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Title: Behind the Bungalow
Author: Aitken, Edward Hamilton
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Behind the Bungalow" ***

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Transcribed from the 1897 W. Thacker & Co. by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org

                          [Picture: Book cover]

              [Picture: Frontispiece, “Behind the Bungalow”]



                           BEHIND THE BUNGALOW


                                  BY EHA
                  AUTHOR OF “THE TRIBES ON MY FRONTIER”
                       “A NATURALIST ON THE PROWL”

                                * * * * *

                              Illustrated by
                               F. C. MACRAE

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                              SIXTH EDITION

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                                  LONDON
                  W. THACKER & CO., 2, CREED LANE, E.C.
                      CALCUTTA: THACKER, SPINK & CO.
                                   1897

                         [_All rights reserved_]



PREFACE.


THESE papers appeared in the _Times of India_, and were written, of
course, for the Bombay Presidency; but the Indian _Nowker_ exhibits very
much the same traits wherever he is found and under whatsoever name.



ENGAGING A BOY.


[Picture: Pictures of various Indian men] EXTENDED, six feet of me, over
an ample easy-chair, in absolute repose of mind and body, soothed with a
cup of tea which Canjee had ministered to me, comforted by the slippers
which he had put on my feet in place of a heavy pair of boots which he
had unlaced and taken away, feeling in charity with all mankind—from this
standpoint I began to contemplate “The Boy.”

What a wonderful provision of nature he is in this half-hatched
civilization of ours, which merely distracts our energies by multiplying
our needs and leaves us no better off than we were before we discovered
them!  He seems to have a natural aptitude for discerning, or even
inventing, your wants and supplies them before you yourself are aware of
them.  While in his hands nothing petty invades you.  Great-mindedness
becomes possible.  “Magnanimus Æneas” must have had an excellent Boy.
What is the history of the Boy?  How and where did he originate?  What is
the derivation of his name?  I have heard it traced to the Hindoostanee
word _bhai_, a brother, but the usual attitude of the Anglo-Indian’s mind
towards his domestics does not give sufficient support to this.  I
incline to the belief that the word is of hybrid origin, having its roots
in _bhoee_, a bearer, and drawing the tenderer shades of its meaning from
the English word which it resembles.  To this no doubt may be traced in
part the master’s disposition to regard his boy always as _in statu
pupillari_.  Perhaps he carries this view of the relationship too far,
but the Boy, on the other hand, cheerfully regards him as _in loco
parentis_ and accepts much from him which he will not endure from a
stranger.  A cuff from his master (delivered in a right spirit) raises
his dignity, but the same from a guest in the house wounds him terribly.
He protests that it is “not regulation.”  And in this happy spirit of
filial piety he will live until his hair grows white and his hand shaky
and his teeth fall out and service gives place to worship, _dulia_ to
_latria_, and the most revered idol among his _penates_ is the photograph
of his departed master.  With a tear in his dim old eye he takes it from
its shrine and unwraps the red handkerchief in which it is folded, while
he tells of the virtues of the great and good man.  He says there are no
such masters in these days, and when you reply that there are no such
servants either, he does not contradict you.  Yet he may have been a sad
young scamp when he began life as a dog-boy fifty-five years ago, and, on
the other hand, it is not so impossible as it seems that the scapegrace
for whose special behoof you keep a rattan on your hat-pegs may mellow
into a most respectable and trustworthy old man, at least if he is happy
enough to settle under a good master; for the Boy is often very much a
reflection of the master.  Often, but not always.  Something depends on
the grain of the material.  There are Boys and Boys.  There is a Boy with
whom, when you get him, you can do nothing but dismiss him, and this is
not a loss to him only, but to you, for every dismissal weakens your
position.  A man who parts lightly with his servants will never have a
servant worth retaining.  At the morning conference in the market, where
masters are discussed over the soothing _beeree_, none holds so low a
place as the _saheb_ who has had eleven butlers in twelve months.  Only
loafers will take service with him, and he must pay even them highly.
Believe me, the reputation that your service is permanent, like service
under the _Sircar_, is worth many rupees a month in India.

The engagement of a first Boy, therefore, is a momentous crisis, fraught
with fat contentment and a good digestion, or with unrest, distraction,
bad temper, and a ruined constitution.  But, unfortunately, we approach
this epoch in a condition of original ignorance.  There is not even any
guide or handbook of Boys which we may consult.  The Griffin a week old
has to decide for himself between not a dozen specimens, but a dozen
types, all strange, and each differing from the other in dress,
complexion, manner, and even language.  As soon as it becomes known that
the new _saheb_ from England is in need of a Boy, the _levée_ begins.
First you are waited upon by a personage of imposing appearance.  His
broad and dignified face is ornamented with grey, well-trimmed whiskers.
There is no lack of gold thread on his turban, an ample _cumberbund_
envelopes his portly figure, and he wears canvas shoes.  He left his
walking-cane at the door.  His testimonials are unexceptionable, mostly
signed by mess secretaries; and he talks familiarly, in good English, of
Members of Council.  Everything is most satisfactory, and you inquire,
timidly, what salary he would expect.  He replies that that rests with
your lordship: in his last appointment he had Rs. 35 a month, and a pony
to ride to market.  The situation is now very embarrassing.  It is not
only that you feel you are in the presence of a greater man than
yourself, but that you know _he_ feels it.  By far the best way out of
the difficulty is to accept your relative position, and tell him blandly
that when you are a commissioner _saheb_, or a commander-in-chief, he
shall be your head butler.  He will understand you, and retire with a
polite assurance that that day is not far distant.

As soon as the result of this interview becomes known, a man of very
black complexion offers his services.  He has no shoes or _cumberbund_,
but his coat is spotlessly white.  His certificates are excellent, but
signed by persons whom you have not met or heard of.  They all speak of
him as very hard-working and some say he is honest.  His spotless dress
will prepossess you if you do not understand it.  Its real significance
is that he had to go to the _dhobie_ to fit himself for coming into your
presence.  This man’s expectations as regards salary are most modest, and
you are in much danger of engaging him, unless the hotel butler takes an
opportunity of warning you earnestly that, “This man not gentlyman’s
servant, sir!  He sojer’s servant!”  In truth, we occupy in India a
double social position; that which belongs to us among our friends, and
that which belongs to us in the market, in the hotel, or at the dinner
table, by virtue of our servants.  The former concerns our pride, but the
latter concerns our comfort.  Please yourself, therefore, in the choice
of your personal friends and companions, but as regards your servants
keep up your standard.

The next who offers himself will probably be of the Goanese variety.  He
comes in a black coat, with continuations of checked jail cloth, and
takes his hat off just before he enters the gate.  He is said to be a
Colonel in the Goa Militia, but it is impossible to guess his rank, as he
always wears _muftie_ in Bombay.  He calls himself plain Mr. Querobino
Floriano de Braganza.  His testimonials are excellent; several of them
say that he is a good tailor, which, to a bachelor, is a recommendation;
and his expectations as regards his stipend are not immoderate.  The only
suspicious thing is that his services have been dispensed with on several
occasions very suddenly without apparent reason.  He sheds no light on
this circumstance when you question him, but closer scrutiny of his
certificates will reveal the fact that the convivial season of Christmas
has a certain fatality for him.

When he retires, you may have a call from a fine looking old follower of
the Prophet.  He is dressed in spotless white, with a white turban and
white _cumberbund_; his beard would be as white as either if he had not
dyed it rich orange.  He also has lost his place very suddenly more than
once, and on the last occasion without a certificate.  When you ask him
the cause of this, he explains, with a certain brief dignity, in good
Hindoostanee, that there was some _tukrar_ (disagreement) between him and
one of the other servants, in which his master took the part of the
other, and as his _abroo_ (honour) was concerned, he resigned.  He does
not tell you that the _tukrar_ in question culminated in his pursuing the
cook round the compound with a carving-knife in his hand, after which he
burst into the presence of the lady of the house, gesticulating with the
same weapon, and informed her, in a heated manner, that he was quite
prepared to cut the throats of all the servants, if honour required it.

If none of the preceding please you, you shall have several varieties of
the Soortee tribe anxious to take service with you; nice looking, clean
men, with fair complexions.  There will be the inevitable unfortunate
whose house was burned to ashes two months ago, on which occasion he lost
everything he had, including, of course, all his valuable certificates.
Another will send in a budget dating from the troubled times of the
mutiny.  From them it will appear that he has served in almost every
capacity and can turn his hand to anything, is especially good with
children, cooks well, and knows English thoroughly, having been twice to
England with his master.  When this desirable man is summoned into your
presence, you cannot help being startled to find how lightly age sits
upon him; he looks like twenty-five.  As for his knowledge of English, it
must be latent, for he always falls back upon his own vernacular for
purposes of conversation.  You rashly charge him with having stolen his
certificates, but he indignantly repels the insinuation.  You find a
discrepancy, however, in the name and press him still further, whereupon
he retires from his first position to the extent of admitting that the
papers, though rightfully his, were earned by his father.  He does not
seem to think this detracts much from their value.  Others will come,
with less pronounced characteristics, and, therefore, more perplexing.
The Madrassee will be there, with his spherical turban and his wonderful
command of colloquial English; he is supposed to know how to prepare that
mysterious luxury, “real Madras curry.”  Bengal servants are not common
in Bombay, fortunately, for they would only add to the perplexity.  The
larger the series of specimens which you examine, the more difficult it
becomes to decide to which of them all you should commit your happiness.
“Characters” are a snare, for the master when parting with his Boy too
often pays off arrears of charity in his certificate; and besides, the
prudent Boy always has his papers read to him and eliminates anything
detrimental to his interests.  But there must be marks by which, if you
were to study them closely, you might distinguish the occult qualities of
Boys and divide them into genera and orders.  The subject only wants its
Linnæus.  If ever I gird myself for my _magnum opus_, I am determined it
shall be a “Compendious Guide to the Classification of Indian Boys.”



THE BOY AT HOME.


[Picture: The boy and man] YOUR Boy is your _valet de chambre_, your
butler, your tailor, your steward and general agent, your interpreter, or
oriental translator and your treasurer.  On assuming charge of his duties
he takes steps first, in an unobtrusive way, to ascertain the amount of
your income, both that he may know the measure of his dignity, and also
that he may be able to form an estimate of what you ought to spend.  This
is a matter with which he feels he is officially concerned.  Indeed, the
arrangement which accords best with his own view of his position and
responsibilities is that, as you draw your salary each month, you should
make it over to him in full.  Under this arrangement he has a tendency to
grow rich, and, as a consequence, portly in his figure and consequential
in his bearing, in return for which he will manage all your affairs
without allowing you to be worried by the cares of life, supply all your
wants, keep you in pocket money, and maintain your dignity on all
occasions.  If you have not a large enough soul to consent to this
arrangement, he is not discouraged.  He will still be your treasurer,
meeting all your petty liabilities out of his own funds and coming to
your aid when you find yourself without change.  As far as my
observations go, this is an infallible mark of a really respectable Boy,
that he is never without money.  At the end of the month he presents you
a faithful account of his expenditure, the purport of which is plainly
this, that since you did not hand over your salary to him at the
beginning of the month, you are to do so now.  Q.E.F.  There is a mystery
about these accounts which I have never been able to solve.  The total is
always, on the face of it, monstrous and not to be endured; but when you
call your Boy up and prepare to discharge the bombshell of your
indignation, he merely inquires in an unagitated tone of voice which item
you find fault with, and you become painfully aware that you have not a
leg to stand on.  In the first place, most of the items are too minute to
allow of much retrenchment.  You can scarcely make sweeping reductions on
such charges as:—“Butons for master’s trouser, 9 pies;” “Tramwei for
going to market, 1 anna 6 pies;” “Grain to sparrow” (canary seed!) “1
anna 3 pies;” “Making white to master’s hat, 5 pies.”  And when at last
you find a charge big enough to lay hold of, the imperturbable man
proceeds to explain how, in the case of that particular item, he was
able, by the exercise of a little forethought, to save you 2 annas and 3
pies.  I have struggled against these accounts and know them.  It is vain
to be indignant.  You must just pay the bill, and if you do not want
another, you must make up your mind to be your own treasurer.  You will
fall in your Boy’s estimation, but it does not follow that he will leave
your service.  The notion that every native servant makes a principle of
saving the whole of his wages and remitting them monthly to Goa, or
Nowsaree, is one of the ancient myths of Anglo-India.  I do not mean to
say that if you encourage your Boy to do this he will refuse; on the
contrary, he likes it.  But the ordinary Boy, I believe, is not a prey to
ambition and, if he can find service to his mind, easily reconciles
himself to living on his wages, or, as he terms it, in the practical
spirit of oriental imagery, “eating” them.  The conditions he values seem
to be,—permanence, respectful treatment, immunity from kicks and cuffs
and from abuse, especially in his own tongue, and, above all, a quiet
life, without _kitkit_, which may be vulgarly translated, nagging.  He
considers his situation with regard to these conditions, he considers
also his pay and prospect of unjust emoluments, with a judicial mind he
balances the one against the other, and if he works patiently on, it is
because the balance is in his favour.  I am satisfied that it is an axiom
of domestic economy in India that the treatment which you mete out to
your Boy has a definite money value.  Ill-usage of him is a luxury like
any other, paid for by those who enjoy it, not to be had otherwise.

There is one other thing on which he sets his childish heart.  He likes
service with a master who is in some sort a _burra saheb_.  He is by
nature a hero worshipper—and master is his natural hero.  The saying,
that no man is a hero to his own valet, has no application here.  In
India, if you are not a hero to your own Boy, I should say, without
wishing to be unpleasant, that the probabilities are against your being a
hero to anybody.  It is very difficult for us, with our notions, to enter
into the Boy’s beautiful idea of the relationship which subsists between
him and master.  To get at it at all we must realize that no shade of
radicalism has ever crossed his social theory.  “Liberty, Equality, and
Fraternity” is a monstrous conception, to which he would not open his
mind if he could.  He sees that the world contains masters and servants,
and doubts not that the former were provided for the accommodation of the
latter.  His fate having made him a servant, his master is the foundation
on which he stands.  Everything, therefore, which relates to the
well-being, and especially to the reputation, of his master, is a
personal concern of his own.  _Per contra_, he does not forget that he is
the ornament of his master.  I had a Boy once whom I retained chiefly as
a curiosity, for I believe he had the smallest adult human head in
heathendom.  He appeared before me one day with that minute organ
surmounted by a gorgeous turban of purple and gold, which he informed me
had cost about a month’s pay.  Now I knew that his brain was never equal
to the management of his own affairs, so that he was always in pecuniary
straits, but he anticipated my curiosity by informing me that he had
raised the necessary funds by pawning his wife’s bangles.  Unthinkingly I
reproached him, and then I saw, coming over his countenance, the bitter
expression of one who has met with rebuff when he looked for sympathy.
Arranging himself in his proudest attitude, he exclaimed, “Saheb, is it
not for your glory?  When strangers see me will they not ask, ‘Whose
servant is that?”’  Living always under the influence of this spirit, the
Boy never loses an opportunity of enforcing your importance, and his own
as your representative.  When you are staying with friends, he gives the
butler notice of your tastes.  If tea is made for breakfast, he demands
coffee or cocoa; if jam is opened, he will try to insist upon marmalade.
At an hotel he orders special dishes.  When you buy a horse or a
carriage, he discovers defects in it, and is gratified if he can persuade
you to return it and let people see that you are not to be imposed upon
or trifled with.  He delights to keep creditors and mean men waiting at
the door until it shall be your pleasure to see them.  But it is only
justice to say that it will be your own fault if this disposition is not
tempered with something of a purer feeling, a kind of filial regard and
even reverence—if reverence is at all possible—under the influence of
which he will take a kindly interest in your health and comfort.  When
your wife is away, he seems to feel a special responsibility, and my
friend’s Boy, when warning his master against an unwholesome luxury,
would enforce his words with the gentle admonition, “Missis never
allowing, sir.”

It is this way of regarding himself and his master which makes the Boy
generally such a faithful servant; but he often has a sort of spurious
conscience, too, growing out of the fond pride with which he cherishes
his good name, so that you do not strain the truth to say that he is
strictly honest.  Veracity is the point on which he is weakest, but even
in this there are exceptions.  My last Boy was curiously scrupulous about
the truth, and would rarely tell a lie, even to shield himself from
blame, though he would do so to get the _hamal_ into a scrape.

I regret to say that the Boy has flaws.  His memory is a miracle; but
just once in a way, when you are dining at the club, he lays out your
clothes nicely without a collar.  He sends you off on an excursion to
Matheran, and packs your box in his neat way; but instead of putting one
complete sleeping suit, he puts in the upper parts of two, without the
nether and more necessary portions.  It is irritating to discover, when
you are dressing in a hurry, that he has put your studs into the upper
flap of your shirt front; but I am not sure it does not try your patience
more to find out, as you brush your teeth, that he has replenished your
tooth-powder box from a bottle of Gregory’s mixture.  But Dhobie day is
his opportunity.  He first delivers the soiled clothes by tale, diving
into each pocket to see if you have left rupees in it; but he sends a set
of studs to be washed.  Then he sits down to execute repairs.  He has an
assorted packet of metal and cotton buttons beside him, from which he
takes at random.  He finishes with your socks, which he skilfully darns
with white thread, and contemplates the piebald effect with much
satisfaction; after which he puts them up in little balls, each
containing a pair of different colours.  Finally he will arrange all the
clean clothes in the drawer on a principle of his own, the effect of
which will find its final development in your temper when you go in haste
for a handkerchief.  I suspect there is often an explanation of these
things which we do not think of.  The poor Boy has other things on his
mind besides your clothes.  He has a wife, or two, and children, and they
are not with him.  His child sickens and dies, or his wife runs away with
someone else, and carries off all the jewellery in which he invested his
savings; but he goes about his work in silence, and we only remark that
he has been unusually stupid the last few days.

So much for the Boy in general.  As for your own particular Boy, he must
be a very exceptional specimen if he has not persuaded you long since
that, though Boys in general are a rascally lot, you have been singularly
fortunate in yours.

                         [Picture: To Matheran!]



THE DOG-BOY.


[Picture: A dog boy] IN Bombay it is not enough to fit yourself with a
Boy: your dog requires a Boy too.  I have always felt an interest in the
smart little race of Bombay dog-boys.  As a corps, they go on with little
change from year to year, but individually they are of short duration,
and the question naturally arises, What becomes of them all when they
outgrow their dog-boyhood?  From such observations as I have been able to
make, I believe the dog-boy is not a species by himself, but represents
the early, or larva, stage of several varieties of domestic servants.
The clean little man, in neat print jacket and red velveteen cap, is the
young of a butler; while another, whom nothing can induce to keep himself
clean, would probably, if you reared him, turn into a _ghorawalla_.
There are others, in appearance intermediate, who are the offspring of
_hamals_ and _mussals_.  These at a later stage become _coolies_, going
to market in the morning, fetching ice and soda-water, and so on, until
they mature into _hamals_ and _mussals_ themselves.  Like all larvæ,
dog-boys eat voraciously and grow rapidly.  You engage a little fellow
about a cubit high, and for a time he does not seem to change at all;
then one morning you notice that his legs have come out half a yard or
more from his pantaloons, and soon your bright little page is a gawky,
long-limbed lout, who comes to ask for leave that he may go to his
country and get married.  If you do not give it he will take it, and no
doubt you are well rid of him, for the intellect in these people ripens
about the age of fourteen or fifteen, and after that the faculty of
learning anything new stops, and general intelligence declines.  At any
rate, when once your boy begins to grow long and weedy, his days as a
dog-boy are ended.  He will pass through a chrysalis stage in his
country, or somewhere else, and after a time emerge in his mature form,
in which he will still remember you, and _salaam_ to you when he meets
you on the road.  If he left your service in disgrace, he is so much the
more punctilious in observing this ceremony, which is not an expression
of gratitude, but merely an assertion of his right to public recognition
at your hands, as one who had the honour of eating your salt.  I am
certain an Oriental _salaam_ is essentially a claim rather than a
tribute.  For this reason your peons, as they stand in line to receive
you at your office door, are very careful not to _salaam_ all at once,
lest you might think one promiscuous recognition sufficient for all.  The
havildar, or naik, as is his right, salutes first, and then the rest
follow with sufficient interval to allow you to recognise each one
separately.  I have met some men with such lordly souls that they would
not condescend to acknowledge the salutations of menials; but you gain
nothing by this kind of pride in India.  They only conclude that you are
not an _asl_, or born, _saheb_, and rejoice that at any rate you cannot
take away their right to do obeisance to you.  And you cannot.  Your very
_bhunghie_ does you a pompous salutation in public places, and you have
no redress.

The dog-boy’s primary duties are to feed, tend and wash his charge, and
to take it for a walk morning and evening; but he is active and very
acute, and many other duties fall naturally to him.  It seems hard that
he should come under the yoke so early, but we must not approach such
subjects with Western ideas.  The exuberant spirits of boyhood are not
indigenous to this country, and the dog-boy has none of them.  He never
does mischief for mischief’s sake; he robs no bird’s nest; he feels no
impulse to trifle with the policeman.  Marbles are his principal pastime.
He puts the thumb of his left hand to the ground and discharges his taw
from the point of his second finger, bending it back till it touches the
back of the hand and then letting it off like a steel spring.  Then he
follows up on all fours, with the action of a monsoon frog in pursuit of
a fugitive ant.  But liberty and the pride of an independent position
amply compensate any high-souled dog-boy for the loss of his few
amusements.

I have said that the dog-boy never does mischief for its own sake.  He
would as soon do his duty for its own sake.  The motive is not
sufficient.  You shall not find him refusing to do any mischief which
tends to his own advantage.  I grieve to say it, for I have leanings
towards the dog-boy, but there is in him a vein of unsophisticated
depravity, which issues from the rock of his nature like a clear spring
that no stirrings of conscience or shame have rendered turbid.  His face,
it is simple and childlike, and he has the most innocent eye, but he
tells any lie which the occasion demands with a freedom from
embarrassment which at a later age will be impossible to him.  He stands
his ground, too, under any fire of cross-examination.  The rattan would
dislodge him, but unfortunately his guileless countenance too often
shields him from this searching and wholesome instrument.  When he is
sent for a hack buggy and returns after half-an-hour, with a perplexed
face, saying that there is not one to be had anywhere, who would suspect
that he has been holding an auction at the nearest stand, dwelling on the
liberality and wealth of his master and the distance to which his
business that morning will take him, and that, when he found no one would
bid up to his reserve, he remained firm and came away.  Perhaps I seem
hard on the dog-boy, but my experience has not been a happy one.  My
first seemed to be an average specimen, moderately clean and
well-behaved; but he was not satisfied with his wages.  He assured me
that they did not suffice to fill his stomach.  I told him that I thought
it would be his father’s duty for some years yet to feed and clothe him,
but his young face grew very sad and he answered softly, “I have no
father.”  So I took pity on him and raised his pay, at the same time
assuring him that, if he behaved himself, I would take care of him.  His
principal duty was to take the faithful Hubshee for a walk morning and
evening, and when he returned he would tell me where he had gone and how
he had avoided consorting with other dog-boys and their dogs.  When
matters had gone on in this satisfactory way for some time, I happened to
take an unusual walk one evening, and I came suddenly on a company of
very lively little boys engaged in a most exciting game.  Their shouts
and laughter mingled with the doleful howls of a dozen dogs which were
closely chained in a long row to a railing, and among them I had no
difficulty in recognising my Hubshee.  Suffice it to say that my dog-boy
returned next day to his father, who proved to be in service next door.
He was succeeded by a smart little fellow, well-dressed and scrupulously
clean, but quite above his profession.  It seemed absurd to expect him to
wash a dog, so, on the demise of his grandmother, or some other suitable
occasion, he left me to find more congenial service elsewhere as a
dressing-boy.  My next was a charity boy, the son of an ancient
_ghorawalla_.  His father had been a faithful servant, and as regards
domestic discipline, no one could say he spared the rod and spoiled the
child.  On the contrary, as Shelley, I think, expresses it,

    “He spoilt the rod and did not spare the child.”

But if my last Boy had been above his work, this one proved to be below
it.  You could not easily have disinfected any dog which he had been
allowed to handle.  I tried to cure him, but nothing short of boiling in
dilute carbolic acid would have purified him, and even then the effect
would, I feel sure, have been only temporary.  So he returned to his
stable litter and I engaged another.  This was a sturdy little man, with
a fine, honest-looking face.  He had a dash of Negro blood in him, and
wore a most picturesque head-dress.  In fact I felt that, æsthetically,
he raised the tone of my house.  He was hardworking, too, and would do
anything he was told, so that I seemed to have nothing to wish for now
but that he might not grow old too soon.  But, alas!  I started on an
excursion one night, leaving him in charge of my birds.  He promised to
attend to them faithfully, and having seen me off, started on an
excursion of his own, from which he did not get back till three o’clock
next day.  I arrived at the same moment and he saw me.  Quick as thought
he raced upstairs, flung the windows open and began to pull the covers
off the bird-cages; but I came in before the operation could be finished.
In the interests of common morality I thought it best to eject him from
the premises before he had time to frame a lie.  About a week after this
I received a petition, signed with his mark, recounting his faithful
services, expressing his surprise and regret at the sudden and unprovoked
manner in which I had dismissed him, and insinuating that some enemy or
rival had poisoned my benevolent mind against him.  He concluded by
demanding satisfaction.  I wonder what has become of him since.

I have said that there is a vein of depravity in the dog-boy, but there
must be a compensating vein of worth of some kind, an Ormuzd which in the
end often triumphs over Ahriman.  The influences among which he developes
do little for him.  At home he is certainly subject to a certain rugged
discipline; his mother throws stones at him when she is angry, and his
father, when he can catch him, gives him a cudgeling to be remembered.
But when he leaves the parental roof he passes from all this and is left
to himself.  Some masters treat him in a parental spirit and chastise him
when he deserves it, and the Boy tyrannizes over him and twists his ear,
but on the whole he grows as a tree grows.  And yet how often he matures
into a most respectable and trustworthy man!

                           [Picture: Dog-boys]



THE GHORAWALLA, OR SYCE.


[Picture: The Ghorawalla] A BOY for yourself, a boy for your dog, then a
man for your horse; that is the usual order of trouble.  Of course the
horse itself precedes the horse-keeper, but then I do not reckon the
buying of a horse among life’s troubles, rather among its luxuries.  It
combines all the subtle pleasures of shopping with a turbid excitement
which is its own.  From the moment when you first start from the
breakfast-table at the sound of hoofs, and find the noble animal at the
door, arching his neck and champing his bit, as if he felt proud to bear
that other animal, bandy-legged, mendacious, and altogether ignoble who
sits jauntily on his back, down to the moment when you walk round to the
stable for a little quiet enjoyment of the sense of ownership, there is a
high tide of mental elation running through the days.  Then the
_Ghorawalla_ supervenes.

The first symptom of him is an indent for certain articles which he
asserts to be absolutely necessary before he can enter on his
professional duties.  These are a _jhule_, _baldee_, _tobra_, _mora_,
_booroos_, _bagdoor_, _agadee_, _peechadee_, _curraree_, _hathalee_, &c.
It is not very rational to be angry, for most of the articles, if not
all, are really required.  Several of them, indeed, are only ropes, for
the _Ghorawalla_, or syce, as they call him on the other side of India,
gives every bit of cordage about his beast a separate name, as a sailor
describes the rigging of a ship.  But the fact remains that there is
something peculiarly irritating in this first indent.  Perhaps one feels,
after buying and paying for a whole horse, that he might in decency have
been allowed to breathe before being asked to pay again.  If this is it,
the sooner the delusion is dissipated the better.  You will never have
respite from payments while an active-minded syce remains on your staff.
You think you have fitted him out with everything the heart of syce can
desire, and he goes away seemingly happy, and commences work at once,
hissing like twenty biscobras as he throws himself against the horse, and
works his arms from wrist to elbow into its ribs.  It looks as if it
would like to turn round and take a small piece out of his hinder parts
with its teeth, but its nose is tied up to the roof of the stable, and
its hind feet are pulled out and tied to a peg behind it, so that it can
only writhe and cultivate that amiable temper which characterizes so many
horses in this country.  And the syce is happy; but his happiness needs
constant sustenance.  Next morning he is at the door with a request for
an anna to buy oil.  Horses in this country cannot sleep without a
night-light.  They are afraid of rats, I suppose, like ladies.  However,
it is a small demand; all the syce’s demands are small, so are
mosquitoes.  Next day he again wants an anna for oil, but this has
nothing to do with the other.  Yesterday’s was one sort of oil for
burning, this is another sort of oil for cleaning the bits.  To-morrow he
will require a third sort of oil for softening the leather nose-bag, and
the oils of the country will not be exhausted then.  Among the varied
street-cries of Bombay, the “_I-scream_” man, the _tala-chavee-walla_,
the _botlee-walla_, the vendors of greasy sweetmeats and _bawlee-sugah_,
the legion of _borahs_, and that abominable little imp who issues from
the newspaper offices, and walks the streets, yelling “Telleecram!
tellee-c-r-a-a-m!” among them all there is one voice so penetrating, and
so awakening where it penetrates, that—that I cannot find a fitting
conclusion to this sentence.  Who of us has not started at that shrill
squeal of pain, “Nee-ee-ee-ttile!”  The _Ghorawalla_ watches for it, and
stopping the good-natured woman, brings her in and submits a request for
a bottle of neat’s foot oil, for want of which your harness is going to
destruction.  She has blacking as well as oil, but he will call her in
for that afterwards.  He never concludes two transactions in one day.
When he has succeeded in reducing you to such a state of irritability
that it is not safe to mention money in your presence, he stops at once
and changes tactics.  He brings the horse to the door with a thick layer
of dust on the saddle and awaits your onset with the intrepid inquiry,
“Can a saddle be kept clean without soap?”  I suppose a time will come
when he will have got every article he can possibly use, and it is
natural to hope that he will then be obliged to leave you.  But this also
is a delusion.  On the contrary, his resources only begin to develop
themselves when he has got all he wants.  First one of the leather things
on the horse’s hind feet gives way and has to be cobbled, then a rope
wears out and must be replaced, then a buckle gets loose and wants a
stitch.  But his chief reliance is on the headstall and the nose-bag.
When these have got well into use, one or other of them may be counted on
to give way about every other day, and when nothing of the original
article is left, the patches of which it is composed keep on giving way.
Each repair costs from one to three pice, and it puzzles one to conceive
what benefit a well-paid groom can derive from being the broker in such
petty transactions.  But all the details of life in this country are
microscopical, not only among the poor, but among those whose business is
conducted in lakhs.  I have been told of a certain well-known, wealthy
mill-owner who, when a water Brahmin at a railway station had supplied
him and all his attendants with drinking-water, was seen to fumble in his
waistband, and reward the useful man with one copper pie.  A pie at
present rates of exchange is worth about 47/128 of a farthing, and it is
instructive to note that emergency, when it came, found this Crœsus
provided with such a coin.

                      [Picture: Losing their heads]

Now it is evident that if the syce can extort two pice from you for
repairs and get the work done for five pies, one clear pie will adhere to
his glutinous palm.  I do not assert that this is what happens, for I
know nothing about it.  All I maintain is that there is no hypothesis
which will satisfactorily explain all the facts, unless you admit the
general principle that the syce derives advantage of some kind from the
manipulation of the smallest copper coin.  One notable phenomenon which
this principle helps to explain is the syce’s anxiety to have his horse
shod on the due date every month.  If the shoes are put on so atrociously
that they stick for more than a month, I suspect he considers it
professional to help them off.

Horses in this country are fed mostly on “gram,” _cicer arietinum_, a
kind of pea, which, when split, forms _dall_, and can be made into a most
nutritious and palatable curry.  The _Ghorawalla_ recognises this fact.
If he is modest, you may be none the wiser, perhaps none the worse; but
if he is not, then his horse will grow lean, while he grows stout.  How
to obviate this result is indeed the main problem which the syce
presents, and many are the ways in vogue of trying to solve it.  One way
is to have the horse fed in your presence, you doing butler and watching
him feed.  Another is to play upon the caste feelings of the syce,
defiling the horse’s food in some way.  I believe the editor of the
_Aryan Trumpet_ considers this a violation of the Queen’s proclamation,
and, in any case, it is a futile device.  It may work with the haughty
_Purdaisee_, but suppose your _Ghorawalla_ is a _Mahar_, whose caste is a
good way below that of his horse?  I have nothing to do with any of these
devices.  I establish a compact with my man, the unwritten conditions of
which are, that I pay him his wages, and supply a proper quantity of
provender, while he, on his part, must see that his horse is always fat
enough to work, and himself lean enough to run.  If he cannot do this, I
propose to find someone who can.  Once he comes to a clear understanding
of this treaty, and especially of its last clause, he will give little
trouble.  As some atonement for worrying you so much about the
accoutrements, the _Ghorawalla_ is very careful not to disturb you about
the horse.  If the saddle galls it, or its hoof cracks, he suppresses the
fact, and experiments upon the ailment with his own “vernacular
medicines,” as the Baboo called them.  When these fail, and the case is
almost past cure, he mentions it casually, as an unfortunate circumstance
which has come to his notice.  There are a few things, only a few, which
make me feel homicidal, and this is one of them.

I cannot find the bright side of the syce: perhaps I am not in a humour
to see it.  Looking back down a long avenue of Gunnoos, Tookarams,
Raghoos, Mahadoos and others whose names even have grown dim, I discern
only a monotony of provocation.  The fine figure of old Bindaram stands
out as an exception, but then he was a coachman, and the coachman is to
the _Ghorawalla_, what cream is to skim milk.  The unmitigated
_Ghorawalla_ is a sore disease, one of those forms of suffering which
raise the question whether our modern civilization is anything but a
great spider, spinning a web of wants and their accompanying worries over
the world and entangling us all, that it may suck our life-blood out.  In
justice I will admit that, as a runner, the thoroughbred Mahratta
_Ghorawalla_ has no peer in the animal kingdom.  A sporting friend and I
once engaged in a steeple-chase with two of them.  I was mounted on a
great Cape horse, my friend on a wiry countrybred, and the men on their
own proper legs, curious looking limbs without any flesh on them, only
shiny black leather stretched over bones.  The goal was _bakshees_,
twelve miles away.  The ground at first favoured them, consisting of rice
fields, along the _bunds_ of which they ran like cats on a wall.  Then we
came to more open country and got well ahead, but at the last mile they
put on the most splendid spurt I ever saw, and won by a hundred lengths.

It is also only justice to say that we do not give the _Ghorawalla_ fair
play.  We artificialise him, dress him according to our tastes, conform
him to our notions, cramp his ingenuity, and quench his affections.  The
_Ghorawalla_ in his native state is no more like our domesticated Pandoo
than the wild ass of Cutch is like the costermonger’s moke.  We will have
him like our own saddlery, plain and businesslike, but he is by nature
like his national horse gear, ornamental, and if you let him alone, will
effloresce in a red _fez_ cap, with tassel, and a waistcoat of green
baize.  In such a guise he feels worthy to tend a piebald horse,
caparisoned in crimson silk, with a tight martingale of red and yellow
cord.  He can take an interest in such a horse, and will himself educate
it to walk on its hind legs and paw the air with its forefeet, or to
progress at a royal amble, lifting both feet on one side at the same
time, so that its body moves as steadily as if on wheels, and, to use the
expressive language of a Brahmin friend of mine, the water in your
stomach is not shaken.  He will feed it with balls of _ghee_ and
_jagree_, that it may become rotund and sleek, he will shampoo its legs
after hard work, and address it as “my son.”  If it is disobedient, he
will chastise it by plunging his knee into his stomach, and if it acquits
itself well, he will plait its mane and dye the tip of its tail magenta.
This loving relationship between him and his beast extends even to
religion, and the horse enjoys the Hindoo festivals.  During the Dussera
it does not work, but comes to the door, festooned with garlands of
marigold, and expects a rupee.

The coachman is to the _Ghorawalla_ what cream is to skim milk, that is
if you consider his substance.  As regards his art he is a foreign
product altogether, and I take little interest in him.  There is an
indigenous art of driving in this country, the driving of the bullock,
but that is a great subject.

                 [Picture: Man and woman with Ghorawalla]



BOOTLAIR SAHEB—_ANGLICÈ_, THE BUTLER.


[Picture: The Bootlair saheb] SOME dogs, when they hear a fiddle, are
forced to turn over on their backs and howl; some are unmoved by music.
So some men are tortured by every violation of symmetry, while some
cannot discern a straight line.  I belong to the former class, and my
Butler belongs to the latter.  He _would_ lay the table in a way which
almost gave me a crick in neck, and certainly dislocated my temper, and
he would not see that there was anything wrong.  I reasoned with him, for
he is an intelligent man.  I pointed out to him, in his own vernacular,
that the knives and forks were not parallel, that the four dishes formed
a trapezium, and that the cruet, taken with any two of the salt cellars,
made a scalene triangle; in short, that there was not one parallelogram,
or other regular figure, on the table.  At last a gleam of light passed
over his countenance.  Yes, he understood it all; it was very simple;
henceforth I should find everything straight.  And here is the result!
He has arranged everything with the utmost regularity, guiding himself by
the creases in the tablecloth; but, unfortunately, he began by laying the
cloth itself slantwise; consequently, I find myself with my back to one
corner of the room and my face to another, and cannot get rid of the
feeling that everything on the table is slightly the worse for liquor.
And the Butler is in despair.  What on earth, he thinks, can be wrong
now?  He evidently gives it up, and so do I.

I have already treated of the Boy, and to devote another chapter to the
Butler may seem like making a distinction where there is no difference;
but there is in reality a radical difference between the two offices,
which is this, that your Boy looks after you, whereas your Butler looks
after the other servants, and you look after him; at least, I hope you
do.  From this it follows that the Boy flourishes only in the free
atmosphere of bachelordom.  If master marries, the Boy sometimes becomes
a Butler, but I have generally seen that the change was fatal to him.  He
feels a share at first in master’s happiness on the auspicious occasion,
and begins to fit on his new dignity.  He provides himself with a more
magnificent _cumberbund_, enlarges the border of gold thread on his
puggree, and furbishes up his English that he may converse pleasantly
with _mem saheb_.  He orders about the other servants with a fuller voice
than before, and when anyone calls for a chair, he no longer brings one
himself, but commands the _hamal_ to do so.  He feels supremely happy!
Alas! before the _mem saheb_ has been many weeks in the house, the change
of air begins to disagree with him—not with his body, but with his
spirit, and though he may bear up against it for a time, he sooner or
later asks leave to go to his country.  His new mistress is nothing loth
to be rid of him, nor master either, for even his countenance is changed;
and so the Butler’s brief reign comes to an end, and he departs,
deploring the unhappy match his master has made.  Why could not so
liberal and large-minded a _saheb_ remain unmarried, and continue to cast
the shadow of his benevolence on those who were so happy as to eat his
salt, instead of taking to himself a _madam_, under whom there is no
peace night or day?  As he sits with his unemployed friends seeking the
consolation of the never-failing _beeree_, the ex-butler narrates her
ladyship’s cantankerous ways, how she eternally fidgeted over a little
harmless dust about the corners of the furniture, as if it was not the
nature of dust to settle on furniture; how she would have window panes
washed which had never been washed before; her meanness in inquiring
about the consumption of oil and milk and firewood, matters which the
_saheb_ had never stooped to look into; and her unworthy and insulting
practice of locking up stores, and doling them out day by day, not to
mention having the cow milked in her presence: all which made him so
ashamed in the presence of the other servants that his life became
bitter, and he was forced to ask for his _ruzza_.

Lalla, sitting next to him, remarks that no doubt one person is of one
disposition and another of another disposition.  “If it had been my
destiny to remain in the service of Colonel Balloonpeel, all my days
would have passed in peace; but he went to England when he got his
_pencil_.  Who can describe the calmness and goodness of his _madam_.
She never asked a question.  She put the keys in the Butler’s hand, and
if he asked for money she gave it.  But one person is of one disposition
and another is of another disposition.”

“That is true,” replies the ex-butler, “but the _sahebs_ are better than
the _mem sahebs_.  The _sahebs_ are hot and get angry sometimes, but
under them a man can live and eat a mouthful of bread.  With the _mem
sahebs_ it is nothing but worry, worry, worry.  Why is this so dirty?
Who broke that plate?  When was that glass cracked?  Alas! why do the
_sahebs_ marry such women?”

Old Ramjee then withdraws his _beeree_ from his mouth and sheds light on
the subject.  “You see, in England there are very few women, for which
reason it is that so many _sahebs_ remain unmarried.  So when a _saheb_
goes home to his country for a wife, he must take what he can get.”

“It is a question of destiny,” says Lalla, “with them and with us.  My
first wife, who can tell how meek she was?  She never opened her mouth.
My present wife is such a _sheitan_ that a man cannot live under the same
roof with her.  I have sent her to her country ten times, but what is the
use?  Will she stay there?  The flavour has all gone out of my life.”

                   [Picture: A plot against the butler]

And they all make noises expressive of sympathy.

The Butler being commander-in-chief of the household forces, I find one
quality to be indispensable in him, and that is what the natives call
_hookoomut_, the faculty of so commanding that other men obey.  He has to
control a sneaking _mussaul_, an obstinate _hamal_, a quarrelsome, or
perhaps a drunken cook, a wicked dog-boy, a proud coachman, and a few
turbulent _ghorawallas_, while he must conciliate, or outwit, the
opposition headed by the _ayah_.  If he cannot do this there will be
factions, seditions, open mutiny, ending in appeals to you, to which if
you give ear, you will foster all manner of intrigue, and put a premium
on lies and hypocrisy; and it will be strange if you do not end by
punishing the innocent and filling the guilty with unholy joy.  In this
country there is only one way of dealing with the squabbles of domestics
and dependents, and that is the method of Gallio, who was a great man.

Besides the general responsibilities of his position as C.-in-C., the
Butler has certain specific duties, such as to stand with arms folded
behind you at meal time, to clean the silver, and to go to the bazaar in
the morning.  The last seems to be quite as much a prerogative as a duty,
and the cook wants to go to law about it, regarding the Butler as an
unlawful usurper.  He asserts his claim by spoiling the meat which the
Butler brings.  Of course, there must be some reason why this duty, or
privilege, is so highly valued, and no doubt that reason is connected
with the great Oriental principle, that of everything a man handles or
controls, somewhat should adhere to his palm; but if you ask how this
principle is applied or worked out, I can only reply that that is a
matter on which I believe not one of us has any information, though for
the most part we hold very emphatic opinions on the subject.  I am quite
certain that it may be laid down for a general rule that the Butler
prefers indirect to direct taxation.  He certainly would not reduce salt
and customs duties to pave the way for an income tax.  Neither would a
Viceroy, perhaps, if he had to stay and reap the fruit of his works,
instead of leaving that to his successor—but that is political reflection
which has no business here.  The Butler, I say, wisely prefers indirect
taxation and prospers.  How, then, are you to checkmate him?  Don’t!  A
wise man never attempts what cannot be accomplished.  I work on the
assumption that my Butler is, like Brutus, an honourable man, treating
him with consideration, and fostering his self-respect, even at the cost,
perhaps, of a little hypocrisy.  It is a gracious form of hypocrisy, and
one that often justifies itself in the end, for the man tends to become
what you assume that he is.  For myself, I confess that I yield to the
butler’s claim to go to market, albeit I am assured that he derives
unjust advantages therefrom, more easily than I reconcile myself to that
other privilege of standing, with arms folded, behind me while I
breakfast, or tiffin, or dine.  I can endure the suspicion that he is
growing rich while I am growing poor, but that argus supervision over my
necessary food is like a canker, and his indefatigable attentiveness
would ruin the healthiest appetite.  After removing the cover from the
“beefysteak” and raising one end of the dish that I may get at the gravy
more easily, he offers me potatoes, and I try to overcome an instinctive
repugnance to the large and mealy tuber under which he has adjusted the
spoon in order to lighten my labour.  After the potatoes there are
vegetables.  Then he moves the salt a little nearer me and I help myself.
Next he presses the cruet-stand on my attention, putting the spoon into
the mustard pot and taking the stopper out of the sauce bottle.  I submit
in the hope that I may now be allowed to begin; but he has salad or
tomatoes or something else requiring attention.  I submit once more and
then assume my knife and fork.  He watches his opportunity and insinuates
a pickle bottle, holding the fork in his right hand.  I feel that it is
time to make a stand, so I give him one unspeakable look and proceed with
my meal, whereupon he retreats and I breathe a little more freely.  But
no; he is at my left hand again with bread.  To do him justice, he is
quite willing to save me annoyance by impaling a slice on the knife and
transferring it to my plate, but I prefer to help myself, which
encourages him to return to the charge with butter and then jam.  This
looks like the end, but his resources are infinite.  His eye falls on the
sugar basin standing beside my teacup, and he immediately takes it up
and, coming round to my left side, holds it to my nose.  All this time
sit I, like Tantalus, with the savoriest of Domingo’s “beefysteaks”
before me and am not allowed to taste it.  But I know that in every
operation he is animated by an exalted sense of blended duty and
prerogative, and if I could really open his mind to the thought that the
least of his attentions was dispensable, his whole nature would be
demoralized at once; so I endure and grow lean.  Another thing which
works towards the same result is a practice that he has of studying my
tastes, and when he thinks he has detected a preference for a particular
dish, plying me with that until the very sight of it becomes nauseous.
At one time he fed me with “broon custard” pudding for about six months,
until in desperation I interdicted that preparation for evermore, and he
fell back upon “lemol custard.”  Thus my luxuries are cut off one after
another and there is little left that I can eat.

[Picture: Curry and rice] Our grandfathers used to have Parsee butlers in
tall hats to wait upon them, but that race is now extinct.  The Butler on
this side of India is now a Goanese, or a Soortee, or, more rarely, a
Mussulman.  Each of these has, doubtless, his own characteristics; but
have you ever stepped back a few paces and contemplated, not your own or
anyone else’s individual servant, but the entire phenomenon of an Indian
Butler?  Here is a man whose food by nature is curry and rice, before a
hillock of which he sits cross-legged, and putting his five fingers into
it, makes a large bolus, which he pushes into his mouth.  He repeats this
till all is gone, and then he sleeps like a boa-constrictor until he
recovers his activity; or else he feeds on great flat cakes of wheat
flour, off which he rends jagged-pieces and lubricates them with some
spicy and unctuous gravy.  All our ways of life, our meats and drinks,
and all our notions of propriety and fitness in connection with the
complicated business of appeasing our hunger as becomes our station, all
these are a foreign land to him: yet he has made himself altogether at
home in them.  He has a sound practical knowledge of all our viands,
their substance, and the mode of their preparation, their qualities,
relationships and harmonies, and the exact place they hold in our great
cenatorial system.  He knows all liquors also by name, with their places
and times of appearing.  And he is as great in action as in knowledge.
When he takes the command of a _burra khana_ he is a Wellington.  He
plans with foresight, and executes with fortitude and self-reliance.  See
him marshal his own troops and his auxiliary butlers while he carves and
dispenses the joint!  Then he puts himself at their head and invades the
dining-room.  He meets with reverses;—the claret-jug collides with a dish
in full sail and sheds its contents on his white coat; the punkah rope
catches his turban and tosses it into a lady’s lap, exposing his
curiously shaven head to the public merriment; but, though disconcerted,
he is not defeated.  He never forgets his position or loses sight of his
dignity.  His mistress discusses him with such wit as may be at her
command, and he understands but smiles not.  When the action is over he
retires from the field, divests himself of his robes of office and sits
down, as he was bred to do, before that hillock of curry and rice.

Even good Homer nods, and I confess I am still haunted by the memory of a
day when my Chief was my guest, and the butler served up red herrings
neatly done up in—_The Times of India_!



DOMINGO, THE COOK.


[Picture: The cook] I DO not remember who was the author of the
observation that a great nation in a state of decay betakes itself to the
fine arts.  Perhaps no one has made the observation yet.  It is certainly
among the records of my brain, but I may possibly have put it there
myself.  If so, I make it now, for the possibilities of originality are
getting scarce and will soon disappear from the face of the earth as
completely as the mastodon.  The present application of the saying is to
the people of Goa, who, while they carry through the world patronymics
which breathe of conquest and discovery, devote their energies rather to
the violin and the art of cookery.  The caviller may object to the
application of the words “fine art” to culinary operations, but the
objection rests on superficial thought.  A deeper view will show that art
is in the artist, not in his subject or his materials.  Perusal of the
Codes of the Financial Department showed me many years ago that the
retrenchment of my pay and allowances could be elevated to a fine art by
devotion of spirit, combined with a fine sense of law.  And to Domingo
the preparation of dinner is indeed a fine art.  Trammel his genius,
confine him within the limits of what is commonly called a “plain
dinner,” and he cannot cook.  He stews his meat before putting it into a
pie, he thickens his custard with flour instead of eggs, he roasts a leg
of mutton by boiling it first and doing “littlee brown” afterwards; in
short, what does he not do?  It is true of all his race.  How loathsome
were Pedro’s mutton chops, and Camilo could not boil potatoes decently
for a dinner of less than four courses.  But let him loose on a _burra
khana_, give him _carte blanche_ as to sauces and essences and spicery,
and all his latent faculties and concealed accomplishments unfold
themselves like a lotus flower in the morning.  No one could have
suspected that the shame-faced little man harboured such resources.  If
he has not always the subtlest perception of the harmonics of flavours,
what a mastery he shows of strong effects and striking contrasts, what
fecundity of invention, what a play of fancy in decoration, what manual
dexterity, what rapidity and certainty in all his operations!  And the
marvel increases when we consider the simplicity of his implements and
materials.  His studio is fitted with half a dozen small fireplaces, and
furnished with an assortment of copper pots, a chopper, two tin
spoons—but he can do without these,—a ladle made of half a cocoanut shell
at the end of a stick, and a slab of stone with a stone roller on it;
also a rickety table; a very gloomy and ominous looking table, whose
undulating surface is chopped and hacked and scarred, begrimed,
besmeared, smoked, oiled, stained with juices of many substances.  On
this table he minces meat, chops onions, rolls pastry and sleeps; a very
useful table.  In the midst of these he hustles about, putting his face
at intervals into one of his fires and blowing through a short bamboo
tube, which is his bellows, such a potent blast that for a moment his
whole head is enveloped in a cloud of ashes and cinders, which also
descend copiously on the half-made tart and the _soufflé_ and the
custard.  Then he takes up an egg, gives it three smart raps with the
nail of his forefinger, and in half a second the yoke is in one vessel
and the white in another.  The fingers of his left hand are his strainer.
Every second or third egg he tosses aside, having detected, as it passed
through the said strainer that age had rendered it unsuitable for his
purposes; sometimes he does not detect this.  From eggs he proceeds to
onions, then he is taking the stones out of raisins, or shelling peas.
There is a standard English cookery book which commences most of its
instructions with the formula, “wash your hands carefully, using a nail
brush.”  Domingo does not observe this ceremony, but he often wipes his
fingers upon his pantaloons.  It occurs to me, however, that I do not
wisely pursue this theme; for the mysteries of Domingo’s craft are no fit
subject for the gratification of an irreverent curiosity.  Those words of
the poet,

    “Where ignorance is bliss,
    ’Tis folly to be wise,”

have no truer application.  You will reap the bliss when you sit down to
the savoury result.

Though Domingo is naturally shy, and does not make a display of his
attainments, he is a man of education, and is quite prepared, if you wish
it, to write out his menu.  Here is a sample:—

                                   _Soup_.
                                 Salary Soup.

                                    _Fis_.
                                Heel fish fry.

                                  _Madish_.
                         Russel Pups.  Wormsil mole.

                                   _Joint_.
                                Roast Bastard.

                                   _Toast_.
                               Anchovy Poshteg.

                                  _Puddin_.
                           Billimunj.  Ispunj roli.

I must take this opportunity to record a true story of a menu, though it
does not properly pertain to Domingo, but an ingenious Ramaswamy, of
Madras.  This man’s master liked everything very proper, and insisted on
a written _menu_ at every meal.  One morning Ramaswamy was much
embarrassed, for the principal dish at breakfast was to be devilled
turkey.  “Devil very bad word,” he said to himself; “how can write?”  At
last he solved the difficulty, and the dish appeared as “D—d turkey.”

Our surprise at Domingo’s attainments is no doubt due very much to the
humble attire in which we are accustomed to see him, his working dress
being a _quondam_ white cotton jacket and a pair of blue checked
pantaloons of a strong material made in jails, or two pairs, the sound
parts of one being arranged to underlie the holes in the other.  When
once we have seen the gentleman dressed for church on a festival day,
with the beaver which has descended to him from his illustrious
grandfather’s benevolent master respectfully held in his hand, and his
well brushed hair shining with a bountiful allowance of cocoanut
ointment, surprise ceases.  He is indeed a much respected member of
society, and enjoys the esteem of his club, where he sometimes takes
chambers when out of employment.  By his fellow servants, too, he is
recognised as a professional man, and called The Maistrie, but, like
ourselves, he is an exile, and, like some of us, he is separated from his
wife and children, so his thoughts run much upon furlough and ultimate
retirement, and he adopts a humble style of life with the object of
saving money.  In this object he succeeds most remarkably.  Little as we
know of the home life of our Hindoo servants, we know almost less about
that of Domingo, for he rarely has his family with him.  Is he a fond
husband and an indulgent father?  I fancy he is when his better nature is
uppermost, but I am bound to confess that the cardinal vice of his
character is cruelty, not the passive cruelty of the pure Asiatic, but
that ferocious cruelty which generally marks an infusion of European
blood.  The infusion in him has filtered through so many generations that
it must be very weak indeed, but it shows itself.  When I see an
emaciated crow with the point of its beak chopped off, so that it cannot
pick up its food, or another with a tin pot fastened with wire to its
bleeding nose, I know whose handiwork is there.  Domingo suffers
grievously from the depredations of crows, and when his chance comes he
enjoys a savage retribution.  Some allowance must be made for the
hardening influence of his profession; familiarity with murder makes him
callous.  When he executes a _moorgee_ he does it in the way of sport,
and sits, like an ancient Roman, _verso pollice_, enjoying the spectacle
of its dying struggles.

According to his lights Domingo is a religious man; that is to say, he
wears a necklace of red beads, eats fish on Fridays, observes festivals
and holidays, and gives pretty liberally to the church under pressure.
So he maintains a placid condition of conscience while his monthly
remittance to Goa exceeds the amount of his salary.  He rises early on
Sunday morning to go to confession, and I would give something to have
the place, just one day, of the good father to whom he unbosoms himself.
But perhaps I am wrong.  I daresay he believes he has nothing to confess.

One story more to teach us to judge charitably of Domingo.  A lady was
inveighing to a friend against the whole race of Indian cooks as dirty,
disorderly, and dishonest.  She had managed to secure the services of a
Chinese cook, and was much pleased with the contrast.  Her friend did not
altogether agree with her, and was sceptical about the immaculate
Chinaman.  “Put it to the test,” said the lady; “just let us pay a visit
to your kitchen, and then come and see mine.”  So they went together.
What need to describe the _Bobberjee-Khana_?  They glanced round, and
hurried out, for it was too horrible to be endured long.  When they went
to the Chinaman’s kitchen, the contrast was indeed striking.  The pots
and pans shone like silver; the table was positively sweet; everything
was in its proper place, and Chang himself, sitting on his box, was
washing his feet in the soup tureen!



THE MUSSAUL, OR MAN OF LAMPS.


[Picture: The Mussaul] THE _Mussaul’s_ name is Mukkun, which means
butter, and of this commodity I believe he absorbs as much as he can
honestly or dishonestly come by.  How else does the surface of him
acquire that glossy, oleaginous appearance, as if he would take fire
easily and burn well?  I wish we could do without him!  The centre of his
influence, a small room in the suburbs of the dining-room, which he calls
the _dispence_, or _dispence-khana_, is a place of unwholesome sights and
noisome odours, which it is good not to visit unless as Hercules visited
the stables of Augeas.  The instruments of his profession are there, a
large _handie_ full of very greasy water, with bits of lemon peel and
fragments of broken victuals swimming in it, and a short, stout stick,
with a little bunch of foul rag tied to one end of it.  Here the
_Mussaul_ sits on the ice _numda_ while we have our meals, and as each
plate returns from the table, he takes charge of it, and transfers to his
mouth whatever he finds on it, for he is of the _omnivora_, like the
crow.  Then he seizes his weapon of offence, and, dipping the rag end
into the _handie_, gives the plate a masterly wipe, and lays it on the
table upside down, or dries it with a damask table napkin.  The butler
encourages him for some reason to use up the table napkins in this way.
I suppose it is because he does not like to waste the _dhobie_ on
anything before it is properly soiled.  When the _Mussaul_ has disposed
of the breakfast things in this summary way, he betakes himself to the
great work of the day, the polishing of the knives.  He first plunges the
ivory handles into boiling water, and leaves them to steep for a time,
then he seats himself on the ice again, and, arranging a plank of wood in
a sloping position, holds it fast with his toes, rubs it well with a
piece of bath brick, and commences to polish with all the energy which he
has saved by the neglect of other duties.  Hour after hour the squeaky,
squeaky, squeaky sound of that board plays upon your nerves, not the
nerves of the ear, but the nerves of the mind, for there is more in it
than the ear can convey.  Every sight and every sound in this world comes
to us inextricably woven into the warp which the mind supplies, and, as
you listen to that baleful sound, you seem to feel with your finger
points the back of each good, new knife getting sharper and sharper, and
to watch its progress as it wears away at the point of greatest pressure,
until the end of the blade is connected with the rest by a narrow neck,
which eventually breaks, and the point falls off, leaving the knife in
that condition so familiar to us all, when the blade, about three inches
long, ends in a jagged, square point, the handle having, meanwhile,
acquired a rich orange hue.  Oh, those knives! those knives!

                          [Picture: More light]

Etymologically Mukkun is a man of lamps, and, when he has brushed your
boots and stowed them away under your bed, putting the left boot on the
right side and _vice versa_, in order that the toes may point outwards,
as he considers they should, then he addresses himself to this part of
his duty.  Old Bombayites can remember the days of cocoanut, when he had
to begin his operations during the cold season by putting a row of
bottles out in the sun to melt the frozen oil; but kerosine has changed
all that, and he has nothing to do but to trim the wick into that
fork-tailed pattern in which he delights, and which secures the minimum
of light with the maximum destruction of chimneys, to smear the outside
of each lamp with his greasy fingers, to conjure away a gallon or so of
oil, and to meet remonstrance with a child-like query, “Do I drink
kerosene oil?”  Then he unbends, and gives himself up to a gentle form of
recreation in which he finds much enjoyment.  This is to perch on a low
wall or big stone at the garden gate, and watch the carriages and horses
as they pass by.  Other _Mussauls_, _ghorawallas_, and passing ice
coolies stop and perch beside him, and sometimes an _ayah_ or two, with a
perambulator and its weary little occupant, grace the gathering.  I
suppose the topics of the day are discussed, the chances of a Russian
invasion, the dearness of rice, and the events which led to the dismissal
of Mr. Smith’s old _Mussaul_ Canjee.  Then the time for the lighting of
lamps arrives, and Mukkun returns to his duties.

You might not perhaps suspect it, but Mukkun is a prey to vanity.  The
pure oily transparency of his Italian complexion commands his admiration,
and he thinks much of those glossy love-locks which emerge from his
turban and curl in front of his ears.  Several times a day he goes into
his room to contemplate himself in a small hand mirror, and to wind up
the love-locks on his finger.  Poor Mukkun has, indeed, a very human
side, and the phenomenon which we recognise as our _Mussaul_ is not the
whole of him.  By birth he is an agriculturist, and there is in the
environs of Surat a little plot of land and a small dilapidated hut in
one corner of it, overgrown with monstrous gourds, which he thinks of as
home, sweet home.  There are his young barbarians all at play, but he,
their sire, is forced to seek service abroad because, as he practically
expresses it, the produce of his small field is not sufficient to fill so
many bellies.  But, wherever he wanders, his heart—for he has a
heart—flutters about that rickety hut, and as he sits polishing your
boots of a morning, you may hear him pensively humming to himself:—

    Beatus ille qui, procul negotiis,
       Ut prisca gens mortalium,
    Paterna rura bobus exercet suis,
       Solutus omni fœnore.

He puts a peculiar pathos into the last line, for he is grievously
haunted by an apparition in the form of an old man with a small red
turban, gold earrings, and grey beard parted in the middle, who
flourishes a paper in his face and talks of the debtors’ gaol; and hints
that he will have the little house and field near Surat.  Mukkun first
fell into the net of this spider many years ago, when he wanted a few
hundred rupees to enable him to celebrate the marriage of his little
child.  He signed a bond for twice the amount he received then, and it
continues to increase from year to year, though he has paid the principal
twice over in interest; at least he thinks he has, but he is not a good
accountant.  Every now and then he is required to sign some fresh
document, of the contents of which he knows nothing, but the effect of
which is always the same—_viz._, to heap up his liabilities and rivet his
fetters more firmly, and punctually on pay day every month, the grim old
man waylays him and compels him to disgorge his wages, allowing him so
much grain and spices as will keep him in condition till next pay day.
In a word, Mukkun is a slave.  Yet he does not jump into the garden well,
nor his quietus make with a bare bodkin.  No, he plods through life, eats
his rice and curry with gusto, smokes his cigarette with satisfaction,
oils his lovelocks, borrows money from the cook to buy a set of silver
buttons for his waistcoat, and when he tires of them, pawns them to pay
for a velvet cap on which he has set his heart.  In short, he behaves _à
la Mukkun_, and no insight is to be had by examining his case through
English spectacles; but it is our strange infirmity, being the most
singular people on earth, to regard ourselves as typical of the human
race, and _ergo_ to conclude that what is good for us cannot be otherwise
than good for all the world.  Hence many of our anti-tyranny agitations
and philanthropies, not always beneficial to the subjects of them, and
also many of our misplaced sympathies.  We see a spider eating a fly, and
long to crush the spider, while we shed a tear for the fly.  But the
spider is much the higher animal of the two.  It labours long hours
laying out a net, and then waits all day for the fruit of its toil.
Insects are caught and escape again, the net gets broken, and when, after
many disappointments, the spider secures a fat fly, what advantage does
it derive?  A meal; just what the fly got by sitting in a pit of manure
and sipping till it could sip no more.  Doom that fly to the life which
the spider leads, and it would drown itself in your milk jug on the spot,
unable to bear up under such a weight of care and toil.  In this parable
the fly is Mukkun and the spider is Shylock, and my sympathies are not
wholly given to the former.  I quite admit that Shylock worries him
cruelly, and if he had not given hostages to fortune, he would abscond
with a light heart to some distant station where he might forget his old
debts and contract new ones.  But this is not the alternative before him.
The alternative is to take care of his money, not to buy things which he
cannot afford, to do without the silver buttons, and postpone the velvet
cap, all which would put a strain on his mental and moral constitution,
under which he would wear out in a week.  He must find some other _modus
vivendi_ than that.  If he had lived in the world’s infancy, he would
have sold himself and his family to someone who would have fed him and
clothed him, and relieved him of the cares of life.  But Britons never,
never, never shall be slaves, and under our rule Mukkun is forced to
share that disability; so he attains his end in an indirect way, and
lives thereafter in such happiness as nature has given him capacity to
enjoy.  Shylock will neither put him into gaol nor seize his field.  We
do not send our milch cow to the butcher.  Shylock owns a hundred such as
he, and much trouble they give him.

Mukkun lives in dread of the devil.  Nothing will induce him to pass at
night by places where the foul fiend is known to walk, nor will he sleep
alone without a light.

                     [Picture: In dread of the devil]



THE HAMAL.


[Picture: The Hamal] THE _Hamal_ is a creature which gets up very early
in the morning, before anyone is out of bed, and opens the doors and
windows with as much noise as may be.  He leaves the hooks unfastened,
that a _feu-de-joie_ may celebrate the advent of the first gust of wind.
He drops the lower bolts of the doors, so that they may rake up the
matting every time they are opened.  Then he proceeds to dust the
furniture with the duster which hangs over his shoulder.  He does this
because it is his duty, and with no view to any practical result;
consequently it never occurs to him to look at what he is doing, and you
will afterwards find curiously shaped patches of dust which have escaped
the sweep of his “towal.”  He next turns his attention to the books in
the bookcase, and we are all familiar with his ravages there.  He is
usually content to bang them well with his duster, but I refer to high
days, when he takes each book out and caresses it on both sides,
replacing it upside down, and putting the different volumes of each work
on different shelves.  All this he does, not of malice, but simply
because ’tis his nature to.  He does not disturb the cobwebs on the
corners of the bookcase, because you never told him to do so.  As he
moves grunting about the room, the duster falls from his shoulder, and he
picks it up with his toes to avoid the fatigue of stooping.  When all the
dusting is done, and the table-covers and ornaments are replaced, then he
proceeds to shake the carpets and sweep the floor, for it is one of his
ways, when left to himself, to dust first and sweep after.  Finally he
disposes of the rubbish which his broom has collected, by stowing it away
under a cupboard, or pushing it out over the doorstep among the ferns and
calladiums.

Such is the Hamal in his youth, and as he grows older he gets more so.
About middle life he sets hard, like plaster of Paris, his senses get
obfuscated, and a shell appears to form on the outside of his intellect,
so that access to his understanding becomes very difficult.  Sometimes
his temper also grows crabbed, and _noli me tangere_ writes itself
distinctly across the mark of his god on his old brow.  A _Hamal_ in this
phase is the most impracticable animal in this universe.  When found
fault with, he never answers back, but he enters on a vigorous
conversation with himself, which is like a tune on a musical box, for it
must be allowed to go until it runs itself out; nothing short of smashing
the instrument will stop it.  How well I remember one veteran of this
type, from whose colloquies with his own soul I gathered that he had been
fifty-six years in gentlemen’s service, and never served any but
gentlemen until he came to me.  He computed his age, I think, at
seventy-two, and asked leave to attend the funeral of his grandfather.
Sometimes, happily, the _Hamal’s_ senility takes the direction of
benevolence.  Who does not know the benign, stupid old man, with his
snowy whiskers and kindly smile, which seems to grow kindlier with every
tooth he loses!

                        [Picture: Ooswasty Lukree]

It is a practical question whether you should endure the _Hamal_, or
address yourself to the task of his reformation, and I am content to make
myself singular by advocating the latter for two reasons; firstly,
because he cannot be endured; secondly, because I cherish a fantastic
faith in his reformability,—at least if you take him in his youth, before
he has set.  I believe we fail to cure him either because we do not try,
or because we dismiss him before we succeed.  Another great impediment to
success in this enterprise is the foolish habit of getting wrathful.  An
untimely explosion of wrath will generally blow a sensitive Hamal’s wits
quite out of his own reach, and of course, out of yours; or, if he is of
the stolid sort, he will set it down as a phenomenon incidental to
_sahebs_, but without any bearing on the matter in hand, and he will go
on as before.  Besides, a state of indignation is very detrimental to
your own command of the language, and if you could in cold blood take
your “Forbes” and study some of the sentences which you fulminated in
your ebullitions of anger, you would cease to wonder that the subject of
them was such an idiot.

    Hum roz roz hookum day,
    Tum roz roz hookum nay,
    Ooswasty lukree—(whack, whack)

went home, I have no doubt, but it is the gift of few to be at once so
luminous and so forcible.  Try handling your _Hamal_ in another way.
Call him mildly—a mild tone thaws his understanding—and say to him, “Look
here, my son.  Do you see this gold writing on the backs of these books?
For what purpose is it?”  He will reply, “Who knows?”  Then you can
proceed, “That writing is the mark by which you may know the head of any
book.  Now consider, should a book stand on its head?”  If he replies,
“How should a book stand on its head?” then you are getting access to his
intelligence, and may lead him on gradually to the conclusion that,
whenever he puts a book into the shelves, he should make it stand so that
the writing on the back of it may be uppermost.  I tell you he will beam
with intelligence, and rise earlier next morning to put his new learning
into practice.  After a few days he will forget and relapse into his old
ways, but you must have patience.

After all, I think we could put up with the _Hamal_ if only he would not
try to think.  This is his crowning vice.  In vain I try to impress upon
him that I engaged him to obey orders, and would rather do the thinking
myself.  Every now and then, at some particular phase of the moon, he
sets his intellect in operations and the consequences are, as the Brahmin
boy described the result of his examination, “appalling.”  It was our
_Hamal’s_ duty to fill the filter, and at a time when the water was very
bad, orders were given that it should be boiled before being filtered.
One day, my wife saw the _Hamal_ in the act of filling the filter, and it
occurred to her to warn him to let the water cool first, lest he might
crack the filter.  “Oh yes,” said he, “I thought of that.  After boiling
the water, I cool it down by mixing an equal quantity of cold water with
it, and then I put it into the filter.”

In Bombay, since hard times set in, the offices of _Hamal_ and _mussaul_
have got a little mixed, and a man will show you characters testifying
that he has served in both capacities.  Such a man is, properly speaking,
simply a _mussaul_ who has tried to do the _Hamal’s_ work.  The cleaner
of furniture and the lighter of lamps and washer of plates and dishes
cannot change places or be combined.  I have read that the making of one
English pin employs nine men, but it is a vain boast.  The rudiments of
division of labour are not understood in Europe.  In this country every
trade is a breed.  Rama is by birth a cleaner of furniture.  This kind of
employment came into the country with our rule, so that the domestic
_Hamal_, who is an offshoot of the _palkee hamal_, or “bearer,” has not
had time to become what fanciers would call a permanent strain, and you
will find that you can convert Rama into a _chupprasse_, a _malee_, or
even a _ghorawalla_, but into a _mussaul_ never.  He is a _shoodra_,
sprung from the feet of Brahma, and the Brahman, who sprung from the head
of the same figure, despises him, but not with that depth of contempt
with which he himself despises the _mussaul_, who is an outcast, and
sprang from nowhere in particular.  He cannot conceive that thirty
generations of washing could purify the descendants of Mukkun so that he
might touch them and not be unclean.  You, his master, rank theoretically
with Mukkun, and he will neither touch your meats nor the plate off which
you have eaten them.  He will keep your house clean, and even perform
some personal services, for he has a liberal mind, and is there not also
a _toolsee_ plant in a pot on a kind of earthen altar in front of his
hut, before which he performs purificatory ceremonies every morning?  And
does he not bathe after leaving your presence before he eats?  If you
pass by the clean place where he is about to cook his food in the
morning, you will see a large pot of water on the fire.  When this gets
warm—for Rama is not a Spartan—he will stand on a smooth stone, as
sparingly clad as it is possible to be, and pour the water on his head,
polishing himself vigorously as it runs down his limbs; then, after
dressing his long hair and tying it in a knot on the top of his head, he
will sit down to eat, in a place by himself, with the feeling that he has
warded off defilement from that which goeth in at his mouth.  That which
goeth out of his mouth gives him no concern.

                         [Picture: Purification]



THE BODY-GUARDS.


[Picture: The body-guard] OUR _Chupprassees_ are the outward expression
of our authority, and the metre-gauge of our importance.  By them the
untutored mind of the poor Indian is enabled to estimate the amount of
reverence due to each of us.  This is the first purpose for which we are
provided with Chupprassees.  The second is that they may deliver our
commands, post our letters, and escort the coming generation of
Government servants in their little perambulators.  As the number
required for the first purpose usually far exceeds the number required
for the second, there is danger of Satan finding mischief for their idle
hands to do, and it becomes our duty to ward off this danger by occupying
their hands with something which is not mischief.  This we do faithfully,
and the _Chupprassee_ always reminds me of those tools we see advertised,
which combine hammer, pincers, turnscrew, chisel, foot-rule, hatchet,
file, toothpick, and life preserver.  Mrs. Smart bewailed the bygone day
when every servant in her house was a Government _Chupprassee_ except the
_khansamah_ and a Portuguese _ayah_.  I did not live in that day, but in
my own I have seen the _Chupprassee_ discharge many functions.  He is an
expert _shikaree_, sometimes a good tailor or barber, not a bad cook at a
pinch, a handy table boy, and, above all an unequalled child’s servant.
There can be little doubt, it the truth were told, that Little Henry’s
bearer was a _Chupprassee_.  He also milks the cow, waters the garden,
catches butterflies, skins birds, blows eggs, and runs after tennis
balls.  If you ask himself what his duties are, he will reply promptly
that it is his duty to wear the sircar’s belt and to “be present.”  And
the camel is not more wonderfully fitted for the desert than is Luxumon
for the discharge of these solemn responsibilities.  He is like a
carriage clock, able to sleep in any conceivable position; and such is
his mental constitution that, when not sleeping, he is able to “be
present” hour after hour without feeling any desire for change of
occupation.  _Ennui_ never troubles him, time never hangs heavy on his
hands; he sits as patiently as a cow and chews the cud of _pan suparee_,
and he bespatters the walls with a sanguinary pigment produced by the
mastication of the same.  He needs no food, but he goes out to drink
water thirty-five times a day, and, when he returns refreshed, a certain
acrid odour penetrates every crevice of the house, almost dislodging the
rats and exterminating the lesser vermin.  To liken it to the smell of
tobacco would give civilized mankind a claim against me for defamation of
character.

                 [Picture: An unequalled child’s servant]

I will sketch my ideal of a model _Chupprassee_.  He is a follower of the
Prophet, for your Gentoo has too many superstitions and scruples to be
generally useful.  He parts his short black beard in the middle and
brushes it up his cheek on either side, the ends of his moustache are
trimly curled, he wears his turban a little on one side, carries himself
like a soldier, and is always scrupulously clean.  He comes into your
presence with a salutation which expresses his own dignity, while it
respects yours.  He wishes to know whether the protector of the poor has
any commands for his slave.  When you intimate your wishes he responds
with a formula which is the same for all occasions—“Your Lordship’s
commands shall be executed.”  And they are executed.  If he knows of
difficulties or impossibilities, he keeps them to himself.  Alas! this is
an ideal, how antipodal sometimes to the real!  I am thinking of the
gigantic Sheikh Mahomed, with his terrible beard and womanly voice, who
would convey my commands to a menial of lower degree and return in five
minutes to detail the objections which that person had raised.  Another
type of Mahomedan _Chupprassee_, whom we see is to abhor, expresses his
opinion of himself by letting half a yard of rag hang down from his
turban behind.  He calls himself a _Syed_ and, perhaps, on account of the
sanctity implied in this, forbears to wash himself or his clothes.  This
man is clever, officious, familiar, servile, and very fond of the
position of umbrella-bearer in ordinary to your person: therefore,
transfer him to the personal staff of some native dignitary, where he
will be appreciated.  If my model does not suit you, there are many types
to choose from.  We have the lofty and sonorous _Purdaisee_, the
_Rajpoot_, son of kings, the _Bhundaree_, or hereditary climber of palm
trees, the Israelite, the low caste, useful, intelligent _Mahar_, and
many more.  Even the Brahmin in this iron age becomes a _Chupprassee_.
But three-fourths of all our belted satellites come from one little
district south of Bombay, known to our fathers as Rutnagherry,
re-christened Ratnagiri by the Hon. W. W. Hunter, C.I.E., A.B.C., D.E.F.,
etc.  Every country has its own special products; the Malabar Coast sends
us cocoanuts and pepper; artichokes come from Jerusalem; ducks, lace,
cooks, and fiddlers from Goa.  So Rutnagherry produces pineapples and
Mahrattas, and the Mahrattas do not eat the pineapples.  Till quite
recently they employed themselves exterminating each other, burning each
other’s villages and crops, and inventing new ways of torturing old men
to make them confess where their money was buried.  We have stopped these
practices without stopping the religious arrangements for keeping up the
supply of the race; so the Mahratta marries, as in duty bound, and
multiplies, and then casts about for some way of maintaining his growing
family; and our _Chupprassee_ system, looked at politically, is a grand
escape pipe.  Pandurang Huree gives the Mahrattas the palm, as liars,
over all the other races of India.  He may be right, but where excellence
is so universal, comparison becomes doubly odious.  Some Mahrattas put
_rao_ after their names and treat themselves with much respect,
especially if they can grow a little island of whisker on each cheek and
run the moustache into it.  These men differ from common Mahrattas in the
same way as Mr. Wilberforce Jones, or Mr. Palmerston Smith, differs from
the ordinary run of Joneses and Smiths.

How uniformly does ambition rule us all!  The young _rao_, fired by the
hope of wearing a belt, makes a bold resolve to leave his father and
mother, his wife and children, his brothers, their wives and children,
his uncles, aunts, and cousins, and the little hut in which they have all
lived so happily since he was a little, naked, crawling thing, dressed in
a silver rupee.  He looks for the last time on the buffalo and the lame
pariah dog, ties up his cooking pots and a change of raiment in a red
handkerchief, and starts on foot, amid the howling of females, for the
great town, a hundred miles away, where the brother-in-law of his
cousin’s wife’s uncle is on the personal staff of the Collector.  He
fears that the water of the place may not suit his constitution, but he
risks that and other unknown perils.  Arriving at his destination, he
works his interest by quartering himself on his influential connection,
who, finding that an extra seer of rice has to be boiled for every meal,
leaves no stone unturned to find employment for him.  First a written
petition is drawn up by the local petition writer, in the following terms
“Most Honoured and Respected Sir,—Although I am conscious that my present
step will apparently be deemed an unjustifiable and unpardonable one,
tantamounting to a preposterous hardihood in presuming to trespass
(amidst your multifarious vocations) on your valuable time, yet placing
implicit reliance on your noble nature and magnanimity of heart, I
venture to do so, and ardently trust you will pardon me.  Learning that a
vacancy of a sepoy has occurred under your kind auspices, I beg most
respectfully to tender my services for the same, and crave your
permission to invite your benign attention to the episodes of my
chequered life, though of a doleful and sombre nature, and
_concatenation_ of melancholy events that have made their visitations.
My eldest brother died one year since, leaving an heritage of a relict
and two female issues to bemoan and lament his premature and irreparable
loss.  And two months since my revered parent paid debt of nature, at 2
p.m. on 15th February, A.D. 18–, thus leaving the entire burden of 13
(thirteen) souls on my individual shoulders, which, in my present and
forlorn circumferences, I am unable to cope with.  I, therefore, throw
myself on your benevolent clemency and humane consideration, and implore
you to confer the vacancy in question which will enable me to meet the
daily unavoidable returning requisites of domestic life in all their
varied ramifications, and relieve a famishing family from the jaws of
penury and privation.  By thus delivering me from an impending
impossibility most prejudicial to my purse resources, you will confer on
your humble servant a boon which will be always vivid on the tablet of my
breast, never to be effaced until the period that I am sojurning on the
stage of this sublunary world’s theatre.”  The petition goes on to
explain that all the unhappy petitioner’s efforts to earn an honest
livelihood by the perspiration of his brow have been frustrated owing to
the sins committed by his soul in a former birth, and ends with religious
reflections and prayers.  While this is presented to the Collector, the
candidate stands under a tree at some distance and rehearses, with
palpitating heart, the _salaam_ he will make if admitted to the august
presence.  Life and death seem to hang on the impression which may be
produced by that _salaam_.  But the cousin’s wife’s uncle’s
brother-in-law sets other machinery in motion.  He humbles himself and
makes up an old quarrel with the Naik; he flatters the butler till that
great man is pleased and promises his influence; and he wins the
Sheristedar’s vote by telling him earnestly that all the district knows
he is virtually the Collector and whatever he recommends is done.  Nor is
the _ayah_ forgotten, for the _ayah_ has access to the _madam_, and by
that route certain shameful matters affecting a rival candidate will
reach the _saheb_.  Now, supposing that the sins of a former birth fail
to checkmate all these machinations, and that the new arrival actually
finds himself swimming in the unfathomed bliss of a belt with a brass
plate, and a princely income of seven Queen’s rupees every month, who
could foretell that almost before a year has passed he will again be
floundering in the mire of disappointed ambition?  Yet so it is.  He
hears of another _Chupprassee_ with only eleven months’ service against
his twelve, who has been promoted to eight rupees, and immediately the
canker of discontent eats into his heart.  Later on he finds that the cup
of his happiness will never be quite full until he gets ten rupees a
month, and when he has reached that giddy height, he will see dawning on
his horizon the strange and beautiful hope that he may be a Naik.  It is
a desperate ambition—

    “He who ascends to mountain tops shall find
    The highest peaks most wrapped in clouds and snow;
    He who surpasses or subdues mankind
    Must look down on the hate of those below.”

Subordinate _Chupprassees_ will slight his authority, his fellow Naiks
will disparage him, disappointed rivals will send in anonymous petitions
accusing him of all manner of villanies of which he is not guilty, and,
worse still, revealing the little briberies and oppressions of which he
is not innocent.  But who of us learns wisdom in these matters?  The Naik
soon comes to feel that if justice were done to merit, he would be a
Havildar.  After he has attained that proud distinction, he retires to
“husband out life’s taper at its close” in the same old hut, amidst the
same conglomerate of relations, but nephews and nieces, and grandchildren
have taken the place of uncles and aunts and parents.  The buffalo and
the pariah dog are apparently the same.  Then the whole range of official
machinery is put in motion to reward his long and faithful services, and
the Governor in Council grants him the maximum pension of four rupees a
month, subject to the approval of the Viceroy, and he spends his few
remaining days in gratitude to the Sircar.  But one thing rankles in his
mind.  Babajee, not nearly so good-looking a fellow as himself, rose to
be a Jemadar.

[Picture: Jemadar] Ambition has, however, another more golden career for
an enterprising and ingenious _Chupprassee_; for is he not the portal
through which the humble petitioner may have access to the Collector,
whose smile is prosperity and his frown destruction?  And must not the
hinges of the portal be oiled that they may open smoothly?  Therefore,
the inimitable Sir Ali Baba made a point of dismissing a _Chupprassee_
whenever he began to grow fat, and he was wise, but in applying the rule
you must have regard to the man’s rank.  The belt of an ordinary peon may
range from twenty to thirty inches according to length of service,
promotion to a Naik’s position will add about three inches, a Havildar
will run to thirty-six or thirty-seven, and a Jemadar must have something
crabbed in his disposition if he does not attain to forty-two inches.
These are normal measurements,—they consistent with strict integrity as
understood in the East.  By the blessing of good temper and an easy life
they may be slightly exceeded, but the itching palm brings on a kind of
dropsy easily recognisable to the practised eye.  I have seen an unjust
Jemadar who might have walked with Sir John Falstaff.

    Falstaff: My honest lads, I will tell you what I am about.

    Pistol: Two yards, and more.



THAT DHOBIE!


[Picture: The Dhobie] I AM an amateur philosopher and amuse myself
detecting essence beneath semblance and tracing the same principle
running through things the outward aspect of which is widely different.
I have studied the _Dhobie_ in this spirit and find him to be nothing
else than an example of the abnormal development, under favourable
conditions, of a disposition which is not only common to humanity, but
pervades the whole animal kingdom.  A puppy rending slippers, a child
tearing up its picture books, a mungoose killing twenty chickens to feed
on one, a freethinker demolishing ancient superstitions, what are they
all but _Dhobies_ in embryo?  Destruction is so much easier than
construction, and so much more rapid and abundant in its visible results,
that the devastator feels a jubilant joy in his work, of which the tardy
builder knows nothing.  As the lightning scorns the oak, as the fire
triumphs over the venerable pile, as the swollen river scoffs at the P.
W. D., while arch after arch tumbles into its gurgling whirlpools, so the
_Dhobie_, dashing your cambric and fine linen against the stones,
shattering a button, fraying a hem, or rending a seam at every stroke,
feels a triumphant contempt for the miserable creature whose plodding
needle and thread put the garment together.  This feeling is the germ
from which the _Dhobie_ has grown.  Day after day he has stood before
that great black stone and wreaked his rage upon shirt and trowser and
coat, and coat and trowser and shirt.  Then he has wrung them as if he
were wringing the necks of poultry, and fixed them on his drying line
with thorns and spikes, and finally he has taken the battered garments to
his torture chamber and ploughed them with his iron, longwise and
crosswise and slantwise, and dropped glowing cinders on their tenderest
places.  Son has followed father through countless generations in
cultivating this passion for destruction, until it has become the
monstrous growth which we see and shudder at in the _Dhobie_.

But I find in him, at least, an illustration of another human infirmity.
He takes in hand to eradicate the dirt which defiles the garment.  But
the one is closely mingled with the very fibres of the other, the one is
impalpable, the other bulky and substantial, and so the torrent of his
zealous rage unconsciously turns against the very substance of that which
he set himself lovingly to purge and restore to its primitive purity.
Indeed, I sometimes find that, while he has successfully wrecked the
garment, he has overlooked the dirt!  Greater and better men than the
_Dhobie_ are employed in the same way.

Such are the consolations of philosophy,

    “But there was never yet philosopher
    Who could endure the toothache patiently,”

much less the _Dhobie_.  He is not tolerable.  Submit to him we must,
since resistance is futile; but his craven spirit makes submission
difficult and resignation impossible.  If he had the soul of a conqueror,
if he wasted you like Attilla, if he flung his iron into the
clothes-basket and cried _Væ victis_, then a feeling of respect would
soften the bitterness of the conquered; but he conceals his ravages like
the white ant, and you are betrayed in the hour of need.  When he comes
in, limping and groaning under his stupendous bundle, and lays out
_khamees_, _pyatloon_, and _pjama_, all so fair and decently folded, and
delivers them by tale in a voice whose monotonous cadence seems to tell
of some undercurrent of perennial sorrow in his life, who could guess
what horrors his perfidious heart is privy to?  Next morning, when you
spring from your tub and shake out the great jail towel which is to wrap
your shivering person in its warm folds, lo! it yawns from end to end.
There is nothing but a border, a fringe, left.  You fling on your clothes
in unusual haste, for it is mail day morning.  The most indispensible of
them all has scarcely a remnant of a button remaining.  You snatch up
another which seems in better condition, and scramble into it; but, in
the course of the day, a cold current of wind, penetrating where it ought
not, makes you aware of what your friends behind your back have noticed
for some time, _viz._, that the starch with which a gaping rent had been
carefully gummed together, that you might not see it, has melted and
given way.  The thought of these things makes a man feel like Vesuvius on
the eve of an eruption; but you must wait for relief till _Dhobie_ day
next week, and then the poltroon has stayed at home, and sent his brother
to report that he is suffering from a severe stomachache.  When the
miscreant makes his next appearance in person, he stands on one leg, with
joined palms and a piteous bleat, and pleads an _alibi_.  He was absent
about the marriage of a relation, and his brother washed the clothes.  So
your lava falls back into its crater, or, I am afraid, more often
overflows the surrounding country.

My theory of the _Dhobie_ is a mere speculation, a hypothesis deduced
from broad, general principles.  I do not pretend to have established it
by scientific observation, and am very tolerant towards other theories,
especially one which is supported by many competent authorities, and
explains the _Dhobie_ by supposing a league between him, the _dirzee_ and
the Boy.  I think a close investigation into the natural history of the
shirt would go far to establish this theory as at least partially true.
In spite of the spread of “Europe” shops, the shirt is still abundantly
produced from the vernacular _dirzee_ sitting crossed-legged in the
verandah, and each shirt will be found to furnish him, on the average,
with about a week’s lucrative employment.  From his hands it passes to
the _Dhobie_ and returns with the buttons wanting, the buttonholes
widened to great gaping fish-mouths, and the hems of the cuffs slightly
frayed.  The last is the most significant fact, because it leads to the
discovery of one of those delicate adaptations which the student of
nature has so often occasion to admire; for, on examination, we discover
that the hem had been made with the least possible margin of cloth, as if
to facilitate the process of fraying.  As we know that economy of
material is not an object with the _dirzee_, it has been maintained that
there is some connection here.  Next the shirt passes into the hands of
the Boy, who takes his scissors and carefully pares the ragged edges of
the cuffs and collar.  A few rotations of _Dhobie_ and Boy reduce the
cuffs to the breadth of an inch, while the collar becomes a circular saw
which threatens to take your head off.  Then you fling the shirt to your
Boy, and the _dirzee_ is in requisition again.  Observation of white
trousers will lead to similar results.  Between _Dhobie’s_ fury and Boy’s
repairs, the ends of the legs retreat steadily upwards to your knees, and
by the time the Boy inherits them they are just his length.  Remember, I
do not say I believe in this explanation of the _Dhobie_.  I give it for
what it is worth.  The subject is interesting and practical.

                        [Picture: Homeward bound]

Did you ever open your handkerchief with the suspicion that you had got a
duster into your pocket by mistake, till the name of De Souza blazoned on
the corner showed you that you were wearing someone else’s property?  An
accident of this kind reveals a beneficent branch of the _Dhobie’s_
business, one in which he comes to the relief of needy respectability.
Suppose yourself (if you can) to be Mr. Lobo, enjoying the position of
first violinist in a string band which performs at Parsee weddings and on
other festive occasions.  _Noblesse oblige_; you cannot evade the
necessity for clean shirt-fronts, ill able as your precarious income may
be to meet it.  In these circumstances a _Dhobie_ with good connections
is what you require.  He finds you in shirts of the best quality at so
much an evening, and you are saved all risk and outlay of capital; you
need keep no clothes except a greenish black surtout and pants and an
effective necktie.  In this way the wealth of the rich helps the want of
the poor without their feeling it, or knowing it—an excellent
arrangement.  Sometimes, unfortunately, Mr. Lobo has a few clothes of his
own, and then, as I have hinted, the _Dhobie_ may exchange them by
mistake, for he is uneducated and has much to remember; but, if you
occasionally suffer in this way, you gain in another, for Mr. Lobo’s
family are skilful with the needle, and I have sent a torn garment to the
washing which returned skilfully repaired.

                            [Picture: Dhobies]

I suspect I am getting bitter and ironical, and it will be wise to stop,
for we are fickle creatures, the best of us, and it is quite possible
that, in the mild twilight of life, in the old country, I shall find
myself speaking benevolently of the _Dhobie_, and secretly wishing I
could hear his plaintive monotone again counting out my linen at four
rupees a hundred.



THE AYAH.


                           [Picture: The Ayah]

I WAS roaming among the flower-beds and bowers of a “Peri’s Paradise,”
known in Bombay as The Ladies Gymkhana, when I was startled by a voice
like the sound of a passionate cart-wheel screaming for grease.  “Lub ob
my heart,” it cried, “my eshweet, don’t crei! don’t crei!”  The owner of
the voice was a woman with a negro type of countenance, as far as I
remember, but her figure has remained with me better than her face.  It
was a portly figure, like that of a domestic duck in high condition, and
her gait was, as Mr. Onoocool Chunder Mookerjee would say, “well
quadrate” to the figure.  Engulphed in her voluminous embrace was a
little cherub, with golden curls and blue eyes dewy with passing tears—a
pretty study of sunshine and shower.  The great, bare arms of the
pachyderm were loaded with bangles of silver and glass, which jingled
with a warlike sound as she hugged her little charge and plastered its
pretty cheeks with great gurgling kisses, which made one shudder and
think involuntarily of the “slime which the aspic leaves upon the caves
of Nile.”  Many of us have been Anglo-Indian babies.  Was there a time
when we suffered caresses such as these?  What a happy thing it is that
Lethe flows over us as we emerge from infancy, and blots out all that was
before.  Another question has been stirring in my mind since that scene.
What feeling or motive prompted those luscious blandishments?  Was it
simple hypocrisy?  I do not think so.  The pure hypocrite is much rarer
than shallow people think, and, in any case, there was no inducement to
make a display in my presence.  What influence could I possibly exercise
over the fortunes of that great female?  A maternal hippopotamus in the
Zoo would as soon think of hugging a young giraffe to propitiate the
spectators.  Of course you may take up the position that the hypocrisy is
practised all day before her mistress, and that the mere momentum of
habit carries it on at other times.  This is plausible, but I suspect
that such a case would rather come under the fundamental law that action
and reaction are equal and opposite.  Let us be charitable and look for
better reasons.  The mere milk of human kindness explains something, but
not enough, and I am inclined to think that the _Ayah_ is the subject of
an indiscriminate maternal emotion, which runs where it can find a
channel.  The effect of culture is to specialise our affections and
remove us further and further from the condition of the hen whose
philoprogenitiveness embraces all chicks and ducklings; so it may well be
that the poor _Ayah_, who has not had much culture, is better able than
you or I to feel promiscuously parental towards babies in general, at
least, if she can connect them in any way with herself.  Towards babies
in the care of another _Ayah_ she has no charity; they are the brood of a
rival hen and she would like to exterminate them.  Again, we must love
and hate, if we live at all.  The _Ayah’s_ horizon is not wide, her
sentiments are neither numerous nor complex, and her affections are not
trained to lay hold of the abstract or the historical.  If you question
her, you will find that her heart does not bleed for the poor negro, and
she is not in the habit of regarding the Emperor Caligula with
abhorrence.  She has one or two brothers or sisters, but they are far
away and have become almost as historical as Caligula.  In these
circumstances, if she could not feel motherly towards babies, what
feeling would be left to her?  And, perhaps, if we knew her story, baby
has a charm to open up an old channel, long since dry and choked with the
sands of a desert life, in which a gentle stream of tenderness once
flowed, with “flowerets of Eden” on its banks, and fertilised her poor
nature.  But we do not know her story.  She says her husband is a cook.
More about him she does not say, but she hugs “Sunny Baba” to her breast
and kisses him and says that nothing shall ever part her from him till he
grows to be a great _saheb_, with plenty of pay, when he will pension her
and take care of her in her old age.  And her eyes get moist, for she
means it more or less; but next day she catches a cold and refuses food,
saying that all her bones ache and her head is revolving; then the horror
of dying among strangers, “unhouseled, disappointed, unaneled,” proves
too much for the faithful creature, and she disappears without notice,
leaving her darling and its mother to look out for another _Ayah_.

It is a fortunate thing for us that the Ayah is able to conceive such a
devouring passion for our children, for it appears, from her own
statements, that but for this strong tie, nothing would induce her to
stay a day in our service where the constant broils with the other
servants, into which she is driven by her determination to be faithful to
her own mistress, make life almost unbearable to a peaceable woman like
her.  The chief object of her righteous indignation is the “Bootrail.”
She is so reluctant to make any personal complaint, that she would pass
over his grudging her a little sugar in her morning tea, but when he
takes away a whole cupful for his own children, conscience compels her to
tell her mistress.  She has often pointed out to him that such conduct is
not right, and tried to reason with him, but he only insults her.  The
cook, being a notorious inebriate, plays into the “Bootrail’s” hand, on
condition that the latter will not tell upon him.  Why did master send
away the dinner last night without touching it?  Because the cook was on
the floor and the _matie_ had to do the work.  Chh!  Chh!  Chh!  It is
very shameful and makes her feel so bad.  She herself is a teetotaler, as
her mistress knows.  That night when she was found with a pillow in her
arms instead of the baby, singing to it and patting it to sleep, she had
been smoking an English cheroot which a friend had given her, and, as she
is accustomed only to country tobacco, it went to her head and stupefied
her.  Nothing would induce her to drink spirits, but the other servants
are not like her.  The _mussaul_ is not a bad man, but the “Bootrail’s”
example infects him too.  He barters the kerosine oil at the petty shop
round the corner for arrack.  As for the _hamal_, she is tired of
fighting with him.  From this account of herself you will be able to
infer that the _Ayah_ is not a favourite with the other servants; but she
is powerful, and so with oriental prudence they veil their feelings.  The
butler indeed, tries to be proud and risks ruin, but the _mussaul_
truckles to her, and the cook, who can spoil her dinner, and has some
control over her, trims between her and the butler.  The _hamal_ is
impracticable, and the _chupprassees_ adhere to the party in power for
the time being.

The _Ayah_ is the “society” newspaper of small stations, and is
indispensable.  The barber is the general newsagent, and, as we part with
our beards in the morning, we learn from him all particulars of the
dinner at the general’s last night, and of the engagement that resulted
between the pretty Missy Baba and the captain who has been so much about
the house; also when the marriage is to take place, if the captain can
get out of his debts, the exact amount of which Old Tom knows.  He can
tell us, too, the reason why she “jawaubed” him so often, being put up to
it by her mother in the interests of a rival suitor, and he has authentic
information as to the real grounds of the mother’s change of tactics.
But Old Tom is himself dependent on _Ayahs_, and there are matters beyond
his range, matters which even in an Indian station cannot reach us by any
male channel.  They trickle from _madam_ to _Ayah_, from _Ayah_ to
_Ayah_, and from _Ayah_ to _madam_.  Thus they ooze from house to house,
and we are all saved from judging our neighbours by outward appearances.

That scene in the Ladies’ Gymkhana comes back and haunts me.  What if the
impress of those swarthy lips on that fair cheek are but an outward
symbol of impressions on a mind still as fair and pure, impressions which
soap and water will not purge away!  Yes, it is so.  The _Ayah_ hangs
like a black cloud over and around the infant mind, and its earliest
outlooks on the world are tinted by that medium.  It lies with wondering
blue eyes watching the coloured toys which she dangles before it, and
takes in the elements of form and colour.  She pats it to sleep, and, on
the borders of dream-land, those “sphere-born, harmonious sisters, voice
and verse,” visit it in the form of a plaintive ditty, which has for its
simple burden,

    Little, little fish
    In bitter, bitter oil.
    I will not part with one of them for three pice and a half.

As its mind expands, new mysteries of the universe unfold themselves
through the same interpreter.  It learns to see through the hollowness of
promises and threats before it knows the words in which they are framed.
With the knowledge of words comes the knowledge of their use as means of
concealing the truth and gaining its little ends.  Then the painful
experience of discipline and punishment reveals the same motherly figure
in the new light of a protector and comforter, and it learns to contrast
her with the stern persons whom she has taught it to call pa-pa and
ma-ma.  When they refuse anything on which it has set its childish heart,
it knows to whom to go for sympathy.  She will console it and teach
little artifices, by which it may evade or circumvent them.  She supplies
discipline of another kind, however, and the yet simple trusting mind of
the little Pantheist lives in terror of papa’s red-faced friend with the
big stomach, who eats up ten or twelve little children every day, and of
the Borah with the great box full of black ants, in which he shuts up
naughty boys till the ants pick the flesh from their disobedient bones.
When it goes to the bandstand, it gazes from a safe distance on the big
drum, full of boys and girls who would not let their hair be combed: it
hears their groans at every stroke of the terrible drumstick.  Thus the
religious side of the tender nature is developed, and _Ayah_ is the
priestess.  Under the same guidance it will, as it grows older, tread
paths of knowledge which its parents never trod.  Whither will they lead
it?  We know not who never joined in the familiar chat of _Ayahs_ and
servants, but imagination “bodies forth the forms of things unseen” and
shudders.  Let us rejoice that a merciful superstition, which regards the
climate of India as deadly to European children, will step in and save
the little soul.  The climate would do it no harm, but there is a moral
miasma more baneful than any which rises from the pestilential swamps of
the Terai, or the Bombay Flats.

[Picture: The Ayah] P. S.—I have just taken another look at our present
_Ayah_.  She is a little old woman from Goa, with humorous “crow’s feet”
at the corners of her kind eyes.  She is very retiring and modest, and
all the servants seem fond of her.  It is evident that nature is various,
and we cannot all be types.



R. R.  THE PUNDIT.


                          [Picture: The Pundit]

THE Pundit is like duty; his cough rouses us from our beds in the morning
like the voice of conscience.  Why must we pass examinations?  Not that
we may know the language of the people, for it is matter of daily
observation, that of all the mysteries which perplex the humble mind of
the country bumpkin in this land, causing him to scratch his—well, not
his head—there is none which he gives up as hopeless sooner than the
strange sounds addressed to him by the young _saheb_ who has just passed
his higher standard.  He joins his palms in loyal acquiescence, and
asserts that the gentleman is his father and mother.  It was Swift, was
it not, who suggested that all high offices of state should be filled by
lot, because the result would be on the whole quite as satisfactory as
that obtained by the present system, while disappointed candidates would
curse Fortune, who has a broader back than the Prime Minister.  No doubt
examinations were introduced on the same sort of principle, to act as a
buffer between the train of candidates and the engine of Government.
That the examination often comes after instead of before the appointment
is a necessary modification, without which no room would be left for the
play of those kindly feelings for kith and kin which we bitterly nickname
nepotism.  Under this arrangement I have known a needy _nepos_ of H. E.
himself provided with a salary for a whole year, till he could hold the
examination at bay no longer, when he evacuated his position and
retreated to his friends.  Whatever the explanation of the matter may be,
it falls to the lot of most of us to experience the Pundit.  I may remark
here that he is very commonly called a Moonshee, on the same principle on
which a horse is not called a cow.  The Pundit is not a Moonshee.  The
Moonshee is a follower of the Prophet and teaches Oordoo, or
Hindoostanee, while the Pundit is a Brahmin and instructs you in Marathee
or Gujarathee.  The Moonshee struggles to get you to disgorge the sound
_ghain_ and leads you through the enchanted mazes of the Bagh-o-Bahar;
the Pundit distinguishes between the _kurmunnee_ and the _kurturree
prayog_, and has many knotty points of mythology to expound, in order
that you may rightly understand his idioms and appreciate his proverbial
sayings.  Of Pundits there are three species, quite distinct from each
other.  The first I would recommend if your object should, by any chance,
be to learn to speak the language intelligibly; but he knows no English,
and you must gird yourself to work if you employ him.  This sort of
teacher does not suit the tastes of the present generation and is dying
out, I think.  The second kind is invaluable if your purpose is to pass
an examination.  He knows English well, dresses smartly, and is
altogether a superior sort of person to the last, especially in his own
estimation; but appearances are delusive, and the sign that really
distinguishes him from other Pundits is that he enjoys in a high degree
the esteem and confidence of a native member of the examining body.
Another unfailing characteristic of him is that he requires a monstrous
monthly stipend and the promise of a handsome _douceur_ if you pass; but
then you have the satisfaction of knowing that, if you fulfil the
conditions, that happy result is certain.  His system leaves no room for
failure.  Some people regard this man as a myth, but I have had authentic
accounts of him from numerous young gentlemen who had failed in their
examinations simply, as they themselves assured me, because they did not
employ him.  The third class consists of young men, aspirants to
University honours and others, with some knowledge of English and a
laudable desire to improve it by conversation with Englishmen.  I do not
know for what purpose this sort of Pundit is useful.

Old Ragunath Rao belonged to the first of these three classes.  He knew
no English, and he desired to know none, neither English words nor
English thoughts.  He was an undiluted Brahmin.  He had taught a former
generation of Anglo-Indians, long since retired, or in their graves, and
one or two of these, who were very religious men, had impressed him by
their characters so deeply that he always spoke of them with reverence,
as not men but divinities.  The tide had ebbed away from him, and no one
employed him now: he was very poor.  His face was heavy, his ears like
beef-steaks, with a fringe of long bristles round the edge and a bushy
tuft of the same sprouting from the inside.  His features were not
pleasing, but strongly expressive of character, stubborn Hindoo
character, self-disciplined, self-satisfied, and in a set attitude of
defence against the invasions of novelty.  His athletic intellect was
exercised in all manner of curious questions.  The only matter about
which it never concerned itself was reality, the existence of which he
probably doubted.  At any rate, he considered truth, right, wrong, to be
subjects for speculative philosophy.  As a practical man, he had minutely
acquainted himself with all the things that behoved to be believed by an
orthodox Brahmin, and he was not the man to give way to mere facts.  This
frame of mind begot in him a large tolerance, for what possible
connection could there be between what it became him to believe and what
it became you to believe?  If his son had turned a Christian, he could
have swung him from a tree by his thumbs and toes and flagellated him
from below with acute pleasure; but if you expounded Christian doctrines
and morals to him, he would listen with profound admiration.  A Christian
who lived up to his creed he respected unfeignedly.  Strange old man!
like one of his own idols, not modelled upon anything that is in heaven
or on earth.  Are they not, he and the idol, the fruit of the same tree?

What memories rise out of their graves at the mention of old Ragunath!
Just about a quarter of an hour after his time he comes slowly up the
steps, panting for breath, and leaving his shoes at the door, walks in
with a _quasi_ courtly salutation.  As soon as he can recover his voice,
he tells of a hair-breadth escape from sudden death.  As he was crossing
the road, a carriage and pair bore down on him.  He stood petrified with
terror, not knowing whether to hurry forward or turn back, but just as
the horses were upon him, he made a frantic effort and gained the
side-walk!  He infers that his time to die had not arrived, and takes the
occasion to impart some information about the planets and their influence
on human destinies.  Then we seat ourselves, and he takes my exercise
(translation from Grant Duff), and reads it slowly in a muffled voice,
which is forced to make its exit by the nose, the mouth being occupied
with cardamoms or betel nut.  As he reads he corrects with a pencil, but
gives no explanation of his corrections; for you must not expect him to
teach: he is a mine simply, in which you must dig for what you want.  One
thing you may depend on, that whatever you extract from that mine will be
worth having, indigenous treasure, current wherever Hindoo thought is
moving, very different from the foreign-flavoured pabulum with which your
English smattering instructor charges his feeding bottle.  The exercise
gives Ragunath an opportunity of digressing into some traditional
incident of Maratha history which escaped the researches of Mr. Grant
Duff, an incident generally in which Maratha cunning (_sagacity_ he calls
it) triumphed over English stupidity.  After the exercise comes the
inevitable petition.  I do not remember the subject of it—some grievance
no doubt connected with hereditary rights in land—but it matters little;
the whole document might as well be a Moabite stone recording the wars of
Mesha with Jehoram, for not a letter of it stands out recognisable to my
eyes.  Indeed, no letter, or word either, stands out at all; the scribe
seems never to have lifted his pen from his paper except for ink, and
that generally in the middle of a word.  However, Ragunath takes the
greasy paper from my hand, remarks that the handwriting is good, and
starts off reading it, or, I should say, intoning it, on exactly the same
principle, _viz._, never pausing except for breath, and that generally in
the middle of a word.  Then we read together the “Garland of Pearls,”
which he illuminates with notes of his own.  Speaking of old age, he
remarks that the hair of some men ripens sooner than that of others, but
that our heads must all grow grey as our brains get thin.  He discourses
on anatomy, food, digestion, the advisability of lying down on the left
side for twenty minutes after meals, and on many things in heaven and
earth which are not dreamed of in our philosophy.  As the morning wears
on, the old man, who is not accustomed to sitting on chairs, begins to
fidget, and shows signs of a desire to gather up his feet into the seat
and nurse them.  At last drowsiness overtakes him.  His eyes are open,
but his mind is asleep, and I may do as I please with grammar and idiom:
even when I yawn, he omits to snap his fingers and lets the devil skip
down my throat.  When he awakes he suggests that it is time to stop, and
asks leave for the next day, as he has to renew his sacred thread.  Poor
old Ragunath!  I fear he has gone long since to the burning ground on the
banks of the Moota Moola.

[Picture: Learned repose] Before we part let me give you a hint.  Always
keep a separate chair for your Pundit, one isolated on glass legs, if
possible.  Even this does not afford complete security, for he now and
then detects one of the many insects which you have watched coursing up
and down his white scarf, and picking it off with his finger and thumb,
puts it on the floor.  His creed forbids him to take the life of anything
which may possibly be the corporeal habitation of the spirit of one of
his deceased ancestors, but these little insects irritate him, so he
deports them as we do our loafers.



HURREE, THE DIRZEE.


[Picture: Hurree] A WARM altercation is going on in the verandah.  A
little human animal, with a very large red turban on his little head,
stuck full of pins and threaded needles, stands on all fours over a
garment of an unmentionable kind, which I recognise as belonging to me,
and a piece of cloth lies before him, out of which he has cut a figure
resembling the said garment.  The scissors with which the operation was
performed are still lying open upon the ground before him.  His head is
thrown so far back that the great turban rests between his shoulder
blades, his brow is corrugated with perplexity, his mouth a little open,
as if his lower jaw could not quite follow the rest of his upturned face.
Hurree cannot know much about toothache.  What would I not give for that
set of incisors, regular as the teeth of a saw, and all as red as a fresh
brick!  I suppose the current quid of _pan suparee_ is temporarily stowed
away under that swelling in the left cheek, where the fierce black patch
of whisker grows.  The survival of a partial cheek pouch in some branches
of the human race is a point that escaped Darwin.  But I am digressing
into reflections.  To return: a lady is standing over the quadruped and
evidently expressing serious displeasure in some form of that domestic
language which we call Hindoostanee, with variations.  The charge she
lays against him seems to be that he has, in disregard of explicit
instructions and defiance of common sense, made a blunder to which her
whole past experience in India furnishes no parallel, and which has
resulted in the total destruction of a whole piece of costly material,
and the wreck of a garment for want of which the _saheb_ (that is myself)
will be put to a degree of inconvenience which cannot be estimated in
rupees, and will most certainly be provoked to an outbreak of indignation
too terrible to be described.  So little do we know ourselves!  I had no
idea I harboured such a temper.  However, Hurree does not tremble, but
pleads that it was necessary to make the garment “leetle silope,” and
though he admits that the slope is too great, he thinks the mistake can
be remedied, and is pulling the cloth to see if it will not stretch to
the required shape.  Failing this, he has other remedies of a technical
kind to suggest.  I do not understand these matters, and cannot interpret
his argument, but he puts his fingers on the floor and flings himself
lightly to the other side of the cloth, to point out where he proposes to
have a “fals hame,” or some other device.  She rejects the proposal with
scorn, and again impresses him with the consequences of his wicked
blunder.  At last I am glad to see that a compromise is effected, and the
little man settles himself in the middle of a small carpet and locks his
legs together so that his shins form an X and he sits on his feet.  In
this position he will ply his needle for the rest of the day at a rate
inversely proportional to the distance of his mistress.  When she retires
for her afternoon _siesta_ the needle will nap too.  Then he will take
out a little _Vade Mecum_, which is never absent from his waistband, and
unroll it.  It is many-coloured and contains little pockets, one for
fragments of the spicy areca, one for the small tin box which contains
fresh lime, one for cloves, one for cardamoms, and so on.  He will put a
little of this and a little of that into his palm, then roll them all up
in a betel leaf out of another pocket, and push the parcel into his
mouth.  Thus refreshed he will go to work again, not, however, upon the
garment to which he is now devoted, but upon a roll of coloured stuffs on
which he is at the present moment sitting.  You see, times are hard and
Hurree has a large family, so he is obliged to eke out his salary by
contract work for the _mussaul_.  His work suffers from other
interruptions.  When the carriage of a visitor is heard, he has to awaken
the _chupprassee_ on duty at the door, and on his own account he goes out
to drink water at least as often as the _chupprassee_ himself.  As the
day draws near its close, he watches the shadow like a hireling, and when
it touches the foot of the long arm chair, he springs to his feet, rolls
up his rags and threads into a bundle, and trips gaily out.  As he does
so you will observe that his legs are bandy, the knees refusing to
approach each other.  This is the result of the position in which he
spends his days.

                       [Picture: A “leelte silope”]

This is how we clothe ourselves in our Indian empire.  Our smooth and
comfortable _khakee_ suits, our ample _pyjamas_, the cool white jackets
in which we dine, in this way are they brought about.  But you must not
allow yourself to think of the _Dirzee_ simply as an agency for producing
clothes.  Life is not made up of such simplicities.  The _raison d’être_
of that mango tree lies without doubt in the chalice of nectar, called
“mango fool,” with which Domingo appeases me when he guesses that his
enormities have gone beyond the limits even of my endurance; but I see
that thirty-seven candidates for the place of the _chupprassee_ who went
on leave yesterday have encamped under its shade, that they may watch for
my face in the verandah.  The trespassing goat also has browsed on its
leaves, and from the shelter of its branches the Magpie Robin pours that
stream of song which, just before the dawning of the day, in the cloudy
border land between sleeping and waking flows over my soul.  But I shall
never really know the place that tree has filled in my life, unless
someone cuts it down and gives me a full view, from my easy chair, of the
dirty brick-burners’ hut, with the poisonous film of blue smoke playing
over the kiln, and the family of pariah puppies below, sporting with the
sun-dried remains of a fowl, which deceased in my yard and was purloined
by their gaunt mother.  Now let imagination blot out the _Dirzee_.
Remove him from the verandah.  Take up his carpet and sweep away the
litter.  What a strange void there is in the place!  Eliminate him from a
lady’s day.  Let nine o’clock strike, but bring no stealthy footstep to
the door, no muffled voice making respectful application for his _Kam_.
From nine to ten breakfast will fill the breach, and you may allow
another hour for the butler’s account and the godown; but there is still
a yawning chasm of at least two hours between eleven and tiffin.  I
cannot bridge it.  Imagination strikes work.  The joyful sound of the
Borah’s voice brings promise of relief; but no! for what interest can
there be in the Borah if you have no _Dirzee_?  In the spirit of fair
play, however, I must mention that my wife does not endorse all this.  On
the contrary, she tells me (she has a terse way of speaking) that it is
“rank bosh.”  She declares that the _Dirzee_ is the bane of her life,
that he is worse than a fly, that she cannot sit down to the piano for
five minutes but he comes buzzing round for black thread, or white
thread, or mother-o-pearl buttons, or hooks and eyes, that every evening
for the last month he has watched her getting ready for to drive, and
just as her foot was on the carriage step, has reminded her, with a
cough, that his work was finished and he had nothing to do.  If she could
only do without him, she would send him about his business and be the
happiest woman in the world, for she could devote the whole day to music
and painting and the improvement of her mind.  Of course I assent.  That
is a very commendable way of thinking about the matter.  But, as an
amateur philosopher, I warn you never to let yourself get under practical
bondage to such notions.  I tell you when you betake yourself to music or
painting, carpentry or gardening, as a means of getting through the day,
you are sapping your mental constitution and shortening your life: unless
you are sustained by more than ordinary littleness of mind you will never
see threescore and ten.  All these things are good in proportion as you
have difficulty in finding time for them.  When you have to rise early in
the morning and work hard to make a little leisure for your favourite
hobby, then you are getting its blessing.  Now, the _Dirzee_ is not a
means of killing time.  On the contrary, I see that he compels his
mistress to take thought how she may save time alive, if she wishes to
get anything done.  He hurries the day along and scatters its hours, so
that _ennui_ cannot find an empty minute to lurk in.  I do not deny that
he is the occasion of a few provocations, and the simile of the fly is
just; but are not provocations an element in the interest of every
pursuit, the pepper which flavours all pleasant occupation?  I collect
butterflies, and my friends think I am a man to be envied because I have
such a taste.  Do they suppose a butterfly catcher has no provocations?
Was it seventeen or seventy times (I forget) in one page that I laid down
my pen, put off my spectacles and caught up my net to rush after that
brute of a _Papilio polymnestor_, who just came to the _duranta_ flowers
to flout me and skip over the wall into the next garden?  And does anyone
but a butterfly hunter know how it feels to open your cabinet drawers
just a few hours after the ants have got the news that the camphor is
done?  Does anyone but an entomologist know the grub of _Dermestes
intolerabilis_?  Why should a collection of butterflies be called an
object of perennial interest and delight, and the _Dirzee_ an unmitigated
provocation?  They are both of one family.  Nothing is unmitigated in
this world.

Maria Graham tells us that in her time “the _Dirdjees_, or tailors, in
Bombay” were “Hindoos of respectable caste,” but in these days the
Goanese, who has not capacity to be a butler or cook, becomes a _Dirzee_,
and in Bombay I have seen Bunniah _Dirzees_.  Hurree can hold his own
against these, I doubt not, but the advancing tide of civilization is
surely crumbling down his foundations.  It is not only the “Europe” shop
in Bombay that takes the bread out of his month, but in the smallest and
most remote stations, Narayen, “Tailor, Outfitter, Milliner, and
Dressmaker,” hangs out his sign-board, and under it pale, consumptive
youths of the Shimpee caste bend over their work by lamplight, and sing
the song of the shirt to the whirr-rr-rr of sewing machines.  And as
Hurree goes by on his way home, his prophetic soul tells him that his son
will not live the happy and independent life which has fallen to his lot.
But he has a bulwark still in the _dhobie_, for the “Tailor and
Outfitter” will not repair frayed cuffs, and the sewing machine cannot
put on buttons.  And Hurree is not ungrateful, for I observe that, when
the _dhobie_ delivers up your clothes in a state which requires the
_Dirzee_, the _Dirzee_ always gives them back in a condition which
demands the _dhobie_.

                          [Picture: The Dirzee]



THE MALEE.


    “Another custom is their sitting always on the ground with their
    knees up to their chins, which I know not how to account
    for.”—_Daniel Johnson_.

[Picture: The Malee] I HAVE been watching Thomas Otway, gardener.  His
coat hangs on a tree hard by, and he, standing in his shirt sleeves, is
slaughtering regiments of weeds with a long hoe.  When they are all
uprooted and prostrate, he changes his weapon for a fork, with which he
tosses them about and shakes them free of soil and gathers them into
heaps.  Then he brings a wheel-barrow, and, piling them into it until it
can hold no more, goes off at a trot.  I am told his only fault is that
he is _slow_.

I have also stood watching Peelajee.  He, too, is a gardener, called by
his own people a _Malee_, and by us, familiarly, a _Molly_.  He sits in
an attitude not easy to describe, but familiar to all who have resided in
the otiose East.  You will get at it by sitting on your own heels and
putting your knees into your armpits.  In this position Peelajee can
spend the day with much comfort, which is a wonderful provision of
nature.  At the present moment he also is engaged in the operation of
weeding.  In his right hand is a small species of sickle called a
_koorpee_, with which he investigates the root of each weed as a snipe
feels in the mud for worms; then with his left hand he pulls it out,
gently shakes the earth off it, and contributes it to a small heap beside
him.  When he has cleared a little space round him, he moves on like a
toad, without lifting himself.  He enlivens his toil by exchanging
remarks upon the weather as affecting the price of grain, the infirmity
of my temper and other topics of personal interest, with an assistant,
whom he persuaded me to engage by the day, pleading the laborious nature
of this work of weeding.  When two or three square yards have been
cleared, they both go away, and return in half an hour with a very small
basket, which one holds while the other fills it with the weeds.  Then
the assistant balances it on his head, and sets out at one mile an hour
for the garden gate, where he empties it on the roadside.  Then he
returns at the same rate, with the empty basket on his head, to Peelajee,
who is occupied sitting waiting for him.

It is clear that there may be two ways of doing the same thing.  I have
no doubt there is much to be said for both, but, upon the whole, the
advantage seems to lie with the _Malee_.  Otway does as much work in a
day as Peelajee does in a week.  But why should a day be better than a
week?  If you turn the thing round, and look at the other side of it, you
will find that Otway costs three shillings a day and Peelajee two rupees
a week.  So, if you are in a hurry, you can employ half a dozen
Peelajees, and feel that you are making six families in the world happy
instead of only one.  And I am sure the calm and peaceful air of
Peelajee, as he moves about the garden, must be good for the soul and
promote longevity.  I hate bustle, and I can vouch for Peelajee that he
never bustles.  However, there is no need of odious comparisons.  There
is a time for everything under the sun, and a place.  Here, in India, we
have need of Peelajee.  He is a necessary part of the machinery by which
our exile life is made to be the graceful thing it often is.  I pass by
bungalow after bungalow, each in its own little paradise, and look upon
the green lawn successfully defying an unkind climate, the islands of
mingled foliage in profuse, confused beauty, the gay flower beds, the
clean gravel paths with their trim borders, the grotto in a shady corner,
where fern and moss mingle, all dripping as if from recent showers and
make you feel cool in spite of all thermometers, and I say to myself,
“Without the _Malee_ all this would not be.”  Neither with the _Malee_
alone would this be, but something very different.  I admit that.  But is
not this just one secret of the beneficent influence he has on us?  Your
“Scotch” gardener is altogether too good.  He obliterates you—reduces you
to a spectator.  But keeping a _Malee_ draws you out, for he compels you
to look after him, and if you are to look after him, you must know
something about his art, and if you do not know, you must learn.  So we
Anglo-Indians are gardeners almost to a man, and spend many pure, happy
hours with the pruning shears and the budding knife, and this we owe to
the _Malee_.  When I say you must look after him, I do not disparage his
skill; he is neat handed and knows many things; but his taste is
elementary.  He has an eye for symmetry, and can take delight in squares
and circles and parallel lines; but the more subtle beauties of
unsymmetrical figures and curves which seem to obey no law are hid from
him.  He loves bright tints especially red and yellow, with a boy’s love
for sugar; he cannot have too much of them; but he has no organ for
perceiving harmony in colour, and so the want of it does not pain him.
The chief avenue, however, by which the delights of a gardener’s life
reach him is the sense of smell.  He revels in sweet odours; but here,
too, he seeks for strength rather than what we call delicacy.  In short,
the enjoyment which he finds in the tones of his native _tom-tom_ may be
taken as typical of all his pleasures.  I find however, that Peelajee
understands the principles of toleration, and, recognising that he caters
for my pleasure rather than his own, is quite willing to abandon his
favourite yellow marigold and luscious jasmine for the _pooteena_ and the
_beebeena_ and the _fullax_.  But perhaps you do not know these flowers
by their Indian names.  We call them _petunia_, _verbena_, and _phlox_.
This is, doubtless, another indication of our Aryan brotherhood.

Peelajee is industrious after the Oriental method—that is to say, he is
always doing something, but is economical of energy rather than time.  If
there are more ways than one of doing a thing, he has an unerring
instinct which guides him to choose the one that costs least trouble.  He
is a fatalist in philosophy, and this helps him too.  For example, when
he transplants a rose bush, he saves himself the trouble of digging very
deep by breaking the root, for if the plant is to live it will live, and
if it is to die it will die.  Some plants live, he remarks, and some
plants die.  The second half of this aphorism is only too true.  In fact,
many of my best plants not only die, but suddenly and entirely disappear.
If I question Peelajee, he denies that I ever had them, and treats me as
a dreamer of dreams.  I would not be uncharitable, but a little
suspicion, like a mouse, lurks in the crevices of my mind that Peelajee
surreptitiously carries on a small business as a seedsman and nursery
gardener, and I know that in his simple mind he is so identified with his
master that _meum_ and _tuum_ blend, as it were, into one.  I am
restrained from probing into the matter by a sensitiveness about certain
other mysteries which may be bound up with this, and about which I have
always suppressed my curiosity.  For example, where do the beautiful
flowers which decorate my table grow?  Not altogether in my garden.  So
much I know: more than that I think it prudent not to know.  For this
reason, as I said, I forbear to make close scrutiny into what may be
called the undercurrent of Peelajee’s operations, but I notice that he
always has in hand large beds of cuttings from my best roses and crotons,
and these flourish up to a certain point, after which I lose all trace of
them.  He says that an insidious caterpillar attacks their roots, so that
they all grow black and wither away suddenly.  I fall upon him and tell
him that he is to blame.  He protests that he cannot control underground
caterpillars.  He knows that I suspect, and I suspect that he knows, but
a veil of dissimulation, however transparent, averts a crisis, so we
fence for a time till he understands clearly that, when he propagates my
plants, he must reserve a decent number for me.

Griffins and travelling M.P.s are liable to suppose that the _Malee_ is a
gardener, and _ergo_ that you keep him to attend to your garden.  This is
an error.  He is a gardener, of course, but the primary use of him is to
produce flowers for your table, and you need him most when you have no
garden.  A high-class _Malee_ of good family and connections is quite
independent of a garden.  It seems necessary, however, that your
neighbours should have gardens.

The highest branch of the _Malee’s_ art is the making of nosegays, from
the little “buttonhole,” which is equivalent to a cough on occasions when
_baksheesh_ seems possible, to the great valedictory or Christmas
bouquet.  The manner of making these is as follows.  First you gather
your flowers, cutting the stalks as short as possible, and tie each one
firmly to an artificial stalk of thin bamboo.  Then you select some large
and striking flower for a centre, and range the rest round it in rings of
beautiful colours.  If your bull’s eye is a sunflower, then you may gird
it with a broad belt of red roses.  Yellow marigolds may follow, then
another ring of red roses, then lilac bougainvillea, then something blue,
after which you may have a circle of white jasmine, and so on.  Finally,
you fringe the whole with green leaves, bind it together with pack
thread, and tie it to the end of a short stick.  If the odour of rose,
jasmine, chumpa, oleander, etc., is not sufficient, you can mix a good
quantity of mignonette with the leaves on the outside, but, in any case,
it is best to sprinkle the whole profusely with rose water.  This will
make a bouquet fit to present to a Commissioner.

                   [Picture: The highest style of art]



THE BHEESTEE.


[Picture: The Bheestee] THE _malee_ has an ally called the _Bheestee_.
If you ask, Who is the _Bheestee_?  I will tell you.  _Behisht_ in the
Persian tongue means Paradise, and a _Bihishtee_ is, therefore, an
inhabitant of Paradise, a cherub, a seraph, an angel of mercy.  He has no
wings; the painters have misconceived him; but his back is bowed down
with the burden of a great goat-skin swollen to bursting with the elixir
of life.  He walks the land when the heaven above him is brass and the
earth iron, when the trees and shrubs are languishing and the last blade
of grass has given up the struggle for life, when the very roses smell
only of dust, and all day long the roaring “dust devils” waltz about the
fields, whirling leaf and grass and corn stalk round and round and up and
away into the regions of the sky; and he unties a leather thong which
chokes the throat of his goat-skin just where the head of the poor old
goat was cut off, and straight-way, with a life-reviving gurgle, the
stream called _thunda panee_ gushes forth, and plant and shrub lift up
their heads and the garden smiles again.  The dust also on the roads is
laid and a grateful incense rises from the ground, the sides of the water
chatty grow dark and moist and cool themselves in the hot air, and
through the dripping interstices of the _khuskhus_ tattie a chilly
fragrance creeps into the room, causing the mercury in the thermometer to
retreat from its proud place.  Nay, the seraph finds his way to your very
bath-room, and discharging a cataract into the great tub, leaves it
heaving like the ocean after a storm.  When you follow him there, you
will thank that nameless poet who gave our humble Aquarius the title he
bears.  Surely in the world there can be no luxury like an Indian “tub”
after a long march, or a morning’s shooting, in the month of May.  I know
of none.  Wallace says that to eat a _durian_ is a new sensation, worth a
voyage to the East to experience.  “A rich, butterlike custard, highly
flavoured with almonds, gives the best general idea of it, but
intermingled with it come wafts of flavour which call to mind cream
cheese, onion sauce, brown sherry, and other incongruities.”  If this is
true, then eating a _durian_ must, in its way, be something like having a
tub.  That certainly is a new sensation.  I cannot tell what gives the
best general idea of it, but there are mingled with it many wafts of a
vigorous enjoyment, which touch you, I think, at a higher point in your
nature than cream cheese or onion sauce.  There is first the
enfranchisement of your steaming limbs from gaiter and shooting boot,
buckskin and flannel; then the steeping of your sodden head in the
pellucid depth, with bubaline snortings and expirations of satisfaction;
then, as the first cold stream from the “tinpot” courses down your spine,
what electric thrills start from a dozen ganglia and flush your whole
nervous system with new life!  Finally, there is the plunge and the
wallow and the splash, with a feeling of kinship to the porpoise in its
joy, under the influence of which the most silent man becomes vocal and
makes the walls of the narrow _ghoosulkhana_ resound with amorous, or
patriotic, song.  A flavour of sadness mingles here, for you must come
out at last, but the ample gaol towel receives you in its warm embrace
and a glow of contentment pervades your frame, which seems like a special
preparation for the soothing touch of cool, clean linen, and white duck,
or smooth _khakee_.  And even before the voice of the butler is heard at
the door, your olfactory nerves, quickened by the tonic of the tub, have
told you what he is going to say.

Some people in India always bathe in hot water, not for their sins, but
because they like it.  At least, so they say, and it may be true, for I
have been told that you may get a taste even for drinking hot water if
you keep at it long enough.

                           [Picture: The well]

The _Bheestee_ is the only one of all our servants who never asks for a
rise of pay on account of the increase of his family.  But he is not like
the other servants.  We do not think of him as one of the household.  We
do not know his name, and seldom or never speak to him; but I follow him
about, as you would some little animal, and observe his ways.  I find
that he always stands on his left leg, which is like an iron gate-post,
and props himself with his right.  I cannot discover whether he
straightens out when he goes home at night, but when visible in the
daytime, he is always bowed, either under the weight of his _mussuk_ or
the recollection of it.  The constant application of that great cold
poultice must surely bring on chronic lumbago, but he does not complain.
I notice, however, that his waist is always bound about with many folds
of unbleached cotton cloth and other protective gear.  The place to study
him to advantage is the _bowrie_, or station well, in a little hollow at
the foot of a hill.  Of course there are many wells, but some have a bad
reputation for guineaworm, and some are brackish, and some are jealously
guarded by the Brahmins, who curse the _Bheestee_ if he approaches, and
some are for low caste people.  This well is used by the station
generally, and the water of it is very “sweet.”  Any native in the place
will tell you that if you drink of this well you will always have an
appetite for your meals and digest your food.  It is circular and
surrounded by a strong parapet wall, over which, if you peep cautiously
into the dark abyss, you may catch a sight of the wary tortoise, which
shares with a score or so of gigantic frogs the task of keeping the water
“sweet.”  It was introduced for the purpose by a thoughtful _Bheestee_:
the frogs fell in.  Wild pigeons have their nests in holes in the sides
of the well.  Here, morning and evening, you will find the _Bheestees_ of
the station congregated, some coming and some going, like bees at the
mouth of a hive, but most standing on the wall and letting down their
leather buckets into the water.  As they begin to haul these up again
hand over hand, you will look to see them all topple head foremost into
the well, but they do not as a rule.  It makes an imaginative European
giddy to look down into that Tartarean depth; but then the _Bheestee_ is
not imaginative.  As the hot season advances, the water retreats further
and further into the bowels of the earth, and the labour of filling the
_mussuk_ becomes more and more arduous.  At the same time, the demand for
water increases, for man is thirsty and the ground parched.  So the toils
of the poor _Bheestee_ march _pari passu_ with the tyranny of the
climate, and he grows thin and very black.  Then, with the rain, his
vacation begins.  Happy man if his master does not cut his pay down on
the ground that he has little to do.  We masters sometimes do that kind
of thing.

I believe the _mussuk_ bearer is the true and original _Bheestee_, but in
many places, as wealth and luxury have spread, he has emancipated his own
back and laid his burden on the patient bullock, which walks sagaciously
before him, and stops at the word of command beside each flower-pot or
bush.  He treats his slave kindly, hanging little bells and _cowries_
about its neck.  If it is refractory he does not beat it, but gently
reviles its female ancestors.  I like the _Bheestee_ and respect him.  As
a man, he is temperate and contented, eating _bajree_ bread and slacking
his thirst with his own element.  The author of Hobson Jobson says he
never saw a drunken _Bheestee_.  And as a servant he is laborious and
faithful, rarely shirking his work, seeking it out rather.  For example,
we had a bottle-shaped filter of porous stoneware, standing in a bucket
of water, which it was his duty to fill daily; but the good man, not
content with doing his bare duty, took the plug out of the filter and
filled it too!  And all the station knows how assiduously he fills the
rain gauge.  But what I like best in him is his love of nature.  He keeps
a tame lark in a very small cage, covered with dark cloth that it may
sing, and early in the morning you will find him in the fields, catching
grasshoppers for his little pet.  I am speaking of a Mahomedan
_Bheestee_.  You must not expect love of nature in a Hindoo.

                        [Picture: His little pet]



TOM, THE BARBER.


[Picture: The Barber] IN INDIA it is not good form to shave yourself.
You ought to respect the religious prejudices and social institutions of
the people.  If everyone shaved himself, how would the Barber’s stomach
be filled?  The pious feeling which prompts this question lies deep in
the heart of Hindoo society.  We do not understand it.  How can we, with
our cold-blooded creed of demand and supply, free trade and competition,
fair field and no favour?  In this ancient land, whose social system is
not a deformed growth, but a finished structure, nothing has been left to
chance, least of all a man’s beard; for, cleanliness and godliness not
being neighbours here, a beard well matted with ashes and grease is the
outward and visible sign of sanctity.  And so, in the golden age, when
men did everything that is wise and right, there was established a caste
whose office it was to remove that sign from secular chins.  How impious
and revolutionary then must it be for a man who is not a barber to tamper
with his own beard, thus taking the bread out of the mouths of barbers
born, and blaspheming the wisdom of the ancient founders of civilization!
It is true that, during the barbers’ strike a few years ago, the
Brahmins, even of orthodox Poona, consecrated a few of their own number
to the use of the razor.  But desperate diseases demand desperate
remedies.  When the barbers struck, Nature did not strike.  Beards grew
as before, and threatened to change the whole face of society.  In view
of such an appalling crisis who would say anything was unlawful?
Besides, British rule is surely undermining the very foundations of
society, and I doubt if you could find a Brahmin to-day under fifty years
of age whose heart is not more or less corroded by the spirit of change.
Your young University man is simply honey-combed: he can scarcely conceal
his mind from his own mother or wife.

[Picture: A happy patient] But I must return to the Barber.  The natives
call him _hujjam_.  He has been bred so true for a score or so of
centuries that shaving must be an instinct with him now.  His right hand
is as delicate an organ as a foxhound’s nose.  I believe that, when
inebriated, he goes on shaving, just as a toad deprived of its brain will
walk and eat and scratch its nose.  If you put a jagged piece of tin into
the hand of a baby _hujjam_, he will scrape his little sister’s face with
it.  In India, as you know, every caste has its own “points,” and you can
distinguish a Barber as easily as a _dhobie_ or a Dorking hen.  He is a
sleek, fair-complexioned man, dressed in white, with an ample red turban,
somewhat oval in shape, like a sugared almond.  He wears large gold
earrings in the upper part of his ears, and has a sort of false stomach,
which, at a distance, gives him an aldermanic figure, but proves, on a
nearer view, to be made of leather, and to have many compartments, filled
with razors, scissors, soap, brush, comb, mirror, tweezers, earpicks, and
other instruments of a more or less surgical character; for he is,
indeed, a surgeon, and especially an aurist and narist.  When he takes a
Hindoo head into his charge, he does not confine himself to the chin or
scalp, but renovates it all over.  The happy patient enjoys the
operation, sitting proudly in a public place.  When a Barber devotes
himself to European heads he rises in the social scale.  If he has any
real talent for his profession, he soon rises to the rank and title of
Tom, and may eventually be presented with a small hot-water jug, bearing
an inscription to the effect that it is a token of the respect and esteem
in which he was held by the officers of the —th Regiment at the station
of Daree-nai-hona.  This is equivalent to a C. I. E., but is earned by
merit.  In truth, Tom is a great institution.  He opens the day along
with tea and hot toast and the _Daree-nai-hona Chronicle_, but we throw
aside the _Chronicle_.  It is all very well if you want to know which
band will play at the band-stand this evening, and the leading columns
are occasionally excruciatingly good, when a literary corporal of the
Fusiliers discusses the political horizon, or unmasks the _Herald_,
pointing out with the most pungent sarcasm how “our virtuous contemporary
puts his hands in his breeches pockets, like a crocodile, and sheds
tears;” but during the parade season the corporal writes little, and
articles by the regular staff, upon the height to which cantonment hedges
should be allowed to grow, are apt to be dull.  For news we depend on
Tom.  He appears reticent at first, but be patient.  Let him put the soap
on, and then tap him gently.

“Well, Tom, what news this morning?”

“No news, sar.”  After a long pause, “Commissioner Saheb coming
to-morrow.”

“To-morrow?  No, he is not coming for three weeks.”

“To-morrow coming.  Not telling anybody; quietly coming.”

“Why?”

“God knows.”  After another pause, “Nana Shett give Mamletdar 500 rupee
for not send his son to prison.  Then Nana Shett’s brother he fight with
Nana Shett, so he write letter to Commissioner and tell him you come
quietly and make inquire.”

“The Mamletdar has been taking bribes, has he?”

“Everybody taking.  Fouzdar take 200 rupee.  Dipooty take 500 rupee.”

“What!  Does the Deputy Collector take bribes?”

“God knows.  Black man very bad.  All black man same like bad.”

“Then are you not a black man?”

Tom smiles pleasantly and makes a fresh start.

“Colonel Saheb’s madam got baby.”

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

“Girl, sar.  Colonel Saheb very angry.”

“Why?”

“He say, ‘I want boy.  Why always girl coming?’  Get very angry.  Beat
butler with stick.”

[Picture: Tom, the Barber] Yes, Tom is a great institution.  Who can
estimate how much we owe to him for the circulation of that lively
interest in one another’s well-being which characterises the little
station?  Tom comes, like the Pundit, in the morning, but he is different
from the Pundit and we welcome him.  He is not a shadow of the black
examination-cloud which lowers over us.  There is no flavour of grammars
and dictionaries about him.  Even if he finds you still in bed,
conscience gets no support from him.  He does not awaken you, but slips
in with noiseless tread, lifts the mosquito curtains, proceeds with his
duty and departs, leaving no token but a gentle dream about the cat which
came and licked your cheeks and chin with its soft, warm tongue, and
scratched you playfully with its claws, while a cold frog, embracing your
nose, looked on and smiled a froggy smile.  The barber’s hand _is_ cold
and clammy.  _Chacun à son gout_.  I do not like him.  I grow my beard,
and Tom looks at me as the Chaplain regards dissenters.



OUR “NOWKERS”—THE MARCH PAST.


                        [Picture: Group of people]

NOW it is time to close our inspection and order a march past.  I think I
have marshalled the whole force.  It may seem a small band to you, if you
have lived in imperial Bengal, for we of Bombay do not generally keep a
special attendant to fill and light our pipe, and our _tatoo_ does not
require a man to cut its grass.  Some of us even put on our own clothes.
In short, we have not carried the art of living to such oriental
perfection as prevails on the other side of India, and a man of simple
tastes will find my company of fourteen a sufficient staff.  There they
are, _Sub hazir hai_, “they are all present,” the butler says, except one
humble, but necessary officer, who does not like to appear.  He is known
familiarly by many names.  You may call him Plantagenet, for his emblem
is the lowly broom; but since his modesty keeps him in the background, we
will leave him there.  The rest are before you, the faithful corps with
whose help we transact our exile life.  You may look at them from many
standpoints, and how much depends on which you take!  I suspect the
commonest with us masters is that which regards boy, butler, _mussaul_,
cook, as just so many synonyms for channels by which the hard-earned
rupee, which is our life-blood, flows from us continually.  This view
puts enmity between us and them, between our interests and theirs.  It
does not come into our minds, that when we submit our claim for an extra
allowance of Rs. 200 under section 1735 of the Code, and the _mussaul_
gets the butler to prefer a humble request for an increase of one rupee a
month to his slender _puggar_, we and the _mussaul_ are made kin by that
one touch of nature.  We spurn the request and urge the claim, with equal
wonderment at the effrontery of _mussauls_ and the meanness of
Governments.  And “the angels weep.”

Shift your standpoint, and in each cringing menial you will see a black
token of that Asiatic metamorphosis through which we all have passed.
What a picture!  Look at yourself as you stand there in purple sublimity,
trailing clouds of darkness from the middle ages whence you come,
planting your imperial foot on all the manly traditions of your own free
country, and pleased with the grovelling adulations of your trembling
serfs.  And now it is not the angels who weep, but the Baboo of Bengal.
His pale and earnest brow is furrowed with despair as he turns from you.
For whither shall he turn?  When his bosom palpitates with the intense
joy of newborn aspirations for liberty, to whom shall he go if the
Briton, the champion of the world’s freedom, has drunk of Comus’s cup and
become an oriental satrap?  Ah! there is still hope.  The “large heart of
England” beats still for him.  In the land of John Hampden and Labouchere
there are thousands yet untainted by the plague, who keep no servant, who
will listen to the Baboo while he tells them about you, and perhaps
return him to parliament.

There is a third view of the case, fraught with much content to those who
can take it, and, happily, it is the only view possible to the primitive
intelligences over which we exercise domestic lordship.  In this view
they are, indeed, as we regard them—so many channels by which the rupee
may flow from us; but what are we, if not great reservoirs, built to feed
those very channels?  And so, with that “sweet reasonableness” which is
so pleasant a feature of the Hindoo mind, your boy or butler, being the
main conduit, sets himself to estimate the capacity of the reservoir,
that he may adapt the gauge of each pipe and regulate the flow.  And, as
the reservoir grows greater, as the assistant becomes a collector and the
collector a commissioner, the pipes are extended and enlarged, and all
rejoice together.  The moral beauty of this view of the situation grows
upon you as you accustom your mind to dwell on it.  Is it not pleasant to
think of yourself as a beneficent irrigation work, watering a wide
expanse of green pasture and smiling corn, or as a well in a happy
garden, diffusing life and bloom?  Look at the syce’s children.  Phil
Robinson says there are nine of them, all about the same age and dressed
in the same nakedness.  As they squat together there, indulging “the
first and purest of our instincts” in the mud or dust of the narrow back
road, reflect that their tender roots are nourished by a thin rivulet of
rupees which flows from you.  If you dried up, they would droop and
perhaps die.  The butler has a bright little boy, who goes to school
every day in a red velvet cap and print jacket, with a small slate in his
hand, and hopes one day to climb higher in the word than his father.  His
tendrils are wrapped about your salary.  Nay, you may widen the range of
your thoughts: the old hut in the environs of Surat, with its patch of
field and the giant gourds, acknowledges you, and a small stream,
diverted from one of the channels which you supply, is filling a deep
cistern in one of the back streets of Goa.  Pardon me if I think that the
untutored Indian’s thought is better even for us than any which we have
framed for ourselves.  Imagine yourself as a sportsman, spear in hand,
pursuing the wild V.C. through fire and water, or patiently stalking the
wary K.C.B., or laying snares for the gentle C.I.E.; or else as a humble
industrious dormouse lining a warm nest for the winter of your life in
Bath or Tunbridge Wells; or as a gay butterfly flitting from flower to
flower while the sunshine of your brief day may last; or simply as a
prisoner toiling at the treadmill because you must: the well in the
garden is a pleasanter conception than all these and wholesomer.  Foster
it while you may.  Now that India has wakened up and begun to spin after
the rest of the great world down the ringing grooves of change, these
tints of dawn will soon fade away, and in the light of noon the
instructed Aryan will learn to see and deplore the monstrous inequalities
in the distribution of wealth.  He will come to understand the essential
equality of all men, and the real nature of the contract which subsists
between master and servant.  Yes, I am afraid the day is fast drawing
near when you will no longer venture to cut the _hamal’s_ pay for letting
mosquitoes into your bed curtains and he will no longer join his palms
and call you his father and mother for doing so.  What a splendid
capacity for obedience there is in this ancient people!  And our
relations with them have certainly taught us again how to govern, which
is one of the forgotten arts in the West.  Where in the world to-day is
there a land so governed as this Indian Empire?

And now each man wants his “character” before he makes his last _salaam_,
and what shall I say?  “The bearer — has been in my service since — and I
have always found him — ”  So far good; but what next?  Honest?—Yes.
Willing?—Certainly.  Careful?—Very.  Hardworking?—Well, I have often told
him that he was a lazy scoundrel, and that he might easily take a lesson
in activity from the _bheestee’s_ bullock, and perhaps I spoke the truth.
But, after all, he gets up in the morning an hour before me, and eats his
dinner after I have retired for the night.  He gets no Saturday
half-holiday, and my Sabbath is to him as the other days of the week.
And so the hard things I have said of him and to him are forgotten, and
charity triumphs at the last.  And when my furlough is over and I return
to these shores, the whole troop will be at the Apollo Bunder, waiting to
welcome back their old master and eat his salt again.

                             [Picture: A cow]



POSTSCRIPT.
THE GOWLEE, OR DOODWALLAH.


Gopal, the _Gowlee_, haunts me in my dreams, complaining that he has been
left out in the cold.  I had classed him with the _borah_ and the baker,
as outsiders with whom I had merely business relations; but Gopal seems
to urge that he is not on the same footing with these.  How can he be
compared to a mercenary _borah_?  Has he not ministered to my wants,
morning and evening, in wet weather and dry?  Have not my children grown
up on his milk?  He will not deny that they have eaten the baker’s bread
too; but who is the baker?  Does he come into the _saheb’s_ presence in
person as Gopal does?  No.  He sits in his shop and sends a servant.  Not
so Gopal.  He is one of my children, and I am his father and mother.  And
I am forced to admit there is some truth in this view of the case.  The
ill-favoured man who haunts my house of a morning, with a large basket of
loaves poised slantwise on his head, and converses in a strange nasal
brogue with the cook, is not Mr. de Souza, “baker of superior first and
second sort bread, and manufacturer of every kind of biscuit, cake,” &c.,
but a mere underling.  My intercourse with the head of the firm is
confined to the first day of each month, when he waits on me in person,
dressed in a smart black jacket, and presents his bill.  Also on Good
Friday he sends me a cake and his compliments, but the former, if it is
not intercepted by the butler and applied to his own uses, is generally
too unctuous for my taste.  Very different are our relations with the
_Doodwallah_.  Our _chota hazree_ waits for him in the morning; our
afternoon tea cannot proceed till he comes; the baby cries if the
_Doodwallah_ is late.  And even if you are one of the few who strike for
independence and keep their own cow, I still counsel you to maintain
amicable relations with the _Doodwallah_.  One day the cow will kick and
refuse to be milked, and the butler will come to you with a troubled
countenance.  It is a grave case and demands professional skill.  The
_Doodwallah_ must be sent for to milk the cow.  In many other ways, too,
we are made to feel our dependence on him.  I believe we rarely die of
cholera, or typhoid fever, without his unobtrusive assistance.  And all
his services are performed in person, not through any underling.  That
stately man who walks up the garden path morning and evening, erect as a
betel-nut palm, with a tiara of graduated milk-pots on his head, and
driving a snorting buffalo before him, is Gopal himself.  Scarcely any
other figure in the compound impresses me in the same way as his.  It is
altogether Eastern in its simple dignity, and symbolically it is
eloquent.  The buffalo represents absolute milk and the lessening pyramid
of brass _lotas_, from the great two-gallon vessel at the base to the
¼-seer measure at the top, stand for successive degrees of dilution with
that pure element which runs in the roadside ditches after rain.  Thus
his insignia interpret themselves to me.  Gopal does not acknowledge my
heraldry, but explains that the lowest _lota_ contains butter milk—that
is to say, milk for making butter.  The second contains milk which is
excellent for drinking, but will not yield butter; the third a cheaper
quality of milk for puddings, and so on.  If you are an anxious mother,
or a fastidious bachelor, and none of these will please you, then he
brings the buffalo to the door and milks it in your presence.  I think
the truth which underlies the two ways of putting the thing is the same:
Gopal and I differ in form of words only.  However that may be, practice
is more than theory, and I stipulate for milk for all purposes from the
lowest _lota_—that is, milk which is warranted to yield butter.  If it
will not stand that test, I reject it.  Gopal wonders at my extravagance,
but consents.  The milk is good and the butter from it plentiful.  But as
time goes on the latter declines both in quantity and quality, so
gradually that suspicion is scarcely awakened.  When at last you summon
the butler to a consultation, he suggests that the weather has been too
hot for successful butter making, or too cold.  If these reasons do not
satisfy you, he has others; if they fail, he gives his verdict against
the _Doodwallah_.  Next morning Gopal is called to superintend the making
of the butter and convicted, convicted but not abashed.  He expresses the
greatest regret, but blames the buffalo; its calf is too old.  To-morrow
you shall have the produce of another buffalo.  So next day you have the
satisfaction of seeing a fine healthy pat of butter swimming in the
butter dish, carved and curled with all the butler’s art, like a
full-blown dahlia.  But the milk in your tea does not improve, for Gopal,
after ascertaining how much milk you set aside for butter every day,
finds that the new buffalo yields only that quantity, and so what you
require for other purposes comes from another source.  The butler forgot
to tell you this.  What bond is there between him and honest Gopal?  I
cannot tell.  Many are the mysteries of housekeeping in India, and
puzzling its problems.  If you could behead your butler when anything
went wrong, I have very little doubt everything would go right, but the
complicated methods of modern justice are no match for the subtleties of
Indian petty wickedness.  And yet under this crust of cunning there is a
vein of simple stupidity which constantly crops up where you least expect
it.  I remember a gentleman, a bachelor, who set before himself a very
high standard.  He would be strictly just and justly strict.  He
suspected that his milk was watered, but his faithful boy protested that
this could not be, as the milking was begun and finished in his presence.
So the master provided himself with a lactometer, and the suspicion
became certainty.  Summoning his boy into his presence, he explained to
him that that little instrument, which he saw floating in the so-called
milk before him, could neither lie nor be deceived.  “It declares,” he
added sternly, “that there is twenty-five per cent. of water in this
milk.”  “Your lordship speaks the truth,” answered the faithful man, “but
how could I tell a lie?  The milk was drawn in my presence.”  “Do you
mean to say you were there the whole time the animal was being milked?”
“The whole time, your lordship.  Would I give those rogues the chance of
watering the _saheb’s_ milk?”  The master thought for a moment, and asked
again, “Are you sure there was no water in the pail before the milking
began?—these people are very cunning.”  “They are as cunning as
_sheitan_, your lordship, but I made the man turn the pail upside down
and shake it.”  Again the master turned the matter over in his just mind,
and it occurred to him that the lactometer was of English manufacture and
might be puzzled by the milk of the buffalo.  “Is this cow’s milk, or
buffalo’s?” he asked.  The boy was beginning to feel his position
uncomfortable and caught at this chance of escape.  “Ah! that I cannot
tell.  It may be buffalo’s milk.”  _Tableau_.

                    [Picture: The Doodwallahs—Milkmen]

I have spoken of having butter made in the house, but Gopal carries on
all departments of a dairyman’s business, and you may buy butter of him
at two annas a “cope.”  Let philologists settle the derivation of the
word.  The “cope” is a measure like a small tea-cup, and when Gopal has
filled it, he presses the butter well down with his hand, so that a man
skilled in palmistry may read the honest milkman’s fortune off any cope
of his butter.  How he makes it, or of what materials, I dare not say.
Many flavours mingle in it, some familiar enough, some unknown to me.
Its texture varies too.  Sometimes it is pasty, sometimes semi-fluid,
sometimes sticky, following the knife.  In colour it is bluish-white,
unless dyed.  All things considered, I refuse Gopal’s butter, and have
mine made at home.  The process is very simple, and no churn is needed.
Every morning the milk for next day’s butter is put into a large flat
dish, to stand for twenty-four hours, at the end of which time, if the
dish is as dirty as it should be, the milk has curdled.  Then, with a tin
spoon, Mukkun skims off the cream and puts it into a large pickle bottle,
and squatting on the ground, _more suo_, bumps the bottle upon a pad
until the butter is made.  The artistic work of preparing it for
presentation remains.  First it is dyed yellow with a certain seed, that
it may please the _saheb’s_ taste, for buffalo butter is quite white, and
you know it is an axiom in India that cow’s milk does not yield butter.
Then Mukkun takes a little bamboo instrument and patiently works the
butter into a “flower” and sends it to breakfast floating in cold water.

Gopal is a man of substance, owning many buffaloes and immensely fat
Guzerat cows, with prodigious humps and large pendent ears.  His family,
having been connected for many generations with the sacred animal, he
enjoys a certain consciousness of moral respectability, like a man whose
uncles are deans or canons.  In my mind, he is always associated rather
with his buffaloes, those great, unwieldy, hairless, slate-coloured
docile, intelligent antediluvians.

                      [Picture: Home butter making]



THE MISCELLANEOUS WALLAHS.


[Picture: The Kalai-wallah] I have yielded to the claim of the
_doodwallah_ to be reckoned among the _nowkers_.  His right is more than
doubtful, and I will yield no further.  Nevertheless, there is a cluster
of petty dependents, a nebula of minor satellites, which have us for the
focus of their orbit, and which cannot be left out of a comprehensive
account of our system.  Whence, for example, is that raucus stridulation
which sets every tooth on edge and sends a rheumatic shiver up my spine?
“It is only the _Kalai-wallah_,” says the boy, and points to a muscular
black man, very nearly in the garb of a Grecian athlete, standing with
both feet in one of my largest cooking pots.  He grasps a post with both
hands, and swings his whole frame fiercely from side to side with a
circular motion, like the balance wheel of a watch.  He seems to have a
rough cloth and sand under his feet, so I suppose this is only his
energetic way of scouring the pot preparatory to tinning it, for the
_Kalai-wallah_ is the “tin-man,” whose beneficent office it is to avert
death by verdigris and salts of copper from you and your family.  His
assistant, a semi-nude, fleshless youth, has already extemporized a
furnace of clay in the ground hard by, and is working a huge pair of
clumsy bellows.  Around him are all manner of copper kitchen utensils,
_handies_, or _deckshies_, kettles, frying-pans, and what not, and there
are also on the ground some rings of _kalai_, commonly called tin; but
pure tin is an expensive metal, and I do not think it is any part of the
_Kalai-wallah’s_ care to see that you are not poisoned with lead.  One
notable peculiarity there is in this _Kalai-wallah_, or tin-man, which
deserves record, namely, that he pays no _dustooree_ to any man.  I take
it as sufficient evidence of this fact that, though even the _matie_
could tell you that the pots ought to be tinned once a month, neither the
butler nor the cook ever seems to remember when the day comes round.
This is a matter which you must see to personally.  Contrast with this
the case of the _Nalbund_, the clink of whose hammer in the early morning
tells that the 15th of the month has dawned.  His portable anvil is
already in the ground, and he is hammering the shoes into shape after a
fashion; but he is not very particular about this, for if the shoe does
not fit the hoof he can always cut the hoof to fit the shoe.  This is an
advantage which the maker of shoes for human feet does not enjoy, though
I have heard of very fashionable ladies who secretly have one toe
amputated that the rest may more easily be squeezed into that curious
pointed thing, which, by some mysterious process of mind, is regarded as
an elegant shoe.  But this is by the way.  To return to the _Nalbund_.
His work is guaranteed to last one calendar month, and your faithful
_ghorawallah_, who remembers nothing else, and scarcely knows the day of
the week, bears in mind the exact date on which the horse has to be shod
next, and if the careless _Nalbund_ does not appear, promptly goes in
search of him.  Does not this speak volumes for the efficiency of that
venerable and wonderful institution _dustooree_, by which the interests
of all classes are cemented together and the wheels of the social system
are oiled?  The shoeing of the bullock is generally a distinct
profession, I believe, from the shoeing of the horse, and is not
considered such a high art.  The poor _byle_ is thrown, and, his feet
being tied together, the assistant holds his nose to the ground, while
the master nails a small slip of bad iron to each half of the hoof.  I
often stop on my way to contemplate this spectacle, which beautifully
illustrates that cold patience, or natural thick-skinnedness, which fits
the _byle_ so admirably for his lot in this land.  He is yoked to a
creaking cart and prodded with a sharp nail to make him go, his female
ancestry reviled to the third generation, his belly tickled with the
driver’s toes, and his tail twisted till the joints crack, but he plods
patiently on till he feels disposed to stop, and then he lies down and
takes with an even mind such cudgelling as the enraged driver can
inflict.  At last a fire of straw is lighted under him, and then he gets
up and goes on.  He never grows restive or frets, as a horse would, and
so he does not wear out.  This is the reason why bullocks are used
throughout India for all agricultural purposes.  The horse does not suit
the genius of the people.  I wish horses in India could do without shoes.
In sandy districts, like Guzerat, they can, and are much better unshod;
but in the stony Deccan some protection is absolutely necessary, and the
poor beast is often at the mercy of the village bullock _Nalbund_.  It
carries my thoughts to the days of our forefathers, when the blacksmith
was also the dentist.

                            [Picture: Nalbund]

[Picture: Grasswallah] The _Nalbund_ leads naturally to the
_Ghasswallah_, or grass-man, whose sign is a mountain of green stuff,
which comes nodding in at the back gate every day upon four emaciated
legs.  A small pony’s nose protrudes from the front, with a muzzle on,
for in such matters the spirit of the law of Moses is not current in this
country.  The mild Hindoo does muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth
out the corn.  His religion forbids him to take life, and he obeys, but
he steers as near to that sin as he can, without actually committing it,
and vitality is seen here at a lower ebb, perhaps, than in any other
country under the sun.  The grassman maintains just so much flesh on the
bones of his beast as will suffice to hold them together under their
burden, and this can be done without lucerne grass, so poor Tantalus
toddles about, buried under a pile of sweet-scented, fresh, green
herbage, ministering to the sleek aristocracy of his own kind, and
returns to gnaw his daily allowance of _kurbee_.  There is, however, one
alleviation of his lot for which he may well be thankful, and that is
that his burden so encompasses him about that the stick of his driver
cannot get at any part of him.  I believe the _Ghasswallah_ is an
institution peculiar to our presidency—this kind of _Ghasswallah_, I
mean, who is properly a farmer, owning large well-irrigated fields of
lucerne grass.  Hay is supplied by another kind of _Ghasswallah_, who
does not keep a pony, but brings the daily allowance on his head.  That
allowance is five _polees_ for each horse.  A _polee_ is a bundle of
grass about as thick as a tree, and as long as a bit of string.  This hay
merchant does a large business, and used to send in a monthly bill to
each of his constituents in due form, thus:—

To Hurree Ganesh,                                             JANUARY.
            Mr. Esmith, Esquire                               _Dr._
            To supplying grass to   Rs.           7      0           0
            one horse
            Ditto to ½ horse                      3      8           0
            Total                   Rs.          10      8           0
                                             E. E.& contents received.

The ½ horse was a cow.

[Picture: Shirakee] As the monsoon draws to a close and the weather
begins to get colder, a man in a tight brown suit and leather belt, with
an unmistakable flavour of sport about him, presents himself at the door.
This is the _shikaree_ come with _khubber_ of “_ishnap_,” and quail, and
duck, and in fact of anything you like up to bison and tiger.  But we
must dismiss him to-day.  He would require a chapter to himself, and
would take me over ground quite outside of my present scope.  What a
_loocha_ he is!

[Picture: Ready-made-clothes Wallah] What shall I say of the
_Roteewallah_ and the _Jooteewallah_, who comes round so regularly to
keep your boots and shoes in disrepair, and of all the vociferous tribe
of _borahs_?  There is the _Kupprawallah_, and the _Boxwallah_, and the
_Ready-made-clotheswallah_ (“readee made cloes mem sa-ab! dressin’ gown,
badee, petticoat, drars, chamees, everyting, mem sa-ab, very che-eap!”)
and the _Chowchowwallah_ and the _Maiwawallah_ or fruit man, with his
pleasant basket of pomeloes and oranges, plantains, red and white,
custard apples, guavas, figs, grapes, and pineapples, and those
suspicious-looking old iron scales, hanging by greasy, knotted strings.
Each of these good people, it seems, lives in this hard world for no
other end but to supply my wants.  One of them is positive that he
supplied my father with the necessaries of life before I was born.
[Picture: Sindworkwallah]  He is by appearance about eighteen years of
age, but this presents no difficulty, for if it was not he who ministered
to my parent, it was his father, and so he has not only a personal, but a
hereditary claim on me.  He is a _workboxwallah_, and is yearning to show
his regard for me by presenting me with a lady’s sandalwood dressing-case
in return for the trifling sum of thirty-five rupees.  The
_sindworkwallah_, who has a similar esteem for me, scorns the thought of
wishing to sell, but if I would just look at some of his beautiful
things, he could go away happy.  When they are all spread upon the
ground, then it occurs to him that I have it in my power to make him
lucky for the day by buying a fancy smoking-cap, which, by-the-by, he
brought expressly for me.  But this subject always makes me sad, for
there is no disguising the fact that the _borah_ is fast passing away for
ever, and with him all the glowing morning tints of that life which we
used to live when India was still India.  But let that regret pass.  One
_wallah_ remains, who presents himself at your door, not monthly, or
weekly, but every day, and often twice a day, and not at the back
verandah, but at the front, walking confidently up to the very easy-chair
on which we stretch our lordly limbs.  And I may safely say that, of all
who claim directly or indirectly to have eaten our salt, there is not a
man for whom we have, one and all of us, a kindlier feeling.  You may
argue that he is only a public servant, and has really far less claim on
us than any of the others; never mind—

    “I pray thee, peace.  I will be flesh and blood.”

[Picture: Coolie] The English mail is in, and we feel, and will feel,
towards that red-livened man as Noah felt towards the dove with the olive
branch in her mouth.  And when Christmas comes round, howsoever we may
harden ourselves against others, scarcely one of us, I know, will grudge
a rupee to the _tapalwallah_.

                             [Picture: Finis]





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