The Works of Rudyard Kipling One Volume Edition
Part 8 out of 18
"Why, no, sir; I heard Mr. Pagett was coming, and as our works were closed for
the New Year I thought I would drive over and see him."
"A very happy thought. Mr. Edwards, you may not know, Orde, was a leading
member of our Radical Club at Switchton when I was beginning political life,
and I owe much to his exertions. There's no pleasure like meeting an old
friend, except, perhaps, making a new one. I suppose, Mr. Edwards, you stick
to the good old cause?"
"Well, you see, sir, things are different out here. There's precious little
one can find to say against the Government, which was the main of our talk at
home, and them that do say things are not the sort o' people a man who
respects himself would like to be mixed up with. There are no politics, in a
manner of speaking, in India. It's all work."
"Surely you are mistaken, my good friend. Why I have come all the way from
England just to see the working of this great National movement."
"I don't know where you're going to find the nation as moves to begin with,
and then you'll be hard put to it to find what they are moving about. It's
like this, sir," said Edwards, who had not quite relished being called "my
good friend." "They haven't got any grievance--nothing to hit with, don't you
see, sir; and then there's not much to hit against, because the Government is
more like a kind of general Providence, directing an old-established state of
things, than that at home, where there's something new thrown down for us to
fight about every three months."
"You are probably, in your workshops, full of English mechanics, out of the
way of learning what the masses think."
"I don't know so much about that. There are four of us English foremen, and
between seven and eight hundred native fitters, smiths, carpenters, painters,
and such like."
"And they are full of the Congress, of course?"
"Never hear a word of it from year's end to year's end, and I speak the talk
too. But I wanted to ask how things are going on at home--old Tyler and Brown
and the rest?"
"We will speak of them presently, but your account of the indifference of your
men surprises me almost as much as your own. I fear you are a backslider from
the good old doctrine, Edwards." Pagett spoke as one who mourned the death of
a near relative.
"Not a bit, Sir, but I should be if I took up with a parcel of baboos,
pleaders, and schoolboys, as never did a day's work in their lives, and
couldn't if they tried. And if you was to poll us English railway men,
mechanics, tradespeople, and the like of that all up and down the country from
Peshawur to Calcutta, you would find us mostly in a tale together. And yet
you'd know we're the same English you pay some respect to at home at 'lection
time, and we have the pull o' knowing something about it."
"This is very curious, but you will let me come and see you, and perhaps you
will kindly show me the railway works, and we will talk things over at
leisure. And about all old friends and old times," added Pagett, detecting
with quick insight a look of disappointment in the mechanic's face.
Nodding briefly to Orde, Edwards mounted his dog-cart and drove off.
"It's very disappointing," said the Member to Orde, who, while his friend
discoursed with Edwards, had been looking over a bundle of sketches drawn on
grey paper in purple ink, brought to him by a Chuprassee.
"Don't let it trouble you, old chap," 'said Orde, sympathetically. "Look here
a moment, here are some sketches by the man who made the carved wood screen
you admired so much in the dining-room, and wanted a copy of, and the artist
himself is here too."
"A native?" said Pagett.
"Of course," was the reply, "Bishen Singh is his name, and he has two brothers
to help him. When there is an important job to do, the three go into
partnership, but they spend most of their time and all their money in
litigation over an inheritance, and I'm afraid they are getting involved,
Thoroughbred Sikhs of the old rock, obstinate, touchy, bigoted, and cunning,
but good men for all that. Here is Bishen Singh--shall we ask him about the
But Bishen Singh, who approached with a respectful salaam, had never heard of
it, and he listened with a puzzled face and obviously feigned interest to
Orde's account of its aims and objects, finally shaking his vast white turban
with great significance when he learned that it was promoted by certain
pleaders named by Orde, and by educated natives. He began with labored respect
to explain how he was a poor man with no concern in such matters, which were
all under the control of God, but presently broke out of Urdu into familiar
Punjabi, the mere sound of which had a rustic smack of village smoke-reek and
plough-tail, as he denounced the wearers of white coats, the jugglers with
words who filched his field from him, the men whose backs were never bowed in
honest work; and poured ironical scorn on the Bengali. He and one of his
brothers had seen Calcutta, and being at work there had Bengali carpenters
given to them as assistants.
"Those carpenters!" said Bishen Singh. "Black apes were more efficient
workmates, and as for the Bengali babu--tchick!" The guttural click needed no
interpretation, but Orde translated the rest, while Pagett gazed with interest
at the wood-carver.
"He seems to have a most illiberal prejudice against the Bengali," said the
"Yes, it's very sad that for ages outside Bengal there should he so bitter a
prejudice. Pride of race, which also means race-hatred, is the plague and
curse of India and it spreads far," Orde pointed with his riding-whip to the
large map of India on the veranda wall.
"See! I begin with the North," said he. "There's the Afghan, and, as a
highlander, he despises all the dwellers in Hindoostan--with the exception of
the Sikh, whom he hates as cordially as the Sikh hates him. The Hindu loathes
Sikh and Afghan, and the Rajput--that's a little lower down across this yellow
blot of desert--has a strong objection, to put it mildly, to the Maratha who,
by the way, poisonously hates the Afghan. Let's go North a minute. The Sindhi
hates everybody I've mentioned. Very good, we'll take less warlike races. The
cultivator of Northern India domineers over the man in the next province, and
the Behari of the Northwest ridicules the Bengali. They are all at one on that
point. I'm giving you merely the roughest possible outlines of the facts, of
Bishen Singh, his clean cut nostrils still quivering, watched the large sweep
of the whip as it traveled from the frontier, through Sindh, the Punjab and
Rajputana, till it rested by the valley of the Jumna.
"Hate -eternal and inextinguishable hate," concluded Orde, flicking the lash
of the whip across the large map from East to West as he sat down. "Remember
Canning's advice to Lord Granville, 'Never write or speak of Indian things
without looking at a map.'"
Pagett opened his eyes, Orde resumed. "And the race-hatred is only a part of
it. What's really the matter with Bishen Singh is class-hatred, which,
unfortunately, is even more intense and more widely spread. That's one of the
little drawbacks of caste, which some of your recent English writers find an
The wood-carver was glad to be recalled to the business of his craft, and his
eyes shone as he received instructions for a carved wooden doorway for Pagett,
which he promised should be splendidly executed and despatched to England in
six months. It is an irrelevant detail, but in spite of Orde's reminders,
fourteen months elapsed before the work was finished. Business over, Bishen
Singh hung about, reluctant to take his leave, and at last joining his hands
and approaching Orde with bated breath and whispering humbleness, said he had
a petition to make. Orde's face suddenly lost all trace of expression. "Speak
on, Bishen Singh," said he, and the carver in a whining tone explained that
his case against his brothers was fixed for hearing before a native judge and-
-here he dropped his voice still lower till he was summarily stopped by Orde,
who sternly pointed to the gate with an emphatic Begone!
Bishen Singh, showing but little sign of discomposure, salaamed respectfully
to the friends and departed.
Pagett looked inquiry; Orde, with complete recovery of his usual urbanity,
replied: "It's nothing, only the old story, he wants his case to be tried by
an English judge--they all do that--but when he began to hint that the other
side were in improper relations with the native judge I had to shut him up.
Gunga Ram, the man he wanted to make insinuations about, may not be very
bright; but he's as honest as daylight on the bench. But that's just what one
can't get a native to believe."
"Do you really mean to say these people prefer to have their cases tried by
Pagett drew a long breath. "I didn't know that before." At this point a
phaeton entered the compound, and Orde rose with "Confound it, there's old
Rasul Ali Khan come to pay one of his tiresome duty calls. I'm afraid we shall
never get through our little Congress discussion."
Pagett was an almost silent spectator of the grave formalities of a visit paid
by a punctilious old Mahommedan gentleman to an Indian official; and was much
impressed by the distinction of manner and fine appearance of the Mohammedan
landholder. When the exchange of polite banalities came to a pause, he
expressed a wish to learn the courtly visitor's opinion of the National
Orde reluctantly interpreted, and with a smile which even Mohammedan
politeness could not save from bitter scorn, Rasul Ali Khan intimated that he
knew nothing about it and cared still less. It was a kind of talk encouraged
by the Government for some mysterious purpose of its own, and for his own part
he wondered and held his peace.
Pagett was far from satisfied with this, and wished to have the old
gentleman's opinion on the propriety of managing all Indian affairs on the
basis of an elective system.
Orde did his best to explain, but it was plain the visitor was bored and
bewildered. Frankly, he didn't think much of committees; they had a Municipal
Committee at Lahore and had elected a menial servant, an orderly, as a member.
He had been informed of this on good authority, and after that, committees had
ceased to interest him. But all was according to the rule of Government, and,
please God, it was all for the best.
"What an old fossil it is!" cried Pagett, as Orde returned from seeing his
guest to the door; "just like some old blue-blooded hidalgo of Spain. What
does he really think of the Congress after all, and of the elective system?"
"Hates it all like poison. When you are sure of a majority, election is a fine
system; but you can scarcely expect the Mahommedans, the most masterful and
powerful minority in the country, to contemplate their own extinction with
joy. The worst of it is that he and his co-religionists, who are many, and the
landed proprietors, also, of Hindu race, are frightened and put out by this
election business and by the importance we have bestowed on lawyers, pleaders,
writers, and the like, who have, up to now, been in abject submission to them.
They say little, but after all they are the most important fagots in the great
bundle of communities, and all the glib bunkum in the world would not pay for
their estrangement. They have controlled the land."
"But I am assured that experience of local self-government in your
municipalities has been most satisfactory, and when once the principle is
accepted in your centres, don't you know, it is bound to spread, and these
important--ah--people of yours would learn it like the rest. I see no
difficulty at all," and the smooth lips closed with the complacent snap
habitual to Pagett, M.P., the "man of cheerful yesterdays and confident
Orde looked at him with a dreary smile.
"The privilege of election has been most reluctantly withdrawn from scores of
municipalities, others have had to be summarily suppressed, and, outside the
Presidency towns, the actual work done has been badly performed. This is of
less moment, perhaps--it only sends up the local death-rates--than the fact
that the public interest in municipal elections, never very strong, has waned,
and is waning, in spite of careful nursing on the part of Government
"Can you explain this lack of interest?" said Pagett, putting aside the rest
of Orde's remarks.
"You may find a ward of the key in the fact that only one in every thousand of
our population can spell. Then they are infinitely more interested in religion
and caste questions than in any sort of politics. When the business of mere
existence is over, their minds are occupied by a series of interests,
pleasures, rituals, superstitions, and the like, based on centuries of
tradition and usage. You, perhaps, find it hard to conceive of people
absolutely devoid of curiosity, to whom the book, the daily paper, and the
printed speech are unknown, and you would describe their life as blank. That's
a profound mistake. You are in another land, another century, down on the bed-
rock of society, where the family merely, and not the community, is all-
important. The average Oriental cannot be brought to look beyond his clan. His
life, too, is more complete and self-sufficing, and less sordid and low-
thoughted than you might imagine. It is bovine and slow in some respects, but
it is never empty. You and I are inclined to put the cart before the horse,
and to forget that it is the man that is elemental, not the book. 'The corn
and the cattle are all my care, And the rest is the will of God.' Why should
such folk look up from their immemorially appointed round of duty and
interests to meddle with the unknown and fuss with voting-papers. How would
you, atop of all your interests care to conduct even one-tenth of your life
according to the manners and customs of the Papuans, let's say? That's what it
"But if they won't take the trouble to vote, why do you anticipate that
Mohammedans, proprietors, and the rest would be crushed by majorities of
Again Pagett disregarded the closing sentence.
"Because, though the landholders would not move a finger on any purely
political question, they could be raised in dangerous excitement by religious
hatreds. Already the first note of this has been sounded by the people who are
trying to get up an agitation on the cow-killing question, and every year
there is trouble over the Mohammedan Muharrum processions.
"But who looks after the popular rights, being thus unrepresented?"
"The Government of Her Majesty the Queen, Empress of India, in which, if the
Congress promoters are to be believed, the people have an implicit trust; for
the Congress circular, specially prepared for rustic comprehension, says the
movement is 'for the remission of tax, the advancement of Hindustan, and the
strengthening of the British Government.' This paper is headed in large
letters-'MAY THE PROSPERITY OF THE EMPIRE OF INDIA ENDURE.'"
"Really!" said Pagett, "that shows some cleverness. But there are things
better worth imitation in our English methods of--er--political statement than
this sort of amiable fraud."
"Anyhow," resumed Orde, "you perceive that not a word is said about elections
and the elective principle, and the reticence of the Congress promoters here
shows they are wise in their generation."
"But the elective principle must triumph in the end, and the little
difficulties you seem to anticipate would give way on the introduction of a
well-balanced scheme, capable of indefinite extension."
"But is it possible to devise a scheme which, always assuming that the people
took any interest in it, without enormous expense, ruinous dislocation of the
administration and danger to the public peace, can satisfy the aspirations of
Mr. Hume and his following, and yet safeguard the interests of the
Mahommedans, the landed and wealthy classes, the Conservative Hindus, the
Eurasians, Parsees, Sikhs, Rajputs, native Christians, domiciled Europeans and
others, who are each important and powerful in their way?"
Pagett's attention, however, was diverted to the gate, where a group of
cultivators stood in apparent hesitation.
"Here are the twelve Apostles, hy Jove--come straight out of Raffaele's
cartoons," said the M.P., with the fresh appreciation of a newcomer.
Orde, loth to be interrupted, turned impatiently toward the villagers, and
their leader, handing his long staff to one of his companions, advanced to the
"It is old Jelbo, the Lumherdar, or head-man of Pind Sharkot, and a very
intelligent man for a villager."
The Jat farmer had removed his shoes and stood smiling on the edge of the
veranda. His strongly marked features glowed with russet bronze, and his
bright eyes gleamed under deeply set brows, contracted by lifelong exposure to
sunshine. His beard and moustache streaked with grey swept from bold cliffs of
brow and cheek in the large sweeps one sees drawn by Michael Angelo, and
strands of long black hair mingled with the irregularly piled wreaths and
folds of his turban. The drapery of stout blue cotton cloth thrown over his
broad shoulders and girt round his narrow loins, hung from his tall form in
broadly sculptured folds, and he would have made a superb model for an artist
in search of a patriarch.
Orde greeted him cordially, and after a polite pause the countryman started
off with a long story told with impressive earnestness. Orde listened and
smiled, interrupting the speaker at times to argue and reason with him in a
tone which Pagett could hear was kindly, and finally checking the flux of
words was about to dismiss him, when Pagett suggested that he should be asked
about the National Congress.
But Jelbo had never heard of it. He was a poor man and such things, by the
favor of his Honor, did not concern him.
"What's the matter with your big friend that he was so terribly in earnest?"
asked Pagett, when he had left.
"Nothing much. He wants the blood of the people in the next village, who have
had smallpox and cattle plague pretty badly, and by the help of a wizard, a
currier, and several pigs have passed it on to his own village. 'Wants to know
if they can't be run in for this awful crime. It seems they made a dreadful
charivari at the village boundary, threw a quantity of spell-bearing objects
over the border, a buffalo's skull and other things; then branded a chamur--
what you would call a currier--on his hinder parts and drove him and a number
of pigs over into Jelbo's village. Jelbo says he can bring evidence to prove
that the wizard directing these proceedings, who is a Sansi, has been guilty
of theft, arson, cattle-killing, perjury and murder, but would prefer to have
him punished for bewitching them and inflicting smallpox."
"And how on earth did you answer such a lunatic?"
"Lunatic!--the old fellow is as sane as you or I; and he has some ground of
complaint against those Sansis. I asked if he would like a native
superintendent of police with some men to make inquiries, but he objected on
the grounds the police were rather worse than smallpox and criminal tribes put
"Criminal tribes--er--I don't quite understand," said Pagett.
"We have in India many tribes of people who in the slack anti-British days
became robbers, in various kind, and preyed on the people. They are being
restrained and reclaimed little by little, and in time will become useful
citizens, but they still cherish hereditary traditions of crime, and are a
difficult lot to deal with. By the way what about the political rights of
these folk under your schemes? The country people call them vermin, but I
suppose they would be electors with the rest."
"Nonsense--special provision would be made for them in a well-considered
electoral scheme, and they would doubtless be treated with fitting severity,"
said Pagett, with a magisterial air.
"Severity, yes--but whether it would be fitting is doubtful. Even those poor
devils have rights, and, after all, they only practice what they have been
"But criminals, Orde!"
"Yes, criminals with codes and rituals of crime, gods and godlings of crime,
and a hundred songs and sayings in praise of it. Puzzling, isn't it?"
"It's simply dreadful. They ought to be put down at once. Are there many of
"Not more than about sixty thousand in this province, for many of the tribes
broadly described as criminal are really vagabond and criminal only on
occasion, while others are being settled and reclaimed. They are of great
antiquity, a legacy from the past, the golden, glorious Aryan past of Max
Muller, Birdwood and the rest of your spindrift philosophers."
An orderly brought a card to Orde, who took it with a movement of irritation
at the interruption, and banded it to Pagett; a large card with a ruled border
in red ink, and in the centre in schoolboy copper plate, Mr. Dma Nath. "Give
salaam," said the civilian, and there entered in haste a slender youth, clad
in a closely fitting coat of grey homespun, tight trousers, patent-leather
shoes, and a small black velvet cap. His thin cheek twitched, and his eyes
wandered restlessly, for the young man was evidently nervous and
uncomfortable, though striving to assume a free and easy air.
"Your honor may perhaps remember me," he said in English, and Orde scanned him
"I know your face somehow. You belonged to the Shershah district I think, when
I was in charge there?"
"Yes, Sir, my father is writer at Shershah, and your honor gave me a prize
when I was first in the Middle School examination five years ago. Since then I
have prosecuted my studies, and I am now second year's student in the Mission
"Of course: you are Kedar Nath's son--the boy who said he liked geography
better than play or sugar cakes, and I didn't believe you. How is your father
"He is well, and he sends his salaam, but his circumstances are depressed, and
he also is down on his luck."
"You learn English idioms at the Mission College, it seems."
"Yes, sir, they are the best idioms, and my father ordered me to ask your
honor to say a word for him to the present incumbent of your honor's shoes,
the latchet of which he is not worthy to open, and who knows not Joseph; for
things are different at Shershah now, and my father wants promotion."
"Your father is a good man, and I will do what I can for him."
At this point a telegram was handed to Orde, who, after glancing at it, said
he must leave his young friend whom he introduced to Pagett, "a member of the
English House of Commons who wishes to learn about India."
Orde had scarcely retired with his telegram when Pagett began:
"Perhaps you can tell me something of the National Congress movement?"
"Sir, it is the greatest movement of modern times, and one in which all
educated men like us must join. All our students are for the Congress."
"Excepting, I suppose, Mahommedans, and the Christians?" said Pagett, quick to
use his recent instruction.
"These are some mere exceptions to the universal rule."
"But the people outside the College, the working classes, the agriculturists;
your father and mother, for instance."
"My mother," said the young man, with a visible effort to bring himself to
pronounce the word, "has no ideas, and my father is not agriculturist, nor
working class; he is of the Kayeth caste; but he had not the advantage of a
collegiate education, and he does not know much of the Congress. It is a
movement for the educated young-man"--connecting adjective and noun in a sort
of vocal hyphen.
"Ah, yes," said Pagett, feeling he was a little off the rails, "and what are
the benefits you expect to gain by it?"
"Oh, sir, everything. England owes its greatness to Parliamentary
institutions, and we should at once gain the same high position in scale of
nations. Sir, we wish to have the sciences, the arts, the manufactures, the
industrial factories, with steam engines, and other motive powers and public
meetings, and debates. Already we have a debating club in connection with the
college, and elect a Mr. Speaker. Sir, the progress must come. You also are a
Member of Parliament and worship the great Lord Ripon," said the youth,
breathlessly, and his black eyes flashed as he finished his commaless
"Well," said Pagett, drily, "it has not yet occurred to me to worship his
Lordship, although I believe he is a very worthy man, and I am not sure that
England owes quite all the things you name to the House of Commons. You see,
my young friend, the growth of a nation like ours is slow, subject to many
influences, and if you have read your history aright"--
"Sir. I know it all--all! Norman Conquest, Magna Charta, Runnymede,
Reformation, Tudors, Stuarts, Mr. Milton and Mr. Burke, and I have read
something of Mr. Herbert Spencer and Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall,' Reynolds'
'Mysteries of the Court,' and"--
Pagett felt like one who had pulled the string of a shower-bath unawares, and
hastened to stop the torrent with a question as to what particular grievances
of the people of India the attention of an elected assembly should be first
directed. But young Mr. Dma Nath was slow to particularize. There were many,
very many demanding consideration. Mr. Pagett would like to hear of one or two
typical examples. The Repeal of the Arms Act was at last named, and the
student learned for the first time that a license was necessary before an
Englishman could carry a gun in England. Then natives of India ought to be
allowed to become Volunteer Riflemen if they chose, and the absolute equality
of the Oriental with his European fellow-subject in civil status should be
proclaimed on principle, and the Indian Army should be considerably reduced.
The student was not, however, prepared with answers to Mr. Pagett's mildest
questions on these points, and he returned to vague generalities, leaving the
M.P. so much impressed with the crudity of his views that he was glad on
Orde's return to say goodbye to his "very interesting" young friend.
"What do you think of young India?" asked Orde.
"Curious, very curious--and callow."
"And yet," the civilian replied, "one can scarcely help sympathizing with him
for his mere youth's sake. The young orators of the Oxford Union arrived at
the same conclusions and showed doubtless just the same enthusiasm. If there
were any political analogy between India and England, if the thousand races of
this Empire were one, if there were any chance even of their learning to speak
one language, if, in short, India were a Utopia of the debating-room, and not
a real land, this kind of talk might be worth listening to, but it is all
based on false analogy and ignorance of the facts."
"But he is a native and knows the facts."
"He is a sort of English schoolboy, but married three years, and the father of
two weaklings, and knows less than most English schoolboys. You saw all he is
and knows, and such ideas as he has acquired are directly hostile to the most
cherished convictions of the vast majority of the people."
"But what does he mean by saying he is a student of a mission college? Is he a
"He meant just what he said, and he is not a Christian, nor ever will he be.
Good people in America, Scotland and England, most of whom would never dream
of collegiate education for their own sons, are pinching themselves to bestow
it in pure waste on Indian youths. Their scheme is an oblique, subterranean
attack on heathenism; the theory being that with the jam of secular education,
leading to a University degree, the pill of moral or religious instruction may
he coaxed down the heathen gullet."
"But does it succeed; do they make converts?"
"They make no converts, for the subtle Oriental swallows the jam and rejects
the pill; but the mere example of the sober, righteous, and godly lives of the
principals and professors who are most excellent and devoted men, must have a
certain moral value. Yet, as Lord Lansdowne pointed out the other day, the
market is dangerously overstocked with graduates of our Universities who look
for employment in the administration. An immense number are employed, but year
by year the college mills grind out increasing lists of youths foredoomed to
failure and disappointment, and meanwhile, trades, manufactures, and the
industrial arts are neglected, and in fact regarded with contempt by our new
literary mandarins in posse."
"But our young friend said he wanted steam-engines and factories," said
"Yes, he would like to direct such concerns. He wants to begin at the top, for
manual labor is held to be discreditable, and he would never defile his hands
by the apprenticeship which the architects, engineers, and manufacturers of
England cheerfully undergo; and he would be aghast to learn that the leading
names of industrial enterprise in England belonged a generation or two since,
or now belong, to men who wrought with their own hands. And, though he talks
glibly of manufacturers, he refuses to see that the Indian manufacturer of the
future will be the despised workman of the present. It was proposed, for
example, a few weeks ago, that a certain municipality in this province should
establish an elementary technical school for the sons of workmen. The stress
of the opposition to the plan came from a pleader who owed all he had to a
college education bestowed on him gratis by Government and missions. You would
have fancied some fine old crusted Tory squire of the last generation was
speaking. 'These people,' he said, 'want no education, for they learn their
trades from their fathers, and to teach a workman's son the elements of
mathematics and physical science would give him ideas above his business. They
must be kept in their place, and it was idle to imagine that there was any
science in wood or iron work.' And he carried his point. But the Indian
workman will rise in the social scale in spite of the new literary caste."
"In England we have scarcely begun to realize that there is an industrial
class in this country, yet, I suppose, the example of men, like Edwards for
instance, must tell," said Pagett, thoughtfully.
"That you shouldn't know much about it is natural enough, for there are but
few sources of information. India in this, as in other respects, is like a
badly kept ledger--not written up to date. And men like Edwards are, in
reality, missionaries, who by precept and example are teaching more lessons
than they know. Only a few, however, of their crowds of subordinates seem to
care to try to emulate them, and aim at individual advancement; the rest drop
into the ancient Indian caste groove."
"How do you mean?" asked Pagett.
"Well, it is found that the new railway and factory workmen, the fitter, the
smith, the engine-driver, and the rest are already forming separate hereditary
castes. You may notice this down at Jamalpur in Bengal, one of the oldest
railway centres; and at other places, and in other industries, they are
following the same inexorable Indian law."
"Which means?" queried Pagett.
"It means that the rooted habit of the people is to gather in small self-
contained, self-sufficing family groups with no thought or care for any
interests but their own--a habit which is scarcely compatible with the right
acceptation of the elective principle."
"Yet you must admit, Orde, that though our young friend was not able to
expound the faith that is in him, your Indian army is too big."
"Not nearly big enough for its main purpose. And, as a side issue, there are
certain powerful minorities of fighting folk whose interests an Asiatic
Government is bound to consider. Arms is as much a means of livelihood as
civil employ under Government and law. And it would be a heavy strain on
British bayonets to hold down Sikhs, Jats, Bilochis, Rohillas, Rajputs, Bhils,
Dogras, Pathans, and Gurkhas to abide by the decisions of a numerical majority
opposed to their interests. Leave the 'numerical majority' to itself without
the British bayonets--a flock of sheep might as reasonably hope to manage a
troop of collies."
"This complaint about excessive growth of the army is akin to another
contention of the Congress party. They protest against the malversation of the
whole of the moneys raised by additional taxes as a Famine Insurance Fund to
other purposes. You must be aware that this special Famine Fund has all been
spent on frontier roads and defences and strategic railway schemes as a
protection against Russia."
"But there was never a special famine fund raised by special taxation and put
by as in a box. No sane administrator would dream of such a thing. In a time
of prosperity a finance minister, rejoicing in a margin, proposed to annually
apply a million and a half to the construction of railways and canals for the
protection of districts liable to scarcity, and to the reduction of the annual
loans for public works. But times were not always prosperous, and the finance
minister had to choose whether be would bang up the insurance scheme for a
year or impose fresh taxation. When a farmer hasn't got the little surplus he
hoped to have for buying a new wagon and draining a low-lying field corner,
you don't accuse him of malversation, if he spends what he has on the
necessary work of the rest of his farm."
A clatter of hoofs was heard, and Orde looked up with vexation, but his brow
cleared as a horseman halted under the porch.
"Hello, Orde! just looked in to ask if you are coming to polo on Tuesday: we
want you badly to help to crumple up the Krab Bokhar team."
Orde explained that he had to go out into the District, and while the visitor
complained that though good men wouldn't play, duffers were always keen, and
that his side would probably be beaten, Pagett rose to look at his mount, a
red, lathered Biloch mare, with a curious lyrelike incurving of the ears.
"Quite a little thoroughbred in all other respects," said the M.P., and Orde
presented Mr. Reginald Burke, Manager of the Siad and Sialkote Bank to his
"Yes, she's as good as they make 'em, and she's all the female I possess and
spoiled in consequence, aren't you, old girl?" said Burke, patting the mare's
glossy neck as she backed and plunged.
"Mr. Pagett," said Orde, "has been asking me about the Congress. What is your
opinion?" Burke turned to the M. P. with a frank smile.
"Well, if it's all the same to you, sir, I should say, Damn the Congress, but
then I'm no politician, but only a business man."
"You find it a tiresome subject?"
"Yes, it's all that, and worse than that, for this kind of agitation is
anything but wholesome for the country."
"How do you mean?"
"It would be a long job to explain, and Sara here won't stand, but you know
how sensitive capital is, and how timid investors are. All this sort of rot is
likely to frighten them, and we can't afford to frighten them. The passengers
aboard an Ocean steamer don't feel reassured when the ship's way is stopped,
and they hear the workmen's hammers tinkering at the engines down below. The
old Ark's going on all right as she is, and only wants quiet and room to move.
Them's my sentiments, and those of some other people who have to do with money
"Then you are a thick-and-thin supporter of the Government as it is."
"Why, no! The Indian Government is much too timid with its money--like an old
maiden aunt of mine--always in a funk about her investments. They don't spend
half enough on railways for instance, and they are slow in a general way, and
ought to be made to sit up in all that concerns the encouragement of private
enterprise, and coaxing out into use the millions of capital that lie dormant
in the country."
The mare was dancing with impatience, and Burke was evidently anxious to be
off, so the men wished him goodbye.
"Who is your genial friend who condemns both Congress and Government in a
breath?" asked Pagett, with an amused smile.
"Just now he is Reggie Burke, keener on polo than on anything else, but if you
go to the Sind and Sialkote Bank tomorrow you would find Mr. Reginald Burke a
very capable man of business, known and liked by an immense constituency North
and South of this."
"Do you think he is right about the Government's want of enterprise?"
"I should hesitate to say. Better consult the merchants and chambers of
commerce in Cawnpore, Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta. But though these bodies
would like, as Reggie puts it, to make Government sit up, it is an elementary
consideration in governing a country like India, which must be administered
for the benefit of the people at large, that the counsels of those who resort
to it for the sake of making money should be judiciously weighed and not
allowed to overpower the rest. They are welcome guests here, as a matter of
course, but it has been found best to restrain their influence. Thus the
rights of plantation laborers, factory operatives, and the like, have been
protected, and the capitalist, eager to get on, has not always regarded
Government action with favor. It is quite conceivable that under an elective
system the commercial communities of the great towns might find means to
secure majorities on labor questions and on financial matters."
"They would act at least with intelligence and consideration."
"Intelligence, yes; but as to consideration, who at the present moment most
bitterly resents the tender solicitude of Lancashire for the welfare and
protection of the Indian factory operative? English and native capitalists
running cotton mills and factories."
"But is the solicitude of Lancashire in this matter entirely disinterested?"
"It is no business of mine to say. I merely indicate an example of how a
powerful commercial interest might hamper a Government intent in the first
place on the larger interests of humanity."
Orde broke off to listen a moment. "There's Dr. Lathrop talking to my wife in
the drawing-room," said he.
"Surely not; that's a lady's voice, and if my ears don't deceive me, an
"Exactly, Dr. Eva McCreery Lathrop, chief of the new Women's Hospital here,
and a very good fellow forbye. Good morning, Doctor," he said, as a graceful
figure came out on the veranda, "you seem to be in trouble. I hope Mrs. Orde
was able to help you."
"Your wife is real kind and good, I always come to her when I'm in a fix but I
fear it's more than comforting I want."
"You work too hard and wear yourself out," said Orde, kindly. "Let me
introduce my friend, Mr. Pagett, just fresh from home, and anxious to learn
his India. You could tell him something of that more important half of which a
mere man knows so little."
"Perhaps I could if I'd any heart to do it, but I'm in trouble, I've lost a
case, a case that was doing well, through nothing in the world but inattention
on the part of a nurse I had begun to trust. And when I spoke only a small
piece of my mind she collapsed in a whining heap on the floor. It is
The men were silent, for the blue eyes of the lady doctor were dim. Recovering
herself she looked up with a smile, half sad, half humorous, "And I am in a
whining heap, too; but what phase of Indian life are you particularly
interested in, sir?"
"Mr. Pagett intends to study the political aspect of things and the
possibility of bestowing electoral institutions on the people."
"Wouldn't it be as much to the purpose to bestow point-lace collars on them?
They need many things more urgently than votes. Why it's like giving a bread-
pill for a broken leg."
"Er--I don't quite follow," said Pagett, uneasily.
"Well, what's the matter with this country is not in the least political, but
an all round entanglement of physical, social, and moral evils and
corruptions, all more or less due to the unnatural treatment of women. You
can't gather figs from thistles, and so long as the system of infant marriage,
the prohibition of the remarriage of widows, the lifelong imprisonment of
wives and mothers in a worse than penal confinement, and the withholding from
them of any kind of education or treatment as rational beings continues, the
country can't advance a step. Half of it is morally dead, and worse than dead,
and that's just the half from which we have a right to look for the best
impulses. It's right here where the trouble is, and not in any political
"But do they marry so early?" said Pagett, vaguely.
"The average age is seven, but thousands are married still earlier. One result
is that girls of twelve and thirteen have to bear the burden of wifehood and
motherhood, and, as might be expected, the rate of mortality both for mothers
and children is terrible. Pauperism, domestic unhappiness, and a low state of
health are only a few of the consequences of this. Then, when, as frequently
happens, the boy-husband dies prematurely, his widow is condemned to worse
than death. She may not remarry, must live a secluded and despised life, a
life so unnatural that she sometimes prefers suicide; more often she goes
astray. You don't know in England what such words as 'infant-marriage,' 'baby-
wife,' 'girl-mother,' and 'virgin-widow' mean; but they mean unspeakable
"Well, but the advanced political party here will surely make it their
business to advocate social reforms as well as political ones," said Pagett.
"Very surely they will do no such thing," said the lady doctor, emphatically.
"I wish I could make you understand. Why, even of the funds devoted to the
Marchioness of Dufferin's organization for medical aid to the women of India,
it was said in print and in speech, that they would be better spent on more
college scholarships for men. And in all the advanced parties' talk--God
forgive them--and in all their programmes, they carefully avoid all such
subjects. They will talk about the protection of the cow, for that's an
ancient superstition--they can all understand that; but the protection of the
women is a new and dangerous idea." She turned to Pagett impulsively:
"You are a member of the English Parliament. Can you do nothing? The
foundations of their life are rotten--utterly and bestially rotten. I could
tell your wife things that I couldn't tell you. I know the inner life that
belongs to the native, and I know nothing else; and believe me you might as
well try to grow golden-rod in a mushroom-pit as to make anything of a people
that are born and reared as these--these things 're. The men talk of their
rights and privileges. I have seen the women that bear these very men, and
again--may God forgive the men!"
Pagett's eyes opened with a large wonder. Dr. Lathrop rose tempestuously.
"I must be off to lecture," said she, "and I'm sorry that I can't show you my
hospitals; but you had better believe, sir, that it's more necessary for India
than all the elections in creation."
"That's a woman with a mission, and no mistake," said Pagett, after a pause.
"Yes; she believes in her work, and so do I," said Orde. "I've a notion that
in the end it will be found that the most helpful work done for India in this
generation was wrought by Lady Dufferin in drawing attention--what work that
was, by the way, even with her husband's great name to back it to the needs of
women here. In effect, native habits and beliefs are an organized conspiracy
against the laws of health and happy life--but there is some dawning of hope
"How d'you account for the general indifference, then?"
"I suppose it's due in part to their fatalism and their utter indifference to
all human suffering. How much do you imagine the great province of the Punjab
with over twenty million people and half a score rich towns has contributed to
the maintenance of civil dispensaries last year? About seven thousand rupees."
"That's seven hundred pounds," said Pagett, quickly.
"I wish it was," replied Orde; "but anyway, it's an absurdly inadequate sum,
and shows one of the blank sides of Oriental character."
Pagett was silent for a long time. The question of direct and personal pain
did not lie within his researches. He preferred to discuss the weightier
matters of the law, and contented himself with murmuring: "They'll do better
later on." Then, with a rush, returning to his first thought:
"But, my dear Orde, if it's merely a class movement of a local and temporary
character, how d' you account for Bradlaugh, who is at least a man of sense,
taking it up?"
"I know nothing of the champion of the New Brahmins but what I see in the
papers. I suppose there is something tempting in being hailed by a large
assemblage as the representative of the aspirations of two hundred and fifty
millions of people. Such a man looks 'through all the roaring and the
wreaths,' and does not reflect that it is a false perspective, which, as a
matter of fact, hides the real complex and manifold India from his gaze. He
can scarcely be expected to distinguish between the ambitions of a new
oligarchy and the real wants of the people of whom he knows nothing. But it's
strange that a professed Radical should come to be the chosen advocate of a
movement which has for its aim the revival of an ancient tyranny. Shows how
even Radicalism can fall into academic grooves and miss the essential truths
of its own creed. Believe me, Pagett, to deal with India you want first-hand
knowledge and experience. I wish he would come and live here for a couple of
years or so."
"Is not this rather an ad hominem style of argument?"
"Can't help it in a case like this. Indeed, I am not sure you ought not to go
further and weigh the whole character and quality and upbringing of the man.
You must admit that the monumental complacency with which he trotted out his
ingenious little Constitution for India showed a strange want of imagination
and the sense of humor."
"No, I don't quite admit it," said Pagett.
"Well, you know him and I don't, but that's how it strikes a stranger." He
turned on his heel and paced the veranda thoughtfully. "And, after all, the
burden of the actual, daily unromantic toil falls on the shoulders of the men
out here, and not on his own. He enjoys all the privileges of recommendation
without responsibility, and we--well, perhaps, when you've seen a little more
of India you'll understand. To begin with, our death rate's five times higher
than yours--I speak now for the brutal bureaucrat--and we work on the refuse
of worked-out cities and exhausted civilizations, among the bones of the dead.
In the case of the Congress meetings, the only notable fact is that the
priests of the altar are British, not Buddhist, Jain or Brahminical, and that
the whole thing is a British contrivance kept alive by the efforts of Messrs.
Hume, Eardley, Norton, and Digby."
"You mean to say, then, it's not a spontaneous movement?"
"What movement was ever spontaneous in any true sense of the word? This seems
to be more factitious than usual. You seem to know a great deal about it; try
it by the touchstone of subscriptions, a coarse but fairly trustworthy
criterion, and there is scarcely the color of money in it. The delegates write
from England that they are out of pocket for working expenses, railway fares,
and stationery--the mere pasteboard and scaffolding of their show. It is, in
fact, collapsing from mere financial inanition."
"But you cannot deny that the people of India, who are, perhaps, too poor to
subscribe, are mentally and morally moved by the agitation," Pagett insisted.
"That is precisely what I do deny. The native side of the movement is the work
of a limited class, a microscopic minority, as Lord Dufferin described it,
when compared with the people proper, but still a very interesting class,
seeing that it is of our own creation. It is composed almost entirely of those
of the literary or clerkly castes who have received an English education."
"Surely that's a very important class. Its members must be the ordained
leaders of popular thought."
"Anywhere else they might be leaders, but they have no social weight here."
Pagett laughed. "That's an epigrammatic way of putting it, Orde."
"Is it? Let's see," said the Deputy Commissioner of Amara, striding into the
sunshine toward a half-naked gardener potting roses. He took the man's hoe,
and went to a rain-scarped bank at the bottom of the garden.
"Come here, Pagett," he said, and cut at the sun-baked soil. After three
strokes there rolled from under the blade of the hoe the half of a clanking
skeleton that settled at Pagett's feet in an unseemly jumble of bones. The
M.P. drew back.
"Our houses are built on cemeteries," said Orde. "There are scores of
thousands of graves within ten miles."
Pagett was contemplating the skull with the awed fascination of a man who has
but little to do with the dead. "India's a very curious place," said he, after
"Ah? You'll know all about it in three months. Come in to lunch," said Orde.
VOLUME V PLAIN TALES FROM THE HILLS
Look, you have cast out Love! What Gods are these
You bid me please?
The Three in One, the One in Three? Not so!
To my own Gods I go.
It may be they shall give me greater ease
Than your cold Christ and tangled Trinities.
She was the daughter of Sonoo, a Hill-man, and Jadeh his wife. One year their
maize failed, and two bears spent the night in their only poppy-field just
above the Sutlej Valley on the Kotgarh side; so, next season, they turned
Christian, and brought their baby to the Mission to be baptized. The Kotgarh
Chaplain christened her Elizabeth, and "Lispeth" is the Hill or pahari
Later, cholera came into the Kotgarh Valley and carried off Sonoo and Jadeh,
and Lispeth became half-servant, half-companion to the wife of the then
Chaplain of Kotgarh. This was after the reign of the Moravian missionaries,
but before Kotgarh had quite forgotten her title of "Mistress of the Northern
Whether Christianity improved Lispeth, or whether the gods of her own people
would have done as much for her under any circumstances, I do not know; but
she grew very lovely. When a Hill girl grows lovely, she is worth traveling
fifty miles over bad ground to look upon. Lispeth had a Greek face--one of
those faces people paint so often, and see so seldom. She was of a pale, ivory
color and, for her race, extremely tall. Also, she possessed eyes that were
wonderful; and, had she not been dressed in the abominable print-cloths
affected by Missions, you would, meeting her on the hill-side unexpectedly,
have thought her the original Diana of the Romans going out to slay.
Lispeth took to Christianity readily, and did not abandon it when she reached
womanhood, as do some Hill girls. Her own people hated her because she had,
they said, become a memsahib and washed herself daily; and the Chaplain's wife
did not know what to do with her. Somehow, one cannot ask a stately goddess,
five foot ten in her shoes, to clean plates and dishes. So she played with the
Chaplain's children and took classes in the Sunday School, and read all the
books in the house, and grew more and more beautiful, like the Princesses in
fairy tales. The Chaplain's wife said that the girl ought to take service in
Simla as a nurse or something "genteel." But Lispeth did not want to take
service. She was very happy where she was.
When travellers--there were not many in those years--came to Kotgarh, Lispeth
used to lock herself into her own room for fear they might take her away to
Simla, or somewhere out into the unknown world.
One day, a few months after she was seventeen years old, Lispeth went out for
a walk. She did not walk in the manner of English ladies--a mile and a half
out, and a ride back again. She covered between twenty and thirty miles in her
little constitutionals, all about and about, between Kotgarh and Narkunda.
This time she came back at full dusk, stepping down the breakneck descent into
Kotgarh with something heavy in her arms. The Chaplain's wife was dozing in
the drawing-room when Lispeth came in breathing hard and very exhausted with
her burden. Lispeth put it down on the sofa, and said simply:
"This is my husband. I found him on the Bagi Road. He has hurt himself. We
will nurse him, and when he is well, your husband shall marry him to me."
This was the first mention Lispeth had ever made of her matrimonial views, and
the Chaplain's wife shrieked with horror. However, the man on the sofa needed
attention first. He was a young Englishman, and his head had been cut to the
bone by something jagged. Lispeth said she had found him down the khud, so she
had brought him in.
He was breathing queerly and was unconscious.
He was put to bed and tended by the Chaplain, who knew something of medicine;
and Lispeth waited outside the door in case she could be useful. She explained
to the Chaplain that this was the man she meant to marry; and the Chaplain and
his wife lectured her severely on the impropriety of her conduct. Lispeth
listened quietly, and repeated her first proposition. It takes a great deal of
Christianity to wipe out uncivilized Eastern instincts, such as falling in
love at first sight. Lispeth, having found the man she worshipped, did not see
why she should keep silent as to her choice. She had no intention of being
sent away, either. She was going to nurse that Englishman until he was well
enough to marry her. This was her little programme.
After a fortnight of slight fever and inflammation, the Englishman recovered
coherence and thanked the Chaplain and his wife, and Lispeth--especially
Lispeth--for their kindness. He was a traveller in the East, he said--they
never talked about "globe-trotters" in those days, when the P. & O. fleet was
young and small--and had come from Dehra Dun to hunt for plants and
butterflies among the Simla hills. No one at Simla, therefore, knew anything
about him. He fancied he must have fallen over the cliff while stalking a fern
on a rotten tree-trunk, and that his coolies must have stolen his baggage and
fled. He thought he would go back to Simla when he was a little stronger. He
desired no more mountaineering.
He made small haste to go away, and recovered his strength slowly.
Lispeth objected to being advised either by the Chaplain or his wife; so the
latter spoke to the Englishman, and told him how matters stood in Lispeth's
heart. He laughed a good deal, and said it was very pretty and romantic, a
perfect idyl of the Himalayas; but, as he was engaged to a girl at Home, he
fancied that nothing would happen. Certainly he would behave with discretion.
He did that. Still he found it very pleasant to talk to Lispeth, and walk with
Lispeth, and say nice things to her, and call her pet names while he was
getting strong enough to go away. It meant nothing at all to him, and
everything in the world to Lispeth. She was very happy while the fortnight
lasted, because she had found a man to love.
Being a savage by birth, she took no trouble to hide her feelings, and the
Englishman was amused. When he went away, Lispeth walked with him, up the Hill
as far as Narkunda, very troubled and very miserable. The Chaplain's wife,
being a good Christian and disliking anything in the shape of fuss or scandal-
-Lispeth was beyond her management entirely--had told the Englishman to tell
Lispeth that he was coming back to marry her. "She is but a child, you know,
and, I fear, at heart a heathen," said the Chaplain's wife. So all the twelve
miles up the hill the Englishman, with his arm around Lispeth's waist, was
assuring the girl that he would come back and marry her; and Lispeth made him
promise over and over again. She wept on the Narkunda Ridge till he had passed
out of sight along the Muttiani path.
Then she dried her tears and went in to Kotgarh again, and said to the
Chaplain's wife: "He will come back and marry me. He has gone to his own
people to tell them so." And the Chaplain's wife soothed Lispeth and said: "He
will come back." At the end of two months, Lispeth grew impatient, and was
told that the Englishman had gone over the seas to England. She knew where
England was, because she had read little geography primers; but, of course,
she had no conception of the nature of the sea, being a Hill girl.
There was an old puzzle-map of the World in the House. Lispeth had played with
it when she was a child. She unearthed it again, and put it together of
evenings, and cried to herself, and tried to imagine where her Englishman was.
As she had no ideas of distance or steamboats, her notions were somewhat
erroneous. It would not have made the least difference had she been perfectly
correct; for the Englishman had no intention of coming back to marry a Hill
girl. He forgot all about her by the time he was butterfly-hunting in Assam.
He wrote a book on the East afterwards. Lispeth's name did not appear.
At the end of three months, Lispeth made daily pilgrimage to Narkunda to see
if her Englishman was coming along the road. It gave her comfort, and the
Chaplain's wife, finding her happier, thought that she was getting over her
"barbarous and most indelicate folly." A little later the walks ceased to help
Lispeth and her temper grew very bad. The Chaplain's wife thought this a
profitable time to let her know the real state of affairs--that the Englishman
had only promised his love to keep her quiet--that he had never meant
anything, and that it was "wrong and improper" of Lispeth to think of marriage
with an Englishman, who was of a superior clay, besides being promised in
marriage to a girl of his own people. Lispeth said that all this was clearly
impossible, because he had said he loved her, and the Chaplain's wife had,
with her own lips, asserted that the Englishman was coming back.
"How can what he and you said be untrue?" asked Lispeth.
"We said it as an excuse to keep you quiet, child," said the Chaplain's wife.
"Then you have lied to me," said Lispeth, "you and he?"
The Chaplain's wife bowed her head, and said nothing. Lispeth was silent, too
for a little time; then she went out down the valley, and returned in the
dress of a Hill girl--infamously dirty, but without the nose and ear rings.
She had her hair braided into the long pig-tail, helped out with black thread,
that Hill women wear.
"I am going back to my own people," said she. "You have killed Lispeth. There
is only left old Jadeh's daughter--the daughter of a pahari and the servant of
Tarka Devi. You are all liars, you English."
By the time that the Chaplain's wife had recovered from the shock of the
announcement that Lispeth had 'verted to her mother's gods, the girl had gone;
and she never came back.
She took to her own unclean people savagely, as if to make up the arrears of
the life she had stepped out of; and, in a little time, she married a wood-
cutter who beat her, after the manner of paharis, and her beauty faded soon.
"There is no law whereby you can account for the vagaries of the heathen,"
said the Chaplain's wife, "and I believe that Lispeth was always at heart an
infidel." Seeing she had been taken into the Church of England at the mature
age of five weeks, this statement does not do credit to the Chaplain's wife.
Lispeth was a very old woman when she died. She always had a perfect command
of English, and when she was sufficiently drunk, could sometimes be induced to
tell the story of her first love-affair.
It was hard then to realize that the bleared, wrinkled creature, so like a
wisp of charred rag, could ever have been "Lispeth of the Kotgarh Mission."
THREE AND--AN EXTRA.
"When halter and heel ropes are slipped, do not give chase with sticks but
After marriage arrives a reaction, sometimes a big, sometimes a little one;
but it comes sooner or later, and must be tided over by both parties if they
desire the rest of their lives to go with the current.
In the case of the Cusack-Bremmils this reaction did not set in till the third
year after the wedding. Bremmil was hard to hold at the best of times; but he
was a beautiful husband until the baby died and Mrs. Bremmil wore black, and
grew thin, and mourned as if the bottom of the universe had fallen out.
Perhaps Bremmil ought to have comforted her. He tried to do so, I think; but
the more he comforted the more Mrs. Bremmil grieved, and, consequently, the
more uncomfortable Bremmil grew. The fact was that they both needed a tonic.
And they got it. Mrs. Bremmil can afford to laugh now, but it was no laughing
matter to her at the time.
You see, Mrs. Hauksbee appeared on the horizon; and where she existed was fair
chance of trouble. At Simla her bye-name was the "Stormy Petrel." She had won
that title five times to my own certain knowledge. She was a little, brown,
thin, almost skinny, woman, with big, rolling, violet-blue eyes, and the
sweetest manners in the world. You had only to mention her name at afternoon
teas for every woman in the room to rise up, and call her--well--NOT blessed.
She was clever, witty, brilliant, and sparkling beyond most of her kind; but
possessed of many devils of malice and mischievousness. She could be nice,
though, even to her own sex. But that is another story.
Bremmil went off at score after the baby's death and the general discomfort
that followed, and Mrs. Hauksbee annexed him. She took no pleasure in hiding
her captives. She annexed him publicly, and saw that the public saw it. He
rode with her, and walked with her, and talked with her, and picnicked with
her, and tiffined at Peliti's with her, till people put up their eyebrows and
said: "Shocking!" Mrs. Bremmil stayed at home turning over the dead baby's
frocks and crying into the empty cradle. She did not care to do anything else.
But some eight dear, affectionate lady-friends explained the situation at
length to her in case she should miss the cream of it. Mrs. Bremmil listened
quietly, and thanked them for their good offices. She was not as clever as
Mrs. Hauksbee, but she was no fool. She kept her own counsel, and did not
speak to Bremmil of what she had heard. This is worth remembering. Speaking
to, or crying over, a husband never did any good yet.
When Bremmil was at home, which was not often, he was more affectionate than
usual; and that showed his hand. The affection was forced partly to soothe his
own conscience and partly to soothe Mrs. Bremmil. It failed in both regards.
Then "the A.-D.-C. in Waiting was commanded by Their Excellencies, Lord and
Lady Lytton, to invite Mr. and Mrs. Cusack-Bremmil to Peterhoff on July 26th
at 9.30 P. M."--"Dancing" in the bottom-left-hand corner.
"I can't go," said Mrs. Bremmil, "it is too soon after poor little Florrie--
but it need not stop you, Tom."
She meant what she said then, and Bremmil said that he would go just to put in
an appearance. Here he spoke the thing which was not; and Mrs. Bremmil knew
it. She guessed--a woman's guess is much more accurate than a man's certainty-
-that he had meant to go from the first, and with Mrs. Hauksbee. She sat down
to think, and the outcome of her thoughts was that the memory of a dead child
was worth considerably less than the affections of a living husband.
She made her plan and staked her all upon it. In that hour she discovered that
she knew Tom Bremmil thoroughly, and this knowledge she acted on.
"Tom," said she, "I shall be dining out at the Longmores' on the evening of
the 26th. You'd better dine at the club."
This saved Bremmil from making an excuse to get away and dine with Mrs.
Hauksbee, so he was grateful, and felt small and mean at the same time--which
was wholesome. Bremmil left the house at five for a ride. About half-past five
in the evening a large leather-covered basket came in from Phelps' for Mrs.
Bremmil. She was a woman who knew how to dress; and she had not spent a week
on designing that dress and having it gored, and hemmed, and herring-boned,
and tucked and rucked (or whatever the terms are) for nothing. It was a
gorgeous dress--slight mourning. I can't describe it, but it was what The
Queen calls "a creation"--a thing that hit you straight between the eyes and
made you gasp. She had not much heart for what she was going to do; but as she
glanced at the long mirror she had the satisfaction of knowing that she had
never looked so well in her life. She was a large blonde and, when she chose,
carried herself superbly.
After the dinner at the Longmores, she went on to the dance--a little late--
and encountered Bremmil with Mrs. Hauksbee on his arm.
That made her flush, and as the men crowded round her for dances she looked
magnificent. She filled up all her dances except three, and those she left
blank. Mrs. Hauksbee caught her eye once; and she knew it was war--real war--
between them. She started handicapped in the struggle, for she had ordered
Bremmil about just the least little bit in the world too much; and he was
beginning to resent it. Moreover, he had never seen his wife look so lovely.
He stared at her from doorways, and glared at her from passages as she went
about with her partners; and the more he stared, the more taken was he. He
could scarcely believe that this was the woman with the red eyes and the black
stuff gown who used to weep over the eggs at breakfast.
Mrs. Hauksbee did her best to hold him in play, but, after two dances, he
crossed over to his wife and asked for a dance.
"I'm afraid you've come too late, MISTER Bremmil," she said, with her eyes
Then he begged her to give him a dance, and, as a great favor, she allowed him
the fifth waltz. Luckily it stood vacant on his programme. They danced it
together, and there was a little flutter round the room. Bremmil had a sort of
notion that his wife could dance, but he never knew she danced so divinely. At
the end of that waltz he asked for another--as a favor, not as a right; and
Mrs. Bremmil said: "Show me your programme, dear!" He showed it as a naughty
little schoolboy hands up contraband sweets to a master.
There was a fair sprinkling of "H" on it besides "H" at supper.
Mrs. Bremmil said nothing, but she smiled contemptuously, ran her pencil
through 7 and 9--two "H's"--and returned the card with her own name written
above--a pet name that only she and her husband used. Then she shook her
finger at him, and said, laughing: "Oh, you silly, SILLY boy!"
Mrs. Hauksbee heard that, and--she owned as much--felt that she had the worst
of it. Bremmil accepted 7 and 9 gratefully. They danced 7, and sat out 9 in
one of the little tents. What Bremmil said and what Mrs. Bremmil said is no
concern of any one's.
When the band struck up "The Roast Beef of Old England," the two went out into
the verandah, and Bremmil began looking for his wife's dandy (this was before
'rickshaw days) while she went into the cloak-room. Mrs. Hauksbee came up and
said: "You take me in to supper, I think, Mr. Bremmil." Bremmil turned red and
looked foolish. "Ah--h'm! I'm going home with my wife, Mrs. Hauksbee. I think
there has been a little mistake." Being a man, he spoke as though Mrs.
Hauksbee were entirely responsible.
Mrs. Bremmil came out of the cloak-room in a swansdown cloak with a white
"cloud" round her head. She looked radiant; and she had a right to.
The couple went off in the darkness together, Bremmil riding very close to the
Then says Mrs. Hauksbee to me--she looked a trifle faded and jaded in the
lamplight: "Take my word for it, the silliest woman can manage a clever man;
but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool."
Then we went in to supper.
"And some are sulky, while some will plunge
[So ho! Steady! Stand still, you!]
Some you must gentle, and some you must lunge.
[There! There! Who wants to kill you?]
Some--there are losses in every trade--
Will break their hearts ere bitted and made,
Will fight like fiends as the rope cuts hard,
And die dumb-mad in the breaking-yard."
--Toolungala Stockyard Chorus.
To rear a boy under what parents call the "sheltered life system" is, if the
boy must go into the world and fend for himself, not wise. Unless he be one in
a thousand he has certainly to pass through many unnecessary troubles; and
may, possibly, come to extreme grief simply from ignorance of the proper
proportions of things.
Let a puppy eat the soap in the bath-room or chew a newly-blacked boot. He
chews and chuckles until, by and by, he finds out that blacking and Old Brown
Windsor make him very sick; so he argues that soap and boots are not
wholesome. Any old dog about the house will soon show him the unwisdom of
biting big dogs' ears. Being young, he remembers and goes abroad, at six
months, a well-mannered little beast with a chastened appetite. If he had been
kept away from boots, and soap, and big dogs till he came to the trinity full-
grown and with developed teeth, just consider how fearfully sick and thrashed
he would be! Apply that motion to the "sheltered life," and see how it works.
It does not sound pretty, but it is the better of two evils.
There was a Boy once who had been brought up under the "sheltered life"
theory; and the theory killed him dead. He stayed with his people all his
days, from the hour he was born till the hour he went into Sandhurst nearly at
the top of the list. He was beautifully taught in all that wins marks by a
private tutor, and carried the extra weight of "never having given his parents
an hour's anxiety in his life." What he learnt at Sandhurst beyond the regular
routine is of no great consequence. He looked about him, and he found soap and
blacking, so to speak, very good. He ate a little, and came out of Sandhurst
not so high as he went in.
Them there was an interval and a scene with his people, who expected much from
him. Next a year of living "unspotted from the world" in a third-rate depot
battalion where all the juniors were children, and all the seniors old women;
and lastly he came out to India, where he was cut off from the support of his
parents, and had no one to fall back on in time of trouble except himself.
Now India is a place beyond all others where one must not take things too
seriously--the midday sun always excepted. Too much work and too much energy
kill a man just as effectively as too much assorted vice or too much drink.
Flirtation does not matter because every one is being transferred and either
you or she leave the Station, and never return. Good work does not matter,
because a man is judged by his worst output and another man takes all the
credit of his best as a rule. Bad work does not matter, because other men do
worse, and incompetents hang on longer in India than anywhere else. Amusements
do not matter, because you must repeat them as soon as you have accomplished
them once, and most amusements only mean trying to win another person's money.
Sickness does not matter, because it's all in the day's work, and if you die
another man takes over your place and your office in the eight hours between
death and burial. Nothing matters except Home furlough and acting allowances,
and these only because they are scarce. This is a slack, kutcha country where
all men work with imperfect instruments; and the wisest thing is to take no
one and nothing in earnest, but to escape as soon as ever you can to some
place where amusement is amusement and a reputation worth the having.
But this Boy--the tale is as old as the Hills--came out, and took all things
seriously. He was pretty and was petted. He took the pettings seriously, and
fretted over women not worth saddling a pony to call upon. He found his new
free life in India very good.
It DOES look attractive in the beginning, from a Subaltern's point of view--
all ponies, partners, dancing, and so on. He tasted it as the puppy tastes the
soap. Only he came late to the eating, with a growing set of teeth. He had no
sense of balance--just like the puppy--and could not understand why he was not
treated with the consideration he received under his father's roof. This hurt
He quarrelled with other boys, and, being sensitive to the marrow, remembered
these quarrels, and they excited him. He found whist, and gymkhanas, and
things of that kind (meant to amuse one after office) good; but he took them
seriously too, just as he took the "head" that followed after drink. He lost
his money over whist and gymkhanas because they were new to him.
He took his losses seriously, and wasted as much energy and interest over a
two-gold-mohur race for maiden ekka-ponies with their manes hogged, as if it
had been the Derby. One-half of this came from inexperience--much as the puppy
squabbles with the corner of the hearth-rug--and the other half from the
dizziness bred by stumbling out of his quiet life into the glare and
excitement of a livelier one. No one told him about the soap and the blacking
because an average man takes it for granted that an average man is ordinarily
careful in regard to them. It was pitiful to watch The Boy knocking himself to
pieces, as an over-handled colt falls down and cuts himself when he gets away
from the groom.
This unbridled license in amusements not worth the trouble of breaking line
for, much less rioting over, endured for six months--all through one cold
weather--and then we thought that the heat and the knowledge of having lost
his money and health and lamed his horses would sober The Boy down, and he
would stand steady. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred this would have
happened. You can see the principle working in any Indian Station. But this
particular case fell through because The Boy was sensitive and took things
seriously--as I may have said some seven times before. Of course, we couldn't
tell how his excesses struck him personally.
They were nothing very heart-breaking or above the average. He might be
crippled for life financially, and want a little nursing.
Still the memory of his performances would wither away in one hot weather, and
the shroff would help him to tide over the money troubles. But he must have
taken another view altogether and have believed himself ruined beyond
redemption. His Colonel talked to him severely when the cold weather ended.
That made him more wretched than ever; and it was only an ordinary "Colonel's
What follows is a curious instance of the fashion in which we are all linked
together and made responsible for one another. THE thing that kicked the beam
in The Boy's mind was a remark that a woman made when he was talking to her.
There is no use in repeating it, for it was only a cruel little sentence,
rapped out before thinking, that made him flush to the roots of his hair. He
kept himself to himself for three days, and then put in for two days' leave to
go shooting near a Canal Engineer's Rest House about thirty miles out. He got
his leave, and that night at Mess was noisier and more offensive than ever. He
said that he was "going to shoot big game, and left at half-past ten o'clock
in an ekka.
Partridge--which was the only thing a man could get near the Rest House--is
not big game; so every one laughed.
Next morning one of the Majors came in from short leave, and heard that The
Boy had gone out to shoot "big game." The Major had taken an interest in The
Boy, and had, more than once, tried to check him in the cold weather. The
Major put up his eyebrows when he heard of the expedition and went to The
Boy's room, where he rummaged.
Presently he came out and found me leaving cards on the Mess.
There was no one else in the ante-room.
He said: "The Boy has gone out shooting. DOES a man shoot
@tetur with a revolver and a writing-case?"
I said: "Nonsense, Major!" for I saw what was in his mind.
He said: "Nonsense or nonsense, I'm going to the Canal now--at once. I don't
Then he thought for a minute, and said: "Can you lie?"
"You know best," I answered. "It's my profession."
"Very well," said the Major; "you must come out with me now--at once--in an
ekka to the Canal to shoot black-buck. Go and put on shikar-kit--quick--and
drive here with a gun."
The Major was a masterful man; and I knew that he would not give orders for
nothing. So I obeyed, and on return found the Major packed up in an ekka--gun-
cases and food slung below--all ready for a shooting-trip.
He dismissed the driver and drove himself. We jogged along quietly while in
the station; but as soon as we got to the dusty road across the plains, he
made that pony fly. A country-bred can do nearly anything at a pinch. We
covered the thirty miles in under three hours, but the poor brute was nearly
Once I said: "What's the blazing hurry, Major?"
He said, quietly: "The Boy has been alone, by himself, for--one, two, five--
fourteen hours now! I tell you, I don't feel easy."
This uneasiness spread itself to me, and I helped to beat the pony.
When we came to the Canal Engineer's Rest House the Major called for The Boy's
servant; but there was no answer. Then we went up to the house, calling for
The Boy by name; but there was no answer.
"Oh, he's out shooting," said I.
Just then I saw through one of the windows a little hurricane-lamp burning.
This was at four in the afternoon. We both stopped dead in the verandah,
holding our breath to catch every sound; and we heard, inside the room, the
"brr--brr--brr" of a multitude of flies. The Major said nothing, but he took
off his helmet and we entered very softly.
The Boy was dead on the charpoy in the centre of the bare, lime- washed room.
He had shot his head nearly to pieces with his revolver. The gun-cases were
still strapped, so was the bedding, and on the table lay The Boy's writing-
case with photographs. He had gone away to die like a poisoned rat!
The Major said to himself softly: "Poor Boy! Poor, POOR devil!" Then he turned
away from the bed and said: "I want your help in this business."
Knowing The Boy was dead by his own hand, I saw exactly what that help would
be, so I passed over to the table, took a chair, lit a cheroot, and began to
go through the writing-case; the Major looking over my shoulder and repeating
to himself: "We came too late!--Like a rat in a hole!--Poor, POOR devil!"
The Boy must have spent half the night in writing to his people, and to his
Colonel, and to a girl at Home; and as soon as he had finished, must have shot
himself, for he had been dead a long time when we came in.
I read all that he had written, and passed over each sheet to the Major as I
We saw from his accounts how very seriously he had taken everything. He wrote
about "disgrace which he was unable to bear"--"indelible shame"--"criminal
folly"--"wasted life," and so on; besides a lot of private things to his
Father and Mother too much too sacred to put into print. The letter to the
girl at Home was the most pitiful of all; and I choked as I read it. The Major
made no attempt to keep dry-eyed. I respected him for that. He read and rocked
himself to and fro, and simply cried like a woman without caring to hide it.
The letters were so dreary and hopeless and touching. We forgot all about The
Boy's follies, and only thought of the poor Thing on the charpoy and the
scrawled sheets in our hands. It was utterly impossible to let the letters go
They would have broken his Father's heart and killed his Mother after killing
her belief in her son.
At last the Major dried his eyes openly, and said: "Nice sort of thing to
spring on an English family! What shall we do?"
I said, knowing what the Major had brought me but for: "The Boy died of
cholera. We were with him at the time. We can't commit ourselves to half-
measures. Come along."
Then began one of the most grimy comic scenes I have ever taken part in--the
concoction of a big, written lie, bolstered with evidence, to soothe The Boy's
people at Home. I began the rough draft of a letter, the Major throwing in
hints here and there while he gathered up all the stuff that The Boy had
written and burnt it in the fireplace. It was a hot, still evening when we
began, and the lamp burned very badly. In due course I got the draft to my
satisfaction, setting forth how The Boy was the pattern of all virtues,
beloved by his regiment, with every promise of a great career before him, and
so on; how we had helped him through the sickness--it was no time for little
lies, you will understand--and how he had died without pain. I choked while I
was putting down these things and thinking of the poor people who would read
Then I laughed at the grotesqueness of the affair, and the laughter mixed
itself up with the choke--and the Major said that we both wanted drinks.
I am afraid to say how much whiskey we drank before the letter was finished.
It had not the least effect on us. Then we took off The Boy's watch, locket,
Lastly, the Major said: "We must send a lock of hair too. A woman values
But there were reasons why we could not find a lock fit to send.
The Boy was black-haired, and so was the Major, luckily. I cut off a piece of
the Major's hair above the temple with a knife, and put it into the packet we
were making. The laughing-fit and the chokes got hold of me again, and I had
to stop. The Major was nearly as bad; and we both knew that the worst part of
the work was to come.
We sealed up the packet, photographs, locket, seals, ring, letter, and lock of
hair with The Boy's sealing-wax and The Boy's seal.
Then the Major said: "For God's sake let's get outside--away from the room--
We went outside, and walked on the banks of the Canal for an hour, eating and
drinking what we had with us, until the moon rose. I know now exactly how a
murderer feels. Finally, we forced ourselves back to the room with the lamp
and the Other Thing in it, and began to take up the next piece of work. I am
not going to write about this. It was too horrible. We burned the bedstead and
dropped the ashes into the Canal; we took up the matting of the room and
treated that in the same way. I went off to a village and borrowed two big
hoes--I did not want the villagers to help--while the Major arranged--the
other matters. It took us four hours' hard work to make the grave. As we
worked, we argued out whether it was right to say as much as we remembered of
the Burial of the Dead.
We compromised things by saying the Lord's Prayer with a private unofficial
prayer for the peace of the soul of The Boy. Then we filled in the grave and
went into the verandah--not the house--to lie down to sleep. We were dead-
When we woke the Major said, wearily: "We can't go back till tomorrow. We must
give him a decent time to die in. He died early THIS morning, remember. That
seems more natural." So the Major must have been lying awake all the time,
I said: "Then why didn't we bring the body back to the cantonments?"
The Major thought for a minute:--"Because the people bolted when they heard of
the cholera. And the ekka has gone!"
That was strictly true. We had forgotten all about the ekka-pony, and he had
So, we were left there alone, all that stifling day, in the Canal Rest House,
testing and re-testing our story of The Boy's death to see if it was weak at
any point. A native turned up in the afternoon, but we said that a Sahib was
dead of cholera, and he ran away. As the dusk gathered, the Major told me all
his fears about The Boy, and awful stories of suicide or nearly-carried-out
suicide--tales that made one's hair crisp. He said that he himself had once
gone into the same Valley of the Shadow as the Boy, when he was young and new
to the country; so he understood how things fought together in The Boy's poor
jumbled head. He also said that youngsters, in their repentant moments,
consider their sins much more serious and ineffaceable than they really are.
We talked together all through the evening, and rehearsed the story of the
death of The Boy. As soon as the moon was up, and The Boy, theoretically, just
buried, we struck across country for the Station. We walked from eight till
six o'clock in the morning; but though we were dead-tired, we did not forget
to go to The Boy's room and put away his revolver with the proper amount of
cartridges in the pouch. Also to set his writing-case on the table. We found
the Colonel and reported the death, feeling more like murderers than ever.
Then we went to bed and slept the clock round; for there was no more in us.
The tale had credence as long as was necessary, for every one forgot about The
Boy before a fortnight was over. Many people, however, found time to say that
the Major had behaved scandalously in not bringing in the body for a
regimental funeral. The saddest thing of all was a letter from The Boy's
mother to the Major and me--with big inky blisters all over the sheet. She
wrote the sweetest possible things about our great kindness, and the
obligation she would be under to us as long as she lived.
All things considered, she WAS under an obligation; but not exactly as she
MISS YOUGHAL'S SAIS.
When Man and Woman are agreed, what can the Kazi do?
Some people say that there is no romance in India. Those people are wrong. Our
lives hold quite as much romance as is good for us.
Strickland was in the Police, and people did not understand him; so they said
he was a doubtful sort of man and passed by on the other side. Strickland had
himself to thank for this. He held the extraordinary theory that a Policeman
in India should try to know as much about the natives as the natives
themselves. Now, in the whole of Upper India, there is only ONE man who can
pass for Hindu or Mohammedan, chamar or faquir, as he pleases. He is feared
and respected by the natives from the Ghor Kathri to the Jamma Musjid; and he
is supposed to have the gift of invisibility and executive control over many
Devils. But what good has this done him with the Government? None in the
world. He has never got Simla for his charge; and his name is almost unknown
Strickland was foolish enough to take that man for his model; and, following
out his absurd theory, dabbled in unsavory places no respectable man would
think of exploring--all among the native riff-raff. He educated himself in
this peculiar way for seven years, and people could not appreciate it. He was
perpetually "going Fantee" among the natives, which, of course, no man with
any sense believes in. He was initiated into the Sat Bhai at Allahabad once,
when he was on leave; he knew the Lizard-Song of the Sansis, and the Halli-
Hukk dance, which is a religious can-can of a startling kind. When a man knows
who dances the Halli-Hukk, and how, and when, and where, he knows something to
be proud of. He has gone deeper than the skin. But Strickland was not proud,
though he had helped once, at Jagadhri, at the Painting of the Death Bull,
which no Englishman must even look upon; had mastered the thieves'-patter of
the changars; had taken a Eusufzai horse-thief alone near Attock; and had
stood under the mimbar-board of a Border mosque and conducted service in the
manner of a Sunni Mollah.
His crowning achievement was spending eleven days as a faquir in the gardens
of Baba Atal at Amritsar, and there picking up the threads of the great
Nasiban Murder Case. But people said, justly enough: "Why on earth can't
Strickland sit in his office and write up his diary, and recruit, and keep
quiet, instead of showing up the incapacity of his seniors?" So the Nasiban
Murder Case did him no good departmentally; but, after his first feeling of
wrath, he returned to his outlandish custom of prying into native life. By the
way, when a man once acquires a taste for this particular amusement, it abides
with him all his days. It is the most fascinating thing in the world; Love not
excepted. Where other men took ten days to the Hills, Strickland took leave
for what he called shikar, put on the disguise that appealed to him at the
time, stepped down into the brown crowd, and was swallowed up for a while. He
was a quiet, dark young fellow--spare, black-eyes--and, when he was not
thinking of something else, a very interesting companion. Strickland on Native
Progress as he had seen it was worth hearing. Natives hated Strickland; but
they were afraid of him. He knew too much.
When the Youghals came into the station, Strickland--very gravely, as he did
everything--fell in love with Miss Youghal; and she, after a while, fell in
love with him because she could not understand him. Then Strickland told the
parents; but Mrs. Youghal said she was not going to throw her daughter into
the worst paid Department in the Empire, and old Youghal said, in so many
words, that he mistrusted Strickland's ways and works, and would thank him not
to speak or write to his daughter any more. "Very well," said Strickland, for
he did not wish to make his lady-love's life a burden. After one long talk
with Miss Youghal he dropped the business entirely.
The Youghals went up to Simla in April.
In July, Strickland secured three months' leave on "urgent private affairs."
He locked up his house--though not a native in the Providence would wittingly
have touched "Estreekin Sahib's" gear for the world--and went down to see a
friend of his, an old dyer, at Tarn Taran.
Here all trace of him was lost, until a sais met me on the Simla Mall with
this extraordinary note:
"Dear old man,
Please give bearer a box of cheroots--Supers, No. I, for preference. They are
freshest at the Club. I'll repay when I reappear; but at present I'm out of
I ordered two boxes, and handed them over to the sais with my love.
That sais was Strickland, and he was in old Youghal's employ, attached to Miss
Youghal's Arab. The poor fellow was suffering for an English smoke, and knew
that whatever happened I should hold my tongue till the business was over.
Later on, Mrs. Youghal, who was wrapped up in her servants, began talking at
houses where she called of her paragon among saises--the man who was never too
busy to get up in the morning and pick flowers for the breakfast-table, and
who blacked--actually BLACKED--the hoofs of his horse like a London coachman!
The turnout of Miss Youghal's Arab was a wonder and a delight. Strickland--
Dulloo, I mean--found his reward in the pretty things that Miss Youghal said
to him when she went out riding. Her parents were pleased to find she had
forgotten all her foolishness for young Strickland and said she was a good
Strickland vows that the two months of his service were the most rigid mental
discipline he has ever gone through. Quite apart from the little fact that the
wife of one of his fellow-saises fell in love with him and then tried to
poison him with arsenic because he would have nothing to do with her, he had
to school himself into keeping quiet when Miss Youghal went out riding with
some man who tried to flirt with her, and he was forced to trot behind
carrying the blanket and hearing every word! Also, he had to keep his temper
when he was slanged in "Benmore" porch by a policeman--especially once when he
was abused by a Naik he had himself recruited from Isser Jang village--or,
worse still, when a young subaltern called him a pig for not making way
But the life had its compensations. He obtained great insight into the ways
and thefts of saises--enough, he says, to have summarily convicted half the
chamar population of the Punjab if he had been on business. He became one of
the leading players at knuckle-bones, which all jhampanis and many saises play
while they are waiting outside the Government House or the Gaiety Theatre of
nights; he learned to smoke tobacco that was three-fourths cowdung; and he
heard the wisdom of the grizzled Jemadar of the Government House saises, whose
words are valuable. He saw many things which amused him; and he states, on
honor, that no man can appreciate Simla properly, till he has seen it from the
sais's point of view.
He also says that, if he chose to write all he saw, his head would be broken
in several places.
Strickland's account of the agony he endured on wet nights, hearing the music
and seeing the lights in "Benmore," with his toes tingling for a waltz and his
head in a horse-blanket, is rather amusing. One of these days, Strickland is
going to write a little book on his experiences. That book will be worth
buying; and even more, worth suppressing.
Thus, he served faithfully as Jacob served for Rachel; and his leave was
nearly at an end when the explosion came. He had really done his best to keep
his temper in the hearing of the flirtations I have mentioned; but he broke
down at last. An old and very distinguished General took Miss Youghal for a
ride, and began that specially offensive "you're-only-a-little-girl" sort of
flirtation--most difficult for a woman to turn aside deftly, and most
maddening to listen to. Miss Youghal was shaking with fear at the things he
said in the hearing of her sais. Dulloo--Strickland--stood it as long as he
could. Then he caught hold of the General's bridle, and, in most fluent
English, invited him to step off and be heaved over the cliff. Next minute
Miss Youghal began crying; and Strickland saw that he had hopelessly given
himself away, and everything was over.
The General nearly had a fit, while Miss Youghal was sobbing out the story of
the disguise and the engagement that wasn't recognized by the parents.
Strickland was furiously angry with himself and more angry with the General
for forcing his hand; so he said nothing, but held the horse's head and
prepared to thrash the General as some sort of satisfaction, but when the
General had thoroughly grasped the story, and knew who Strickland was, he
began to puff and blow in the saddle, and nearly rolled off with laughing. He
said Strickland deserved a V. C., if it were only for putting on a sais's
blanket. Then he called himself names, and vowed that he deserved a thrashing,
but he was too old to take it from Strickland. Then he complimented Miss
Youghal on her lover.
The scandal of the business never struck him; for he was a nice old man, with
a weakness for flirtations. Then he laughed again, and said that old Youghal
was a fool. Strickland let go of the cob's head, and suggested that the
General had better help them, if that was his opinion. Strickland knew
Youghal's weakness for men with titles and letters after their names and high
"It's rather like a forty-minute farce," said the General, "but begad, I WILL
help, if it's only to escape that tremendous thrashing I deserved. Go along to
your home, my sais-Policeman, and change into decent kit, and I'll attack Mr.
Youghal. Miss Youghal, may I ask you to canter home and wait?
. . . . . . . . .
About seven minutes later, there was a wild hurroosh at the Club.
A sais, with a blanket and head-rope, was asking all the men he knew: "For
Heaven's sake lend me decent clothes!" As the men did not recognize him, there
were some peculiar scenes before Strickland could get a hot bath, with soda in
it, in one room, a shirt here, a collar there, a pair of trousers elsewhere,
and so on. He galloped off, with half the Club wardrobe on his back, and an
utter stranger's pony under him, to the house of old Youghal.
The General, arrayed in purple and fine linen, was before him.
What the General had said Strickland never knew, but Youghal received
Strickland with moderate civility; and Mrs. Youghal, touched by the devotion
of the transformed Dulloo, was almost kind.
The General beamed, and chuckled, and Miss Youghal came in, and almost before
old Youghal knew where he was, the parental consent had been wrenched out and
Strickland had departed with Miss Youghal to the Telegraph Office to wire for
his kit. The final embarrassment was when an utter stranger attacked him on
the Mall and asked for the stolen pony.
So, in the end, Strickland and Miss Youghal were married, on the strict
understanding that Strickland should drop his old ways, and stick to
Departmental routine, which pays best and leads to Simla.
Strickland was far too fond of his wife, just then, to break his word, but it
was a sore trial to him; for the streets and the bazars, and the sounds in
them, were full of meaning to Strickland, and these called to him to come back
and take up his wanderings and his discoveries. Some day, I will tell you how
he broke his promise to help a friend. That was long since, and he has, by
this time, been nearly spoilt for what he would call shikar. He is forgetting
the slang, and the beggar's cant, and the marks, and the signs, and the drift
of the undercurrents, which, if a man would master, he must always continue to
But he fills in his Departmental returns beautifully.
YOKED WITH AN UNBELIEVER.
I am dying for you, and you are dying for another.
When the Gravesend tender left the P. & 0. steamer for Bombay and went back to
catch the train to Town, there were many people in it crying. But the one who
wept most, and most openly was Miss Agnes Laiter. She had reason to cry,
because the only man she ever loved--or ever could love, so she said--was
going out to India; and India, as every one knows, is divided equally between
jungle, tigers, cobras, cholera, and sepoys.
Phil Garron, leaning over the side of the steamer in the rain, felt very
unhappy too; but he did not cry. He was sent out to "tea." What "tea" meant he
had not the vaguest idea, but fancied that he would have to ride on a prancing
horse over hills covered with tea-vines, and draw a sumptuous salary for doing
so; and he was very grateful to his uncle for getting him the berth. He was
really going to reform all his slack, shiftless ways, save a large proportion
of his magnificent salary yearly, and, in a very short time, return to marry
Agnes Laiter. Phil Garron had been lying loose on his friends' hands for three
years, and, as he had nothing to do, he naturally fell in love. He was very
nice; but he was not strong in his views and opinions and principles, and
though he never came to actual grief his friends were thankful when he said
good-bye, and went out to this mysterious "tea" business near Darjiling. They
said:--"God bless you, dear boy! Let us never see your face again,"--or at
least that was what Phil was given to understand.
When he sailed, he was very full of a great plan to prove himself several
hundred times better than any one had given him credit for--to work like a
horse, and triumphantly marry Agnes Laiter. He had many good points besides
his good looks; his only fault being that he was weak, the least little bit in
the world weak. He had as much notion of economy as the Morning Sun; and yet
you could not lay your hand on any one item, and say: "Herein Phil Garron is
extravagant or reckless." Nor could you point out any particular vice in his
character; but he was "unsatisfactory" and as workable as putty.
Agnes Laiter went about her duties at home--her family objected to the
engagement--with red eyes, while Phil was sailing to Darjiling--"a port on the
Bengal Ocean," as his mother used to tell her friends. He was popular enough
on board ship, made many acquaintances and a moderately large liquor bill, and
sent off huge letters to Agnes Laiter at each port. Then he fell to work on
this plantation, somewhere between Darjiling and Kangra, and, though the
salary and the horse and the work were not quite all he had fancied, he
succeeded fairly well, and gave himself much unnecessary credit for his
In the course of time, as he settled more into collar, and his work grew fixed
before him, the face of Agnes Laiter went out of his mind and only came when
he was at leisure, which was not often. He would forget all about her for a
fortnight, and remember her with a start, like a school-boy who has forgotten
to learn his lesson.
She did not forget Phil, because she was of the kind that never forgets. Only,
another man--a really desirable young man--presented himself before Mrs.
Laiter; and the chance of a marriage with Phil was as far off as ever; and his
letters were so unsatisfactory; and there was a certain amount of domestic
pressure brought to bear on the girl; and the young man really was an eligible
person as incomes go; and the end of all things was that Agnes married him,
and wrote a tempestuous whirlwind of a letter to Phil in the wilds of
Darjiling, and said she should never know a happy moment all the rest of her
life. Which was a true prophecy.
Phil got that letter, and held himself ill-treated. This was two years after
he had come out; but by dint of thinking fixedly of Agnes Laiter, and looking
at her photograph, and patting himself on the back for being one of the most
constant lovers in history, and warming to the work as he went on, he really
fancied that he had been very hardly used. He sat down and wrote one final
letter--a really pathetic "world without end, amen," epistle; explaining how
he would be true to Eternity, and that all women were very much alike, and he
would hide his broken heart, etc., etc.; but if, at any future time, etc.,
etc., he could afford to wait, etc., etc., unchanged affections, etc., etc.,
return to her old love, etc., etc., for eight closely-written pages. From an
artistic point of view, it was very neat work, but an ordinary Philistine, who
knew the state of Phil's real feelings--not the ones he rose to as he went on
writing--would have called it the thoroughly mean and selfish work of a
thoroughly mean and selfish, weak man. But this verdict would have been
incorrect. Phil paid for the postage, and felt every word he had written for
at least two days and a half.
It was the last flicker before the light went out.
That letter made Agnes Laiter very unhappy, and she cried and put it away in
her desk, and became Mrs. Somebody Else for the good of her family. Which is
the first duty of every Christian maid.
Phil went his ways, and thought no more of his letter, except as an artist
thinks of a neatly touched-in sketch. His ways were not bad, but they were not
altogether good until they brought him across Dunmaya, the daughter of a
Rajput ex-Subadar-Major of our Native Army. The girl had a strain of Hill
blood in her, and, like the Hill women, was not a purdah nashin. Where Phil
met her, or how he heard of her, does not matter. She was a good girl and
handsome, and, in her way, very clever and shrewd; though, of course, a little
hard. It is to be remembered that Phil was living very comfortably, denying
himself no small luxury, never putting by an anna, very satisfied with himself
and his good intentions, was dropping all his English correspondents one by
one, and beginning more and more to look upon this land as his home. Some men
fall this way; and they are of no use afterwards. The climate where he was
stationed was good, and it really did not seem to him that there was anything
to go Home for.
He did what many planters have done before him--that is to say, he made up his
mind to marry a Hill girl and settle down. He was seven and twenty then, with
a long life before him, but no spirit to go through with it. So he married
Dunmaya by the forms of the English Church, and some fellow-planters said he
was a fool, and some said he was a wise man. Dunmaya was a thoroughly honest
girl, and, in spite of her reverence for an Englishman, had a reasonable
estimate of her husband's weaknesses. She managed him tenderly, and became, in
less than a year, a very passable imitation of an English lady in dress and
carriage. [It is curious to think that a Hill man, after a lifetime's
education, is a Hill man still; but a Hill woman can in six months master most
of the ways of her English sisters. There was a coolie woman once. But that is
another story.] Dunmaya dressed by preference in black and yellow, and looked
Meantime the letter lay in Agnes's desk, and now and again she would think of
poor resolute hard-working Phil among the cobras and tigers of Darjiling,
toiling in the vain hope that she might come back to him. Her husband was
worth ten Phils, except that he had rheumatism of the heart. Three years after
he was married--and after he had tried Nice and Algeria for his complaint--he
went to Bombay, where he died, and set Agnes free. Being a devout woman, she
looked on his death and the place of it, as a direct interposition of
Providence, and when she had recovered from the shock, she took out and reread
Phil's letter with the "etc., etc.," and the big dashes, and the little
dashes, and kissed it several times. No one knew her in Bombay; she had her
husband's income, which was a large one, and Phil was close at hand. It was
wrong and improper, of course, but she decided, as heroines do in novels, to
find her old lover, to offer him her hand and her gold, and with him spend the
rest of her life in some spot far from unsympathetic souls. She sat for two
months, alone in Watson's Hotel, elaborating this decision, and the picture
was a pretty one. Then she set out in search of Phil Garron, Assistant on a
tea plantation with a more than usually unpronounceable name.
. . . . . . . . .
She found him. She spent a month over it,, for his plantation was not in the
Darjiling district at all, but nearer Kangra. Phil was very little altered,
and Dunmaya was very nice to her.
Now the particular sin and shame of the whole business is that Phil, who
really is not worth thinking of twice, was and is loved by Dunmaya, and more
than loved by Agnes, the whole of whose life he seems to have spoilt.
Worst of all, Dunmaya is making a decent man of him; and he will be ultimately
saved from perdition through her training.
Which is manifestly unfair.
Tonight God knows what thing shall tide,
The Earth is racked and faint--
Expectant, sleepless, open-eyed;
And we, who from the Earth were made,
Thrill with our Mother's pain.
No man will ever know the exact truth of this story; though women may
sometimes whisper it to one another after a dance, when they are putting up
their hair for the night and comparing lists of victims. A man, of course,
cannot assist at these functions. So the tale must be told from the outside--
in the dark--all wrong.
Never praise a sister to a sister, in the hope of your compliments reaching
the proper ears, and so preparing the way for you later on. Sisters are women
first, and sisters afterwards; and you will find that you do yourself harm.
Saumarez knew this when he made up his mind to propose to the elder Miss
Copleigh. Saumarez was a strange man, with few merits, so far as men could
see, though he was popular with women, and carried enough conceit to stock a
Viceroy's Council and leave a little over for the Commander-in-Chief's Staff.
He was a Civilian. Very many women took an interest in Saumarez, perhaps,
because his manner to them was offensive. If you hit a pony over the nose at
the outset of your acquaintance, he may not love you, but he will take a deep
interest in your movements ever afterwards. The elder Miss Copleigh was nice,
plump, winning and pretty. The younger was not so pretty, and, from men
disregarding the hint set forth above, her style was repellant and
unattractive. Both girls had, practically, the same figure, and there was a
strong likeness between them in look and voice; though no one could doubt for
an instant which was the nicer of the two.
Saumarez made up his mind, as soon as they came into the station from Behar,
to marry the elder one. At least, we all made sure that he would, which comes
to the same thing. She was two and twenty, and he was thirty-three, with pay
and allowances of nearly fourteen hundred rupees a month. So the match, as we
arranged it, was in every way a good one. Saumarez was his name, and summary
was his nature, as a man once said. Having drafted his Resolution, he formed a
Select Committee of One to sit upon it, and resolved to take his time. In our
unpleasant slang, the Copleigh girls "hunted in couples." That is to say, you
could do nothing with one without the other. They were very loving sisters;
but their mutual affection was sometimes inconvenient. Saumarez held the
balance-hair true between them, and none but himself could have said to which
side his heart inclined; though every one guessed. He rode with them a good
deal and danced with them, but he never succeeded in detaching them from each
other for any length of time.
Women said that the two girls kept together through deep mistrust, each
fearing that the other would steal a march on her. But that has nothing to do
with a man. Saumarez was silent for good or bad, and as
@business--likely attentive as he could be, having due regard to his work and
his polo. Beyond doubt both girls were fond of him.
As the hot weather drew nearer, and Saumarez made no sign, women said that you
could see their trouble in the eyes of the girls--that they were looking
strained, anxious, and irritable. Men are quite blind in these matters unless
they have more of the woman than the man in their composition, in which case
it does not matter what they say or think. I maintain it was the hot April
days that took the color out of the Copleigh girls' cheeks. They should have
been sent to the Hills early. No one--man or woman--feels an angel when the
hot weather is approaching. The younger sister grew more cynical--not to say
acid--in her ways; and the winningness of the elder wore thin. There was more
effort in it.
Now the Station wherein all these things happened was, though not a little
one, off the line of rail, and suffered through want of attention. There were
no gardens or bands or amusements worth speaking of, and it was nearly a day's
journey to come into Lahore for a dance. People were grateful for small things
to interest them.
About the beginning of May, and just before the final exodus of Hill-goers,
when the weather was very hot and there were not more than twenty people in
the Station, Saumarez gave a moonlight riding-picnic at an old tomb, six miles
away, near the bed of the river. It was a "Noah's Ark" picnic; and there was
to be the usual arrangement of quarter-mile intervals between each couple, on
account of the dust. Six couples came altogether, including chaperons.
Moonlight picnics are useful just at the very end of the season, before all
the girls go away to the Hills. They lead to understandings, and should be
encouraged by chaperones; especially those whose girls look sweetish in riding
habits. I knew a case once. But that is another story. That picnic was called
the "Great Pop Picnic," because every one knew Saumarez would propose then to
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