Under the Deodars
Part 3 out of 3
"Why, it's Jerry Blazes! I ain't got no quarrel with you, Jerry
Blazes. Pass frien', an' all's well!"
But Jerry Blazes had not the faintest intention of passing a
dangerous murderer. He was, as his adoring Battery swore long
and fervently, without knowledge of fear, and they were surely
the best judges, for Jerry Blazes, it was notorious, had done his
possible to kill a man each time the Battery went out.
He walked toward Simmons, with the intention of rushing him,
and knocking him down.
"Don't make me do it, Sir," said Simmons; "I ain't got nothing agin
you. Ah! you would?"--the Major broke into a run--"Take that
The Major dropped with a bullet through his shoulder, and
Simmons stood over him. He had lost the satisfaction of killing
Losson in the desired way: hut here was a helpless body to his
hand. Should be slip in another cartridge, and blow off the head,
or with the butt smash in the white face? He stopped to consider,
and a cry went up from the far side of the parade-ground: "He's
killed Jerry Blazes!" But in the shelter of the well-pillars Simmons
was safe except when he stepped out to fire. "I'll blow yer
'andsome 'ead off, Jerry Blazes," said Simmons, reflectively. "Six
an' three is nine an one is ten, an' that leaves me another nineteen,
an' one for myself." He tugged at the string of the second packet
of ammunition. Corporal Slane crawled out of the shadow of a
bank into the moonlight.
"I see you!" said Simmons. "Come a bit furder on an' I'll do for
"I'm comm'," said Corporal Slane, briefly; "you've done a bad day's
work, Sim. Come out 'ere an' come back with me."
"Come to,"-laugbed Simmons, sending a cartridge home with his
thumb. "Not before I've settled you an' Jerry Blazes."
The Corporal was lying at full length in the dust of the
parade-ground, a rifle under him. Some of the less-cautious men
in the distance shouted: "Shoot 'im! Shoot 'im, Slane !"
"You move 'and or foot, Slane," said Simmons, "an' I'll kick Jerry
Blazes' 'ead in, and shoot you after."
"I ain't movin'," said the Corporal, raising his head; "you daren't 'it
a man on 'is legs. Let go O' Jerry Blazes an' come out O' that with
your fistes. Come an' 'it me. You daren't, you bloomin'
"You lie, you man-sticker. You sneakin', Sheeny butcher, you lie.
See there!" Slane kicked the rifle away, and stood up in the peril
of his life. "Come on, now!"
The temptation was more than Simmons could resist, for the
Corporal in his white clothes offered a perfect mark.
"Don't misname me," shouted Simmons, firing as he spoke. The
shot missed, and the shooter, blind with rage, threw his rifle down
and rushed at Slane from the protection of the well. Within
striking distance, he kicked savagely at Slane's stomach, but the
weedy Corporal knew something of Simmons's weakness, and
knew, too, the deadly guard for that kick. Bowing forward and
drawing up his right leg till the heel of the right foot was set some
three inches above the inside of the left knee-cap, he met the blow
standing on one leg--exactly as Gonds stand when they
meditate--and ready for the fall that would follow. There was an
oath, the Corporal fell over his own left as shinbone met shinbone,
and the Private collapsed, his right leg broken an inch above the
"'Pity you don't know that guard, Sim," said Slane, spitting out the
dust as he rose. Then raising his voice-- "Come an' take him orf.
I've bruk 'is leg." This was not strictly true, for the Private had
accomplished his own downfall, since it is the special merit of that
leg-guard that the harder the kick the greater the kicker's
Slane walked to Jerry Blazes and hung over him with ostentatious
anxiety, while Simmons, weeping with pain, was carried away. "
'Ope you ain't 'urt badly, Sir," said Slane. The Major had fainted,
and there was an ugly, ragged hole through the top of his arm.
Slane knelt down and murmured. "S'elp me, I believe 'e's dead.
Well, if that ain't my blooming luck all over!"
But the Major was destined to lead his Battery afield for many a
long day with unshaken nerve. He was removed, and nursed and
petted into convalescence, while the Battery discussed the wisdom
of capturing Simmons, and blowing him from a gun. They idolized
their Major, and his reappearance on parade brought about a scene
nowhere provided for in the Army Regulations.
Great, too, was the glory that fell to Slane's share. The Gunners
would have made him drunk thrice a day for at least a fortnight.
Even the Colonel of his own regiment complimented him upon his
coolness, and the local paper called him a hero. These things did
not puff him up. When the Major offered him money and thanks,
the virtuous Corporal took the one and put aside the other. But he
had a request to make and prefaced it with many a "Beg y'pardon,
Sir." Could the Major see his way to letting the Slane M'Kenna
wedding be adorned by the presence of four Battery horses to pull
a hired barouche? The Major could, and so could the Battery.
Excessively so. It was a gorgeous wedding.
* * * * * *
"Wot did I do it for?" said Corporal Slane. "For the 'orses O'
course. Jhansi ain't a beauty to look at, but I wasn't goin' to 'ave a
hired turn-out. Jerry Blazes? If I 'adn't 'a' wanted something, Sim
might ha' blowed Jerry Blazes' blooming 'ead into Hirish stew for
aught I'd 'a' cared."
And they hanged Private Simmons-hanged him as high as Haman
in hollow square of the regiment; and the Colonel said it was
Drink; and the Chaplain was sure it was the Devil; and Simmons
fancied it was both, but he didn't know, and only hoped his fate
would be a warning to his companions; and half a dozen
"intelligent publicists" wrote six beautiful leading articles on
"'The Prevalence of Crime in the Army."
But not a soul thought of comparing the "bloody-minded
Simmons" to the squawking, gaping schoolgirl with which this
The Enlightenments of Pagett, M.P.
"Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field
ring with their importunate chink while thousands of great cattle,
reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and
are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are
the only inhabitants of the field-that, of course, they are many in
number or that, after all, they are other than the little, shrivelled,
meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome insects of the
hour."-Burke: "Reflections on the Revolution in France."
THEY were sitting in the veranda of "the splendid palace of an
Indian Pro-Consul"; surrounded by all the glory and mystery of the
immemorial East. In plain English it was a one-storied,
ten-roomed, whitewashed, mud-roofed bungalow, set in a dry
garden of dusty tamarisk trees and divided from the road by a low
mud wall. The green parrots screamed overhead as they flew in
battalions to the river for their morning drink. Beyond the wall,
clouds of fine dust showed where the cattle and goats of the city
were passing afield to graze. The remorseless white light of the
winter sunshine of Northern India lay upon everything and
improved nothing, from the whining Peisian-wheel by the
lawn-tennis court to the long perspective of level road and the
blue, domed tombs of Mohammedan saints just visible above the
"A Happy New Year," said Orde to his guest. "It's the first you've
ever spent out of England, isn't it?"
"Yes. 'Happy New Year," said Pagett, smiling at the sunshine.
"What a divine climate you have here! Just think of the brown
cold fog hanging over London now!" And he rubbed his hands.
It was more than twenty years since he had last seen Orde, his
schoolmate, and their paths in the world had divided early. The
one had quitted college to become a cog-wheel in the machinery of
the great Indian Government; the other more blessed with goods,
had been whirled into a similar position in the English scheme.
Three successive elections had not affected Pagett's position with a
loyal constituency, and he had grown insensibly to regard himself
in some sort as a pillar of the Empire, whose real worth would be
known later on. After a few years of conscientious attendance at
many divisions, after newspaper battles innumerable and the
publication of interminable correspondence, and more hasty
oratory than in his calmer moments he cared to think upon, it
occurred to him, as it had occurred to many of his fellows in
Parliament, that a tour to India would enable him to sweep a larger
lyre and address himself to the problems of Imperial
administration with a firmer hand. Accepting, therefore, a general
invitation extended to him by Orde some years before, Pagett had
taken ship to Karachi, and only over-night had been received with
joy by the Deputy-Commissioner of Amara. They had sat late,
discussing the changes and chances of twenty years, recalling the
names of the dead, and weighing the futures of the living, as is the
custom of men meeting after intervals of action.
Next morning they smoked the after breakfast pipe in the veranda,
still regarding each other curiously, Pagett, in a light grey
frock-coat and garments much too thin for the time of the year,
and a puggried sun-hat carefully and wonderfully made. Orde in a
shooting coat, riding breeches, brown cowhide boots with spurs,
and a battered flax helmet. He had ridden some miles in the early
morning to inspect a doubtful river dam. The men's faces differed
as much as their attire. Orde's worn and wrinkled around the eyes,
and grizzled at the temples, was the harder and more square of the
two, and it was with something like envy that the owner looked at
the comfortable outlines of Pagett's blandly receptive countenance,
the clear skin, the untroubled eye, and the mobile, clean-shaved
"And this is India!" said Pagett for the twentieth time staring long
and intently at the grey feathering of tbe tamarisks.
"One portion of India only. It's very much like this for 300 miles in
every direction. By the way, now that you have rested a little--I
wouldn't ask the old question before--what d'you think of the
'Tis the most pervasive country that ever yet was seen. I acquired
several pounds of your country coming up from Karachi. The air is
heavy with it, and for miles and miles along that distressful
eternity of rail there's no horizon to show where air and earth
"Yes. It isn't easy to see truly or far in India. But you had a decent
passage out, hadn't you?"
"Very good on the whole. Your Anglo-Indian may be
unsympathetic about one's political views; but he has reduced ship
life to a science."
"The Anglo-Indian is a political orphan, and if he's wise he won't
be in a hurry to be adopted by your party grandmothers. But how
were your companions, unsympathetic?"
"Well, there was a man called Dawlishe, a judge somewhere in
this country it seems, and a capital partner at whist by the way, and
when I wanted to talk to him about the progress of India in a
political sense (Orde hid a grin, which might or might not have
been sympathetic), the National Congress movement, and other
things in which, as a Member of Parliament, I'm of course
interested, he shifted the subject, and when I once cornered him,
he looked me calmly in the eye, and said: 'That's all Tommy rot.
Come and have a game at Bull.' You may laugh; but that isn't the
way to treat a great and important question; and, knowing who I
was. well. I thought it rather rude, don't you know; and yet
Dawlishe is a thoroughly good fellow."
"Yes; he's a friend of mine, and one of the straightest men I know.
I suppose, like many Anglo-Indians, he felt it was hopeless to give
you any just idea of any Indian question without the documents
before you, and in this case the documents you want are the
country and the people."
"Precisely. That was why I came straight to you, bringing an open
mind to bear on things. I'm anxious to know what popular feeling
in India is really like y'know, now that it has wakened into political
life. The National Congress, in spite of Dawlishe, must have
caused great excitement among the masses?"
"On the contrary, nothing could be more tranquil than the state of
popular feeling; and as to excitement, the people would as soon be
excited over the 'Rule of Three' as over the Congress."
"Excuse me, Orde, but do you think you are a fair judge? Isn't the
official Anglo-Indian naturally jealous of any external influences
that might move the masses, and so much opposed to liberal ideas,
truly liberal ideas, that he can scarcely be expected to regard a
popular movement with fairness?"
"What did Dawlishe say about Tommy Rot? Think a moment,
old man. You and I were brought up together; taught by the same
tutors, read the same books, lived the same life, and new
languages, and work among new races; while you, more fortunate,
remain at home. Why should I change my mind our mind-because
I change my sky? Why should I and the few hundred Englishmen
in my service become unreasonable, prejudiced fossils, while you
and your newer friends alone remain bright and open-minded?
You surely don't fancy civilians are members of a Primrose
"Of course not, but the mere position of an English official gives
him a point of view which cannot but bias his mind on this
question." Pagett moved his knee up and down a little uneasily as
"That sounds plausible enough, but, like more plausible notions on
Indian matters, I believe it's a mistake. You'll find when you come
to consult the unofficial Briton that our fault, as a class--I speak of
the civilian now-is rather to magnify the progress that has been
made toward liberal institutions. It is of English origin, such as it
is, and the stress of our work since the Mutiny--only thirty years
ago--has been in that direction. No, I think you will get no fairer or
more dispassionate view of the Congress business than such men
as I can give you. But I may as well say at once that those who
know most of India, from the inside, are inclined to wonder at the
noise our scarcely begun experiment makes in England."
"But surely the gathering together of Congress delegates is of itself
a new thing."
"There's nothing new under the sun When Europe was a jungle
half Asia flocked to the canonical conferences of Buddhism; and
for centuries the people have gathered at Pun, Hurdwar, Trimbak,
and Benares in immense numbers. A great meeting, what you call
a mass meeting, is really one of the oldest and most popular of
Indian institutions In the case of the Congress meetings, the only
notable fact is that the priests of the altar are British, not Buddhist,
Jam or Brahmanical, 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 he leaders, but they have no social
weight in this topsy-turvy land, and though they have been
employed in clerical work for generations they have no prac. tical
knowledge of affairs. A ship's clerk is a useful person, but he it
scarcely the captain; and an orderly-room writer, however smart he
may be, is not the colonel. You see, the writer class in India has
never till now aspired to anything like command. It wasn t allowed
to. The Indian gentleman, for thousands of years past, has
resembled Victor Hugo's noble:
'Un vrai sire
Sa main digne
Quand il signe
And the little egralignures he most likes to make have been scored
pretty deeply by the sword."
"But this is childish and medheval nonsense!"
"Precisely; and from your, or rather our, point of view the pen is
mightier than the sword. In this country it's otherwise. The fault
lies in our Indian balances, not yet adjusted to civilized weights
"Well, at all events, this literary class represent the natural
aspirations and wishes of the people at large, though it may not
exactly lead them, and, in spite of all you say, Orde, I defy you to
find a really sound English Radical who would not sympathize
with those aspirations."
Pagett spoke with some warmth, and he had scarcely ceased when
a well appointed dog-cart turned into the compound gates, and
Orde rose saying:
"Here is Edwards, the Master of the Lodge I neglect so diligently,
come to talk about accounts, I suppose."
As the vehicle drove up under the porch Pagett also rose, saying
with the trained effusion born of much practice:
"But this is also my friend, my old and valued friend Edwards. I'm
delighted to see you. I knew you were in India, but not exactly
"Then it isn't accounts, Mr. Edwards," said Orde, cheerily.
"Why, no, sir; I heard Mr. Pagett was coming, and as our works
were closed for the New Year I thought I would drive over and see
"A very happy thought. Mr. Edwards, you may not know, Orde,
was a leading member of our Radical Club at Switebton 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
"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
"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 Eng'ish 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, Ed
wards." Pagett spoke as one who mourned the death of a near
"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 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
"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
"A native?" said Pagett.
"Of course," was the reply, "Bishen Siagh is his name, and he has
two brothers to help him. When there is an important job to do,
the three go 'ato 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
Singn -shall we ask him about the Congress?"
But Bishen Singh, who approached with a respectful salaam, had
never heard of it, and he listened with a puzzled face and
obviously feigned interest to Orde's account of its aims and
objects, finally shaking his vast white turban with great
significance when he learned that it was promoted by certam
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 in.. terest at the wood-carver.
"He seems to have a most illiberal prejudice against the Bengali,"
"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," pointed with his
riding-whip to the large map of India on the veranda wall.
"See! I begin with the North," said he. "There's the Afghan, and, as
a highlander, he despises all the dwellers in Hindoostan-with the
exception of the Sikh, whom he hates as cordially as the Sikh hates
him. The Hindu loathes Sikh and Afghan, and the Rajput--that's a
little lower down across this yellow blot of desert--has a strong
objection, to put it mildly, to the Maratha who, by the way,
poisonously hates the Afghan. Let's go North a minute. The Sindhi
hates everybody I've mentioned. Very good, we'll take less warlike
races. The cultivator of Northern India domineers over the man in
the next province, and the Behari of the Northwest ridicules the
Bengali. They are all at one on that point. I'm giving you merely
the roughest possible outlines of the facts, of course."
Bishen Singh, his clean cut nostrils still quivering, watched the
large sweep of the whip as it traveled from the frontier, through
Sindh, the Punjab and Rajputana, till it rested by the valley of the
"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
Pagett opened his eyes, Orde resumed. "And the race-hatred is
only a part of it. What's really the matter with Bisben Singh is
class-hatred, which, unfortunately, is even more intense and
more widely spread. That's one of the little drawbacks of caste,
which some of your recent English writers find an impeccable
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 hum. bleness, 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 b& fore a native
judge and-here he dropped his voice still lower tid 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 day-light on the bench. But that's just what one
can't get a native to believe."
"Do you really mean to say these people prefer to have their cases
tried by English judges?"
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 Ah Khan come to pay one of his
tiresome duty calls. I'm afraid we shall never get through our little
Pagett was an aimost 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 exhange of polite banalities came to a pause, he
expressed a wish to learn the courtly visitor's opinion of the
Orde reluctantly interpreted, and with a smile which even
Mohammedan politeness could not save from bitter scorn, Rasul
Ah 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 mast mas terful 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
electiop 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, hut 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'm 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 to-morrows."
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 af 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 naore
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
Why should such folk look up from their immemorially appointed
round of duty and interests to meddle with the unknown and fuss
with voting-papers. How would you, atop of all your interests care
to conduct even one-tenth of your life according to the manners
and customs of the Papuans, let's say? That's what it comes to."
"But if they won't take the trouble to vote, why do you anticipate
that Mohammedans, proprietors, and the rest would be crushed by
majorities of them?"
Again Pagett disregarded the closing sentence.
"Because, though the landholders would not move a finger on any
purely political question, they could be raised in dangerous
excitement by religious hatreds. Already the first note of this has
been sounded by the people who are trying to get up an agitation
on the cow-killing question, and every year there is trouble over
the Mohammedan Muharrum processions.
"But who looks after the popular rights, being thus unrepresented?"
"The Government of Hcr 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 Hindnstan, and the strengthening of the
British Govemment.' This paper is headed in large letters-
'MAV THE PROSPEEITY OF THE EMPIRE OF INDIA
"Really!" said Pagett, "that shows some cleverness. But there are
things better worth imi'ation 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
"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 administ:ation 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 house.
"It is old Jelbo, the Lumherdar, or head-man of Pind Sharkot, and a
very' intelligent man for a villager."
The Jat farmer had removed his shoes and stood smiling on the
edge of the veranda. His strongly marked features glowed with
russet bronze, and his bright eyes gleamed under deeply set brows,
contracted by lifelong exposure to sunshine. His beard and
moustache streaked with grey swept from bold cliffs of brow and
cheek in the large sweeps one sees drawn by Michael Angelo, and
strands of long black hair mingled with the irregularly piled
wreaths and folds of his turban. The drapery of stout blue cotton
cloth thrown over his broad shoulders and girt round his narrow
loins, hung from his tall form in broadly sculptured folds, and he
would have made a superb model for an artist in search of a
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 Jelloc 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 JelIno'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,
rattle-killing, perjury and murder, but would prefer to have him
punished for bewitching them and inflicting small-pox."
"And how on earth did you answer such a lunatic?"
"Lunatic I 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
likc a native superintendent of police with some men to make
inquiries, but he objected on the grounds the police were rather
worse than smallpox and criminal tribes put together."
"Criminal tribes-er-I don't quite understand," said Paget~
"We have in India many tribes of people who in the slack
anti-British days became robbers, in various kind. and preye~ 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 sup-pose
they would be electors with the rest."
"Nonsense-special provision would be made for them in a
well-considered electoral scheme, and they would doubtless be
treated with fitting severity," said Pagett, with a magisterial air.
"Severity, yes-but whether it would be fitting is doubtful. Even
those poor devils have rights, and, after all, they only practice what
they have been taught."
"But criminals, Ordel"
"Yes, criminals with codes and rituals of crime, gods and
godlings of crime, and a hundred songs and sayings in praise of it.
Puzzling, isn't it?"
"It's simply dreadful. They ought to be put down at once. Are
there many of them?"
"Not more than about sixty thousand in this province, for many of
the trlbes broadly described as criminal are really vagabond and
crimlnal 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 Englisb, and
Orde scanned him keenly.
"I know your face somehow. You belonged to the Shershah
district I think, when I was in charge there?"
"Yes, Sir, my father is writer at Shershah, and your honor gave me
a prize when I was first in the Middle School examination five
years ago. Since then I have prosecuted my studies, and I am now
second year's student in the Mission College."
"Of course: you are Kedar Nath's son
-the boy who said he liked geography better than play or sugar
cakes, and I didn't believe you. How is your father getting on?"
"He is well, and he sends his salaam, but his circumstances are
depressed, and be also is down on his luck."
"You learn English idiom". 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 Sher shah 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 bad scarcely retired with his telegram when Pagett began:
"Perhaps you can tell me something of the National Congress
"Sir, it is the greatest movement of modern times, and one in
which all edvcated men like us must join. All our students are for
"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
-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
"Well," said Pagett, drily, "it has not vet occurred to me to worship
his Lord-ship, 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 qtlestion 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 good-bye to his "very
interesting" young friend.
"What do you think of young India?" asked Orde.
"Curious, very curious-and callow."
"And yet," the civilian replied, "one can scarcely help
sympathizing with him for his mere youth's sake. The young
orators of the Oxford Union arrived at the same conclusions and
showed doubtless just the same enthusiasm. If there were any
political analogy between India and England, if the thousand
races of this Empire were one, if there were any chance even of
their learning to speak one language, if, in short, India were a
Utopia of the debating-room, and not a real land, this kind of talk
might be worth listening to, but it is all based on false analogy and
ignorance of the facts."
"But he is a native and knows the facts."
"He is a sort of English schoolboy, but married three years, and the
father of two weaklings, and knows less than most English
schoolboys. You saw all he is and knows, and such ideas as he has
acquired are directly hostile to the most cherished convictions of
the vast majority of the people."
"But what does he mean by saying he is a student of a mission
college? Is he a Christian?"
"He meant just what he said, and he is not a Christian, nor ever
will he be. Good people in America, Scotland and England, most
of whom would never dream of collegiate education for their own
sons, are pinching themselves to bestow it in pure waste on Indian
youths. Their scheme is an oblique, subterranean attack on
heathenism; the theory being that with the jam of secular
education, leading to a University degree, the pill of moral or
religious instruction may he coaxed down the heathen gullet."
"But does it succeed; do they make converts?"
"They make no converts, for the subtle Oriental swallows the jam
and rejects the pill; but the mere example of the sober, righteous,
and godly lives of the principals and professors who are most
excellent and devoted men, must have a certain moral value. Yet,
as Lord Lansdowne pointed out the other day, the market is
dangerously overstocked with graduates of our Universities who
look for employment in the administration. An immense number
are employed, but year by year the college mills grind out
increasing lists of youths foredoomed to failure and
disappointment, and meanwhile, trade. manufactures. and the
arts are neglected, and in fact regarded with contempt by our new
literary mandarins in posse."
"But our young friend said he wanted steam-engines and
factories," said Pagett.
"Yes, he would like to direct such concerns. He wants to begin at
the top, for manual labor is held to be discreditable, and he would
never defile his hands by the apprenticeship which the architects,
engineers, and manufacturers of England cheerfully undergo; and
he would be aghast to learn that the leading names of industrial
enterprise in England belonged a generation or two since, or now
belong, to men who wrought with their own hands. And, though he
talks glibly of manufacturers, he refuses to see that the Indian
manufacturer of the future will be the despised workman of the
present. It was proposed, for example, a few weeks ago, that a
certain municipality in this province should establish an
elementary technical school for the sons of workmen. The stress of
the opposition to the plan came from a pleader who owed all he
had to a college education bestowed on him gratis by Government
and missions. You would have fancied some fine old crusted Tory
squire of the last generation was speaking. 'These people,' he said,
'want no education, for they learn their trades from their fathers,
and to teach a workman's son the elements of mathematics and
physical science would give him ideas above his business. They
must be kept in their place, and it was idle to imagine that there
was any science in wood or iron work.' And he carried his point.
But the Indian workman will rise in the social scale in spite of the
new literary caste."
"In England we have scarcely begun to realize that there is an
industrial class in this country, yet, I suppose, the example of men,
like Edwards for instance, must tell," said Pagett, thoughtfully.
"That you shouldn't know much about it is natural enough, for
there are but few sources of information. India in this, as in other
respects, is like a badly kept ledger-not written up to date. And
men like Edwards are, in reality, missionaries, who by precept and
example are teaching more lessons than they know. Only a few,
however, of their crowds of subordinates seem to care to try to
emulate them, and aim at individual advancement; the rest drop
into the ancient Indian caste gr('ove."
"How do you mean?" asked he, "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 tbe faith that is in him, your Indian army is too
"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,
Pahtans, and Gurkbas 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
"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.
"HelIn, 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
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 probalny be beaten,
Pagett rose to look at his mount, a red, lathered Biloch mare, with
a curious lyre-like incurving of the ears. "Quite a little
thoroughbred in all other respects," said the M.P., and Orde
presented Mr. Reginald Burke, Manager of the Siad and Sialkote
Bank to his friend.
"Yes, she's as good as they make 'em, and she's all the female I
possess and spoiled in consequence, aren't you, old girl?" said
Burke, patting the mare's glossy neck as she backed and plunged.
"Mr. Pagett," said Orde, "has been asking me about the Congress.
What is your opinion?" Burke turned to the M. P. with a frank
"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
"How do you mean?"
"It would be a long job to explain, and Sara here won't stand, but
you know how sensitive capital is, and how timid investors are.
All this sort of rot is likely to frighten them, and we can't afford to
frighten them. The passengers aboard an Ocean steamer don't feel
reassured when the ship's way is stopped, and they hear the
workmen's hammers tinkering at the engines down below. The old
Ark's going on all right as she is, and only wants quiet and room to
move. Them's my sentiments, and those of some other people who
have to do with money and business."
"Then you are a thick-and-thin supporter of the Government as it
"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 good-bye.
"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 to-morrow you
would find Mr. Reginald Burke a very capable man of business,
known and liked by an immense constituency North and South of
"Do you think he is right about the Government's want of
"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
"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
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,
"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
"Your wife is real kind and good, ] always come to her when I'm in
a fix but I fear it's more than comforting I want."
"You work too hard and wear yourself out," said Orde, kindly.
"Let me introduce my friend, Mr. Pagett, just fresh from home, and
anxious to learn his India. You could tell him something of that
more important half of which a mere man knows so little."
"Perhaps I could if I'd any heart to do it, but I'm in trouble, I've lost
a case, a case that was doing well, through nothing in the world
but inattention on the part of a nurse I had begun to trust. And
when I spoke only a small piece of my mind she collapsed in a
whining heap on the floor. It is hopeless."
The men were silent, for the blue eyes of the lady doctor were dim.
Recovering herself she looked up with a smile, half sad, half
humorous, "And I am in a whining heap, too; but what phase of
Indian life are you particularly interested in, sir?"
"Mr. Pagett intends to study the political aspect of things and the
possibility of bestowing electoral institutions on the people."
"Wouldn't it be as much to the purpose to bestow point-lace collars
on them? They need many things more urgently than votes. Why
it's like giving a bread-pill for a broken leg."
"Er-I don't quite follow," said Pagett, uneasily.
"Well, what's the matter with this country is not in the least
political, but an all round entanglement of physical, social, and
moral evils and corruptions, all more or less due to the unnatural
treatment of women. You can't gather figs from thistles, and so
long as the system of infant marriage, the prohibition of the
remarriage of widows, the lifelong imprisonment of wives and
mothers in a worse than penal confinement, and the withholding
from them of any kind of education or treatment as rational beings
continues, the country can't advance a step. Half of it is morally
dead, and worse than dead, and that's just the half from which we
have a right to look for the best impulses. It's right here where
the trouble is, and not in any political considerations whatsoever."
"But do they marry so early?" said Pagett, vaguely.
"The average age is seven, but thousands are married still earlier.
One result is that girls of twelve and thirteen have to bear the
burden of wifehood and motherhood, and, as might be expected,
the rate of mortality both for mothers and children is terrible.
Pauperism, domestic unhappiness, and a low state of health are
only a few of the consequences of this. Then, when, as frequently
happens, the boy-husband dies prematurely, his widow is
condemned to worse than death. She may not re-marry, 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,"
"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 life--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
"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
"Yes; she believes in her work, and so do I," said Orde. "I've a
notion that in the end it will be found that the most helpful work
done for India in this generation was wrought by Lady Dufferin in
drawing attention-what work that was, by the way, even with her
husband's great name to back it to the needs of women here. In
effect, native habits and beliefs are an organized conspiracy
against the laws of health and happy life--but there is some
dawning of hope now."
"How d' you account for the general indifferencc, 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 Pun-jab 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
Pagett was silent for a long time. The question of direct and
personal pain did not lie within his researches. He pre ferred 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 hminem 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."
Pagett laughed. "That's an epigrammatic way of putting it, Orde."
"Is it? Let's see," said the Deputy Commissioner of Amara,
striding into the sunshine toward a half-naked gardener potting
roses. He took the man's hoe, and went to a rain-scarped bank at
the bottom of the garden.
"Come here, Pagett," he said, and cut at the sun-baked soil. After
three strokes there rolled from under the blade of the hoe the half
of a clanking skeleton that settled at Pagett's feet in an unseemly
jumble of bones. The M.P. drew back.
"Our houses are built on cemeteries," said Orde. "There are scores
of thousands of graves within ten miles."
Pagett was contemplating the skull with the awed fascination of a
man who has but little to do with the dead. "India's a very curious
place," said he, after a pause.
"Ah? You'll know all about it in three months. Come in to lunch,"
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