of the Suns—
   Read my story last and see
   Luna at her apogee.

There are yearly appointments, and two-yearly appointments, and five-yearly appointments at Simla, and there are, or used to be, permanent appointments, whereon you stayed up for the term of your natural life and secured red cheeks and a nice income. Of course, you could descend in the cold weather; for Simla is rather dull then.

Tarrion came from goodness knows where—all away and away in some forsaken part of Central India, where they call Pachmari a "Sanitarium," and drive behind trotting bullocks, I believe. He belonged to a regiment; but what he really wanted to do was to escape from his regiment and live in Simla forever and ever. He had no preference for anything in particular, beyond a good horse and a nice partner. He thought he could do everything well; which is a beautiful belief when you hold it with all your heart. He was clever in many ways, and good to look at, and always made people round him comfortable—even in Central India.

So he went up to Simla, and, because he was clever and amusing, he gravitated naturally to Mrs. Hauksbee, who could forgive everything but stupidity. Once he did her great service by changing the date on an invitation-card for a big dance which Mrs. Hauksbee wished to attend, but couldn't because she had quarrelled with the A.-D.-C., who took care, being a mean man, to invite her to a small dance on the 6th instead of the big Ball of the 26th. It was a very clever piece of forgery; and when Mrs. Hauksbee showed the A.-D.-C. her invitation-card, and chaffed him mildly for not better managing his vendettas, he really thought he had made a mistake; and—which was wise—realized that it was no use to fight with Mrs. Hauksbee. She was grateful to Tarrion and asked what she could do for him. He said simply: "I'm a Freelance up here on leave, and on the lookout for what I can loot. I haven't a square inch of interest in all Simla. My name isn't known to any man with an appointment in his gift, and I want an appointment—a good, sound, pukka one. I believe you can do anything you turn yourself to do. Will you help me?" Mrs. Hauksbee thought for a minute, and passed the last of her riding-whip through her lips, as was her custom when thinking.

Then her eyes sparkled, and she said:—"I will;" and she shook hands on it. Tarrion, having perfect confidence in this great woman, took no further thought of the business at all. Except to wonder what sort of an appointment he would win.

Mrs. Hauksbee began calculating the prices of all the Heads of Departments and Members of Council she knew, and the more she thought the more she laughed, because her heart was in the game and it amused her. Then she took a Civil List and ran over a few of the appointments. There are some beautiful appointments in the Civil List. Eventually, she decided that, though Tarrion was too good for the Political Department, she had better begin by trying to get him in there. What were her own plans to this end, does not matter in the least, for Luck or Fate played into her hands, and she had nothing to do but to watch the course of events and take the credit of them.

All Viceroys, when they first come out, pass through the "Diplomatic Secrecy" craze. It wears off in time; but they all catch it in the beginning, because they are new to the country.

The particular Viceroy who was suffering from the complaint just then—this was a long time ago, before Lord Dufferin ever came from Canada, or Lord Ripon from the bosom of the English Church—had it very badly; and the result was that men who were new to keeping official secrets went about looking unhappy; and the Viceroy plumed himself on the way in which he had instilled notions of reticence into his Staff.

Now, the Supreme Government have a careless custom of committing what they do to printed papers. These papers deal with all sorts of things—from the payment of Rs. 200 to a "secret service" native, up to rebukes administered to Vakils and Motamids of Native States, and rather brusque letters to Native Princes, telling them to put their houses in order, to refrain from kidnapping women, or filling offenders with pounded red pepper, and eccentricities of that kind. Of course, these things could never be made public, because Native Princes never err officially, and their States are, officially, as well administered as Our territories. Also, the private allowances to various queer people are not exactly matters to put into newspapers, though they give quaint reading sometimes.

When the Supreme Government is at Simla, these papers are prepared there, and go round to the people who ought to see them in office-boxes or by post. The principle of secrecy was to that Viceroy quite as important as the practice, and he held that a benevolent despotism like Ours should never allow even little things, such as appointments of subordinate clerks, to leak out till the proper time. He was always remarkable for his principles.

There was a very important batch of papers in preparation at that time. It had to travel from one end of Simla to the other by hand.

It was not put into an official envelope, but a large, square, pale-pink one; the matter being in MS. on soft crinkly paper. It was addressed to "The Head Clerk, etc., etc." Now, between "The Head Clerk, etc., etc.," and "Mrs. Hauksbee" and a flourish, is no very great difference if the address be written in a very bad hand, as this was. The chaprassi who took the envelope was not more of an idiot than most chaprassis. He merely forgot where this most unofficial cover was to be delivered, and so asked the first Englishman he met, who happened to be a man riding down to Annandale in a great hurry. The Englishman hardly looked, said: "Hauksbee Sahib ki Mem," and went on. So did the chaprassi, because that letter was the last in stock and he wanted to get his work over. There was no book to sign; he thrust the letter into Mrs. Hauksbee's bearer's hands and went off to smoke with a friend.

Mrs. Hauksbee was expecting some cut-out pattern things in flimsy paper from a friend. As soon as she got the big square packet, therefore, she said, "Oh, the DEAR creature!" and tore it open with a paper-knife, and all the MS. enclosures tumbled out on the floor.

Mrs. Hauksbee began reading. I have said the batch was rather important. That is quite enough for you to know. It referred to some correspondence, two measures, a peremptory order to a native chief and two dozen other things. Mrs. Hauksbee gasped as she read, for the first glimpse of the naked machinery of the Great Indian Government, stripped of its casings, and lacquer, and paint, and guard-rails, impresses even the most stupid man. And Mrs. Hauksbee was a clever woman. She was a little afraid at first, and felt as if she had laid hold of a lightning-flash by the tail, and did not quite know what to do with it. There were remarks and initials at the side of the papers; and some of the remarks were rather more severe than the papers. The initials belonged to men who are all dead or gone now; but they were great in their day.

Mrs. Hauksbee read on and thought calmly as she read. Then the value of her trove struck her, and she cast about for the best method of using it. Then Tarrion dropped in, and they read through all the papers together, and Tarrion, not knowing how she had come by them, vowed that Mrs. Hauksbee was the greatest woman on earth.

Which I believe was true, or nearly so.

"The honest course is always the best," said Tarrion after an hour and a half of study and conversation. "All things considered, the Intelligence Branch is about my form. Either that or the Foreign Office. I go to lay siege to the High Gods in their Temples."

He did not seek a little man, or a little big man, or a weak Head of a strong Department, but he called on the biggest and strongest man that the Government owned, and explained that he wanted an appointment at Simla on a good salary. The compound insolence of this amused the Strong Man, and, as he had nothing to do for the moment, he listened to the proposals of the audacious Tarrion.

"You have, I presume, some special qualifications, besides the gift of self-assertion, for the claims you put forwards?" said the Strong Man. "That, Sir," said Tarrion, "is for you to judge." Then he began, for he had a good memory, quoting a few of the more important notes in the papers—slowly and one by one as a man drops chlorodyne into a glass. When he had reached the peremptory order—and it WAS a peremptory order—the Strong Man was troubled.

Tarrion wound up:—"And I fancy that special knowledge of this kind is at least as valuable for, let us say, a berth in the Foreign Office, as the fact of being the nephew of a distinguished officer's wife." That hit the Strong Man hard, for the last appointment to the Foreign Office had been by black favor, and he knew it. "I'll see what I can do for you," said the Strong Man. "Many thanks," said Tarrion. Then he left, and the Strong Man departed to see how the appointment was to be blocked..........

Followed a pause of eleven days; with thunders and lightnings and much telegraphing. The appointment was not a very important one, carrying only between Rs. 500 and Rs. 700 a month; but, as the Viceroy said, it was the principle of diplomatic secrecy that had to be maintained, and it was more than likely that a boy so well supplied with special information would be worth translating. So they translated him. They must have suspected him, though he protested that his information was due to singular talents of his own. Now, much of this story, including the after-history of the missing envelope, you must fill in for yourself, because there are reasons why it cannot be written. If you do not know about things Up Above, you won't understand how to fill it in, and you will say it is impossible.

What the Viceroy said when Tarrion was introduced to him was:—"So, this is the boy who 'rusked' the Government of India, is it? Recollect, Sir, that is not done TWICE." So he must have known something.

What Tarrion said when he saw his appointment gazetted was:—"If Mrs. Hauksbee were twenty years younger, and I her husband, I should be Viceroy of India in twenty years."

What Mrs. Hauksbee said, when Tarrion thanked her, almost with tears in his eyes, was first:—"I told you so!" and next, to herself:—"What fools men are!"





THE CONVERSION OF AURELIAN McGOGGIN.

   Ride with an idle whip, ride with an unused heel.
   But, once in a way, there will come a day
   When the colt must be taught to feel
   The lash that falls, and the curb that galls,
   And the sting of the rowelled steel.
                  —Life's Handicap.

This is not a tale exactly. It is a Tract; and I am immensely proud of it. Making a Tract is a Feat.

Every man is entitled to his own religious opinions; but no man—least of all a junior—has a right to thrust these down other men's throats. The Government sends out weird Civilians now and again; but McGoggin was the queerest exported for a long time. He was clever—brilliantly clever—but his cleverness worked the wrong way. Instead of keeping to the study of the vernaculars, he had read some books written by a man called Comte, I think, and a man called Spencer, and a Professor Clifford. [You will find these books in the Library.] They deal with people's insides from the point of view of men who have no stomachs. There was no order against his reading them; but his Mamma should have smacked him.

They fermented in his head, and he came out to India with a rarefied religion over and above his work. It was not much of a creed. It only proved that men had no souls, and there was no God and no hereafter, and that you must worry along somehow for the good of Humanity.

One of its minor tenets seemed to be that the one thing more sinful than giving an order was obeying it. At least, that was what McGoggin said; but I suspect he had misread his primers.

I do not say a word against this creed. It was made up in Town, where there is nothing but machinery and asphalt and building—all shut in by the fog. Naturally, a man grows to think that there is no one higher than himself, and that the Metropolitan Board of Works made everything. But in this country, where you really see humanity—raw, brown, naked humanity—with nothing between it and the blazing sky, and only the used-up, over-handled earth underfoot, the notion somehow dies away, and most folk come back to simpler theories. Life, in India, is not long enough to waste in proving that there is no one in particular at the head of affairs.

For this reason. The Deputy is above the Assistant, the Commissioner above the Deputy, the Lieutenant-Governor above the Commissioner, and the Viceroy above all four, under the orders of the Secretary of State, who is responsible to the Empress. If the Empress be not responsible to her Maker—if there is no Maker for her to be responsible to—the entire system of Our administration must be wrong. Which is manifestly impossible. At Home men are to be excused. They are stalled up a good deal and get intellectually "beany." When you take a gross, "beany" horse to exercise, he slavers and slobbers over the bit till you can't see the horns.

But the bit is there just the same. Men do not get "beany" in India. The climate and the work are against playing bricks with words.

If McGoggin had kept his creed, with the capital letters and the endings in "isms," to himself, no one would have cared; but his grandfathers on both sides had been Wesleyan preachers, and the preaching strain came out in his mind. He wanted every one at the Club to see that they had no souls too, and to help him to eliminate his Creator. As a good many men told him, HE undoubtedly had no soul, because he was so young, but it did not follow that his seniors were equally undeveloped; and, whether there was another world or not, a man still wanted to read his papers in this. "But that is not the point—that is not the point!" Aurelian used to say. Then men threw sofa-cushions at him and told him to go to any particular place he might believe in. They christened him the "Blastoderm"—he said he came from a family of that name somewhere, in the pre-historic ages—and, by insult and laughter, strove to choke him dumb, for he was an unmitigated nuisance at the Club; besides being an offence to the older men. His Deputy Commissioner, who was working on the Frontier when Aurelian was rolling on a bed-quilt, told him that, for a clever boy, Aurelian was a very big idiot. And, you know, if he had gone on with his work, he would have been caught up to the Secretariat in a few years. He was just the type that goes there—all head, no physique and a hundred theories. Not a soul was interested in McGoggin's soul. He might have had two, or none, or somebody's else's. His business was to obey orders and keep abreast of his files instead of devastating the Club with "isms."

He worked brilliantly; but he could not accept any order without trying to better it. That was the fault of his creed. It made men too responsible and left too much to their honor. You can sometimes ride an old horse in a halter; but never a colt.

McGoggin took more trouble over his cases than any of the men of his year. He may have fancied that thirty-page judgments on fifty-rupee cases—both sides perjured to the gullet—advanced the cause of Humanity. At any rate, he worked too much, and worried and fretted over the rebukes he received, and lectured away on his ridiculous creed out of office, till the Doctor had to warn him that he was overdoing it. No man can toil eighteen annas in the rupee in June without suffering. But McGoggin was still intellectually "beany" and proud of himself and his powers, and he would take no hint. He worked nine hours a day steadily.

"Very well," said the doctor, "you'll break down because you are over-engined for your beam." McGoggin was a little chap.

One day, the collapse came—as dramatically as if it had been meant to embellish a Tract.

It was just before the Rains. We were sitting in the verandah in the dead, hot, close air, gasping and praying that the black-blue clouds would let down and bring the cool. Very, very far away, there was a faint whisper, which was the roar of the Rains breaking over the river. One of the men heard it, got out of his chair, listened, and said, naturally enough:—"Thank God!"

Then the Blastoderm turned in his place and said:—"Why? I assure you it's only the result of perfectly natural causes—atmospheric phenomena of the simplest kind. Why you should, therefore, return thanks to a Being who never did exist—who is only a figment—"

"Blastoderm," grunted the man in the next chair, "dry up, and throw me over the Pioneer. We know all about your figments." The Blastoderm reached out to the table, took up one paper, and jumped as if something had stung him. Then he handed the paper over.

"As I was saying," he went on slowly and with an effort—"due to perfectly natural causes—perfectly natural causes. I mean—"

"Hi! Blastoderm, you've given me the Calcutta Mercantile Advertiser."

The dust got up in little whorls, while the treetops rocked and the kites whistled. But no one was looking at the coming of the Rains.

We were all staring at the Blastoderm, who had risen from his chair and was fighting with his speech. Then he said, still more slowly:—

"Perfectly conceivable—dictionary—red oak—amenable—cause—retaining—shuttlecock—alone."

"Blastoderm's drunk," said one man. But the Blastoderm was not drunk. He looked at us in a dazed sort of way, and began motioning with his hands in the half light as the clouds closed overhead.

Then—with a scream:—

"What is it?—Can't—reserve—attainable—market—obscure—"

But his speech seemed to freeze in him, and—just as the lightning shot two tongues that cut the whole sky into three pieces and the rain fell in quivering sheets—the Blastoderm was struck dumb. He stood pawing and champing like a hard-held horse, and his eyes were full of terror.

The Doctor came over in three minutes, and heard the story. "It's aphasia," he said. "Take him to his room. I KNEW the smash would come." We carried the Blastoderm across, in the pouring rain, to his quarters, and the Doctor gave him bromide of potassium to make him sleep.

Then the Doctor came back to us and told us that aphasia was like all the arrears of "Punjab Head" falling in a lump; and that only once before—in the case of a sepoy—had he met with so complete a case. I myself have seen mild aphasia in an overworked man, but this sudden dumbness was uncanny—though, as the Blastoderm himself might have said, due to "perfectly natural causes."

"He'll have to take leave after this," said the Doctor. "He won't be fit for work for another three months. No; it isn't insanity or anything like it. It's only complete loss of control over the speech and memory. I fancy it will keep the Blastoderm quiet, though."

Two days later, the Blastoderm found his tongue again. The first question he asked was: "What was it?" The Doctor enlightened him.

"But I can't understand it!" said the Blastoderm; "I'm quite sane; but I can't be sure of my mind, it seems—my OWN memory—can I?"

"Go up into the Hills for three months, and don't think about it," said the Doctor.

"But I can't understand it," repeated the Blastoderm. "It was my OWN mind and memory."

"I can't help it," said the Doctor; "there are a good many things you can't understand; and, by the time you have put in my length of service, you'll know exactly how much a man dare call his own in this world."

The stroke cowed the Blastoderm. He could not understand it. He went into the Hills in fear and trembling, wondering whether he would be permitted to reach the end of any sentence he began.

This gave him a wholesome feeling of mistrust. The legitimate explanation, that he had been overworking himself, failed to satisfy him. Something had wiped his lips of speech, as a mother wipes the milky lips of her child, and he was afraid—horribly afraid.

So the Club had rest when he returned; and if ever you come across Aurelian McGoggin laying down the law on things Human—he doesn't seem to know as much as he used to about things Divine—put your forefinger on your lip for a moment, and see what happens.

Don't blame me if he throws a glass at your head!





A GERM DESTROYER.

   Pleasant it is for the Little Tin Gods,
     When great Jove nods;
   But Little Tin Gods make their little mistakes
     In missing the hour when great Jove wakes.

As a general rule, it is inexpedient to meddle with questions of State in a land where men are highly paid to work them out for you.

This tale is a justifiable exception.

Once in every five years, as you know, we indent for a new Viceroy; and each Viceroy imports, with the rest of his baggage, a Private Secretary, who may or may not be the real Viceroy, just as Fate ordains. Fate looks after the Indian Empire because it is so big and so helpless.

There was a Viceroy once, who brought out with him a turbulent Private Secretary—a hard man with a soft manner and a morbid passion for work. This Secretary was called Wonder—John Fennil Wonder. The Viceroy possessed no name—nothing but a string of counties and two-thirds of the alphabet after them. He said, in confidence, that he was the electro-plated figurehead of a golden administration, and he watched in a dreamy, amused way Wonder's attempts to draw matters which were entirely outside his province into his own hands. "When we are all cherubims together," said His Excellency once, "my dear, good friend Wonder will head the conspiracy for plucking out Gabriel's tail-feathers or stealing Peter's keys. THEN I shall report him."

But, though the Viceroy did nothing to check Wonder's officiousness, other people said unpleasant things. Maybe the Members of Council began it; but, finally, all Simla agreed that there was "too much Wonder, and too little Viceroy," in that regime. Wonder was always quoting "His Excellency." It was "His Excellency this," "His Excellency that," "In the opinion of His Excellency," and so on. The Viceroy smiled; but he did not heed.

He said that, so long as his old men squabbled with his "dear, good Wonder," they might be induced to leave the "Immemorial East" in peace.

"No wise man has a policy," said the Viceroy. "A Policy is the blackmail levied on the Fool by the Unforeseen. I am not the former, and I do not believe in the latter."

I do not quite see what this means, unless it refers to an Insurance Policy. Perhaps it was the Viceroy's way of saying:—"Lie low."

That season, came up to Simla one of these crazy people with only a single idea. These are the men who make things move; but they are not nice to talk to. This man's name was Mellish, and he had lived for fifteen years on land of his own, in Lower Bengal, studying cholera. He held that cholera was a germ that propagated itself as it flew through a muggy atmosphere; and stuck in the branches of trees like a wool-flake. The germ could be rendered sterile, he said, by "Mellish's Own Invincible Fumigatory"—a heavy violet-black powder—"the result of fifteen years' scientific investigation, Sir!"

Inventors seem very much alike as a caste. They talk loudly, especially about "conspiracies of monopolists;" they beat upon the table with their fists; and they secrete fragments of their inventions about their persons.

Mellish said that there was a Medical "Ring" at Simla, headed by the Surgeon-General, who was in league, apparently, with all the Hospital Assistants in the Empire. I forget exactly how he proved it, but it had something to do with "skulking up to the Hills;" and what Mellish wanted was the independent evidence of the Viceroy—"Steward of our Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, Sir." So Mellish went up to Simla, with eighty-four pounds of Fumigatory in his trunk, to speak to the Viceroy and to show him the merits of the invention.

But it is easier to see a Viceroy than to talk to him, unless you chance to be as important as Mellishe of Madras. He was a six-thousand-rupee man, so great that his daughters never "married." They "contracted alliances." He himself was not paid. He "received emoluments," and his journeys about the country were "tours of observation." His business was to stir up the people in Madras with a long pole—as you stir up stench in a pond—and the people had to come up out of their comfortable old ways and gasp:—"This is Enlightenment and progress. Isn't it fine!" Then they gave Mellishe statues and jasmine garlands, in the hope of getting rid of him.

Mellishe came up to Simla "to confer with the Viceroy." That was one of his perquisites. The Viceroy knew nothing of Mellishe except that he was "one of those middle-class deities who seem necessary to the spiritual comfort of this Paradise of the Middle-classes," and that, in all probability, he had "suggested, designed, founded, and endowed all the public institutions in Madras." Which proves that His Excellency, though dreamy, had experience of the ways of six-thousand-rupee men.

Mellishe's name was E. Mellishe and Mellish's was E. S. Mellish, and they were both staying at the same hotel, and the Fate that looks after the Indian Empire ordained that Wonder should blunder and drop the final "e;" that the Chaprassi should help him, and that the note which ran: "Dear Mr. Mellish.—Can you set aside your other engagements and lunch with us at two tomorrow? His Excellency has an hour at your disposal then," should be given to Mellish with the Fumigatory. He nearly wept with pride and delight, and at the appointed hour cantered off to Peterhoff, a big paper-bag full of the Fumigatory in his coat-tail pockets. He had his chance, and he meant to make the most of it. Mellishe of Madras had been so portentously solemn about his "conference," that Wonder had arranged for a private tiffin—no A.-D.-C.'s, no Wonder, no one but the Viceroy, who said plaintively that he feared being left alone with unmuzzled autocrats like the great Mellishe of Madras.

But his guest did not bore the Viceroy. On the contrary, he amused him. Mellish was nervously anxious to go straight to his Fumigatory, and talked at random until tiffin was over and His Excellency asked him to smoke. The Viceroy was pleased with Mellish because he did not talk "shop."

As soon as the cheroots were lit, Mellish spoke like a man; beginning with his cholera-theory, reviewing his fifteen years' "scientific labors," the machinations of the "Simla Ring," and the excellence of his Fumigatory, while the Viceroy watched him between half-shut eyes and thought: "Evidently, this is the wrong tiger; but it is an original animal." Mellish's hair was standing on end with excitement, and he stammered. He began groping in his coat-tails and, before the Viceroy knew what was about to happen, he had tipped a bagful of his powder into the big silver ash-tray.

"J-j-judge for yourself, Sir," said Mellish. "Y' Excellency shall judge for yourself! Absolutely infallible, on my honor."

He plunged the lighted end of his cigar into the powder, which began to smoke like a volcano, and send up fat, greasy wreaths of copper-colored smoke. In five seconds the room was filled with a most pungent and sickening stench—a reek that took fierce hold of the trap of your windpipe and shut it. The powder then hissed and fizzed, and sent out blue and green sparks, and the smoke rose till you could neither see, nor breathe, nor gasp. Mellish, however, was used to it.

"Nitrate of strontia," he shouted; "baryta, bone-meal, etcetera! Thousand cubic feet smoke per cubic inch. Not a germ could live—not a germ, Y' Excellency!"

But His Excellency had fled, and was coughing at the foot of the stairs, while all Peterhoff hummed like a hive. Red Lancers came in, and the Head Chaprassi, who speaks English, came in, and mace-bearers came in, and ladies ran downstairs screaming "fire;" for the smoke was drifting through the house and oozing out of the windows, and bellying along the verandahs, and wreathing and writhing across the gardens. No one could enter the room where Mellish was lecturing on his Fumigatory, till that unspeakable powder had burned itself out.

Then an Aide-de-Camp, who desired the V. C., rushed through the rolling clouds and hauled Mellish into the hall. The Viceroy was prostrate with laughter, and could only waggle his hands feebly at Mellish, who was shaking a fresh bagful of powder at him.

"Glorious! Glorious!" sobbed his Excellency. "Not a germ, as you justly observe, could exist! I can swear it. A magnificent success!"

Then he laughed till the tears came, and Wonder, who had caught the real Mellishe snorting on the Mall, entered and was deeply shocked at the scene. But the Viceroy was delighted, because he saw that Wonder would presently depart. Mellish with the Fumigatory was also pleased, for he felt that he had smashed the Simla Medical "Ring.".........

Few men could tell a story like His Excellency when he took the trouble, and the account of "my dear, good Wonder's friend with the powder" went the round of Simla, and flippant folk made Wonder unhappy by their remarks.

But His Excellency told the tale once too often—for Wonder. As he meant to do. It was at a Seepee Picnic. Wonder was sitting just behind the Viceroy.

"And I really thought for a moment," wound up His Excellency, "that my dear, good Wonder had hired an assassin to clear his way to the throne!"

Every one laughed; but there was a delicate subtinkle in the Viceroy's tone which Wonder understood. He found that his health was giving way; and the Viceroy allowed him to go, and presented him with a flaming "character" for use at Home among big people.

"My fault entirely," said His Excellency, in after seasons, with a twinkling in his eye. "My inconsistency must always have been distasteful to such a masterly man."





KIDNAPPED.

   There is a tide in the affairs of men,
   Which, taken any way you please, is bad,
   And strands them in forsaken guts and creeks
   No decent soul would think of visiting.

   You cannot stop the tide; but now and then,
   You may arrest some rash adventurer
   Who—h'm—will hardly thank you for your pains.
                —Vibart's Moralities.

We are a high-caste and enlightened race, and infant-marriage is very shocking and the consequences are sometimes peculiar; but, nevertheless, the Hindu notion—which is the Continental notion—which is the aboriginal notion—of arranging marriages irrespective of the personal inclinations of the married, is sound. Think for a minute, and you will see that it must be so; unless, of course, you believe in "affinities." In which case you had better not read this tale. How can a man who has never married; who cannot be trusted to pick up at sight a moderately sound horse; whose head is hot and upset with visions of domestic felicity, go about the choosing of a wife? He cannot see straight or think straight if he tries; and the same disadvantages exist in the case of a girl's fancies. But when mature, married and discreet people arrange a match between a boy and a girl, they do it sensibly, with a view to the future, and the young couple live happily ever afterwards. As everybody knows.

Properly speaking, Government should establish a Matrimonial Department, efficiently officered, with a Jury of Matrons, a Judge of the Chief Court, a Senior Chaplain, and an Awful Warning, in the shape of a love-match that has gone wrong, chained to the trees in the courtyard. All marriages should be made through the Department, which might be subordinate to the Educational Department, under the same penalty as that attaching to the transfer of land without a stamped document. But Government won't take suggestions. It pretends that it is too busy. However, I will put my notion on record, and explain the example that illustrates the theory.

Once upon a time there was a good young man—a first-class officer in his own Department—a man with a career before him and, possibly, a K. C. G. E. at the end of it. All his superiors spoke well of him, because he knew how to hold his tongue and his pen at the proper times. There are today only eleven men in India who possess this secret; and they have all, with one exception, attained great honor and enormous incomes.

This good young man was quiet and self-contained—too old for his years by far. Which always carries its own punishment. Had a Subaltern, or a Tea-Planter's Assistant, or anybody who enjoys life and has no care for tomorrow, done what he tried to do not a soul would have cared. But when Peythroppe—the estimable, virtuous, economical, quiet, hard-working, young Peythroppe—fell, there was a flutter through five Departments.

The manner of his fall was in this way. He met a Miss Castries—d'Castries it was originally, but the family dropped the d' for administrative reasons—and he fell in love with her even more energetically than he worked. Understand clearly that there was not a breath of a word to be said against Miss Castries—not a shadow of a breath. She was good and very lovely—possessed what innocent people at home call a "Spanish" complexion, with thick blue-black hair growing low down on her forehead, into a "widow's peak," and big violet eyes under eyebrows as black and as straight as the borders of a Gazette Extraordinary when a big man dies. But—but—but—. Well, she was a VERY sweet girl and very pious, but for many reasons she was "impossible." Quite so. All good Mammas know what "impossible" means. It was obviously absurd that Peythroppe should marry her. The little opal-tinted onyx at the base of her finger-nails said this as plainly as print. Further, marriage with Miss Castries meant marriage with several other Castries—Honorary Lieutenant Castries, her Papa, Mrs. Eulalie Castries, her Mamma, and all the ramifications of the Castries family, on incomes ranging from Rs. 175 to Rs. 470 a month, and THEIR wives and connections again.

It would have been cheaper for Peythroppe to have assaulted a Commissioner with a dog-whip, or to have burned the records of a Deputy Commissioner's Office, than to have contracted an alliance with the Castries. It would have weighted his after-career less—even under a Government which never forgets and NEVER forgives.

Everybody saw this but Peythroppe. He was going to marry Miss Castries, he was—being of age and drawing a good income—and woe betide the house that would not afterwards receive Mrs. Virginie Saulez Peythroppe with the deference due to her husband's rank.

That was Peythroppe's ultimatum, and any remonstrance drove him frantic.

These sudden madnesses most afflict the sanest men. There was a case once—but I will tell you of that later on. You cannot account for the mania, except under a theory directly contradicting the one about the Place wherein marriages are made. Peythroppe was burningly anxious to put a millstone round his neck at the outset of his career and argument had not the least effect on him. He was going to marry Miss Castries, and the business was his own business.

He would thank you to keep your advice to yourself. With a man in this condition, mere words only fix him in his purpose. Of course he cannot see that marriage out here does not concern the individual but the Government he serves.

Do you remember Mrs. Hauksbee—the most wonderful woman in India? She saved Pluffles from Mrs. Reiver, won Tarrion his appointment in the Foreign Office, and was defeated in open field by Mrs. Cusack-Bremmil. She heard of the lamentable condition of Peythroppe, and her brain struck out the plan that saved him. She had the wisdom of the Serpent, the logical coherence of the Man, the fearlessness of the Child, and the triple intuition of the Woman. Never—no, never—as long as a tonga buckets down the Solon dip, or the couples go a-riding at the back of Summer Hill, will there be such a genius as Mrs. Hauksbee. She attended the consultation of Three Men on Peythroppe's case; and she stood up with the lash of her riding-whip between her lips and spake....... ...

Three weeks later, Peythroppe dined with the Three Men, and the Gazette of India came in. Peythroppe found to his surprise that he had been gazetted a month's leave. Don't ask me how this was managed. I believe firmly that if Mrs. Hauksbee gave the order, the whole Great Indian Administration would stand on its head.

The Three Men had also a month's leave each. Peythroppe put the Gazette down and said bad words. Then there came from the compound the soft "pad-pad" of camels—"thieves' camels," the bikaneer breed that don't bubble and howl when they sit down and get up.

After that I don't know what happened. This much is certain.

Peythroppe disappeared—vanished like smoke—and the long foot-rest chair in the house of the Three Men was broken to splinters. Also a bedstead departed from one of the bedrooms.

Mrs. Hauksbee said that Mr. Peythroppe was shooting in Rajputana with the Three Men; so we were compelled to believe her.

At the end of the month, Peythroppe was gazetted twenty days' extension of leave; but there was wrath and lamentation in the house of Castries. The marriage-day had been fixed, but the bridegroom never came; and the D'Silvas, Pereiras, and Ducketts lifted their voices and mocked Honorary Lieutenant Castries as one who had been basely imposed upon. Mrs. Hauksbee went to the wedding, and was much astonished when Peythroppe did not appear. After seven weeks, Peythroppe and the Three Men returned from Rajputana. Peythroppe was in hard, tough condition, rather white, and more self-contained than ever.

One of the Three Men had a cut on his nose, cause by the kick of a gun. Twelve-bores kick rather curiously.

Then came Honorary Lieutenant Castries, seeking for the blood of his perfidious son-in-law to be. He said things—vulgar and "impossible" things which showed the raw rough "ranker" below the "Honorary," and I fancy Peythroppe's eyes were opened. Anyhow, he held his peace till the end; when he spoke briefly. Honorary Lieutenant Castries asked for a "peg" before he went away to die or bring a suit for breach of promise.

Miss Castries was a very good girl. She said that she would have no breach of promise suits. She said that, if she was not a lady, she was refined enough to know that ladies kept their broken hearts to themselves; and, as she ruled her parents, nothing happened. Later on, she married a most respectable and gentlemanly person. He travelled for an enterprising firm in Calcutta, and was all that a good husband should be.

So Peythroppe came to his right mind again, and did much good work, and was honored by all who knew him. One of these days he will marry; but he will marry a sweet pink-and-white maiden, on the Government House List, with a little money and some influential connections, as every wise man should. And he will never, all his life, tell her what happened during the seven weeks of his shooting-tour in Rajputana.

But just think how much trouble and expense—for camel hire is not cheap, and those Bikaneer brutes had to be fed like humans—might have been saved by a properly conducted Matrimonial Department, under the control of the Director General of Education, but corresponding direct with the Viceroy.





THE ARREST OF LIEUTENANT GOLIGHTLY.

  "'I've forgotten the countersign,' sez 'e.

  'Oh! You 'ave, 'ave you?' sez I.

  'But I'm the Colonel,' sez 'e.

  'Oh! You are, are you?' sez I. 'Colonel nor no Colonel, you
   waits 'ere till I'm relieved, an' the Sarjint reports on
   your ugly old mug. Coop!' sez I.

  .........

  An' s'help me soul, 'twas the Colonel after all! But I was
  a recruity then."

           The Unedited Autobiography of Private Ortheris.

IF there was one thing on which Golightly prided himself more than another, it was looking like "an Officer and a gentleman." He said it was for the honor of the Service that he attired himself so elaborately; but those who knew him best said that it was just personal vanity. There was no harm about Golightly—not an ounce.

He recognized a horse when he saw one, and could do more than fill a cantle. He played a very fair game at billiards, and was a sound man at the whist-table. Everyone liked him; and nobody ever dreamed of seeing him handcuffed on a station platform as a deserter. But this sad thing happened.

He was going down from Dalhousie, at the end of his leave—riding down. He had cut his leave as fine as he dared, and wanted to come down in a hurry.

It was fairly warm at Dalhousie, and knowing what to expect below, he descended in a new khaki suit—tight fitting—of a delicate olive-green; a peacock-blue tie, white collar, and a snowy white solah helmet. He prided himself on looking neat even when he was riding post. He did look neat, and he was so deeply concerned about his appearance before he started that he quite forgot to take anything but some small change with him. He left all his notes at the hotel. His servants had gone down the road before him, to be ready in waiting at Pathankote with a change of gear. That was what he called travelling in "light marching-order." He was proud of his faculty of organization—what we call bundobust.

Twenty-two miles out of Dalhousie it began to rain—not a mere hill-shower, but a good, tepid monsoonish downpour. Golightly bustled on, wishing that he had brought an umbrella. The dust on the roads turned into mud, and the pony mired a good deal. So did Golightly's khaki gaiters. But he kept on steadily and tried to think how pleasant the coolth was.

His next pony was rather a brute at starting, and Golightly's hands being slippery with the rain, contrived to get rid of Golightly at a corner. He chased the animal, caught it, and went ahead briskly.

The spill had not improved his clothes or his temper, and he had lost one spur. He kept the other one employed. By the time that stage was ended, the pony had had as much exercise as he wanted, and, in spite of the rain, Golightly was sweating freely. At the end of another miserable half-hour, Golightly found the world disappear before his eyes in clammy pulp. The rain had turned the pith of his huge and snowy solah-topee into an evil-smelling dough, and it had closed on his head like a half-opened mushroom. Also the green lining was beginning to run.

Golightly did not say anything worth recording here. He tore off and squeezed up as much of the brim as was in his eyes and ploughed on. The back of the helmet was flapping on his neck and the sides stuck to his ears, but the leather band and green lining kept things roughly together, so that the hat did not actually melt away where it flapped.

Presently, the pulp and the green stuff made a sort of slimy mildew which ran over Golightly in several directions—down his back and bosom for choice. The khaki color ran too—it was really shockingly bad dye—and sections of Golightly were brown, and patches were violet, and contours were ochre, and streaks were ruddy red, and blotches were nearly white, according to the nature and peculiarities of the dye. When he took out his handkerchief to wipe his face and the green of the hat-lining and the purple stuff that had soaked through on to his neck from the tie became thoroughly mixed, the effect was amazing.

Near Dhar the rain stopped and the evening sun came out and dried him up slightly. It fixed the colors, too. Three miles from Pathankote the last pony fell dead lame, and Golightly was forced to walk. He pushed on into Pathankote to find his servants. He did not know then that his khitmatgar had stopped by the roadside to get drunk, and would come on the next day saying that he had sprained his ankle. When he got into Pathankote, he couldn't find his servants, his boots were stiff and ropy with mud, and there were large quantities of dirt about his body. The blue tie had run as much as the khaki. So he took it off with the collar and threw it away. Then he said something about servants generally and tried to get a peg. He paid eight annas for the drink, and this revealed to him that he had only six annas more in his pocket—or in the world as he stood at that hour.

He went to the Station-Master to negotiate for a first-class ticket to Khasa, where he was stationed. The booking-clerk said something to the Station-Master, the Station-Master said something to the Telegraph Clerk, and the three looked at him with curiosity. They asked him to wait for half-an-hour, while they telegraphed to Umritsar for authority. So he waited, and four constables came and grouped themselves picturesquely round him. Just as he was preparing to ask them to go away, the Station-Master said that he would give the Sahib a ticket to Umritsar, if the Sahib would kindly come inside the booking-office. Golightly stepped inside, and the next thing he knew was that a constable was attached to each of his legs and arms, while the Station-Master was trying to cram a mailbag over his head.

There was a very fair scuffle all round the booking-office, and Golightly received a nasty cut over his eye through falling against a table. But the constables were too much for him, and they and the Station-Master handcuffed him securely. As soon as the mail-bag was slipped, he began expressing his opinions, and the head-constable said:—"Without doubt this is the soldier-Englishman we required. Listen to the abuse!" Then Golightly asked the Station-Master what the this and the that the proceedings meant. The Station-Master told him he was "Private John Binkle of the——Regiment, 5 ft. 9 in., fair hair, gray eyes, and a dissipated appearance, no marks on the body," who had deserted a fortnight ago. Golightly began explaining at great length; and the more he explained the less the Station-Master believed him. He said that no Lieutenant could look such a ruffian as did Golightly, and that his instructions were to send his capture under proper escort to Umritsar. Golightly was feeling very damp and uncomfortable, and the language he used was not fit for publication, even in an expurgated form. The four constables saw him safe to Umritsar in an "intermediate" compartment, and he spent the four-hour journey in abusing them as fluently as his knowledge of the vernaculars allowed.

At Umritsar he was bundled out on the platform into the arms of a Corporal and two men of the——Regiment. Golightly drew himself up and tried to carry off matters jauntily. He did not feel too jaunty in handcuffs, with four constables behind him, and the blood from the cut on his forehead stiffening on his left cheek. The Corporal was not jocular either. Golightly got as far as—"This is a very absurd mistake, my men," when the Corporal told him to "stow his lip" and come along. Golightly did not want to come along. He desired to stop and explain. He explained very well indeed, until the Corporal cut in with:—"YOU a orficer! It's the like o' YOU as brings disgrace on the likes of US. Bloom-in' fine orficer you are! I know your regiment. The Rogue's March is the quickstep where you come from. You're a black shame to the Service."

Golightly kept his temper, and began explaining all over again from the beginning. Then he was marched out of the rain into the refreshment-room and told not to make a qualified fool of himself.

The men were going to run him up to Fort Govindghar. And "running up" is a performance almost as undignified as the Frog March.

Golightly was nearly hysterical with rage and the chill and the mistake and the handcuffs and the headache that the cut on his forehead had given him. He really laid himself out to express what was in his mind. When he had quite finished and his throat was feeling dry, one of the men said:—"I've 'eard a few beggars in the click blind, stiff and crack on a bit; but I've never 'eard any one to touch this 'ere 'orficer.'" They were not angry with him. They rather admired him. They had some beer at the refreshment-room, and offered Golightly some too, because he had "swore won'erful." They asked him to tell them all about the adventures of Private John Binkle while he was loose on the countryside; and that made Golightly wilder than ever. If he had kept his wits about him he would have kept quiet until an officer came; but he attempted to run.

Now the butt of a Martini in the small of your back hurts a great deal, and rotten, rain-soaked khaki tears easily when two men are jerking at your collar.

Golightly rose from the floor feeling very sick and giddy, with his shirt ripped open all down his breast and nearly all down his back.

He yielded to his luck, and at that point the down-train from Lahore came in carrying one of Golightly's Majors.

This is the Major's evidence in full:—

"There was the sound of a scuffle in the second-class refreshment-room, so I went in and saw the most villainous loafer that I ever set eyes on. His boots and breeches were plastered with mud and beer-stains. He wore a muddy-white dunghill sort of thing on his head, and it hung down in slips on his shoulders, which were a good deal scratched. He was half in and half out of a shirt as nearly in two pieces as it could be, and he was begging the guard to look at the name on the tail of it. As he had rucked the shirt all over his head, I couldn't at first see who he was, but I fancied that he was a man in the first stage of D. T. from the way he swore while he wrestled with his rags. When he turned round, and I had made allowance for a lump as big as a pork-pie over one eye, and some green war-paint on the face, and some violet stripes round the neck, I saw that it was Golightly. He was very glad to see me," said the Major, "and he hoped I would not tell the Mess about it. I didn't, but you can if you like, now that Golightly has gone Home."

Golightly spent the greater part of that summer in trying to get the Corporal and the two soldiers tried by Court-Martial for arresting an "officer and a gentleman." They were, of course, very sorry for their error. But the tale leaked into the regimental canteen, and thence ran about the Province.





THE HOUSE OF SUDDHOO

   A stone's throw out on either hand
   From that well-ordered road we tread,
     And all the world is wild and strange;
   Churel and ghoul and Djinn and sprite
   Shall bear us company tonight,
   For we have reached the Oldest Land
     Wherein the Powers of Darkness range.
         —From the Dusk to the Dawn.

The house of Suddhoo, near the Taksali Gate, is two-storied, with four carved windows of old brown wood, and a flat roof. You may recognize it by five red hand-prints arranged like the Five of Diamonds on the whitewash between the upper windows. Bhagwan Dass, the bunnia, and a man who says he gets his living by seal-cutting, live in the lower story with a troop of wives, servants, friends, and retainers. The two upper rooms used to be occupied by Janoo and Azizun and a little black-and-tan terrier that was stolen from an Englishman's house and given to Janoo by a soldier. Today, only Janoo lives in the upper rooms. Suddhoo sleeps on the roof generally, except when he sleeps in the street. He used to go to Peshawar in the cold weather to visit his son, who sells curiosities near the Edwardes' Gate, and then he slept under a real mud roof.

Suddhoo is a great friend of mine, because his cousin had a son who secured, thanks to my recommendation, the post of head-messenger to a big firm in the Station. Suddhoo says that God will make me a Lieutenant-Governor one of these days. I daresay his prophecy will come true. He is very, very old, with white hair and no teeth worth showing, and he has outlived his wits—outlived nearly everything except his fondness for his son at Peshawar. Janoo and Azizun are Kashmiris, Ladies of the City, and theirs was an ancient and more or less honorable profession; but Azizun has since married a medical student from the North-West and has settled down to a most respectable life somewhere near Bareilly. Bhagwan Dass is an extortionate and an