The Works of Rudyard Kipling One Volume Edition
Part 17 out of 18
Capt. G. So I have been led to believe.
Mrs. G. And I shall want to know every one of your secrets--to share everything
you know with you. (Stares round desperately.)
Capt. G. So you shall, dear, so you shall--but don't look like that.
Mrs. G. For your own sake don't stop me, Phil. I shall never talk to you in
this way again. You must not tell me! At least, not now. Later on, when I'm an
old matron it won't matter, but if you love me, be very good to me now; for
this part of my life I shall never forget! Have I made you understand?
Capt. G. I think so, child. Have I said anything yet that you disapprove of?
Mrs. G. Will you be very angry? That--that voice, and what you said about the
Capt. G. But you asked to be told that, darling.
Mrs. G. And that's why you shouldn't have told me! You must be the Judge, and,
oh, Pip, dearly as I love you, I shan't be able to help you! I shall hinder
you, and you must judge in spite of me!
Capt. G. (Meditatively.) We have a great many things to find out together, God
help us both--say so, Pussy--but we shall understand each other better every
day; and I think I'm beginning to see now. How in the world did you come to
know just the importance of giving me just that lead?
Mrs. G. I've told you that I don't know. Only somehow it seemed that, in all
this new life, I was being guided for your sake as well as my own.
Capt. G. (Aside.) Then Mafflin was right! They know, and we--we're blind all of
us. (Lightly.) 'Getting a little beyond our depth, dear, aren't we? I'll
remember, and, if I fail, let me be punished as I deserve.
Mrs. G. There shall be no punishment. We'll start into life together from here-
-you and I--and no one else.
Capt. G. And no one else. (A pause.) Your eyelashes are all wet, Sweet? Was
there ever such a quaint little Absurdity?
Mrs. G. Was there ever such nonsense talked before?
Capt. G. (Knocking the ashes out of his pipe.) 'Tisn't what we say, it's what
we don't say, that helps. And it's all the profoundest philosophy. But no one
would understand--even if it were put into a book.
Mrs. G. The idea! No--only we ourselves, or people like ourselves--if there are
any people like us.
Capt. G. (Magisterially.) All people, not like ourselves, are blind idiots.
Mrs. G. (Wiping her eyes.) Do you think, then, that there are any people as
happy as we are?
Capt. G. 'Must be--unless we've appropriated all the happiness in the world.
Mrs. G. (Looking toward Simla.) Poor dears! Just fancy if we have!
Capt. G. Then we'll hang on to the whole show, for it's a great deal too jolly
to lose--eh, wife 'o mine?
Mrs. G. O Pip! Pip! How much of you is a solemn, married man and how much a
horrid slangy schoolboy?
Capt. G. When you tell me how much of you was eighteen last birthday and how
much is as old as the Sphinx and twice as mysterious, perhaps I'll attend to
you. Lend me that banjo. The spirit moveth me to yowl at the sunset.
Mrs. G. Mind! It's not tuned. Ah! How that jars!
Capt. G. (Turning pegs.) It's amazingly different to keep a banjo to proper
Mrs. G. It's the same with all musical instruments, What shall it be?
Capt. G. "Vanity," and let the hills hear. (Sings through the first and half of
the second verse. Turning to Mrs. G.) Now, chorus! Sing, Pussy!
BOTH TOGETHER. (Con brio, to the horror of the monkeys who are settling for the
"Vanity, all is Vanity," said Wisdom. scorning me--
I clasped my true Love's tender hand and answered frank and free-ee
"If this be Vanity who'd be wise? If this be Vanity who'd be wise?
If this be Vanity who'd be wi-ise (Crescendo.)
Vanity let it be!"
Mrs. G. (Defiantly to the grey of the evening sky.) "Vanity let it be!"
ECHO. (Prom the Fagoo spur.) Let it be!
And you may go in every room of the house and see everything that is there, but
into the Blue Room you must not go.
--The Story of Blue Beard.
SCENE. The GADSBYS' bungalow in the Plains. Time, 11 A. M. on a Sunday morning.
Captain GADSBY, in his shirt-sleeves, is bending over a complete set of
Hussar's equipment, from saddle to picketing-rope, which is neatly spread over
the floor of his study. He is smoking an unclean briar, and his forehead is
puckered with thought.
Capt. G. (To himself, fingering a headstall.) Jack's an ass. There's enough
brass on this to load a mule--and, if the Americans know anything about
anything, it can be cut down to a bit only. 'Don't want the watering-bridle,
either. Humbug!--Half a dozen sets of chains and pulleys for one horse! Rot!
(Scratching his head.) Now, let's consider it all over from the beginning. By
Jove, I've forgotten the scale of weights! Never mind. 'Keep the bit only, and
eliminate every boss from the crupper to breastplate. No breastplate at all.
Simple leather strap across the breast--like the Russians. Hi! Jack never
thought of that!
Mrs. G. (Entering hastily, her hand bound in a cloth.) Oh, Pip, I've scalded my
hand over that horrid, horrid Tiparee jam!
Capt. G. (Absently.) Eh! Wha-at?
Mrs. G. (With round-eyed reproach.) I've scalded it aw-fully! Aren't you sorry?
And I did so want that jam to jam properly.
Capt. G. Poor little woman! Let me kiss the place and make it well. (Unrolling
bandage.) You small sinner! Where's that scald? I can't see it.
Mrs. G. On the top of the little finger. There!--It's a most 'normous big burn!
Capt. G. (Kissing little finger.) Baby! Let Hyder look after the jam. You know
I don't care for sweets.
Mrs. G. Indeed?--Pip!
Capt. G. Not of that kind, anyhow. And now run along, Minnie, and leave me to
my own base devices. I'm busy.
Mrs. G. (Calmly settling herself in long chair.) So I see. What a mess you're
making! Why have you brought all that smelly leather stuff into the house?
Capt. G. To play with. Do you mind, dear?
Mrs. G. Let me play too. I'd like it.
Capt. G. I'm afraid you wouldn't. Pussy--Don't you think that jam will burn, or
whatever it is that jam does when it's not looked after by a clever little
Mrs. G. I thought you said Hyder could attend to it. I left him in the veranda,
stirring--when I hurt myself so.
Capt. G. (His eye returning to the equipment.) Po-oor little woman!--Three
pounds four and seven is three eleven, and that can be cut down to two eight,
with just a lee-tle care, without weakening anything. Farriery is all rot in
incompetent hands. What's the use of a shoe-case when a man's scouting? He
can't stick it on with a lick--like a stamp--the shoe! Skittles--
Mrs. G. What's skittles? Pah! What is this leather cleaned with?
Capt. G. Cream and champagne and--Look here, dear, do you really want to talk
to me about anything important?
Mrs. G. No. I've done my accounts, and I thought I'd like to see what you're
Capt. G. Well, love, now you've seen and--Would you mind?--That is to say--
Minnie, I really am busy.
Mrs. G. You want me to go?
Capt. G, Yes, dear, for a little while. This tobacco will hang in your dress,
and saddlery doesn't interest you.
Mrs. G. Everything you do interests me, Pip.
Capt. G. Yes, I know, I know, dear. I'll tell you all about it some day when
I've put a head on this thing. In the meantime--
Mrs. G. I'm to be turned out of the room like a troublesome child?
Capt. G. No-o. I don't mean that exactly. But, you see, I shall be tramping up
and down, shifting these things to and fro, and I shall be in your way. Don't
you think so?
Mrs. G. Can't I lift them about? Let me try. (Reaches forward to trooper's
Capt. G. Good gracious, child, don't touch it. You'll hurt yourself. (Picking
up saddle.) Little girls aren't expected to handle numdahs. Now, where would
you like it put? (Holds saddle above his head.)
Mrs. G. (A break in her voice.) Nowhere. Pip, how good you are--and how strong!
Oh, what's that ugly red streak inside your arm?
Capt. G. (Lowering saddle quickly.) Nothing. It's a mark of sorts. (Aside.) And
Jack's coming to tiffin with his notions all cut and dried!
Mrs. G. I know it's a mark, but I've never seen it before. It runs all up the
arm. What is it?
Capt. G. A cut--if you want to know.
Mrs. G. Want to know! Of course I do! I can't have my husband cut to pieces in
this way. How did it come? Was it an accident? Tell me, Pip.
Capt. G. (Grimly.) No. 'Twasn't an accident. I got it--from a man--in
Mrs. G. In action? Oh, Pip, and you never told me!
Capt. G. I'd forgotten all about it.
Mrs. G. Hold up your arm! What a horrid, ugly scar! Are you sure it doesn't
hurt now! How did the man give it you?
Capt. G. (Desperately looking at his watch.) With a knife. I came down--old Van
Loo did, that's to say--and fell on my leg, so I couldn't run. And then this
man came up and began chopping at me as I sprawled.
Mrs. G. Oh, don't, don't! That's enough!--Well, what happened?
Capt. G. I couldn't get to my holster, and Mafflin came round the corner and
stopped the performance.
Mrs. G. How? He's such a lazy man, I don't believe he did.
Capt. G. Don't you? I don't think the man had much doubt about it. Jack cut his
Mrs. G. Cut-his-head-off! "With one blow," as they say in the books?
Capt. G. I'm not sure. I was too interested in myself to know much about it.
Anyhow, the head was off, and Jack was punching old Van Loo in the ribs to make
him get up. Now you know all about it, dear, and now--
Mrs. G. You want me to go, of course. You never told me about this, though I've
been married to you for ever so long; and you never would have told me if I
hadn't found out; and you never do tell me anything about yourself, or what you
do, or what you take an interest in.
Capt. G. Darling, I'm always with you, aren't I?
Mrs. G. Always in my pocket, you were going to say. I know you are; but you are
always thinking away from me.
Capt. G. (Trying to hide a smile.) Am I? I wasn't aware of it. I'm awf'ly
Mrs. G. (Piteously.) Oh, don't make fun of me! Pip, you know what I mean. When
you are reading one of those things about Cavalry, by that idiotic Prince--why
doesn't he be a Prince instead of a stable-boy?
Capt. G. Prince Kraft a stable-boy--Oh, my Aunt! Never mind, dear. You were
going to say?
Mrs. G. It doesn't matter; you don't care for what I say. Only--only you get up
and walk about the room, staring in front of you, and then Mafflin comes in to
dinner, and after I'm in the drawing-room I can hear you and him talking, and
talking, and talking, about things I can't understand, and--oh, I get so tired
and feel so lonely!--I don't want to complain and be a trouble, Pip; but I do
indeed I do!
Capt. G. My poor darling! I never thought of that. Why don't you ask some nice
people in to dinner?
Mrs. G. Nice people! Where am I to find them? Horrid frumps! And if I did, I
shouldn't be amused. You know I only want you.
Capt. G. And you have me surely, Sweetheart?
Mrs. G. I have not! Pip why don't you take me into your life?
Capt. G. More than I do? That would be difficult, dear.
Mrs. G. Yes, I suppose it would--to you. I'm no help to you--no companion to
you; and you like to have it so.
Capt. G. Aren't you a little unreasonable, Pussy?
Mrs. G. (Stamping her foot.) I'm the most reasonable woman in the world--when
I'm treated properly.
Capt. G. And since when have I been treating you improperly?
Mrs. G. Always--and since the beginning. You know you have.
Capt. G. I don't; but I'm willing to be convinced.
Mrs. G. (Pointing to saddlery.) There!
Capt. G. How do you mean?
Mrs. G. What does all that mean? Why am I not to be told? Is it so precious?
Capt. G. I forget its exact Government value just at present. It means that it
is a great deal too heavy.
Mrs. G. Then why do you touch it?
Capt. G. To make it lighter. See here, little love, I've one notion and Jack
has another, but we are both agreed that all this equipment is about thirty
pounds too heavy. The thing is how to cut it down without weakening any part of
it, and, at the same time, allowing the trooper to carry everything he wants
for his own comfort--socks and shirts and things of that kind.
Mrs. G. Why doesn't he pack them in a little trunk?
Capt. G. (Kissing her.) Oh, you darling! Pack them in a little trunk, indeed!
Hussars don't carry trunks, and it's a most important thing to make the horse
do all the carrying.
Mrs. G. But why need you bother about it? You're not a trooper.
Capt. G. No; but I command a few score of him; and equipment is nearly
everything in these days.
Mrs. G. More than me?
Capt. G. Stupid! Of course not; but it's a matter that I'm tremendously
interested in, because if I or Jack, or I and Jack, work out some sort of
lighter saddlery and all that, it's possible that we may get it adopted.
Mrs. G. How?
Capt. G. Sanctioned at Home, where they will make a sealed pattern--a pattern
that all the saddlers must copy--and so it will be used by all the regiments.
Mrs. G. And that interests you?
Capt. G. It's part of my profession, y'know, and my profession is a good deal
to me. Everything in a soldier's equipment is important, and if we can improve
that equipment, so much the better for the soldiers and for us.
Mrs. G. Who's "us"?
Capt. G. Jack and I; only Jack's notions are too radical. What's that big sigh
Mrs. G. Oh, nothing--and you've kept all this a secret from me! Why?
Capt. G. Not a secret, exactly, dear. I didn't say anything about it to you
because I didn't think it would amuse you.
Mrs. G. And am I only made to be amused?
Capt. G. No, of course. I merely mean that it couldn't interest you.
Mrs. G. It's your work and--and if you'd let me, I'd count all these things up.
If they are too heavy, you know by how much they are too heavy, and you must
have a list of things made out to your scale of lightness, and--
Capt. G. I have got both scales somewhere in my head; but it's hard to tell how
light you can make a head-stall, for instance, until you've actually had a
Mrs. G. But if you read out the list, I could copy it down, and pin it up there
just above your table. Wouldn't that do?
Capt. G. It would be awf'ly nice, dear, but it would be giving you trouble for
nothing. I can't work that way. I go by rule of thumb. I know the present scale
of weights, and the other one--the one that I'm trying to work to--will shift
and vary so much that I couldn't be certain, even if I wrote it down.
Mrs. G. I'm so sorry. I thought I might help. Is there anything else that I
could be of use in?
Capt. G. (Looking round the room.) I can't think of anything. You're always
helping me you know.
Mrs. G. Am I? How?
Capt. G. You are of course, and as long as you're near me--I can't explain
exactly, but it's in the air.
Mrs. G. And that's why you wanted to send me away?
Capt. G. That's only when I'm trying to do work--grubby work like this.
Mrs. G. Mafflin's better, then, isn't he?
Capt. G. (Rashly.) Of course he is. Jack and I have been thinking along the
same groove for two or three years about this equipment. It's our hobby, and it
may really be useful some day.
Mrs. G. (After a pause.) And that's all that you have away from me?
Capt. G. It isn't very far away from you now. Take care the oil on that bit
doesn't come off on your dress.
Mrs. G. I wish--I wish so much that I could really help you. I believe I could-
-if I left the room. But that's not what I mean.
Capt. G. (Aside.) Give me patience! I wish she would go. (Aloud.) I assure you
you can't do anything for me, Minnie, and I must really settle down to this.
Where's my pouch?
Mrs. G. (Crossing to writing-table.) Here you are, Bear. What a mess you keep
your table in!
Capt. G. Don' ttouch it. There's a method in my madness, though you mightn't
think of it.
Mrs. G. (At table.) I want to look - Do you keep accounts, Pip?
Capt. G. (Bending over saddlery.) Of a sort. Are you rummaging among the Troop
papers? Be careful.
Mrs. G. Why? I sha'n't disturb anything. Good gracious! I had no idea that you
had anything to do with so many sick horses.
Capt. G. 'Wish I hadn't, but they insist on falling sick. Minnie, if 1 were you
I really should not investigate those papers. You may come across something
that you won't like.
Mrs. G. Why will you always treat me like a child? I know I'm not displacing
the horrid things.
Capt. G. (Resignedly.) Very well, then. Don't blame me if anything happens.
Play with the table and let me go on with the saddlery. (Slipping hand into
trousers-pocket.) Oh, the deuce!
Mrs. G. (Her back to G.) What's that for?
Capt. G. Nothing. (Aside.) There's not much in it, but I wish I'd torn it up.
Mrs. G. (Turning over contents of table.) I know you'll hate me for this; but I
do want to see what your work is like. (A pause.) Pip, what are "farcybuds"?
Capt. G. Hah! Would you really like to know? They aren't pretty things.
Mrs. G. This Journal of Veterinary Science says they are of "absorbing
interest." Tell me.
Capt. G. (Aside.) It may turn her attention.
Gives a long and designedly loathsome account of glanders and farcy.
Mrs. G. Oh, that's enough. Don't go on!
Capt. G. But you wanted to know--Then these things suppurate and matterate and
Mrs. G. Pin, you're making me sick! You're a horrid, disgusting schoolboy.
Capt. G. (On his knees among the bridles.) You asked to be told. It's not my
fault if you worry me into talking about horrors.
Mrs. G. Why didn't you say No?
Capt. G. Good Heavens, child! Have you come in here simply to bully me?
Mrs. G. I bully you? How could I! You're so strong. (Hysterically.) Strong
enough to pick me up and put me outside the door and leave me there to cry.
Capt. G. It seems to me that you're an irrational little baby. Are you quite
Mrs. G. Do I look ill? (Returning to table). Who is your lady friend with the
big grey envelope and the fat monogram outside?
Capt. G. (Aside.) Then it wasn't locked up, confound it. (Aloud.) "God made
her, therefore let her pass for a woman." You remember what farcybuds are like?
Mrs. G. (Showing envelope.) This has nothing to do with them. I'm going to open
it. May I?
Capt. G. Certainly, if you want to. I'd sooner you didn't though. I don't ask
to look at your letters to the Deercourt girl.
Mrs. G. You'd better not, Sir! (Takes letter from envelope.) Now, may I look?
If you say no, I shall cry.
Capt. G. You've never cried in my knowledge of you, and I don't believe you
Mrs. G. I feel very like it today, Pip. Don't be hard on me. (Reads letter.) It
begins in the middle, without any "Dear Captain Gadsby," or anything. How
Capt. G. (Aside.) No, it's not Dear Captain Gadsby, or anything, now. How
Mrs. G. What a strange letter! (Reads.) "And so the moth has come too near the
candle at last, and has been singed into--shall I say Respectability? I
congratulate him, and hope he will be as happy as he deserves to be." What does
that mean? Is she congratulating you about our marriage?
Capt. G. Yes, I suppose so.
Mrs. G. (Still reading letter.) She seems to be a particular friend of yours.
Capt. G. Yes. She was an excellent matron of sorts--a Mrs. Herriott--wife of a
Colonel Herriott. I used to know some of her people at Home long ago--before I
Mrs. G. Some Colonel's wives are young--as young as me. I knew one who was
Capt. G. Then it couldn't have been Mrs. Herriott. She was old enough to have
been your mother, dear.
Mrs. G. I remember now. Mrs. Scargill was talking about her at the Dutfins'
tennis, before you came for me, on Tuesday. Captain Mafflin said she was a
"dear old woman." Do you know, I think Mafflin is a very clumsy man with his
Capt. G. (Aside.) Good old Jack! (Aloud.) Why, dear?
Mrs. G. He had put his cup down on the ground then, and he literally stepped
into it. Some of the tea spirted over my dress--the grey one. I meant to tell
you about it before.
Capt. G. (Aside.) There are the makings of a strategist about Jack though his
methods are coarse. (Aloud.) You'd better get a new dress, then. (Aside.) Let
us pray that that will turn her.
Mrs. G. Oh, it isn't stained in the least. I only thought that I'd tell you.
(Returning to letter.) What an extraordinary person! (Reads.) "But need I
remind you that you have taken upon yourself a charge of wardship"--what in the
world is a charge of wardship?--"which as you yourself know, may end in
Capt. G. (Aside.) It's safest to let em see everything as they come across it;
but 'seems to me that there are exceptions to the rule. (Aloud.) I told you
that there was nothing to be gained from rearranging my table.
Mrs. G. (Absently.) What does the woman mean? She goes on talking about
Consequences--" "almost inevitable Consequences" with a capital C--for half a
page. (Flushing scarlet.) Oh, good gracious! How abominable!
Capt. G. (Promptly.) Do you think so? Doesn't it show a sort of motherly
interest in us? (Aside.) Thank Heaven. Harry always wrapped her meaning up
safely! (Aloud.) Is it absolutely necessary to go on with the letter, darling?
Mrs. G. It's impertinent--it's simply horrid. What right has this woman to
write in this way to you? She oughtn't to.
Capt. G. When you write to the Deercourt girl, I notice that you generally fill
three or four sheets. Can't you let an old woman babble on paper once in a way?
She means well.
Mrs. G. I don't care. She shouldn't write, and if she did, you ought to have
shown me her letter.
Capt. G. Can't you understand why I kept it to myself, or must I explain at
length--as I explained the farcybuds?
Mrs. G. (Furiously.) Pip I hate you! This is as bad as those idiotic saddle-
bags on the floor. Never mind whether it would please me or not, you ought to
have given it to me to read.
Capt. G. It comes to the same thing. You took it yourself.
Mrs. G. Yes, but if I hadn't taken it, you wouldn't have said a word. I think
this Harriet Herriott--it's like a name in a book--is an interfering old Thing.
Capt. G. (Aside.) So long as you thoroughly understand that she is old, I don't
much care what you think. (Aloud.) Very good, dear. Would you like to write and
tell her so? She's seven thousand miles away.
Mrs. G. I don't want to have anything to do with her, but you ought to have
told me. (Turning to last page of letter.) And she patronizes me, too. I've
never seen her! (Reads.) "I do not know how the world stands with you; in all
human probability I shall never know; but whatever I may have said before, I
pray for her sake more than for yours that all may be well. I have learned what
misery means, and I dare not wish that any one dear to you should share my
Capt. G. Good God! Can't you leave that letter alone, or, at least, can't you
refrain from reading it aloud? I've been through it once. Put it back on the
desk. Do you hear me?
Mrs. G. (Irresolutely.) I sh-sha'n't! (Looks at G.'s eyes.) Oh, Pip, please! I
didn't mean to make you angry--'Deed, I didn't. Pip, I'm so sorry. I know I've
wasted your time--
Capt. G. (Grimly.) You have. Now, will you be good enough to go--if there is
nothing more in my room that you are anxious to pry into?
Mrs. G. (Putting out her hands.) Oh, Pip, don't look at me like that! I've
never seen you look like that before and it hu-urts me! I'm sorry. I oughtn't
to have been here at all, and--and--and--(sobbing.) Oh, be good to me! Be good
to me! There's only you--anywhere! Breaks down in long chair, hiding face in
Capt. G. (Aside.) She doesn't know how she flicked me on the raw. (Aloud,
bending over chair.) I didn't mean to be harsh, dear--I didn't really. You can
stay here as long as you please, and do what you please. Don't cry like that.
You'll make yourself sick. (Aside.) What on earth has come over her? (Aloud.)
Darling, what's the matter with you?
Mrs. G. (Her face still hidden.) Let me go--let me go to my own room. Only--
only say you aren't angry with me.
Capt. G. Angry with you, love! Of course not. I was angry with myself. I'd lost
my temper over the saddlery--Don't hide your face, Pussy. I want to kiss it.
Bends lower, Mrs. G. slides right arm round his neck. Several interludes and
Mrs. G. (In a whisper.) I didn't mean about the jam when I came in to tell you-
CAPT. G. Bother the jam and the equipment! (Interlude.)
Mrs. G. (Still more faintly.) My finger wasn't scalded at all. I--[ wanted to
speak to you about--about--something else, and--I didn't know how.
Capt. G. Speak away, then. (Looking into her eyes.) Eh! Wha-at? Minnie! Here,
don't go away! You don't mean?
Mrs. G. (Hysterically, backing to portiere and hiding her face in its folds.)
The--the Almost Inevitable Consequences! (Flits through portiere as G. attempts
to catch her, and bolts her self in her own room.)
Capt. G. (His arms full of portiere.) Oh! (Sitting down heavily in chair.) I'm
a brute, a pig--a bully, and a blackguard. My poor, poor little darling! "Made
to be amused only?"--
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW Knowing Good and Evil.
SCENE.The GADSBYS' bungalow in the Plains, in June. Punkah-coolies asleep in
veranda where Captain GADSBY is walking up and down. DOCTOR'S trap in porch.
JUNIOR CHAPLAIN drifting generally and uneasily through the house. Time, 3:4O
A. M. Heat 94 degrees in veranda.
DOCTOR. (Coming into veranda and touching G. on the shoulder.) You had better
go in and see her now.
Capt. G. (The color of good cigar-ash.) Eh, wha-at? Oh, yes, of course. What
did you say?
DOCTOR. (Syllable by syllable.) Go-in-to-the-room-and-see-her. She wants to
speak to you. (Aside, testily.) I shall have him on my hands next.
JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. (In half-lighted dining room.) Isn't there any?--
DOCTOR. (Savagely.) Hsb, you little fool!
JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. Let me do my work. Gadsby, stop a minute--I (Edges after G.)
DOCTOR. Wait till she sends for you at least--at least. Man alive, he'll kill
you if you go in there! What are you bothering him for?
JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. (Coming into veranda.) I've given him a stiff brandy-peg. He
wants it. You've forgotten him for the last ten hours and--forgotten yourself
G. enters bedroom, which is lit by one night-lamp. Ayah on the floor pretending
to be asleep.
VOICE. (From the bed.) All down the street--such bonfires! Ayah, go and put
them out! (Appealingly.) How can I sleep with an installation of the C.I.E. in
my room? No--not C.I.E. Something else. What was it?
Capt. G. (Trying to control his voice.) Minnie, I'm here. (Bending over bed.)
Don't you know me, Minnie? It's me--it's Phil--it's your husband.
VOICE. (Mechanically.) It's me--it's Phil--it's your husband.
Capt. G. She doesn't know me!--It's your own husband, darling.
VOICE. Your own husband, darling.
Ayah. (With an inspiration.) Memsahib understanding all I saying.
Capt. G. Make her understand me then--quick!
Ayah. (Hand on Mrs. G.'s fore-head.) Memsahib! Captain Sahib here.
VOICE. Salaem do. (Fretfully.) I know I'm not fit to be seen.
Ayah. (Aside to G.) Say "marneen" same as breakfash.
Capt. G. Good morning, little woman. How are we today?
VOICE. That's Phil. Poor old Phil. (Viciously.) Phil, you fool, I can't see
you. Come nearer.
Capt. G. Minnie! Minnie! It's me--you know me?
VOICE. (Mockingly.) Of course I do. Who does not know the man who was so cruel
to his wife--almost the only one he ever had?
Capt. G. Yes, dear. Yes--of course, of course. But won't you speak to him? He
wants to speak to you so much.
VOICE. They'd never let him in. The Doctor would give darwaza band even if he
were in the house. He'll never come. (Despairingly.) O Judas! Judas! Judas!
Capt. G. (Putting out his arms.) They have let him in, and he always was in the
house Oh, my love--don't you know me?
VOICE. (In a half chant.) "And it came to pass at the eleventh hour that this
poor soul repented." It knocked at the gates, but they were shut--tight as a
plaster--a great, burning plaster. They had pasted our marriage certificate all
across the door, and it was made of red-hot iron--people really ought to be
more careful, you know.
Capt. G. What am I to do? (Taking her in his arms.) Minnie! speak to me--to
VOICE. What shall I say? Oh, tell me what to say before it's too late! They are
all going away and I can't say anything.
Capt. G. Say you know me! Only say you know me!
DOCTOR. (Who has entered quietly.) For pity's sake don't take it too much to
heart, Gadsby. It's this way sometimes. They won't recognize. They say all
sorts of queer things--don't you see?
Capt. G. All right! All right! Go away now; she'll recognize me; you're
bothering her. She must--mustn't she?
DOCTOR. She will before--Have I your leave to try?--
Capt. G. Anything you please, so long as she'll know me. It's only a question
of hours, isn't it?
DOCTOR. (Professionally.) While there's life there's hope y'know. But don't
build on it.
Capt. G. I don't. Pull her together if it's possible. (Aside.) What have I done
to deserve this?
DOCTOR. (Bending over bed.) Now, Mrs. Gadsby! We shall be all right tomorrow.
You must take it, or I sha'n't let Phil see you. It isn't nasty, is it?
Voice. Medicines! Always more medicines! Can't you leave me alone?
Capt. G. Oh, leave her in peace, Doc!
DOCTOR. (Stepping back,--aside.) May I be forgiven if I've done wrong. (Aloud.)
In a few minutes she ought to be sensible; but I daren't tell you to look for
anything. It's only--
Capt. G. What? Go on, man.
DOCTOR. (In a whisper.) Forcing the last rally.
Capt. G. Then leave us alone.
DOCTOR. Don't mind what she says at first, if you can. They--they--they turn
against those they love most sometimes in this.--It's hard, but--
Capt. G. Am I her husband or are you? Leave us alone for what time we have
VOICE. (Confidentially.) And we were engaged quite suddenly, Emma. I assure you
that I never thought of it for a moment; but, oh, my little Me!--I don't know
what I should have done if he hadn't proposed.
Capt. G. She thinks of that Deercourt girl before she thinks of me. (Aloud.)
VOICE. Not from the shops, Mummy dear. You can get the real leaves from Kaintu,
and (laughing weakly) never mind about the blossoms--Dead white silk is only
fit for widows, and I won't wear it. It's as bad as a winding sheet. (A long
Capt. G. I never asked a favor yet. If there is anybody to listen to me, let
her know me--even if I die too!
VOICE. (Very faintly.) Pip, Pip dear.
Capt. G. I'm here, darling.
VOICE. What has happened? They've been bothering me so with medicines and
things, and they wouldn't let you come and see me. I was never ill before. Am I
Capt. G. You--you aren't quite well.
VOICE. How funny! Have I been ill long?
Capt. G. Some days; but you'll be all right in a little time.
VOICE. Do you think so, Pip? I don't feel well and--Oh! what have they done to
Capt. G. I d-d-on't know.
VOICE. They've cut it off. What a shame!
Capt. G. It must have been to make your head cooler.
VOICE. Just like a boy's wig. Don't I look horrid?
Capt. G. Never looked prettier in your life, dear. (Aside.) How am I to ask her
to say goodbye?
VOICE. I don't feel pretty. I feel very ill. My heart won't work. It's nearly
dead inside me, and there's a funny feeling in my eyes. Everything seems the
same distance--you and the almirah and the table inside my eyes or miles away.
What does it mean, Pip?
Capt. G. You're a little feverish, Sweetheart--very feverish. (Breaking down.)
My love! my love! How can I let you go?
VOICE. I thought so. Why didn't you tell me that at first?
Capt. G. What?
VOICE. That I am going to--die.
Capt. G. But you aren't! You sha'n't.
Ayah to punkah-coolie. (Stepping into veranda after a glance at the bed. ).
Punkah chor do! (Stop pulling the punkah.)
VOICE. It's hard, Pip. So very, very hard after one year--just one year.
(Wailing.) And I'm only twenty. Most girls aren't even married at twenty. Can't
they do anything to help me? I don't want to die.
Capt. G. Hush, dear. You won't.
VOICE. What's the use of talking? Help me! You've never failed me yet. Oh,
Phil, help me to keep alive. (Feverishly.) I don't believe you wish me to live.
You weren't a bit sorry when that horrid Baby thing died. I wish I'd killed it!
Capt. G. (Drawing his hand across his forehead.) It's more than a man's meant
to bear--it's not right. (Aloud.) Minnie, love, I'd die for you if it would
VOICE. No more death. There's enough already. Pip, don't you die too.
Capt. G. I wish I dared.
VOICE. It says: "Till Death do us part." Nothing after that--and so it would be
no use. It stops at the dying. Why does it stop there? Only such a very short
life, too. Pip, I'm sorry we married.
Capt. G. No! Anything but that, Min!
VOICE. Because you'll forget and I'll forget. Oh, Pip, don't forget! I always
loved you, though I was cross sometimes. If I ever did anything that you didn't
like, say you forgive me now.
Capt. G. You never did, darling. On my soul and honor you never did. I haven't
a thing to forgive you.
VOICE. I sulked for a whole week about those petunias. (With a laugh.) What a
little wretch I was, and how grieved you were! Forgive me that, Pp.
Capt. G. There's nothing to forgive. It was my fault. They were too near the
drive. For God's sake don't talk so, Minnie! There's such a lot to say and so
little time to say it in.
VOICE. Say that you'll always love me--until the end.
Capt. G. Until the end. (Carried away.) It's a lie. It must be, because we've
loved each other. This isn't the end.
VOICE. (Relapsing into semi-delirium.) My Church-service has an ivory cross on
the back, and it says so, so it must be true. "Till Death do us part."--but
that's a lie. (With a parody of G.'s manner.) A damned lie! (Recklessly.) Yes,
I can swear as well as a Trooper, Pip. I can't make my head think, though.
That's because they cut off my hair. How can one think with one's head all
fuzzy? (Pleadingly.) Hold me, Pip! Keep me with you always and always.
(Relapsing.) But if you marry the Thorniss girl when I'm dead, I'll come back
and howl under our bedroom window all night. Oh, bother! You'll think I'm a
jackal. Pip, what time is it?
Capt. G. A little before the dawn, dear.
VOICE. I wonder where I shall be this time tomorrow?
Capt. G. Would you like to see the Padre?
VOICE. Why should I? He'd tell me that I am going to heaven; and that wouldn't
be true, because you are here. Do you recollect when he upset the cream-ice all
over his trousers at the Gassers' tennis?
Capt. G. Yes, dear.
VOICE. I often wondered whether he got another pair of trousers; but then his
are so shiny all over that you really couldn't tell unless you were told. Let's
call him in and ask.
Capt. G. (Gravely.) No. I don't think he'd like that. Your head comfy,
VOICE. (Faintly with a sigh of contentment.) Yeth! Gracious, Pip, when did you
shave last? Your chin's worse than the barrel of a musical box.--No, don't lift
it up. I like it. (A pause.) You said you've never cried at all. You're crying
all over my cheek.
Capt. G. I-I-I can't help it, dear.
VOICE. How funny! I couldn't cry now to save my life. (G. shivers.) I want to
Capt. G. Won't it tire you? 'Better not, perhaps.
VOICE. Why? I won't be bothered about. (Begins in a hoarse quaver)
"Minnie bakes oaten cake, Minnie brews ale,
All because her Johnnie's coming home from the sea." (That's parade, Pip.)
"And she grows red as a rose, who was so pale;
And 'Are you sure the church-clock goes?' says she."
(Pettishly.) I knew I couldn't take the last note. How do the bass chords run?
(Puts out her hands and begins playing piano on the sheet.)
Capt. G. (Catching up hands.) Ahh! Don't do that, Pussy, if you love me.
VOICE. Love you? Of course I do. Who else should it be? (A pause.)
VOICE. (Very clearly.) Pip, I'm going now. Something's choking me cruelly.
(Indistinctly.) Into the dark--without you, my heart--But it's a lie, dear--we
mustn't believe it.--Forever and ever, living or dead. Don't let me go, my
husband--hold me tight.--They can't--whatever happens. (A cough.) Pip--my Pip!
Not for always--and--so--soon! (Voice ceases.)
Pause of ten minutes. G. buries his face in the side of the bed while AYAH
bends over bed from opposite side and feels Mrs. G.'s breast and forehead.
Capt. G. (Rising.) Doctor Sahib ko salaam do.
Ayah. (Still by bedside, with a shriek.) Ail Ail Tuta-phuta! My Memsahib! Not
getting--not have got!--Pusseena agyal (The sweat has come.) (Fiercely to G.)
TUM jao Doctor Sahib ko jaldi! (You go to the doctor.) Oh, my Memsahib!
DOCTOR. (Entering hastily.) Come away, Gadsby. (Bends over bed.) Eh! The Dev--
What inspired you to stop the punkah? Get out, man--go away--wait outside! Go!
Here, Ayah! (Over his shoulder to G.) Mind I promise nothing.
The dawn breaks as G. stumbles into the garden.
Capt. M. (Rehung up at the gate on his way to parade and very soberly.) Old
man, how goes?
Capt. G. (Dazed.) I don't quite know. Stay a bit. Have a drink or something.
Don't run away. You're just getting amusing. Ha! ha!
Capt. M. (Aside.) What am I let in for? Gaddy has aged ten years in the night.
Capt. G. (Slowly, fingering charger's headstall.) Your curb's too loose.
Capt. M. So it is. Put it straight, will you? (Aside.) I shall be late for
parade. Poor Gaddy.
Capt. G. links and unlinks curb-chain aimlessly, and finally stands staring
toward the veranda. The day brightens.
DOCTOR. (Knocked out of professional gravity, tramping across flower-beds and
shaking G's hands.) It'-it's-it's !--Gadsby, there's a fair chance--a dashed
fair chance. The flicker, y'know. The sweat, y'know I saw how it would be. The
punkah, y'know. Deuced clever woman that Ayah of yours. Stopped the punkah just
at the right time. A dashed good chance! No--you don't go in. We'll pull her
through yet I promise on my reputation--under Providence. Send a man with this
note to Bingle. Two heads better than one. 'Specially the Ayah! We'll pull her
round. (Retreats hastily to house.)
Capt. G. (His head on neck of M.'s charger.) Jack! I bub-bu- believe, I'm going
to make a bu-bub-bloody exhibitiod of byself.
Capt. M. (Sniffing openly and feeling in his left cuff.) I b-b-believe, I'b
doing it already. Old bad, what cad I say? I'b as pleased as--Cod dab you,
Gaddy! You're one big idiot and I'b adother. (Pulling himself together.) Sit
tight! Here comes the Devil-dodger.
JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. (Who is not in the Doctor's confidence.) We--we are only men
in these things, Gadsby. I know that I can say nothing now to help
Capt. M. (jealously.) Then don't say it Leave him alone. It's not bad enough to
croak over. Here, Gaddy, take the chit to Bingle and ride hell-for-leather.
It'll do you good. I can't go.
JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. Do him good! (Smiling.) Give me the chit and I'll drive. Let
him lie down. Your horse is blocking my cart--please!
Capt. M. (Slowly without reining back.) I beg your pardon--I'll apologize. On
paper if you like.
JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. (Flicking M.'s charger.) That'll do, thanks. Turn in, Gadsby,
and I'll bring Bingle back--ahem--"hell-for-leather."
Capt. M. (Solus.) It would have served me right if he'd cut me across the face.
He can drive too. I shouldn't care to go that pace in a bamboo cart. What a
faith he must have in his Maker--of harness! Come hup, you brute! (Gallops off
to parade, blowing his nose, as the sun rises.)
(INTERVAL OF FIVE WEEKS.)
Mrs. G. (Very white and pinched, in morning wrapper at breakfast table.) How
big and strange the room looks, and how glad I am to see it again! What dust,
though! I must talk to the servants. Sugar, Pip? I've almost forgotten.
(Seriously.) Wasn't I very ill?
Capt. G. Iller than I liked. (Tenderly.) Oh, you bad little Pussy, what a start
you gave me!
Mrs. G. I'll never do it again.
Capt. G. You'd better not. And now get those poor pale cheeks pink again, or I
shall be angry. Don't try to lift the urn. You'll upset it. Wait. (Comes round
to head of table and lifts urn.)
Mrs. G. (Quickly.) Khitmatgar, howarchikhana see kettly lao. Butler, get a
kettle from the cook-house. (Drawing down G.'s face to her own.) Pip dear, I
Capt. G. What?
Mrs. G. That last terrible night.
CAPT. G. Then just you forget all about it.
Mrs. G. (Softly, her eyes filling.) Never. It has brought us very close
together, my husband. There! (Interlude.) I'm going to give Junda a saree.
Capt. G. I gave her fifty dibs.
Mrs. G. So she told me. It was a 'normous reward. Was I worth it? (Several
interludes.) Don't! Here's the khitmatgar.--Two lumps or one Sir?
THE SWELLING OF JORDAN
If thou hast run with the footmen and they have wearied thee, then how canst
thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace wherein thou trustedst
they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?
SCENE.The GADSBYS' bungalow in the Plains, on a January morning. Mrs. G.
arguing with bearer in back veranda.
Capt. M. rides up.
Capt. M. 'Mornin', Mrs. Gadsby. How's the Infant Phenomenon and the Proud
Mrs. G. You'll find them in the front veranda; go through the house. I'm Martha
Capt. M, 'Cumbered about with cares of Khitmatgars? I fly.
Passes into front veranda, where GADSBV is watching GADSBY JUNIOR, aged ten
months, crawling about the matting.
Capt. M. What's the trouble, Gaddy-spoiling an honest man's Europe morning this
way? (Seeing G. JUNIOR.) By Jove, that yearling's comin' on amazingly! Any
amount of bone below the knee there.
Capt. G. Yes, he's a healthy little scoundrel. Don't you think his hair's
Capt. M. Let's have a look. Hi! Hst Come here, General Luck, and we'll report
Mrs. G. (Within.) What absurd name will you give him next? Why do you call him
Capt. M. Isn't he our Inspector-General of Cavalry? Doesn't he come down in his
seventeen-two perambulator every morning the Pink Hussars parade? Don't
wriggle, Brigadier. Give us your private opinion on the way the third squadron
went past. 'Trifle ragged, weren't they?
Capt. G. A bigger set of tailors than the new draft I don't wish to see.
They've given me more than my fair share--knocking the squadron out of shape.
Capt. M. When you're in command, you'll do better, young 'un. Can'tyou walk
yet? Grip my finger and try. (To G.) 'Twon't hurt his hocks, will it?
Capt. G. Oh, no. Don't let him flop, though, or he'll lick all the blacking off
Mrs. G. (Within.) Who's destroy mg my son's character?
Capt. M. And my Godson's. I'm ashamed of you, Gaddy. Punch your father in the
eye, Jack! Don't you stand it! Hit him again I
Capt. G. (Sotto voce.) Put The Butcha down and come to the end of the veranda.
I'd rather the Wife didn't hear--just now.
Capt. M. You look awf'ly serious. Anything wrong?
Capt. G. 'Depends on your view entirely. I say, Jack, you won't think more
hardly of me than you can help, will you? Come further this way.--The fact of
the matter is, that I've made up my mind--at least I'm thinking seriously of--
cutting the Service.
Capt. M. Hwhatt?
Capt. G. Don't shout. I'm going to send in my papers.
Capt. M. You! Are you mad?
Capt. G. No--only married.
Capt. M. Look here! What's the meaning of it all? You never intend to leave us.
You can't. Isn't the best squadron of the best regiment of the best cavalry in
all the world good enough for you?
Capt. G. (Jerking his head over his shoulder.) She doesn't seem to thrive in
this God-forsaken country, and there's The Butcha to be considered and all
that, you know.
Capt. M. Does she say that she doesn't like India?
Capt. G. That's the worst of it. She won't for fear of leaving me.
Capt. M. What are the Hills made for?
Capt. G. Not for my wife, at any rate.
Capt. M. You know too much, Gaddy, and--I don't like you any the better for it!
Capt. G. Never mind that. She wants England, and The Butcha would be all the
better for it. I'm going to chuck. You don't understand.
Capt. M. (Hotly.) I understand this!--One hundred and thirty-seven new horse to
be licked into shape somehow before Luck comes round again; a hairy-heeled
draft who'll give more trouble than the horses; a camp next cold weather for a
certainty; ourselves the first on the roster; the Russian shindy ready to come
to a head at five minutes' notice, and you, the best of us all, backing out of
it all! Think a little, Gaddy. You won't do it.
Capt. G. Hang it, a man has some duties toward his family, I suppose.
Capt. M. I remember a man, though, who told me, the night after Amdheran, when
we were picketed under Jagai, and he'd left his sword--by the way, did you ever
pay Ranken for that sword?--in an Utmanzai's head--that man told me that he'd
stick by me and the Pinks as long as he lived. I don't blame him for not
sticking by me--I'm not much of a man--but I do blame him for not sticking by
the Pink Hussars.
Capt. G. (Uneasily.) We were little more than boys then. Can't you see, Jack,
how things stand? 'Tisn't as if we were serving for our bread. We've all of us,
more or less, got the filthy lucre. I'm luckier than some, perhaps. There's no
call for me to serve on.
Capt. M. None in the world for you or for us, except the Regimental. If you
don't choose to answer to that, of course--
Capt. G. Don't be too hard on a man. You know that a lot of us only take up the
thing for a few years and then go back to Town and catch on with the rest.
Capt. M. Not lots, and they aren't some of Us.
Capt. G. And then there are one's affairs at Home to be considered--my place
and the rents, and all that. I don't suppose my father can last much longer,
and that means the title, and so on.
Capt. M. 'Fraid you won't be entered in the Stud Book correctly unless you go
Home? Take six months, then, and come out in October. If I could slay off a
brother or two, I s'pose I should be a Marquis of sorts. Any fool can be that;
but it needs men, Gaddy--men like you--to lead flanking squadrons properly.
Don't you delude yourself into the belief that you're going Home to take your
place and prance about among pink-nosed Kabuli dowagers. You aren't built that
way. I know better.
Capt. G. A man has a right to live his life as happily as he can. You aren't
Capt. M. No--praise be to Providence and the one or two women who have had the
good sense to jawab me.
Capt. G. Then you don't know what it is to go into your own room and see your
wife's head on the pillow, and when everything else is safe and the house shut
up for the night, to wonder whether the roof-beams won't give and kill her.
Capt. M. (Aside.) Revelations first and second! (Aloud.) So-o! I knew a man who
got squiffy at our Mess once and confided to me that he never helped his wife
on to her horse without praying that she'd break her neck before she came back.
All husbands aren't alike, you see.
Capt. G. What on earth has that to do with my case? The man must ha' been mad,
or his wife as bad as they make 'em.
Capt. M. (Aside.) 'No fault of yours if either weren't all you say. You've
forgotten the time when you were insane about the Herriott woman. You always
were a good hand at forgetting. (Aloud.) Not more mad than men who go to the
other extreme. Be reasonable, Gaddy. Your roof-beams are sound enough.
Capt. G. That was only a way of speaking. I've been uneasy and worried about
the Wife ever since that awful business three years ago--when--I nearly lost
her. Can you wonder?
Capt. M. Oh, a shell never falls twice in the same place. You've paid your toll
to misfortune--why should your Wife be picked out more than anybody else's?
Capt. G. I can talk just as reasonably as you can, but you don't understand--
you don't understand. And then there's The Butcha. Deuce knows where the Ayah
takes him to sit in the evening! He has a bit of a cough. Haven't you noticed
Capt. M. Bosh! The Brigadier's jumping out of his skin with pure condition.
He's got a muzzle like a rose-leaf and the chest of a two-year-old. What's
Capt. G. Funk. That's the long and the short of it. Funk!
Capt. M. But what is there to funk?
Capt. G. Everything. It's ghastly.
Capt. M. Ah! I see.
You don't want to fight,
And by Jingo when we do,
You've got the kid, you've got the Wife,
You've got the money, too.
That's about the case, eh?
Capt. G. I suppose that's it. But it's not for myself. It's because of them. At
least I think it is.
Capt. M. Are you sure? Looking at the matter in a cold-blooded light, the Wife
is provided for even if you were wiped out tonight. She has an ancestral home
to go to, money and the Brigadier to carry on the illustrious name.
Capt. G. Then it is for myself or because they are part of me. You don't see
it. My life's so good, so pleasant, as it is, that I want to make it quite
safe. Can't you understand?
Capt. M. Perfectly. "Shelter-pit for the Off'cer's charger," as they say in the
Capt. G. And I have everything to my hand to make it so. I'm sick of the strain
and the worry for their sakes out here; and there isn't a single real
difficulty to prevent my dropping it altogether. It'll only cost me--Jack, I
hope you'll never know the shame that I've been going through for the past six
Capt. M. Hold on there! I don't wish to he told. Every man has his moods and
Capt. G. (Laughing bitterly.) Has he? What do you call craning over to see
where your near-fore lands?
Capt. M. In my case it means that I have been on the Considerable Bend, and
have come to parade with a Head and a Hand. It passes in three strides.
Capt. G. (Lowering voice.) It never passes with me, Jack. I'm always thinking
about it. Phil Gadsby funking a fall on parade! Sweet picture, isn't it! Draw
it for me.
Capt. M. (Gravely.) Heaven forbid! A man like you can't be as bad as that. A
fall is no nice thing, but one never gives it a thought.
Capt. G. Doesn't one? Wait till you've got a wife and a youngster of your own,
and then you'll know how the roar of the squadron behind you turns you cold all
up the back.
Capt. M. (Aside.) And this man led at Amdheran after Bagal Deasin went under,
and we were all mixed up together, and he came out of the snow dripping like a
butcher. (Aloud.) Skittles! The men can always open out, and you can always
pick your way more or less. We haven't the dust to bother us, as the men have,
and whoever heard of a horse stepping on a man?
Capt. G. Never--as long as he can see. But did they open out for poor
Capt. M. Oh, this is childish!
Capt. G. I know it is, worse than that. I don't care. You've ridden Van Loo. Is
he the sort of brute to pick his way--'specially when we're coming up in column
of troop with any pace on?
Capt. M. Once in a Blue Moon do we gallop in column of troop, and then only to
save time. Aren't three lengths enough for you?
Capt. G. Yes--quite enough. They just allow for the full development of the
smash. I'm talking like a cur, I know: but I tell you that, for the past three
months, I've felt every hoof of the squadron in the small of my back every time
that I've led.
Capt. M. But, Gaddy, this is awful!
Capt. G. Isn't it lovely? Isn't it royal? A Captain of the Pink Hussars
watering up his charger before parade like the blasted boozing Colonel of a
Capt. M. You never did!
Capt. G. Once only. He squelched like a mussuck, and the Troop-Sergeant-Major
cocked his eye at me. You know old Haffy's eye. I was afraid to do it again.
Capt. M. I should think so. That was the best way to rupture old Van Loo's
tummy, and make him crumple you up. You knew that.
Capt. G. I didn't care. It took the edge off him.
Capt. M. "Took the edge off him"? Gaddy, you--you--you mustn't, you know! Think
of the men.
Capt. G. That's another thing I am afraid of. D'you s'pose they know?
Capt. M. Let's hope not; but they're deadly quick to spot skirm--little things
of that kind. See here, old man, send the Wife Home for the hot weather and
come to Kashmir with me. We'll start a boat on the Dal or cross the Rhotang--
shoot ibex or loaf--which you please. Only come! You're a bit off your oats and
you're talking nonsense. Look at the Colonel--swag-bellied rascal that he is.
He has a wife and no end of a bow-window of his own. Can any one of us ride
round him--chalkstones and all? I can't, and I think I can shove a crock along
Capt. G. Some men are different. I haven't any nerve. Lord help me, I haven't
the nerve! I've taken up a hole and a half to get my knees well under the
wallets. I can't help it. I'm so afraid of anything happening to me. On my
soul, I ought to be broke in front of the squadron, for cowardice.
Capt. M. Ugly word, that. I should never have the courage to own up.
Capt. G. I meant to lie about my reasons when I began, but--I've got out of the
habit of lying to you, old man. Jack, you won't?--But I know you won't.
Capt. M. Of course not. (Half aloud.) The Pinks are paying dearly for their
Capt. G. Eh! Wha-at?
Capt. M. Don't you know? The men have called Mrs. Gadsby the Pride of the Pink
Hussars ever since she came to us.
Capt. G. 'Tisn't her fault. Don't think that. It's all mine.
Capt. M. What does she say?
Capt. G. I haven't exactly put it before her. She's the best little woman in
the world, Jack, and all that--but she wouldn't counsel a man to stick to his
calling if it came between him and her. At least, I think--
Capt. M. Never mind. Don't tell her what you told me. Go on the Peerage and
Capt. G. She'd see through it. She's five times cleverer than I am.
Capt. M. (Aside.) Then she'll accept the sacrifice and think a little bit worse
of him for the rest of her days.
Capt. G. (Absently.) I say, do you despise me?
Capt. M. 'Queer way of putting it. Have you ever been asked that question?
Think a minute. What answer used you to give?
Capt. G. So bad as that? I'm not entitled to expect anything more, but it's a
bit hard when one's best friend turns round and--
Capt. M. So I have found. But you will have consolations--Bailiffs and Drains
and Liquid Manure and the Primrose League, and, perhaps, if you're lucky, the
Colonelcy of a Yeomanry Cav-al-ry Regiment--all uniform and no riding, I
believe. How old are you?
Capt. G. Thirty-three. I know it's--
Capt. M. At forty you'll be a fool of a J. P. landlord. At fifty you'll own a
bath-chair, and The Brigadier, if he takes after you, will be fluttering the
dovecotes of--what's the particular dunghill you're going to? Also, Mrs. Gadsby
will be fat.
Capt. G. (Limply.) This is rather more than a joke.
Capt. M. D'you think so? Isn't cutting the Service a joke? It generally takes a
man fifty years to arrive at it. You're quite right, though. It is more than a
joke. You've managed it in thirty-three.
Capt. G. Don't make me feel worse than I do. Will it satisfy you if I own that
I am a shirker, a skrim-shanker, and a coward?
Capt. M. It will not, because I'm the only man in the world who can talk to you
like this without being knocked down. You mustn't take all that I've said to
heart in this way. I only spoke--a lot of it at least--out of pure selfishness,
because, because--Oh, damn it all, old man,--I don't know what I shall do
without you. Of course, you've got the money and the place and all that--and
there are two very good reasons why you should take care of yourself.
Capt. G. 'Doesn't make it any sweeter. I'm backing out--I know I am. I always
had a soft drop in me somewhere--and I daren't risk any danger to them.
Capt. M. Why in the world should you? You're bound to think of your family--
bound to think. Er--hmm. If I wasn't a younger son I'd go too--be shot if I
Capt. G. Thank you, Jack. It's a kind lie, but it's the blackest you've told
for some time. I know what I'm doing, and I'm going into it with my eyes open.
Old man, I can't help it. What would you do if you were in my place?
Capt. M. (Aside.) 'Couldn't conceive any woman getting permanently between me
and the Regiment. (Aloud.) 'Can't say. 'Very likely I should do no better. I'm
sorry for you--awf'ly sorry--but "if them's your sentiments," I believe, I
really do, that you are acting wisely.
Capt. G. Do you? I hope you do. (In a whisper.) Jack, be very sure of yourself
before you marry. I'm an ungrateful ruffian to say this, but marriage--even as
good a marriage as mine has been--hampers a man's work, it cripples his sword-
arm, and oh, it plays Hell with his notions of duty. Sometimes--good and sweet
as she is--sometimes I could wish that I had kept my freedom--No, I don't mean
Mrs. G. (Coming down veranda.) What are you wagging your head over, Pip?
Capt. M. (Turning quickly.) Me, as usual. The old sermon. Your husband is
recommending me to get married. 'Never saw such a one-ideaed man.
Mrs. G. Well, why don't you? I dare say you would make some woman very happy.
Capt. G. There's the Law and the Prophets, Jack. Never mind the Regiment. Make
a woman happy. (Aside.) O Lord!
Capt. M. We'll see. I must be off to make a Troop Cook desperately unhappy. I
won't have the wily Hussar fed on Government Bullock Train shinbones--
(Hastily.) Surely black ants can't be good for The Brigadier. He's picking em
off the matting and eating 'em. Here, Senor Comandante Don Grubbynose, come and
talk to me. (Lifts G. JUNIOR in his arms.) 'Want my watch? You won't be able to
put it into your mouth, but you can try. (G. JUNIOR drops watch, breaking dial
Mrs. G. Oh, Captain Mafflin, I am so sorry! Jack, you bad, bad little villain.
Capt. M. It's not the least consequence, I assure you. He'd treat the world in
the same way if he could get it into his hands. Everything's made to be played,
with and broken, isn't it, young 'un?
* * * * * *
Mrs. G. Mafflin didn't at all like his watch being broken, though he was too
polite to say so. It was entirely his fault for giving it to the child. Dem
little puds are werry, werry feeble, aren't dey, by Jack-in-de-box? (To G.)
What did he want to see you for?
Capt. G. Regimental shop as usual.
Mrs. G. The Regiment! Always the Regiment. On my word, I sometimes feel jealous
Capt. G. (Wearily.) Poor old Jack? I don't think you need. Isn't it time for
The Butcha to have his nap? Bring a chair out here, dear. I've got some thing
to talk over with you.
THIS IS THE END OF THE STORY OF THE GADSBYS
VOLUME VIII from MINE OWN PEOPLE
The Recrudescence Of Imray
THE orangoutang in the big iron cage lashed to the sheep-pen began the
discussion. The night was stiflingly hot, and as Hans Breitmann and I passed
him, dragging our bedding to the fore-peak of the steamer, he roused himself
and chattered obscenely. He had been caught somewhere in the Malayan
Archipelago, and was going to England to be exhibited at a shilling a head. For
four days he had struggled, yelled, and wrenched at the heavy iron bars of his
prison without ceasing, and had nearly slain a Lascar incautious enough to come
within reach of the great hairy paw.
"It would he well for you, mine friend, if you was a liddle seasick," said Hans
Breitmann, pausing by the cage. "You haf too much Ego in your Cosmos."
The orangoutang's arm slid out negligently from between the bars. No one would
have believed that it would make a sudden snake-like rush at the German's
breast. The thin silk of the sleeping-suit tore out: Hans stepped back
unconcernedly, to pluck a banana from a bunch hanging close to one of the
"Too much Ego," said he, peeling the fruit and offering it to the caged devil,
who was rending the silk to tatters.
Then we laid out our bedding in the bows, among the sleeping Lascars, to catch
any breeze that the pace of the ship might give us. The sea was like smoky oil,
except where it turned to fire under our forefoot and whirled back into the
dark in smears of dull flame. There was a thunderstorm some miles away: we
could see the glimmer of the lightning. The ship's cow, distressed by the heat
and the smell of the ape-beast in the cage, lowed unhappily from time to time
in exactly the same key as the lookout man at the bows answered the hourly call
from the bridge. The trampling tune of the engines was very distinct, and the
jarring of the ash-lift, as it was tipped into the sea, hurt the procession of
hushed noise. Hans lay down by my side and lighted a good-night cigar. This was
naturally the beginning of conversation. He owned a voice as soothing as the
wash of the sea, and stores of experiences as vast as the sea itself; for his
business in life was to wander up and down the world, collecting orchids and
wild beasts and ethnological specimens for German and American dealers. I
watched the glowing end of his cigar wax and wane in the gloom, as the
sentences rose and fell, till I was nearly asleep. The orangoutang, troubled by
some dream of the forests of his freedom, began to yell like a soul in
purgatory, and to wrench madly at the bars of the cage.
"If he was out now dere would not be much of us left hereabouts," said Hans,
lazily. "He screams good. See, now, how I shall tame him when he stops
There was a pause in the outcry, and from Hans' mouth came an imitation of a
snake's hiss, so perfect that I almost sprung to my feet. The sustained
murderous sound ran along the deck, and the wrenching at the bars ceased. The
orangoutang was quaking in an ecstasy of pure terror.
"Dot stop him," said Hans. "I learned dot trick in Mogoung Tanjong when I was
collecting liddle monkeys for some peoples in Berlin. Efery one in der world is
afraid of der monkeys except der snake. So I blay snake against monkey, and he
keep quite still. Dere was too much Ego in his Cosmos. Dot is der soul-custom
of monkeys. Are you asleep, or will you listen, and I will tell a dale dot you
shall not pelief?"
"There's no tale in the wide world that I can't believe," I said.
"If you have learned pelief you haf learned somedings. Now I shall try your
pelief. Good! When I was collecting dose liddle monkeys--it was in '79 or '80,
und I was in der islands of der Archipelago--over dere in der dark"--he pointed
southward to New Guinea generally--"Mein Gott! I would sooner collect life red
devils than liddle monkeys. When dey do not bite off your thumbs dey are always
dying from nostalgia--homesick--for dey haf der imperfect soul, which is midway
arrested in defelopment--und too much Ego. I was dere for nearly a year, und
dere I found a man dot was called Bertran. He was a Frenchman, und he was a
goot man--naturalist to the bone. Dey said he was an escaped convict, but he
was a naturalist, und dot was enough for me. He would call all her life beasts
from der forests, und dey would come. I said he was St. Francis of Assisi in a
new dransmigration produced, und he laughed und said he had never preach to der
fishes. He sold dem for trepang--beche-de-mer.
"Und dot man, who was king of beasts-tamer men, he had in der house shush such
anoder as dot devil-animal in der cage--a great orangoutang dot thought he was
a man. He haf found him when he was a child--der orangoutang--und he was child
and brother and opera comique all round to Bertran. He had his room in dot
house--not a cage, but a room--mit a bed and sheets, and he would go to bed and
get up in der morning and smoke his cigar und eat his dinner mit Bertran, und
walk mit him hand-in-hand, which was most horrible. Herr Gott! I haf seen dot
beast throw himself back in his chair and laugh when Bertran haf made fun of
me. He was not a beast; he was a man, and he talked to Bertran, und Bertran
comprehended, for I bave seen dem. Und he was always politeful to me except
when I talk too long to Bertran und say nodings at all to him. Den he would
pull me away--dis great, dark devil, mit his enormous paws shush as if I was a
child. He was not a beast, he was a man. Dis I saw pefore I know him three
months, und Bertran he haf saw the same; and Bimi, der orangoutang, haf
understood us both, mit his cigar between his big-dog teeth und der blue gum.
"I was dere a year, dere und at dere oder islands--somedimes for monkeys and
somedimes for butterflies und orchits. One time Bertran says to me dot he will
be married, because he hass found a girl dot was goot, and he inquire if this
marrying idea was right. I would not say, pecause it was not me dot was going
to be married. Den he go off courting der girl--she was a half-caste French
girl--very pretty. Haf you got a new light for my cigar? Oof! Very pretty. Only
I say 'Haf you thought of Bimi? If he pulls me away when I talk to you, what
will he do to your wife? He will pull her in pieces. If I was you, Bertran, I
would gif my wife for wedding present der stuff figure of Bimi.' By dot time I
bad learned somedings about der monkey peoples. 'Shoot him?' says Bertran. 'He
is your beast,' I said; "if he was mine he would be shot now.'
"Den I felt at der back of my neck der fingers of Bimi. Mein Gott! I tell you
dot he talked through dose fingers. It was der deaf-and-dumb alphabet all
gomplete. He slide his hairy arm round my neck, and he tilt up my chin and look
into my face, shust to see if I understood his talk so well as he understood
"'See now dere!' says Bertran, 'und you would shoot him while he is cuddling
you? Dot is der Teuton ingrate!'
"But I knew dot I had made Bimi a life's enemy, pecause his fingers haf talk
murder through the back of my neck. Next dime I see Bimi dere was a pistol in
my belt, und he touch it once, and I open de breech to show him it was loaded.
He haf seen der liddle monkeys killed in der woods, and he understood.
"So Bertran he was married, and he forgot clean about Bimi dot was skippin'
alone on the beach mit der haf of a human soul in his belly. I was see him
skip, und he took a big bough und thrash der sand till he haf made a great hole
like a grave. So I says to Bertran 'For any sakes, kill Bimi. He is mad mit der
"Bertran haf said: 'He is not mad at all. He haf obey and love my wife, und if
she speaks he will get her slippers,' und he looked at his wife across der
room. She was a very pretty girl.
"Den I said to him: 'Dost thou pretend to know monkeys und dis beast dot is
lashing himself mad upon der sands, pecause you do not talk to him? Shoot him
when he comes to der house, for he haf der light in his eyes dot means killing-
-und killing.' Bimi come to der house, but dere was no light in his eyes. It
was all put away, cunning--so cunning--und he fetch der girl her slippers, and
Bertran turn to me und say: 'Dost thou know him in nine months more dan I haf
known him n twelve years? Shall a child stab his fader? I have fed him, und he
was my child. Do not speak this nonsense to my wife or to me any more.'
"Dot next day Bertran came to my house to help me make some wood cases for der
specimens, und he tell me dot he haf left his wife a liddle while mit Bimi in
der garden. Den I finish my cases quick, und I say: 'Let us go to your house
und get a trink.' He laugh und say: 'Come along, dry mans.'
"His wife was not in der garden, und Bimi did not come when Bertran called. Und
his wife did not come when he called, und he knocked at her bedroom door und
dot was shut tight-locked. Den he looked at me, und his face was white. I broke
down der door mit my shoulder, und der thatch of der roof was torn into a great
hole, und der sun came in upon der floor. Haf you ever seen paper in der waste-
basket, or cards at whist on der table scattered? Dere was no wife dot could be
seen. I tell you dere was noddings in dot room dot might be a woman. Dere was
stuff on der floor, und dot was all. I looked at dese things und I was very
sick; but Bertran looked a little longer at what was upon the floor und der
walls, und der hole in der thatch. Den he pegan to laugh, soft and low, und I
know und thank God dot he was mad. He nefer cried, he nefer prayed. He stood
still in der doorway und laugh to himself. Den he said: 'She haf locked herself
in dis room, and he haf torn up der thatch. Fi donc. Dot is so. We will mend
der thatch und wait for Bimi. He will surely come.'
"I tell you we waited ten days in dot house, after der room was made into a
room again, and once or twice we saw Bimi comin' a liddle way from der woods.
He was afraid pecause he haf done wrong. Bertran called him when he was come to
look on the tenth day, und Bimi come skipping along der beach und making
noises, mit a long piece of Nack hair in his hands. Den Bertran laugh and say,
'Fi donc' shust as if it was a glass broken upon der table; und Bimi come
nearer, und Bertran was honey-sweet in his voice and laughed to himself. For
three days he made love to Bimi, pecause Bimi would not let himself be touched
Den Bimi come to dinner at der same table mit us, und der hair on his hands was
all black und thick mit--mit what had dried on his hands. Bertran gave him
sangaree till Bimi was drunk and stupid, und den--"
Hans paused to puff at his cigar.
"And then?" said I.
"Und den Bertran kill him with his hands, und I go for a walk upon der heach.
It was Bertran's own piziness. When I come back der ape he was dead, und
Bertran he was dying abofe him; but still he laughed a liddle und low, and he
was quite content. Now you know der formula uf der strength of der orangoutang-
-it is more as seven to one in relation to man. But Bertran, he haf killed Bimi
mit sooch dings as Gott gif him. Dot was der mericle."
The infernal clamor in the cage recommenced. "Aha! Dot friend of ours haf still
too much Ego in his Cosmos, Be quiet, thou!"
Hans hissed long and venomously. We could hear the great beast quaking in his
"But why in the world didn't you help Bertran instead of letting him be
killed?" I asked.
"My friend," said Hans, composedly stretching himself to slumber, "it was not
nice even to mineself dot I should lif after I had seen dot room wit der hole
in der thatch. Und Bertran, he was her husband. Good-night, und sleep well."
ONCE upon a time there was a king who lived on the road to Thibet, very many
miles in the Himalaya Mountains. His kingdom was 11,000 feet above the sea, and
exactly four miles square, but most of the miles stood on end, owing to the
nature of the country. His revenues were rather less than 400 pounds yearly,
and they were expended on the maintenance of one elephant and a standing army
of five men. He was tributary to the Indian government, who allowed him certain
sums for keeping a section of the Himalaya-Thibet road in repair. He further
increased his revenues by selling timber to the railway companies, for he would
cut the great deodar trees in his own forest and they fell thundering into the
Sutlej River and were swept down to the Plains, 300 miles away, and became
railway ties. Now and again this king, whose name does not matter, would mount
a ring-streaked horse and ride scores of miles to Simlatown to confer with the
lieutenant-governor on matters of state, or assure the viceroy that his sword
was at the service of the queen-empress. Then the viceroy would cause a ruffle
of drums to be sounded and the ring-streaked horse and the cavalry of the
state--two men in tatters--and the herald who bore the Silver Stick before the
king would trot back to their own place, which was between the tail of a
heaven-climbing glacier and a dark birch forest.
Now, from such a king, always remembering that he possessed one veritable
elephant and could count his descent for 1,200 years, I expected, when it was
my fate to wander through his dominions, no more than mere license to live.
The night had closed in rain, and rolling clouds blotted out the lights of the
villages in the valley. Forty miles away, untouched by cloud or storm, the
white shoulder of Dongo Pa--the Mountain of the Council of the Gods--upheld the
evening star. The monkeys sung sorrowfully to each other as they hunted for dry
roots in the fern-draped trees, and the last puff of the day-wind brought from
the unseen villages the scent of damp wood smoke, hot cakes, dripping
undergrowth, and rotting pine-cones. That smell is the true smell of the
Himalayas, and if it once gets into the blood of a man he will, at the last,
forgetting everything else, return to the Hills to die. The clouds closed and
the smell went away, and there remained nothing in all the world except
chilling white mists and the boom of the Sutlej River.
A fat-tailed sheep, who did not want to die, bleated lamentably at my tent-
door. He was scuffling with the prime minister and the director-general of
public education, and he was a royal gift to me and my camp servants. I
expressed my thanks suitably and inquired if I might have audience of the king.
The prime minister readjusted his turban--it had fallen off in the struggle--
and assured me that the king would be very pleased to see me. Therefore I
dispatched two bottles as a foretaste, and when the sheep had entered upon
another incarnation, climbed up to the king's palace through the wet. He had
sent his army to escort me, but it stayed to talk with my cook. Soldiers are
very much alike all the world over.
The palace was a four-roomed, white-washed mud-and-timber house, the finest in
all the Hills for a day's journey. The king was dressed in a purple velvet
jacket, white muslin trousers, and a saffron-yellow turban of price. He gave me
audience in a little carpeted room opening off the palace courtyard, which was
occupied by the elephant of state. The great beast was sheeted and anchored
from trunk to tail, and the curve of his back stood out against the sky line.
The prime minister and the director-general of public instruction were present
to introduce me; but all the court had been dismissed lest the two bottles
aforesaid should corrupt their morals. The king cast a wreath of heavy, scented
flowers round my neck as I bowed, and inquired how my honored presence had the
felicity to be. I said that through seeing his auspicious countenance the mists
of the night had turned into sunshine, and that by reason of his beneficent
sheep his good deeds would be remembered by the gods. He said that since I had
set my magnificent foot in his kingdom the crops would probably yield seventy
per cent more than the average. I said that the fame of the king had reached to
the four corners of the earth, and that the nations gnashed their teeth when
they heard daily of the glory of his realm and the wisdom of his moon-like
prime minister and lotus-eyed director-general of public education.
Then we sat down on clean white cushions, and I was at the king's right hand.
Three minutes later he was telling me that the condition of the maize crop was
something disgraceful, and that the railway companies would not pay him enough
for his timber. The talk shifted to and fro with the bottles. We discussed very
many quaint things, and the king became confidential on the subject of
government generally. Most of all he dwelt on the shortcomings of one of his
subjects, who, from what I could gather, had been paralyzing the executive.
"In the old days," said the king, "I could have ordered the elephant yonder to
trample him to death. Now I must e'en send him seventy miles across the hills
to be tried, and his keep for that time would be upon the state. And the
elephant eats everything."
"What be the man's crimes, Rajah Sahib?" said I.
"Firstly, he is an 'outlander,' and no man of mine own people. Secondly, since
of my favor I gave him land upon his coming, he refuses to pay revenue. Am I
not the lord of the earth, above and below--entitled by right and custom to
one-eighth of the crop? Yet this devil, establishing himself, refuses to pay a
single tax . . . and he brings a poisonous spawn of babes."
"Cast him into jail," I said.
"Sahib," the king answered, shifting a little on the cushions, "once and only
once in these forty years sickness came upon me so that I was not able to go
abroad. In that hour I made a vow to my God that I would never again cut man or
woman from the light of the sun and the air of God, for I perceived the nature
of the punishment. How can I break my vow? Were it only the lopping off of a
hand or a foot, I should not delay. But even that is impossible now that the
English have rule. One or another of my people"--he looked obliquely at the
director-general of public education--"would at once write a letter to the
viceroy, and perhaps I should be deprived of that ruffle of drums."
He unscrewed the mouthpiece of his silver water-pipe, fitted a plain amber one,
and passed the pipe to me. "Not content with refusing revenue," he continued,
"this outlander refuses also to beegar" (this is the corvee or forced labor on
the roads), "and stirs my people up to the like treason. Yet he is, if so he
wills, an expert log-snatcher. There is none better or bolder among my people
to clear a block of the river when the logs stick fast."
"But he worships strange gods," said the prime minister, deferentially.
"For that I have no concern," said the king, who was as tolerant as Akbar in
matters of belief. "To each man his own god, and the fire or Mother Earth for
us all at the last. It is the rebellion that offends me."
"The king has an army," I suggested. "Has not the king burned the man's house,
and left him naked to the night dews?"
"Nay. A hut is a hut, and it holds the life of a man. But once I sent my army
against him when his excuses became wearisome. Of their heads he brake three
across the top with a stick. The other two men ran away. Also the guns would
I had seen the equipment of the infantry. One-third of it was an old muzzle-
loading fowling-piece with ragged rust holes where the nipples should have
been; one-third a wirebound matchlock with a worm-eaten stock, and one-third a
four-bore flint duck-gun, without a flint.
"But it is to be remembered," said the king, reaching out for the bottle, "that
he is a very expert log-snatcher and a man of a merry face. What shall I do to
This was interesting. The timid hill-folk would as soon have refused taxes to
their king as offerings to their gods. The rebel must be a man of character.
"If it be the king's permission," I said, "I will not strike my tents till the
third day, and I will see this man. The mercy of the king is godlike, and
rebellion is like unto the sin of witchcraft. Moreover, both the bottles, and
another, be empty."
"You have my leave to go," said the king.
Next morning the crier went through the stare proclaiming that there was a log-
jam on the river and that it behooved all loyal subjects to clear it. The
people poured down from their villages to the moist, warm valley of poppy
fields, and the king and I went with them.
Hundreds of dressed deodar logs had caught on a snag of rock, and the river was
bringing down more logs every minute to complete the blockade. The water
snarled and wrenched and worried at the timber, while the population of the
state prodded at the nearest logs with poles, in the hope of easing the
pressure. Then there went up a shout of "Namgay Doola! Namgay Doola!" and a
large, red-haired villager hurried up, stripping off his clothes as he ran.
"That he is. That is the rebel!" said the king. "Now will the dam be cleared."
"But why has he red hair?" I asked, since red hair among hill-folk is as
uncommon as blue or green.
"He is an outlander," said the king. "Well done! Oh, well done!"
Namgay Doola had scrambled on the jam and was clawing out the butt of a log
with a rude sort of a boat-hook. It slid forward slowly, as an alligator moves,
and three or four others followed it. The green water spouted through the gaps.
Then the villagers howled and shouted and leaped among the logs, pulling and
pushing the obstinate timber, and the red head of Namgay Doola was chief among
them all. The logs swayed and chafed and groaned as fresh consignments from up-
stream battered the now weakening dam. It gave way at last in a smother of
foam, racing butts, bobbing black heads, and a confusion indescribable, as the
river tossed everything before it. I saw the red head go down with the last
remnants of the jam and disappear between the great grinding tree trunks. It
rose close to the hank, and blowing like a grampus, Namgay Doola wiped the
water out of his eyes and made obeisance to the king.
I had time to observe the man closely. The virulent redness of his shock head
and beard was most startling, and in the thicket of hair twinkled above high
cheek-bones two very merry blue eyes. He was indeed an outlander, but yet a
Thibetan in language, habit and attire. He spoke the Lepcha dialect with an
indescribable softening of the gutturals. It was not so much a lisp as an
"Whence comest thou?" I asked, wondering.
"From Thibet." He pointed across the hills and grinned. That grin went straight
to my heart. Mechanically I held out my hand and Namgay Doola took it. No pure
Thibetan would have understood the meaning of the gesture. He went away to look
for his clothes, and as he climbed back to his village, I heard a joyous yell
that seemed unaccountably familiar. It was the whooping of Namgay Doola.
"You see now," said the king, "why I would not kill him. He is a bold man among
my logs, but," and he shook his head like a schoolmaster, "I know that before
long there will be complaints of him in the court. Let us return to the palace
and do justice."
It was that king's custom to judge his subjects every day between eleven and
three o'clock. I heard him do justice equitably on weighty matters of trespass,
slander, and a little wife-stealing. Then his brow clouded and he summoned me.
"Again it is Namgay Doola," he said, despairingly. "Not content with refusing
revenue on his own part, he has bound half his village by an oath to the like
treason. Never before has such a thing befallen me! Nor are my taxes heavy."
A rabbit-faced villager, with a blush-rose stuck behind his ear, advanced
trembling. He had been in Namgay Doola's conspiracy, but had told everything
and hoped for the king's favor.
"Oh, king!" said I, "if it be the king's will, let this matter stand over till
the morning. Only the gods can do right in a hurry, and it may be that yonder
villager has lied."
"Nay, for I know the nature of Namgay Doola; but since a guest asks, let the
matter remain. Wilt thou, for my sake, speak harshly to this red-headed
outlander? He may listen to thee."
I made an attempt that very evening, but for the life of me I could not keep my
countenance. Namgay Doola grinned so persuasively and began to tell me about a
big brown bear in a poppy field by the river. Would I care to shoot that bear?
I spoke austerely on the sin of detected conspiracy and the certainty of
punishment. Namgay Doola's face clouded for a moment. Shortly afterward he
withdrew from my tent, and I heard him singing softly among the pines. The
words were unintelligible to me, but the tune, like his liquid, insinuating
speech, seemed the ghost of something strangely familiar.
"Dir hane mard-i-yemen dir To weeree ala gee,"
crooned Namgay Doola again and again, and I racked my brain for that lost tune.
It was not till after dinner that I discovered some one had cut a square foot
of velvet from the centre of my best camera-cloth. This made me so angry that I
wandered down the valley in the hope of meeting the big brown bear. I could
hear him grunting like a discontented pig in the poppy field as I waited
shoulder deep in the dew-dripping Indian corn to catch him after his meal. The
moon was at full and drew out the scent of the tasseled crop. Then I heard the
anguished bellow of a Himalayan cow--one of the little black crummies no bigger
than Newfoundland dogs. Two shadows that looked like a bear and her cub hurried
past me. I was in the act of firing when I saw that each bore a brilliant red
head. The lesser animal was trailing something rope-like that left a dark track
on the path. They were within six feet of me, and the shadow of the moonlight
lay velvet-black on their faces. Velvet-black was exactly the word, for by all
the powers of moonlight they were masked in the velvet of my camera-cloth. I
marveled, and went to bed.
Next morning the kingdom was in an uproar. Namgay Doola, men said, had gone
forth in the night and with a sharp knife had cut off the tail of a cow
belonging to the rabbit-faced villager who had betrayed him. It was sacrilege
unspeakable against the holy cow. The state desired his blood, but he had
retreated into his hut, barricaded the doors and windows with big stones, and
defied the world.
The king and I and the populace approached the hut cautiously. There was no
hope of capturing our man without loss of life, for from a hole in the wall
projected the muzzle of an extremely well-cared-for gun--the only gun in the
state that could shoot. Namgay Doola had narrowly missed a villager just before
we came up.
The standing army stood.
It could do no more, for when it advanced pieces of sharp shale flew from the
windows. To these were added from time to time showers of scalding water. We
saw red beads bobbing up and down within. The family of Namgay Doola were
aiding their sire. Blood-curdling yells of defiance were the only answer to our
"Never," said the king, puffing, "has such a thing befallen my state. Next year
I will certainly buy a little cannon." He looked at me imploringly.
"Is there any priest in the kingdom to whom he will listen?" said I, for a
light was beginning to break upon me.
"He worships his own god," said the prime minister. "We can but starve him
"Let the white man approach," said Namgay Doola from within. "All others I will
kill. Send me the white man."
The door was thrown open and I entered the smoky interior of a Thibetan hut
crammed with children. And every child had flaming red hair. A freshgathered
cow's tail lay on the floor, and by its side two pieces of black velvet--my
black velvet--rudely hacked into the semblance of masks.
"And what is this shame, Namgay Doola?" I asked.
He grinned more charmingly than ever. "There is no shame," said he. "I did but
cut off the tail of that man's cow. He betrayed me. I was minded to shoot him,
sahib, but not to death. Indeed, not to death; only in the legs."
"And why at all, since it is the custom to pay revenue to the king? Why at
"By the god of my father, I cannot tell," said Namgay Doola.
"And who was thy father?"
"The same that had this gun." He showed me his weapon, a Tower musket, bearing
date 1832 and the stamp of the Honorable East India Company.
"And thy father's name?" said I.
He obeyed, and I understood whence the puzzling accent in his speech came.
"Thimla Dhula!" said he, excitedly. "To this hour I worship his god."
"May I see that god?"
"In a little while--at twilight time."
"Rememberest thou aught of thy father's speech?"
"It is long ago. But there was one word which he said often. Thus, ''Shun!'
Then I and my brethren stood upon our feet, our hands to our sides, thus."
"Even so. And what was thy mother?"
"A woman of the Hills. We be Lepchas of Darjiling, but me they call an
outlander because my hair is as thou seest."
The Thibetan woman, his wife, touched him on the arm gently. The long parley
outside the fort had lasted far into the day. It was now close upon twilight--
the hour of the Angelus. Very solemnly the red-headed brats rose from the floor
and formed a semicircle. Namgay Doola laid his gun aside, lighted a little oil-
lamp, and set it before a recess in the wall. Pulling back a wisp of dirty
cloth, he revealed a worn brass crucifix leaning against the helmet badge of a
long-forgotten East India Company's regiment. "Thus did my father," he said,
crossing himself clumsily. The wife and children followed suit. Then, all
together, they struck up the wailing cham that I heard on the hillside:
"Dir bane mard-i-yemen dir To weeree ala gee."
I was puzzled no longer. Again and again they sung, as if their hearts would
break, their version of the chorus of "The Wearing of the Green":
"They're hanging men and women, too, For the wearing of the green,."
A diabolical inspiration came to me. One of the brats, a boy about eight years
old--could he have been in the fields last night?--was watching me as he sung.
I pulled out a rupee, held the coin between finger and thumb, and looked--only
looked--at the gun leaning against the wall. A grin of brilliant and perfect
comprehension overspread his porringer-like face. Never for an instant stopping
the song, he held out his hand for the money, and then slid the gun to my hand.
I might have shot Namgay Doola dead as he chanted, but I was satisfied. The
inevitable blood-instinct held true. Namgay Doola drew the curtain across the
recess. Angelus was over.
"Thus my father sung. There was much more, but I have forgotten, and I do not
know the purport of even these words, but it may be that the god will
understand. I am not of this people, and I will not pay revenue."
Again that soul-compelling grin. "What occupation would be to me between crop
and crop? It is better than scaring bears. But these people do not understand."
He picked the masks off the floor and looked in my face as simply as a child.
"By what road didst thou attain knowledge to make those deviltries?" I said,
"I cannot tell. I am but a Lepcha of Darjiling, and yet the stuff"--
"Which thou hast stolen," said I.
"Nay, surely. Did I steal? I desired it so. The stuff--the stuff. What else
should I have done with the stuff?" He twisted the velvet between his fingers.
"But the sin of maiming the cow--consider that."
"Oh, sahib, the man betrayed me; the heifer's tail waved in the moonlight, and
I had my knife. What else should I have done? The tail came off ere I was
aware. Sahib, thou knowest more than I."
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