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Title: Abaft the Funnel
Author: Kipling, Rudyard
Language: English
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ABAFT THE FUNNEL
By RUDYARD KIPLING


ABAFT THE FUNNEL

by

RUDYARD KIPLING

   "Men in pajamas sitting abaft the funnel
    and swapping lies of the purple seas"



New York
B. W. Dodge & Company
1909

Copyright, 1909, by
B. W. Dodge & Company



PREFACE


The measure of a man's popularity is not always--or indeed seldom--the
measure of his intrinsic worth. So, when the earlier work of any writer
is gathered together in more enduring form, catering to the enthusiasm
of his readers in his maturer years, there is always a suspicion that
the venture is purely a commercial one, without literary justification.

Fortunately these stories of Mr. Kipling's form their own best excuse
for this, their first appearance together in book form. Not merely
because in them may be traced the origin of that style and subject
matter that later made their author famous; but because the stories are
in themselves worth while--worth writing, worth reading. "The Likes o'
Us" is as true to the type as any of the immortal Mulvaney stories;
the beginning of "New Brooms" is as succinctly fine as any prose Mr.
Kipling ever wrote; for searching out and presenting such splendid
pieces of fiction as "Sleipner, late Thurinda," and "A Little More
Beef" to a public larger than their original one in India, no apology
is necessary.

 A.F.



CONTENTS


                                                      PAGE

  Erastasius of the Whanghoa                            1

  Her Little Responsibility                            12

  A Menagerie Aboard                                   20

  A Smoke of Manila                                    26

  The Red Lamp                                         33

  The Shadow of His Hand                               41

  A Little More Beef                                   49

  The History of a Fall                                58

  Griffiths the Safe Man                               66

  It                                                   77

  The Fallen Idol                                      85

  New Brooms                                           91

  Tiglath Pileser                                      99

  The Like o' Us                                      109

  His Brother's Keeper                                121

  "Sleipner," Late "Thurinda"                         141

  A Supplementary Chapter                             161

  Chautauquaed                                        180

  The Bow Flume Cable Car                             204

  In Partibus                                         213

  Letters on Leave                                    218

  The Adoration of the Mage                           251

  A Death in the Camp                                 258

  A Really Good Time                                  265

  On Exhibition                                       273

  The Three Young Men                                 283

  My Great and Only                                   292

  The Betrayal of Confidences                         305

  The New Dispensation--I                             313

  The New Dispensation--II                            322

  The Last of the Stories                             331



ABAFT THE FUNNEL



ERASTASIUS OF THE _WHANGHOA_[1]


"The old cat's tumbled down the ventilator, sir, and he's swearing away
under the furnace-door in the stoke-hole," said the second officer to
the Captain of the _Whanghoa_.

"Now what in thunder was Erastasius doing at the mouth of the
ventilator? It's four feet from the ground and painted red at that.
Any of the children been amusing themselves with him, d'you think? I
wouldn't have Erastasius disturbed in his inside for all the gold in
the treasury," said the Captain. "Tell some one to bring him up, and
handle him delicately, for he's not a quiet beast."

In three minutes a bucket appeared on deck. It was covered with a
wooden lid. "Think he have make die this time," said the Chinese sailor
who carried the coffin, with a grin. "Catchee him topside coals--no
open eye--no spit--no sclatchee my. Have got bucket, allee same, and
make tight. See!"

He dived his bare arm under the lid, but withdrew it with a yell,
dropping the bucket at the same time. "Hya! Can do. Maskee dlop
down--masky spilum coal. Have catchee my light there."

Blood was trickling from his elbow. He moved aft, while the bucket,
mysteriously worked by hidden force, trundled to and fro across the
decks, swearing aloud.

Emerged finally Erastasius, tom-cat and grandfather-in-chief of the
_Whanghoa_--a gaunt brindled beast, lacking one ear, with every hair on
his body armed and erect. He was patched with coal-dust, very stiff and
sore all over, and very anxious to take the world into his confidence
as to his wrongs. For this reason he did not run when he was clear of
the bucket, but sitting on his hunkers regarded the Captain, as who
would say: "You hold a master's certificate and call yourself a seaman,
and yet you allow this sort of thing on your boat."

"Guess I must apologise, old man," said the Captain gravely. "Those
ventilators are a little too broad in the beam for a passenger of your
build. What made you walk down it? Not a rat, eh? You're too well fed
to trouble of rats. Drink was it."

Erastasius turned his back on the Captain. He was a tailless Japanese
cat, and the abruptness of his termination gave him a specially brusque
appearance.

"Shouldn't wonder if the old man hasn't been stealing something and
was getting away from the galley. He's the biggest reprobate that ever
shipped--and that's saying something. No, he isn't my property exactly.
I've got a notion that he owns the ship. Gathered that from the way he
goes round after six bells to see the lights out. The chief engineer
says he built the engines. Anyway, the old man sits in the engine-room
and sort of keeps an eye on the boilers. He was on the ship before I
joined her--that's seven years ago, when we were running up and down
and around and about the China Seas."

Erastasius, his back to the company, was busied in cleaning his
disarranged fur. He licked and swore alternately. The ventilator
incident had hurt his feelings sorely.

"He knows we are talking about him," continued the Captain. "He's a
responsible kind o' critter. That's natural when you come to think that
he has saved a quarter of a million of dollars. At present his wants
are few--guess he would like a netting over those ventilators first
thing--but some day he'll begin to live up to his capital."

"Saved a quarter of a million dollars! What securities did he invest
'em in?" said a man from Foochow.

"Here, in this bottom. He saved the _Whanghoa_ with a full cargo of
tea, silk and opium, and thirteen thousand dollars in bar silver.
Yes; that's about the extent of the old man's savings. I commanded.
The old man was the rescuer, and I was more grateful to him 'cause
it was my darned folly that nearly brought us into the trouble. I was
new to these waters, new to the Chinaman and his fascinating little
ways, being a New England man by raising. Erastasius was raised by the
Devil. That's who his sire was. Never ran across his dam. Ran across a
forsaken sea, though, in the _Whanghoa_, a little to the northeast of
this, with eight hundred steerage passengers, all Chinamen, for various
and undenominated ports. Had the pleasure of sending eighteen of 'em
into the water. Yes, that's so, isn't it, old man?"

Erastasius finished licking himself and mewed affirmatively.

"Yes, we carried four white officers--a Westerner, two Vermont men, and
myself. There were ten Americans, a couple of Danes and a half-caste
knocking round the ship, and the crew were Chinese, but most of 'em
good Chinese. Only good Chinese I ever met. We had our steerage
passengers 'tween-decks. Most of 'em lay around and played dominoes or
smoked opium. We had bad weather at the start, and the steerage were
powerful sick. I judged they would have no insides to them when the
weather lifted, so I didn't put any guards on them. Wanted all my men
to work the ship. Engines rotten as Congress, and under sail half the
time. Next time I carry Chinese steerage trash I'll hire a Gatling and
mount it on the 'tween-decks hatch.

"We were fooling about between islands--about a hundred and fifty
thousand islands all wrapped up in fog. When the fog laid the wind,
the engines broke down. One of the passengers--we carried no ladies
that journey--came to me one evening. 'I calculate there's a conspiracy
'tween-decks,' he said. 'Those pigtails are talking together. No good
ever came of pigtails talking. I'm from 'Frisco. I authoritate on
these matters.' 'Not on this ship,' I said: 'I've no use for duplicate
authority.' 'You'll be homesick after nine this time to-morrow,' he
said and quit. I guess he told the other passengers his notions.

"Erastasius shared my cabin in general. I didn't care to dispute
with a cat that went heeled the way he did. That particular night
when I came down he was not inclined for repose. When I shut the door
he scrabbled till I let him out. When he was out he scrabbled to
come back. When he was back, he jumped all round the shanty yowling.
I stroked him, and the sparks irrigated his back as if 'twas the
smoke-stack of a river steamer. 'I'll get you a wife, old man,' I
said, 'next voyage. It is no good for you to be alone with me.'
'_Whoopee, yoopee-yaw-aw-aw_,' said Erastasius. 'Let me get out of
this.' I looked him square between the eyes to fix the place where
I'd come down with a boot-heel (he was getting monotonous), and as I
looked I saw the animal was just possessed with deadly fear--human
fear--crawling, shaking fear. It crept out of the green of his eyes
and crept over me in billowing waves--each wave colder than the last.
'Unburden your mind, Erastasius,' I said. 'What's going to happen?'
'_Wheepee-yeepee-ya-ya-ya-woop!_' said Erastasius, backing to the door
and scratching.

"I quit my cabin sweating big drops, and somehow my hand shut on my
six-shooter. The grip of the handle soothes a man when he is afraid. I
heard the whole ship 'tween-decks rustling under me like all the woods
of Maine when the wind's up. The lamp over the 'tween-decks was out.
The steerage watchman was lying on the ground, and the whole hive of
Celestials were on the tramp--soft-footed hounds. A lantern came down
the alley-way. Behind it was the passenger that had spoken to me, and
all the rest of the crowd, except the half-caste.

"'Are you homesick any now?' said my passenger. The 'tween-decks woke
up with a yell at the light, and some one fired up the hatch-way.
Then we began our share of the fun--the ten passengers and I. Eleven
six-shooters. That cleared the first rush of the pigtails, but we
continued firing on principle, working our way down the steps. No one
came down from the spar-deck to assist, though I heard considerable of
a trampling. The pigtails below were growling like cats. I heard the
lookout man shout, 'Junk on the port bow,' and the bell ring in the
engine-room for full speed ahead. Then we struck something, and there
was a yell inside and outside the ship that would have lifted your
hair out. When the outside yell stopped, our pigtails were on their
faces. 'Run down a junk,' said my passenger--'_their_ junk.' He loosed
three shots into the steerage on the strength of it. I went up on deck
when things were quiet below. Some one had run our Dahlgren signal-gun
forward and pointed it to the break of the fo'c'sle. There was the
balance of a war junk--three spars and a head or two on the water, and
the first mate keeping his watch in regular style.

"'What is your share?' he said. 'We've smashed up a junk that tried to
foul us. Seems to have affected the feelings of your friends below.
Guess they wanted to make connection.' 'It is made,' said I, 'on the
Glassy Sea. Where's the watch?' 'In the fo'c'sle. The half-caste is
sitting on the signal-gun smoking his cigar. The watch are speculatin'
whether he'll stick the business-end of it in the touch-hole or
continue smoking. I gather that gun is not empty.' 'Send 'em down below
to wash decks. Tell the quartermaster to go through their boxes while
they are away. They may have implements.'

"The watch went below to clean things up. There were eighteen stiff
uns and fourteen with holes through their systems. Some died, some
survived. I did not keep particular count. The balance I roped up, and
it employed most of our spare rigging. When we touched port there was a
picnic among the hangmen. Seems that Erastasius had been yowling down
the cabins all night before he came to me, and kept the passengers
alive. The man that spoke to me said the old man's eyes were awful
to look at. He was dying to tell his fear, but couldn't. When the
passengers came forward with the light, the half-caste quit for topside
and got the quartermaster to load the signal-gun with handspikes and
bring it forward in case the fo'c'sle wished to assist in the row.
That was the best half-caste I ever met. But the fo'c'sle didn't
assist. They were sick. So were the men below--horror-sick. That was
the way the old man saved the _Whanghoa_."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: "Turnovers," Vol. VII.]



HER LITTLE RESPONSIBILITY[2]

_And No Man May Answer for the Soul of His Brother_


It was two in the morning, and Epstin's Dive was almost empty, when
a Thing staggered down the steps that led to that horrible place and
fawned on me disgustingly for the price of a drink. "I'm dying of
thirst," he said, but his tone was not that of a street loafer. There
is a freemasonry, the freemasonry of the public schools, stronger than
any that the Craft knows. The Thing drank whisky raw, which in itself
is not calculated to slake thirst, and I waited at its side because
I knew, by virtue of the one sentence above recorded, that it once
belonged to my caste. Indeed, so small is the world when one begins
to travel round it, that, for aught I knew, I might even have met
the Thing in that menagerie of carefully-trained wild beasts, Decent
Society. And the Thing drank more whisky ere the flood-gates of its
speech were loosed and spoke of the wonderful story of its fall.

Never man, he said, had suffered more than he, or for slighter sin.
Whereat I winked beerily into the bottom of my empty glass, having
heard that tale before. I think the Thing had been long divided
from all social and moral restraint--even longer from the wholesome
influence of soap and water.

"What I feel most down here," said It, and by "down here" I presume he
meant the Inferno of his own wretchedness, "is the difficulty about
getting a bath. A man can always catch a free lunch at any of the
bars in the city, if he has money enough to buy a drink with, and you
can sleep out for six or eight months of the year without harm, but
San Francisco doesn't run to free baths. It's not an amusing life any
way you look at it. I'm more or less used to things, but it hurts me
even now to meet a decent man who knows something of life in the old
country. I was raised at Harrow--Harrow, if you please--and I'm not
five-and-twenty yet, and I haven't got a penny, and I haven't got a
friend, and there is nothing in creation that I can command except a
drink, and I have to beg for that. Have you ever begged for a drink?
It hurts at first, but you get used to it. My father's a parson. I
don't think he knows I beg drink. He lives near Salisbury. Do you know
Salisbury at all? And then there's my mother, too. But I have not heard
from either of them for a couple of years. They think I'm in a real
estate office in Washington Territory, coining money hand over fist.
If ever you run across them--I suppose you will some day--there's the
address. Tell them that you've seen me, and that I am well and fit.
Understand?--well and fit. I guess I'll be dead by the time you see
'em. That's hard. Men oughtn't to die at five-and-twenty--of drink.
Say, were you ever mashed on a girl? Not one of these you see, girls
out here, but an English one--the sort of girl one meets at the
Vicarage tennis-party, don't you know. A girl of our own set. I don't
mean mashed exactly, but dead, clean gone, head over ears; and worse
than that I was once, and I fancy I took the thing pretty much as I
take liquor now. I didn't know when to stop. It didn't seem to me
that there was any reason for stopping in affairs of that kind. I'm
quite sure there's no reason for stopping half-way with liquor. Go the
whole hog and die. It's all right, though--I'm not going to get drunk
here. Five in the morning will suit me just as well, and I haven't the
chance of talking to one of you fellows often. So you cut about in fine
clothes, do you, and take your drinks at the best bars and put up at
the Palace? All Englishmen do. Well, here's luck; you may be what I
am one of these days. You'll find companions quite as well raised as
yourself.

       *       *       *       *       *

"But about this girl. Don't do what I did. I fell in love with her. She
lived near us in Salisbury; that was when I had a clean shirt every day
and hired horses to ride. One of the guineas I spent on that amusement
would keep me for a week here. But about this girl. I don't think some
men ought to be allowed to fall in love any more than they ought to be
allowed to taste whisky. She said she cared for me. Used to say that
about a thousand times a day, with a kiss in between. I think about
those things now, and they make me nearly as drunk as the whisky does.
Do you know anything about that love-making business? I stole a copy
of Cleopatra off a book-stall in Kearney Street, and that priest-chap
says a very true thing about it. You can't stop when it's once started,
and when it's all over you can't give it up at the word of command. I
forget the precise language. That girl cared for me. I'd give something
if she could see me now. She doesn't like men without collars and odd
boots and somebody else's hat; but anyhow she made me what I am, and
some day she'll know it. I came out here two years ago to a real estate
office; my father bought me some sort of a place in the firm. We were
all Englishmen, but we were about a match for an average Yankee; but I
forgot to tell you I was engaged to the girl before I came out. Never
you make a woman swear oaths of eternal constancy. She'll break every
one of them as soon as her mind changes, and call you unjust for making
her swear them. I worked enough for five men in my first year. I got
a little house and lot in Tacoma fit for any woman. I never drank, I
hardly ever smoked, I sold real estate all day, and wrote letters at
night. She wrote letters, too, about as full of affection as they make
'em. You can tell nothing from a woman's letter, though. If they want
to hide anything, they just double the 'dears' and 'darlings,' and then
giggle when the man fancies himself deceived.

"I don't suppose I was worse off than hundreds of others, but it seems
to me that she might have had the grace to let me down easily. She
went and got married. I don't suppose she knew exactly what she was
doing, because I got the letters just the same six weeks after she was
married! It was an odd copy of an English paper that showed me what had
happened. It came in on the same day as one of her letters, telling me
she would be true to the gates of death. Sounds like a novel, doesn't
it? But it did not amuse me in the least. I wasn't constructed to pitch
the letters into the fire and pick up with a Yankee girl. I wrote her a
letter; I rather wish I could remember what was in that letter. Then I
went to a bar in Tacoma and had some whisky, about a gallon, I suppose.
If I had anything approaching to a word of honour about me, I would
give it you that I did not know what happened until I was told that my
partnership with the firm had been dissolved, and that the house and
lot did not belong to me any more. I would have left the firm and sold
the house, anyhow, but the crash sobered me for about three days. Then
I started another jamboree. I might have got back after the first one,
and been a prominent citizen, but the second bust settled matters. Then
I began to slide on the downgrade straight off, and here I am now.
I could write you a book about what I have come through, if I could
remember it. The worst of it is I can see that she wasn't worth losing
anything in life for, but I've lost just everything, and I'm like the
priest-chap in Cleopatra--I can't get over what I remember. If she had
let me down easy, and given me warning, I should have been awfully cut
up for a time, but I should have pulled through. She didn't do that,
though. She lied to me all along, and married a curate, and I dare say
she'll be a virtuous she-vicar later on; but the little affair broke me
dead, and if I had more whisky in me I should be blubbering like a calf
all round this Dive. That would have disgusted you, wouldn't it?"

"Yes," said I.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 2: "Turnovers," Vol. VII.]



A MENAGERIE ABOARD[3]


It was pyjama time on the _Madura_ in the Bay of Bengal, and the
incense of the very early morning cigar went up to the stainless skies.
Every one knows pyjama time--the long hour that follows the removal
of the beds from the saloon skylight and the consumption of _chota
hazri_. Most men know, too, that the choicest stories of many seas
may be picked up then--from the long-winded histories of the Colonial
sheep-master to the crisp anecdotes of the Californian; from tales of
battle, murder and sudden death told by the Burmah-returned subaltern,
to the bland drivel of the globe-trotter. The Captain, tastefully
attired in pale pink, sat up on the signal-gun and tossed the husk of a
banana overboard.

"It looked in through my cabin-window," said he, "and scared me nearly
into a fit." We had just been talking about a monkey who appeared to
a man in an omnibus, and haunted him till he cut his own throat. The
apparition, amid howls of incredulity, was said to have been the result
of excessive tea-drinking. The Captain's apparition promised to be
better.

"It was a menagerie--a whole turnout, lock, stock, and barrel, from the
big bear to the little hippopotamus; and you can guess the size of it
from the fact that they paid us a thousand pounds in freight only. We
got them all accommodated somewhere forward among the deck passengers,
and they whooped up terribly all along the ship for two or three days.
Among other things, such as panthers and leopards, there were sixteen
giraffes, and we moored 'em fore and aft as securely as might be; but
you can't get a purchase on a giraffe somehow. He slopes back too much
from the bows to the stern. We were running up the Red Sea, I think,
and the menagerie fairly quiet. One night I went to my cabin not
feeling well. About midnight I was waked by something breathing on my
face. I was quite calm and collected, for I had got it into my head
that it was one of the panthers, or at least the bear; and I reached
back to the rack behind me for a revolver. Then the head began to slide
against my cabin--all across it--and I said to myself: 'It's the big
python.' But I looked into its eyes--they were beautiful eyes--and saw
it was one of the giraffes. Tell you, though, a giraffe has the eyes of
a sorrowful nun, and this creature was just brimming over with liquid
tenderness. The seven-foot neck rather spoilt the effect, but I'll
always recollect those eyes."

"Say, did you kiss the critter?" demanded the orchid-hunter en route to
Siam.

"No; I remembered that it was darn valuable, and I didn't want to lose
freight on it. I was afraid it would break its neck drawing its head
out of my window--I had a big deck cabin, of course--so I shoved it out
softly like a hen, and the head slid out, with those Mary Magdalene
eyes following me to the last. Then I heard the quartermaster calling
on heaven and earth for his lost giraffe, and then the row began all
up and down the decks. The giraffe had sense enough to duck its head to
avoid the awnings--we were awned from bow to stern--but it clattered
about like a sick cow, the quartermaster jumping after it, and it
swinging its long neck like a flail. 'Catch it, and hold it!' said the
quartermaster. 'Catch a typhoon,' said I. 'She's going overboard.' The
spotted fool had heaved one foot over the stern railings and was trying
to get the other to follow. It was so happy at getting its head into
the open I thought it would have crowed--I don't know whether giraffes
crow, but it heaved up its neck for all the world like a crowing cock.
'Come back to your stable,' yelled the quartermaster, grabbing hold of
the brute's tail.

"I was nearly helpless with laughing, though I knew if the concern
went over it would be no laughing matter for me. Well, by good luck
she came round--the quartermaster was a strong man at a rope's end.
First of all she slewed her neck round, and I could see those tender,
loving eyes under the stars sort of saying: 'Cruel man! What are you
doing to my tail?' Then the foot came on board, and she bumped herself
up under the awning, looking ready to cry with disappointment. The
funniest thing was she didn't make any noise--a pig would ha' roused
the ship in no time--only every time she dropped her foot on the deck
it was like firing a revolver, the hoofs clicked so. We headed her
towards the bows, back to her moorings--just like a policeman showing
a short-sighted old woman over a crossing. The quartermaster sweated
and panted and swore, but she never said anything--only whacked her
old head despairingly against the awning and the funnel case. Her feet
woke up the whole ship, and by the time we had her fairly moored fore
and aft the population in their night-gear were giving us advice. Then
we took up a yard or two in all the moorings and turned in. No other
animal got loose that voyage, though the old lady looked at me most
reproachfully every time I came that way, and 'You've blasted my young
and tender innocence' was the expression of her eyes. It was all the
quartermaster's fault for hauling her tail. I wonder she didn't kick
him open. Well, of course, that isn't much of a yarn, but I remember
once, in the city of Venice, we had a Malayan tapir loose on the deck,
and we had to lasso him. It was this way":

"_Guzl thyar hai_," said the steward, and I fled down the companion and
missed the tale of the tapir.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 3: Vol. V., Jan.--March, 1889.]



A SMOKE OF MANILA[4]


The man from Manila held the floor. "Much care had made him very lean
and pale and hollow-eyed." Added to which he smoked the cigars of his
own country, and they were bad for the constitution. He foisted his
Stinkadores Magnificosas and his Cuspidores Imperiallissimos upon all
who would accept them, and wondered that the recipients of his bounty
turned away and were sad. "There is nothing," said he, "like a Manila
cigar." And the pink pyjamas and blue pyjamas and the spotted green
pyjamas, all fluttering gracefully in the morning breeze, vowed that
there was not and never would be.

"Do the Spaniards smoke these vile brands to any extent?" asked the
Young Gentleman travelling for Pleasure as he inspected a fresh box of
Oysters of the East. "Smoke 'em!" said the man from Manila; "they do
nothing else day and night." "Ah!" said the Young Gentleman travelling
for Pleasure, in the low voice of one who has received mortal injury,
"that accounts for the administration of the country being what it is.
After a man has tried a couple of these things he would be ready for
any crime."

The man from Manila took no heed of the insult. "I knew a case once,"
said he, "when a cigar saved a man from the sin of burglary and landed
him in quod for five years." "Was he trying to kill the man who gave
him the cigar?" said the Young Gentleman travelling for Pleasure. "No,
it was this way: My firm's godowns stand close to a creek. That is to
say, the creek washes one face of them, and there are a few things
in those godowns that might be useful to a man, such as piece-goods
and cotton prints--perhaps five thousand dollars' worth. I happened
to be walking through the place one day when, for a miracle, I was
not smoking. That was two years ago." "Great Cæsar! then he has been
smoking ever since!" murmured the Young Gentleman travelling for
Pleasure.

"Was not smoking," continued the man from Manila. "I had no business in
the godowns. They were a short cut to my house. When half-way through
them I fancied I saw a little curl of smoke rising from behind one of
the bales. We stack our bales on low saddles, much as ricks are stacked
in England. My first notion was to yell. I object to fire in godowns on
principle. It is expensive, whatever the insurance may do. Luckily I
sniffed before I shouted, and I sniffed good tobacco smoke." "And this
was in Manila, you say?" interrupted the Young Gentleman travelling for
Pleasure.

"Yes, in the only place in the world where you get good tobacco. I knew
we had no bales of the weed in stock, and I suspected that a man who
got behind print bales to finish his cigar might be worth looking up. I
walked between the bales till I reached the smoke. It was coming from
the ground under one of the saddles. That's enough, I thought, and I
went away to get a couple of the Guarda Civile--policemen, in fact. I
knew if there was anything to be extracted from my friend the bobbies
would do it. A Spanish policeman carries in the day-time nothing more
than a six-shooter and _machete_, a dirk. At night he adorns himself
with a repeating rifle, which he fires on the slightest provocation.
Well, when the policemen arrived, they poked my friend out of his
hiding-place with their dirks, hauled him out by the hair, and kicked
him round the godown once or twice, just to let him know that he had
been discovered. They then began to question him, and under gentle
pressure--I thought he would be pulped into a jelly, but a Spanish
policeman always knows when to leave off--he made a clean breast of the
whole business. He was part of a gang, and was to lie in the godown all
that night. At twelve o'clock a boat manned by his confederates was to
drop down the creek and halt under the godown windows, while he was
to hand out our bales. That was their little plan. He had lain there
about three hours, and then he began to smoke. I don't think he noticed
what he was doing: smoking is just like breathing to a Spaniard. He
could not understand how he had betrayed himself and wanted to know
whether he had left a leg sticking out under the saddles. Then the
Guarda Civile lambasted him all over again for trifling with the
majesty of the law, and removed him after full confession.

"I put one of my own men under a saddle with instructions to hand out
print bales to anybody who might ask for them in the course of the
night. Meantime the police made their own arrangements, which were very
comprehensive.

"At midnight a lumbering old barge, big enough to hold about a hundred
bales, came down the creek and pulled up under the godown windows,
exactly as if she had been one of my own barges. The eight ruffians
in her whistled all the national airs of Manila as a signal to the
confederate, then cooling his heels in the lock-up. But my man was
ready. He opened the window and held quite a long confab with these
second-hand pirates. They were all half-breeds and Roman Catholics,
and the way they called upon all the blessed saints to assist them in
their work was edifying. My man began tilting out the bales quite as
quickly as the confederate would have done. Only he stopped to giggle
now and again, and they spat and swore at him like cats. That made him
worse, and at last he dropped yelling with laughter over the half door
of the godown goods window. Then one boat came up stream and another
down stream, and caught the barge stem and stern. Four Guarda Civiles
were in each boat; consequently, eight repeating rifles were pointed
at the barge, which was very nicely loaded with our bales. The pirates
called on the saints more fluently than ever, threw up their hands, and
threw themselves on their stomachs. That was the safest attitude, and
it gave them the chance of cursing their luck, the barge, the godown,
the Guarda Civile, and every saint in the calendar. They cursed the
saints most, for the Guarda Civile thumped 'em when their remarks
became too personal. We made them put all the bales back again. Then
they were handed over to justice and got five years apiece. If they had
any dollars they would get out the next day. If they hadn't, they would
serve their full time and no ticket-of-leave allowed. That's the whole
story."

"And the only case on record," said the Young Gentleman travelling for
Pleasure, "where a Manila cigar was of any use to any one." The man
from Manila lit a fresh Cuspidore and went down to his bath.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 4: "Turnovers," Vol. VII.]



THE RED LAMP[5]


"A strong situation--very strong, sir--quite the strongest one in the
play, in fact."

"What play?" said a voice from the bottom of the long chair under the
bulwarks.

"_The Red Lamp._"

"Oh!"

Conversation ceased, and there was an industrious sucking of cheroots
for the space of half an hour before the company adjourned to the
card-room. It was decidedly a night for sleeping on deck--warm as the
Red Sea and more moist than Bengal. Unfortunately, every square foot
of the deck seemed to be occupied by earlier comers, and in despair I
removed myself to the extreme fo'c'sle, where the anchor-chains churn
rust-dyed water from the hawseholes and the lascars walk about with
slushpots.

The throb of the engines reached this part of the world as a muffled
breathing which might be easily mistaken for the snoring of the
ship's cow. Occasionally one of the fowls in the coops waked and
cheeped dismally as she thought of to-morrow's entrées in the saloon,
but otherwise all was very, very still, for the hour was two in the
morning, when the crew of a ship are not disposed to be lively. None
came to bear me company save the bo'sun's pet kittens, and they were
impolite. From where I lay I could look over the whole length of
awning, ghostly white in the dark, and by their constant fluttering
judged that the ship was pitching considerably. The fo'c'sle swung up
and down like an uneasy hydraulic lift, and a few showers of spray
found their passage through the hawseholes from time to time.

Have you ever felt that maddening sense of incompetence which follows
on watching the work of another man's office? The civilian is at
home among his despatch-boxes and files of pending cases. "How in
the world does he do it?" asks the military man. The budding officer
can arrange for the movements of two hundred men across country.
"Incomprehensible!" says the civilian. And so it is with all alien
employs from our own. So it was with me. I knew that I was lying among
all the materials out of which Clark Russell builds his books of the
sea--the rush through the night, the gouts of foam, the singing of the
wind in the rigging overhead, and the black mystery of the water--but
for the life of me I could make nothing of them all.

 "A topsail royal flying free
 A bit of canvas was to me,
 And it was nothing more."

"Oh, that a man should have but one poor little life and one incomplete
set of experiences to crowd into it!" I sighed as the bells of the ship
lulled me to sleep and the lookout man crooned a dreary song.

I slept far into the night, for the clouds gathered over the sky, the
stars died out, and all grew as black as pitch. But we never slackened
speed; we beat the foam to left and right with clanking of chains,
rattling of bow-ports, and savage noises of ripping and rending from
the cut-water ploughing up to the luminous sea-beasts. I was roused by
the words of the man in the smoking-room: "A strong situation, sir,
very strong--quite the strongest in the play, in fact--_The Red Lamp_,
y' know."

I thought over the sentence lazily for a time, and then--surely there
was a red lamp in the air somewhere--an intolerable glare that singed
the shut eyelids. I opened my eyes and looked forward. The lascar was
asleep, his face bowed on his knees, though he ought to have been
roused by the hum of a rapidly approaching city, by the noises of men
and women talking and laughing and drinking. I could hear it not half a
mile away: it was strange that his ears should be closed.

The night was so black that one could hardly breathe; and yet where
did the glare from the red lamp come from? Not from our ship: she was
silent and asleep--the officers on the bridge were asleep; there was
no one of four hundred souls awake but myself. And the glare of the
red lamp went up to the zenith. Small wonder. A quarter of a mile in
front of us rolled a big steamer under full steam, and she was heading
down on us without a word of warning. Would the lookout man never look
out? Would their crew be as fast asleep as ours? It was impossible, for
the other ship hummed with populous noises, and there was the defiant
tinkle of a piano rising above all. She should have altered her course,
or blown a fog-horn.

I held my breath while an eternity went by, counted out by the
throbbing of my heart and the engines. I knew that it was my duty
to call, but I knew also that no one could hear me. Moreover, I was
intensely interested in the approaching catastrophe; interested, you
will understand, as one whom it did in no wise concern. By the light
of the luminous sea thrown forward in sheets under the forefoot of
the advancing steamer I could discern the minutest details of her
structure from cat-head to bridge. Abaft the bridge she was crowded
with merrymakers--seemed to be, in fact, a P. & O. vessel given up to a
ball. I wondered as I leaned over the bulwarks what they would say when
the crash came--whether they would shriek very loudly--whether the men
and women would try to rush to our decks, or whether we would rush on
to theirs. It would not matter in the least, for at the speed we were
driving both vessels would go down together locked through the deeps
of the sea. It occurred to me then that the sea would be cold, and
that instead of choking decently I might be one in a mad rush for the
boats--might be crippled by a falling spar or wrenched plate and left
on the heeling decks to die. Then Terror came to me--Fear, gross and
overwhelming as the bulk of the night--Despair unrelieved by a single
ray of hope.

We were not fifty yards apart when the passengers on the stranger
caught sight of us and shrieked aloud. I saw a man pick up his child
from one of the benches and futilely attempt to climb the rigging. Then
we closed--her name-plate ten feet above ours, looking down into our
forehatch. I heard the grinding as of a hundred querns, the ripping of
the tough bow-plates, and the pistol-like report of displaced rivets
followed by the rush of the sea. We were sinking in mid-ocean.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Beg y' pardon," said the quartermaster, shaking me by the arm, "but
you must have been sleeping in the moonlight for the last two hours,
and that's not good for the eyes. Didn't seem to make you sleep easy,
either." I opened my eyes heavily. My face was swollen and aching, for
on my forehead lay the malignant splendour of the moon. The glare of
the Red Lamp had vanished with the brilliantly-lighted ship, but the
ghastly shrieks of her drowning crew continued.

"What's that?" I asked tremulously of the quartermaster. "Was it real?"

"Pork chops in the saloon to-morrow," said the quartermaster. "The
butcher he got up at four bells to put the old squeaker out of the way.
Them's his dying ejaculations."

I dragged my bedding aft and went to sleep.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 5: "Turnovers," Vol. VII.]



THE SHADOW OF HIS HAND[6]


"I come from San José," he said. "San José, Calaveras County,
California: that's my place." I pricked up my ears at the mention of
Calaveras County. Bret Harte has made that sacred ground.

"Yes?" said I politely. Always be polite to a gentleman from Calaveras
County. For aught you know he may be a lineal descendant of the great
Colonel Starbottle.

"Did you ever know Vermilyea of San Luis Obispo?" continued the
stranger, chewing the plug of meditation.

"No," said I. Heaven alone knows where lies San Luis Obispo, but I was
not going to expose my ignorance. Besides, there might be a story at
the back of it all. "What was the special weakness of Mister Vermilyea?"

"Vermilyea! He weak! Lot Vermilyea never had a weakness that you might
call a weakness until subsequent events transpired. Then that weakness
developed into White Rye. All Westerners drink White Rye. On the
Eastern coast they drink Bourbon. Lot tried both when his heart was
broken. Both--by the quart."

"D'you happen to remember what broke his heart?" I said.

"This must be your first trip to the States, sir, or you would
know that Lot's heart was broken by his father-in-law. Lot's
congregation--he took to Religion--always said that he had no business
fooling with a father-in-law. A good many other people said that too.
But I always adhered to Lot. 'Why don't you kill the animal, Lot?' I
used to say. 'I can't. He's the father of my wife,' Lot used to say.
'Loan him money then and settle him on the other side of the States,' I
used to say. 'The old clam won't move,' Lot used to say."

"Half a minute. What was the actual trouble between Vermilyea and his
father-in-law? Did he borrow money?"

"I'm coming to that," said the stranger calmly. "It arrived this way.
Lot had a notion to get married. Some men get that idea. He went to
'Frisco and pawned out his heart--Lot had a most feeling heart, and
that was his ruin--to a girl who lived at back of Kearney Street. I've
forgotten her given name, but the old man's name was Dougherty. Guess
he was a naturalised Irishman. The old man did not see the merits of
Lot when he went sparking after the girl evenings. He fired Lot out off
the stoop three or four times. Lot didn't hit him because he was fond
of the daughter. He just quit like a lamb; the old man welting into him
with anything that came handy--sticks and besoms, and such. Lot endured
that, being a tough man. Every time Lot was fired out he would wait
till the old man was pretty well pumped out. Then he used to turn round
and say, 'When's the wedding to be?' Dougherty used to ramp round Lot
while the girl hid herself till the breeze abated. He had a peculiar
aversion to domiciliary visits from Lot, had Dougherty. I've my own
theory on the subject. I'll explain it later on. At last Dougherty got
tired of Lot and his peacefulness. The girl stuck to him for all she
was worth. Lot never budged. 'If you want to marry her,' said the old
man, 'just drop your long-suffering for half an hour. Stand up to me,
Lot, and we'll run this thing through with our hands.' 'If I must, I
must,' said Lot, and with that they began the argument up and down the
parlour floor. Lot he was fighting for his wife. He set considerable
value on the girl. The old man he was fighting for the fun of the
affair. Lot whipped. He handled the old man tenderly out of regard
for his connections. All the same he fixed him up pretty thoroughly.
When he crawled off the old man he had received his permission to
marry the girl. Old man Dougherty ran round 'Frisco advertising Lot
for the tallest fighter in the town. Lot was a respectable sort of man
and considerable absorbed in preparing for his wedding. It didn't
please him any to receive invitations from the boss fighting men of
'Frisco--professional invitations, you must understand. I guess he
cussed the father-in-law to be.

"When he was married, he concluded to locate in 'Frisco, and started
business there. A married man don't keep his muscle up any. Old man
Dougherty he must have counted on that. By the time Lot's first child
was born he came around suffering for a fight. He painted Lot's house
crimson. Lot endured that. He got a hold of the baby and began yanking
it around by the legs to see if it could squeal worth listening to.
Lot stretched him. Old man howled with delight. Lot couldn't well
hand his father-in-law over to the police, so they had it, knuckle
and tooth, all round the front floor, and the old man he quit by the
window, considerably mashed up. Lot was fair spent, not having kept up
his muscle. My notion is that old man Dougherty being a boss fighter
couldn't get his fighting regularly till Lot married into the family.
Then he reckoned on a running discussion to warm up his bones. Lot was
too fond of his wife to disoblige him. Any man in his senses would have
brought the old man before the courts, or clubbed him, or laid him out
stiff. But Lot was always tender-hearted.

"Soon as old man Dougherty got his senses together off the pavement,
he argued that Lot was considerable less of a fighter than he had
been. That pleased the old man. He was plastered and caulked up by
the doctors, and as soon as he could move he interviewed Lot and made
remarks. Lot didn't much care what he said, but when he came to casting
reflections on the parentage of the baby, Lot shut the office door and
played round for half an hour till the walls glittered like the evening
sun. Old man Dougherty crawled out, but he crowed as he crawled.
'Praise the blessed saints,' he said, 'I kin get my fighting along o'
my meals. Lot, ye have prolonged my life a century.'

"Guess Lot would like to see him dead now. He is an old man, but most
amazing tough. He has been fighting Lot for a matter of three years.
If Lot made a lucky bit of trade, the old man would come along and
fight him for luck. If Lot lost a little, the old man would fight him
to teach him safe speculation. It took all Lot's time to keep even with
him. No man in business can 'tend his business and fight in streaks.
Lot's trade fell off every time he laid himself out to stretch the old
man. Worst of it was that when Lot was made a Deacon of his church, the
old man fought him most terrible for the honour of the Roman Catholic
Church. Lot whipped, of course. He always whipped. Old man Dougherty
went round among the other Deacons and lauded Lot for a boss pugilist,
not meaning to hurt Lot's prospects. Lot had to explain the situation
to the church in general. They accepted it.

"Old man Dougherty he fought on. Age had no effect on him. Lot always
whipped, but nothing would satisfy the old man. Lot shook all his teeth
out till his gums were as bare as a sand-bar. Old man Dougherty came
along lisping his invitation to the dance. They fought.

"When Lot shifted to San Luis Obispo, old man Dougherty he came along
too--craving for his fight. It was cocktails and plug to him. It
grew on him. Lot handled him too gently because of the wife. The old
man could come to the scratch once a month, and always at the most
inconvenient time. They fought.

"Last I heard of Lot he was sinking into the tomb. 'It's not the
fighting,' he said to me. 'It's the darned monotony of the circus. He
knows I can whip him, but he won't rest satisfied. 'Lay him out, Lot,'
said I; 'fracture his cranium or gouge him. This show is foolish all
round.' 'I can't lay him out,' said Lot. 'He's my father-in-law. But
don't it strike you I've a deal to be thankful for? If he had been a
Jew he'd have fought on Sundays when I was doing Deacon. I've been too
gentle with him; the old man knows my spot place, but I've a deal to be
thankful for.'

"Strikes me that thankfulness of Lot's sort is nothing more nor less
than cussed affectation. Say!"

I said nothing.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 6: "Turnovers," Vol. VII.]



A LITTLE MORE BEEF[7]


"A little more beef, please," said the fat man with the grey whiskers
and the spattered waistcoat. "You can't eat too much o' good beef--not
even when the prices are going up hoof over hock." And he settled
himself down to load in a fresh cargo.

Now, this is how the fat man had come by his meal. One thousand miles
away, a red Texan steer was preparing to go to bed for the night in the
company of his fellows--myriads of his fellows. From dawn till late
dusk he had loafed across the leagues of grass and grunted savagely as
each mouthful proved to his mind that grass was not what he had known
it in his youth. But the steer was wrong. That summer had brought great
drought to Montana and Northern Dakota. The cattle feed was withering
day by day, and the more prudent stock owners had written to the East
for manufactured provender. Only the little cactus that grows with the
grasses appeared to enjoy itself. The cattle certainly did not; and the
cowboys from the very beginning of spring had used language considered
profane even for the cowboy. What their ponies said has never been
recorded. The ponies had the worst time of all, and at each nightly
camp whispered to each other their longings for the winter, when
they would be turned out on the freezing ranges--galled from wither
to croup, but riderless--thank Heaven, riderless. On these various
miseries the sun looked down impartial. His business was to cake the
ground and ruin the grasses.

The cattle--the acres of huddled cattle--were restless. In the first
place, they were forced to scatter for graze; and in the second, the
heat told on their tempers and made them prod each other with their
long horns. In the heart of the herd you would have thought men were
fighting with single-sticks. On the outskirts, posted at quarter-mile
intervals, sat the cowboys on their ponies, the brims of their hats
tilted over their sun-skinned noses, their feet out of the big
brown-leather hooded stirrups, and their hands gripping the horn of the
heavy saddle to keep themselves from falling on to the ground--asleep.
A cowboy can sleep at full gallop; on the other hand, he can keep
awake also at full gallop for eight and forty hours and wear down six
unamiable bronchos in the process.

Lafe Parmalee; Shwink, the German who could not ride but had a blind
affection for cattle from the branding-yard to the butcher's block;
Michigan, so called because he said he came from California but spoke
not the Californian tongue; Jim from San Diego, to distinguish him
from other Jims, and The Corpse, were the outposts of the herd. The
Corpse had won his name from a statement, made in the fulness of much
McBrayer whisky, that he had once been a graduate of Corpus Christi. He
spoke truth, but to the wrong audience. The inhabitants of the Elite
Saloon, after several attempts to get the hang of the name, dubbed the
speaker The Corpse, and as long as he cinched a broncho or jingled a
spur within four hundred miles of Livingston--yea, far in the south,
even to the unexplored borders of the sheep-eater Indians--he was known
by that unlovely name. How he had passed from college to cattle no man
knew, and, according to the etiquette of the West, no man asked. He was
not by any means a tenderfoot--had no unmanly weakness for washing,
did not in the least object to appearing at the wild and wonderful
reunions held nightly in "Miss Minnie's parlour," whose flaring
advertisement did not in the least disturb the proprieties of Wachoma
Junction, and, in common with his associates, was, when drunk, ready
to shoot at anything or anybody. He was not proud. He had condescended
to take in hand and educate a young and promising Chicago drummer, who
by evil fate had wandered into that wilderness, where all his cunning
was of no account; and from that youth's quivering hand--outstretched
by command--had shot away the top of a wine-glass. The Corpse was
recognised in the freemasonry of the craft as "one of the C.M.R.'s
boys, and tough at that."

The C.M.R. controlled much cattle, and their slaughter-houses in
Chicago bubbled the blood of beeves all day long. Their salt-beef fed
the sailor on the sea, and their iced, best firsts, the housekeeper
in the London suburbs. Not even the firm knew how many cowboys they
employed, but all the firm knew that on the fourteenth day of July
their stockyards at Wachoma Junction were to be filled with two
thousand head of cattle, ready for immediate shipment to Chicago while
prices yet ruled high, and before the grass had withered utterly.
Lafe, Michigan, Jim, The Corpse and the others knew this too, and were
heartily glad of it, because they would be paid up in Chicago for their
half-year's work, and would then do their best towards painting that
town in purest vermilion. They would get drunk; they would gamble, and
would otherwise enjoy themselves till they were broke; and then they
would hire out again.

The sun dropped behind the rolling hills; and the cattle halted for
the night, cheered and cooled by a little wandering breeze. The red
steer's mother had been caught in a hailstorm five years ago. Till she
went the way of all cow-flesh she missed no opportunity of telling her
son to beware of the hot day and the cold wind that does not know its
own mind. "When it blows five ways at once," said she, "and makes your
horns feel creepy, get away, my son. Follow the time-honoured instinct
of our tribe, and run. I ran"--she looked ruefully at the scars on her
side--"but that was in a barb-wire country, and it hurt me. None the
less, run." The red steer chewed his cud, and the little wind out of
the darkness played round his horns--all five ways at once. The cowboys
lifted up their voices in unmelodious song, that the cattle might know
where they were, and began slowly walking round the recumbent herd. "Do
anybody's horns feel creepy?" queried the red steer of his neighbours.
"My mother told me"--and he repeated the tale, to the edification of
the yearlings and the three-year-olds breathing heavily at his side.

The song of the cowboys rose higher. The cattle bowed their heads.
Their men were at hand. They were safe. Something had happened to
the quiet stars. They were dying out one by one, and the wind was
freshening. "Bless my hoofs!" muttered a yearling, "my horns are
beginning to feel creepy." Softly the red steer lifted himself from
the ground. "Come away," quoth he to the yearling. "Come away to the
outskirts, and we'll move. My mother said...." The innocent fool
followed, and a white heifer saw them move. Being a woman she naturally
bellowed "Timber wolves!" and ran forward blindly into a dun steer
dreaming over clover. Followed the thunder of cattle rising to their
feet, and the triple crack of a whip. The little wind had dropped for a
moment, only to fall on the herd with a shriek and a few stinging drops
of hail, that stung as keenly as the whips. The herd broke into a trot,
a canter, and then a mad gallop. Black fear was behind them, black
night in front. They headed into the night, bellowing with terror;
and at their side rode the men with the whips. The ponies grunted as
they felt the raking spurs. They knew that an all-night gallop lay
before them, and woe betide the luckless cayuse that stumbled in that
ride. Then fell the hail--blinding and choking and flogging in one and
the same stroke. The herd opened like a fan. The red steer headed a
contingent he knew not whither. A man with a whip rode at his right
flank. Behind him the lightning showed a field of glimmering horns, and
of muzzles flecked with foam; a field of red terror-strained eyes and
shaggy frontlets. The man looked back also, and his terror was greater
than that of the beasts. The herd had surrounded him in the darkness.
His salvation lay in the legs of _Whisky Peat_--and _Whisky Peat_ knew
it--knew it until an unseen gopher hole received his near forefoot as
he strained every nerve--in the heart of the flying herd, with the red
steer at his flanks. Then, being only over-worked cayuse, _Whisky
Peat_ fell, and the red steer fancied that there was something soft on
the ground.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was Michigan, Jim and Lafe who at last brought the herd to a
standstill as the dawn was breaking, "What's come to The Corpse?" quoth
Lafe. Jim loosened the girths of his quivering pony and made answer
slowly: "Onless I'm a blamed fool, the gentleman is now livin' up to
his durned appellation 'bout fifteen miles back--what there is of him
and the cayuse." "Let's go and look," said Lafe, shuddering slightly,
for the morning air, you must understand, was raw. "Let's go to--a
much hotter place than Texas," responded Jim. "Get the steers to the
Junction first. Guess what's left of The Corpse will keep."

And it did. And that was how the fat man in Chicago got his beef. It
belonged to the red steer.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 7: "Turnovers," Vol. VII.]



THE HISTORY OF A FALL[8]


_Mere English will not do justice to the event. Let us attempt it
according to the custom of the French. Thus and so following:_

Listen to a history of the most painful--and of the most true.
You others, the Governors, the Lieutenant-Governors, and the
Commissionaires of the Oriental Indias.

It is you, foolishly outside of the truth in prey to illusions so blind
that I of them remain so stupefied--it is to you that I address myself!

Know you Sir Cyril Wollobie, K.C.S.I., C.M.G., and all the other little
things?

He was of the Sacred Order of Yourself--a man responsible
enormously--charged of the conservation of millions....

Of people. That is understood. The Indian Government conserves not its
rupees.

He was the well-loved of kings. I have seen the Viceroy--which is the
Lorr-Maire--embrace him of both arms.

That was in Simla. All things are possible in Simla.

Even embraces.

His wife! Mon Dieu, his wife!

The aheuried imagination prostrates itself at the remembrance of the
splendours Orientals of the Lady Cyril--the very respectable the Lady
Wollobie.

That was in Simla. All things are possible in Simla. Even wives. In
those days I was--what you call--a Schnobb. I am now a much larger
Schnobb. _Voila_ the only difference. Thus it is true that travel
expands the mind.

But let us return to our Wollobies.

I admired that man there with the both hands. I crawled before the
Lady Wollobie--platonically. The man the most brave would be only
platonic towards that lady. And I was also afraid. Subsequently I
went to a dance. The wine equalled not the splendour of the Wollobies.
Nor the food. But there was upon the floor an open space--large and
park-like. It protected the dignity Wollobi-callisme. It was guarded by
Aides-de-Camp. With blue silk in their coat-tails--turned up. With pink
eyes and white moustaches to ravish. Also turned up.

To me addressed himself an Aide-de-Camp.

That was in Simla. To-day I do not speak to Aides-de-Camp.

I confine myself exclusively to the cab-drivaire. He does not know so
much bad language, but he can drive better.

I approached, under the protection of the Aide-de-Camp, the luminosity
of Sir Wollobie.

The world entire regarded.

The band stopped. The lights burned blue. A domestic dropped a plate.

It was an inspiring moment.

From the summit of Jakko forty-five monkies looked down upon the crisis.

Sir Wollobie spoke.

To me in that expanse of floor cultured and park-like. He said: "I have
long desired to make your acquaintance."

The blood bouilloned in my head. I became pink. I was aneantied under
the weight of an embarras insubrimable.

At that moment Sir Wollobie became oblivious of my personality. That
was his custom.

Wiping my face upon my coat-tails I refugied myself among the foules.

_I had been spoken to by Sir Wollobie._ That was in Simla. That also is
history.

       *       *       *       *       *

Pass now several years. To the day before yesterday!

This also is history--farcical, immense, tragi-comic, but true.

Know you the Totnam Cortrode?

Here lives Maple, who sells washing appliances and tables of exotic
legs.

Here voyages also a Omnibuse Proletariat.

That is to say for One penny.

Two pence is the refined volupté of the Aristocrat.

I am of the people.

_Entre nous_ the connection is not desired by us. The people address to
me epithets, entirely unprintable. I reply that they should wash. The
situation is strained. Hence the Strike Docks and the Demonstrations
Laborious.

Upon the funeste tumbril of the Proletariat I take my seat.

I demand air outside upon the roof.

I will have all my penny.

The tumbril advances.

A man aged loses his equilibrium and deposits himself into my lap.

Following the custom of the Brutal Londoner I demand the Devil where he
shoves himself.

He apologises supplicatorically.

I grunt.

Encore the tumbril shakes herself.

I appropriate the desired seat of the old man.

The conductaire cries to loud voice: "Fare, Guvnor."

He produces one penny.

A reminiscence phantasmal provokes itself.

I beat him on the back.

It is Sir Wollobie; the ex-Everything!

Also the ex-Everything else!

Figure you the situation!

He clasps my hand.

As a child clasps the hand of its nurse.

He demands of me particular rensignments of my health. It is to him a
matter important.

Other time he regulated the health of forty-five millions.

I riposte. I enquire of his liver--his pancreas, his abdomen.

The sacred internals of Sir Wollobie!

He has them all. And they all make him ill.

He is very lonely. He speaks of his wife. There is no Lady Wollobie,
but a woman in a flat in Bayswater who cries in her sleep for more
curricles.

He does not say this, but I understand.

He derides the Council of the Indian Office. He imprecates the
Government.

He curses the journals.

He has a clob. He curses that clob.

Females with teeth monstrous explain to him the theory of Government.

Men of long hair, the psychologues of the paint-pots, correct him
tenderly, but from above.

He has known of the actualities of life--Death, Power, Responsibility,
Honour--the Good accomplished, the effacement of Wrong for forty years.

There remains to him a seat in a penny 'bus.

If I do not take him from that.

I rap my heels on the knife-board. I sing "_tra la la_." I am also well
disposed to larmes.

He courbes himself underneath an ulstaire and he damns the fog to
eternity.

He wills not that I leave him. He desires that I come to dinner.

I am grave. I think upon Lady Wollobie--shorn of chaprassies--at the
Clob. Not in Bayswater.

I accept. He will bore me affreusely, but ... I have taken his seat.

He descends from the tumbril of his humiliation, and the street hawker
rolls a barrow up his waistcoat.

Then intervenes the fog--dense, impenetrable, hopeless, without end.

It is because of the fog that there is a drop upon the end of my nose
so chiselled.

Gentlemen the Governors, the Lieutenant-Governors and the Commissaires,
behold the doom prepared.

I am descended to the gates of your Life in Death. Which is Brompton or
Bayswater.

You do not believe? You will try the constituencies when you return; is
it not so?

You will fail. As others failed.

Your seat waits you on the top of an Omnibuse Proletariat.

I shall be there.

You will embrace me as a shipwrecked man embraces a log. You will be
"dam glad t' see me."

I shall grin.

Oh Life! Oh Death! Oh Power! Oh Toil! Oh Hope! Oh Stars! Oh Honour! Oh
Lodgings! Oh Fog! Oh Omnibuses! Oh Despair! Oh Skittles!

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 8: "Turnovers," Vol. VIII.]



GRIFFITHS THE SAFE MAN[9]


As the title indicates, this story deals with the safeness of Griffiths
the safe man, the secure person, the reliable individual, the sort of
man you would bank with. I am proud to write about Griffiths, for I owe
him a pleasant day. This story is dedicated to my friend Griffiths, the
remarkably trustworthy mortal.

In the beginning there were points about Griffiths. He quoted proverbs.
A man who quotes proverbs is confounded by proverbs. He is also
confounded by his friends. But I never confounded Griffiths--not even
in that supreme moment when the sweat stood on his brow in agony and
his teeth were fixed like bayonets and he swore horribly. Even then, I
say, I sat on my own trunk, the trunk that opened, and told Griffiths
that I had always respected him, but never more than at the present
moment. He was so safe, y' know.

Safeness is a matter of no importance to me. If my trunk won't lock
when I jump on it thrice, I strap it up and go on to something else. If
my carpet-bag is too full, I let the tails of shirts and the ends of
ties bubble over and go down the street with the affair. It all comes
right in the end, and if it does not, what is a man that he should
fight against Fate?

But Griffiths is not constructed in that manner. He says: "Safe bind is
safe find." That, rather, is what he used to say. He has seen reason
to alter his views. Everything about Griffiths is safe--entirely safe.
His trunk is locked by two hermetical gun-metal double-end Chubbs;
his bedding-roll opens to a letter padlock capable of two million
combinations; his hat-box has a lever patent safety on it; and the
grief of his life is that he cannot lock up the ribs of his umbrella
safely. If you could get at his soul you would find it ready strapped
up and labelled for heaven. That is Griffiths.

When we went to Japan together, Griffiths kept all his money under lock
and key. I carried mine in my coat-tail pocket. But all Griffiths'
contraptions did not prevent him from spending exactly as much as I
did. You see, when he had worried his way through the big strap, and
the little strap, and the slide-valve, and the spring lock, and the key
that turned twice and a quarter, he felt as though he had earned any
money he found, whereas I could get masses of sinful wealth by merely
pulling out my handkerchief--dollars and five dollars and ten dollars,
all mixed up with the tobacco or flying down the road. They looked much
too pretty to spend.

"Safe bind, safe find," said Griffiths in the treaty port.

He never really began to lock things up severely till we got our
passports to travel up-country. He took charge of mine for me, on the
ground that I was an imbecile. As you are asked for your passport at
every other shop, all the hotels, most of the places of amusement, and
on the top of each hill, I got to appreciate Griffiths' self-sacrifice.
He would be biting a strap with his teeth or calculating the
combinations of his padlocks among a ring of admiring Japanese while I
went for a walk into the interior.

"Safe bind, safe find," said Griffiths. That was true, because I was
bound to find Griffiths somewhere near his beloved keys and straps.
He never seemed to see that half the pleasure of his trip was being
strapped and keyed out of him.

We never had any serious difficulty about the passports in the whole
course of our wanderings. What I purpose to describe now is merely an
incident of travel. It had no effect on myself, but it nearly broke
Griffiths' heart.

We were travelling from Kyoto to Otsu along a very dusty road full of
pretty girls. Every time I stopped to play with one of them Griffiths
grew impatient. He had telegraphed for rooms at the only hotel in Otsu,
and was afraid that there would be no accommodation. There were only
three rooms in the hotel, and "Safe bind, safe find," said Griffiths.
He was telegraphing ahead for something.

Our hotel was three-quarters Japanese and one-quarter European. If
you walked across it it shook, and if you laughed the roof fell off.
Strange Japanese came in and dined with you, and Jap maidens looked
through the windows of the bathroom while you were bathing.

We had hardly put the luggage down before the proprietor asked for
our passports. He asked me of all people in the world. "I have the
passports," said Griffiths with pride. "They are in the yellow-hide
bag. Turn it very carefully on to the right side, my good man. You
have no such locks in Japan, I'm quite certain." Then he knelt down
and brought out a bunch of keys as big as his fist. You must know that
every Japanese carries a little _belaiti_-made handbag with nickel
fastenings. They take an interest in handbags.

"Safe bind, safe---- D----n the key! What's wrong with it?" said
Griffiths.

The hotel proprietor bowed and smiled very politely for at least five
minutes, Griffiths crawling over and under and round and about his bag
the while. "It's a percussating compensator," said he, half to himself.
"I've never known a percussating compensator do this before." He was
getting heated and red in the face.

"Key stuck, eh? I told you those fooling little spring locks are sure
to go wrong sooner or later."

"Fooling little devils. It's a percussating comp---- There goes
the key. Now it won't move either way. I'll give you the passport
to-morrow. Passport _kul demang manana_--catchee in a little time.
Won't that do for you?"

Griffiths was getting really angry. The proprietor was more polite than
ever. He bowed and left the room. "That's a good little chap," said
Griffiths. "Now we'll settle down and see what the mischief's wrong
with this bag. You catch one end."

"Not in the least," I said. "'Safe bind, safe find.' You did the
binding. How can you expect me to do the finding? I'm an imbecile unfit
to be trusted with a passport, and now I'm going for a walk." The
Japanese are really the politest nation in the world. When the hotel
proprietor returned with a policeman he did not at once thrust the man
on Griffiths' notice. He put him in the verandah and let him clank his
sword gently once or twice.

"Little chap's brought a blacksmith," said Griffiths, but when he saw
the policeman his face became ugly. The policeman came into the room
and tried to assist. Have you ever seen a four-foot policeman in white
cotton gloves and a stand-up collar lunging percussating compensator
look with a five-foot sword? I enjoyed the sight for a few minutes
before I went out to look at Otsu, which is a nice town. No one
hindered me. Griffiths was so completely the head of the firm that had
I set the town on fire he would have been held responsible.

I went to a temple, and a policeman said "passport." I said, "The other
gentleman has got." "Where is other gentleman?" said the policeman,
syllable by syllable, in the Ollendorfian style. "In the ho-tel,"
said I; and he waddled off to catch him. It seemed to me that I could
do a great deal towards cheering Griffiths all alone in his bedroom
with that wicked bad lock, the hotel proprietor, the policeman, the
room-boy, and the girl who helped one to bathe. With this idea I stood
in front of four policemen, and they all asked for my passport and were
all sent to the hotel, syllable by syllable--I mean one by one.

Some soldiers of the 9th N.I. were strolling about the streets, and
they were idle. It is unwise to let a soldier be idle. He may get
drunk. When the fourth policeman said: "Where is other gentleman?" I
said: "In the hotel, and take soldiers--those soldiers."

"How many soldiers?" said the policeman firmly.

"Take all soldiers," I said. There were four files in the street just
then. The policeman spoke to them, and they caught up their big
sword-bayonets, nearly as long as themselves, and waddled after him.

I followed them, but first I bought some sweets and gave one to a
child. That was enough. Long before I had reached the hotel I had a
tail of fifty babies. These I seduced into the long passage that ran
through the house, and then I slid the grating that answers to the big
hall-door. That house was full--pit, boxes and galleries--for Griffiths
had created an audience of his own, and I also had not been idle.

The four files of soldiers and the five policemen were marking time on
the boards of Griffith's room, while the landlord and the landlord's
wife, and the two scullions, and the bath-girl, and the cook-boy, and
the boy who spoke English, and the boy who didn't, and the boy who
tried to, and the cook, filled all the space that wasn't devoted to
babies asking the foreigner for more sweets.

Somewhere in the centre of the mess was Griffiths and a yellow-hide
bag. I don't think he had looked up once since I left, for as he
raised his eyes at my voice I heard him cry: "Good heavens! are they
going to train the guns of the city on me? What's the meaning of the
regiment? I'm a British subject."

"What are you looking for?" I asked.

"The passports--your passports--the double-dyed passports! Oh, give a
man room to use his arms. Get me a hatchet."

"The passports, the passports!" I said. "Have you looked in your
great-coat? It's on the bed, and there's a blue envelope in it that
looks like a passport. You put it there before you left Kyoto."

Griffiths looked. The landlord looked. The landlord took the passport
and bowed. The five policemen bowed and went out one by one; the 9th
N.I. formed fours and went out; the household bowed, and there was a
long silence. Then the bath-girl began to giggle.

When Griffiths wanted to speak to me I was on the other side of the
regiment of children in the passage, and he had time to reflect before
he could work his way through them.

They formed his guard-of-honour when he took the bag to the locksmith.

I abode on the mountains of Otsu till dinner-time.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 9: "Turnovers," Vol. VII.]



IT![10]


There was no talk of it for a fortnight. We spoke of latitude and
longitude and the proper manufacture of sherry cobblers, while the
steamer cut open a glassy-smooth sea. Then we turned towards China and
drank farewell to the nearer East.

"We shall reach Hongkong without being it," said the nervous lady.

"Nobody of ordinary strength of mind ever was it," said the big fat man
with the voice. I kept my eye on the big fat man. He boasted too much.

The China seas are governed neither by wind nor calm. Deep down under
the sapphire waters sits a green and yellow devil who suffers from
indigestion perpetually. When he is unwell he troubles the waters above
with his twistings and writhings. Thus it happens that it is never
calm in the China seas.

The sun was shining brightly when the big fat man with the voice came
up the companion and looked at the horizon.

"Hah!" said he, "calm as ditch water! Now I remember when I was in
the _Florida_ in '80, meeting a tidal-wave that turned us upside down
for five minutes, and most of the people inside out, by Jove!" He
expatiated at length on the heroism displayed by himself when "even the
Captain was down, sir!"

I said nothing, but I kept my eyes upon the strong man.

The sun continued to shine brightly, and it also kept an eye in the
same direction. I went to the far-off fo'c'sle, where the sheep and the
cow and the bo'sun and the second-class passengers dwell together in
amity. "Bo'sun," said I, "how's her head?"

"Direckly in front of her, sir," replied that ill-mannered soul,
"but we shall be meetin' a head-sea in half an hour that'll put your
head atween of your legs. Go aft an' tell that to them first-class
passengers."

I went aft, but I said nothing. We went, later, to tiffin, and there
was a fine funereal smell of stale curries and tinned meats in the air.
Conversation was animated, for most of the passengers had been together
for five weeks and had developed two or three promising flirtations.
I was a stranger--a minnow among Tritons--a third man in the cabin.
Only those who have been a third man in the cabin know what this means.
Suddenly and without warning our ship curtsied. It was neither a bob
nor a duck nor a lurch, but a long, sweeping, stately old-fashioned
curtsy. Followed a lull in the conversation. I was distinctly conscious
that I had left my stomach two feet in the air, and waited for the
return roll to join it. "Prettily the old hooper rides, doesn't she?"
said the strong man. "I hope she won't do it often," said the pretty
lady with the changing complexion.

"Wha-hoop! Wha--wha--wha--willy _whoop_!" said the screw, that had
managed to come out of the water and was racing wildly.

"Good heavens! is the ship going down?" said the fat lady, clutching
her own private claret bottle that she might not die athirst. The
ship went down at the word--with a drunken lurch down she went, and a
smothered yell from one of the cabins showed that there was water in
the sea. The portholes closed with a clash, and we rose and fell on
the swell of the bo'sun's head-sea. The conversation died out. Some
complained that the saloon was stuffy, and fled upstairs to the deck.
The strong man brought up the rear.

"Ooshy--ooshy--wooshy--woggle _wop!_" cried a big wave without a head.
"Get up, old girl!" and he smacked the ship most disrespectfully under
the counter, and she squirmed as she took the drift of the next sea.

"She--ah--rides very prettily," repeated the strong man as the
companion stairs spurned him from them and he wound his arms round the
nearest steward.

"Damn prettily," said the necked officer. "I'm going to lie down.
Never could stand the China seas."

"Most refreshing thing in the world," said the strong man faintly.

I took counsel purely with myself, which is to say, my stomach, and
perceived that the worst would not befall me.

"Come to the fo'c'sle, then, and feel the wind," said I to the strong
man. The plover's-egg eyes of three yellowish-green girls were upon him.

"With pleasure," said he, and I bore him away to where the cut-water
was pulling up the scared flying-fishes as a spaniel flushes game. In
front of us was the illimitable blue, lightly ridged by the procession
of the big blind rollers. Up rose the stem till six feet of the red
paint stood clear above the blue--from twenty-three feet to eighteen I
could count as I leaned over. Then the sapphire crashed into splintered
crystal with a musical jar, and the white spray licked the anchor
channels as we drove down and down, sucking at the sea. I kept my eye
upon the strong man, and I noticed that his mouth was slightly open,
the better to inhale the rushing wind. When I looked a second time
he was gone. The driven spray was scarcely quicker in its flight. My
excellent stomach behaved with temperance and chastity. I enjoyed the
fo'c'sle, and my delight was the greater when I reflected on the strong
man. Unless I was much mistaken, he would know all about it in half an
hour.

I went aft, and a lull between two waves heard the petulant pop of a
champagne cork. No one drinks champagne after tiffin except.... _It_.

The strong man had ordered the champagne. There were bottles of it
flying about the quarter-deck. The engaged couple were sipping it out
of one glass, but their faces were averted like our parents of old.
They were ashamed.

"You may go! You may go to Hongkong for me!" shouted half-a-dozen
little waves together, pulling the ship several ways at once. She
rolled stately, and from that moment settled down to the work of the
evening. I cannot blame her, for I am sure she did not know her own
strength. It didn't hurt her to be on her side, and play cat-and-mouse,
and puss-in-the corner, and hide-and-seek, but it destroyed the
passengers. One by one they sank into long chairs and gazed at the sky.
But even there the little white moved, and there was not one stable
thing in heaven above or the waters beneath. My virtuous and very
respectable stomach behaved with integrity and resolution. I treated
it to a gin cocktail, which I sucked by the side of the strong man,
who told me in confidence that he had been overcome by the sun at the
fo'c'sle. Sun fever does not make people cold and clammy and blue. I
sat with him and tried to make him talk about the _Florida_ and his
voyages in the past. He evaded me and went down below. Three minutes
later I followed him with a thick cheroot. Into his bunk I went, for I
knew he would be helpless. He was--he was--he was. He wallowed supine,
and I stood in the doorway smoking.

"What is it?" said I.

He wrestled with his pride--his wicked pride--but he would not tell a
lie.

"It," said he. And it was so.

       *       *       *       *       *

The rolling continues. The ship is a shambles, and I have six places on
each side of me all to myself.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 10: "Turnovers," Vol. I.]



A FALLEN IDOL[11]


Will the public be good enough to look into this business? It has sent
Crewe to bed, and Mottleby is applying for home leave, and I've lost
my faith in man altogether, and the Club gives it up. Trivey is the
only man who is unaffected by the catastrophe, and he says "I told you
so." We were all proud of Trivey at the Club, and would have crowned
him with wreaths of Bougainvillea had he permitted the liberty. But
Trivey was an austere man. The utmost that he permitted himself to say
was: "I can stretch a little bit when I'm in the humour." We called
him the Monumental Liar. Nothing that the Club offered was too good
for Trivey. He had the soft chair opposite the thermantidote in the
hot weather, and he made up his own four at whist. When visitors came
in--globe-trotters for choice--Trivey used to unmuzzle himself and tell
tales that sent the globe-trotter out of the Club on tiptoe looking for
snakes in his hat and tigers in the compound. Whenever a man from a
strange Club came in Trivey used to call for a whisky and ginger-wine
and rout that man on all points--from horses upward. There was a man
whose nickname was "Ananias," who came from the Prince's Plungers to
look at Trivey; and, though Trivey was only a civilian, the Plunger
man resigned his title to the nickname before eleven o'clock. He made
it over to Trivey on a card, and Trivey hung up the concession in his
quarters. We loved Trivey--all of us; and now we don't love him any
more.

A man from the frontier came in and began to tell tales--some very
good ones, and some better than good. He was an outsider, but he had
a wonderful imagination--for the frontier. He told six stories before
Trivey brought up his first line, and three more before Trivey hurled
his reserves into the fray.

"When I was at Anungaracharlupillay in Madras," said Trivey quietly,
"there was a rogue elephant cutting about the district. And I came
upon him asleep." All the Club stopped talking here, until Trivey had
finished the story. He told us that he, in the company of another
man, had found the rogue asleep, but just as they got up to the
brute's head it woke up with a scream. Then Trivey, who was careful to
explain that he was a "bit powerful about the arms," caught hold of
its ears as it rose, and hung there, kicking the animal in the eyes,
which so bewildered it that it stayed screaming and frightened until
Trivey's ally shot it behind the shoulder, and the villagers ran in
and hamstrung it. It evidently died from loss of blood. Trivey was
hanging on the ears and kicking hard for nearly fifteen minutes. When
the frontier man heard the story he put his hands in front of his
face and sobbed audibly. We gave him all the drinks he wanted, and he
recovered sufficiently to carry away eighty rupees at whist later on;
but his nerve was irretrievably shattered. He will be no use on the
frontier any more. The rest of the Club were very pleased with Trivey,
because these frontier men, and especially the guides, want a great
deal of keeping in order. Trivey was quite modest. He was a truly great
soul, and popular applause never turned his head. As I have said, we
loved Trivey, till that fatal day when Crewe announced that he had
been transferred for a couple of months to Anungaracharlupillay. "Oh!"
said Trivey, "I dare say they'll remember about my rogue elephant down
there. You ask 'em, Crewe." Then we felt sorry for Trivey, because we
were sure that he was arriving at that stage of mental decay when a man
begins to believe in his own fictions. That spoils a man's hand. Crewe
wrote up once or twice to Mottleby, saying that he would bring back a
story that would make our hair curl. Good stories are scarce in Madras,
and we rather scoffed at the announcement. When Crewe returned it was
easy to see that he was bursting with importance. He gave a big dinner
at the Club and invited nearly everybody but Trivey, who went off
after dinner to teach a young subaltern to play "snooker." At coffee
and cheroots, Crewe could not restrain himself any longer. "I say, you
Johnnies, it's all true--every single word of it--and you can throw the
decanter at my head and I'll apologise. The whole village was full of
it. There was a rogue elephant, and it slept, and Trivey did catch hold
of its ears and kick it in the eyes, and hang on for ten minutes, at
least, and all the rest of it. I neglected my regular work to sift that
story, and on my honour the tale's an absolute fact. The headsman said
so, all the shikaries said so, and all the villagers corroborated it.
Now would a whole village volunteer a lie that would do them no good?"

You might have heard a cigar-ash fall after this statement. Then
Mottleby said, with deep disgust: "What can you do with a man like
that? His best and brightest lie, too!" "'Tisn't!" shrieked Crewe.
"It's a fact--a nickel-plated, teak-wood, Tantalus-action, forty-five
rupee fact." "That only makes it worse," said Mottleby; and we all
felt that was true. We ran into the billiard-room to talk to Trivey,
but he said we had put him off his stroke; and that was all the
satisfaction we got out of him. Later on he repeated that he was a "bit
powerful about the arms," and went to bed. We sat up half the night
devising vengeance on Trivey. We were very angry, and there was no hope
of hushing up the tale. The man had taken us in completely, and now
that we've lost our champion Ananias, all the frontier will laugh at
us, and we shall never be able to trust a word that Trivey says.

I ask with Mottleby: "What can you do with a man like that?"

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 11: "Turnovers," Vol. I.]



NEW BROOMS[12]

 "If seven maids with seven mops
   Swept it for half a year,
 Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
   "That they could sweep it clear?"


Ram Buksh, Aryan, went to bed with his buffalo, five goats, three
children and a wife, because the evening mists were chilly. His hut was
builded on the mud scooped from a green and smelly tank, and there were
microbes in the thin blood of Ram Buksh.

Ram Buksh went to bed on a charpoy stretched across the blue tepid
drain, because the nights were hot; and there were more microbes in
his blood. Then the rains came, and Ram Buksh paddled, mid-thigh deep,
in water for a day or two with his buffaloes till he was aware of a
crampsome feeling at the pit of his stomach. "Mother of my children,"
said Ram Buksh, "this is death." They gave him cardamoms and capsicums,
and gingelly-oil and cloves, and they prayed for him. "It is enough,"
said Ram Buksh, and he twisted himself into a knot and died, and they
burned him slightly--for the wood was damp--and the rest of him floated
down the river, and was caught in an undercurrent at the bank, and
there stayed; and when Imam Din, the Jeweller, drank of the stream five
days later, he drank Lethe, and passed away, crying in vain upon his
gods.

His family did not report his death to the Municipality, for they
desired to keep Imam Din with them. Therefore, they buried him under
the flagging in the court-yard, secretly and by night. Twelve days
later, Imam Din had made connection with the well of the house, and
there was typhus among the women in the zenana, but no one knew
anything about it--some died and some did not; and Ari Booj, the
Faquir, added to the interest of the proceedings by joining the
funeral procession and distributing gratis the more malignant forms of
smallpox, from which he was just recovering. He had come all the way
from Delhi, and had slept on no less than fifteen different charpoys;
and that was how they got the smallpox into Bahadurgarh. But Eshmith
Sahib's Dhobi picked it up from Ari Booj when Imam Din's wife was being
buried--for he was a merry man, and sent home a beautiful sample among
the Sunday shirts. So Eshmith Sahib died.

He was only a link in the chain which crawled from the highest to the
lowest. The wonder was not that men died like sheep, but that they
did not die like flies; for their lives and their surroundings, their
deaths, were part of a huge conspiracy against cleanliness. And the
people loved to have it so. They huddled together in frowsy clusters,
while Death mowed his way through them till the scythe blunted against
the unresisting flesh, and he had to get a new one. They died by fever,
tens of thousands in a month; they died by cholera a thousand in a
week; they died of smallpox, scores in the mohulla, and by dysentery by
tens in a house; and when all other deaths failed they laid them down
and died because their hands were too weak to hold on to life.

To and fro stamped the Englishman, who is everlastingly at war with the
scheme of things. "You shall not die," he said, and he decreed that
there should be no more famines. He poured grain down their throats,
and when all failed he went down into the strife and died with them,
swearing, and toiling, and working till the last. He fought the famine
and put it to flight. Then he wiped his forehead, and attacked the
pestilence that walketh in the darkness. Death's scythe swept to and
fro, around and about him; but he only planted his feet more firmly
in the way of it, and fought off Death with a dog-whip. "Live, you
ruffian!" said the Englishman to Ram Buksh as he rode through the
reeking village. "_Jenab!_" said Ram Buksh, "it is as it was in the
days of our fathers!" "Then stand back while I alter it," said the
Englishman; and by force, and cunning, and a brutal disregard of vested
interests, he strove to keep Ram Buksh alive. "Clean your mohullas; pay
for clean water; keep your streets swept; and see that your food is
sound, or I'll make your life a burden to you," said the Englishman.
Sometimes he died; but more often Ram Buksh went down, and the
Englishman regarded each death as a personal insult.

"Softly, there!" said the Government of India. "You're twisting his
tail. You mustn't do that. The spread of education forbids, and Ram
Buksh is an intelligent voter. Let him work out his own salvation."

"H'm!" said the Englishman with his head in a midden; "collectively you
always were a fool. Here, Ram Buksh, the Sirkar says you are to do all
these things for yourself."

"_Jenab!_" says Ram Buksh, and fell to breeding microbes with renewed
vigour.

Curiously enough, it was in the centres of enlightenment that he
prosecuted his experiments most energetically. The education had been
spread, but so thinly that it could not disguise Ram Buksh's natural
instincts. He created an African village, and said it was the hub of
the universe, and all the dirt of all the roads failed to convince
him that he was not the most advanced person in the world. There was
a pause, and Ram Buksh got himself fearfully entangled among Boards
and Committees, but he valued them as a bower-bird values shells and
red rags. "See!" said the Englishman to the Government of India,
"he is blind on that side--blind by birth, training, instinct and
associations. Five-sixths of him is poor stock raised off poor soil,
and he'll die on the least provocation. You've no right to let him kill
himself."

"But he's educated," said the Government of India.

"I'll concede everything," said the Englishman. "He's a statesman,
author, poet, politician, artist, and all else that you wish him to
be, but he isn't a Sanitary Engineer. And while you're training him
he is dying. Goodness knows that my share in the Government is very
limited nowadays, but I'm willing to do all the work while he gets all
the credit if you'll only let me have some authority over him in his
mud-pie making."

"But the liberty of the subject is sacred," said the Government of
India.

"I haven't any," said the Englishman. "He can trail through my
compounds; start shrines in the public roads; poison my family; have
me in court for nothing; ruin my character; spend my money, and call
me an assassin when all is done. I don't object. Let me look after his
sanitation."

"But the days of a paternal Government are over; we must depend on the
people. Think of what they would say at home," said the Government of
India. "We have issued a resolution--indeed we have!"

The Englishman sat down and groaned. "I believe you'll issue a
resolution some day notifying your own abolition," said he. "What are
you going to do?"

"Constitute more Boards," said the Government of India. "Boards of
Control and Supervision--Fund Boards--all sorts of Boards. Nothing
like system. It will be at work in three years or so. We haven't any
money, but that's a detail."

The Englishman looked at the resolution and sniffed. "It doesn't touch
the weak point of the country."

"What _will_ touch the weak point of the country, then?" said the
Government of India.

"I used to," said the Englishman. "I was the District Officer, and I
twisted their tails. You have taken away my power, and now----"

"Well," said the Government of India, "you seem to think a good deal of
yourself."

"Never mind me," said the Englishman. "I'm an effete relic of the past.
But Ram Buksh will die, as he used to do."

And now we all wait to see which is right.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 12: "Turnovers," Vol. III.]



TIGLATH PILESER[13]


Thank Heaven he is dead! The municipality sent a cart and a man only
this morning, and, all the servants aiding with ropes and tackle, the
carcase of Tiglath was borne away--a wobbling lump. His head was thrust
over the tailboard of the cart. Upon it was stamped an expression of
horror and surprise, unutterable and grotesque. I have put away my
rifle, I have cheered my heart with wine, and I sit down now to write
the story of Tiglath, the Utter Brute. His own kind, alas! will not
read it, and thus it will be shorn of instruction; but owners will
kindly take notice, and when it pleases Heaven to inflict them with
such an animal as Tiglath they will know what to do.

To begin with, I bought him, his vices thick as his barsati, for a
hundred and seventy rupees, a five-chambered, muzzle-loading revolver,
and a Cawnpore saddle.

"Of course, for that price," said Staveley, "you can't expect
everything. He's not what one would call absolutely sound, y' know, but
there's no end of work in him, and if you only give him the butt he'll
go like a steam-engine."

"Staveley," I answered, "when you admit that he is not perfection
I perceive that I am in for a really Good Thing. Don't hurt your
conscience, Staveley. Tell me what is his chief vice--weakness,
partiality--anything you choose to call it. I shall get to know the
minor defects in the course of nature; but what is Tiglath's real
shouk?"

Staveley reflected a moment. "Well, really, I can't quite say, old
man, straight off the reel, y' know. He's a oner to go when his head's
turned to home. He's a regular feeder, and vaseline will cure that
little eruption"--with its malignant barsati--"in no time. Oh, I forgot
his shouk: I don't know exactly how to describe it, but he yaws a good
deal," said Staveley.

"He how muches?" I asked.

"Yaws," said Staveley; "goes a bit wide upon occasions, but a good
coachwan will cure that in one drive. My man let him do what he liked.
One fifty and a hundred, ten and ten is twenty--one-seventy. Many
thanks, indeed. I'll send over his bedding and ropes. He's a powerful
upstanding horse, though rather picked up just at present."

Staveley departed, and I was left alone with Tiglath. I called him
Tiglath because he resembled a lathy pig. Later on I called him Pileser
on account of his shouk; but my coachwan, a strong, masterless man,
called him "_haramzada chor, shaitan ké bap_" and "_oont ki beta_."
He certainly was a powerful horse, being full fifteen-two at the
withers, with the girth of a waler, and at first the docility of an
Arab. There was something wrong with his feet--permanently--but he
was a considerate beast, and never had more than one leg in hospital
at a time. The other three were still movable, and Tiglath never
grudged them in my service. I write this in justice to his memory; the
creaking of the wheels of the municipal cart being still in my ears.

For a season--some twelve days--Tiglath was beyond reproach. He had
not a cheerful disposition, nor did his pendulous underlip add to
his personal beauty; but he made no complaints, and moved swiftly to
and from office. The hot weather gave place to the cool breezes of
October, and with the turn of the year the slumbering devil in the soul
of Tiglath spread its wings and crowed aloud. I fed him well, I had
aided his barsati, I had lapped his lame legs in thanda putties, and
adorned his sinful body with new harness. He rewarded me upon a day
with an exhibition so new and strange that I feared for the moment his
reason had been unhinged. Slowly, with a malevolent grin, Tiglath, the
pampered, turned at right angles to the carriage--a newly-varnished
one--and backed the front wheels up the verandah steps, letting them
down with a bump. He then wheeled round and round in the portico, and
all but brought the carriage over. The show lasted for ten minutes, at
the end of which time he trotted peacefully away.

I was pained and grieved--nothing more, upon my honour. I forbade
the sais to kick Tiglath in the stomach, for I was persuaded that
the harness galled him, and, in this belief, at the end of the day,
undressed him tenderly and fitted sheepskin all over the said harness.
Tiglath ate the sheepskin next day, and I did not renew it.

A week later I met the Judge. It was a purely accidental interview.
I would have avoided it, as the Judge and I did not love each other,
but the shafts of my carriage were through the circular front of his
brougham, and Tiglath was rubbing the boss of his headstall tenderly
against the newly-varnished panels of the same. The Judge complained
that he might have been impaled as he sat. My coachwan declared on oath
that the horse deliberately ran into the brougham. Tiglath tendered no
evidence, and I began to mistrust him.

At the end of a month I perceived that my friends and acquaintances
avoided me markedly. The appearance of Tiglath at the band-stand was
enough to clear a space of ten yards in my immediate neighbourhood. I
had to shout to my friends from afar, and they shouted back the details
of the little bills which I had to pay their coach-builders. Tiglath
was suffering from carriagecidal mania, and the coachwan had asked for
leave. "Stay with me, Ibrahim," I said. "Thou seest how the sahib log
do now avoid us. Get a new and a stout chabuq, and instruct Tiglath in
the paths of straight walking."

"He will smash the Heaven-born's carriage. He is an old and stale
devil, but in this matter extreme wise," answered Ibrahim. "Kitto
sahib's filton hath he smashed, and Burkitt sahib's brougham gharri,
and another tum-tum, and Staveley sahib's carriage is still being
mended. What profit is this horse? He feigns blindness and much fear,
and in the guise of innocency works evil. I will stay, sahib, but the
blood of this thy new carriage be upon the brute's head and not upon
mine own."

I have no space to describe the war of the next few weeks. Foiled
in his desire to ruin only neighbours' property, Tiglath fell back
literally, upon his own--my carriage. He tried the verandah step
trick till he bent the springs, and wheeled round till the turning
action grew red-hot; he scraped stealthily by walls; he performed
between heavy-laden bullock-trains, but his chief delight was a _pas
de fantasie_ on a dark night and a high, level road. Yet what he did
he did staidly and without heat, as without remorse. He was vetted
thrice, and his eyes were pronounced sound. After this information
I laid my bones to the battle, and acquired a desperate facility of
leaping from the carriage and kicking Tiglath on the stomach as soon as
he wheeled around; leaping back at the risk of my life when he set off
at full speed. I pressed the lighted end of a cheroot just behind the
collar-buckle; I applied fusees to those flaccid nostrils, and I beat
him about the head with a stick continually. It was necessary, but it
was also demoralising. A year of Tiglath would have converted me into
a cold-blooded vivisectionist, or a native bullock-driver. Each day I
took stock of the injuries to my carriage. I had long since given up
all hope of keeping it in decent repair; and each day I devised fresh
torments for Tiglath.

He never meant to injure himself, I am certain, and no one was more
astonished than he when he backed on the Balumon road, and dropped the
carriage into a nullah on the night of the Jamabundi Moguls' dance. I
did not go to the dance. I was bent considerably, and one side of the
coachwan's face was flayed. When he had pieced the wreck together, he
only said, "Sahib!" and I said only "Bohat acha." But we each knew
what the other meant. Next morn Tiglath was stiff and strained. I gave
him time to recover and to enjoy life. When I heard him squealing to
the grass-cutter's ponies I knew that the hour had come. I ordered
the carriage, and myself superintended the funeral toilet of Tiglath.
His harness brasses shone like gold, his coat like a bottle, and he
lifted his feet daintily. Had he even then, at the eleventh hour, given
promise of amendment, I should have held my hand. But as I entered
the carriage I saw the hunching of his quarters that presaged trouble.
"Go forward, Tiglath, my love, my pride, my delight," I murmured. "For
a surety it is a matter of life and death this day." The sais ran to
his head with a fragment of chupatti, saved from his all too scanty
rations; the man loved him. And Tiglath swung round to the left in the
portico; round and round swung he, till the near ear touched the muzzle
of the shot-gun that waited its coming. He never flinched; he pressed
his fate. The coachwan threw down the reins as, with four ounces of
No. 5 shot behind the hollow of the root of the ear, Tiglath fell. In
his death he accomplished the desire of his life, for he fell upon the
shaft and broke it into three pieces. I looked on him as he lay, and of
a sudden the reason of the horror in his eyes was made clear. Tiglath,
the breaker of carriages, the strong, the rebellious, had passed into
the shadowy spirit land, where there was nought to destroy and no power
to destroy it with. The ghastly fore-knowledge of the flitting soul
was written on the glazing eyeball.

I repented me, then, that I had slain Tiglath, for I had no intention
of punishing him in the hereafter.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 13: "Turnovers," Vol. IV.]



THE LIKES O' US[14]


It was the General Officer Commanding, riding down the Mall, on the
Arab with the perky tail, and he condescended to explain some of the
mysteries of his profession. But the point on which he dwelt most
pompously was the ease with which the Private Thomas Atkins could be
"handled," as he called it. "Only feed him and give him a little work
to do, and you can do anything with him," said the General Officer
Commanding. "There's no refinement about Tommy, you know; and one
is very like another. They've all the same ideas and traditions and
prejudices. They're all big children. Fancy any man in his senses
shooting about these hills." There was the report of a shot-gun in the
valley. "I suppose they've hit a dog. Happy as the day is long when
they're out shooting dogs. Just like a big child is Tommy." He touched
up his horse and cantered away. There was a sound of angry voices down
the hillside.

"All right, you _soor_--I won't never forget this--mind you, not as
long as I live, and s' 'elp me--I'll----" The sentence finished in what
could be represented by a blaze of asterisks.

A deeper voice cut it short: "Oh, no, you won't, neither! Look a-here,
you young smitcher. If I was to take yer up now, and knock off your
'ead again' that tree, could ye say anythin'? No, nor yet do anythin'.
If I was to----Ah! you would, would you? There!" Some one had evidently
sat down with a thud, and was swearing nobly. I slid over the edge of
the _khud_, down through the long grass, and fetched up, after the
manner of a sledge, with my feet in the broad of the back of Gunner
Barnabas in the Mountain Battery, my friend, the very strong man. He
was sitting upon a man--a khaki-coloured volcano of blasphemy--and was
preparing to smoke. My sudden arrival threw him off his balance for a
moment. Then, readjusting his chair, he bade me good-day.

"'Im an' me 'ave bin 'avin' an arg'ment," said Gunner Barnabas
placidly. "I was going for to half kill him an' 'eave 'im into the
bushes 'ere, but, seein' that you 'ave come, sir, and very welcome when
you _do_ come, we will 'ave a court-martial instead. Shacklock, are you
willin'?" The volcano, who had been swearing uninterruptedly through
this oration, expressed a desire, in general and particular terms, to
see Gunner Barnabas in Torment and the "civilian" on the next gridiron.

Private Shacklock was a tow-haired, scrofulous boy of about
two-and-twenty. His nose was bleeding profusely, and the live air
attested that he had been drinking quite as much as was good for him.
He lay, stomach-down, on a little level spot on the hillside; for
Gunner Barnabas was sitting between his shoulder-blades, and his was
not a weight to wriggle under. Private Shacklock could barely draw
breath to swear, but he did the best that in him lay. "Amen," said
Gunner Barnabas piously, when an unusually brilliant string of oaths
came to an end. "Seein' that this gentleman 'ere has never seen the
inside o' the orsepitals you've gotten in, and the clinks you've been
chucked into like a hay-bundle, _per_-haps, Privite Shacklock, you will
stop. You are a-makin' of 'im sick." Private Shacklock said that he was
pleased to hear it, and would have continued his speech, but his breath
suddenly went from him, and the unfinished curse died out in a gasp.
Gunner Barnabas had put up one of his huge feet. "There's just enough
room now for you to breathe, Shacklock," said he, "an' not enough
for you to try to interrupt the conversashin I'm a-havin' with this
gentleman. _Choop!_" Turning to me, Gunner Barnabas pulled at his pipe,
but showed no hurry to open the "conversashin." I felt embarrassed,
for, after all, the thus strangely unearthed difference between the
Gunner and the Line man was no affair of mine. "Don't you go," said
Gunner Barnabas. He had evidently been deeply moved by something. He
dropped his head between his fists and looked steadily at me.

"I met this child 'ere," said he, "at Deelally--a fish-back recruity
as ever was. I knowed 'im at Deelally, and I give 'im a latherin'
at Deelally all for to keep 'im straight, 'e bein' such as wants
a latherin' an' knowin' nuthin' o' the ways o' this country. Then
I meets 'im up here, a butterfly-huntin' as innercent as you
please--convalessin'. I goes out with 'im butterfly-huntin', and, as
you see 'ere, a-shootin'. The gun betwixt us." I saw then, what I had
overlooked before, a Company fowling-piece lying among some boulders
far down the hill. Gunner Barnabas continued: "I should ha' seen where
he had a-bin to get that drink inside o' 'im. Presently, 'e misses
summat. 'You're a bloomin' fool,' sez I. 'If that had been a Pathan,
now!' I sez. 'Damn your Pathans, an' you, too,' sez 'e. 'I strook it.'
'You did not,' I sez, 'I saw the bark fly.' 'Stick to your bloomin'
pop-guns,' sez 'e, 'an' don't talk to a better man than you.' I laughed
there, knowin' what I was an' what 'e was. 'You laugh?' sez he. 'I
laugh,' I sez, 'Shacklock, an' for what should I not laugh?' sez I.
'Then go an' laugh in Hell,' sez 'e, 'for I'll 'ave none of your
laughin'.' With that 'e brings up the gun yonder and looses off, and I
stretches 'im there, and guv him a little to keep 'im quiet, and puts
'im under, an' while I was thinkin' what nex', you comes down the 'ill,
an' finds us as we was."

The Private was the Gunner's prey--I knew that the affair had fallen
as the Gunner had said, for my friend is constitutionally incapable of
lying--and I recognised that in his hands lay the boy's fate.

"What do _you_ think?" said Gunner Barnabas, after a silence broken
only by the convulsive breathing of the boy he was sitting on. "I
think nothing," I said. "He didn't go at me. He's your property." Then
an idea occurred to me. "Hand him over to his own Company. They'll
school him half dead." "Got no Comp'ny," said Gunner Barnabas. "'E's
a conv'lessint draft--all sixes an' sevens. Don't matter to them what
he did." "Thrash him yourself, then," I said. Gunner Barnabas looked
at the man and smiled; then caught up an arm, as a mother takes up the
dimpled arm of a child, and ran the sleeve and shirt up to the elbow.
"Look at that!" he said. It was a pitiful arm, lean and muscleless.
"Can you mill a man with an arm like that--such as I would like to mill
him, an' such as he deserves? I tell you, sir, an' I am not smokin'
(swaggering), as you see--I could take that man--Sodger 'e is, Lord
'elp 'im!--an' twis' off 'is arms an' 'is legs as if 'e was a naked
crab. See here!"

Before I could realise what was going to happen, Gunner Barnabas rose
up, stooped, and taking the wretched Private Shacklock by two points of
grasp, heaved him up above his head. The boy kicked once or twice, and
then was still. He was very white. "I could now," said Gunner Barnabas,
"I could now chuck this man where I like. Chuck him like a lump o'
beef, an' it would not be too much for him if I chucked. Can I thrash
such a man with both 'ands? No, nor yet with my right 'and tied behind
my back, an' my lef' in a sling."

He dropped Private Shacklock on the ground and sat upon him as before.
The boy groaned as the weight settled, but there was a look in his
white-lashed, red eyes that was not pleasant.

"I do not know _what_ I will do," said Gunner Barnabas, rocking himself
to and fro. "I know 'is breed, an' the way o' the likes o' them. If I
was in 'is Comp'ny, an' this 'ad 'appened, an' I 'ad struck 'im, as I
_would_ ha' struck him, 'twould ha' all passed off an' bin forgot till
the drink was in 'im again--a month, maybe, or six, maybe. An' when the
drink was frizzin' in 'is 'ead he would up and loose off in the night
or the day or the evenin'. _All acause of that millin' that 'e would ha
forgotten in betweens._ That I would be dead--killed by the likes o'
'im, an' me the next strongest man but three in the British Army!"

Private Shacklock, not so hardly pressed as he had been, found breath
to say that if he could only get hold of the fowling-piece again the
strongest man but three in the British Army would be seriously crippled
for the rest of his days. "Hear that!" said Gunner Barnabas, sitting
heavily to silence his chair. "Hear that, you that think things is
funny to put into the papers! He would shoot me, 'e would, now; an' so
long as he's drunk, or comin' out o' the drink, 'e will want to shoot
me. Look a-here!"

He turned the boy's head sideways, his hand round the nape of the
neck, his thumb touching the angle of the jaw. "What do you call those
marks?" They were the white scars of scrofula, with which Shacklock
was eaten up. I told Gunner Barnabas this. "I don't know what that
means. I call 'em murder-marks an' signs. If a man 'as these things on
'im, an' drinks, so long as 'e's drunk, 'e's mad--a looney. _But_ that
doesn't 'elp if 'e kills you. Look a-here, an' here!" The marks were
thick on the jaw and neck. "Stubbs 'ad 'em," said Gunner Barnabas to
himself, "an' Lancy 'ad 'em, an' Duggard 'ad 'em, an' wot's come to
_them_? _You've_ got 'em," he said, addressing himself to the man he
was handling like a roped calf, "an' sooner or later you'll go with the
rest of 'em. But this time I will not do anything--exceptin' keep you
here till the drink's dead in you."

Gunner Barnabas resettled himself and continued: "Twice this afternoon,
Shacklock, you 'ave been so near dyin' that I know no man more so. Once
was when I stretched you, an' might ha' wiped off your face with my
boot as you was lyin'; an' once was when I lifted you up in my fists.
Was you afraid, Shacklock?"

"I were," murmured the half-stifled soldier.

"An' once more I will show you how near you can go to Kingdom Come in
my 'ands." He knelt by Shacklock's side, the boy lying still as death.
"If I was to hit you here," said he, "I would break your chest, an'
you would die. If I was to put my 'and here, an' my other 'and here,
I would twis' your neck, an' you would die, Privite Shacklock. If I
was to put my knees here an' put your 'ead _so_, I would pull off your
'ead, Privite Shacklock, an' you would die. If you think as how I am a
liar, say so, an' I'll show you. _Do_ you think so?"

"No," whispered Private Shacklock, not daring to move a muscle, for
Barnabas's hand was on his neck.

"Now, remember," went on Barnabas, "neither you will say nothing nor I
will say nothing o' what has happened. I ha' put you to shame before
me an' this gentleman here, an' that is enough. But I tell you, an'
you give 'eed now, it would be better for you to desert than to go on
a-servin' where you are now. If I meets you again--if my Batt'ry lays
with your Reg'ment, an' Privite Shacklock is on the rolls, I will first
mill you myself till you can't see, and then I will say why I strook
you. You must go, an' look bloomin' slippy about it, for if you stay,
so sure as God made Paythans an' we've got to wipe 'em out, you'll be
loosing off o' unauthorised amminition--in or out o' barricks, an'
you'll be 'anged for it. I know your breed, an' I know what these 'ere
white marks mean. You're mad, Shacklock, that's all--and here you
stay, under me. An' now _choop_, an' lie still."

I waited and smoked, and Gunner Barnabas smoked till the shadows
lengthened on the hillside, and a chilly wind began to blow. At dusk
Gunner Barnabas rose and looked at his captive. "Drink's out o' 'im
now," he said.

"I can't move," whimpered Shacklock. "I've got the fever back again."

"I'll carry you," said Gunner Barnabas, swinging him up and preparing
to climb the hill. "Good-night, sir," he said to me. "It looks pretty,
doesn't it? But never you forget, an' I won't forget neither, that this
'ere shiverin', shakin', convalescent a-hangin' on to my neck is a
ragin', tearin' devil when 'e's lushy--an' 'e a boy!"

He strode up to the hill with his burden, but just before he
disappeared he turned round and shouted: "It's the likes o' 'im
brings shame on the likes o' us. 'Tain't we ourselves, s'elp me Gawd,
'tain't!"

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 14: "Week's News," Feb. 4, 1888.]



HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER[15]


"Whist?"

"Can't make up a four?"

"Poker, then?"

"Never again with you, Robin. 'Tisn't good enough, old man."

"Seeking what he may devour," murmured a third voice from behind a
newspaper. "Stop the punkah, and make him go away."

"Don't talk of it on a night like this. It's enough to give a man fits.
You've no enterprise. Here I've taken the trouble to come over after
dinner----"

"On the off-chance of skinning some one. I don't believe you ever
crossed a horse for pleasure."

"That's true, I never did--and there are only two Johnnies in the Club."

"They've all gone off to the Gaff."

"_Wah! Wah!_ They must be pretty hard up for amusement. Help me to a
split."

"Split in this weather! Hi, bearer, _do burra--burra_ whiskey-peg
_lao_, and just put all the _barf_ into them that you can find."

The newspaper came down with a rustle, as the reader said:

"How the deuce d'you expect a man to improve his mind when you two are
_bukking_ about drinks? _Qui hai! Mera wasti bhi._"

"Oh! you're alive, are you? I thought pegs would fetch you out of that.
Game for a little poker?"

"Poker--poker--_red-hot_ poker! Saveloy, you're too generous. Can't you
let a man die in peace?"

"Who's going to die?"

"I am, please the pigs, if it gets much hotter and that bearer doesn't
bring the peg quickly."

"All right. Die away, _mon ami_. Only don't do it in the Club, that's
all. Can't have it littered up with dead members. Houligan would
object."

"By Jove! I think I can imagine old Houligan doing it. 'Member dead
in the ante-room? Good Gud! Bless my soul! Impossible to run a Club
this way. Call the Babu and see if his last month's bill is paid. Not
paid! Good Gud! Bless my soul! Impossible to run a Club this way. Babu,
attach that body till the bill is paid.' Revel, you might just hurry
up your dying once in a way to give us the pleasure of seeing Houligan
perform."

"I'll die legitimately," said Revel. "I'm not going to create a fresh
scandal in the station. I'll wait for heat-apoplexy, or whatever is
going, to come and fetch me."

"This is _pukka_ hot-weather talk," said Saveloy. "I come over for
a little honest poker, and find two moderately sensible men, Revel
and Dallston, talking tombs. I'm sorry I've thrown away my valuable
evening."

"D'you expect us to talk about buttercups and daisies, then?" said
Dallston.

"No, but there's some sort of medium between those and Sudden Death."

"There isn't. I haven't seen a daisy for seven years, and now I want
to die," said Revel, plunging luxuriously into his peg.

"I knew a Johnnie on the Frontier once who _did_," began Dallston
meditatively.

"Half a minute. Bearer, _cherut lao_! Tobacco soothes the nerves when a
man is expecting to hear a whacker. We know what your Frontier stories
are, Martha."

Dallston had once, in a misguided moment, taken the part of Martha in
the burlesque of _Faust_, and the nickname stuck.

"'Tisn't a whacker, it's a fact. He told me so himself."

"They always do, Martha. I've noticed that before. But what did he tell
you?"

"He told me that he had died."

"Was _that_ all? Explain him."

"It was this way. The man went down with a bad go of fever and was
off his head. About the second day it struck him in the middle of the
night."

"Steady the Buffs! Martha, you aren't an Irishman yet."

"Never mind. It's too hot to put it correctly. In the middle of the
night he woke up quite calm, and it struck him that it would be a good
thing to die--just as it might ha' struck him that it would be a good
thing to put ice on his head. He lay on his bed and thought it over,
and the more he thought about it, the better sort of _bundobust_ it
seemed to be. He was quite calm, you know, and he said that he could
have sworn that he had no fever on him."

"Well, what happened?"

"Oh, he got up and loaded his revolver--he remembers all this--and let
fly, with the muzzle to his temple. The thing didn't go off, so he
turned it up and found he'd forgot to load one chamber."

"Better stop the tale there. We can guess what's coming."

"Hang it! It's a _true_ yarn. Well, he jammed the thing to his head
_again_, and it missed fire, and he said that he felt ready to cry with
rage, he was so disgusted. So he took it by the muzzle and hit himself
on the head with it."

"Good man! Didn't it go off _then_?"

"No, but the blow knocked him silly, and he thought he was dead. He was
awfully pleased, for he had been fiddling over the show for nearly half
an hour. He dropped down and died. When he got his wits again, he was
shaking with the fever worse than ever, but he had sense enough to go
and knock up the doctor and give himself into his charge as a lunatic.
Then he went clean off his head till the fever wore out."

"That's a good story," said Revel critically. "I didn't think you had
it in you at this season of the year."

"I can believe it," said the man they called Saveloy. "Fever makes one
do all sorts of queer things. I suppose your friend was mad with it
when he discovered it would be so healthy to die."

"S'pose so. The fever must have been so bad that he felt all
right--same way that a man who is nearly mad with drink gets to look
sober. Well, anyhow, there was a man who died."

"Did he tell you what it felt like?"

"He said that he was awfully happy until his fever came back and shook
him up. Then he was sick with fear. I don't wonder. He'd had rather a
narrow escape."

"That's nothing," said Saveloy. "I know a man who lived."

"So do I," said Revel. "Lots of 'em, confound 'em."

"Now, this takes Martha's story, and it's quite true."

"They always are," said Martha. "I've noticed that before."

"Never mind, I'll forgive you. But this happened to me. Since you _are_
talking tombs, I'll assist at the séance. It was in '82 or '83, I have
forgotten which. Anyhow, it was when I was on the Utamamula Canal
Headworks, and I was chumming with a man called Stovey. You've never
met him because he belongs to the Bombay side, and if he isn't really
dead by this he ought to be somewhere there now. He was a _pukka_
sweep, and I hated him. We divided the Canal bungalow between us, and
we kept strictly to our own side of the buildings."

"Hold on! I call. What was Stovey to look at?" said Revel.

"Living picture of the King of Spades--a blackish, greasy sort of
ruffian who hadn't any pretence of manners or form. He used to dine in
the kit he had been messing about the Canal in all day, and I don't
believe he ever washed. He had the embankments to look after, and I was
in charge of the headworks, but he was always contriving to fall foul
of me if he possibly could."

"I know that sort of man. Mullane of Ghoridasah's built that way."

"Don't know Mullane, but Stovey was a sweep. Canal work isn't exactly
cheering, and it doesn't take you into _much_ society. We were like a
couple of rats in a burrow, grubbing and scooping all day and turning
in at night into the barn of a bungalow. Well, this man Stovey didn't
get fever. He was so coated with dirt that I don't believe the fever
could have got at him. He just began to go mad."

"Cheerful! What were the symptoms?"

"Well, his naturally vile temper grew infamous. It was really unsafe to
speak to him, and he always seemed anxious to murder a coolie or two.
With me, of course, he restrained himself a little, but he sulked like
a bear for days and days together. As he was the only European society
within sixty miles, you can imagine how nice it was for me. He'd sit
at table and sulk and stare at the opposite wall by the hour--instead
of doing his work. When I pointed out that the Government didn't send
us into these cheerful places to twiddle our thumbs, he glared like
a beast. Oh, he was a thorough hog! He had a lot of other endearing
tricks, but the worst was when he began to pray."

"Began to--how much?"

"Pray. He'd got hold of an old copy of the _War Cry_ and used to
read it at meals; and I suppose that that, on the top of tough goat,
disordered his intellect. One night I heard him in his room groaning
and talking at a fearful rate. Next morning I asked him if he'd been
taken worse. 'I've been engaged in prayer,' he said, looking as black
as thunder. 'A man's spiritual concerns are his own property.' One
night--he'd kept up these spiritual exercises for about ten days,
growing queerer and queerer every day--he said 'Good-night' after
dinner, and got up and shook hands with me."

"Bad sign, that," said Revel, sucking industriously at his cheroot.

"At first I couldn't make out what the man wanted. No fellow shakes
hands with a fellow he's living with--least of all such a beast as
Stovey. However, I was civil, but the minute after he'd left the room
it struck me what he was going to do. If he hadn't shaken hands I'd
have taken no notice, I suppose. This unusual effusion put me on my
guard."

"Curious thing! You can nearly always tell when a Johnnie means pegging
out. He gives himself away by some softening. It's human nature. What
did you do?"

"Called him back, and asked him what the this and that he meant by
interfering with my coolies in the day. He was generally hampering
my men, but I had never taken any notice of his vagaries till then.
In another minute we were arguing away, hammer and tongs. If it had
been any other man I'd 'a' simply thrown the lamp at his head. He was
calling me all the mean names under the sun, accusing me of misusing my
authority and goodness only knows what all. When he had talked himself
down one stretch, I had only to say a few words to start him off again,
as fresh as a daisy. On my word, this jabbering went on for nearly
three hours."

"Why didn't you get coolies and have him tied up, if you thought he was
mad?" asked Revel.

"Not a safe business, believe me. Wrongful restraint on your own
responsibility of a man nearly your own standing looks ugly. Well,
Stovey went on bullying me and complaining about everything I'd ever
said or done since I came on the Canal, till--he went fast asleep."

"Wha-at?"

"Went off dead asleep, just as if he'd been drugged. I thought the
brute had had a fit at first, but there he was, with his head hanging
a little on one side and his mouth open. I knocked up his bearer and
told him to take the man to bed. We carried him off and shoved him on
his charpoy. He was still asleep, and I didn't think it worth while
to undress him. The fit, whatever it was, had worked itself out, and
he was limp and used up. But as I was going to leave the room, and
went to turn the lamp down, I looked in the glass and saw that he was
watching me between his eyelids. When I spun round he seemed asleep.
'That's your game, is it?' I thought, and I stood over him long enough
to see that he was shamming. Then I cast an eye round the room and
saw his Martini in the corner. We were all _bullumteers_ on the Canal
works. I couldn't find the cartridges, so to make all serene I knocked
the breech-pin out with the cleaning-rod and went to my own room. I
didn't go to sleep for some time. About one o'clock--our rooms were
only divided by a door of sorts, and my bed was close to it--I heard
my friend open a chest of drawers. Then he went for the Martini. Of
course, the breech-block came out with a rattle. Then he went back to
bed again, and I nearly laughed.

"Next morning he was doing the genial, hail-fellow-well-met trick.
Said he was afraid he'd lost his temper overnight, and apologised for
it. About half way through breakfast--he was talking thickly about
everything and anything--he said he'd come to the conclusion that a
beard was a beastly nuisance and made one stuffy. He was going to shave
his. Would I lend him my razors? 'Oh, you're a crafty beast, you are,'
I said to myself. I told him that I was of the other opinion, and
finding my razors nearly worn out had chucked them into the Canal only
the night before. He gave me one look under his eyebrows and went on
with his breakfast. I was in a stew lest the man should cut his throat
with one of the breakfast knives, so I kept one eye on him most of the
time.

"Before I left the bungalow I caught old Jeewun Singh, one of the
_mistries_ on the gates, and gave him strict orders that he was to
keep in sight of the Sahib wherever he went and whatever he did; and
if he did or tried to do anything foolish, such as jumping down the
well, Jeewun Singh was to stop him. The old man tumbled at once, and
I was easier in my mind when I saw how he was shadowing Stovey up and
down the works. Then I sat down and wrote a letter to old Baggs, the
Civil Surgeon at Chemanghath, about sixty miles off, telling him how
we stood. The runner left about three o'clock. Jeewun Singh turned up
at the end of the day and gave a full, true and particular account of
Stovey's doings. D'you know what the brute had done?"

"Spare us the agony. Kill him straight off, Saveloy!"

"He'd stopped the runner, opened the bag, read my letter and torn it
up! There were only two letters in the bag, both of which I'd written.
I was pretty _average_ angry, but I lay low. At dinner he said he'd got
a touch of dysentery and wanted some chlorodyne. For a man anxious to
depart this life he was _about_ as badly equipped as you could wish.
Hadn't even a medicine-chest to play with. He was no more suffering
from dysentery than I, but I said I'd give him the chlorodyne, and so
I did--fifteen drops, mixed in a wine-glass, and when he asked for the
bottle I said that I hadn't any more.

"That night he began praying again, and I just lay in bed and
shuddered. He was invoking the most blasphemous curses on my head--all
in a whisper, for fear of waking me up--for frustrating what he called
his 'great and holy purpose.' You never heard anything like it. But as
long as he was praying I knew he was alive, and he ran his praying half
through the night.

"Well, for the next ten days he was apparently quite rational; but I
watched him and told Jeewun Singh to watch him like a cat. I suppose he
wanted to throw me off my guard, but I wasn't to be thrown. I grew thin
watching him. Baggs wrote in to say he had gone on tour and couldn't be
found anywhere in particular for another six weeks. It was a ghastly
time.

"One day old Jeewun Singh turned up with a bit of paper that Stovey
had given to one of the _lohars_ as a _naksha_. I thought it was mean
work spying into another man's very plans, but when I saw what was on
the paper I gave old Jeewun Singh a rupee. It was a be-auti-ful little
breech-pin. The one-idead idiot had gone back to Martini! I never
dreamt of such persistence. 'Tell me when the _lohar_ gives it to the
Sahib,' I said, and I felt more comfy for a few days. Even if Jeewun
Singh hadn't split I should have known when the new breech-pin was
made. The brute came in to dinner with a dashed confident, triumphant
air, as if he'd done me in the eye at last; and all through dinner he
was fiddling in his waistcoat pocket. He went to bed early. I went,
too, and I put my head against the door and listened like a woman. I
must have been shivering in my pyjamas for about two hours before my
friend went for the dismantled Martini. He could not get the breech-pin
to fit at first. He rummaged about, and then I heard a file go. That
seemed to make too much noise to suit his fancy, so he opened the door
and went out into the compound, and I heard him, about fifty yards off,
filing in the dark at that breech-pin as if he had been possessed.
Well, he _was_, you know. Then he came back to the light, cursing me
for keeping him out of his rest and the peace of Abraham's bosom. As
soon as I heard him taking up the Martini, I ran round to his door and
tried to enter gaily, as the stage directions say. 'Lend me your gun,
old man, if you're awake,' I said. 'There's a howling big brute of a
pariah in my room, and I want to get a shot at it.' I pretended not
to notice that he was standing over the gun, but just pranced up and
caught hold of it. He turned round with a jump and said: 'I'm sick of
this. I'll see that dog, and if it's another of your lies I'll----' You
know I'm not a moral man."

"Hear! hear!" drowsily from Martha.

"But I simply daren't repeat what he said. 'All right!' I said, still
hanging on to the gun. 'Come along and we'll bowl him over.' He
followed me into my room with a face like a fiend in torment. And,
as truly as I'm yarning here, there _was_ a huge brindled beast of a
pariah sitting _on my bed_!"

"Tall, sir, tall. But go on. The audience is now awake."

"Hang it! Could I have invented that pariah? Stovey dropped of the gun
and flopped down in a corner and yowled. I went '_ee ki ri ki re!_'
like a woman in hysterics, pitched the gun forward and loosed off
through a window."

"And the pariah?"

"He quitted for the time being. Stovey was in an awful state. He swore
the animal hadn't been there when I called him. That was true enough. I
firmly believe Providence put it there to save me from being killed by
the infuriated Stovey."

"You've too lively a belief in Providence altogether. What happened?"

"Stovey tried to recover himself and pass it all over, but he let me
keep the gun and went to bed. About two days afterwards old Baggs
turned up on tour, and I told him Stovey wanted watching--more than
I could give him. I don't know whether Baggs or the _pi_ did it, but
he didn't throw any more suicidal splints. I was transferred a little
while afterwards."

"Ever meet the man again?"

"Yes; once at Sheik Katan dâk bungalow--trailing the big brindle _pi_
after him."

"Oh, it was real, then. I thought it was arranged for the occasion."

"Not a bit. It was a _pukka pi_. Stovey seemed to remember me in the
same way that a horse seems to remember. I fancy his brain was a
little cloudy. We tiffined together--_after_ the _pi_ had been fed,
if you please--and Stovey said to me: 'See that dog? He saved my life
once. Oh, by the way, I believe you were there, too, weren't you?' I
shouldn't care to work with Stovey again."

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a holy pause in the smoking-room of the Toopare Club.

"What I like about Saveloy's play," said Martha, looking at the
ceiling, "is the beautifully artistic way in which he follows up a
flush with a full. Go to bed, old man!"

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 15: From the "Week's News," April 7, 1888.]



"SLEIPNER," LATE "THURINDA"[16]

 There are men, both good and wise, who hold that in a future state
   Dumb creatures we have cherished here below
 Will give us joyous welcome as we pass the Golden Gate.
   Is it folly if I hope it may be so?

 --_The Place Where the Old Horse Died._


If there were any explanation available here, I should be the first
person to offer it. Unfortunately, there is not, and I am compelled to
confine myself to the facts of the case as vouched for by Hordene and
confirmed by "Guj," who is the last man in the world to throw away a
valuable horse for nothing.

Jale came up with _Thurinda_ to the Shayid Spring meeting; and
besides _Thurinda_ his string included _Divorce_, _Meg's Diversions_
and _Benoni_--ponies of sorts. He won the Officers' Scurry--five
furlongs--with _Benoni_ on the first day, and that sent up the price of
the stable in the evening lotteries; for _Benoni_ was the worst-looking
of the three, being a pigeon-toed, split-chested _dâk_ horse, with a
wonderful gift of blundering in on his shoulders--ridden out to the
last ounce--but _first_. Next day Jale was riding _Divorce_ in the
Wattle and Dab Stakes--round the jump course; and she turned over at
the on-and-off course when she was leading and managed to break her
neck. She never stirred from the place where she dropped, and Jale did
not move either till he was carried off the ground to his tent close
to the big _shamiana_ where the lotteries were held. He had ricked his
back, and everything below the hips was as dead as timber. Otherwise he
was perfectly well. The doctor said that the stiffness would spread and
that he would die before the next morning. Jale insisted upon knowing
the worst, and when he heard it sent a pencil note to the Honorary
Secretary, saying that they were not to stop the races or do anything
foolish of that kind. If he hung on till the next day the nominations
for the third day's racing would not be void, and he would settle up
all claims before he threw up his hand. This relieved the Honorary
Secretary, because most of the horses had come from a long distance,
and, under any circumstance, even had the Judge dropped dead in the
box, it would have been impossible to have postponed the racing. There
was a great deal of money on the third day, and five or six of the
owners were gentlemen who would make even one day's delay an excuse.
Well, settling would not be easy. No one knew much about Jale. He was
an outsider from down country, but every one hoped that, since he was
doomed, he would live through the third day and save trouble.

Jale lay on his charpoy in the tent and asked the doctor and the man
who catered to the refreshments--he was the nearest at the time--to
witness his will. "I don't know how long my arms will be workable,"
said Jale, "and we'd better get this business over." The private
arrangements of the will concern nobody but Jale's friends; but there
was one clause that was rather curious. "Who was that man with the
brindled hair who put me up for a night until the tent was ready? The
man who rode down to pick me up when I was smashed. Nice sort of fellow
he seemed." "Hordene?" said the doctor. "Yes, Hordene. Good chap,
Hordene. He keeps Bull whisky. Write down that I give this Johnnie
Hordene _Thurinda_ for his own, if he can sell the other ponies.
_Thurinda's_ a good mare. He can enter her--post-entry--for the All
Horse Sweep if he likes--on the last day. Have you got that down? I
suppose the Stewards'll recognise the gift?" "No trouble about that,"
said the doctor. "All right. Give him the other two ponies to sell.
They're entered for the last day, but I shall be dead then. Tell him to
send the money to----" Here he gave an address. "Now I'll sign and you
sign, and that's all. This deadness is coming up between my shoulders."

Jale lived, dying very slowly, till the third day's racing, and up
till the time of the lotteries on the fourth day's racing. The doctor
was rather surprised. Hordene came in to thank him for his gift, and
to suggest it would be much better to sell _Thurinda_ with the others.
She was the best of them all, and would have fetched twelve hundred on
her looking-over merits only. "Don't you bother," said Jale. "You take
her. I rather liked you. I've got no people, and that Bull whisky was
first-class stuff. I'm pegging out now, I think."

The lottery-tent outside was beginning to fill, and Jale heard the
click of the dice. "That's all right," said he. "I wish I was there,
but--I'm--going to the drawer." Then he died quietly. Hordene went into
the lottery-tent, after calling the doctor. "How's Jale?" said the
Honorary Secretary. "Gone to the drawer," said Hordene, settling into
a chair and reaching out for a lottery paper. "Poor beggar!" said the
Honorary Secretary. "'Twasn't the fault of our on-and-off, though. The
mare blundered. Gentlemen! gentlemen! Nine hundred and eighty rupees
in the lottery, and _River of Years_ for sale!" The lottery lasted
far into the night, and there was a supplementary lottery on the All
Horse Sweep, where _Thurinda_ sold for a song, and was not bought by
her owner. "It's not lucky," said Hordene, and the rest of the men
agreed with him. "I ride her myself, but I don't know anything about
her and I wish to goodness I hadn't taken her," said he. "Oh, bosh!
Never refuse a horse or a drink, however you come by them. No one
objects, do they? Not going to refer this matter to Calcutta, are we?
Here, somebody, bid! Eleven hundred and fifty rupees in the lottery,
and _Thurinda_--absolutely unknown, acquired under the most romantic
circumstances from about _the_ toughest man it has ever been my good
fortune to meet--for sale. Hullo, Nurji, is that you? Gentlemen, where
a Pagan bids shall enlightened Christians hang back? Ten! Going, going,
gone!" "You want ha-af, sar?" said the battered native trainer to
Hordene. "No, thanks--not a bit of her for me."

The All Horse Sweep was run, and won by _Thurinda_ by about a street
and three-quarters, to be very accurate, amid derisive cheers, which
Hordene, who flattered himself that he knew something about riding,
could not understand. On pulling up he looked over his shoulder and
saw that the second horse was only just passing the box. "Now, how did
I make such a fool of myself?" he said as he returned to weigh out.
His friends gathered round him and asked tenderly whether this was
the first time that he had got up, and whether it was _absolutely_
necessary that the winning horse should be ridden out when the field
were hopelessly pumped, a quarter of a mile behind, etc., etc.
"I--I--thought _River of Years_ was pressing me," explained Hordene.
"_River of Years_ was wallowing, absolutely wallowing," said a man,
"before you turned into the straight. You rode like a--hang it--like a
Militia subaltern!"

The Shayid Spring meeting broke up and the sportsmen turned their
steps towards the next carcase--the Ghoriah Spring. With them went
_Thurinda's_ owner, the happy possessor of an almost perfect animal.
"She's as easy as a Pullman car and about twice as fast," he was wont
to say in moments of confidence to his intimates. "For all her bulk,
she's as handy as a polo-pony; a child might ride her, and when she's
at the post she's as cute--she's as cute as the bally starter himself."
Many times had Hordene said this, till at last one unsympathetic
friend answered with: "When a man _bukhs_ too much about his wife or
his horse, it's a sure sign he's trying to make himself like 'em. I
mistrust your _Thurinda_. She's too good, or else----" "Or else what?"
"You're trying to believe you like her." "Like her! I _love_ her! I
trust that darling as I'm shot if I'd trust you. I'd hack her for
tuppence." "Hack away, then. I don't want to hurt your feelings. I
don't hack my stable myself, but some horses go better for it. Come and
peacock at the band-stand this evening." To the band-stand accordingly
Hordene came, and the lovely _Thurinda_ comported herself with all the
gravity and decorum that might have been expected. Hordene rode home
with the scoffer, through the dusk, discoursing on matters indifferent.
"Hold up a minute," said his friend, "there's Gagley riding behind
us." Then, raising his voice: "Come along, Gagley! I want to speak
to you about the Race Ball." But no Gagley came; and the couple went
forward at a trot. "Hang it! There's that man behind us still."
Hordene listened and could clearly hear the sound of a horse trotting,
apparently just behind them. "Come on, Gagley! Don't play bo-peep in
that ridiculous way," shouted the friend. Again no Gagley. Twenty yards
farther there was a crash and a stumble as the friend's horse came down
over an unseen rat-hole. "How much damaged?" asked Hordene. "Sprained
my wrist," was the dolorous answer, "and there is something wrong with
my knee-cap. There goes my mount to-morrow, and this gee is cut like a
cab-horse."

On the first day of the Ghoriah meeting _Thurinda_ was hopelessly
ridden out by a native jockey, to whose care Hordene had at the last
moment been compelled to confide her. "You forsaken idiot!" said
he, "what made you begin riding as soon as you were clear? She had
everything safe, if you'd only left her alone. You rode her out before
the home turn, you hog!" "What could I do?" said the jockey sullenly.
"I was pressed by another horse." "Whose 'other horse'? There were
twenty yards of daylight between you and the ruck. If you'd kept her
there even then 'twouldn't ha' mattered. But you rode her out--you
rode her out!" "There was another horse and he pressed me to the end,
and when I looked round he was no longer there." Let us, in charity,
draw a veil over Hordene's language at this point. "Goodness knows
whether she'll be fit to pull out again for the last event. D----n you
and your other horses! I wish I'd broken your neck before letting you
get up!" _Thurinda_ was done to a turn, and it seemed a cruelty to
ask her to run again in the last race of the day. Hordene rode this
time, and was careful to keep the mare within herself at the outset.
Once more _Thurinda_ left her field--with one exception--a grey horse
that hung upon her flanks and could not be shaken off. The mare was
done, and refused to answer the call upon her. She tried hopelessly
in the straight and was caught and passed by her old enemy, _River
of Years_--the chestnut of Kurnaul. "You rode well--like a native,
Hordene," was the unflattering comment. "The mare was ridden out before
_River of Years_." "But the grey," began Hordene, and then ceased, for
he knew that there was no grey in the race. _Blue Point_ and _Diamond
Dust_, the only greys at the meeting, were running in the Arab Handicap.

He caught his native jockey. "What horse, d'you say, pressed you?" "I
don't know. It was a grey with nutmeg tickings behind the saddle."
That evening Hordene sought the great Major Blare-Tyndar, who knew
personally the father, mother and ancestors of almost every horse,
brought from _ekka_ or ship, that had ever set foot on an Indian
race-course. "Say, Major, what is a grey horse with nutmeg tickings
behind the saddle?" "A curiosity. _Wendell Holmes_ is a grey, with
nutmeg on the near shoulder, but there is no horse marked your way,
now." Then, after a pause: "No, I'm wrong--you ought to know. The pony
that got you _Thurinda_ was grey and nutmeg." "How much?" "_Divorce_,
of course. The mare that broke her neck at the Shayid meeting and
killed Jale. A big thirteen-three she was. I recollect when she was
hacking old Snuffy Beans to office. He bought her from a dealer, who
had her left on his hands as a rejection when the Pink Hussars were
buying team up country and then----Hullo! The man's gone!" Hordene
had departed on receipt of information which he already knew. He only
demanded extra confirmation. Then he began to argue with himself,
bearing in mind that he himself was a sane man, neither gluttonous nor
a wine-bibber, with an unimpaired digestion, and that _Thurinda_ was to
all appearance a horse of ordinary flesh and exceedingly good blood.
Arrived at these satisfactory conclusions, he reargued the whole matter.

Being by nature intensely superstitious, he decided upon scratching
_Thurinda_ and facing the howl of indignation that would follow. He
also decided to leave the Ghoriah meet and change his luck. But it
would have been sinful--positively wicked--to have left without waiting
for the polo-match that was to conclude the festivities. At the last
moment before the match, one of the leading players of the Ghoriah team
and Hordene's host discovered that, through the kindly foresight of his
head _sais_, every single pony had been taken down to the ground. "Lend
me a hack, old man," he shouted to Hordene as he was changing. "Take
_Thurinda_," was the reply. "She'll bring you down in ten minutes."
And _Thurinda_ was accordingly saddled for Marish's benefit. "I'll
go down with you," said Hordene. The two rode off together at a hand
canter. "By Jove! Somebody's _sais_ 'll get kicked for this!" said
Marish, looking round. "Look there! He's coming for the mare! Pull
out into the middle of the road." "What on earth d'you mean?" "Well,
if _you_ can take a strayed horse so calmly, I can't. Didn't you see
what a lather that grey was in?" "What grey?" "The grey that just
passed us--saddle and all. He's got away from the ground, I suppose.
Now he's turned the corner; but you can hear his hoofs. Listen!" There
was a furious gallop of shod horses, gradually dying into silence.
"Come along," said Hordene. "We're late as it is. We shall know all
about it on the ground." "Anybody lost a tat?" asked Marish cheerily
as they reached the ground. "No, we've lost _you_. Double up. You're
late enough as it is. Get up and go in. The teams are waiting." Marish
mounted his polo-pony and cantered across. Hordene watched the game
idly for a few moments. There was a scrimmage, a cloud of dust, and a
cessation of play, and a shouting for _saises_. The umpire clattered
forward and returned. "What has happened?" "Marish! Neck broken!
Nobody's fault. Pony crossed its legs and came down. Game's stopped.
Thank God, he hasn't got a wife!" Again Hordene pondered as he sat on
his horse's back. "Under any circumstances it was written that he was
to be killed. I had no interest in his death, and he had his warning,
I suppose. I can't make out the system that this infernal mare runs
under. Why _him_? Anyway, I'll shoot her." He looked at _Thurinda_, the
calm-eyed, the beautiful, and repented. "No! I'll sell her."

"What in the world has happened to _Thurinda_ that Hordene is so keen
on getting rid of her?" was the general question. "I want money," said
Hordene unblushingly, and the few who knew how his accounts stood saw
that this was a varnished lie. But they held their peace because of
the great love and trust that exists among the ancient and honourable
fraternity of sportsmen.

"There's nothing wrong with her," explained Hordene. "Try her as much
as you like, but let her stay in my stable until you've made up your
mind one way or the other. Nine hundred's my price."

"I'll take her at that," quoth a red-haired subaltern, nicknamed
Carrots, later Gaja, and then, for brevity's sake, Guj. "Let me have
her out this afternoon. I want her more for hacking than anything else."

Guj tried _Thurinda_ exhaustively and had no fault to find with her.
"She's all right," he said briefly. "I'll take her. It's a cash deal."
"Virtuous Guj!" said Hordene, pocketing the cheque. "If you go on like
this you'll be loved and respected by all who know you."

A week later Guj insisted that Hordene should accompany him on a ride.
They cantered merrily for a time. Then said the subaltern: "Listen to
the mare's beat a minute, will you? Seems to me that you've sold me two
horses."

Behind the mare was plainly audible the cadence of a swiftly trotting
horse. "D'you hear anything?" said Guj. "No--nothing but the regular
triplet," said Hordene; and he lied when he answered. Guj looked at
him keenly and said nothing. Two or three months passed and Hordene
was perplexed to see his old property running, and running well, under
the curious title of "_Sleipner_--late _Thurinda_." He consulted the
Great Major, who said: "I don't know a horse called _Sleipner_, but
I know _of_ one. He was a northern bred, and belonged to Odin." "A
mythological beast?" "Exactly. Like _Bucephalus_ and the rest of 'em.
He was a great horse. I wish I had some of his get in my stable."
"Why?" "Because he had eight legs. When he had used up one set, he let
down the other four to come up the straight on. Stewards were lenient
in those days. _Now_ it's all you can do to get a crock with _three_
sound legs."

Hordene cursed the red-haired Guj in his heart for finding out the
mare's peculiarity. Then he cursed the dead man Jale for his ridiculous
interference with a free gift. "If it was given--it was given," said
Hordene, "and he has no right to come messing about after it." When Guj
and he next met, he enquired tenderly after _Thurinda_. The red-haired
subaltern, impassive as usual, answered: "I've shot her." "Well--you
know your own affairs best," said Hordene. "You've given yourself
away," said Guj. "What makes you think I shot a sound horse? She might
have been bitten by a mad dog, or lamed." "You didn't say that." "No,
I didn't, because I've a notion that you knew what was wrong with her."
"Wrong with her! She was as sound as a bell----" "I know that. Don't
pretend to misunderstand. You'll believe _me_, and I'll believe _you_
in this show; but no one else will believe _us_. That mare was a bally
nightmare." "Go on," said Hordene. "I stuck the noise of the other
horse as long as I could, and called her _Sleipner_ on the strength
of it. _Sleipner_ was a stallion, but that's a detail. When it got to
interfering with every race I rode it was more than I could stick.
I took her off racing, and, on my honour, since that time I've been
nearly driven out of my mind by a grey and nutmeg pony. It used to trot
round my quarters at night, fool about the Mall, and graze about the
compound. You _know_ that pony. It isn't a pony to catch or ride or
hit, is it?" "No," said Hordene; "I've seen it." "So I shot _Thurinda_;
that was a thousand rupees out of my pocket. And old Stiffer, who's got
his new crematorium in full blast, cremated her. I say, what _was_ the
matter with the mare? Was she bewitched?"

Hordene told the story of the gift, which Guj heard out to the end.
"Now, that's a nice sort of yarn to tell in a messroom, isn't it?
They'd call it jumps or insanity," said Guj. "There's no reason in it.
It doesn't lead up to anything. It only killed poor Marish and made you
stick me with the mare; and yet it's true. Are you mad or drunk, or am
I? That's the only explanation." "Can't be drunk for nine months on
end, and madness would show in that time," said Hordene.

"All right," said Guj recklessly, going to the window. "I'll lay that
ghost." He leaned out into the night and shouted: "Jale! Jale! Jale!
Wherever you are." There was a pause and then up the compound-drive
came the clatter of a horse's feet. The red-haired subaltern blanched
under his freckles to the colour of glycerine soap. "_Thurinda's_
dead," he muttered, "and--and all bets are off. Go back to your grave
again."

Hordene was watching him open-mouthed.

"Now bring me a strait-jacket or a glass of brandy," said Guj. "That's
enough to turn a man's hair white. What did the poor wretch mean by
knocking about the earth?"

"Don't know," whispered Hordene hoarsely. "Let's get over to the Club.
I'm feeling a bit shaky."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 16: "Week's News," May 12, 1888.]



A SUPPLEMENTARY CHAPTER[17]

 Shall I not one day remember thy Bower--
   One day when all days are one day to me?
 Thinking I stirred not and yet had the power,
   Yearning--ah, God, if again it might be!

                 --_The Song of the Bower_.


This is a base betrayal of confidence, but the sin is Mrs. Hauksbee's
and not mine.

If you remember a certain foolish tale called "The Education of Otis
Yeere," you will not forget that Mrs. Mallowe laughed at the wrong
time, which was a single, and at Mrs. Hauksbee, which was a double,
offence. An experiment had gone wrong, and it seems that Mrs. Mallowe
had said some quaint things about the experimentrix.

"I am not angry," said Mrs. Hauksbee, "and I admire Polly in spite
of her evil counsels to me. But I shall wait--I shall wait, like the
frog footman in _Alice in Wonderland_, and Providence will deliver
Polly into my hands. It always does if you wait." And she departed
to vex the soul of the "Hawley boy," who says that she is singularly
"_uninstruite_ and childlike." He got that first word out of a Ouida
novel. I do not know what it means, but am prepared to make an
affidavit before the Collector that it does not mean Mrs. Hauksbee.

Mrs. Hauksbee's ideas of waiting are very liberal. She told the "Hawley
boy" that he dared not tell Mrs. Reiver that "she was an intellectual
woman with a gift for attracting men," and she offered another man
two waltzes if he would repeat the same thing in the same ears. But
he said: "Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes," which means "Mistrust all
waltzes except those you get for legitimate asking."

The "Hawley boy" did as he was told because he believes in Mrs.
Hauksbee. He was the instrument in the hand of a Higher Power, and
he wore _jharun_ coats, like "the scoriac rivers that roll their
sulphurous torrents down Yahek, in the realms of the Boreal Pole,"
that made your temples throb when seen early in the morning. I will
introduce him to you some day if all goes well. He is worth knowing.

Unpleasant things have already been written about Mrs. Reiver in other
places.

She was a person without invention. She used to get her ideas from the
men she captured, and this led to some eccentric changes of character.
For a month or two she would act _à la_ Madonna, and try Theo for a
change if she fancied Theo's ways suited her beauty. Then she would
attempt the dark and fiery Lilith, and so and so on, exactly as she
had absorbed the new notion. But there was always Mrs. Reiver--hard,
selfish, stupid Mrs. Reiver--at the back of each transformation. Mrs.
Hauksbee christened her the Magic Lantern on account of this borrowed
mutability. "It just depends upon the slide," said Mrs. Hauksbee. "The
case is the only permanent thing in the exhibition. But that, thank
Heaven, is getting old."

There was a Fancy Ball at Government House and Mrs. Reiver came
attired in some sort of '98 costume, with her hair pulled up to the
top of her head, showing the clear outline on the back of the neck
like the Récamier engravings. Mrs. Hauksbee had chosen to be loud, not
to say vulgar, that evening, and went as The Black Death--a curious
arrangement of barred velvet, black domino and flame-coloured satin
puffery coming up to the neck and the wrists, with one of those
shrieking keel-backed cicalas in the hair. The scream of the creature
made people jump. It sounded so unearthly in a ballroom.

I heard her say to some one: "Let me introduce you to Madame Récamier,"
and I saw a man dressed as Autolycus bowing to Mrs. Reiver, while The
Black Death looked more than usually saintly. It was a very pleasant
evening, and Autolycus and Madame Récamier--I heard her ask Autolycus
who Madame Récamier was, by the way--danced together ever so much.
Mrs. Hauksbee was in a meditative mood, but she laughed once or twice
in the back of her throat, and that meant trouble.

Autolycus was Trewinnard, the man whom Mrs. Mallowe had told Mrs.
Hauksbee about--the Platonic Paragon, as Mrs. Hauksbee called him. He
was amiable, but his moustache hid his mouth, and so he did not explain
himself all at once. If you stared at him, he turned his eyes away,
and through the rest of the dinner kept looking at you to see whether
you were looking again. He took stares as a tribute to his merits,
which were generally known and recognised. When he played billiards he
apologised at length between each bad stroke, and explained what would
have happened if the red had been somewhere else, or the bearer had
trimmed the third lamp, or the wind hadn't made the door bang. Also
he wriggled in his chair more than was becoming to one of his inches.
Little men may wriggle and fidget without attracting notice. It doesn't
suit big-framed men. He was the Main Girder Boom of the Kutcha, Pukka,
Bundobust and Benaoti Department and corresponded direct with the Three
Taped Bashaw. Every one knows what _that_ means. The men in his own
office said that where anything was to be gained, even temporarily, he
would never hesitate for a moment over handing up a subordinate to be
hanged and drawn and quartered. He didn't back up his underlings, and
for that reason they dreaded taking responsibility on their shoulders,
and the strength of the Department was crippled.

A weak Department can, and often does, do a power of good work simply
because its chief sees it through thick and thin. Mistakes may be
born of this policy, but it is safe and sounder than giving orders
which may be read in two ways and reserving to yourself the right of
interpretation according to subsequent failure or success. Offices
prefer administration to diplomacy. They are very like Empires.

Hatchett of the Almirah and Thannicutch--a vicious little
three-cornered Department that was always stamping on the toes of the
Elect--had the fairest estimate of Trewinnard, when he said: "I don't
believe he is as good as he is." They always quoted that verdict as
an instance of the blind jealousy of the Uncovenanted, but Hatchett
was quite right. Trewinnard was just as good and no better than Mrs.
Mallowe could make him; and she had been engaged on the work for three
years. Hatchett has a narrow-minded partiality for the more than
naked--the anatomised Truth--but he can gauge a man.

Trewinnard had been spoilt by over-much petting, and the devil of
vanity that rides nine hundred and ninety-nine men out of a thousand
made him behave as he did. He had been too long one woman's property;
and that belief will sometimes drive a man to throw the best things in
the world behind him, from rank perversity. Perhaps he only meant to
stray temporarily and then return, but in arranging for this excursion
he misunderstood both Mrs. Mallowe and Mrs. Reiver. The one made no
sign, she would have died first; and the other--well, the high-falutin
mindsome lay was her craze for the time being. She had never tried it
before and several men had hinted that it would eminently become her.
Trewinnard was in himself pleasant, with the great merit of belonging
to somebody else. He was what they call "intellectual," and vain to
the marrow. Mrs. Reiver returned his lead in the first, and hopelessly
out-trumped him in the second suit. Put down all that comes after this
to Providence or The Black Death.

Trewinnard never realised how far he had fallen from his allegiance
till Mrs. Reiver referred to some official matter that he had been
telling her about as "ours." He remembered then how that word had been
sacred to Mrs. Mallowe and how she had asked his permission to use it.
Opium is intoxicating, and so is whisky, but more intoxicating than
either to a certain build of mind is the first occasion on which a
woman--especially if she have asked leave for the "honour"--identifies
herself with a man's work. The second time is not so pleasant. The
answer has been given before, and the treachery comes to the top and
tastes coppery in the mouth.

Trewinnard swallowed the shame--he felt dimly that he was not doing
Mrs. Reiver any great wrong by untruth--and told and told and continued
to tell, for the snare of this form of open-heartedness is that no man,
unless he be a consummate liar, knows where to stop. The office door of
all others must be either open wide or shut tight with a _shaprassi_ to
keep off callers.

Mrs. Mallowe made no sign to show that she felt Trewinnard's desertion
till a piece of information that could only have come from _one_
quarter ran about Simla like quicksilver. She met Trewinnard at a
dinner. "Choose your _confidantes_ better, Harold," she whispered as
she passed him in the drawing-room. He turned salmon-colour, and swore
very hard to himself that Babu Durga Charan Laha must go--must go--must
go. He almost believed in that grey-headed old oyster's guilt.

And so another of those upside-down tragedies that we call a Simla
Season wore through to the end--from the Birthday Ball to the
"tripping" to Naldera and Kotghar. And fools gave feasts and wise men
ate them, and they were bidden to the wedding and sat down to bake, and
those who had nuts had no teeth and they staked the substance for the
shadow, and carried coals to Newcastle, and in the dark all cats were
grey, as it was in the days of the great Curé of Meudon.

Late in the year there developed itself a battle-royal between the
K.P.B. and B. Department and the Almirah and Thannicutch. Three columns
of this paper would be needed to supply you with the outlines of the
difficulty; and then you would not be grateful. Hatchett snuffed the
fray from afar and went into it with his teeth bared to the gums, while
his Department stood behind him solid to a man. They believed in him,
and their answer to the fury of men who detested him was: "Ah! But
you'll admit he's d----d right in what he says."

"The head of Trewinnard in a Government Resolution," said Hatchett,
and he told the _daftri_ to put a new pad on his blotter, and smiled
a bleak smile as he spread out his notes. Hatchett is a Thug in his
systematic way of butchering a man's reputation.

"What are you going to do?" asked Trewinnard's Department. "Sit tight,"
said Trewinnard, which was tantamount to saying "Lord knows." The
Department groaned and said: "Which of us poor beggars is to be Jonahed
_this_ time?" They knew Trewinnard's vice.

The dispute was essentially not one for the K.P.B. and B. under its
then direction to fight out. It should have been compromised, or at the
worst sent up to the Supreme Government with a private and confidential
note directing justice into the proper paths.

Some people say that the Supreme Government is the Devil. It is more
like the Deep Sea. Anything that you throw into it disappears for
weeks, and comes to light hacked and furred at the edges, crusted with
weeds and shells and almost unrecognisable. The bold man who would dare
to give it a file of love-letters would be amply rewarded. It would
overlay them with original comments and marginal notes, and work them
piecemeal into D.O. dockets. Few things, from a setter or a whirlpool
to a sausage-machine or a hatching hen, are more interesting and
peculiar than the Supreme Government.

"What shall we do?" said Trewinnard, who had fallen from grace into
sin. "Fight," said Mrs. Reiver, or words to that effect; and no one
can say how far aimless desire to test her powers, and how far belief
in the man she had brought to her feet prompted the judgment. Of the
merits of the case she knew just as much as any _ayah_.

Then Mrs. Mallowe, upon an evil word that went through Simla, put on
her visiting-garb and attired herself for the sacrifice, and went to
call--to call upon Mrs. Reiver, knowing what the torture would be.
From half-past twelve till twenty-five minutes to two she sat, her
hand upon her cardcase, and let Mrs. Reiver stab at her, all for the
sake of the information. Mrs. Reiver double-acted her part, but she
played into Mrs. Mallowe's hand by this defect. The assumptions of
ownership, the little intentional slips, were overdone, and so also
was the pretence of intimate knowledge. Mrs. Mallowe never winced. She
repeated to herself: "And he has trusted this--this Thing. She knows
nothing and she cares nothing, and she has digged this trap for him."
The main feature of the case was abundantly clear. Trewinnard, whose
capacities Mrs. Mallowe knew to the utmost farthing, to whom public
and departmental petting were as the breath of his delicately-cut
nostrils--Trewinnard, with his nervous dread of dispraise, was
to be pitted against the Paul de Cassagnac of the Almirah and
Thannicutch--the unspeakable Hatchett, who fought with the venom of a
woman and the skill of a Red Indian. Unless his cause was triply just,
Trewinnard was already under the guillotine, and if he had been under
this "Thing's" dominance, small hope for the justice of his case. "Oh,
why did I let him go without putting out a hand to fetch him back?"
said Mrs. Mallowe, as she got into her 'rickshaw.

Now, _Tim_, her fox-terrier, is the only person who knows what Mrs.
Mallowe did that afternoon, and as I found him loafing on the Mall in
a very disconsolate condition and as he recognised me effusively and
suggested going for a monkey-hunt--a thing he had never done before--my
impression is that Mrs. Mallowe stayed at home till the light fell and
thought. If she did this, it is of course hopeless to account for her
actions. So you must fill in the gap for yourself.

That evening it rained heavily, and horses mired their riders. But not
one of all the habits was so plastered with mud as the habit of Mrs.
Mallowe when she pulled up under the scrub oaks and sent in her name by
the astounded bearer to Trewinnard. "Folly! downright folly!" she said
as she sat in the steam of the dripping horse. "But it's all a horrible
jumble together."

It may be as well to mention that ladies do not usually call upon
bachelors at their houses. Bachelors would scream and run away.
Trewinnard came into the light of the verandah with a nervous,
undecided smile upon his lips, and he wished--in the bottomless bottom
of his bad heart--he wished that Mrs. Reiver was there to see. A minute
later he was profoundly glad that he was alone, for Mrs. Mallowe was
standing in his office room and calling him names that reflected no
credit on his intellect. "What have you done? What have you said?" she
asked. "Be quick! Be _quick_! And have the horse led round to the back.
Can you speak? What have you written? Show me!"

She had interrupted him in the middle of what he was pleased to call
his reply; for Hatchett's first shell had already fallen in the camp.
He stood back and offered her the seat at the _duftar_ table. Her elbow
left a great wet stain on the baize, for she was soaked through and
through.

"Say exactly how the matter stands," she said, and laughed a weak
little laugh, which emboldened Trewinnard to say loftily: "Pardon me,
Mrs. Mallowe, but I hardly recognise your----"

"Idiot! Will you show me the papers, will you speak, and _will_ you be
quick?"

Her most reverent admirers would hardly have recognised the
soft-spoken, slow-gestured, quiet-eyed Mrs. Mallowe in the indignant
woman who was drumming on Trewinnard's desk. He submitted to the voice
of authority, as he had submitted in the old times, and explained as
quickly as might be the cause of the war between the two Departments.
In conclusion he handed over the rough sheets of his reply. As she read
he watched her with the expectant sickly half-smile of the unaccustomed
writer who is doubtful of the success of his work. And another smile
followed, but died away as he saw Mrs. Mallowe read his production.
All the old phrases out of which she had so carefully drilled him had
returned; the unpruned fluency of diction was there, the more luxuriant
for being so long cut back; the reckless riotousness of assertion that
sacrificed all--even the vital truth that Hatchett would be so sure
to take advantage of--for the sake of scoring a point, was there; and
through and between every line ran the weak, wilful vanity of the man.
Mrs. Mallowe's mouth hardened.

"And you wrote this!" she said. Then to herself: "_He_ wrote this!"

Trewinnard stepped forward with a gesture habitual to him when he
wished to explain. Mrs. Reiver had never asked for explanations. She
had told him that all his ways were perfect. Therefore he loved her.

Mrs. Mallowe tore up the papers one by one, saying as she did so:
"_You_ were going to cross swords with Hatchett. Do you know your
own strength? Oh, Harold, Harold, it is _too_ pitiable! I thought--I
thought----" Then the great anger that had been growing in her broke
out, and she cried: "Oh, you fool! You blind, blind, _blind_, trumpery
fool! Why do I help you? Why do I have anything to do with you? You
miserable man! Sit down and write as I dictate. Quickly! And I had
chosen _you_ out of a hundred other _men_! Write!" It is a terrible
thing to be found out by a mere unseeing male--Thackeray has said it.
It is worse, far worse, to be found out by a woman, and in that hour
after long years to discover her worth. For ten minutes Trewinnard's
pen scratched across the paper, and Mrs. Mallowe spoke. "And that
is all," she said bitterly. "As you value yourself--your noble,
honourable, modest self--keep within that."

But that was not all--by any means. At least as far as Trewinnard was
concerned.

He rose from his chair and delivered his soul of many mad and futile
thoughts--such things as a man babbles when he is deserted of the gods,
has missed his hold upon the latch-door of Opportunity--and cannot see
that the ways are shut. Mrs. Mallowe bore with him to the end, and he
stood before her--no enviable creature to look upon.

"A cur as well as a fool!" she said. "Will you be good enough to
tell them to bring my horse? I do not trust to your honour--you have
none--but I believe that your sense of shame will keep you from
speaking of my visit."

So he was left in the verandah crying "Come back" like a distracted
guinea-fowl.

       *       *       *       *       *

"He's done us in the eye," grunted Hatchett as he perused the K.P.B.
and B. reply. "Look at the cunning of the brute in shifting the issue
on to India in that carneying, blarneying way! Only wait until I can
get my knife into him again. I'll stop every bolt-hole before the hunt
begins."

       *       *       *       *       *

Oh, I believe I have forgotten to mention the success of Mrs.
Hauksbee's revenge. It was so brilliant and overwhelming that she had
to cry in Mrs. Mallowe's arms for the better part of half an hour;
and Mrs. Mallowe was just as bad, though she thanked Mrs. Hauksbee
several times in the course of the interview, and Mrs. Hauksbee said
that she would repent and reform, and Mrs. Mallowe said: "Hush, dear,
hush! I don't think either of us had anything to be proud of." And Mrs.
Hauksbee said: "Oh, but I didn't _mean_ it, Polly, I didn't _mean_ it!"
And I stood with my hat in my hand trying to make two very indignant
ladies understand that the bearer really _had_ given me "_salaam
bolta_."

That was an evil quarter minute.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 17: "Week's News," May 19, 1888.]



CHATAUQUAED[18]

  Tells how the Professor and I found the Precious Rediculouses and
  how they Chautauquaed at us. Puts into print some sentiments better
  left unrecorded, and proves that a neglected theory will blossom in
  congenial soil. Contains fragments of three lectures and a confession.

 "_But these, in spite of careful dirt,
   Are neither green nor sappy;
 Half conscious of the garden squirt,
   The Spendlings look unhappy._"


Out of the silence under the apple-trees the Professor spake. One leg
thrust from the hammock netting kicked lazily at the blue. There was
the crisp crunch of teeth in an apple core.

"Get out of this," said the Professor lazily. As it was on the
banks of the Hughli, so on the green borders of the Musquash and
the Ohio--eternal unrest, and the insensate desire to go ahead. I
was lapped in a very trance of peace. Even the apples brought no
indigestion.

"Permanent Nuisance, what is the matter now?" I grunted.

"G'long out of this and go to Niagara," said the Professor in jerks.
"Spread the ink of description through the waters of the Horseshoe
falls--buy a papoose from the tame wild Indian who lives at the Clifton
House--take a fifty-cent ride on the _Maid of the Mist_--go over the
falls in a tub."

"Seriously, is it worth the trouble? Everybody who has ever been within
fifty miles of the falls has written his or her impressions. Everybody
who has never seen the falls knows all about them, and--besides, I want
some more apples. They're good in this place, ye big fat man," I quoted.

The Professor retired into his hammock for a while. Then he reappeared
flushed with a new thought. "If you want to see something quite new
let's go to Chautauqua."

"What's that?"

"Well, it's a sort of institution. It's an educational idea, and it
lives on the borders of a lake in New York State. I think you'll find
it interesting; and I know it will show you a new side of American
life."

In blank ignorance I consented. Everybody is anxious that I should
see as many sides of American life as possible. Here in the East they
demand of me what I thought of their West. I dare not answer that it is
as far from their notions and motives as Hindustan from Hoboken--that
the West, to this poor thinking, is an America which has no kinship
with its neighbour. Therefore I congratulated them hypocritically upon
"their West," and from their lips learn that there is yet another
America, that of the South--alien and distinct. Into the third
country, alas! I shall not have time to penetrate. The newspapers and
the oratory of the day will tell you that all feeling between the
North and South is extinct. None the less the Northerner, outside his
newspapers and public men, has a healthy contempt for the Southerner
which the latter repays by what seems very like a deep-rooted aversion
to the Northerner. I have learned now what the sentiments of the great
American nation mean. The North speaks in the name of the country; the
West is busy developing its own resources, and the Southerner skulks in
his tents. His opinions do not count; but his girls are very beautiful.

So the Professor and I took a train and went to look at the educational
idea. From sleepy, quiet little Musquash we rattled through the coal
and iron districts of Pennsylvania, her coke ovens flaring into the
night and her clamorous foundries waking the silence of the woods in
which they lay. Twenty years hence woods and cornfields will be gone,
and from Pittsburg to Shenango all will be smoky black as Bradford
and Beverly: for each factory is drawing to itself a small town, and
year by year the demand for rails increases. The Professor held forth
on the labour question, his remarks being prompted by the sight of a
train-load of Italians and Hungarians going home from mending a bridge.

"You recollect the Burmese," said he. "The American is like the Burman
in one way. He won't do heavy manual labour. He knows too much.
Consequently he imports the alien to be his hands--just as the Burman
gets hold of the Madrassi. If he shuts down all labour immigration he
will have to fill up his own dams, cut his cuttings and pile his own
embankments. The American citizen won't like that. He is racially unfit
to be a labourer in _muttee_. He can invent, buy, sell and design, but
he cannot waste his time on earth-works. _Iswaste_, this great people
will resume contract labour immigration the minute they find the aliens
in their midst are not sufficient for the jobs in hand. If the alien
gives them trouble they will shoot him."

"Yes, they will shoot him," I said, remembering how only two days
before some Hungarians employed on a line near Musquash had seen fit
to strike and to roll down rocks on labourers hired to take their
places, an amusement which caused the sheriff to open fire with a
revolver and wound or kill (it really does not much matter which) two
or three of them. Only a man who earns ten pence a day in sunny Italy
knows how to howl for as many shillings in America.

The composition of the crowd in the cars began to attract my attention.
There were very many women and a few clergymen. Where you shall find
these two together, there also shall be a fad, a hobby, a theory, or a
mission.

"These people are going to Chautauqua," said the Professor. "It's a
sort of open-air college--they call it--but you'll understand things
better when you arrive." A grim twinkle in the back of his eye awakened
all my fears.

"Can you get anything to drink there?"

"No."

"Are you allowed to smoke?"

"Ye-es, in certain places."

"Are we staying there over Sunday?"

"_No._" This very emphatically.

Feminine shrieks of welcome: "There's Sadie!" "Why, Maimie, is that
yeou!" "Alf's in the smoker. Did you bring the baby?" and a profligate
expenditure of kisses between bonnet and bonnet told me we had struck
a gathering place of the clans. It was midnight. They swept us, this
horde of clamouring women, into a Black Maria omnibus and a sumptuous
hotel close to the borders of a lake--Lake Chautauqua. Morning
showed as pleasant a place of summer pleasuring as ever I wish to
see. Smooth-cut lawns of velvet grass, studded with tennis-courts,
surrounded the hotel and ran down to the blue waters, which were dotted
with rowboats. Young men in wonderful blazers, and maidens in more
wonderful tennis costumes; women attired with all the extravagance of
unthinking Chicago or the grace of Washington (which is Simla) filled
the grounds, and the neat French nurses and exquisitely dressed little
children ran about together. There was pickerel-fishing for such as
enjoyed it; a bowling-alley, unlimited bathing and a toboggan, besides
many other amusements, all winding up with a dance or a concert at
night. Women dominated the sham mediæval hotel, rampaged about the
passages, flirted in the corridors and chased unruly children off the
tennis-courts. This place was called Lakewood. It is a pleasant place
for the unregenerate.

"_We_ go up the lake in a steamer to Chautauqua," said the Professor.

"But I want to stay here. This is what I understand and like."

"No, you don't. You must come along and be educated."

All the shores of the lake, which is eighteen miles long, are dotted
with summer hotels, camps, boat-houses and pleasant places of rest. You
go there with all your family to fish and to flirt. There is no special
beauty in the landscape of tame cultivated hills and decorous, woolly
trees, but good taste and wealth have taken the place in hand, trimmed
its borders and made it altogether delightful.

The institution of Chautauqua is the largest village on the lake.
I can't hope to give you an idea of it, but try to imagine the
Charlesville at Mussoorie magnified ten times and set down in the
midst of hundreds of tiny little hill houses, each different from its
neighbour, brightly painted and constructed of wood. Add something of
the peace of dull Dalhousie, flavour with a tincture of missions and
the old Polytechnic, Cassell's Self Educator and a Monday pop, and
spread the result out flat on the shores of Naini Tal Lake, which you
will please transport to the Dun. But that does not half describe the
idea. We watched it through a wicket gate, where we were furnished with
a red ticket, price forty cents, and five dollars if you lost it. I
naturally lost mine on the spot and was fined accordingly.

Once inside the grounds on the paths that serpentined round the
myriad cottages I was lost in admiration of scores of pretty girls,
most of them with little books under their arms, and a pretty air
of seriousness on their faces. Then I stumbled upon an elaborately
arranged mass of artificial hillocks surrounding a mud puddle and a
wormy streak of slime connecting it with another mud puddle. Little
boulders topped with square pieces of putty were strewn over the
hillocks--evidently with intention. When I hit my foot against one such
boulder painted "Jericho," I demanded information in aggrieved tones.

"Hsh!" said the Professor. "It's a model of Palestine--the Holy
Land--done to scale and all that, you know."

Two young people were flirting on the top of the highest mountain
overlooking Jerusalem; the mud puddles were meant for the Dead Sea and
the Sea of Galilee, and the twisting gutter was the Jordan. A small boy
sat on the city "Safed" and cast his line into Chautauqua Lake. On the
whole it did not impress me. The hotel was filled with women, and a
large blackboard in the main hall set forth the exercises for the day.
It seemed that Chautauqua was a sort of educational syndicate, _cum_
hotel, _cum_ (very mild) Rosherville. There were annually classes of
young women and young men who studied in the little cottages for two
or three months in the year and went away to self-educate themselves.
There were other classes who learned things by correspondence, and yet
other classes made up the teachers. All these delights I had missed,
but had arrived just in time for a sort of debauch of lectures which
concluded the three months' education. The syndicate in control had
hired various lecturers whose names would draw audiences, and these men
were lecturing about the labour problem, the servant-girl question, the
artistic and political aspect of Greek life, the Pope in the Middle
Ages and similar subjects, in all of which young women do naturally
take deep delight. Professor Mahaffy (what the devil was he doing in
that gallery?) was the Greek art side man, and a Dr. Gunsaulus handled
the Pope. The latter I loved forthwith. He had been to some gathering
on much the same lines as the Chautauqua one, and had there been
detected, in the open daylight, smoking a cigar. One whole lighted
cigar. Then his congregation or his class, or the mothers of both of
them, wished to know whether this was the sort of conduct for a man
professing temperance. I have not heard Dr. Gunsaulus lecture, but he
must be a good man. Professor Mahaffy was enjoying himself. I sat close
to him at tiffin and heard him arguing with an American professor as
to the merits of the American Constitution. Both men spoke that the
table might get the benefit of their wisdom, whence I argued that even
eminent professors are eminently human.

"Now, for goodness' sake, behave yourself," said the Professor.
"You are not to ask the whereabouts of a bar. You are not to laugh
at anything you see, and you are not to go away and deride this
Institution."

Remember that advice. But I was virtuous throughout, and my virtue
brought its own reward. The parlour of the hotel was full of committees
of women; some of them were Methodist Episcopalians, some were
Congregationalists, and some were United Presbyterians; and some were
faith healers and Christian Scientists, and all trotted about with
notebooks in their hands and the expression of Atlas on their faces.
They were connected with missions to the heathen, and so forth, and
their deliberations appeared to be controlled by a male missionary. The
Professor introduced me to one of them as their friend from India.

"Indeed," said she; "and of what denomination are you?"

"I--I live in India," I murmured.

"You are a missionary, then?"

I had obeyed the Professor's orders all too well. "I am not a
missionary," I said, with, I trust, a decent amount of regret in
my tones. She dropped me and I went to find the Professor, who had
cowardly deserted me, and I think was laughing on the balcony. It is
very hard to persuade a denominational American that a man from India
is not a missionary. The home-returned preachers very naturally convey
the impression that India is inhabited solely by missionaries.

I heard some of them talking and saw how, all unconsciously, they were
hinting the thing which was not. But prejudice governs me against my
will. When a woman looks you in the face and pities you for having to
associate with "heathen" and "idolaters"--Sikh Sirdar of the north, if
you please, Mahommedan gentlemen and the simple-minded _Jat_ of the
Punjab--what can you do?

The Professor took me out to see the sights, and lest I should be
further treated as a denominational missionary I wrapped myself in
tobacco smoke. This ensures respectful treatment at Chautauqua.
An amphitheatre capable of seating five thousand people is the
centre-point of the show. Here the lecturers lecture and the concerts
are held, and from here the avenues start. Each cottage is decorated
according to the taste of the owner, and is full of girls. The
verandahs are alive with them; they fill the sinuous walks; they hurry
from lecture to lecture, hatless, and three under one sunshade; they
retail little confidences walking arm-in-arm; they giggle for all the
world like uneducated maidens, and they walk about and row on the lake
with their very young men. The lectures are arranged to suit all
tastes. I got hold of one called "The Eschatology of Our Saviour." It
set itself to prove the length, breadth and temperature of Hell from
information garnered from the New Testament. I read it in the sunshine
under the trees, with these hundreds of pretty maidens pretending to
be busy all round; and it did not seem to match the landscape. Then
I studied the faces of the crowd. One-quarter were old and worn; the
balance were young, innocent, charming and frivolous. I wondered how
much they really knew or cared for the art side of Greek life, or the
Pope in the Middle Ages; and how much for the young men who walked with
them. Also what their ideas of Hell might be. We entered a place called
a museum (all the shows here are of an improving tendency), which had
evidently been brought together by feminine hands, so jumbled were the
exhibits. There was a facsimile of the Rosetta stone, with some printed
popular information; an Egyptian camel saddle, miscellaneous truck
from the Holy Land, another model of the same, photographs of Rome,
badly-blotched drawings of volcanic phenomena, the head of the pike
that John Brown took to Harper's Ferry that time his soul went marching
on, casts of doubtful value, and views of Chautauqua, all bundled
together without the faintest attempt at arrangement, and all very
badly labelled.

It was the apotheosis of Popular Information. I told the Professor
so, and he said I was an ass, which didn't affect the statement in
the least. I have seen museums like Chautauqua before, and well I
know what they mean. If you do not understand, read the first part of
_Aurora Leigh_. Lectures on the Chautauqua stamp I have heard before.
People don't get educated that way. They must dig for it, and cry for
it, and sit up o' nights for it; and when they have got it they must
call it by another name or their struggle is of no avail. You can get
a degree from this Lawn Tennis Tabernacle of all the arts and sciences
at Chautauqua. Mercifully the students are women-folk, and if they
marry the degree is forgotten, and if they become school-teachers they
can only instruct young America in the art of mispronouncing his own
language. And yet so great is the perversity of the American girl that
she can, scorning tennis and the allurements of boating, work herself
nearly to death over the skittles of archæology and foreign tongues, to
the sorrow of all her friends.

Late that evening the contemptuous courtesy of the hotel allotted me
a room in a cottage of quarter-inch planking, destitute of the most
essential articles of toilette furniture. Ten shillings a day was the
price of this shelter, for Chautauqua is a paying institution. I heard
the Professor next door banging about like a big jack-rabbit in a very
small packing-case. Presently he entered, holding between disgusted
finger and thumb the butt end of a candle, his only light, and this in
a house that would burn quicker than cardboard if once lighted.

"Isn't it shameful? Isn't it atrocious? A dâk bungalow _khansamah_
wouldn't dare to give me a raw candle to go to bed by. I say, when you
describe this hole rend them to pieces. A candle stump! Give it 'em
hot."

You will remember the Professor's advice to me not long ago. "'Fessor,"
said I loftily (my own room was a windowless dog-kennel), "this
is unseemly. We are now in the most civilised country on earth,
enjoying the advantages of an Institootion which is the flower of the
civilisation of the nineteenth century; and yet you kick up a fuss over
being obliged to go to bed by the stump of a candle! Think of the Pope
in the Middle Ages. Reflect on the art side of Greek life. Remember
the Sabbath day to keep it holy, and get out of this. You're filling
two-thirds of my room."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Apropos_ of Sabbath, I have come across some lovely reading which
it grieves me that I have not preserved. Chautauqua, you must know,
shuts down on Sundays. With awful severity an eminent clergyman has
been writing to the papers about the beauties of the system. The
stalls that dispense terrible drinks of Moxie, typhoidal milk-shakes
and sulphuric-acid-on-lime-bred soda-water are stopped; boating is
forbidden; no steamer calls at the jetty, and the nearest railway
station is three miles off, and you can't hire a conveyance; the
barbers must not shave you, and no milkman or butcher goes his rounds.
The reverend gentleman enjoys this (he must wear a beard). I forget
his exact words, but they run: "And thus, thank God, no one can supply
himself on the Lord's day with the luxuries or conveniences that he has
neglected to procure on Saturday." Of course, if you happen to linger
inside the wicket gate--verily Chautauqua is a close preserve--over
Sunday, you must bow gracefully to the rules of the place. But what are
you to do with this frame of mind? The owner of it would send missions
to convert the "heathen," or would convert you at ten minutes' notice;
and yet if you called him a heathen and an idolater he would probably
be very much offended.

Oh, my friends, I have been to one source of the river of missionary
enterprise, and the waters thereof are bitter--bitter as hate, narrow
as the grave! Not now do I wonder that the missionary in the East is at
times, to our thinking, a little intolerant towards beliefs he cannot
understand and people he does not appreciate. Rather it is a mystery
to me that these delegates of an imperious ecclesiasticism have not
a hundred times ere this provoked murder and fire among our wards.
If they were true to the iron teachings of Centreville or Petumna or
Chunkhaven, when they came they would have done so. For Centreville or
Smithson or Squeehawken teach the only true creeds in all the world,
and to err from their tenets, as laid down by the bishops and the
elders, is damnation. How it may be in England at the centres of supply
I cannot tell, but shall presently learn. Here in America I am afraid
of these grim men of the denominations, who know so intimately the will
of the Lord and enforce it to the uttermost. Left to themselves they
would prayerfully, in all good faith and sincerity, slide gradually,
ere a hundred years, from the mental inquisitions which they now
work with some success to an institootion--be sure it would be an
"institootion" with a journal of its own--not far different from what
the Torquemada ruled aforetime. Does this seem extravagant? I have
watched the expression on the men's faces when they told me that they
would rather see their son or daughter dead at their feet than doing
such and such things--trampling on the grass on a Sunday, or something
equally heinous--and I was grateful that the law of men stood between
me and their interpretation of the law of God. They would assuredly
slay the body for the soul's sake and account it righteousness. And
this would befall not in the next generation, perhaps, but in the next,
for the very look I saw in a Eusufzai's face at Peshawar when he turned
and spat in my tracks I have seen this day at Chautauqua in the face of
a preacher. The will was there, but not the power.

The Professor went up the lake on a visit, taking my ticket of
admission with him, and I found a child, aged seven, fishing with a
worm and pin, and spent the rest of the afternoon in his company. He
was a delightful young citizen, full of information and apparently
ignorant of denominations. We caught sun fish and catfish and pickerel
together.

The trouble began when I attempted to escape through the wicket on the
jetty and let the creeds fight it out among themselves. Without that
ticket I could not go, unless I paid five dollars. That was the rule to
prevent people cheating.

"You see," quoth a man in charge, "you've no idea of the meanness of
these people. Why, there was a lady this season--a prominent member of
the Baptist connection--we know, but we can't prove it that she had two
of her hired girls in a cellar when the grounds were being canvassed
for the annual poll-tax of five dollars a head. So she saved ten
dollars. We can't be too careful with this crowd. You've got to produce
that ticket as a proof that you haven't been living in the grounds for
weeks and weeks."

"For weeks and weeks!" The blue went out of the sky as he said it. "But
I wouldn't stay here for one week if I could help it," I answered.

"No more would I," he said earnestly.

Returned the Professor in a steamer, and him I basely left to make
explanations about that ticket, while I returned to Lakewood--the nice
hotel without any regulations. I feared that I should be kept in those
terrible grounds for the rest of my life.

And it turned out an hour later that the same fear lay upon the
Professor also. He arrived heated but exultant, having baffled the
combined forces of all the denominations and recovered the five-dollar
deposit. "I wouldn't go inside those gates for anything," he said. "I
waited on the jetty. What do you think of it all?"

"It has shown me a new side of American life," I responded. "I never
want to see it again--and I'm awfully sorry for the girls who take it
seriously. I suppose the bulk of them don't. They just have a good
time. But it would be better----"

"How?"

"If they all got married instead of pumping up interest in a
bric-à-brac museum and advertised lectures, and having their names in
the papers. One never gets to believe in the proper destiny of woman
until one sees a thousand of 'em doing something different. I don't
like Chautauqua. There's something wrong with it, and I haven't time to
find out where. But it is wrong."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 18: No. XXXIX appeared in the "Pioneer Mail," Vol. XVII, No.
14, April 2, 1890.]



THE BOW FLUME CABLE-CAR[19]


"See those things yonder?" He looked in the direction of the Market
Street cable-cars which, moved without any visible agency, were
conveying the good people of San Francisco to a picnic somewhere
across the harbour. The stranger was not more than seven feet high.
His face was burnished copper, his hands and beard were fiery red and
his eyes a baleful blue. He had thrust his large frame into a suit of
black clothes which made no pretensions toward fitting him, and his
cheek was distended with plug-tobacco. "Those cars," he said, more to
himself than to me, "run upon a concealed cable worked by machinery,
and that's what broke our syndicate at Bow Flume. Concealed machinery,
no--concealed ropes. Don't you mix yourself with them. They are
ontrustworthy."

"These cars work comfortably," I ventured. "They run over people now
and then, but that doesn't matter."

"Certainly not, not in 'Frisco--by no means. It's different out
yonder." He waved a palm-leaf fan in the direction of Mission
Dolores among the sandhills. Then without a moment's pause, and in
a low and melancholy voice, he continued: "Young feller, all patent
machinery is a monopoly, and don't you try to bust it or else it will
bust you. 'Bout five years ago I was at Bow Flume--a minin'-town
way back yonder--beyond the Sacramento. I ran a saloon there with
O'Grady--Howlin' O'Grady, so called on account of the noise he made
when intoxicated. I never christened my saloon any high-soundin'
name, but owing to my happy trick of firing out men who was too full
of bug-juice and disposed to be promiscuous in their dealin's, the
boys called it 'The Wake Up an' Git Bar.' O'Grady, my partner, was an
unreasonable inventorman. He invented a check on the whisky bar'ls
that wasn't no good except lettin' the whisky run off at odd times and
shutting down when a man was most thirstiest. I remember half Bow Flume
city firing their six-shooters into a cask--and Bourbon at that--which
was refusing to run on account of O'Grady's patent double-check tap.
But that wasn't what I started to tell you about--not by a long ways.
O'Grady went to 'Frisco when the Bow Flume saloon was booming. He hed
a good time in 'Frisco, kase he came back with a very bad head and no
clothes worth talkin' about. He had been jailed most time, but he had
investigated the mechanism of these cars yonder--when he wasn't in the
cage. He came back with the liquor for the saloon, and the boys whooped
round him for half a day, singing songs of glory. 'Boys,' says O'Grady,
when a half of Bow Flume were lying on the floor kissing the cuspidors
and singing 'Way Down the Swanee River,' being full of some new stuff
O'Grady had got up from 'Frisco--'boys,' says O'Grady, 'I have the
makings of a company in me. You know the road from this saloon to Bow
Flume is bad and 'most perpendicular.' That was the exact state of
the case. Bow Flume city was three hundred feet above our saloon. The
boys used to roll down and get full, and any that happened to be sober
rolled them up again when the time came to get. Some dropped into the
cañon that way--bad payers mostly. You see, a man held all the hill
Bow Flume was built on, and he wanted forty thousand dollars for a
forty-five by hundred lot o' ground. We kept the whisky and the boys
came down for it. The exercise disposed them to thirst. 'Boys,' says
O'Grady, 'as you know, I have visited the great metropolis of 'Frisco.'
Then they had drinks all round for 'Frisco. 'And I have been jailed a
few while enjoying the sights.' Then they had drinks all round for the
jail that held O'Grady. 'But,' he says, 'I have a proposal to make.'
More drinks on account of the proposal. 'I have got a hold of the idea
of those 'Frisco cable-cars. Some of the idea I got in 'Frisco. The
rest I have invented,' says O'Grady. Then they drank all round for the
invention.

"I am coming to the point. O'Grady made a company--the drunkest I ever
saw--to run a cable-car on the 'Frisco model from 'Wake Up an' Git
Saloon' to Bow Flume. The boys put in about four thousand dollars,
for Bow Flume was squirling gold then. There's nary shanty there now.
O'Grady put in four thousand dollars of his own, and I was roped in for
as much. O'Grady desired the concern to represent the resources of Bow
Flume. We got a car built in 'Frisco for two thousand dollars, with an
elegant bar at one end--nickel-plated fixings and ruby glass.

"The notion was to dispense liquor _en route_. A Bow Flume man could
put himself outside two drinks in a minute and a half, the same not
being pressed for urgent business. The boys graded the road for love,
and we run a rope in a little trough in the middle. That rope ran
swift, and any blame fool that had his foot cut off, fooling in the
middle of the road, might ha' found salvation by using our Bow Flume
Palace Car. The boys said that was square. O'Grady took the contract
for building the engine to wind the rope. He called his show a mule--it
was a crossbreed between a threshing machine and an elevator ram.
I don't think he had followed the 'Frisco patterns. He put all our
dollars into that blamed barroom on the car, knowing what would please
the boys best. They didn't care much about the machinery, so long as
the car hummed.

"We charged the boys a dollar a head per trip. One free drink included.
That paid--paid like--Paradise. They liked the motion. O'Grady was
engineer, and another man sort of tended to the rope engine when he
wasn't otherwise engaged. Those cable-cars run by gripping on to the
rope. You know that. When the grip's off the car is braked down and
stands still. There ought to have been two cars by right--one to run up
and the other down. But O'Grady had a blamed invention for reversing
the engine, so the cable ran both ways--up to Bow Flume and down to
the saloon--the terminus being in front of our door. A man could kick
a friend slick from the bar into the car. The boys appreciated that.
The Bow Flume Palace Car Company earned twenty on the hundred in three
months, besides the profits of the drinks. We might have lasted to this
day if O'Grady hadn't tinkered his blamed engine up on top of Bow Flume
Hill. The boys complained the show didn't hum sufficient. They required
railroad speed. O'Grady ran 'em up and down at fourteen miles an hour;
and his latest improvement was to touch twenty-four. The strain on the
brakes was terrible--quite terrible. But every time O'Grady raised the
record, the boys gave him a testimonial. 'Twasn't in human nature not
to crowd ahead after that. Testimonials demoralise the publickest of
men.

"I rode on the car that memorial day. Just as we started with a double
load of boys and a razzle-dazzle assortment of drinks, something
went _zip_ under the car bottom. We proceeded with velocity. All the
prominent members of the company were aboard. 'The grip has got
snubbed on the rope,' says O'Grady quite quietly. 'Boys, this will
be the biggest smash on record. Something's going to happen.' We
proceeded at the rate of twenty-four miles an hour till the end of
our journey. I don't know what happened there. We could get clear of
the rope anyways at the point where it turned round a pulley to start
up hill again. We struck--struck the stoop of the 'Wake Up an' Git
Saloon'--_my_ saloon--and the next thing I knew was feeling of my legs
under an assortment of matchwood and broken glass, representing liquor
and fixtures to the tune of eight thousand. The car had been flicked
through the saloon, bringing down the entire roof on the floor. It
had then bucked out into the firmament, describing a parabola over
the bluff at the back of the saloon, and was lying at the foot of
that bluff, three hundred feet below, like a busted kaleidoscope--all
nickel, shavings and bits of red glass. O'Grady and most of the
prominent members of the company were dead--very dead--and there wasn't
enough left of the saloon to pay for a drink. I took in the situation
lying on my stomach at the edge of the bluff, and I suspicioned that
any lawsuits that might arise would be complicated by shooting. So I
quit Bow Flume by the back trail. I guess the coroner judged that there
were no summons--leastways I never heard any more about it. Since that
time I've had a distrust to cable-cars. The rope breaking is no great
odds, bekase you can stop the car, but it's getting the grip tangled
with the running rope that spreads ruin and desolation over thriving
communities and prevents the development of local resources."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 19: "Turnovers," Vol. VII.]



IN PARTIBUS[20]


  _The 'buses run to Battersea,
        The 'buses run to Bow,
      The 'buses run to Westbourne Grove,
        And Nottinghill also;
  But I am sick of London town,
    From Shepherd's Bush to Bow._

  I see the smut upon my cuff
    And feel him on my nose;
  I cannot leave my window wide
    When gentle zephyr blows,
  Because he brings disgusting things
    And drops 'em on my "clo'es."

  The sky, a greasy soup-toureen,
    Shuts down atop my brow.
  Yes, I have sighed for London town
    And I have got it now:
  And half of it is fog and filth,
    And half is fog and row.

  And when I take my nightly prowl,
    'Tis passing good to meet
  The pious Briton lugging home
    His wife and daughter sweet,
  Through four packed miles of seething vice,
    Thrust out upon the street.

  Earth holds no horror like to this
    In any land displayed,
  From Suez unto Sandy Hook,
    From Calais to Port Said;
  And 'twas to hide their heathendom
    The beastly fog was made.

  I cannot tell when dawn is near,
    Or when the day is done,
  Because I always see the gas
    And never see the sun,
  And now, methinks, I do not care
    A cuss for either one.

  But stay, there was an orange, or
    An aged egg its yolk;
  It might have been a Pears' balloon
    Or Barnum's latest joke:
  I took it for the sun and wept
    To watch it through the smoke.

  It's Oh to see the morn ablaze
    Above the mango-tope,
  When homeward through the dewy cane
    The little jackals lope,
  And half Bengal heaves into view,
    New-washed--with sunlight soap.

  It's Oh for one deep whisky peg
    When Christmas winds are blowing,
  When all the men you ever knew,
    And all you've ceased from knowing,
  Are "entered for the Tournament,
    And everything that's going."

  But I consort with long-haired things
    In velvet collar-rolls,
  Who talk about the Aims of Art,
    And "theories" and "goals,"
  And moo and coo with women-folk
    About their blessed souls.

  But that they call "psychology"
    Is lack of liver pill,
  And all that blights their tender souls
    Is eating till they're ill,
  And their chief way of winning goals
    Consists in sitting still.

  It's Oh to meet an Army man,
    Set up, and trimmed and taut,
  Who does not spout hashed libraries
    Or think the next man's thought,
  And walks as though he owned himself,
    And hogs his bristles short.

  Hear now, a voice across the seas
    To kin beyond my ken,
  If ye have ever filled an hour
    With stories from my pen,
  For pity's sake send some one here
    To bring me news of men!

  _The 'buses run to Islington,
    To Highgate and Soho,
  To Hammersmith and Kew therewith,
    And Camberwell also,
  But I can only murmur "'Bus"
    From Shepherd's Bush to Bow._

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 20: "Turnovers," Vol. VIII.]



LETTERS ON LEAVE[21]

I


 To Lieutenant John McHail,
 151st (Kumharsen) P.N.I.,
   _Hakaiti via Tharanda_,
     _Assam_.


Dear Old Man: Your handwriting is worse than ever, but as far as I can
see among the loops and fish-hooks, you are lonesome and want to be
comforted with a letter. I knew you wouldn't write to me unless you
needed something. You don't tell me that you have left your regiment,
but from what you say about "my battalion," "my men," and so forth, it
seems as if you were raising military police for the benefit of the
Chins. If that's the case, I congratulate you. The pay is good. Ouless
writes to me from some new fort something or other, saying that he
has struggled into a billet of Rs. 700 (Military Police), and instead
of being chased by writters as he used to be, is ravaging the country
round Shillong in search of a wife. I am very sorry for the Mrs. Ouless
of the future.

That doesn't matter. You probably know more about the boys yonder than
I do. If you'll only send me from time to time some record of their
movements I'll try to tell you of things on this side of the water. You
say "You don't know what it is to hear from town." I say "You don't
know what it is to hear from the _dehat_." Now and again men drift
in with news, but I don't like hot-weather _khubber_. It's all of
the domestic occurrence kind. Old "Hat" Constable came to see me the
other day. You remember the click in his throat before he begins to
speak. He sat still, clicking at quarter-hour intervals, and after each
click he'd say: "D'ye remember Mistress So-an'-So? Well, she's dead o'
typhoid at Naogong." When it wasn't "Mistress So-an'-So" it was a man.
I stood four clicks and four deaths, and then I asked him to spare me
the rest. You seem to have had a bad season, taking it all round, and
the women seem to have suffered most. Is that so?

We don't die in London. We go out of town, and we make as much fuss
about it as if we were going to the Neva. Now I understand why the
transport is the first thing to break down when our army takes the
field. The Englishman is cumbrous in his movements and very particular
about his baskets and hampers and trunks--not less than seven of
each--for a fifty-mile journey. Leave season began some weeks ago, and
there is a _burra-choop_ along the streets that you could shovel with
a spade. All the people that say they are everybody have gone--quite
two hundred miles away. Some of 'em are even on the Continent--and the
clubs are full of strange folk. I found a Reform man at the Savage a
week ago. He didn't say what his business was, but he was dusty and
looked hungry. I suppose he had come in for food and shelter.

Like the rest I'm on leave too. I converted myself into a Government
Secretary, awarded myself one month on full pay with the chance of an
extension, and went off. Then it rained and hailed, and rained again,
and I ran up and down this tiny country in trains trying to find a dry
place. After ten days I came back to town, having been stopped by the
sea four times. I was rather like a kitten at the bottom of a bucke
chasing its own tail. So I'm sitting here under a grey, muggy sky
wondering what sort of time they are having at Simla. It's August now.
The rains would be nearly over, all the theatricals would be in full
swing, and Jakko Hill would be just Paradise. You're probably pink with
prickly heat. Sit down quietly under the punkah and think of Umballa
station, hot as an oven at four in the morning. Think of the dak-gharry
slobbering in the wet, and the first little cold wind that comes round
the first corner after the tonga is clear of Kalka. There's a wind
you and I know well. It's blowing over the grass at Dugshai this
very moment, and there's a smell of hot fir trees all along and along
from Solon to Simla, and some happy man is flying up that road with
fragments of a tonga-bar in his eye, his pet terrier under his arm, his
thick clothes on the back-seat and the certainty of a month's pure joy
in front of him. _Instead of which_ you're being stewed at Hakaiti and
I'm sitting in a second-hand atmosphere above a sausage-shop, watching
three sparrows playing in a dirty-green tree and pretending that it's
summer. I have a view of very many streets and a river. Except the
advertisements on the walls, there isn't one speck of colour as far
as my eye can reach. The very cat, who is an amiable beast, comes
off black under my hand, and I daren't open the window for fear of
smuts. And this is better than a soaked and sobbled country, with the
corn-shocks standing like plover's eggs in green moss and the oats
lying flat in moist lumps. We haven't had any summer, and yesterday I
smelt the raw touch of the winter. Just one little whiff to show that
the year had turned. "Oh, what a happy land is England!"

I cannot understand the white man at home. You remember when we went
out together and landed at the Apollo Bunder with all our sorrows
before us, and went to Watson's Hotel and saw the snake-charmers? You
said: "It'll take me all my lifetime to distinguish one nigger from
another." That was eight years ago. Now you don't call them niggers
any more, and you're supposed--quite wrongly--to have an insight into
native character, or else you would never have been allowed to recruit
for the Kumharsens. I feel as I felt at Watson's. They are so deathlily
alike, especially the more educated. They all seem to read the same
books, and the same newspapers telling 'em what to admire in the same
books, and they all quote the same passages from the same books, and
they write books on books about somebody else's books, and they are
penetrated to their boot-heels with a sense of the awful seriousness
of their own views of the moment. Above that they seem to be, most
curiously and beyond the right of ordinary people, divorced from the
knowledge or fear of death. Of course, every man conceives that every
man except himself is bound to die (you remember how Hallatt spoke the
night before he went out), but these men appear to be like children in
that respect.

I can't explain exactly, but it gives an air of unreality to their
most earnest earnestnesses; and when a young man of views and culture
and aspirations is in earnest, the trumpets of Jericho are silent
beside him. Because they have everything done for them they know how
everything ought to be done; and they are perfectly certain that wood
pavements, policemen, shops and gaslight come in the regular course
of nature. You can guess with these convictions how thoroughly and
cocksurely they handle little trifles like colonial administration, the
wants of the army, municipal sewage, housing of the poor, and so forth.
Every third common need of average men is, in their mouths, a tendency
or a movement or a federation affecting the world. It never seems to
occur to 'em that the human instinct of getting as much as possible for
money paid, or, failing money, for threats and fawnings, is about as
old as Cain; and the burden of their _bat_ is: "Me an' a few mates o'
mine are going to make a new world."

As long as men only write and talk they must think that way, I suppose.
It's compensation for playing with little things. And that reminds me.
Do you know the University smile? You don't by that name, but sometimes
young civilians wear it for a very short time when they first come
out. Something--I wonder if it's our brutal chaff, or a billiard-cue,
or which?--takes it out of their faces, and when they next differ with
you they do so without smiling. But that smile flourishes in London.
I've met it again and again. It expresses tempered grief, sorrow at
your complete inability to march with the march of progress at the
Universities, and a chastened contempt. There is one man who wears it
as a garment. He is frivolously young--not more than thirty-five or
forty--and all these years no one has removed that smile. He knows
everything about everything on this earth, and above all he knows all
about men under any and every condition of life. He knows all about
the aggressive militarism of you and your friends; he isn't quite sure
of the necessity of an army; he is certain that colonial expansion
is nonsense; and he is more than certain that the whole step of all
our Empire must be regulated by the knowledge and foresight of the
workingman. Then he smiles--smiles like a seraph with an M.A. degree.
What can you do with a man like that? He has never seen an unmade road
in his life; I think he believes that wheat grows on a tree and that
beef is dug from a mine. He has never been forty miles from a railway,
and he has never been called upon to issue an order to anybody except
his well-fed servants. Isn't it wondrous? And there are battalions
and brigades of these men in town removed from the fear of want,
living until they are seventy or eighty, sheltered, fed, drained and
administered, expending their vast leisure in talking and writing.

But the real fun begins much lower down the line. I've been associating
generally and very particularly with the men who say that they are
the only men in the world who work--and they call themselves _the_
workingman. Now the workingman in America is a nice person. He says he
is a man and behaves accordingly. That is to say, he has some notion
that he is part and parcel of a great country. At least, he talks that
way. But in this town you can see thousands of men meeting publicly
on Sundays to cry aloud that everybody may hear that they are poor,
downtrodden helots--in fact, "the pore workin'man." At their clubs and
pubs the talk is the same. It's the utter want of self-respect that
revolts. My friend the tobacconist has a cousin, who is, apparently,
sound in mind and limb, aged twenty-three, clear-eyed and upstanding.
He is a "skibbo" by trade--a painter of sorts. He married at twenty,
and he has two children. He can spend three-quarters of an hour talking
about his downtrodden condition. He works under another _Raj-mistri_,
who has saved money and started a little shop of his own. He hates that
_Raj-mistri_; he loathes the police; and his views on the lives and
customs of the aristocracy are strange. He approves of every form of
lawlessness, and he knows that everybody who holds authority is sure
to be making a good thing out of it. Of himself as a citizen he never
thinks. Of himself as an Ishmael he thinks a good deal. He is entitled
to eight hours' work a day and some time off--said time to be paid for;
he is entitled to free education for his children--and he doesn't want
no bloomin' clergyman to teach 'em; he is entitled to houses especially
built for himself because he pays the bulk of the taxes of the country.
He is not going to emigrate, not he; he reserves to himself the right
of multiplying as much as he pleases; the streets must be policed for
him while he demonstrates, immediately under my window, by the way, for
ten consecutive hours, and _I_ am probably a thief because my clothes
are better than his. The proposition is a very simple one. He has no
duties to the State, no personal responsibility of any kind, and he'd
sooner see his children dead than soldiers of the Queen. The Government
owes him everything because he is a pore workin'man. When the Guards
tried their Board-school mutiny at the Wellington Barracks my friend
was jubilant. "What did I tell you?" he said. "You see the very
soldiers won't stand it."

"What's it?"

"Bein' treated like machines instead of flesh and blood. 'Course they
won't."

The popular evening paper wrote that the Guards, with perfect justice,
had rebelled against being treated like machines instead of flesh and
blood. Then I thought of a certain regiment that lay in Mian Mir for
three years and dropped four hundred men out of a thousand. It died of
fever and cholera. There were no pretty nursemaids to work with it in
the streets, because there were no streets. I saw how the Guards amused
themselves and how their sergeants smoked in uniform. I pitied the
Guards with their cruel sentry-goes, their three nights out of bed,
and their unlimited supply of love and liquor.

Another man, not a workman, told me that the Guards' riot--it's
impossible, as you know, to call this kick-up of the fatted flunkies
of the army a mutiny--was only "a schoolboy's prank"; and he could not
see that if it was what he said it was, the Guards were no regiment
and should have been wiped out decently and quietly. There again the
futility of a sheltered people cropped up. You mustn't treat a man like
a machine in this country, but you can't get any work out of a man till
he has learned to work like a machine. D---- has just come home for a
few months from the charge of a mountain battery on the frontier. He
used to begin work at eight, and he was thankful if he got off at six;
most of the time on his feet. When he went to the Black Mountain he was
extensively engaged for nearly sixteen hours a day; and that on food
at which the "pore workin'man" would have turned up his state-lifted
nose. D---- on the subject of labour as understood by the white man in
his own home is worth hearing. Though coarse--considerably coarse! But
D---- doesn't know all the hopeless misery of the business. When the
small pig, oyster, furniture, carpet, builder or general shopman works
his way out of the ruck he turns round and makes his old friends and
employes sweat. He knows how near he can go to flaying 'em alive before
they kick; and in this matter he is neither better nor worse than a
_bunnia_ or a _havildar_ of our own blessed country. It's the small
employer of labour that skins his servant, exactly as the forty-pound
householder works her one white servant to the bone and goes to drop
pennies into the plate to convert the heathen in the East.

Just at present, as you have read, the person who calls himself the
pore workin'man--the man I saw kicking fallen men in the mud by the
docks last winter--has discovered a real, fine, new original notion;
and he is working it for all he is worth. He calls it the solidarity
of labour _bundobast_; but it's caste--four thousand years old, caste
of Menu--with old _shetts_, _mahajuns_, guildtolls, excommunication
and all the rest of it. All things considered, there isn't anything
much older than caste--it began with the second generation of man on
earth--but to read the "advance" papers on the subject you'd imagine it
was a revelation from Heaven. The real fun will begin--as it has begun
and ended many times before--when the caste of skilled labour--that's
the pore workin'man--are pushed up and knocked about by the lower and
unrecognised castes, who will form castes of their own and outcaste on
the decision of their own _punchayats_. How these castes will scuffle
and fight among themselves, and how astonished the Englishman will be!

He is naturally lawless because he is a fighting animal; and his
amazingly sheltered condition has made him inconsequent. I don't like
inconsequent lawlessness. I've seen it down at Bow Street, at the
docks, by the G.P.O., and elsewhere. Its chief home, of course, is in
that queer place called the House of Commons, but no one goes there who
isn't forced by business. It's shut up at present, and the persons
who belong to it are loose all over the face of the country. I don't
think--but I won't swear--that any of them are spitting at policemen.
One man appears to have been poaching, others are advocating various
forms of murder and outrage--and nobody seems to care. The residue
talk--just heavens, how they talk, and what wonderful fictions they
tell! And they firmly believe, being ignorant of the mechanism of
Government, that they administer the country. In addition, certain of
their newspapers have elaborately worked up a famine in Ireland that
could be engineered by two Deputy Commissioners and four average Stunts
into a "woe" and a "calamity" that is going to overshadow the peace of
the nation--even the Empire. I suppose they have their own sense of
proportion, but they manage to keep it to themselves very successfully.
What do you, who have seen half a countryside in deadly fear of its
life, suppose that this people would do if they were _chukkered_ and
_gabraowed_? If they really knew what the fear of death and the dread
of injury implied? If they died very swiftly, indeed, and could not
count their futile lives enduring beyond next sundown? Some of the men
from your--I mean our--part of the world say that they would be afraid
and break and scatter and run. But there is no room in the island to
run. The sea catches you, midwaist, at the third step. I am curious to
see if the cholera, of which these people stand in most lively dread,
gets a firm foothold in London. In that case I have a notion that
there will be scenes and panics. They live too well here, and have too
much to make life worth clinging to--clubs, and shop fronts, and gas,
and theatres, and so forth--things that they affect to despise, and
whereon and whereby they live like leeches. But I have written enough.
It doesn't exhaust the subject; but you won't be grateful for other
epistles. De Vitre of the Poona Irregular Moguls will have it that
they are a tiddy-iddy people. He says that all their visible use is
to produce loans for the colonies and men to be used up in developing
India. I honestly believe that the average Englishman would faint
if you told him it was lawful to use up human life for any purpose
whatever. He believes that it has to be developed and made beautiful
for the possessor, and in that belief talkatively perpetrates cruelties
that would make Torquemada jump in his grave. Go to Alipur if you want
to see. I am off to foreign parts--forty miles away--to catch fish for
my friend the char-cat; also to shoot a little bird if I have luck.

 Yours,
 Rudyard Kipling.


II

 To Captain J. McHail,
   151st (Kumharsen) N.I.,
     _Hakaiti via Tharanda_.

Captain Sahib Bahadur! The last _Pi_ gives me news of your step, and
I'm more pleased about it than many. You've been "cavalry quick" in
your promotion. Eight years and your company! Allahu! But it must have
been that long, lean horse-head of yours that looks so wise and says so
little that has imposed upon the authorities. My best congratulations.
Let out your belt two holes, and be happy, as I am not.

Did I tell you in my last about going to Woking in search of a grave?
The dust and the grime and the grey and the sausage-shop told on
my spirits to such an extent that I solemnly took a train and went
grave-hunting through the Necropolis--locally called the Necrapolis.
I wanted an eligible, entirely detached site in a commanding
position--six by three and bricked throughout. I found it, but the only
drawback was that I must go back to town to the head office to buy it.
One doesn't go to town to haggle for tomb-space, so I deferred the
matter and went fishing. All the same, there are very nice graves at
Woking, and I shall keep my eye on one of 'em.

Since that date I seem to have been in four or five places, because
there are labels on the bag. One of the places was Plymouth, where
I found half a regiment at field exercises on the Hoe. They were
practising the attack in three lines with the mixed rush at the end,
even as it is laid down in the drill-book, and they charged subduedly
across the Hoe. The people laughed. I was much more inclined to cry.
Except the Major, there didn't seem to be anything more than twenty
years old in the regiment; and oh! but it was pink and white and chubby
and undersized--just made to die succulently of disease. I fancied
that some of our battalions out with you were more or less young and
exposed, but a home battalion is a _crêche_, and it scares one to
watch it. Eminent and distinguished Generals get up after dinner--I've
listened to two of 'em--and explain that though the home battalion can
only be regarded as a feeder to the foreign, yet all our battalions can
be regarded as efficient; and if they aren't efficient we shall find
in our military reserve the nucleus--how I loath that lying word!--of
the Lord knows what, but the speeches always end with allusions to the
spirit of the English, their glorious past, and the certainty that when
the hour of need comes the nation will "emerge victorious." If (_sic_)
the Engineer of the Hungerford Bridge told the Southeastern Railway
that because a main girder had stood for thirty years without need of
renewal it was therefore sure to stand for another fifty, he would
probably get the sack. Our military authorities don't get the sack.
They are allowed to make speeches in public. Some day, if we live long
enough, we shall see the glories of the past and the "sublime instinct
of an ancient people" without one complete army corps, pitted against
a few unsentimental long-range guns and some efficiently organised
troops. Then the band will begin to play, and it will not play _Rule
Britannia_ until it has played some funny tunes first.

Do you remember Tighe? He was in the Deccan Lancers and retired because
he got married. He is in Ireland now, and I met him the other day,
idle, unhappy and dying for some work to do. Mrs. Tighe is equally
miserable. She wants to go back to Poona instead of administering a
big barrack of a house somewhere at the back of a bog. I quote Tighe
here. He has, you may remember, a pretty tongue about him, and he was
describing to me at length how a home regiment behaves when it is
solemnly turned out for a week or a month training under canvas:

"About four in the mornin', me dear boy, they begin pitchin' their
tents for the next day--four hours to pitch it, and the tent ropes a
howlin' tangle when all's said and sworn. Then they tie their horses
with strings to their big toes and go to bed in hollows and caves in
the earth till the rain falls and the tents are flooded, and then, me
dear boy, the men and the horses and the ropes and the vegetation of
the country cuddle each other till the morning for the company's sake.
And next day it all begins again. Just when they are beginning to
understand how to camp they are all put back into their boxes, and half
of 'em have lung disease."

But what is the use of snarling and grumbling? The matter will adjust
itself later on, and the one nation on earth that talks and thinks most
of the sanctity of human life will be a little astonished at the waste
of life for which it will be responsible. In those days, my captain,
the man who can command seasoned troops and have made the best use of
those troops will be sought after and petted and will rise to honour.
Remember the Hakaiti when next you measure the naked recruit.

Let us revisit calmer scenes. I've been down for three perfect days
to the seaside. Don't you remember what a really fine day means? A
milk-white sea, as smooth as glass, with blue-white heat haze hanging
over it, one little wave talking to itself on the sand, warm shingle,
four bathing machines, cliff in the background, and half the babies
in Christendom paddling and yelling. It was a queer little place,
just near enough to the main line of traffic to be overlooked from
morning till night. There was a baby--an Ollendorfian baby--with whom
I fell madly in love. She lived down at the bottom of a great white
sun-bonnet; talked French and English in a clear, bell-like voice, and
of such I fervently hope will the Kingdom of Heaven be. When she found
that my French wasn't equal to hers she condescendingly talked English
and bade me build her houses of stones and draw cats for her through
half the day. After I had done everything that she ordered she went
off to talk to some one else. The beach belonged to that baby, and
every soul on it was her servant, for I know that we rose with shouts
when she paddled into three inches of water and sat down, gasping:
"_Mon Dieu! Je suis mort!_" I know you like the little ones, so I
don't apologise for yarning about them. She had a sister aged seven
and one-half--a lovely child, without a scrap of self-consciousness,
and enormous eyes. Here comes a real tragedy. The girl--and her name
was Violet--had fallen wildly in love with a little fellow of nine.
They used to walk up the single street of the village with their arms
round each other's necks. Naturally, she did all the little wooings,
and Hugh submitted quietly. Then devotion began to pall, and he didn't
care to paddle with Violet. Hereupon, as far as I can gather, she
smote him on the head and threw him against a wall. Anyhow, it was
very sweet and natural, and Hugh told me about it when I came down.
"She's so unrulable," he said. "I didn't hit her back, but I was very
angry." Of course, Violet repented, but Hugh grew suspicious, and at
the psychological moment there came down from town a destroyer of
delights and a separator of companions in the shape of a tricycle.
Also there were many little boys on the beach--rude, shouting, romping
little chaps--who said: "Come along!" "Hullo!" and used the wicked word
"beastly!" Among these Hugh became a person of importance and began to
realise that he was a man who could say "beastly," and "Come on!" with
the best of 'em. He preferred to run about with the little boys on wars
and expeditions, and he wriggled away when Violet put her arm round
his waist. Violet was hurt and angry, and I think she slapped Hugh.
Relations were strained when I arrived because one morning Violet,
after asking permission, invited Hugh to come to lunch. And that bad,
Spanish-eyed boy deliberately filled his bucket with the cold sea-water
and dashed it over Violet's pink ankles. (Joking apart, this seems to
be about the best way of refusing an invitation that civilisation can
invent. Try it on your Colonel.) She was madly angry for a moment, and
then she said: "Let me carry you up the beach, 'cause of the shingles
in your toes." This was divine, but it didn't move Hugh, and Violet
went off to her mother. She sat down with her chin in her hand, looking
out at the sea for a long time very sorrowfully. Then she said, and
it was her first experience: "I know that Hugh cares more for his
horrid bicycle than he does for me, and if he said he didn't I wouldn't
believe him."

Up to date Hugh has said nothing. He is running about playing with the
bold, bad little boys, and Violet is sitting on a breakwater, trying
to find out why things are as they are. It's a nice tale, and tales
are scarce these days. Have you noticed how small and elemental is the
stock of them at the world's disposal? Men foregathered at that little
seaside place, and, manlike, exchanged stories. They were all the same
stories. One had heard 'em in the East with Eastern variations, and in
the West with Western extravagances tacked on. Only one thing seemed
new, and it was merely a phrase used by a groom in speaking of an
ill-conditioned horse: "No, sir; he's not ill in a manner o' speaking,
but he's so to speak generally unfriendly with his innards as a usual
thing."

I entrust this to you as a sacred gift. See that it takes root in the
land. "Unfriendly with his innards as a usual thing." Remember. It's
better than laboured explanations in the rains. And I fancy it's raw.

And now. But I had nearly forgotten. We're a nation of grumblers, and
that's why other people call Anglo-Indians bores. I write feelingly
because M----, just home on long leave, has for the second time sat on
my devoted head for two hours simply and solely for the purpose of
swearing at the Accountant-General. He has given me the whole history
of his pay, prospects and promotion twice over, and in case I should
misunderstand wants me to dine with him and hear it all for the third
time. If M---- would leave the A.-G. alone he is a delightful man,
as we all know; but he's loose in London now, button-holing English
friends and quoting leave and pay-codes to them. He wants to see
a Member of Parliament about something or other, and I believe he
spends his nights rolled up in a _rezai_ on the stairs of the India
Office waiting to catch a secretary. I like the India Office. They
are so beautifully casual and lazy, and their rooms look out over the
Green Park, and they are never tired of admiring the view. Now and
then a man comes in to report himself, and the secretaries and the
under-secretaries and the _chaprassies_ play battledore and shuttlecock
with him until they are tired.

Some time since, when I was better, more serious and earnest than I
am now, I preached a _jehad_ up and down those echoing corridors,
and suggested the abolition of the India Office and the purchase of a
four-pound-ten American revolving bookcase to hold all the documents on
India that were of public value or could be comprehended by the public.
Now I am more frivolous because I am dropping gently into that grave at
Woking; and yet I believe in the bookcase. India is bowed down with too
much _duftar_ as it is, and the House of Correction, Revision, Division
and Supervision cannot do her much good. I saw a committee or a council
file in the other day. Only one desirable tale came to me out of that
office. If you've heard it before stop me. It began with a cutting
from an obscure Welsh paper, I think. A man--a gardener--went mad,
announced that Lord Cross was the Messiah and burned himself alive on a
pile of garden refuse. That's the first part. I never could get at the
second, but I am credibly informed that the work of the India Office
stood still for three weeks, while the entire staff took council how to
break the news to the Secretary of State. I believe it still remains
unbroken.

       *       *       *       *       *

Decidedly, leave in England is a disappointing thing. I've wandered
into two stations since I wrote the last. Nothing but the labels on the
bag remain--oh, and a memory of a weighing-in at an East End fishing
club. That was an experience. I foregathered with a man on the top
of a 'bus, and we became great friends because we both agreed that
gorge-tackle for pike was only permissible in very weedy streams. He
repeated his views, which were my views, nearly ten times, and in
the evening invited me to this weighing-in, at, we'll say, rooms of
the Lea and Chertsey Piscatorial Anglers' Benevolent Brotherhood. We
assembled in a room at the top of a public-house, the walls ornamented
with stuffed fish and water-birds, and the anglers came in by twos and
threes, and I was introduced to all of 'em as "the gen'elman I met just
now." This seemed to be good enough for all practical purposes. There
were ten and five shilling prizes, and the affable and energetic clerk
of the scales behaved as though he were weighing-in for the Lucknow
races. The take of the day was one pound fifteen ounces of dace and
roach, about twenty fingerlings, and the winner, who is in charge of a
railway book-stall, described minutely how he had caught each fish. As
a matter of fact, roach-fishing in the Lea and Thames is a fine art.
Then there were drinks--modest little drinks--and they called upon me
for a sentiment. You know how things go at the sergeants' messes and
some of the lodges. In a moment of brilliant inspiration I gave "free
fishing in the parks" and brought down the whole house. Sah! free
fishing for coarse fish in the Serpentine and the Green Park water
would hurt nobody and do a great deal of good to many. The stocking
of the water--but what does this interest you? The Englishman moves
slowly. He is just beginning to understand that it is not sufficient
to set apart a certain amount of land for a lung of London and to turn
people into it with "There, get along and play," unless he gives 'em
something to play with. Thirty years hence he will almost allow _cafés_
and hired bands in Hyde Park.

To return for a moment to the fish club. I got away at eleven, and in
darkness and despair had to make my way west for leagues and leagues
across London. I was on the Mile End Road at midnight and there lost
myself, and learned something more about the policeman. He is haughty
in the East and always afraid that he is being chaffed. I honestly
only wanted sailing directions to get homeward. One policeman said:
"Get along. You know your way as well as I do." And yet another: "You
go back to the country where you comed from. You ain't doin' no good
'ere!" It was so deadly true that I couldn't answer back, and there
wasn't an expensive cab handy to prove my virtue and respectability.
Next time I visit the Lea and Chertsey Affabilities I'll find out
something about trains. Meantime I keep holiday dolefully. There is not
anybody to play with me. They have all gone away to their own places.
Even the Infant, who is generally the idlest man in the world, writes
me that he is helping to steer a ten-ton yacht in Scottish seas. When
she heels over too much the Infant is driven to the O.P. side and she
rights herself. The Infant's host says: "Isn't this bracing? Isn't this
delightful?" And the Infant, who lives in dread of a chill bringing
back his Indian fever, has to say "Ye-es," and pretend to despise
overcoats.

Wallah! This is a cheerful world.

 Rudyard Kipling.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 21: The "Pioneer Mail," Vol. XVII, No. 40, Oct. 2, 1890, page
436.]



THE ADORATION OF THE MAGE[22]


This is a slim, thin little story, but it serves to explain a great
many things. I picked it up in a four-wheeler in the company of an
eminent novelist, a pink-eyed young gentleman who lived on his income,
and a gentleman who knew more than he ought; and I preserved it,
thinking it would serve to interest you. It may be an old story, but
the G.W.K.T.H.O., whom, for the sake of brevity, we will call Captain
Kydd, declared that his best friend had heard it himself. Consequently,
I doubted its newness more than ever. For when a man raises his voice
and vows that the incident occurred opposite his own Club window, all
the listening world know that they are about to hear what is vulgarly
called a cracker. This rule holds good in London as well as in Lahore.
When we left the house of the highly distinguished politician who had
been entertaining us, we stepped into a London Particular, which has
nothing whatever to do with the story, but was interesting from the
little fact that we could not see our hands before our faces. The
black, brutal fog had turned each gas-jet into a pin-prick of light,
visible only at six inches range. There were no houses, there were no
pavements. There were no points of the compass. There were only the
eminent novelist, the young gentleman with the pink eyes, Captain Kydd
and myself, holding each other's shoulders in the gloom of Tophet. Then
the eminent novelist delivered himself of an epigram.

"Let's go home," said he.

"Let us try," said Captain Kydd, and incontinently fell down an area
into somebody's kitchen yard and disappeared into chaos. When he
had climbed out again we heard a something on wheels swearing even
worse than Captain Kydd was, all among the railings of a square. So
we shouted, and presently a four-wheeler drove gracefully on to the
pavement.

"I'm trying to get 'ome," said the cabby. "But if you gents make it
worth while ... though heaven knows 'ow we ever shall. Guess 'arf
a crown apiece might ... and any'ow I won't promise anywheres in
particular."

The cabby kept his word nobly. He did not find anywheres in particular,
but he found several places. First he discovered a pavement kerb and
drove pressing his wheel against it till we came to a lamp-post,
and that we hit grievously. Then he came to what ought to have been
a corner, but was a 'bus, and we embraced the thing amid terrific
language. Then he sailed out into nothing at all--blank fog--and there
he commended himself to heaven and his horse to the other place,
while the eminent novelist put his head out of the window and gave
directions. I begin to understand now why the eminent novelist's
villains are so lifelike and his plots so obscure. He has a marvellous
breadth of speech, but no ingenuity in directing the course of events.
We drove into the island of refuge near the Brompton Oratory just when
he was telling the cabby to be sure and avoid the Regents' Park Canal.

Then we began to talk about the weather and Mister Gladstone.
If an Englishman is unhappy he always talks about Mister
Gladstone in terms of reproof. The eminent novelist was a
socialistic-Neo-Plastic-Unionistic-Demagoglot Radical of the Extreme
Left, and that is the latest novelty of the thing yet invented. He
withdrew his head to answer Captain Kydd's arguments, which were
forcible. "Well, you'll admit he's all sorts of a madman," said Captain
Kydd sweetly.

"He's a saint," said the eminent novelist, "and he moves in an
atmosphere that you and those like you cannot breathe."

"Yes, I always said it was a pretty thick fog. Now I know it's as thick
as this one. I say, we're on the pavement again; we shall be in a shop
in a minute," said Captain Kydd.

But I wanted to see the eminent novelist fight, so I reintroduced
Mister Gladstone while the cab crawled up a wall.

"It's not exactly a wholesome atmosphere," said Captain Kydd when the
novelist had finished speaking. "That reminds me of a story--perfectly
true story. In the old days, before he went off his chump--"

"Yah-h-h!" said the eminent novelist, wrapping himself in his Inverness.

"--went off his nut, he used to consort a good deal with his friends
on his own side--visit 'em, y' know, and deliver addresses out of
their own bedroom windows, and steal their postcards, and generally be
friendly. Well, one man he stayed with had a house, a country house, y'
know, and in the garden there was a path which was supposed to divide
Kent and Surrey or some counties. They led the old man forth for his
walk, y' know, and followed him in gangs to hear that the weather was
fine, and of course his host pointed out the path, the old man took in
the situation, and put one I daresay they had strewn rose-leaves on it,
or spread it with homespun trousers. Anyhow, one leg on one side of
the path and the other on the other, and with one of those wonderful
flashes of humour that come to him when he chooses to frisk among his
friends, he said: 'Now I am in Kent and in Surrey at the same time.'"

Captain Kydd ceased speaking as the cab tried to force a way into the
South Kensington Museum.

"Well, what's there in that?" said the eminent novelist.

"Oh, nothing much. Let's see how it goes afterwards. Mrs. Gladstone,
who was close behind him, turned round and whispered to the hostess in
an ecstatic shriek: 'Oh, Mrs. Whateverhernamewas, you _will_ plant a
tree there, won't you?'"

"By Jove!" said the young gentleman with the pink eyes.

"I don't believe it," said the eminent novelist.

I said nothing, but it seemed very likely. Captain Kydd laughed: "Well,
I don't consider that sort of atmosphere exactly wholesome, y' know."

And when the cab had landed us in the drinking-fountain in High Street,
Kensington, and the horse fell down, and the cabby collected our
half-crowns and gave us his beery blessing, and I had to grope my way
home on foot, it occurred to me that perhaps you might be interested
in that anecdote. As I have said, it explains a great deal more than
appears at first sight.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 22: "Turnovers," No. IX.]



A DEATH IN THE CAMP[23]


Two awful catastrophes have occurred. One Englishman in London is dead,
and I have scandalised about twenty of his nearest and dearest friends.

He was a man nearly seventy years old, engaged in the business of an
architect, and immensely respected. That was all I knew about him till
I began to circulate among his friends in these parts, trying to cheer
them up and make them forget the fog.

"Hush!" said a man and his wife. "Don't you know he died yesterday of a
sudden attack of pneumonia? Isn't it shocking?"

"Yes," said I vaguely. "Aw'fly shocking. Has he left his wife provided
for?"

"Oh, he's very well off indeed, and his wife is quite old. But just
think--it was only in the next street it happened!" Then I saw that
their grief was not for Strangeways, deceased, but for themselves.

"How old was he?" I said.

"Nearly seventy, or maybe a little over."

"About time for a man to rationally expect such a thing as death," I
thought, and went away to another house, where a young married couple
lived.

"Isn't it perfectly ghastly?" said the wife. "Mr. Strangeways died last
night."

"So I heard," said I. "Well, he had lived his life."

"Yes, but it was such a shockingly short illness. Why, only three weeks
ago he was walking about the street." And she looked nervously at her
husband, as though she expected him to give up the ghost at any minute.

Then I gathered, with the knowledge of the length of his sickness, that
her grief was not for the late Mr. Strangeways, and went away thinking
over men and women I had known who would have given a thousand years in
Purgatory for even a week wherein to arrange their affairs, and who
were anything but well off.

I passed on to a third house full of children, and the shadow of death
hung over their heads, for father and mother were talking of Mr.
Strangeway's "end." "Most shocking," said they. "It seems that his wife
was in the next room when he was dying, and his only son called her,
so she just had time to take him in her arms before he died. He was
unconscious at the last. Wasn't it awful?"

When I went away from that house I thought of men and women without
a week wherein to arrange their affairs, and without any money, who
were anything but unconscious at the last, and who would have given a
thousand years in Purgatory for one glimpse at their mothers, their
wives or their husbands. I reflected how these people died tended by
hirelings and strangers, and I was not in the least ashamed to say
that I laughed over Mr. Strangeways' death as I entered the house of a
brother in his craft.

"Heard of Strangeways' death?" said he. "Most hideous thing. Why, he
had only a few days before got news of his designs being accepted by
the Burgoyne Cathedral. If he had lived he would have been working out
the details now--with me." And I saw that this man's fear also was not
on account of Mr. Strangeways. And I thought of men and women who had
died in the midst of wrecked work; then I sought a company of young
men and heard them talk of the dead. "That's the second death among
people I know within the year," said one. "Yes, the second death," said
another.

I smiled a very large smile.

"And you know," said a third, who was the oldest of the party, "they've
opened the new road by the head of Tresillion Road, and the wind
blows straight across that level square from the Parks. Everything is
changing about us."

"He was an old man," I said.

"Ye-es. More than middle-aged," said they.

"And he outlived his reputation?"

"Oh, no, or how would he have taken the designs for the Burgoyne
Cathedral? Why, the very day he died...."

"Yes," said I. "He died at the end of a completed work--his design
finished, his prize awarded?"

"Yes; but he didn't live to...."

"And his illness lasted seventeen days, of twenty-four hours each?"

"Yes."

"And he was tended by his own kith and kin, dying with his head on his
wife's breast, his hand in his only son's hand, without any thought of
their possible poverty to vex him. Are these things so?"

"Ye-es," said they. "Wasn't it shocking?"

"Shocking?" I said. "Get out of this place. Go forth, run about and
see what death really means. You have described such dying as a god
might envy and a king might pay half his ransom to make certain of.
Wait till you have seen men--strong men of thirty-five, with little
children, die at two days' notice, penniless and alone, and seen it not
once, but twenty times; wait till you have seen the young girl die
within a fortnight of the wedding; or the lover within three days of
his marriage; or the mother--sixty little minutes--before her son can
come to her side; wait till you hesitate before handling your daily
newspaper for fear of reading of the death of some young man that you
have dined with, drank with, shot with, lent money to and borrowed
money from, and tested to the uttermost--till you dare not hope for the
death of an old man, but, when you are strongest, count up the tale of
your acquaintances and friends, wondering how many will be alive six
months hence. Wait till you have heard men calling in the death hour on
kin that cannot come; till you have dined with a man one night and seen
him buried on the next. Then you can begin to whimper about loneliness
and change and desolation." Here I foamed at the mouth.

"And do you mean to say," drawled a young gentleman, "that there is any
society in which that sort of holocaust goes on?"

"I do," said I. "It's not society; it's life." And they laughed.

But this is the old tale of Pharaoh's chariot-wheel and flying-fish.

If I tell them yarns, they say: "How true! How true!" If I try to
present the truth, they say: "What superb imagination!"

But you understand, don't you?

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 23: "Turnovers," No. IX.]



A REALLY GOOD TIME[24]


There are times when one wants to get into pyjamas and stretch and
loll, and explain things generally. This is one of those times. It
is impossible to stand at ease in London, and the inhabitants are so
abominably egotistical that one cannot shout "I, I, I" for two minutes
without another man joining in with "Me, too!" Which things are an
allegory.

The amusement began with a gentleman of infinite erudition offering to
publish my autobiography. I was to write a string of legends--he would
publish them; and would I forward a cheque for five guineas "to cover
incidental expenses?" To him I explained that I wanted five guinea
cheques myself very much indeed, and that, emboldened by his letter,
which gave me a very fair insight into his character, I was even then
maturing _his_ autobiography, which I hoped to publish before long
with illustrations, and would he forward a cheque for five guineas "to
cover incidental expenses?" This brought me an eight-page compilation
of contumely. He was grieved to find that he had been mistaken in my
character, which he had believed was, at least, elevated. He begged me
to remember that the first letter had been written in the strictest
confidence, and that if I notated one tittle of the said "repository"
he would unkennel the bloodhounds of the law and hunt me down. An
autobiography on the lines that I had "so flippantly proposed" was
libel without benefit of authorship, and I had better lend him two
guineas--I.O.U. enclosed--to salve his lacerated feelings. I replied
that I had his autobiography by me in manuscript, and would post it
to his address, V.P.P., two guineas and one-half. He evidently knew
nothing about the V.P.P., and the correspondence stopped. It is really
very hard for an Anglo-Indian to get along in London. Besides, my
autobiography is not a thing I should care to make public before
extensive Bowdlerisation.

These things, however, only led up to much worse. I dare not grin over
them unless I step aside Eastward. I wrote stories, all about little
pieces of India, carefully arranged and expurgated for the English
public. Then various people began to write about them. One gentleman
pointed out that I had taken "the well-worn themes of passion, love,
despair and fate," and, thanks to the "singular fascination" of my
style had "wrought them into new and glowing fabricks instinct with the
eternal vitality of the East." For three days after this _chit_ I was
almost too proud to speak to the housemaid with the fan-teeth (there
is a story about her that I will tell another time). On the fourth day
another gentleman made clear that that beautiful style was "tortuous,
elaborated and inept," and it was only on account of the "newness of
the subjects handled so crabbedly" that I "arrested the attention of
the public for a day." Then I wept before the housemaid, and she
called me a "real gentleman" because I gave her a shilling.

Then I tried an all-round cannon--published one thing under one name
and another under another, and sat still to watch. A gentleman, who
also speaks with authority on Literature and Art, came to me and said:
"I don't deny that there is a great deal of clever and superficial
fooling in that last thing of yours in the--I've forgotten what it was
called--but do you yourself think that you have that curious, subtle
grip on and instinct of matters Oriental that that other man shows in
his study of native life?" And he mentioned the name of my Other Self.
I bowed my head, and my shoulders shook with repentance and grief.
"No," said I. "It's so true," said he. "Yes," said I. "So feeling,"
said he. "Indeed it is," said I. "Such honest work, too!" said he.
"Oh, awful!" said I. "Think it over," said he, "and try to follow his
path." "I will," said I. And when he left I danced sarabands with the
housemaid of the fan-teeth till she wanted to know whether I had bought
"spirruts."

Then another man came along and sat on my sofa and hailed me as a
brother. "And I know that we are kindred souls," said he, "because I
feel sure that you have evolved all the dreamy mystery and curious
brutality of the British soldier from the pure realm of fancy." "I
did," I said. "If you went into a barrack-room you would see at
once." "Faugh!" said he. "What have we to do with barrack-rooms? The
pure air of fancy feeds us both; keep to that. If you are trammelled
by the bitter, _bornée_ truth, you are lost. You die the death of
Zola. Invention is the only test of creation." "Of course," said I.
"Zola's a bold, bad man. Not a patch on _you_." I hadn't caught his
name, but I fancied that would prevent him flinging himself about
on my sofa, which is a cheap one. "I don't say that altogether," he
said. "He has his strong points. But he is deficient in imaginative
constructiveness. _You_, I see from what you have said, will belong
to the Neo-Gynekalistic school." I knew "Gyne" meant something about
cow-killing, and was prepared to hedge when he said good-bye, and
wrote an article about my ways and works, which brought another man to
my door spouting foam.

"Great Landor's ghost!" he said. "What under the stars has possessed
you to join the Gynekalistic lot?" "I haven't," I said. "I believe in
municipal regulation of slaughter-houses, if there is a strong Deputy
Commissioner to control the Muhammadan butchers, especially in the
hot weather, but...." "This is madness," said he. "Your reputation is
at stake. You must make it clear to the world that you have nothing
whatever to do with the flatulent, unballasted fiction of...." "Do you
suppose the world cares a tuppeny dam?" said I.

Then he raged afresh, and left me, pointing out that the Gynewallahs
wrote about nothing but women--which seems rather an unlimited
subject--and that I would die the death of a French author whose name I
have forgotten. But it wasn't Zola this time.

I asked the housemaid what in the world the Gynekalisthenics were. "La,
sir," said she, "it's only their way of being rude. That fat gentleman
with the long hair tried to kiss me when I opened the door. I slapped
his fat chops for him."

Now the crisis is at its height. All the entire round world, composed,
as far as I can learn, of the Gynekalistic and the anti-Gynekalistic
man, and two or three loafers, are trying to find out to what school
I rightly belong. They seem to use what they are pleased to call my
reputation as a bolster through which to stab at the foe. One gentleman
is proving that I am a bit of a blackguard, probably reduced from the
ranks, rather an impostor, and a considerable amount of plagiarist. The
other man denies the reduction from the ranks, withholds judgment about
the plagiarism, but would like, in the interest of the public--who
are at present exclusively occupied with Barnum--to prove it true,
and is convinced that my style is "hermaphroditic." I have all the
money on the first man. He is on the eve of discovering that I stole a
dead Tommy's diary just before I was drummed out of the service for
desertion, and have lived on the proceeds ever since. "Do _yew_ know,"
as the Private Secretary said at Simla this year, "it's remarkably hard
for an Anglo-Indian to get along in England."

_Shakl hai lekin ukl nahin hai!_

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 24: "Turnovers," No. IX.]



ON EXHIBITION[25]


It makes me blush pink all over to think about it, but, none the less,
I have brought the tale to you, confident that you will understand. An
invitation to tea arrived at my address. The English are very peculiar
people about their tea. They don't seem to understand that it is a
function at which any one who is passing down the Mall may present
himself. They issue formal cards--just as if tea-drinking were like
dancing. My invitation said that I was to tea from 4:30 till 6 P.M.,
and there was never a word of lawn-tennis on the whole of the card. I
knew the English were heavy eaters, but this amazed me. "What in the
wide world," thought I, "will they find to do for an hour and a half?
Perhaps they'll play games, as it's near Christmas time. They can't
sit out in the verandah, and _chabutras_ are impossible."

Wherefore I went to this house prepared for anything. There was a
fine show of damp wraps in the hall, and a cheerful babble of voices
from the other side of the drawing-room door. The hostess ran at me,
vehemently shouting: "Oh, I am so glad you have come. We were all
talking about you." As the room was entirely filled with strangers,
chiefly female, I reflected that they couldn't have said anything very
bad. Then I was introduced to everybody, and some of the people were
talking in couples, and didn't want to be interrupted in the least,
and some were behind settees, and some were in difficulty with their
tea-cups, and one and all had exactly the same name. That is the worst
of a lisping hostess.

Almost before I had dropped the last limp hand, a burly ruffian, with a
beard, rumbled in my ear: "I trust you were satisfied with my estimate
of your powers in last week's _Concertina_?"

Now I don't see the _Concertina_ because it's too expensive, but I
murmured: "Immense! immense! Most gratifying. Totally undeserved." And
the ruffian said: "In a measure, yes. Not wholly. I flatter myself
that----"

"Oh, not in the least," said I. "No sugar, thanks." This to the
hostess, who was waving Sally Lunns under my nose. A female, who could
not have been less than seven feet high, came on, half speed ahead,
through the fog of the tea-steam, and docked herself on the sofa just
like an Inman liner.

"Have you ever considered," said she, "the enormous moral
responsibility that rests in the hands of one who has the gift
of literary expression? In my own case--but you surely know my
collaborator."

A much huger woman arrived, cast anchor, and docked herself on the
other side of the sofa. She was the collaborator. Together they
confided to me that they were desperately in earnest about the
amelioration of something or other. Their collective grievance against
me was that I was not in earnest.

"We have studied your works--all," said the five-thousand-ton
four-master, "and we cannot believe that you are in earnest." "Oh, no,"
I said hastily, "I never was." Then I saw that that was the wrong thing
to say, for the eight-thousand-ton palace Cunarder signalled to the
sister ship, saying: "You see, my estimate was correct."

"Now, my complaint against him is that he is too savagely _farouche_,"
said a weedy young gentleman with tow hair, who ate Sally Lunns like a
workhouse orphan. "_Faroucherie_ in his age is a fatal mistake."

I reflected a moment on the possibility of getting that young gentleman
out into a large and dusty maidan and gently _chukkering_ him before
_chota hazri_. He looked too sleek to me as he then stood. But I said
nothing, because a tiny-tiny woman with beady-black eyes shrilled: "I
disagree with you entirely. He is too much bound by the tradition of
the commonplace. I have seen in his later work signs that he is afraid
of his public. You must _never_ be afraid of your public."

Then they began to discuss me as though I were dead and buried under
the hearth-rug, and they talked of "tones" and "notes" and "lights" and
"shades" and tendencies.

"And which of us do you think is correct in her estimate of your
character?" said the tiny-tiny woman when they had made me out (a) a
giddy Lothario; (b) a savage; (c) a pre-Rafaelite angel; (d) co-equal
and co-eternal with half a dozen gentlemen whose names I had never
heard; (e) flippant; (f) penetrated with pathos; (g) an open atheist;
(h) a young man of the Roman Catholic faith with a mission in life.

I smiled idiotically, and said I really didn't know.

Then a man entered whom I knew, and I fled to him for comfort. "Have I
missed the fun?" he asked with a twinkle in his eye.

I explained, snorting, what had befallen.

"Ay," said he quietly, "you didn't go the right way to work. You should
have stood on the hearth-rug and fired off epigrams. That's what I did
after I had written _Down in the Doldrums_, and was fed with crumpets
in consequence."

A woman plumped down by my side and twisted her hands into knots, and
hung her eyes over her cheek-bones. I thought it was too many muffins,
till she said: "Tell me, oh, tell me, was such-and-such in such a one
of your books--was he _real_? Was he _quite_ real? Oh, how lovely! How
sweet! How precious!" She alluded to that drunken ruffian Mulvaney, who
would have driven her into fits had he ever set foot on her doorstep in
the flesh. I caught the half of a wink in my friend's eye as he removed
himself and left me alone to tell fibs about the evolution of Private
Mulvaney. I said anything that came uppermost, and my answers grew so
wild that the woman departed.

Then I heard the hostess whispering to a girl, a nice, round, healthy
English maiden. "Go and talk to him," she said. "Talk to him about his
books."

I gritted my teeth, and waited till the maiden was close at hand and
about to begin. There was a lovely young man at the end of the room
sucking a stick, and I felt sure that the maiden would much have
preferred talking to him. She smiled prefatorily.

"It's hot here," I said; "let's go over to the window"; and I plumped
down on a three-seated settee, with my back to the young man, leaving
only one place for the maiden. I was right. I signalled up the man who
had written _Down in the Doldrums_, and talked to him as fast as I knew
how. When he had to go, and the young man with him, the maiden became
enthusiastic, not to say gushing. But I knew that those compliments
were for value received. Then she explained that she was going out to
India to stay with her married aunt, wherefore she became as a sister
unto me on the spot. Her mamma did not seem to know much about Indian
outfits, and I waxed eloquent on the subject.

"It's all nonsense," I said, "to fill your boxes with things that can
be made just as well in the country. What you want are walking-dresses
and dinner-dresses as good as ever you can get, and gloves tinned
up, and odds and ends of things generally. All the rest, unless
you're extravagant, the _dharzee_ can make in the verandah. Take
underclothing, for instance." I was conscious that my loud and cheerful
voice was ploughing through one of those ghostly silences that
sometimes fall upon a company. The English only wear their outsides in
company. They have nothing to do with underclothing. I could feel that
without being told. So the silence cut short the one matter in which I
could really have been of use.

On the pavement my friend who wrote _Down in the Doldrums_ was waiting
to walk home with me. "What in the world does it all mean?" I said.
"Nothing," said he. "You've been asked there as a small deputy lion to
roar in place of a much bigger man. You growled, though."

"I should have done much worse if I'd known," I grunted. "Ah," said he,
"you haven't arrived at the real fun of the show. Wait till they've
made you jump through hoops and your turn's over, and you can sit on
a sofa and watch the new men being brought up and put through their
paces. You've nothing like that in India. How do you manage your
parties?"

And I thought of smooth-cut lawns in the gloaming, and tables spread
under mighty trees, and men and women, all intimately acquainted with
each other, strolling about in the lightest of raiment, and the old
dowagers criticising the badminton, and the young men in riding-boots
making rude remarks about the claret cup, and the host circulating
through the mob and saying: "Hah, Piggy," or Bobby or Flatnose, as the
nickname might be, "have another peg," and the hostess soothing the
bashful youngsters and talking _khitmatgars_ with the Judge's wife, and
the last new bride hanging on her husband's arm and saying: "Isn't it
almost time to go home, Dicky, dear?" and the little fat owls chuckling
in the _bougainvilleas_, and the horses stamping and squealing in
the carriage-drive, and everybody saying the most awful things about
everybody else, but prepared to do anything for anybody else just the
same; and I gulped a great gulp of sorrow and homesickness.

"You wouldn't understand," said I to my friend. "Let's go to a
pot-house, where cabbies call, and drink something."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 25: "Turnovers," No. IX.]



THE THREE YOUNG MEN[26]

LONDON IN THE FOG


"Curiouser and curiouser," as Alice in Wonderland said when she found
her neck beginning to grow. Each day under the smoke brings me new and
generally unpleasant discoveries. The latest are most on my mind. I
hasten to transfer them to yours.

At first, and several times afterwards, I very greatly desired to talk
to a thirteen-two subaltern--not because he or I would have anything
valuable to say to each other, but just because he was a subaltern. I
wanted to know all about that evergreen polo-pony that "can turn on
a sixpence," and the second-hand second charger that, by a series of
perfectly unprecedented misfortunes, just failed to win the Calcutta
Derby. Then, too, I wished to hear of many old friends across the
sea, and who had got his company, and why and where the new Generals
were going next cold weather, and how the Commander-in-Chief had been
enlivening the Simla season. So I looked east and west, and north and
south, but never a thirteen-two subaltern broke through the fog; except
once--and he had grown a fifteen-one cot down, and wore a tall hat
and frock coat, and was begging for coppers from the Horse-Guards. By
the way, if you stand long enough between the mounted sentries--the
men who look like reflectors stolen from Christmas trees--you will
presently meet every human being you ever knew in India. When I am
not happy--that is to say, once a day--I run off and play on the
pavement in front of the Horse-Guards, and watch the expressions on the
gentlemen's faces as they come out. But this is a digression.

After some days--I grew lonelier and lonelier every hour--I went away
to the other end of the town, and catching a friend, said: "Lend me a
man--a young man--to play with. I don't feel happy. I want rousing. I
have liver." And the friend said: "Ah, yes, of course. What you want
is congenial society, something that will stir you up--a fellow-mind.
Now let me introduce you to a thoroughly nice young man. He's by way of
being an ardent Neo-Alexandrine, and has written some charming papers
on the 'Ethics of the Wood Pavement.'" Concealing my almost visible
rapture, I murmured "Oh, bliss!" as they used to say at the Gaiety, and
extended the hand of friendship to a young gentleman attired after the
fashion of the Neo-Alexandrines, who appear to be a sub-caste of social
priests. His hand was a limp hand, his face was very smooth because
he had not yet had time to grow any hair, and he wore a cloak like a
policeman's cloak, but much more so. On his finger was a cameo-ring
about three inches wide, and round his neck, the weather being warm,
was a fawn, olive and dead-leaf comforter of soft silk--the sort of
thing any right-minded man would give to his mother or his sister
without being asked.

We looked at each other cautiously for some minutes. Then he said:
"What do you think of the result of the Brighton election?" "Beautiful,
beautiful," I said, watching his eye, which saddened. "One of the
worst--that is, entirely the most absurd _reductio ad absurdum_ of the
principle of the narrow and narrow-minded majority imposing a will
which is necessarily incult on a minority animated by...." I forget
exactly what he said they were animated by, but it was something very
fine.

"When I was at Oxford," he said, "Haward of Exeter"--he spoke as one
speaks of Smith of Asia--"always inculcated at the Union----By the way,
you do not know, I suppose, anything of the life at Oxford?" "No," I
said, anxious to propitiate, "but I remember some boys once who seduced
an ekka and a pony into a Major's tent at a camp of exercise, laced
up the door, and let the Major fight it out with the horse." I told
that little incident in my best style, and was three parts through it
before I discovered that he was looking pained and shocked.

"That--ah--was not the side of Oxford that I had in mind when I was
saying that Haward of Exeter----" And he explained all about Mr.
Haward, who appeared to be a young gentleman, rising twenty-three,
of wonderful mental attainments, and as pernicious a prig as I ever
dreamed about. Mr. Haward had schemes for the better management of
creation; my friend told me them all--social, political and economical.

Then, just as I was feeling faint and very much in need of a drink,
he launched without warning upon the boundless seas of literature.
He wished to know whether I had read the works of Messrs. Guy de
Maupassant, Paul Bourget and Pierre Loti. This in the tone of a teacher
of Euclid. I replied that all my French was confined to the Vie
Parisienne and translations of Zola's novels with illustrations. Here
we parted. London is very large, and I do not think we shall meet any
more.

I thanked our Mutual Friend for his kindness, and asked for another
young man to play with. This gentleman was even younger than the
last, but quite as cocksure. He told me in the course of half a
cigar that only men of mediocre calibre went into the army, which
was a brutalising profession; that he suffered from nerves, and "an
uncontrollable desire to walk up and down the room and sob" (that was
too many cigarettes), and that he had never set foot out of England,
but knew all about the world from his own theories. Thought Dickens
coarse; Scott jingling and meretricious; and had not by any chance read
the novels of Messrs. Guy de Maupassant, Paul Bourget and Pierre Loti.

Him I left quickly, but sorry that he could not do a six weeks'
training with a Middlesex militia regiment, where he would really get
something to sob for. The novel business interested me. I perceived
that it was a fashion, like his tie and his collars, and I wanted
to work it to the fountain-head. To this end I procured the whole
Shibboleth from Guy de Maupassant even unto Pierre Loti by way of
Bourget. Unwholesome was a mild term for these interesting books, which
the young men assured me that they read for style. When a fat Major
makes that remark in an Indian Club, everybody hoots and laughs. But
you must not laugh overseas, especially at young gentlemen who have
been to Oxford and listened to Mr. Haward of Exeter.

Then I was introduced to another young man who said he belonged to
a movement called Toynbee Hall, where, I gathered, young gentlemen
took an indecent interest in the affairs of another caste, whom, with
rare tact, they called "the poor," and told them generally how to
order their lives. Such was the manner and general aggressiveness of
this third young gentleman, that if he had told me that coats were
generally worn and good for the protection of the body, I should have
paraded Bond Street in my shirt. What the poor thought of him I could
not tell, but there is no room for it in this letter. He said that
there was going to be an upheaval of the classes--the English are
very funny about their castes. They don't know how to handle them
one little bit, and never allow them to draw water or build huts in
peace--and the entire social fabric was about to be remodelled on
his recommendations, and the world would be generally altered past
recognition. No, he had never seen anything of the world, but close
acquaintance with authorities had enabled him to form dispassionate
judgments on the subjects, and had I, by any chance, read the novels of
Guy de Maupassant, Pierre Loti and Paul Bourget?

It was a mean thing to do, but I couldn't help it. I had read 'em. I
put him on, so to speak, far back in Paul Bourget, who is a genial sort
of writer. I pinned him to one book. He could not escape from Paul
Bourget. He was fed with it till he confessed--and he had been quite
ready to point out its beauties--that we could not take much interest
in the theories put forward in that particular book. Then I said: "Get
a dictionary and read him," which severed our budding friendship.

Thereafter I sought our Mutual Friend and walked up and down his room
sobbing, or words to that effect. "Good gracious!" said my friend. "Is
that what's troubling you? Now, I hold the ravaging rights over half
a dozen fields and a bit of a wood. You can pot rabbits there in the
evenings sometimes, and anyway you get exercise. Come along."

So I went. I have not yet killed anything, but it seems wasteful to
drive good powder and shot after poor little bunnies when there are so
many other things in the world that would be better for an ounce and
a half of number five at sixty yards--not enough to disable, but just
sufficient to sting, and be pricked out with a penknife.

I should like to wield that penknife.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 26: "Turnovers," No. IX.]



MY GREAT AND ONLY[27]


Whether Macdougal or Macdoodle be his name, the principle remains the
same, as Mrs. Nickleby said. The gentleman appeared to hold authority
in London, and by virtue of his position preached or ordained that
music-halls were vulgar, if not improper. Subsequently, I gathered
that the gentleman was inciting his associates to shut up certain
music-halls on the ground of the vulgarity aforesaid, and I saw with
my own eyes that unhappy little managers were putting notices into the
corners of their programmes begging the audience to report each and
every impropriety. That was pitiful, but it excited my interest.

Now, to the upright and impartial mind--which is mine--all the
diversions of Heathendom--which is the British--are of equal
ethnological value. And it is true that some human beings can be
more vulgar in the act of discussing etchings, editions of luxury,
or their own emotions, than other human beings employed in swearing
at each other across the street. Therefore, following a chain of
thought which does not matter, I visited very many theatres whose
licenses had never been interfered with. There I discovered men and
women who lived and moved and behaved according to rules which in no
sort regulate human life, by tradition dead and done with, and after
the customs of the more immoral ancients and Barnum. At one place the
lodging-house servant was an angel, and her mother a Madonna; at a
second they sounded the loud timbrel o'er a whirl of bloody axes, mobs,
and brown-paper castles, and said it was not a pantomime, but Art;
at a third everybody grew fabulously rich and fabulously poor every
twenty minutes, which was confusing; at a fourth they discussed the
Nudities and Lewdities in false-palate voices supposed to belong to
the aristocracy and that tasted copper in the mouth; at a fifth they
merely climbed up walls and threw furniture at each other, which is
notoriously the custom of spinsters and small parsons. Next morning the
papers would write about the progress of the modern drama (that was the
silver paper pantomime), and "graphic presentment of the realities of
our highly complex civilisation." That was the angel housemaid. By the
way, when an Englishman has been doing anything more than unusually
Pagan, he generally consoles himself with "over-civilisation." It's the
"martyr-to-nerves-dear" note in his equipment.

I went to the music-halls--the less frequented ones--and they were
almost as dull as the plays, but they introduced me to several
elementary truths. Ladies and gentlemen in eccentric, but not
altogether unsightly, costumes told me (a) that if I got drunk I should
have a head next morning, and perhaps be fined by the magistrate; (b)
that if I flirted promiscuously I should probably get into trouble;
(c) that I had better tell my wife everything and be good to her, or
she would be sure to find out for herself and be very bad to me; (d)
that I should never lend money; or (e) fight with a stranger whose form
I did not know. My friends (if I may be permitted to so call them)
illustrated these facts with personal reminiscences and drove them home
with kicks and prancings. At intervals circular ladies in pale pink and
white would low to their audience to the effect that there was nothing
half so sweet in life as "Love's Young Dream," and the billycock hats
would look at the four-and-elevenpenny bonnets, and they saw that it
was good and clasped hands on the strength of it. Then other ladies
with shorter skirts would explain that when their husbands

 "Stagger home tight about two,
   An' can't light the candle,
   We taik the broom 'andle
 An' show 'em what women can do."

Naturally, the billycocks, seeing what might befall, thought things
over again, and you heard the bonnets murmuring softly under the clink
of the lager-glasses: "Not _me_, Bill. Not _me_!" Now these things are
basic and basaltic truths. Anybody can understand them. They are as old
as Time. Perhaps the expression was occasionally what might be called
coarse, but beer is beer, and best in a pewter, though you can, if you
please, drink it from Venetian glass and call it something else. The
halls give wisdom and not too lively entertainment for sixpence--ticket
good for four pen'orth of refreshments, chiefly inky porter--and the
people who listen are respectable folk living under very grey skies who
derive all the light side of their life, the food for their imagination
and the crystallised expression of their views on Fate and Nemesis,
from the affable ladies and gentlemen singers. They require a few
green and gold maidens in short skirts to kick before them. Herein
they are no better and no worse than folk who require fifty girls very
much undressed, and a setting of music, or pictures that won't let
themselves be seen on account of their age and varnish, or statues and
coins. All animals like salt, but some prefer rock-salt, red or black
in lumps. But this is a digression.

Out of my many visits to the hall--I chose one hall, you understand,
and frequented it till I could tell the mood it was in before I had
passed the ticket-poll--was born the Great Idea. I served it as a slave
for seven days. Thought was not sufficient; experience was necessary.
I patrolled Westminster, Blackfriars, Lambeth, the Old Kent Road, and
many, many more miles of pitiless pavement to make sure of my subject.
At even I drank my lager among the billycocks, and lost my heart to
a bonnet. Goethe and Shakespeare were my precedents. I sympathised
with them acutely, but I got my Message. A chance-caught refrain of a
song which I understand is protected--to its maker I convey my most
grateful acknowledgments--gave me what I sought. The rest was made up
of four elementary truths, some humour, and, though I say it who should
leave it to the press, pathos deep and genuine. I spent a penny on a
paper which introduced me to a Great and Only who "wanted new songs."
The people desired them really. He was their ambassador, and taught
me a great deal about the property-right in songs, concluding with
a practical illustration, for he said my verses were just the thing
and annexed them. It was long before he could hit on the step-dance
which exactly elucidated the spirit of the text, and longer before he
could jingle a pair of huge brass spurs as a dancing-girl jingles her
anklets. That was my notion, and a good one.

The Great and Only possessed a voice like a bull, and nightly roared
to the people at the heels of one who was winning triple encores
with a priceless ballad beginning deep down in the bass: "We was
shopmates--boozin' shopmates." I feared that song as Rachel feared
Ristori. A greater than I had written it. It was a grim tragedy,
lighted with lucid humour, wedded to music that maddened. But my "Great
and Only" had faith in me, and I--I clung to the Great Heart of the
People--my people--four hundred "when it's all full, sir." I had not
studied them for nothing. I must reserve the description of my triumph
for another "Turnover."

There was no portent in the sky on the night of my triumph. A
barrowful of onions, indeed, upset itself at the door, but that was
a coincidence. The hall was crammed with billycocks waiting for "We
was shopmates." The great heart beat healthily. I went to my beer the
equal of Shakespeare and Molière at the wings in a first night. What
would my public say? Could anything live after the abandon of "We
was shopmates"? What if the redcoats did not muster in their usual
strength. O my friends, never in your songs and dramas forget the
redcoat. He has sympathy and enormous boots.

I believed in the redcoat; in the great heart of the people: above all
in myself. The conductor, who advertised that he "doctored bad songs,"
had devised a pleasant little lilting air for my needs, but it struck
me as weak and thin after the thunderous surge of the "Shopmates."
I glanced at the gallery--the redcoats were there. The fiddle-bows
creaked, and, with a jingle of brazen spurs, a forage-cap over his
left eye, my Great and Only began to "chuck it off his chest." Thus:

 "At the back o' the Knightsbridge Barricks,
   When the fog was a-gatherin' dim,
 The Lifeguard talked to the Undercook,
   An' the girl she talked to 'im."

"_Twiddle-iddle-iddle-lum-tum-tum!_" said the violins.

"_Ling-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling-ting-ling!_" said the spurs of the Great
and Only, and through the roar in my ears I fancied I could catch a
responsive hoof-beat in the gallery. The next four lines held the
house to attention. Then came the chorus and the borrowed refrain.
It took--it went home with a crisp click. My Great and Only saw his
chance. Superbly waving his hand to embrace the whole audience, he
invited them to join him in:

 "You may make a mistake when you're mashing a tart,
   But you'll learn to be wise when you're older,
 And don't try for things that are out of your reach,
   And that's what the girl told the soldier, soldier, soldier,
 And that's what the girl told the soldier."

I thought the gallery would never let go of the long-drawn howl on
"soldier." They clung to it as ringers to the kicking bell-rope. Then
I envied no one--not even Shakespeare. I had my house hooked--gaffed
under the gills, netted, speared, shot behind the shoulder--anything
you please. That was pure joy! With each verse the chorus grew louder,
and when my Great and Only had bellowed his way to the fall of the
Lifeguard and the happy lot of the Undercook, the gallery rocked again,
the reserved stalls shouted, and the pewters twinkled like the legs
of the demented ballet-girls. The conductor waved the now frenzied
orchestra to softer Lydian strains. My Great and Only warbled piano:

 "At the back o' Knightsbridge Barricks,
   When the fog's a-gatherin' dim,
 The Lifeguard waits for the Undercook,
   But she won't wait for 'im."

"_Ta-ra-rara-rara-ra-ra-rah!_" rang a horn clear and fresh as a
sword-cut. 'Twas the apotheosis of virtue.

 "She's married a man in the poultry line
   That lives at 'Ighgate 'Ill,
 An' the Lifeguard walks with the 'ousemaid now,
   An' (_awful pause_) she can't foot the bill!"

Who shall tell the springs that move masses? I had builded better
than I knew. Followed yells, shrieks and wildest applause. Then, as a
wave gathers to the curl-over, singer and sung to fill their chests
and heave the chorus through the quivering roof--alto, horns, basses
drowned, and lost in the flood--to the beach-like boom of beating feet:

 "Oh, think o' my song when you're gowin' it strong
   An' your boots is too little to 'old yer;
 An' don't try for things that is out of your reach,
   An' that's what the girl told the soldier, soldier, so-holdier!"

Ow! Hi! Yi! Wha-hup! Phew! Whew! Pwhit! Bang! Wang! Crr-rash! There was
ample time for variations as the horns uplifted themselves and ere the
held voices came down in the foam of sound--

 "_That's what the girl told the soldier._"

Providence has sent me several joys, and I have helped myself to
others, but that night, as I looked across the sea of tossing
billycocks and rocking bonnets, my work, as I heard them give tongue,
not once, but four times--their eyes sparkling, their mouths twisted
with the taste of pleasure--I felt that I had secured Perfect Felicity.
I am become greater than Shakespeare. I may even write plays for
the Lyceum, but I never can recapture that first fine rapture that
followed the Upheaval of the Anglo-Saxon four hundred of him and her.
They do not call for authors on these occasions, but I desired no need
of public recognition. I was placidly happy. The chorus bubbled up
again and again throughout the evening, and a redcoat in the gallery
insisted on singing solos about "a swine in the poultry line," whereas
I had written "man," and the pewters began to fly, and afterwards the
long streets were vocal with various versions of what the girl had
really told the soldier, and I went to bed murmuring: "I have found my
destiny."

But it needs a more mighty intellect to write the Songs of the People.
Some day a man will rise up from Bermondsey, Battersea or Bow, and he
will be coarse, but clearsighted, hard but infinitely and tenderly
humorous, speaking the people's tongue, steeped in their lives and
telling them in swinging, urging, dinging verse what it is that their
inarticulate lips would express. He will make them songs. Such songs!
And all the little poets who pretend to sing to the people will scuttle
away like rabbits, for the girl (which, as you have seen, of course,
is wisdom) will tell that soldier (which is Hercules bowed under his
labours) all that she knows of Life and Death and Love.

And the same, they say, is a Vulgarity!

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 27: "Turnovers," No. IX.]



"THE BETRAYAL OF CONFIDENCES"[28]


That was its real name, and its nature was like unto it; but what else
could I do? You must judge for me.

They brought a card--the housemaid with the fan-teeth held it gingerly
between black finger and blacker thumb--and it carried the name Mr.
R.H. Hoffer in old Gothic letters. A hasty rush through the file of
bills showed me that I owed nothing to any Mr. Hoffer, and assuming my
sweetest smile, I bade Fan of the Teeth show him up. Enter stumblingly
an entirely canary-coloured young person about twenty years of age,
with a suspicious bulge in the bosom of his coat. He had grown no hair
on his face; his eyes were of a delicate water-green, and his hat
was a brown billycock, which he fingered nervously. As the room was
blue with tobacco-smoke (and Latakia at that) he coughed even more
nervously, and began seeking for me. I hid behind the writing-table and
took notes. What I most noted was the bulge in his bosom. When a man
begins to bulge as to that portion of his anatomy, hit him in the eye,
for reasons which will be apparent later on.

He saw me and advanced timidly. I invited him seductively to the only
other chair, and "What's the trouble?" said I.

"I wanted to see you," said he.

"I am me," said I.

"I--I--I thought you would be quite otherwise," said he.

"I am, on the contrary, completely this way," said I. "Sit still, take
your time and tell me all about it."

He wriggled tremulously for three minutes, and coughed again. I
surveyed him, and waited developments. The bulge under the bosom
crackled. Then I frowned. At the end of three minutes he began.

"I wanted to see what you were like," said he.

I inclined my head stiffly, as though all London habitually climbed the
storeys on the same errand and rather wearied me.

Then he delivered himself of a speech which he had evidently got by
heart. He flushed painfully in the delivery.

"I am flattered," I said at the conclusion. "It's beastly gratifying.
What do you want?"

"Advice, if you will be so good," said the young man.

"Then you had better go somewhere else," said I.

The young man turned pink. "But I thought, after I had read your
works--all your works, on my word--I had hoped that you would
understand me, and I really have come for advice." The bulge crackled
more ominously than ever.

"I understand perfectly," said I. "You are oppressed with vague and
nameless longings, are you not?"

"I am, terribly," said he.

"You do not wish to be as other men are? You desire to emerge from the
common herd, to make your mark, and so forth?"

"Yes," said he in an awestricken whisper. "That is my desire."

"Also," said I, "you love, excessively, in several places at once
cooks, housemaids, governesses, schoolgirls, and the aunts of other
people."

"But one only," said he, and the pink deepened to beetroot.

"Consequently," said I, "you have written much--you have written
verses."

"It was to teach me to write prose, only to teach me to write prose,"
he murmured. "You do it yourself, because I have bought your works--all
your works."

He spoke as if he had purchased dunghills _en bloc_.

"We will waive that question," I said loftily. "Produce the verses."

"They--they aren't exactly verses," said the young man, plunging his
hand into his bosom.

"I beg your pardon, I meant will you be good enough to read your
five-act tragedy."

"How--how in the world did you know?" said the young man, more
impressed than ever.

He unearthed his tragedy, the title of which I have given, and began
to read. I felt as though I were walking in a dream; having been till
then ignorant of the fact that earth held young men who held five-act
tragedies in their insides. The young man gave me the whole of the
performance, from the preliminary scene, where nothing more than an
eruption of Vesuvius occurs to mar the serenity of the manager, till
the very end, where the Roman sentry of Pompeii is slowly banked up
with ashes in the presence of the audience, and dies murmuring through
his helmet-vizor: "S.P.Q.R.R.I.P.R.S.V.P.," or words to that effect.

For three hours and one-half he read to me. And then I made a mistake.

"Sir," said I, "who's your Ma and Pa?"

"I haven't got any," said he, and his lower lip quivered.

"Where do you live?" I said.

"At the back of Tarporley Mews," said he.

"How?" said I.

"On eleven shillings a week," said he.

"I was pretty well educated, and if you don't stay too long they will
let you read the books in the Holywell Street stalls."

"And you wasted your money buying my books," said I with a lump the
size of a bolster in my throat.

"I got them second-hand, four and sixpence," said he, "and some I
borrowed."

Then I collapsed. I didn't weep, but I took the tragedy and put it in
the fire, and called myself every name that I knew.

This caused the young man to sob audibly, partly from emotion and
partly from lack of food.

I took off my hat to him before I showed him out, and we went to a
restaurant and I arranged things generally on a financial basis.

Would that I could let the tale stop here. But I cannot.

Three days later a man came to see me on business, an objectionable man
of uncompromising truth. Just before he departed he said: "D' you know
anything about the struggling author of a tragedy called 'The Betrayal
of Confidences'?"

"Yes," said I. "One of the few poor souls who in the teeth of grinding
poverty keep alight."

"At the back of Tarporley Mews," said he. "On eleven shillings a week."

"On the mischief!" said I.

"He didn't happen to tell you that he considered you the finest,
subtlest, truest, and so forth of all the living so forths, did he?"

"He may have said something out of the fulness of an overladen heart.
You know how unbridled is the enthusiasm of----"

"Young gentlemen who buy your books with their last farthing. You
didn't soak it all in by any chance, give him a good meal and half a
sovereign as well, did you?"

"I own up," I said. "I did all that and more. But how do you know?"

"Because he victimised me in the same way a fortnight ago."

"Thank you for that," I said, "but I burned his disgusting manuscripts.
And he wept."

"There, unless he keeps a duplicate, you have scored one."

But considering the matter impartially, it seems to me that the game is
not more than "fifteen all" in any light.

It makes me blush to think about it.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 28: "Turnovers," No. IX.]



THE NEW DISPENSATION--I[29]

LONDON IN A FOG--NOVEMBER


Things have happened--but that is neither here nor there. What I
urgently require is a servant--a nice, fat Mussulman _khitmatgar_,
who is not above doing bearer's work on occasion. Such a man I would
go down to Southampton or Tilbury to meet, would usher tenderly into
a first-class carriage (I always go third myself), and wrap in the
warmest of flannel. He should be "_Jenab_" and I would be "_O Tum_."
When he died, as he assuredly would in this weather, I would bury him
in my best back garden and write mortuary verses for publication in the
_Koh-i-Nur_, or whatever vernacular paper he might read. I want, in
short, a servant; and this is why I am writing to you.

The English, who, by the way, are unmitigated barbarians, maintain
cotton-print housemaids to do work which is the manifest portion of a
man. Besides which, no properly constructed person cares to see a white
woman waiting upon his needs, filling coal-scuttles (these are very
mysterious beasts) and tidying rooms. The young homebred Englishman
does not object, and one of the most tantalising sights in the world
is that of the young man of the house--the son newly introduced to
shaving-water and great on the subject of maintaining authority--it is
tantalising, I say, to see this young cub hectoring a miserable little
slavey for not having lighted a fire or put his slippers in their
proper place. The next time a big, bold man from the frontier comes
home I shall hire him to kick a few young gentlemen of my acquaintance
all round their own drawing-rooms while I lecture on my theory that
this sort of thing accounts for the perceptible lack of chivalry in
the modern Englishman. Now, if you or I or anybody else raved over and
lectured at Kadir Baksh, or Ram Singh, or Jagesa on the necessity of
obeying orders and the beauty of reverencing our noble selves, our men
would laugh; or if the lecture struck them as too long-winded would ask
us if our livers were out of order and recommend _dawai_. The housemaid
must stand with her eyes on the ground while the young whelp sticks
his hands under the tail of his dressing-gown and explains her duty to
her. This makes me ill and sick--sick for Kadir Baksh, who rose from
the earth when I called him, who knew the sequence of my papers and
the ordering of my paltry garments, and, I verily believed, loved me
not altogether for the sake of lucre. He said he would come with me to
_Belait_ because, "though the sahib says he will never return to India,
yet I know, and all the other _nauker log_ know, that return is his
fate."

Being a fool, I left Kadir Baksh behind, and now I am alone with
housemaids, who will under no circumstances sleep on the mat outside
the door. Even as I write, one of these persons is cleaning up my room.
Kadir Baksh would have done his work without noise. She tramps and
scuffles; and, what is much worse, snuffles horribly. Kadir Baksh would
have saluted me cheerfully and began some sort of a yarn of the "It
hath reached me, O Auspicious King!" order, and perhaps we should have
debated over the worthlessness of Dunni, the _sais_, or the chances of
a little cold-weather expedition, or the wisdom of retaining a fresh
_chaprassi_--some intimate friend of Kadir Baksh. But now I have no
horses and no _chaprassis_, and this smutty-faced girl glares at me
across the room as though she expected I was going to eat her.

She must have a soul of her own--a life of her own--and perhaps a few
amusements. I can't get at these things. She says: "Ho, yuss," and
"Ho, no," and if I hadn't heard her chattering to the lift-boy on the
stairs I should think that her education stopped at these two phrases.
Now, I knew all about Kadir Baksh, his hopes and his savings--his
experiences in the past, and the health of the little ones. He was a
man--a human man remarkably like myself, and he knew that as well as
I. A housemaid is of course not a man, but she might at least be a
woman. My wanderings about this amazing heathen city have brought me
into contact with very many English _mem sahibs_ who seem to be eaten
up with the fear of letting their servants get "above their position,"
or "presume," or do something which would shake the foundations of the
four-mile cab radius. They seem to carry on a sort of cat-and-mouse war
when the husband is at office and they have nothing much to do. Later,
at places where their friends assemble, they recount the campaign, and
the other women purr approvingly and say: "You did quite right, my
dear. It is evident that she forgets her place."

All this is edifying to the stranger, and gives him a great idea of
the dignity that has to be bolstered and buttressed, eight hours of
the twenty-four, against the incendiary attacks of an eighteen-pound
including-beer-money sleeps-in-a-garret-at-the-top-of-the-house
servant-girl. There is a fine-crusted, slave-holding instinct in the
hearts of a good many deep-bosomed matrons--a "throw back" to the
times when we trafficked in black ivory. At tea-tables and places
where they eat muffins it is called dignity. Now, your Kadir Baksh or
my Kadir Baksh, who is a downtrodden and oppressed heathen (the young
gentlemen who bullyrag white women assure me that we are in the habit
of kicking our dependents and beating them with umbrellas daily),
would ask for his _chits_, and probably say something sarcastic ere he
drifted out of the compound gate, if you nagged or worried his noble
self. He does not know much about the meaner forms of dignity, but
he is entirely sound on the subject of _izzat_; and the fact of his
cracking an azure and Oriental jest with you in the privacy of your
dressing-room, or seeing you at your incoherent worst when you have an
attack of fever, does not in the least affect his general deportment in
public, where he knows that the honour of his sahib is his own honour,
and dons a new _kummerbund_ on the strength of it.

I have tried to deal with those housemaids in every possible way.
To sling a blunt "Annie" or "Mary" or "Jane" at a girl whose only
fault is that she is a heavy-handed incompetent, strikes me as rather
an insult, seeing that the girl may have a brother, and that if you
had a sister who was a servant you would object to her being howled
at upstairs and downstairs by her given name. But only ladies' maids
are entitled to their surnames. They are not nice people as a caste,
and they regard the housemaids as the _chamar_ regards the _mehter_.
Consequently, I have to call these girls by their Christian names, and
cock my feet up on a chair when they are cleaning the grate, and pass
them in the halls in the morning as though they didn't exist. Now, the
morning salutation of your Kadir Baksh or my Kadir is a performance
which Turveydrop might envy. These persons don't understand a nod; they
think it as bad as a wink, I believe. Respect and courtesy are lost
upon them, and I suppose I must gather my dressing-gown into a tail and
swear at them in the bloodless voice affected by the British female
who--have I mentioned this?--is a highly composite heathen when she
comes in contact with her sister clay downstairs.

The softer methods lay one open to harder suspicions. Not long
ago there was trouble among my shirts. I fancied buttons grew on
neck-bands. Kadir Baksh and the _durzie_ encouraged me in the belief.
When the lead-coloured linen (they cannot wash, by the way, in this
stronghold of infidels) shed its buttons I cast about for a means
of renewal. There was a housemaid, and she was not very ugly, and
I thought she could sew. I knew I could not. Therefore I strove to
ingratiate myself with her, believing that a little interest, combined
with a little capital, would fix those buttons more firmly than
anything else. Subsequently, and after an interval--the buttons were
dropping like autumn leaves--I kissed her. The buttons were attached at
once. So, unluckily, was the housemaid, for I gathered that she looked
forward to a lifetime of shirt-sewing in an official capacity, and my
Revenue Board contemplated no additional establishment. My shirts are
buttonsome, but my character is blasted. Oh, I wish I had Kadir Baksh!

This is only the first instalment of my troubles. The heathen in these
parts do not understand me; so if you will allow I will come to you for
sympathy from time to time. I am a child of calamity.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 29: "Turnovers," Vol. VIII.]



THE NEW DISPENSATION--II[30]


Writing of Kadir Baksh so wrought up my feelings that I could not rest
till I had at least made an attempt to get a _budli_ of some sort.
The black man is essential to my comfort. I fancied I might in this
city of barbarism catch a brokendown native strayed from his home and
friends, who would be my friend and humble pardner--the sort of man, y'
know, who would sleep on a rug somewhere near my chambers (I have forty
things to tell you about chambers, but they come later), and generally
look after my things. In the intervals of labour I would talk to him in
his own tongue, and we would go abroad together and explore London.

Do you know the Albert Docks? The British-India steamers go thence
to the sunshine. They sometimes leave a lascar or two on the wharf,
and, in fact, the general tone of the population thereabouts is brown
and umber. I was in no case to be particular. Anything dusky would do
for me, so long as it could talk Hindustani and sew buttons. I went
to the docks and walked about generally among the railway lines and
packing-cases, till I found a man selling tooth-combs, which is not a
paying trade. He was ragged even to furriness, and very unwashed. But
he came from the East. "What are you?" I said, and the look of the
missionary that steals over me in moments of agitation deluded that
tooth-comb man into answering, "Sar, I am native ki-li-sti-an," but he
put five more syllables into the last word.

There is no Christianity in the docks worth a tooth-comb. "I don't want
your beliefs. I want your _jat_," said I.

"I am Tamil," said he, "and my name is Ramasawmy."

It was an awful thing to lower oneself to the level of a Colonel of
the Madras Army, and come down to being tended by a Ramasawmy; but
beggars cannot be choosers. I pointed out to him that the tooth-comb
trade was a thing lightly to be dropped and taken up. He might injure
his health by a washing, but he could not much hurt his prospects by
coming along with me and trying his hand at bearer's work. "Could he
work?" Oh, yes, he didn't mind work. He had been a servant in his time.
Several servants, in fact.

"Could he wash himself?"

"Ye-es," he might do that if I gave him a coat--a thick
coat--afterwards, and especially took care of the tooth-combs, for they
were his little all.

"Had he any character of any kind?"

He thought for a minute and then said cheerfully: "Not a little dam."
Thereat I loved him, because a man who can speak the truth in minor
matters may be trusted with important things, such as shirts.

We went home together till we struck a public bath, mercifully divided
into three classes. I got him to go into the third without much
difficulty. When he came out he was in the way of cleanliness, and
before he had time to expostulate I ran him into the second. Into the
first he would not go till I had bought him a cheap ulster. He came
out almost clean. That cost me three shillings altogether. The ulster
was half a sovereign, and some other clothes were thirty shillings.
Even these things could not hide from me that he looked an unusually
villainous creature.

At the chambers the trouble began. The people in charge had race
prejudices very strongly, and I had to point out that he was a
civilised native Christian anxious to improve his English--it was
fluent but unchastened--before they would give him some sort of a crib
to lie down in. The housemaids called him the Camel. I introduced him
as "the Tamil," but they knew nothing of the ethnological sub-divisions
of India. They called him "that there beastly camel," and I saw by the
light in his eye he understood only too well.

Coming up the staircase he confided to me his views about the
housemaids. He had lived at the docks too long. I said they weren't. He
said they were.

Then I showed him his duties, and he stood long in thought before
the wardrobe. He evidently knew more than a little of the work, but
whenever he came to a more than unusually dilapidated garment, he said:
"No good for you, _I_ take"; and he took. Then he put all the buttons
on in the smoking of a pipe, and asked if there was anything else. I
weakly said "No." He said: "Good-bye," and faded out of the house. The
housekeeper of the chambers said he would never return.

But he did. At three in the morning home he came, and, naturally,
possessing no latch-key, rang the bell. A policeman interfered, taking
him for a burglar, and I was roused by the racket. I explained he was
my servant, and the policeman said: "He do swear wonderful. 'Tain't
any language. I know most of it, but some I've heard at Poplar." Then
I dragged the Camel upstairs. He was quite sober, and said he had
been waiting at the docks. He must wait at the docks every time a
British-India steamer came in. A lascar on the _Rewah_ had stabbed him
in the side three voyages ago, and he was waiting for his man. "Maybe
he have died," he said; "but if he have not died I catch him and cut
his liver out." Then he curled himself up on the mat, and slept as
noiselessly as a child.

Next morning he inspected the humble breakfast bloater, which did not
meet with his approval, for he instantly cut it in two pieces, fried
it with butter, dusted it with pepper, and miraculously made of it a
dish fit for a king. When the shock-headed boy came to take away the
breakfast things, he counted every piece of crockery into his quaking
hand and said: "If you break one dam thing I cut your dam liver out and
fly _him_ with butter." Consequently, the housemaids said they were not
going to clean the rooms as long as the Camel abode within. The Camel
put his head out of the door and said they need not. He cleaned the
rooms with his own hand and without noise, filled my pipe, made the
bed, filled a pipe for himself, and sat down on the hearth-rug while
I worked. When thought carried him away to the lascar of the _Rewah_,
he would brandish the poker or take out his knife and whet it on the
brickwork of the grate. It was a soothing sound to work to. At one
o'clock he said that the _Chyebassa_ would be in, and he must go. He
demanded no money, saw that my tiffin was served, and fled. He returned
at six o'clock singing a hymn. A lascar on the _Chyebassa_ had told
him that the _Rewah_ was due in four days, and that his friend was not
dead, but ripe for the knife. That night he got very drunk while I was
out, and frightened the housemaids. All the chambers were in an uproar,
but he crawled out of the skylight on the roof, and sat there till I
came home.

In the dawn he was very penitent. He had misarranged his drink: the
original intention being to sleep it off on my hearth-rug, but a
housemaid had invited a friend up to the chambers to look at him, and
the whispered comments and giggles made him angry. All next day he was
restless but attentive. He urged me to fly to foreign shores, and take
him with me. When other inducements failed, he reiterated that he was a
"native ki-lis-ti-an," and whetted his knife more furiously than ever.
"You do not like this place. _I_ do not like this place. Let us travel
_dam_ quick. Let us go on the sea. _I_ cook blotters." I told him this
was impossible, but that if he stayed in my service we might later go
abroad and enjoy ourselves.

But he would not rest and sleep on the rug and tend my shirts. On the
morning of the _Rewah's_ arrival he went away, and from his absence I
fancied he had fallen into the hands of the law. But at midnight he
came back, weak and husky.

"Have got him," said he simply, and dragged his ulster down from the
wall, wrapping it very tightly round him. "Now I go 'way."

He went into the bedroom, and began counting over the tale of the
week's wash, the boots, and so forth. "All right," he called into the
other room. Then came in to say good-bye, walking slowly.

"What's your name, marshter?" said he. I told him. He bowed and
descended the staircase painfully. I had not paid him a penny, and
since he did not ask for it, counted on his returning at least for
wages.

It was not till next morning that I found big dark drops on most of my
clean shirts, and the housemaid complained of a trail of blood all down
the staircase.

"The Camel" had received payment in full from other hands than mine.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 30: "Turnovers," Vol. VIII.]



THE LAST OF THE STORIES[31]


  _Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better than that a man
  should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion._

 --_Ecc._ iii, 22.

"Kench with a long hand, lazy one," I said to the punkah coolie. "But
I am tired," said the coolie. "Then go to Jehannum and get another man
to pull," I replied, which was rude and, when you come to think of it,
unnecessary.

"Happy thought--go to Jehannum!" said a voice at my elbow. I turned
and saw, seated on the edge of my bed, a large and luminous Devil.
"I'm not afraid," I said. "You're an illusion bred by too much tobacco
and not enough sleep. If I look at you steadily for a minute you will
disappear. You are an _ignis fatuus_."

"Fatuous yourself!" answered the Devil blandly. "Do you mean to say
you don't know _me_?" He shrivelled up to the size of a blob of
sediment on the end of a pen, and I recognised my old friend the Devil
of Discontent, who lived in the bottom of the inkpot, but emerges
half a day after each story has been printed with a host of useless
suggestions for its betterment.

"Oh, it's you, is it?" I said. "You're not due till next week. Get back
to your inkpot."

"Hush!" said the Devil. "I have an idea."

"Too late, as usual. I know your ways."

"No. It's a perfectly practicable one. Your swearing at the coolie
suggested it. Did you ever hear of a man called Dante--charmin' fellow,
friend o' mine?"

"'Dante once prepared to paint a picture,'" I quoted.

"Yes. I inspired that notion--but never mind. Are you willing to play
Dante to my Virgil? I can't guarantee a nine-circle Inferno, any more
than _you_ can turn out a cantoed epic, but there's absolutely no risk
and--it will run to three columns at least."

"But what sort of Hell do you own?" I said. "I fancied your operations
were mostly above ground. You have no jurisdiction over the dead."

"Sainted Leopardi!" rapped the Devil, resuming natural size. "Is
_that_ all you know? I'm proprietor of one of the largest Hells in
existence--the Limbo of Lost Endeavor, where the souls of all the
Characters go."

"Characters? What Characters?"

"All the characters that are drawn in books, painted in novels,
sketched in magazine articles, thumb-nailed in _feuilletons_ or in
any way created by anybody and everybody who has had the fortune or
misfortune to put his or her writings into print."

"That sounds like a quotation from a prospectus. What do you herd
Characters for? Aren't there enough souls in the Universe?"

"Who possess souls and who do not? For aught you can prove, man may be
soulless and the creatures he writes about immortal. Anyhow, about a
hundred years after printing became an established nuisance, the loose
Characters used to blow about interplanetary space in legions which
interfered with traffic. So they were collected, and their charge
became mine by right. Would you care to see them? _Your own are there._"

"That decides me. But _is_ it hotter than Northern India?"

"On my Devildom, no. Put your arms round my neck and sit tight. I'm
going to dive!"

He plunged from the bed headfirst into the floor. There was a smell of
jail-_durrie_ and damp earth; and then fell the black darkness of night.

       *       *       *       *       *

We stood before a door in a topless wall, from the further side of
which came faintly the roar of infernal fires.

"But you said there was no danger!" I cried in an extremity of terror.

"No more there is," said the Devil. "That's only the Furnace of First
Edition. Will you go on? No other human being has set foot here in the
flesh. Let me bring the door to your notice. Pretty design, isn't it? A
joke of the Master's."

I shuddered, for the door was nothing more than a coffin, the backboard
knocked out, set on end in the thickness of the wall. As I hesitated,
the silence of space was cut by a sharp, shrill whistle, like that of
a live shell, which rapidly grew louder and louder. "Get away from the
door," said the Devil of Discontent quickly. "Here's a soul coming to
its place." I took refuge under the broad vans of the Devil's wings.
The whistle rose to an ear-splitting shriek and a naked soul flashed
past me.

"Always the same," said the Devil quietly. "These little writers
are _so_ anxious to reach their reward. H'm, I don't think he likes
_his'n_, though." A yell of despair reached my ears and I shuddered
afresh. "Who was he?" I asked. "Hack-writer for a pornographic firm in
Belgium, exporting to London, you'll understand presently--and now
we'll go in," said the Devil. "I must apologise for that creature's
rudeness. He should have stopped at the distance-signal for line-clear.
You can hear the souls whistling there now."

"Are they the souls of men?" I whispered.

"Yes--writer-men. That's why they are so shrill and querulous. Welcome
to the Limbo of Lost Endeavour!"

They passed into a domed hall, more vast than visions could embrace,
crowded to its limit by men, women and children. Round the eye of the
dome ran, a flickering fire, that terrible quotation from Job: "Oh,
that mine enemy had written a book!"

"Neat, isn't it?" said the Devil, following my glance. "Another joke
of the Master's. Man of _Us_, y' know. In the old days we used to put
the Characters into a disused circle of Dante's Inferno, but they grew
overcrowded. So Balzac and Théophile Gautier were commissioned to write
up this building. It took them three years to complete, and is one of
the finest under earth. Don't attempt to describe it unless you are
_quite_ sure you are equal to Balzac and Gautier in collaboration. Look
at the crowds and tell me what you think of them."

I looked long and earnestly, and saw that many of the multitude were
cripples. They walked on their heels or their toes, or with a list to
the right or left. A few of them possessed odd eyes and parti-coloured
hair; more threw themselves into absurd and impossible attitudes; and
every fourth woman seemed to be weeping.

"Who are these?" I said.

"Mainly the population of three-volume novels that never reach the
six-shilling stage. See that beautiful girl with one grey eye and one
brown, and the black and yellow hair? Let her be an awful warning to
you how you correct your proofs. She was created by a careless writer a
month ago, and he changed all colours in the second volume. So she came
here as you see her. There will be trouble when she meets her author.
He can't alter her now, and she says she'll accept no apology."

"But when will she meet her author?"

"Not in _my_ department. Do you notice a general air of expectancy
among all the Characters? They are waiting for their authors. Look!
That explains the system better than I can."

A lovely maiden, at whose feet I would willingly have fallen and
worshipped, detached herself from the crowd and hastened to the door
through which I had just come. There was a prolonged whistle without,
a soul dashed through the coffin and fell upon her neck. The girl with
the parti-coloured hair eyed the couple enviously as they departed arm
in arm to the other side of the hall.

"That man," said the Devil, "wrote one magazine story, of twenty-four
pages, ten years ago when he was desperately in love with a flesh and
blood woman. He put all his heart into the work, and created the girl
you have just seen. The flesh and blood woman married some one else and
died--it's a way they have--but the man has this girl for his very
own, and she will everlastingly grow sweeter."

"Then the Characters are independent?"

"Slightly! Have you never known one of your Characters--even yours--get
beyond control as soon as they are made?"

"That's true. Where are those two happy creatures going?"

"To the Levels. You've heard of authors finding their levels? We keep
all the Levels here. As each writer enters, he picks up his Characters,
or they pick _him_ up, as the case may be, and to the Levels he goes."

"I should like to see----"

"So you shall, when you come through that door a second
time--whistling. I can't take you there now."

"Do you keep only the Characters of living scribblers in this hall?"

"We should be crowded out if we didn't draft them off somehow. Step
this way and I'll take you to the Master. One moment, though. There's
John Ridd with Lorna Doone, and there are Mr. Maliphant and the
Bormalacks--clannish folk, those Besant Characters--don't let the twins
talk to you about Literature and Art. Come along. What's here?"

The white face of Mr. John Oakhurst, gambler, broke through the press.
"I wish to explain," said he in a level voice, "that had I been
consulted I should never have blown out my brains with the Duchess and
all that Poker Flat lot. I wish to add that the only woman I ever loved
was the wife of Brown of Calaveras." He pressed his hand behind him
suggestively. "All right, Mr. Oakhurst," I said hastily; "I believe
you." "_Kin_ you set it right?" he asked, dropping into the Doric of
the Gulches. I caught a trigger's cloth-muffled click. "Just heavens!"
I groaned. "Must I be shot for the sake of another man's Characters?"
Oakhurst levelled his revolver at my head, but the weapon was struck
up by the hand of Yuba Bill. "You durned fool!" said the stage-driver.
"Hevn't I told you no one but a blamed idiot shoots at sight _now_?
Let the galoot go. You kin see by his eyes he's no party to your
matrimonial arrangements." Oakhurst retired with an irreproachable bow,
but in my haste to escape I fell over Caliban, his head in a melon and
his tame orc under his arm. He spat like a wildcat.

"Manners none, customs beastly," said the Devil. "We'll take the Bishop
with us. They all respect the Bishop." And the great Bishop Blougram
joined us, calm and smiling, with the news, for my private ear, that
Mr. Gigadibs despised him no longer.

We were arrested by a knot of semi-nude Bacchantes kissing a clergyman.
The Bishop's eyes twinkled, and I turned to the Devil for explanation.

"That's Robert Elsmere--what's left of him," said the Devil. "Those are
French _feuilleton_ women and scourings of the Opera Comique. He has
been lecturing 'em, and they don't like it." "He lectured _me_!" said
the Bishop with a bland smile. "He has been a nuisance ever since he
came here. By the Holy Law of Proportion, he had the audacity to talk
to the Master! Called him a 'pot-bellied barbarian'! That is why he
is walking so stiffly now," said the Devil. "Listen! Marie Pigeonnier
is swearing deathless love to him. On my word, we ought to segregate
the French characters entirely. By the way, your regiment came in very
handy for Zola's importations."

"My regiment?" I said. "How do you mean?"

"You wrote something about the Tyneside Tail-Twisters, just enough to
give the outline of the regiment, and of course it came down here--one
thousand and eighty strong. I told it off in hollow squares to pen
up the Rougon-Macquart series. There they are." I looked and saw the
Tyneside Tail-Twisters ringing an inferno of struggling, shouting,
blaspheming men and women in the costumes of the Second Empire. Now and
again the shadowy ranks brought down their butts on the toes of the
crowd inside the square, and shrieks of pain followed. "You should have
indicated your men more clearly; they are hardly up to their work,"
said the Devil. "If the Zola tribe increase, I'm afraid I shall have
to use up your two companies of the Black Tyrone and two of the Old
Regiment."

"I am proud----" I began.

"Go slow," said the Devil. "You won't be half so proud in a little
while, and I don't think much of your regiments, anyway. But they are
good enough to fight the French. Can you hear Coupeau raving in the
left angle of the square? He used to run about the hall seeing pink
snakes, till the children's story-book Characters protested. Come
along!"

Never since Caxton pulled his first proof and made for the world a
new and most terrible God of Labour had mortal man such an experience
as mine when I followed the Devil of Discontent through the shifting
crowds below the motto of the Dome. A few--a very few--of the faces
were of old friends, but there were thousands whom I did not recognise.
Men in every conceivable attire and of every possible nationality,
deformed by intention, or the impotence of creation that could not
create--blind, unclean, heroic, mad, sinking under the weight of
remorse, or with eyes made splendid by the light of love and fixed
endeavour; women fashioned in ignorance and mourning the errors of
their creator, life and thought at variance with body and soul; perfect
women such as walk rarely upon this earth, and horrors that were women
only because they had not sufficient self-control to be fiends; little
children, fair as the morning, who put their hands into mine and made
most innocent confidences; loathsome, lank-haired infant-saints,
curious as to the welfare of my soul, and delightfully mischievous
boys, generalled by the irrepressible Tom Sawyer, who played among
murderers, harlots, professional beauties, nuns, Italian bandits and
politicians of state.

The ordered peace of Arthur's Court was broken up by the incursions
of Mr. John Wellington Wells, and Dagonet, the jester, found that his
antics drew no attention so long as the "dealer in magic and spells,"
taking Tristram's harp, sang patter-songs to the Round Table; while a
Zulu Impi, headed by Allan Quatermain, wheeled and shouted in sham
fight for the pleasure of Little Lord Fauntleroy. Every century and
every type was jumbled in the confusion of one colossal fancy-ball
where all the characters were living their parts.

"Aye, look long," said the Devil. "You will never be able to describe
it, and the next time you come you won't have the chance. Look long,
and look at"--Good's passing with a maiden of the Zu-Vendi must have
suggested the idea--"look at their legs." I looked, and for the second
time noticed the lameness that seemed to be almost universal in the
Limbo of Lost Endeavour. Brave men and stalwart to all appearance had
one leg shorter than the other; some paced a few inches above the
floor, never touching it, and others found the greatest difficulty in
preserving their feet at all. The stiffness and laboured gait of these
thousands was pitiful to witness. I was sorry for them. I told the
Devil as much.

"H'm," said he reflectively, "that's the world's work. Rather cockeye,
ain't it? They do everything but stand on their feet. _You_ could
improve them, I suppose?" There was an unpleasant sneer in his tone,
and I hastened to change the subject.

"I'm tired of walking," I said. "I want to see some of my own
Characters, and go on to the Master, whoever he may be, afterwards."

"Reflect," said the Devil. "Are you certain--do you know how many they
be?"

"No--but I want to see them. That's what I came for."

"Very well. Don't abuse me if you don't like the view. There are
one-and-fifty of your make up to date, and--it's rather an appalling
thing to be confronted with fifty-one children. However, here's a
special favourite of yours. Go and shake hands with her!"

A limp-jointed, staring-eyed doll was hirpling towards me with a
strained smile of recognition. I felt that I knew her only too well--if
indeed she were she. "Keep her off, Devil!" I cried, stepping back. "I
never made _that_!" "'She began to weep and she began to cry, Lord ha'
mercy on me, this is none of I!' You're very rude to--Mrs. Hauksbee,
and she wants to speak to you," said the Devil. My face must have
betrayed my dismay, for the Devil went on soothingly: "That's as she
_is_, remember. I _knew_ you wouldn't like it. Now what will you give
if I make her as she ought to be? No, I don't want your soul, thanks.
I have it already, and many others of better quality. Will you, when
you write your story, own that I am the best and greatest of all
the Devils?" The doll was creeping nearer. "Yes," I said hurriedly.
"Anything you like. Only I can't stand her in that state."

"You'll _have_ to when you come next again. Look! No connection with
Jekyll and Hyde!" The Devil pointed a lean and inky finger towards the
doll, and lo! radiant, bewitching, with a smile of dainty malice, her
high heels clicking on the floor like castanets, advanced Mrs. Hauksbee
as I had imagined her in the beginning.

"Ah!" she said. "You are here so soon? Not dead yet? That will come.
Meantime, a thousand congratulations. And now, what do you think of
me?" She put her hands on her hips, revealed a glimpse of the smallest
foot in Simla and hummed: "'Just look at that--just look at this! And
then you'll see I'm not amiss.'"

"She'll use exactly the same words when you meet her next time," said
the Devil warningly. "You dowered her with any amount of vanity, if
you left out----Excuse me a minute! I'll fetch up the rest of your
menagerie." But I was looking at Mrs. Hauksbee.

"Well?" she said. "_Am_ I what you expected?" I forgot the Devil and
all his works, forgot that this was not the woman I had made, and
could only murmur rapturously: "By Jove! You _are_ a beauty." Then,
incautiously: "And you stand on your feet." "Good heavens!" said
Mrs. Hauksbee. "Would you, at my time of life, have me stand on my
head?" She folded her arms and looked me up and down. I was grinning
imbecilely--the woman was so alive. "Talk," I said absently; "I want to
hear you talk." "I am not used to being spoken to like a coolie," she
replied. "Never mind," I said, "that may be for outsiders, but I made
you and I've a right----"

"You have a right? You made me? My dear sir, if I didn't know that we
should bore each other so inextinguishably hereafter I should read
you an hour's lecture this instant. You made me! I suppose you will
have the audacity to pretend that you understand me--that you _ever_
understood me. Oh, man, man--foolish man! If you only knew!"

"Is that the person who thinks he understands us, Loo?" drawled a voice
at her elbow. The Devil had returned with a cloud of witnesses, and it
was Mrs. Mallowe who was speaking.

"I've touched 'em all up," said the Devil in an aside. "You couldn't
stand 'em raw. But don't run away with the notion that they are your
work. I show you what they ought to be. You must find out for yourself
how to make 'em so."

"Am I allowed to remodel the batch--up above?" I asked anxiously.

"_Litera scripta manet._ That's in the Delectus and Eternity." He
turned round to the semi-circle of Characters: "Ladies and gentlemen,
who are all a great deal better than you should be by virtue of _my_
power, let me introduce you to your maker. If you have anything to say
to him, you can say it."

"What insolence!" said Mrs. Hauksbee between her teeth. "This isn't
a Peterhoff drawing-room. I haven't the slightest intention of being
leveed by this person. Polly, come here and we'll watch the animals
go by." She and Mrs. Mallowe stood at my side. I turned crimson with
shame, for it is an awful thing to see one's Characters in the solid.

"Wal," said Gilead P. Beck as he passed, "I would not be you at this
_pre_-cise moment of time, not for all the ile in the univarsal airth.
_No_, sirr! I thought my dinner-party was soul-shatterin', but it's
mush--mush and milk--to your circus. Let the good work go on!"

I turned to the company and saw that they were men and women, standing
upon their feet as folks should stand. Again I forgot the Devil, who
stood apart and sneered. From the distant door of entry I could hear
the whistle of arriving souls, from the semi-darkness at the end of
the hall came the thunderous roar of the Furnace of First Edition,
and everywhere the restless crowds of Characters muttered and rustled
like windblown autumn leaves. But I looked upon my own people and was
perfectly content as man could be.

"I have seen you study a new dress with just such an expression of
idiotic beatitude," whispered Mrs. Mallowe to Mrs. Hauksbee. "Hush!"
said the latter. "He thinks he understands." Then to me: "Please trot
them out. Eternity is long enough in all conscience, but that is no
reason for wasting it. _Pro_-ceed, or shall I call them up? Mrs.
Vansuythen, Mr. Boult, Mrs. Boult, Captain Kurrel and the Major!" The
European population in Kashima in the Dosehri hills, the actors in the
Wayside Comedy, moved towards me; and I saw with delight that they were
human. "So you wrote about us?" said Mrs. Boult. "About my confession
to my husband and my hatred of that Vansuythen woman? Did you think
that you understood? Are _all_ men such fools?" "That woman is bad
form," said Mrs. Hauksbee, "but she speaks the truth. I wonder what
these soldiers have to say." Gunner Barnabas and Private Shacklock
stopped, saluted, and hoped I would take no offence if they gave it as
their opinion that I had not "got them down quite right." I gasped.

A spurred Hussar succeeded, his wife on his arm. It was Captain
Gadsby and Minnie, and close behind them swaggered Jack Mafflin, the
Brigadier-General in his arms. "Had the cheek to try to describe our
life, had you?" said Gadsby carelessly. "Ha-hmm! S'pose he understood,
Minnie?" Mrs. Gadsby raised her face to her husband and murmured:
"I'm _sure_ he didn't, Pip," while Poor Dear Mamma, still in her
riding-habit, hissed: "I'm sure he didn't understand _me_." And these
also went their way.

One after another they filed by--Trewinnard, the pet of his Department;
Otis Yeere, lean and lanthorn-jawed; Crook O'Neil and Bobby Wick arm in
arm; Janki Meah, the blind miner in the Jimahari coal fields; Afzul
Khan, the policeman; the murderous Pathan horse-dealer, Durga Dass; the
bunnia, Boh Da Thone; the dacoit, Dana Da, weaver of false magic; the
Leander of the Barhwi ford; Peg Barney, drunk as a coot; Mrs. Delville,
the dowd; Dinah Shadd, large, red-cheeked and resolute; Simmons, Slane
and Losson; Georgie Porgie and his Burmese helpmate; a shadow in a high
collar, who was all that I had ever indicated of the Hawley Boy--the
nameless men and women who had trod the Hill of Illusion and lived in
the Tents of Kedar, and last, His Majesty the King.

Each one in passing told me the same tale, and the burden thereof was:
"You did not understand." My heart turned sick within me. "Where's Wee
Willie Winkie?" I shouted. "Little children don't lie."

A clatter of pony's feet followed, and the child appeared, habited as
on the day he rode into Afghan territory to warn Coppy's love against
the "bad men." "I've been playing," he sobbed, "playing on ve Levels
wiv Jackanapes and Lollo, an' _he_ says I'm only just borrowed. I'm
_isn't_ borrowed. I'm Willie Wi-_inkie_! Vere's Coppy?"

"'Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings,'" whispered the Devil, who
had drawn nearer. "You know the rest of the proverb. Don't look as if
you were going to be shot in the morning! Here are the last of your
gang."

I turned despairingly to the Three Musketeers, dearest of all my
children to me--to Privates Mulvaney, Ortheris and Learoyd. Surely the
Three would not turn against me as the others had done! I shook hands
with Mulvaney. "Terence, how goes? Are _you_ going to make fun of me,
too?" "'Tis not for me to make fun av you, sorr," said the Irishman,
"knowin' as I _du_ know, fwat good friends we've been for the matter av
three years."

"Fower," said Ortheris, "'twas in the Helanthami barricks, H block, we
was become acquaint, an' 'ere's thankin' you kindly for all the beer
we've drunk twix' that and now."

"Four ut is, then," said Mulvaney. "He an' Dinah Shadd are your
friends, but----" He stood uneasily.

"But what?" I said.

"Savin' your presence, sorr, an' it's more than onwillin' I am to be
hurtin' you; you did not ondersthand. On my sowl an' honour, sorr, you
did not ondersthand. Come along, you two."

But Ortheris stayed for a moment to whisper: "It's Gawd's own trewth,
but there's this 'ere to think. 'Tain't the bloomin' belt that's wrong,
as Peg Barney sez, when he's up for bein' dirty on p'rade. 'Tain't the
bloomin' belt, sir; it's the bloomin' pipeclay." Ere I could seek an
explanation he had joined his companions.

"For a private soldier, a singularly shrewd man," said Mrs. Hauksbee,
and she repeated Ortheris's words. The last drop filled my cup, and I
am ashamed to say that I bade her be quiet in a wholly unjustifiable
tone. I was rewarded by what would have been a notable lecture on
propriety, had I not said to the Devil: "Change that woman to a d----d
doll again! Change 'em all back as they were--as they are. I'm sick of
them."

"Poor wretch!" said the Devil of Discontent very quietly. "They are
changed."

The reproof died on Mrs. Hauksbee's lips, and she moved away
marionette-fashion, Mrs. Mallowe trailing after her. I hastened after
the remainder of the Characters, and they were changed indeed--even as
the Devil had said, who kept at my side.

They limped and stuttered and staggered and mouthed and staggered round
me, till I could endure no more.

"So I am the master of this idiotic puppet-show, am I?" I said
bitterly, watching Mulvaney trying to come to attention by spasms.

"_In saecula saeculorum_," said the Devil, bowing his head; "and you
needn't kick, my dear fellow, because they will concern no one but
yourself by the time you whistle up to the door. Stop reviling me and
uncover. Here's the Master!"

Uncover! I would have dropped on my knees, had not the Devil prevented
me, at sight of the portly form of Maitre François Rabelais, some
time Curé of Meudon. He wore a smoke-stained apron of the colours
of Gargantua. I made a sign which was duly returned. "An Entered
Apprentice in difficulties with his rough ashlar, Worshipful Sir,"
explained the Devil. I was too angry to speak.

Said the Master, rubbing his chin: "Are those things yours?" "Even so,
Worshipful Sir," I muttered, praying inwardly that the Characters would
at least keep quiet while the Master was near. He touched one or two
thoughtfully, put his hand upon my shoulder and started: "By the Great
Bells of Notre Dame, you are in the flesh--the warm flesh!--the flesh I
quitted so long--ah, so long! And you fret and behave unseemly because
of these shadows! Listen now! I, even I, would give my Three, Panurge,
Gargantua and Pantagruel, for one little hour of the life that is in
you. And _I_ am the Master!"

But the words gave me no comfort. I could hear Mrs. Mallowe's joints
cracking--or it might have been merely her stays.

"Worshipful Sir, he will not believe that," said the Devil. "Who live
by shadows lust for shadows. Tell him something more to his need."

The Master grunted contemptuously: "And he is flesh and blood! Know
this, then. The First Law is to make them stand upon their feet, and
the Second is to make them stand upon their feet, and the Third is to
make them stand upon their feet. But, for all that, Trajan is a fisher
of frogs." He passed on, and I could hear him say to himself: "One
hour--one minute--of life in the flesh, and I would sell the Great
Perhaps thrice over!"

"Well," said the Devil, "you've made the Master angry, seen about all
there is to be seen, except the Furnace of First Edition, and, as the
Master is in charge of that, I should avoid it. Now you'd better go.
You know what you ought to do?"

"I don't need all Hell----"

"Pardon me. Better men than you have called this Paradise."

"All _Hell_, I said, and the Master to tell me what I knew before.
What I want to know is _how_?" "Go and find out," said the Devil. We
turned to the door, and I was aware that my Characters had grouped
themselves at the exit. "They are going to give you an ovation. Think
o' that, now!" said the Devil. I shuddered and dropped my eyes, while
one-and-fifty voices broke into a wailing song, whereof the words, so
far as I recollect, ran:

 But we brought forth and reared in hours
   Of change, alarm, surprise.
 What shelter to grow ripe is ours--
   What leisure to grow wise?

I ran the gauntlet, narrowly missed collision with an impetuous soul (I
hoped he liked his Characters when he met them), and flung free into
the night, where I should have knocked my head against the stars. But
the Devil caught me.

       *       *       *       *       *

The brain-fever bird was fluting across the grey, dewy lawn, and the
punkah had stopped again. "Go to Jehannum and get another man to
pull," I said drowsily. "Exactly," said a voice from the inkpot.

Now the proof that this story is absolutely true lies in the fact that
there will be no other to follow it.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 31: From "Week's News," Sept. 15, 1888.]





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