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Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling

The Day's Work [Vol. 1]
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Title:  The Day's Work [Vol. 1]

Author:  Rudyard Kipling

March, 2001  [Etext #2568]

The Project Gutenberg Etext The Day's Work [Vol. 1], by Kipling

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This Etext prepared by an anonymous Project Gutenberg volunteer.


by Rudyard Kipling















The least that Findlayson, of the Public Works Department, expected

was a C. I. E.; he dreamed of a C. S. I.: indeed, his friends told

him that he deserved more.  For three years he had endured heat and

cold, disappointment, discomfort, danger, and disease, with

responsibility almost too heavy for one pair of shoulders; and day

by day, through that time, the great Kashi Bridge over the Ganges

had grown under his charge.  Now, in less than three months, if all

went well, his Excellency the Viceroy would open the bridge in state,

an archbishop would bless it, and the first trainload of soldiers

would come over it, and there would be speeches.

Findlayson, C. E., sat in his trolley on a construction line that

ran along one of the main revetments - the huge stone-faced banks

that flared away north and south for three miles on either side of

the river - and permitted himself to think of the end.  With its

approaches, his work was one mile and three-quarters fin length; a

lattice-girder bridge, trussed with the Findlayson truss, standing

on seven-and-twenty brick pies.  Each one of those piers was

twenty-four feet in diameter, capped with red Agra stone and sunk

eighty feet below the shifting sand of the Ganges' bed.  Above them

was a railway-line fifteen feet broad; above that, again, a cart-road

of eighteen feet, flanked with footpaths.  At either end rose towers

of red brick, loopholed for musketry and pierced for big guns, and

the ramp of the road was being pushed forward to their haunches.

The raw earth-ends were crawling and alive with hundreds upon

hundreds of tiny asses climbing out of the yawning borrow-pit below

with sackfuls of stuff; and the hot afternoon air was filled with

the noise of hooves, the rattle of the drivers' sticks, and the

swish and roll-down of the dirt.  The river was very low, and on the

dazzling white sand between the three centre piers stood squat cribs

of railway-sleepers, filled within and daubed without with mud, to

support the last of the girders as those were riveted up.  In the

little deep water left by the drought, an overhead-crane travelled

to and fro along its spile-pier, jerking sections of iron into place,

snorting and backing and grunting as an elephant grunts in the

timber-yard.  Riveters by the hundred swarmed about the lattice

side-work and the iron roof of the railway-line, hung from invisible

staging under the bellies of the girders, clustered round the throats

of the piers, and rode on the overhang of the footpath-stanchions;

their fire-pots and the spurts of flame that answered each

hammer-stroke showing no more than pale yellow in the sun's glare.

East and west and north and south the construction-trains rattled

and shrieked up and down the embankments, the piled trucks of brown

and white stone banging behind them till the side-boards were

unpinned, and with a roar and a grumble a few thousand tons more

material were flung out to hold the river in place.

Findlayson, C. E., turned on his trolley and looked over the face

of the country that he had changed for seven miles around.  Looked

back on the humming village of five thousand workmen; up stream and

down, along the vista of spurs and sand; across the river to the far

piers, lessening in the haze; overhead to the guard-towers - and

only he knew how strong those were - and with a sigh of contentment

saw that his work was good.  There stood his bridge before him in

the sunlight, lacking only a few weeks' work on the girders of the

three middle piers - his bridge, raw and ugly as original sin, but

pukka - permanent - to endure when all memory of the builder, yea,

even of the splendid Findlayson truss, had perished.  Practically,

the thing was done.

Hitchcock, his assistant, cantered along the line on a little

switch-tailed Kabuli pony who through long practice could have

trotted securely over a trestle, and nodded to his chief.

"All but," said he, with a smile.

"I've been thinking about it," the senior answered.  "Not half a

bad job for two men, is it?"

"One-and a half.  Gad, what a Cooper's Hill cub I was when I came

on the works!"  Hitchcock felt very old in the crowded experiences

of the past three years, that had taught him power and responsibility.

"You were rather a colt," said Findlayson.  "I wonder how you'll

like going back to office-work when this job's over."

"I shall hate it!" said the young man, and as he went on his eye

followed Findlayson's, and he muttered, "Isn't it damned good?"

"I think we'll go up the service together," Findlayson said to

himself.  "You're too good a youngster to waste on another man.

Cub thou wart; assistant thou art.  Personal assistant, and at

Simla, thou shalt be, if any credit comes to me out of the


Indeed; the burden of the work had fallen altogether on Findlayson

and his assistant, the young man whom he had chosen because of his

rawness to break to his own needs.  There were labour contractors

by the half-hundred - fitters and riveters, European, borrowed from

the railway workshops, with, perhaps, twenty white and half-caste

subordinates to direct, under direction, the bevies of workmen - but

none knew better than these two, who trusted each other, how the

underlings were not to be trusted.  They had been tried many times

in sudden crises - by slipping of booms, by breaking of tackle,

failure of cranes, and the wrath of the river - but no stress had

brought to light any man among men whom Findlayson and Hitchcock

would have honoured by working as remorselessly as they worked

themselves.  Findlayson thought it over from the beginning: the

months of office-work destroyed at a blow when the Government of

India, at the last moment, added two feet to the width of the

bridge, under the impression that bridges were cut out of paper,

and so brought to ruin at least half an acre of calculations - and

Hitchcock, new to disappointment, buried his head in his arms and

wept; the heart-breaking delays over the filling of the contracts

in England; the futile correspondences hinting at great wealth of

commissions if one, only one, rather doubtful consignment were

passed; the war that followed the refusal; the careful, polite

obstruction at the other end that followed the war, till young

Hitchcock, putting one month's leave to another month, and borrowing

ten days from Findlayson, spent his poor little savings of a year

in a wild dash to London, and there, as his own tongue asserted

and the later consignments proved, put the fear of God into a man

so great that he feared only Parliament and said so till Hitchcock

wrought with him across his own dinner-table, and - he feared the

Kashi Bridge and all who spoke in its name.  Then there was the

cholera that came in the night to the village by the bridge works;

and after the cholera smote the Smallpox.  The fever they had

always with them.  Hitchcock had been appointed a magistrate of

the third class with whipping powers, for the better government of

the community, and Findlayson watched him wield his powers

temperately, learning what to overlook and what to look after.  It

was a long, long reverie, and it covered storm, sudden freshets,

death in every manner and shape, violent and awful rage against red

tape half frenzying a mind that knows it should be busy on other

things; drought, sanitation, finance; birth, wedding, burial, and

riot in the village of twenty warring castes; argument, expostulation,

persuasion, and the blank despair that a man goes to bed upon,

thankful that his rifle is all in pieces in the gun-case.  Behind

everything rose the black frame of the Kashi Bridge - plate by plate,

girder by girder, span by span-and each pier of it recalled

Hitchcock, the all-round man, who had stood by his chief without

failing from the very first to this last.

So the bridge was two men's work - unless one counted Peroo, as Peroo

certainly counted himself.  He was a Lascar, a Kharva from Bulsar,

familiar with every port between Rockhampton and London, who had

risen to the rank of sarang on the British India boats, but wearying

of routine musters and clean clothes, had thrown up the service and

gone inland, where men of his calibre were sure of employment.  For

his knowledge of tackle and the handling of heavy weights, Peroo was

worth almost any price he might have chosen to put upon his services;

but custom decreed the wage of the overhead men, and Peroo was not

within many silver pieces of his proper value.  Neither running

water nor extreme heights made him afraid; and, as an ex-serang, he

knew how to hold authority.  No piece of iron was so big or so badly

placed that Peroo could not devise a tackle to lift it - a

loose-ended, sagging arrangement, rigged with a scandalous amount

of talking, but perfectly equal to the work in hand.  It was Peroo

who had saved the girder of Number Seven pier from destruction when

the new wire rope jammed in the eye of the crane, and the huge plate

tilted in its slings, threatening to slide out sideways.  Then the

native workmen lost their heads with great shoutings, and Hitchcock's

right arm was broken by a falling T-plate, and he buttoned it up in

his coat and swooned, and came to and directed for four hours till

Peroo, from the top of the crane, reported "All's well," and the

plate swung home.  There was no one like Peroo, serang, to lash, and

guy, and hold to control the donkey-engines, to hoist a fallen

locomotive craftily out of the borrow-pit into which it had tumbled;

to strip, and dive, if need be, to see how the concrete blocks round

the piers stood the scouring of Mother Gunga, or to adventure

up-stream on a monsoon night and report on the state of the

embankment-facings.  He would interrupt the field-councils of

Findlayson and Hitchcock without fear, till his wonderful English,

or his still more wonderful lingua franca, half Portuguese and half

Malay, ran out and he was forced to take string and show the knots

that he would recommend.  He controlled his own gang of tacklemen

- mysterious relatives from Kutch Mandvi gathered month by month

and tried to the uttermost.  No consideration of family or kin

allowed Peroo to keep weak hands or a giddy head on the pay-roll.

"My honour is the honour of this bridge," he would say to the

about-to-bedismissed.  "What do I care for your honour?  Go and

work on a steamer.  That is all you are fit for."

The little cluster of huts where he and his gang lived centred

round the tattered dwelling of a sea-priest - one who had never set

foot on black water, but had been chosen as ghostly counsellor by

two generations of sea-rovers all unaffected by port missions or

those creeds which are thrust upon sailors by agencies along Thames

bank.  The priest of the Lascara had nothing to do with their caste,

or indeed with anything at all.  He ate the offerings of his church,

and slept and smoked, and slept again "for," said Peroo, who had

haled him a thousand miles inland, "he is a very holy man.  He never

cares what you eat so long as you do not eat beef, and that is

good, because on land we worship Shiva, we Kharvas; but at sea on

the Kumpani's boats we attend strictly to the orders of the Burra

Malum [the first mate], and on this bridge we observe what Finlinson

Sahib says."

Finlinson Sahib had that day given orders to clear the scaffolding

from the guard-tower on the right bank, and Peroo with his mates was

casting loose and lowering down the bamboo poles and planks as

swiftly as ever they had whipped the cargo out of a coaster.

>From his trolley he could hear the whistle of the serang's silver

pipe and the creak and clatter of the pulleys.  Peroo was standing

on the topmost coping of the tower, clad in the blue dungaree of

his abandoned service, and as Findlayson motioned to him to be

careful, for his was no life to throw away, he gripped the last

pole, and, shading his eyes ship-fashion, answered with the

long-drawn wail of the fo'c'sle lookout: "Ham dekhta hai " ("I am

looking out").  Findlayson laughed and then sighed.  It was years

since he had seen a steamer, and he was sick for home.  As his

trolley passed under the tower, Peroo descended by a rope,

ape-fashion, and cried: "It looks well now, Sahib.  Our bridge is

all but done.  What think you Mother Gunga will say when the rail

runs over?"

"She has said little so far.  It was never Mother Gunga that delayed


"There is always time for her; and none the less there has been

delay.  Has the Sahib forgotten last autumn's flood, when the

stoneboats were sunk without warning - or only a half-day's

warning? "

"Yes, but nothing save a big flood could hurt us now.  The spurs are

holding well on the west bank."

"Mother Gunga eats great allowances.  There is always room for more

stone on the revetments.  I tell this to the Chota Sahib" - he meant

Hitchcock-" and he laughs."

"No matter, Peroo.  Another year thou wilt be able to build a bridge

in thine own fashion."

The Lascar grinned.  "Then it will not be in this way - with

stonework sunk under water, as the Quetta was sunk.  I like

sus-suspen-sheen bridges that fly from bank to bank, with one big

step, like a gang-plank.  Then no water can hurt.  When does the

Lord Sahib come to open the bridge?"

"In three months, when the weather is cooler."

"Ho!  ho!  He is like the Burra Malum.  He sleeps below while the

work is being done.  Then he comes upon the quarter-deck and touches

with his finger, and says: 'This is not clean!  Dam jibboonwallah!'"

"But the Lord Sahib does not call me a dam jibboonwallah, Peroo."

"No, Sahib; but he does not come on deck till the work is all

finished.  Even the Burra Malum of the Nerbudda said once at

Tuticorin -"

"Bah!  Go!  I am busy."

"I, also!" said Peroo, with an unshaken countenance.  "May I take

the light dinghy now and row along the spurs?"

"To hold them with thy hands?  They are, I think, sufficiently


"Nay, Sahib.  It is thus.  At sea, on the Black Water, we have room

to be blown up and down without care.  Here we have no room at all.

Look you, we have put the river into a dock, and run her between

stone sills."

Findlayson smiled at the " we."

"We have bitted and bridled her.  She is not like the sea, that can

beat against a soft beach.  She is Mother Gunga - in irons."  His

voice fell a little.

"Peroo, thou hast been up and down the world more even than I.  Speak

true talk, now.  How much dolt thou in thy heart believe of Mother


"All that our priest says.  London is London, Sahib.  Sydney is

Sydney, and Port Darwin is Port Darwin.  Also Mother Gunga is Mother

Gunga, and when I come back to her banks I know this and worship.

In London I did poojah to the big temple by the river for the sake

of the God within .  .  .  .  Yes, I will not take the cushions in

the dinghy."

Findlayson mounted his horse and trotted to the shed of a bungalow

that he shared with his assistant.  The place had become home to

him in the last three years.  He had grilled in the heat, sweated

in the rains, and shivered with fever under the rude thatch roof;

the lime-wash beside the door was covered with rough drawings and

formulae, and the sentry-path trodden in the matting of the verandah

showed where he had walked alone.  There is no eight-hour limit to

an engineer's work, and the evening meal with Hitchcock was eaten

booted and spurred: over their cigars they listened to the hum of

the village as the gangs came up from the river-bed and the lights

began to twinkle.

"Peroo has gone up the spurs in your dinghy.  He's taken a couple

of nephews with him, and he's lolling in the stern like a

commodore," said Hitchcock.

"That's all right.  He's got something on his mind.  You'd think

that ten years in the British India boats would have knocked most

of his religion out of him."

"So it has," said Hitchcock, chuckling.  "I overheard him the other

day in the middle of a most atheistical talk with that fat old guru

of theirs.  Peroo denied the efficacy of prayer; and wanted the

guru to go to sea and watch a gale out with him, and see if he

could stop a monsoon."

"All the same, if you carried off his gurus he'd leave us like a

shot.  He was yarning away to me about praying to the dome of St.

Paul's when he was in London."

"He told me that the first time he went into the engine-room of a

steamer, when he was a boy, he prayed to the low-pressure cylinder."

"Not half a bad thing to pray to, either.  He's propitiating his own

Gods now, and he wants to know what Mother Gunga will think of a

bridge being run across her.  Who's there?"  A shadow darkened the

doorway, and a telegram was put into Hitchcock's hand.

"She ought to be pretty well used to it by this time.  Only a tar.

It ought to be Ralli's answer about the new rivets .  .  .  .  Great

Heavens!" Hitchcock jumped to his feet.

"What is it?" said the senior, and took the form.  "That's what

Mother Gunga thinks, is it," he said, reading.  "Keep cool, young'un.

We've got all our work cut out for us.  Let's see.  Muir wired half

an hour ago: 'Floods on the Ramgunga.  Look out.'  Well, that gives

us - one, two - nine and a half for the flood to reach Melipur Ghaut

and seven's sixteen and a half to Lataoli - say fifteen hours before

it comes down to us."

"Curse that hill-fed sewer of a Ramgunga!  Findlayson, this is two

months before anything could have been expected, and the left bank

is littered up with stuff still.  Two full months before the time!"

" That's why it comes.  I've only known Indian rivers for

five-and-twenty years, and I don't pretend to understand.  Here comes

another tar."  Findlayson opened the telegram.  "Cockran, this time,

from the Ganges Canal: 'Heavy rains here.  Bad.'  He might have saved

the last word.  Well, we don't want to know any more.  We've got to

work the gangs all night and clean up the river-bed.  You'll take the

east bank and work out to meet me in the middle.  Get every thing that

floats below the bridge: we shall have quite enough rivercraft coming

down adrift anyhow, without letting the stone-boats ram the piers.

What have you got on the east bank that needs looking after "

"Pontoon - one big pontoon with the overhead crane on it.  T'other

overhead crane on the mended pontoon, with the cart-road rivets from

Twenty to Twenty-three piers - two construction lines, and a

turning-spur.  The pilework must take its chance," said Hitchcock.

All right.  Roll up everything you can lay hands on.  We'll give the

gang fifteen minutes more to eat their grub."

Close to the verandah stood a big night-gong, never used except for

flood, or fire in the village.  Hitchcock had called for a fresh

horse, and was off to his side of the bridge when Findlayson took

the cloth-bound stick and smote with the rubbing stroke that brings

out the full thunder of the metal.

Long before the last rumble ceased every night-gong in the village

had taken up the warning.  To these were added the hoarse screaming

of conches in the little temples; the throbbing of drums and tom-toms;

and, from the European quarters, where the riveters lived,

McCartney's bugle, a weapon of offence on Sundays and festivals,

brayed desperately, calling to "Stables."  Engine after engine

toiling home along the spurs at the end of her day's work whistled

in answer till the whistles were answered from the far bank.  Then

the big gong thundered thrice for a sign that it was flood and not

fire; conch, drum, and whistle echoed the call, and the village

quivered to the sound of bare feet running upon soft earth.  The

order in all cases was to stand by the day's work and wait

instructions.  The gangs poured by in the dusk; men stopping to knot

a loin-cloth or fasten a sandal; gang-foremen shouting to their

subordinates as they ran or paused by the tool-issue sheds for bars

and mattocks; locomotives creeping down their tracks wheel-deep in

the crowd; till the brown torrent disappeared into the dusk of the

river-bed, raced over the pilework, swarmed along the lattices,

clustered by the cranes, and stood still each man in his place.

Then the troubled beating of the gong carried the order to take up

everything and bear it beyond highwater mark, and the flare-lamps

broke out by the hundred between the webs of dull iron as the

riveters began a night's work, racing against the flood that was to

come.  The girders of the three centre piers - those that stood on

the cribs - were all but in position.  They needed just as many

rivets as could be driven into them, for the flood would assuredly

wash out their supports, and the ironwork would settle down on the

caps of stone if they were not blocked at the ends.  A hundred

crowbars strained at the sleepers of the temporary line that fed

the unfinished piers.  It was heaved up in lengths, loaded into

trucks, and backed up the bank beyond flood-level by the groaning

locomotives.  The tool-sheds on the sands melted away before the

attack of shouting armies, and with them went the stacked ranks of

Government stores, iron-bound boxes of rivets, pliers, cutters,

duplicate parts of the riveting-machines, spare pumps and chains.

The big crane would be the last to be shifted, for she was hoisting

all the heavy stuff up to the main structure of the bridge.  The

concrete blocks on the fleet of stone-boats were dropped overside,

where there was any depth of water, to guard the piers, and the

empty boats themselves were poled under the bridge down-stream.  It

was here that Peroo's pipe shrilled loudest, for the first stroke

of the big gong had brought the dinghy back at racing speed, and

Peroo and his people were stripped to the waist, working for the

honour and credit which are better than life.

"I knew she would speak," he cried.  "I knew, but the telegraph

gives us good warning.  O sons of unthinkable begetting - children

of unspeakable shame - are we here for the look of the thing?"  It

was two feet of wire-rope frayed at the ends, and it did wonders

as Peroo leaped from gunnel to gunnel, shouting the language of

the sea.

Findlayson was more troubled for the stone-boats than anything else.

McCartney, with his gangs, was blocking up the ends of the three

doubtful spans, but boats adrift, if the flood chanced to be a high

one, might endanger the girders; and there was a very fleet in the

shrunken channel.

"Get them behind the swell of the guard-tower," he shouted down to

Peroo.  "It will be dead-water there.  Get them below the bridge."

"Accha! [Very good.]  I know; we are mooring them with wire-rope,"

was the answer.  " Heh!  I Listen to the Chota Sahib.  He is working


>From across the river came an almost continuous whistling of

locomotives, backed by the rumble of stone.  Hitchcock at the last

minute was spending a few hundred more trucks of Tarakee stone in

reinforcing his spurs and embankments.

"The bridge challenges Mother Gunga," said Peroo, with a laugh.

"But when she talks I know whose voice will be the loudest."

For hours the naked men worked, screaming and shouting under the

lights.  It was a hot, moonless night; the end of it was darkened by

clouds and a sudden squall that made Findlayson very grave.

"She moves! " said Peroo, just before the dawn.  "Mother Gunga is

awake!  Hear!"  He dipped his hand over the side of a boat and the

current mumbled on it.  A little wave hit the side of a pier with

a crisp slap.

"Six hours before her time," said Findlayson, mopping his forehead

savagely.  "Now we can't depend on anything.  We'd better clear

all hands out of the river-bed."

Again the big gong beat, and a second time there was the rushing

of naked feet on earth and ringing iron; the clatter of tools ceased.

In the silence, men heard the dry yawn of water crawling over

thirsty sand.

Foreman after foreman shouted to Findlayson, who had posted himself

by the guard-tower, that his section of the river-bed had been

cleaned out, and when the last voice dropped Findlayson hurried over

the bridge till the iron plating of the permanent way gave place to

the temporary plank-walk over the three centre piers, and there he

met Hitchcock.

"All clear your side?" said Findlayson.  The whisper rang in the box

of latticework.

"Yes, and the east channel's filling now.  We're utterly out of our

reckoning.  When is this thing down on us?"

"There's no saying.  She's filling as fast as she can.  Look!"

Findlayson pointed to the planks below his feet, where the sand,

burned and defiled by months of work, was beginning to whisper

and fizz.

"What orders?" said Hitchcock.

"Call the roll - count stores  -sit on your hunkers - and pray for

the bridge.  That's all I can think of.  Good night.  Don't risk your

life trying to fish out anything that may go down-stream."

"Oh, I'll be as prudent as you are!  'Night.  Heavens, how she's

filling!  Here's the rain in earnest!"  Findlayson picked his way

back to his bank, sweeping the last of McCartney's riveters before

him.  The gangs had spread themselves along the embankments,

regardless of the cold rain of the dawn, and there they waited

for the flood.  Only Peroo kept his men together behind the swell

of the guard-tower, where the stone-boats lay tied fore and aft

with hawsers, wire-rope, and chains.

A shrill wail ran along the line, growing to a yell, half fear and

half wonder: the face of the river whitened from bank to bank

between the stone facings, and the faraway spurs went out in spouts

of foam.  Mother Gunga had come bank-high in haste, and a wall of

chocolate-coloured water was her messenger.  There was a shriek

above the roar of the water, the complaint of the spans coming down

on their blocks as the cribs were whirled out from under their

bellies.  The stone-boats groaned and ground each other in the eddy

that swung round the abutment, and their clumsy masts rose higher

and higher against the dim sky-line.

"Before she was shut between these walls we knew what she would do.

Now she is thus cramped God only knows what she will do!" said Peroo,

watching the furious turmoil round the guard-tower.  "Ohe!  Fight,

then!  Fight hard, for it is thus that a woman wears herself out."

But Mother Gunga would not fight as Peroo desired.  After the first

down-stream plunge there came no more walls of water, but the river

lifted herself bodily, as a snake when she drinks in midsummer,

plucking and fingering along the revetments, and banking up behind

the piers till even Findlayson began to recalculate the strength of

his work.

When day came the village gasped.  "Only last night," men said,

turning to each other," it was as a town in the river-bed!  Look


And they looked and wondered afresh at the deep water, the racing

water that licked the throat of the piers.  The farther bank was

veiled by rain, into which the bridge ran out and vanished; the

spurs up-stream were marked by no more than eddies and spoutings,

and down-stream the pent river, once freed of her guide-lines, had

spread like a sea to the horizon.  Then hurried by, rolling in the

water, dead men and oxen together, with here and there a patch of

thatched roof that melted when it touched a pier.

"Big flood," said Peroo, and Findlayson nodded.  It was as big a

flood as he had any wish to watch.  His bridge would stand what was

upon her now, but not very much more, and if by any of a thousand

chances there happened to be a weakness in the embankments, Mother

Gunga would carry his honour to the sea with the other raffle.

Worst of all, there was nothing to do except to sit still; and

Findlayson sat still under his macintosh till his helmet became

pulp on his head, and his boots were over-ankle in mire.  He took

no count of time, for the river was marking the hours, inch by

inch and foot by foot, along the embankment, and he listened, numb

and hungry, to the straining of the stone-boats, the hollow thunder

under the piers, and the hundred noises that make the full note of

a flood.  Once a dripping servant brought him food, but he could

not eat; and once he thought that he heard a faint toot from a

locomotive across the river, and then he smiled.  The bridge's

failure would hurt his assistant not a little, but Hitchcock was a

young man with his big work yet to do.  For himself the crash meant

everything - everything that made a hard life worth the living.

They would say, the men of his own profession .  .  .  he remembered

the half pitying things that he himself had said when Lockhart's

new waterworks burst and broke down in brickheaps and sludge, and

Lockhart's spirit broke in him and he died.  He remembered what he

himself had said when the Sumao Bridge went out in the big cyclone

by the sea; and most he remembered poor Hartopp's face three weeks

later, when the shame had marked it.  His bridge was twice the size

of Hartopp's, and it carried the Findlayson truss as well as the

new pier-shoe - the Findlayson bolted shoe.  There were no excuses

in his service.  Government might listen, perhaps, but his own kind

would judge him by his bridge, as that stood or fell.  He went over

it in his head, plate by plate, span by span, brick by brick, pier

by pier, remembering, comparing, estimating, and recalculating,

lest there should be any mistake; and through the long hours and

through the flights of formulae that danced and wheeled before him

a cold fear would come to pinch his heart.  His side of the sum

was beyond question; but what man knew Mother Gunga's arithmetic?

Even as he was making all sure by the multiplication-table, the

river might be scooping a pot-hole to the very bottom of any one of

those eighty-foot piers that carried his reputation.  Again a servant

came to him with food, but his mouth was dry, and he could only

drink and return to the decimals in his brain.  And the river was

still rising.  Peroo, in a mat shelter-coat, crouched at his feet,

watching now his face and now the face of the river, but saying


At last the Lascar rose and floundered through the mud towards the

village, but he was careful to leave an ally to watch the boats.

Presently he returned, most irreverently driving before him the

priest of his creed - a fat old man, with a grey beard that

whipped the wind with the wet cloth that blew over his shoulder.

Never was seen so lamentable a guru.

"What good are offerings and little kerosene lamps and dry grain,"

shouted Peroo, " if squatting in the mud is all that thou canst

do?  Thou hast dealt long with the Gods when they were contented

and well-wishing.  Now they are angry.  Speak to them!"

"What is a man against the wrath of Gods?" whined the priest,

cowering as the wind took him.  "Let me go to the temple, and I

will pray there."

"Son of a pig, pray here!  Is there no return for salt fish and

curry powder and dried onions?  Call aloud!  Tell Mother Gunga

we have had enough.  Bid her be still for the night.  I cannot

pray, but I have been serving in the Kumpani's boats, and when

men did not obey my orders I -"  A flourish of the wire-rope

colt rounded the sentence, and the priest, breaking free from his

disciple, fled to the village.

"Fat pig!" said Peroo.  "After all that we have done for him!

When the flood is down I will see to it that we get a new guru.

Finlinson Sahib, it darkens for night now, and since yesterday

nothing has been eaten.  Be wise, Sahib.  No man can endure

watching and great thinking on an empty belly.  Lie down, Sahib.

The river will do what the river will do."

"The bridge is mine; I cannot leave it."

"Wilt thou hold it up with thy hands, then?" said Peroo, laughing.

"I was troubled for my boats and sheers before the flood came.  Now

we are in the hands of the Gods.  The Sahib will not eat and lie

down?  Take these, then.  They are meat and good toddy together,

and they kill all weariness, besides the fever that follows the

rain.  I have eaten nothing else to-day at all."

He took a small tin tobacco-box from his sodden waistbelt and

thrust it into Findlayson's hand, saying " Nay, do not be afraid.

It is no more than opium - clean Malwa opium!"

Findlayson shook two or three of the dark-brown pellets into his

hand, and hardly knowing what he did, swallowed them.  The stuff

was at least a good guard against fever - the fever that was

creeping upon him out of the wet mud - and he had seen what Peroo

could do in the stewing mists of autumn on the strength of a dose

from the tin box.

Peroo nodded with bright eyes.  "In a little - in a little the

Sahib will find that he thinks well again.  I too will -"  He dived

into his treasure-box, resettled the rain-coat over his head, and

squatted down to watch the boats.  It was too dark now to see beyond

the first pier, and the night seemed to have given the river new

strength.  Findlayson stood with his chin on his chest, thinking.

There was one point about one of the piers - the seventh - that he

had not fully settled in his mind.  The figures would not shape

themselves to the eye except one by one and at enormous intervals

of time.  There was a sound rich and mellow in his ears like the

deepest note of a double-bass - an entrancing sound upon which he

pondered for several hours, as it seemed.  Then Peroo was at his

elbow, shouting that a wire hawser had snapped and the stone-boats

were loose.  Findlayson saw the fleet open and swing out fanwise

to a long-drawn shriek of wire straining across gunnels.

"A tree hit them.  They will all go," cried Peroo.  "The main

hawser has parted.  What does the Sahib do? "

An immensely complex plan had suddenly flashed into Findlayson's

mind.  He saw the ropes running from boat to boat in straight

lines and angles - each rope a line of white fire.  But there was

one rope which was the master rope.  He could see that rope.  If

he could pull it once, it was absolutely and mathematically

certain that the disordered fleet would reassemble itself in the

backwater behind the guard-tower.  But why, he wondered, was Peroo

clinging so desperately to his waist as he hastened down the bank?

It was necessary to put the Lascar aside, gently and slowly, because

it was necessary to save the boats, and, further, to demonstrate

the extreme ease of the problem that looked so difficult.  And then

 - but it was of no conceivable importance - a wirerope raced

through his hand, burning it, the high bank disappeared, and with

it all the slowly dispersing factors of the problem.  He was sitting

in the rainy darkness - sitting in a boat that spun like a top,

and Peroo was standing over him.

"I had forgotten," said the Lascar, slowly, "that to those fasting

and unused, the opium is worse than any wine.  Those who die in

Gunga go to the Gods.  Still, I have no desire to present myself

before such great ones.  Can the Sahib swim?"

"What need?  He can fly - fly as swiftly as the wind," was the thick


"He is mad!" muttered Peroo, under his breath.  "And he threw me

aside like a bundle of dung-cakes.  Well, he will not know his death.

The boat cannot live an hour here even if she strike nothing.  It

is not good to look at death with a clear eye."

He refreshed himself again from the tin box, squatted down in the

bows of the reeling, pegged, and stitched craft, staring through

the mist at the nothing that was there.  A warm drowsiness crept

over Findlayson, the Chief Engineer, whose duty was with his bridge.

The heavy raindrops struck him with a thousand tingling little

thrills, and the weight of all time since time was made hung heavy

on his eyelids.  He thought and perceived that he was perfectly

secure, for the water was so solid that a man could surely step out

upon it, and, standing still with his legs apart to keep his

balance - this was the most important point - would be borne with

great and easy speed to the shore.  But yet a better plan came to

him.  It needed only an exertion of will for the soul to hurl the

body ashore as wind drives paper, to waft it kite-fashion to the

bank.  Thereafter - the boat spun dizzily - suppose the high wind

got under the freed body?  Would it tower up like a kite and pitch

headlong on the far-away sands, or would it duck about, beyond

control, through all eternity?  Findlayson gripped the gunnel to

anchor himself, for it seemed that he was on the edge of taking

the flight before he had settled all his plans.  Opium has more

effect on the white man than the black.  Peroo was only

comfortably indifferent to accidents.  "She cannot live," he

grunted.  "Her seams open already.  If she were even a dinghy with

oars we could have ridden it out; but a box with holes is no good.

Finlinson Sahib, she fills."

"Accha!  I am going away.  Come thou also."

In his mind, Findlayson had already escaped from the boat, and was

circling high in air to find a rest for the sole of his foot.  His

body - he was really sorry for its gross helplessness - lay in the

stern, the water rushing about its knees.

"How very ridiculous!" he said to himself, from his eyrie - "that

is Findlayson - chief of the Kashi Bridge.  The poor beast is going

to be drowned, too.  Drowned when it's close to shore.  I'm - I'm

onshore already.  Why doesn't it come along."

To his intense disgust, he found his soul back in his body again,

and that body spluttering and choking in deep water.  The pain of

the reunion was atrocious, but it was necessary, also, to fight for

the body.  He was conscious of grasping wildly at wet sand, and

striding prodigiously, as one strides in a dream, to keep foothold

in the swirling water, till at last he hauled himself clear of the

hold of the river, and dropped, panting, on wet earth.

"Not this night," said Peroo, in his ear.  "The Gods have protected

us."  The Lascar moved his feet cautiously, and they rustled among

dried stumps.  "This is some island of last year's indigo-crop," he

went on.  "We shall find no men here; but have great care, Sahib;

all the snakes of a hundred miles have been flooded out.  Here comes

the lightning, on the heels of the wind.  Now we shall be able to

look; but walk carefully."

Findlayson was far and far beyond any fear of snakes, or indeed any

merely human emotion.  He saw, after he had rubbed the water from

his eyes, with an immense clearness, and trod, so it seemed to

himself, with world-encompassing strides.  Somewhere in the night

of time he had built a bridge - a bridge that spanned illimitable

levels of shining seas; but the Deluge had swept it away, leaving

this one island under heaven for Findlayson and his companion,

sole survivors of the breed of Man.

An incessant lightning, forked and blue, showed all that there was

to be seen on the little patch in the flood - a clump of thorn, a

clump of swaying creaking bamboos, and a grey gnarled peepul

overshadowing a Hindoo shrine, from whose dome floated a tattered

red flag.  The holy man whose summer resting-place it was had long

since abandoned it, and the weather had broken the red-daubed image

of his god.  The two men stumbled, heavy limbed and heavy-eyed, over

the ashes of a brick-set cooking-place, and dropped down under the

shelter of the branches, while the rain and river roared together.

The stumps of the indigo crackled, and there was a smell of cattle,

as a huge and dripping Brahminee bull shouldered his way under the

tree.  The flashes revealed the trident mark of Shiva on his flank,

the insolence of head and hump, the luminous stag-like eyes, the

brow crowned with a wreath of sodden marigold blooms, and the silky

dewlap that almost swept the ground.  There was a noise behind him

of other beasts coming up from the floodline through the thicket,

a sound of heavy feet and deep breathing.

"Here be more beside ourselves," said Findlayson, his head against

the tree-pole, looking through half-shut eyes, wholly at ease.

" Truly," said Peroo, thickly, "and no small ones."

"What are they, then?  I do not see clearly."

"The Gods.  Who else?  Look!"

"Ah, true!  The Gods surely - the Gods."  Findlayson smiled as his

head fell forward on his chest.  Peroo was eminently right.  After

the Flood, who should be alive in the land except the Gods that

made it - the Gods to whom his village prayed nightly - the Gods

who were in all men's mouths and about all men's ways.  He could

not raise his head or stir a finger for the trance that held him,

and Peroo was smiling vacantly at the lightning.

The Bull paused by the shrine, his head lowered to the damp earth.

A green Parrot in the branches preened his wet wings and screamed

against the thunder as the circle under the tree filled with the

shifting shadows of beasts.  There was a black Buck at the Bull's

heels - such a Buck as Findlayson in his far-away life upon earth

might have seen in dreams - a Buck with a royal head, ebon back,

silver belly, and gleaming straight horns.  Beside him, her head

bowed to the ground, the green eyes burning under the heavy brows,

with restless tail switching the dead grass, paced a Tigress,

full-bellied and deep-jowled.

The Bull crouched beside the shrine, and there leaped from the

darkness a monstrous grey Ape, who seated himself man-wise in the

place of the fallen image, and the rain spilled like jewels from

the hair of his neck and shoulders.

Other shadows came and went behind the circle, among them a drunken

Man flourishing staff and drinking-bottle.  Then a hoarse bellow

broke out from near the ground.  "The flood lessens even now," it

cried.  "Hour by hour the water falls, and their bridge still


"My bridge," said Findlayson to himself.  "That must be very old

work now.  What have the Gods to do with my bridge?"

His eyes rolled in the darkness following the roar.  A Mugger - the

blunt-nosed, ford-haunting Mugger of the Ganges - draggled herself

before the beasts, lashing furiously to right and left with her tail.

"They have made it too strong for me.  In all this night I have

only torn away a handful of planks.  The walls stand.  The towers

stand.  They have chained my flood, and the river is not free any

more.  Heavenly Ones, take this yoke away!  Give me clear water

between bank and bank!  It is I, Mother Gunga, that speak.  The

Justice of the Gods!  Deal me the Justice of the Gods!"

"What said I?" whispered Peroo.  "This is in truth a Punchayet of

the Gods.  Now we know that all the world is dead, save you and I,


The Parrot screamed and fluttered again, and the Tigress, her ears

flat to her head, snarled wickedly.

Somewhere in the shadow, a great trunk and gleaming tusks swayed to

and fro, and a low gurgle broke the silence that followed on the


"We be here," said a deep voice, " the Great Ones.  One only and

very many.  Shiv, my father, is here, with Indra.  Kali has spoken

already.  Hanuman listens also."

"Kashi is without her Kotwal tonight," shouted the Man with the

drinking-bottle, flinging his staff to the ground, while the island

rang to the baying of hounds.  "Give her the Justice of the Gods."

"Ye were still when they polluted my waters," the great Crocodile

bellowed.  "Ye made no sign when my river was trapped between the

walls.  I had no help save my own strength, and that failed - the

strength of Mother Gunga failed - before their guard-towers.  What

could I do?  I have done everything.  Finish now, Heavenly Ones!"

"I brought the death; I rode the spotted sickness from hut to hut

of their workmen, and yet they would not cease."  A nose-slitten,

hide-worn Ass, lame, scissor-legged, and galled, limped forward.

"I cast the death at them out of my nostrils, but they would not


Peroo would have moved, but the opium lay heavy upon him.

"Bah!" he said, spitting.  "Here is Sitala herself; Mata - the

smallpox.  Has the Sahib a handkerchief to put over his face?"

"Little help!  They fed me the corpses for a month, and I flung

them out on my sand-bars, but their work went forward.  Demons they

are, and sons of demons!  And ye left Mother Gunga alone for their

fire-carriage to make a mock of.  The Justice of the Gods on the


The Bull turned the cud in his mouth and answered slowly: "If the

Justice of the Gods caught all who made a mock of holy things

there would be many dark altars in the land, mother."

"But this goes beyond a mock," said the Tigress, darting forward a

griping paw.  "Thou knowest, Shiv, and ye, too, Heavenly Ones; ye

know that they have defiled Gunga.  Surely they must come to the

Destroyer.  Let Indra judge."

The Buck made no movement as he answered: " How long has this

evil been?"

"Three years, as men count years," said the Mugger, close pressed

to the earth.

"Does Mother Gunga die, then, in a year, that she is so anxious to

see vengeance now?  The deep sea was where she runs but yesterday,

and tomorrow the sea shall cover her again as the Gods count that

which men call time.  Can any say that this their bridge endures

till tomorrow?" said the Buck.

There was along hush, and in the clearing of the storm the full

moon stood up above the dripping trees.

"Judge ye, then," said the River, sullenly.  "I have spoken my shame.

The flood falls still.  I can do no more."

"For my own part" - it was the voice of the great Ape seated within

the shrine - "it pleases me well to watch these men, remembering

that I also builded no small bridge in the world's youth."

"They say, too," snarled the Tiger, "that these men came of the wreck

of thy armies, Hanuman, and therefore thou hast aided -"

"They toil as my armies toiled in Lanka, and they believe that their

toil endures.  Indra is too high, but Shiv, thou knowest how the

land is threaded with their fire-carriages."

"Yea, I know," said the Bull.  "Their Gods instructed them in the


A laugh ran round the circle.

"Their Gods!  What should their Gods know?  They were born

yesterday, and those that made them are scarcely yet cold," said

the Mugger.  "tomorrow their Gods will die."

"Ho!" said Peroo.  "Mother Gunga talks good talk.  I told that to

the padre-sahib who preached on the Mombassa, and he asked the Burra

Malum to put me in irons for a great rudeness."

"Surely they make these things to please their Gods," said the Bull


"Not altogether," the Elephant rolled forth.  "It is for the profit

of my mahajuns fat money-lenders that worship me at each new year,

when they draw my image at the head of the account-books.  I,

looking over their shoulders by lamplight, see that the names in

the books are those of men in far places - for all the towns are

drawn together by the fire-carriage, and the money comes and goes

swiftly, and the account-books grow as fat as myself.  And I, who

am Ganesh of Good Luck, I bless my peoples."

"They have changed the face of the land-which is my land.  They have

killed and made new towns on my banks," said the Mugger.

"It is but the shifting of a little dirt.  Let the dirt dig in the

dirt if it pleases the dirt," answered the Elephant.

"But afterwards? "said the Tiger.  "Afterwards they will see that

Mother Gunga can avenge no insult, and they fall away from her

first, and later from us all, one by one.  In the end, Ganesh, we

are left with naked altars."

The drunken Man staggered to his feet, and hiccupped vehemently.

"Kali lies.  My sister lies.  Also this my stick is the Kotwal of

Kashi, and he keeps tally of my pilgrims.  When the time comes to

worship Bhairon - and it is always time - the fire-carriages move

one by one, and each hears a thousand pilgrims.  They do not come

afoot any more, but rolling upon wheels, and my honour is increased."

"Gunga, I have seen thy bed at Pryag black with the pilgrims," said

the Ape, leaning forward, "and but for the fire-carriage they would

have come slowly and in fewer numbers.  Remember."

"They come to me always," Bhairon went on thickly.  "By day and

night they pray to me, all the Common People in the fields and the

roads.  Who is like Bhairon today?  What talk is this of changing

faiths?  Is my staff Kotwal of Kashi for nothing?  He keeps the

tally, and he says that never were so many altars as today, and

the fire carriage serves them well.  Bhairon am I - Bhairon of the

Common People, and the chiefest of tithe Heavenly Ones today.

Also my staff says -"

"Peace, thou!" lowed the Bull.  "The worship of the schools is mine,

and they talk very wisely, asking whether I be one or many, as is

the delight of my people, and ye know what I am.  Kali, my wife,

thou knowest also."

"Yea, I know," said the Tigress, with lowered head.

"Greater am I than Gunga also.  For ye know who moved the minds of

men that they should count Gunga holy among the rivers.  Who die in

that water - ye know how men say - come to us without punishment,

and Gunga knows that the fire-carriage has borne to her scores upon

scores of such anxious ones; and Kali knows that she has held her

chiefest festivals among the pilgrimages that are fed by the

fire-carriage.  Who smote at Pooree, under the Image there, her

thousands in a day and a night, and bound the sickness to the wheels

of the fire-carriages, so that it ran from one end of the land to

the other?  Who but Kali?  Before the fire-carriage came it was a

heavy toil.  The fire-carriages have served thee well, Mother of

Death.  But I speak for mine own altars, who am not Bhairon of the

Common Folk, but Shiv.  Men go to and fro, making words and telling

talk of strange Gods, and I listen.  Faith follows faith among my

people in the schools, and I have no anger; for when all words are

said, and the new talk is ended, to Shiv men return at the last."

"True.  It is true," murmured Hanuman.  "To Shiv and to the others,

mother, they return.  I creep from temple to temple in the North,

where they worship one God and His Prophet; and presently my image

is alone within their shrines."

"Small thanks," said the Buck, turning his head slowly.  "I am that

One and His Prophet also."

"Even so, father," said Hanuman.  "And to the South I go who am the

oldest of the Gods as men know the Gods, and presently I touch the

shrines of the New 'Faith and the Woman whom we know is hewn

twelve-armed, and still they call her Mary."

Small thanks, brother," said the Tigress.  "I am that Woman."

"Even so, sister; and I go West among the fire-carriages, and stand

before the bridge-builders in many shapes, and because of me they

change their faiths and are very wise.  Ho!  ho!  I am the builder

of bridges, indeed - bridges between this and that, and each bridge

leads surely to Us in the end.  Be content, Gunga.

"Neither these men nor those that follow them mock thee at all."

"Am I alone, then, Heavenly Ones?  Shall I smooth out my flood lest

unhappily I bear away their walls?  Will Indra dry my springs in

the hills and make me crawl humbly between their wharfs?  Shall I

bury me in the sand ere I offend?"

"And all for the sake of a little iron bar with the fire-carriage

atop.  Truly, Mother Gunga is always young!" said Ganesh the Elephant.

"A child had not spoken more foolishly.  Let the dirt dig in the

dirt ere it return to the dirt.  I know only that my people grow

rich and praise me.  Shiv has said that the men of the schools do

not forget; Bhairon is content for his crowd of the Common People;

and Hanuman laughs."

"Surely I laugh," said the Ape.  "My altars are few beside those of

Ganesh or Bhairon, but the fire-carriages bring me new worshippers

from beyond the Black Water - the men who believe that their God is

toil.  I run before them beckoning, and they follow Hanuman."

"Give them the toil that they desire, then," said the River.  "Make

a bar across my flood and throw the water back upon the bridge.

Once thou wast strong in Lanka, Hanuman.  Stoop and lift my bed."

"Who gives life can take life."  The Ape scratched in the mud with

a long forefinger.  "And yet, who would profit by the killing?  Very

many would die."

There came up from the water a snatch of a love-song such as the

boys sing when they watch their cattle in the noon heats of late

spring.  The Parrot screamed joyously, sidling along his branch with

lowered head as the song grew louder, and in a patch of clear

moonlight stood revealed the young herd, the darling of the Gopis,

the idol of dreaming maids and of mothers ere their children are

born - Krishna the Well-beloved.  He stooped to knot up his long wet

hair, and the parrot fluttered to his shoulder.

"Fleeting and singing, and singing and fleeting," hiccupped Bhairon.

"Those make thee late for the council, brother."

"And then?" said Krishna, with a laugh, throwing back his head.  "Ye

can do little without me or Karma here."  He fondled the Parrot's

plumage and laughed again.  "What is this sitting and talking

together?  I heard Mother Gunga roaring in the dark, and so came

quickly from a but where I lay warm.  And what have ye done to Karma,

that he is so wet and silent?  And what does Mother Gunga here?  Are

the heavens full that ye must come paddling in the mud beast-wise?

Karma, what do they do?"

"Gunga has prayed for a vengeance on the bridgebuilders, and Kali is

with her.  Now she bids Hanuman whelm the bridge, that her honour

may be made great," cried the Parrot.  "I waited here, knowing that

thou wouldst come, O my master!"

"And the Heavenly Ones said nothing?  Did Gunga and the Mother of

Sorrows out-talk them?  Did none speak for my people?"

"Nay," said Ganesh, moving uneasily from foot to foot; "I said it

was but dirt at play, and why should we stamp it flat?"

"I was content to let them toil - well content," said Hanuman.

"What had I to do with Gunga's anger "said the Bull.

"I am Bhairon of the Common Folk, and this my staff is Kotwal of

all Kashi.  I spoke for the Common People."

"Thou?"  The young God's eyes sparkled.

"Am I not the first of the Gods in their mouths today?" returned

Bhairon, unabashed.  "For the sake of the Common People I said very

many wise things which I have now forgotten, but this my staff -"

Krishna turned impatiently, saw the Mugger at his feet, and kneeling,

slipped an arm round the cold neck.  "Mother," he said gently, "get

thee to thy flood again.  This matter is not for thee.  What harm

shall thy honour take of this live dirt?  Thou hast given them their

fields new year after year, and by thy flood they are made strong.

They come all to thee at the last.  What need to slay them now?

Have pity, mother, for a little and it is only for a little."

"If it be only for a little -" the slow beast began.

"Are they Gods, then?" Krishna, returned with a laugh, his eyes

looking into the dull eyes of the River.  "Be certain that it is

only for a little.  The Heavenly Ones have heard thee, and

presently justice will be done.  Go now, mother, to the flood again.

Men and cattle are thick on the waters - the banks fall - the

villages melt because of thee."

"But the bridge-the bridge stands."  The Mugger turned grunting

into the undergrowth as Krishna rose.

"It is ended," said the Tigress, viciously.  "There is no more

justice from the Heavenly Ones.  Ye have made shame and sport of

Gunga, who asked no more than a few score lives."

"Of my people - who lie under the leaf-roofs of the village yonder

 - of the young girls, and the young men who sing to them in the

dark of the child that will be born next morn - of that which was

begotten tonight," said Krishna.  "And when all is done, what

profit?  Tomorrow sees them at work.  Ay, if ye swept the bridge out

from end to end they would begin anew.  Hear me!  Bhairon is drunk

always.  Hanuman mocks his people with new riddles."

"Nay, but they are very old ones," the Ape said, laughing.

"Shiv hears the talk of the schools and the dreams of the holy men;

Ganesh thinks only of his fat traders; but I - I live with these my

people, asking for no gifts, and so receiving them hourly."

"And very tender art thou of thy people," said the Tigress.

"They are my own.  The old women dream of me turning in their sleep;

the maids look and listen for me when they go to fill their lotahs

by the river.  I walk by the young men waiting without the gates at

dusk, and I call over my shoulder to the whitebeards.  Ye know,

Heavenly Ones, that I alone of us all walk upon the earth continually,

and have no pleasure in our heavens so long ,as a green blade springs

here, or there are two voices at twilight in the standing crops.

Wise are ye, but ye live far off, forgetting whence ye came.  So do

I not forget.  And the fire-carriage feeds your shrines, ye say?  And

the fire-carriages bring a thousand pilgrims where but ten came in

the old years?  True.  That is true, today."

But tomorrow they are dead, brother," said Ganesh.

"Peace!" said the Bull, as Hanuman leaned forward again.  "And

tomorrow, beloved - what of tomorrow?"

"This only.  A new word creeping from mouth to mouth among the

Common Folk - a word that neither man nor God can lay hold of - an

evil word - a little lazy word among the Common Folk, saying (and

none know who set that word afoot) that they weary of ye, Heavenly


The Gods laughed together softly.  "And then, beloved?" they said.

"And to cover that weariness they, my people, will bring to thee,

Shiv, and to thee, Ganesh, at first greater offerings and a louder

noise of worship.  But the word has gone abroad, and, after, they

will pay fewer dues to our fat Brahmins.  Next they will forget your

altars, but so slowly that no man can say how his forgetfulness


"I knew - I knew! I spoke this also, but they would not hear," said

the Tigress.  "We should have slain - we should have slain! "

"It is too late now.  Ye should have slain at the beginning when the

men from across the water had taught our folk nothing.  Now my

people see their work, and go away thinking.  They do not think of

the Heavenly Ones altogether.  They think of the fire-carriage and

the other things that the bridge-builders have done, and when your

priests thrust forward hands asking alms, they give a little

unwillingly.  That is the beginning, among one or two, or five or

ten - for I, moving among my people, know what is in their hearts."

"And the end, Jester of the Gods?  What shall the end be? " said


"The end shall be as it was in the beginning, O slothful son of

Shiv!  The flame shall die upon the altars and the prayer upon the

tongue till ye become little Gods again - Gods of the jungle - names

that the hunters of rats and noosers of dogs whisper in the thicket

and among the caves - rag-Gods, pot Godlings of the tree, and the

villagemark, as ye were at the beginning.  That is the end, Ganesh,

for thee, and for Bhairon - Bhairon of the Common People."

"It is very far away," grunted Bhairon.  "Also, it is a lie."

"Many women have kissed Krishna.  They told him this to cheer

their own hearts when the grey hairs came, and he has told us the

tale," said the Bull, below his breath.

"Their Gods came, and we changed them.  I took the Woman and made

her twelve-armed.  So shall we twist all their Gods," said Hanuman.

" Their Gods!  This is no question of their Gods - one or three - man

or woman.  The matter is with the people.  They move, and not the

Gods of the bridgebuilders," said Krishna.

"So be it.  I have made a man worship the fire-carriage as it stood

still breathing smoke, and he knew not that he worshipped me," said

Hanuman the Ape.  "They will only change a little the names of their

Gods.  I shall lead the builders of the bridges as of old; Shiv

shall be worshipped in the schools by such as doubt and despise

their fellows; Ganesh shall have his mahajuns, and Bhairon the

donkey-drivers, the pilgrims, and the sellers of toys.  Beloved,

they will do no more than change the names, and that we have seen

a thousand times."

"Surely they will do no more than change the names," echoed Ganesh;

but there was an uneasy movement among the Gods.

"They will change more than the names.  Me alone they cannot kill,

so long as a maiden and a man meet together or the spring follows

the winter rains.  Heavenly Ones, not for nothing have I walked

upon the earth.  My people know not now what they know; but I, who

live with them, I read their hearts.  Great Kings, the beginning

of the end is born already.  The fire-carriages shout the names of

new Gods that are not the old under new names.  Drink now and eat

greatly!  Bathe your faces in the smoke of the altars before they

grow cold!  Take dues and listen to the cymbals and the drums,

Heavenly Ones, while yet there are flowers and songs.  As men count

time the end is far off; but as we who know reckon it is today.  I

have spoken."

The young God ceased, and his brethren looked at each other long

in silence.

"This I have not heard before," Peroo whispered in his companion's

ear.  "And yet sometimes, when I oiled the brasses in the

engine-room of the Goorkha, I have wondered if our priests were so

wise - so wise.  The day is coming, Sahib.  They will be gone by

the morning."

A yellow light broadened in the sky, and the tone of the river

changed as the darkness withdrew.

Suddenly the Elephant trumpeted aloud as though man had goaded him.

"Let Indra judge.  Father of all, speak thou!  What of the things

we have heard?  Has Krishna lied indeed?  Or -"

"Ye know, " said the Buck, rising to his feet.  "Ye know the Riddle

of the Gods.  When Brahm ceases to dream, the Heavens and the Hells

and Earth disappear.  Be content.  Brahm dreams still.  The dreams

come and go, and the nature of the dreams changes, but still Brahm

dreams.  Krishna has walked too long upon earth, and yet I love him

the more for the tale he has told.  The Gods change, beloved-all

save One!"

"Ay, all save one that makes love in the hearts of men," said

Krishna, knotting his girdle.  "It is but a little time to wait,

and ye shall know if I lie."

"Truly it is but a little time, as thou sayest, and we shall know.

Get thee to thy huts again, beloved, and make sport for the young

things, for still Brahm dreams.  Go, my children!  Brahm dreams

 - and till he wakes the Gods die not."

"Whither went they?" said the Lascar, awe-struck, shivering a

little with the cold.

"God knows!" said Findlayson.  The river and the island lay in

full daylight now, and there was never mark of hoof or pug on the

wet earth under the peepul.  Only a parrot screamed in the branches,

bringing down showers of water-drops as he fluttered his wings.

"Up!  We are cramped with cold!  Has the opium died out?  Canst

thou move, Sahib?"

Findlayson staggered to his feet and shook himself.  His head swam

and ached, but the work of the opium was over, and, as he sluiced

his forehead in a pool, the Chief Engineer of the Kashi Bridge was

wondering how he had managed to fall upon the island, what chances

the day offered of return, and, above all, how his work stood.

"Peroo, I have forgotten much.  I was under the guard-tower watching

the river; and then .  .  .  .  Did the flood sweep us away?"

"No.  The boats broke loose, Sahib, and" (if the Sahib had forgotten

about the opium, decidedly Peroo would not remind him) "in striving

to retie them, so it seemed to me - but it was darka rope caught the

Sahib and threw him upon a boat.  Considering that we two, with

Hitchcock Sahib, built, as it were, that bridge, I came also upon

the boat, which came riding on horseback, as it were, on the nose of

this island, and so, splitting, cast us ashore.  I made a great cry

when the boat left the wharf, and without doubt Hitchcock Sahib will

come for us.  As for the bridge, so many have died in the building

that it cannot fall."

A fierce sun, that drew out all the smell of the sodden land, had

followed the storm, and in that clear light there was no room for

a man to think of the dreams of the dark.  Findlayson stared

up-stream, across the blaze of moving water, till his eyes ached.

There was no sign of any bank to the Ganges, much less of a


"We came down far," he said.  "It was wonderful that we were not

drowned a hundred times."

"That was the least of the wonder, for no man dies before his time.

I have seen Sydney, I have seen London, and twenty great ports, but"

 - Peroo looked at the damp, discoloured shrine under the "peopul -"

never man has seen that we saw here."


"Has the Sahib forgotten; or do we black men only see the Gods?"

"There was a fever upon me."  Findlayson was still looking uneasily

across the water.  "It seemed that the island was full of beasts

and men talking, but I do not remember.  A boat could live in this

water now, I think."

"Oho! Then it is true.  'When Brahm ceases to dream, the Gods die.'

Now I know, indeed, what he meant.  Once, too, the guru said as much

to me; but then I did not understand.  Now I am wise."

"What?" said Findlayson, over his shoulder.

Peroo went on as if he were talking to himself.  " Six-seven-ten

monsoons since, I was watch on the fo'c'sle of the ehwah - the

Kumpani's big boat-and there was a big tufan; green and black water

beating, and I held fast to the life-lines, choking under the waters.

Then I thought of the Gods - of Those whom we saw tonight" - he

stared curiously at Findlayson's back, but the white man was looking

across the flood.  "Yes, I say of Those whom we saw this night past,

and I called upon Them to protect me.  And while I prayed, still

keeping my lookout, a big wave came and threw me forward upon the

ring of the great black bowanchor, and the Rewah rose high and high,

leaning towards the lefthand side, and the water drew away from

beneath her nose, and I lay upon my belly, holding the ring, and

looking down into those great deeps.  Then I thought, even in the

face of death: If I lose hold I die, and for me neither the Rewah nor

my place by the galley where the rice is cooked, nor Bombay, nor

Calcutta, nor even London, will be any more for me.  'How shall I be

sure,' I said, that the Gods to whom I pray will abide at all?' This

I thought, and the Rewah dropped her nose as a hammer falls, and all

the sea came in and slid me backwards along the fo'c'sle and over

the break of the fo'c'sle, and I very badly bruised my shin against

the donkey-engine: but I did not die, and I have seen the Gods.

They are good for live men, but for the dead .  .  .  They have spoken

Themselves.  Therefore, when I come to the village I will beat the

guru for talking riddles which are no riddles.  When Brahm ceases to

dream the Gods go."

"Look up-stream.  The light blinds.  Is there smoke yonder?"

Peroo shaded his eyes with his hands.  "He is a wise man and quick.

Hitchcock Sahib would not trust a rowboat.  He has borrowed the

Rao Sahib's steam launch, and comes to look for us.  I have always

said that there should have been a steam-launch on the bridge works

for us."

The territory of the Rao of Baraon lay within ten miles of the

bridge; and Findlayson and Hitchcock had spent a fair portion of

their scanty leisure in playing billiards and shooting black-buck

with the young man.  He had been bear-led by an English tutor of

sporting tastes for some five or six years, and was now royally

wasting the revenues accumulated during his minority by the Indian

Government.  His steam-launch, with its silverplated rails, striped

silk awning, and mahogany decks, was a new toy which Findlayson

had found horribly in the way when the Rao came to look at the

bridge works.

"It's great luck," murmured Findlayson, but he was none the less

afraid, wondering what news might be of the bridge.

The gaudy blue and white funnel came down-stream swiftly.  They

could see Hitchcock in the bows, with a pair of opera-glasses, and

his face was unusually white.  Then Peroo hailed, and the launch

made for the tail of the island.  The Rao Sahib, in tweed

shooting-suit and a seven-hued turban, waved his royal hand, and

Hitchcock shouted.  But he need have asked no questions, for

Findlayson's first demand was for his bridge.

"All serene!  Gad, I never expected to see you again, Findlayson.

You're seven koss down-stream.  Yes; there's not a stone shifted

anywhere; but how are you?  I borrowed the Rao Sahib's launch, and

he was good enough to come along.  Jump in."

"Ah, Finlinson, you are very well, eh?  That was most unprecedented

calamity last night, eh?  My royal palace, too, it leaks like the

devil, and the crops will also be short all about my country.  Now

you shall back her out, Hitchcock.  I - I do not understand

steam engines.  You are wet?  You are cold, Finlinson?  I have some

things to eat here, and you will take a good drink."

"I'm immensely grateful, Rao Sahib.  I believe you've saved my life.

How did Hitchcock -"

"Oho!  His hair was upon end.  He rode to me in the middle of the

night and woke me up in the arms of Morpheus.  I was most truly

concerned, Finlinson, so I came too.  My head-priest he is very

angry just now.  We will go quick, Mister Hitchcock.  I am due to

attend at twelve forty-five in the state temple, where we sanctify

some new idol.  If not so I would have asked you to spend the day

with me.  They are dam-bore, these religious ceremonies, Finlinson,


Peroo, well known to the crew, had possessed himself of the inlaid

wheel, and was taking the launch craftily up-stream.  But while he

steered he was, in his mind, handling two feet of partially untwisted

wire-rope; and the back upon which he beat was the back of his guru.


According to the custom of Vermont, Sunday afternoon is salting-time

on the farm, and, unless something very important happens, we attend

to the salting ourselves.  Dave and Pete, the red oxen, are treated

first; they stay in the home meadow ready for work on Monday.  Then

come the cows, with Pan, the calf, who should have been turned into

veal long ago, but survived on account of his manners; and lastly

the horses, scattered through the seventy acres of the Back Pasture.

You must go down by the brook that feeds the clicking, bubbling

water-ram; up through the sugar-bush, where the young maple

undergrowth closes round you like a shallow sea; next follow the

faint line of an old county-road running past two green hollows

fringed with wild rose that mark the cellars of two ruined  houses;

then by Lost Orchard, where nobody ever comes except in cider-time;

then across another brook, and so into the Back Pasture.  Half of

it is pine and hemlock and Spruce, with sumach and little juniper

bushes, and the other half is grey rock and  boulder and moss, with

green streaks of brake and swamp; but the horses like it well

enough - our own, and the others that are turned down there to

feed at fifty cents a week.  Most people walk to the Back Pasture,

and find it very rough work; but one can get there in a buggy, if

the horse knows what is expected of him.  The safest conveyance is

our coupe.  This began life as a buckboard, and we bought it for

five dollars from a sorrowful man who had no other sort of

possessions; and the seat came off one night when we were turning a

corner in a hurry.  After that alteration it made a beautiful

salting-machine, if you held tight, because there was nothing to

catch your feet when you fell out, and the slats rattled tunes.

One Sunday afternoon we went out with the salt as usual.  It was

a broiling hot day, and we could not find the horses anywhere till

we let Tedda Gabler, the bobtailed mare who throws up the dirt with

her big hooves exactly as a tedder throws hay, have her head.

Clever as she is, she tipped the coupe over in a hidden brook before

she came out on a ledge of rock where all the horses had gathered,

and were switching flies.  The Deacon was the first to call to her.

He is a very dark iron-grey four-year-old, son of Grandee.  He has

been handled since he was two, was driven in a light cart before he

was three, and now ranks as an absolutely steady lady's horse -

proof against steam-rollers, grade-crossings, and street processions.

"Salt!" said the Deacon, joyfully.  "You're dreffle late, Tedda."

"Any - any place to cramp the coupe?" Tedda panted.  "It weighs

turr'ble this weather.  I'd 'a' come sooner, but they didn't know

what they wanted - ner haow.  Fell out twice, both of 'em.  I don't

understand sech foolishness."

"You look consider'ble het up.  'Guess you'd better cramp her under

them pines, an' cool off a piece."

Tedda scrambled on the ledge, and cramped the coupe in the shade of

a tiny little wood of pines, while my companion and I lay  down

among the brown, silky needles, and gasped.  All the home  horses

were gathered round us, enjoying their Sunday leisure.

There were Rod and Rick, the seniors on the farm.  They were the

regular road-pair, bay with black points, full brothers, aged, sons

of a Hambletonian sire and a Morgan dam.  There were Nip and Tuck,

seal-browns, rising six, brother and sister, Black Hawks by birth,

perfectly matched, just finishing their education, and as handsome

a pair as man could wish to find in a forty-mile drive.  There was

Muldoon, our ex-car-horse, bought at a venture, and any colour you

choose that is not white; and Tweezy, who comes from Kentucky, with

an affliction of his left hip, which makes him a little uncertain

how his hind legs are moving.  He and Muldoon had been hauling

gravel all the week for our new road.  The Deacon you know already.

Last of all, and eating something, was our faithful Marcus Aurelius

Antoninus, the black buggy-horse, who had seen us through every

state of weather and road, the horse who was always standing in

harness before some door or other - a philosopher with the appetite

of a shark and the manners of an archbishop.  Tedda Gabler was a

new "trade," with a reputation for vice which was really the result

of bad driving.  She had one working gait, which she could hold

till further notice; a Roman nose; a large, prominent eye; a

shaving-brush of a tail; and an irritable temper.  She took her

salt through her bridle; but the others trotted up nuzzling and

wickering for theirs, till we emptied it on the clean rocks.  They

were all standing at ease, on three legs for the most part, talking

the ordinary gossip of the Back Pasture - about the scarcity of

water, and gaps in the fence, and how the early windfalls tasted

that season - when little Rick blew the last few grains of his

allowance into a crevice, and said:

"Hurry, boys!  'Might ha' knowed that livery plug would be around."

We heard a clatter of hooves, and there climbed up from the ravine

below a fifty-center transient - a wall-eyed, yellow frame-house of

a horse, sent up to board from a livery-stable in town, where they

called him "The Lamb," and never let him out except at night and to

strangers.  My companion, who knew and had broken most of the horses,

looked at the ragged hammer-head as it rose, and said quietly:

"Ni-ice beast.  Man-eater, if he gets the chance - see his eye.

Kicker, too - see his hocks.  Western horse."

The animal lumbered up, snuffling and grunting.  His feet showed

that he had not worked for weeks and weeks, and our creatures drew

together significantly.

"As usual," he said, with an underhung sneer - "bowin' your heads

before the Oppressor that comes to spend his leisure gloatin' over


"Mine's done," said the Deacon; he licked up the remnant of his

salt, dropped his nose in his master's hand, and sang a little

grace all to himself.  The Deacon has the most enchanting manners

of any one I know.

"An' fawnin' on them for what is your inalienable right.  It's

humiliatin'," said the yellow horse, sniffing to see if he could

find a few spare grains.

"Go daown hill, then, Boney," the Deacon replied.  "Guess you'll

find somethin' to eat still, if yer hain't hogged it all.  You've

ett more'n any three of us to-day - an' day 'fore that - an' the

last two months - sence you've been here."

"I am not addressin' myself to the young an' immature.  I am

speakin' to those whose opinion an' experience commands respect."

I saw Rod raise his head as though he were about to make a remark;

then he dropped it again, and stood three-cornered, like a

plough-horse.  Rod can cover his mile in a shade under three minutes

on an ordinary road to an ordinary buggy.  He is tremendously

powerful behind, but, like most Hambletonians, he grows a trifle

sullen as he gets older.  No one can love Rod very much; but no one

can help respecting him.

"I wish to wake those," the yellow horse went on, "to an abidin'

sense o' their wrongs an' their injuries an' their outrages."

"Haow's that?" said Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, dreamily.  He

thought Boney was talking of some kind of feed.

"An' when I say outrages and injuries" - Boney waved his tail

furiously  "I mean 'em, too.  Great Oats!  That's just what I do

mean, plain an' straight."

"The gentleman talks quite earnest," said Tuck, the mare, to Nip,

her brother.  There's no doubt thinkin' broadens the horizons o' the

mind.  His language is quite lofty."

"Hesh, sis," Nip answered.

"He hain't widened nothin' 'cep' the  circle he's ett in pasture.

They feed words fer beddin' where he comes from."

"It's elegant talkin', though," Tuck returned, with an unconvinced

toss of her pretty, lean little head.

The yellow horse heard her, and struck an attitude which he meant

to be extremely impressive.  It made him look as though he had

been badly stuffed.

"Now I ask you, I ask you without prejudice an' without  favour, -

what has Man the Oppressor ever done for you?  - Are you not

inalienably entitled to the free air o' heaven, blowin' acrost this

boundless prairie?"

"Hev ye ever wintered here?" said the Deacon, merrily, while the

others snickered.  "It's kinder cool."

"Not yet," said Boney.  "I come from the boundless confines o'

Kansas, where the noblest of our kind have their abidin' place among

the sunflowers on the threshold o' the settin' sun in his glory."

"An' they sent you ahead as a sample?" said Rick, with an amused

quiver of his long, beautifully groomed tail, as thick and as fine

and as wavy as a quadroon's back hair.

"Kansas, sir, needs no advertisement.  Her native sons rely on

themselves an' their native sires.  Yes, sir."

Then Tweezy lifted up his wise and polite old head.  His affliction

makes him bashful as a rule, but he is ever the most courteous of


"Excuse me, suh," he said slowly, "but, unless I have been

misinfohmed, most of your prominent siahs, suh, are impo'ted  from

Kentucky; an' I'm from Paduky."

There was the least little touch of pride in the last words.

"Any horse dat knows beans," said Muldoon, suddenly (he had been

standing with his hairy chin on Tweezy's broad quarters), "gits

outer Kansas 'fore dey crip his shoes.  I blew in dere from Ioway

in de days o' me youth an' innocence, an' I wuz grateful when dey

boxed me fer N' York.  You can't tell me anything about Kansas I

don't wanter fergit.  De Belt Line stables ain't no Hoffman House,

but dey're Vanderbilts 'longside o' Kansas."

"What the horses o' Kansas think to-day, the horses of America will

think to-morrow; an' I tell you that when the horses of America

rise in their might, the day o' the Oppressor is ended."

There was a pause, till Rick said, with a little grunt:

"Ef you put it that way, every one of us has riz in his might, 'cep'

Marcus, mebbe.  Marky, 'j ever rise in yer might?"

"Nope," said Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, thoughtfully quidding over

a mouthful of grass.  "I seen a heap o' fools try, though."

"You admit that you riz?" said the Kansas horse, excitedly.  "Then

why - why in Kansas did you ever go under again?"

"Horse can't walk on his hind legs all the time," said the  Deacon.

"Not when he's jerked over on his back 'fore he knows what fetched

him.  We've all done it, Boney," said Rick.  "Nip an' Tuck they

tried it, spite o' what the Deacon told 'em; an' the Deacon he tried

it, spite o' what me an' Rod told him; an' me an' Rod tried it,

spite o' what Grandee told us; an' I guess Grandee he tried it, spite

o' what his dam told him.  It's the same old circus from generation

to generation.  'Colt can't see why he's  called on to back.  Same

old rearm' on end - straight up.  Same old feelin' that you've bested

'em this time.  Same old little yank at your mouth when you're up

good an' tall.  Same old Pegasus-act, wonderin' where you'll 'light.

Same old wop when you hit the dirt  with your head where your tail

should be, and your in'ards shook up like a bran-mash.  Same old

voice in your ear: 'Waal, ye little fool, an' what did you reckon

to make by that?'  We're through with risin in our might on this

farm.  We go to pole er single, accordin' ez we're hitched."

"An' Man the Oppressor sets an' gloats over you, same as he's settin'

now.  Hain't that been your experience, madam?"

This last remark was addressed to Tedda; and any one could see with

half an eye that poor, old anxious, fidgety Tedda, stamping at the

flies, must have left a wild and tumultuous youth behind her.

"'Pends on the man," she answered, shifting from one foot to the

other, and addressing herself to the home horses.  "They abused me

dreffle when I was young.  I guess I was sperrity an' nervous some,

but they didn't allow for that.  'Twas in Monroe County, Noo York,

an' sence then till I come here, I've run away with more men than

'u'd fill a boardin'-house.  Why, the man that sold me here he says

to the boss, s' he:  'Mind, now, I've warned you.  'Twon't be none

of my fault if she sheds you daown the road.  Don't you drive her

in a top-buggy, ner 'thout winkers,' s' he, 'ner 'thought this bit

ef you look to come home behind her.'  'N' the fust thing the boss

did was to git the top-buggy.

"Can't say as I like top-buggies," said Rick; "they don't balance


"Suit me to a ha'ar," said Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.  "Top-buggy

means the baby's in behind, an' I kin stop while she gathers the

pretty flowers - yes, an' pick a maouthful, too.  The women-folk

all say I hev to be humoured, an' I don't kerry things to the


"'Course I've no prejudice against a top-buggy s' long's I can

see it," Tedda went on quickly.  "It's ha'f-seein' the pesky thing

bobbin' an' balancn' behind the winkers gits on my nerves.  Then

the boss looked at the bit they'd sold with me, an' s' he: 'Jiminy

Christmas!  This 'u'd make a clothes-horse Stan' 'n end!'  Then he

gave me a plain bar bit, an' fitted it's if there was some feelin'

to my maouth."

"Hain't ye got any, Miss Tedda?" said Tuck, who has a mouth like

velvet, and knows it.

"Might 'a' had, Miss Tuck, but I've forgot.  Then he give me an

open bridle,- my style's an open bridle - an' - I dunno as I ought

to tell this by rights -he - give - me - a kiss."

"My!" said Tuck, "I can't tell fer the shoes o' me what makes some

men so fresh."

"Pshaw, sis," said Nip, "what's the sense in actin' so? You git a

kiss reg'lar's hitchin'-up time."

"Well, you needn't tell, smarty," said Tuck, with a squeal and a


"I'd heard o' kisses, o' course," Tedda went on, "but they hadn't

come my way specially.  I don't mind tellin' I was that took aback

at that man's doin's he might ha' lit fire-crackers on my saddle.

Then we went out jest's if a kiss was nothin', an' I wasn't three

strides into my gait 'fore I felt the boss knoo his business, an'

was trustin' me.  So I studied to please him, an' he never took the

whip from the dash - a whip drives me plumb distracted - an' the

upshot was that - waal, I've come up the  Back Pasture to-day, an'

the coupe's tipped clear over twice, an' I've waited till 'twuz

fixed each time.  You kin judge for yourselves.  I don't set up to

be no better than my neighbours, - specially with my tail snipped

off the way 'tis,- but I want you all to know Tedda's quit fightin'

in harness or out of it, 'cep' when there's a born fool in the

pasture, stuffin' his stummick with board that ain't rightly hisn,

'cause he hain't earned it."

"Meanin' me, madam?" said the yellow horse.

"Ef the shoe fits, clinch it," said Tedda, snorting.  "I named no

names, though, to be sure, some folks are mean enough an' greedy

enough to do 'thout 'em."

"There's a deal to be forgiven to ignorance," said the yellow horse,

with an ugly look in his blue eye.

"Seemin'ly, yes; or some folks 'u'd ha' been kicked raound the

pasture 'bout onct a minute sence they came - board er no board."

"But what you do not understand, if you will excuse me, madam, is

that the whole principle o' servitood, which includes keep an' feed,

starts from a radically false basis; an' I am proud to say that me

an' the majority o' the horses o' Kansas think the entire concern

should be relegated to the limbo of exploded superstitions.  I say

we're too progressive for that.  I say we're too enlightened for

that.  'Twas good enough's long's we didn't think, but naow -

but naow - a new loominary has arisen on the  horizon!"

"Meanin' you?" said the Deacon.

"The horses o' Kansas are behind me with their multitoodinous

thunderin' hooves, an' we say, simply but grandly, that we take

our stand with all four feet on the inalienable rights of the horse,

pure and simple,- the high-toned child o' nature, fed by the same

wavin' grass, cooled by the same ripplin' brook - yes, an' warmed

by the same gen'rous sun as falls impartially on the outside an'

the inside of the pampered machine o' the trottin'-track, or the

bloated coupe-horses o' these yere Eastern cities.  Are we not the

same flesh an' blood?"

"Not by a bushel an' a half," said the Deacon, under his breath.

"Grandee never was in Kansas."

"My! Ain't that elegant, though, abaout the wavin' grass an' the

ripplin' brooks?" Tuck whispered in Nip's ear.  "The gentleman's

real convincin' I think."

"I say we are the same flesh an' blood!  Are we to be separated,

horse from horse, by the artificial barriers of a trottin'-record,

or are we to look down upon each other on the strength o' the gifts

o' nature - an extry inch below the knee, or slightly more powerful

quarters?  What's the use o' them  advantages to you?  Man the

Oppressor comes along, an' sees you're likely an' good-lookin', an'

grinds you to the face o' the earth.  What for?  For his own

pleasure: for his own  convenience!  Young an' old, black an' bay,

white an' grey, there's no distinctions made between us.  We're

ground up together under the remorseless teeth o' the engines of

oppression !"

"Guess his breechin' must ha' broke goin' daown-hill," said the

Deacon.  "Slippery road, maybe, an' the buggy come onter him, an'

he didn't know 'nough to hold back.  That don't feel like teeth,

though.  Maybe he busted a shaft, an' it pricked him."

"An' I come to you from Kansas, wavin' the tail o' friendship to

all an' sundry, an' in the name of the uncounted millions o'

pure-minded, high-toned horses now strugglin' towards the light

o' freedom, I say to you, Rub noses with us in our sacred an' holy

cause.  The power is yourn.  Without you, I say, Man the Oppressor

cannot move himself from place to place.  Without you he cannot

reap, he cannot sow, he cannot plough."

"Mighty odd place, Kansas!" said Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

"Seemin'ly they reap in the spring an' plough in the fall.  'Guess

it's right fer them, but 'twould make me kinder giddy."

"The produc's of your untirin' industry would rot on the ground if

you did not weakly consent to help him.  Let 'em rot, I say!  Let

him call you to the stables in vain an' nevermore!  Let him shake

his ensnarin' oats under your nose in vain!  Let the Brahmas roost

in the buggy, an' the rats run riot round the reaper!  Let him

walk on his two hind feet till they blame well drop off!  Win no

more soul-destroyn' races for his pleasure!  Then, an' not till

then, will Man the Oppressor know where he's at.  Quit workin',

fellow-sufferers an' slaves!  Kick!  Rear!  Plunge!  Lie down on

the shafts, an' woller!  Smash an' destroy!  The conflict will be

but short, an' the victory is certain.  After that we can press

our inalienable rights to eight quarts o' oats a day, two good

blankets, an' a fly-net an' the best o' stablin'."

The yellow horse shut his yellow teeth with a triumphant snap; and

Tuck said, with a sigh:  'Seems's if somethin' ought to be  done.

Don't seem right, somehow, - oppressin' us an all, - to my way o'


Said Muldoon, in a far-away and sleepy voice:

"Who in Vermont's goin' to haul de inalienable oats?  Dey weigh

like Sam Hill, an' sixty bushel at dat allowance ain't goin' to

last t'ree weeks here.  An' dere's de winter hay for five mont's!"

"We can settle those minor details when the great cause is won,"

said the yellow horse.  "Let us return simply but grandly to our

inalienable rights - the right o' freedom on these yere verdant

hills, an' no invijjus distinctions o' track an' pedigree:"

"What in stables 'jer call an invijjus distinction?" said the

Deacon, stiffly.

"Fer one thing, bein' a bloated, pampered trotter jest because you

happen to be raised that way, an' couldn't no more help trottin'

than eatin'."

"Do ye know anythin' about trotters?" said the Deacon.

"I've seen 'em trot.  That was enough for me.  I don't want to know

any more.  Trottin''s immoral."

"Waal, I'll tell you this much.  They don't bloat, an' they don't

pamp - much.  I don't hold out to be no trotter myself, though I

am free to say I had hopes that way - onct.  But I do say, fer I've

seen 'em trained, that a trotter don't trot with his feet:  he trots

with his head; an' he does more work - ef you know what  that is -

in a week than you er your sire ever done in all your lives.  He's

everlastingly at it, a trotter is; an' when he isn't, he's studyin'

haow.  You seen 'em trot?  Much you hev!  You was hitched to a rail,

back o' the stand, in a buckboard with a  soap-box nailed on the

slats, an' a frowzy buff'lo atop, while your man peddled rum fer

lemonade to little boys as thought they was actin' manly, till you

was both run off the track an' jailed - you intoed, shufflin',

sway-backed, wind-suckin' skate, you!"

"Don't get het up, Deacon," said Tweezy, quietly.  "Now, suh, would

you consider a fox-trot, an' single-foot, an' rack, an' pace, an'

amble, distinctions not worth distinguishin'?  I assuah you,

gentlemen, there was a time befo' I was afflicted in my hip, if

you'll pardon me, Miss Tuck, when I was quite celebrated in Paduky

for all those gaits; an in my opinion the Deacon's co'rect when he

says that a ho'se of any position in society gets his gaits by his

haid, an' not by - his, ah, limbs, Miss Tuck.  I reckon I'm very

little good now, but I'm rememberin' the things I used to do befo'

I took to transpo'tin' real estate with the help an' assistance of

this gentleman here."  He looked at Muldoon.

"Invijjus arterficial hind legs!" said the ex-carhorse, with a grunt

of contempt.  "On de Belt Line we don't reckon no horse wuth his

keep 'less he kin switch de car off de track, run her round on de

cobbles, an' dump her in ag'in ahead o' de truck  what's blockin'

him.  Dere is a way o' swingin' yer quarters when  de driver says,

'Yank her out, boys!' dat takes a year to learn.  Onct yer git onter

it, youse kin yank a cable-car outer a  manhole.  I don't advertise

myself for no circus-horse, but I  knew dat trick better than most,

an' dey was good to me in de stables, fer I saved time on de Belt

- an' time's what dey hunt in N' York."

"But the simple child o' nature -" the yellow horse began.

"Oh, go an' unscrew yer splints!  You're talkin' through yer

bandages," said Muldoon, with a horse-laugh.  "Dere ain't no

loose-box for de simple child o' nature on de Belt Line, wid de

Paris comin' in an' de Teutonic goin' out, an' de trucks an' de

coupe's sayin' things, an' de heavy freight movin' down fer de

Boston boat 'bout t'ree o'clock of an August afternoon, in de

middle of a hot wave when de fat Kanucks an' Western horses drops

dead on de block.  De simple child o' nature had better chase

himself inter de water.  Every man at de end of his lines is mad

or loaded or silly, an' de cop's madder an' loadeder an' sillier

than de rest.  Dey all take it outer de horses.  Dere's no wavin'

brooks ner ripplin' grass on de Belt Line.  Run her out on de

cobbles wid de sparks flyin', an' stop when de cop slugs you on

de bone o' yer nose.  Dat's N'York; see?

 "I was always told s'ciety in Noo York was dreffle refined an'

high-toned," said Tuck.  "We're lookin' to go there one o' these

days, Nip an' me."

"Oh, you won't see no Belt business where you'll go, miss.  De man

dat wants you'll want bad, an' he'll summer you on Long Island er

at Newport, wid a winky-pinky silver harness an' an English coachman.

You'll make a star-hitch, you an' yer brother, miss.  But I guess

you won't have no nice smooth bar bit.  Dey checks 'em, an' dey bangs

deir tails, an' dey bits 'em, de city folk, an' dey says it's

English, ye know, an' dey darsen't cut a horse loose 'ca'se o' de

cops.  N' York's no place fer a horse, 'less he's on de Belt, an'

can go round wid de boys.  Wisht I was in de Fire Department!"

"But did you never stop to consider the degradin' servitood of it

all?" said the yellow horse.

"You don't stop on de Belt, cully.  You're stopped.  An' we was all

in de servitood business, man an' horse, an' Jimmy dat sold de

papers.  Guess de passengers weren't out to grass neither, by de

way dey acted.  I done my turn, an' I'm none o' Barnum's crowd; but

any horse dat's worked on de Belt four years don't train wid no

simple child o' nature - not by de whole length o' N' York."

"But can it be possible that with your experience, and at your time

of life, you do not believe that all horses are free and  equal?"

said the yellow horse.

"Not till they're dead," Muldoon  answered quietly.  "An' den it

depends on de gross total o' buttons an' mucilage dey gits outer

youse at Barren Island."

"They tell me you're a prominent philosopher." The yellow horse

turned to Marcus.  "Can you deny a basic and pivotal statement such

as this?"

"I don't deny anythin'," said Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, cautiously;

"but ef you ast me, I should say 'twuz more different sorts o'

clipped oats of a lie than anythin' I've had  my teeth into sence I

wuz foaled."

"Are you a horse?" said the yellow horse.

"Them that knows me best 'low I am."

"Ain't I a horse?"

"Yep; one kind of."

"Then ain't you an' me equal?"

"How fer kin you go in a day to a loaded buggy, drawin' five hundred

pounds?" Marcus asked carelessly.

"That has nothing to do with the case," the yellow horse answered


"There's nothing I know hez more to do with the case," Marcus replied.

"Kin ye yank a full car outer de tracks ten times in de mornin'?"

said Muldoon.

"Kin ye go to Keene - forty-two mile in an afternoon - with a mate,"

said Rick; "an' turn out bright an' early next mornin'?"

"Was there evah any time in your careah, suh - I am not referrin'

to the present circumstances, but our mutual glorious past - when

you could carry a pretty girl to market hahnsome, an' let her knit

all the way on account o' the smoothness o' the motion?" said Tweezy.

"Kin you keep your feet through the West River Bridge, with the

narrer-gage comin' in on one side, an' the Montreal flyer the other,

an' the old bridge teeterin' between?" said the Deacon.  "Kin you

put your nose down on the cow-catcher of a locomotive when you're

waitin' at the depot an' let 'em play 'Curfew shall not ring

to-night' with the big brass bell?"

"Kin you hold back when the brichin' breaks? Kin you stop fer orders

when your nigh hind leg's over your trace an' ye feel good of a

frosty mornin'?" said Nip, who had only learned that trick last

winter, and thought it was the crown of horsely  knowledge.

"What's the use o' talk in'?" said Tedda Gabler, scornfully.  "What

kin ye do?"

"I rely on my simple rights - the inalienable rights o' my

unfettered horsehood.  An' I am proud to say I have never, since

my first shoes, lowered myself to obeyin' the will o' man."

"'Must ha' had a heap o' whips broke over yer yaller back," said

Tedda.  "Hev ye found it paid any?"

"Sorrer has been my portion since the day I was foaled.  Blows an'

boots an' whips an' insults - injury, outrage, an' oppression.  I

would not endoor the degradin' badges o' servitood that connect us

with the buggy an' the farm-wagon."

"It's amazin' difficult to draw a buggy 'thout traces er collar er

breast-strap er somefin'," said Marcus.  "A Power-machine for sawin'

wood is most the only thing there's no straps to.  I've helped saw

's much as three cord in an afternoon in a  Power-machine.  Slep',

too, most o' the time, I did; but 'tain't half as interestin' ez

goin' daown-taown in the Concord."

"Concord don't hender you goin' to sleep any," said Nip.  "My

throat-lash!  D'you remember when you lay down in the sharves last

week, waitin' at the piazza?"

"Pshaw! That didn't hurt the sharves.  They wuz good an' wide, an'

I lay down keerful.  The folks kep' me hitched up nigh an hour

'fore they started; an' larfed - why, they all but lay down

themselves with larfin'.  Say, Boney, if you've got to be hitched

to anything that goes on wheels, you've got to be hitched with


"Go an' jine a circus," said Muldoon, "an' walk on your hind legs.

All de horses dat knows too much to work [he pronounced it "woik,"

New York fashion] jine de circus."

"I am not sayin' anythin' again' work," said the yellow horse;

"work is the finest thing in the world."

"'Seems too fine fer some of us," Tedda snorted.

"I only ask that each horse should work for himself, an' enjoy

the profit of his labours.  Let him work intelligently, an' not

as a machine."

"There ain't no horse that works like a machine," Marcus began.

"There's no way o' workin' that doesn't mean goin' to pole er

single - they never put me in the Power-machine - er under saddle,"

said Rick.

"Oh, shucks!  We're talkin' same ez we graze," said Nip, "raound an'

raound in circles.  Rod, we hain't heard from you yet, an' you've

more know-how than any span here."

Rod, the off-horse of the pair, had been standing with one hip

lifted, like a tired cow; and you could only tell by the quick

flutter of the haw across his eye, from time to time, that he was

paying any attention to the argument.  He thrust his jaw out

sidewise, as his habit is when he pulls, and changed his leg.  His

voice was hard and heavy, and his ears were close to his big, plain

Hambletonian head.

"How old are you?" he said to the yellow horse.

"Nigh thirteen, I guess."

"Mean age; ugly age; I'm gettin' that way myself.  How long hev ye

been pawin' this firefanged stable-litter?"

"If you mean my principles, I've held 'em sence I was three."

"Mean age; ugly age; teeth give heaps o' trouble then.  'Set a colt

to actin' crazy fer a while.  You've kep' it up, seemin'ly.  D'ye

talk much to your neighbours fer a steady thing?"

"I uphold the principles o' the Cause wherever I am pastured."

"'Done a heap o' good, I guess?"

"I am proud to say I have taught a few of my companions the

principles o' freedom an' liberty."

"Meanin' they ran away er kicked when they got the chanst?"

"I was talkin' in the abstrac', an' not in the concrete.  My

teachin's educated them."

"What a horse, specially a young horse, hears in the abstrac', he's

liable to do in the Concord.  You was handled late, I presoom."

"Four, risin' five."

"That's where the trouble began.  Driv' by a woman, like ez not -


"Not fer long," said the yellow horse, with a snap of his teeth.

"Spilled her?"

"I heerd she never drove again."

"Any childern?"

"Buckboards full of 'em."

"Men too?"

"I have shed conside'ble men in my time."

"By kickin'?"

"Any way that come along.  Fallin' back over the dash is as handy

as most."

"They must be turr'ble afraid o' you daown taown?"

"They've sent me here to get rid o' me.  I guess they spend their

time talkin' over my campaigns."

"I wanter know!"

"Yes, sir.  Now, all you gentlemen have asked me what I can do.

I'll just show you.  See them two fellers lyin' down by the buggy?"

"Yep; one of 'em owns me.  T'other broke me," said Rod.

"Get 'em out here in the open, an' I'll show you something.  Lemme

hide back o' you peoples, so's they won't see what I'm at."

"Meanin' ter kill 'em?" Rod drawled.  There was a shudder of horror

through the others; but the yellow horse never noticed.

"I'll catch 'em by the back o' the neck, an' pile-drive 'em a piece.

They can suit 'emselves about livin' when I'm through  with 'em."

"'Shouldn't wonder ef they did," said Rod.  The yellow horse had

hidden himself very cleverly behind the others as they stood in a

group, and was swaying his head close to the ground with a curious

scythe-like motion, looking side-wise out of his wicked eyes.  You

can never mistake a man-eater getting ready to knock a man down.

We had had one to pasture the year before.

"See that?" said my companion, turning over on the pine-needles.

"Nice for a woman walking 'cross lots, wouldn't it be?"

"Bring 'em out!" said the yellow horse, hunching his sharp back.

"There's no chance among them tall trees.  Bring out the - oh!


It was a right-and-left kick from Muldoon.  I had no idea that the

old car-horse could lift so quickly.  Both blows caught the yellow

horse full and fair in the ribs, and knocked the breath  out of him.

"What's that for?" he said angrily, when he recovered himself; but

I noticed he did not draw any nearer to Muldoon than was necessary.

Muldoon never answered, but discoursed to himself in the whining

grunt that he uses when he is going down-hill in front of a heavy

load.  We call it singing; but I think it's something much worse,

really.  The yellow horse blustered and squealed a little, and at

last said that, if it was a horse-fly that had stung Muldoon, he

would accept an apology.

"You'll get it," said Muldoon, "in de sweet by-and-bye - all de

apology you've any use for.  Excuse me interruptin' you, Mr.  Rod,

but I'm like Tweezy - I've a Southern drawback in me hind legs."

"Naow, I want you all here to take notice, an' you'll learn

something," Rod went on.  "This yaller-backed skate comes to our


"Not havin' paid his board," put in Tedda.

"Not havin' earned his board, an' talks smooth to us abaout ripplin'

brooks an' wavin' grass, an' his high-toned, pure-souled horsehood,

which don't hender him sheddin' women an' childern, an' fallin' over

the dash onter men.  You heard his  talk, an' you thought it mighty

fine, some o' you."

Tuck looked guilty here, but she did not say anything.

"Bit by bit he goes on ez you have heard."

"I was talkin' in the abstrac'," said the yellow horse, in an

altered voice.

"Abstrac' be switched!  Ez I've said, it's this yer blamed abstrac'

business that makes the young uns cut up in the Concord; an' abstrac'

or no abstrac', he crep' on an' on till he come to killin' plain an'

straight - killin' them as never done him no harm, jest beca'se they

owned horses."

"An' knowed how to manage 'em," said Tedda.  That makes it worse."

"Waal, he didn't kill 'em, anyway," said Marcus.  "He'd ha' been

half killed ef he had tried."

"'Makes no differ," Rod answered.  "He meant to; an' ef he hadn't

  - s'pose we want the Back Pasture turned into a biffin'-ground

on our only day er rest?  'S'pose we want our men walkin' round

with bits er lead pipe an' a twitch, an' their hands full o' stones

to throw at us, same's if we wuz hogs er hooky keows?  More'n that,

leavin' out Tedda here - an' I guess it's more her maouth than her

manners stands in her light -there ain't a horse on this farm that

ain't a woman's horse, an' proud of it.  An' this yer bogspavined

Kansas sunflower goes up an' daown the length o' the country, traded

off an' traded on, boastin' as he's shed women - an' childern.  I

don't say as a woman in a buggy ain't a fool.  I don't say as she

ain't the lastin'est kind er fool, ner I don't say a child ain't

worse - spattin' the lines an' standin' up an' hollerin' - but I do

say, 'tain't none of  our business to shed 'em daown the road."

"We don't," said the  Deacon.  "The baby tried to git some o' my

tail for a sooveneer last fall when I was up to the haouse, an' I

didn't kick.  Boney's talk ain't goin' to hurt us any.  We ain't


"Thet's what you think Bimeby you git into a tight corner, 'Lection

day er Valley Fair, like's not, daown-taown, when you're all het

an' lathery, an' pestered with flies, an' thirsty, an' sick o' bein'

worked in an aout 'tween buggies.  Then somethin' whispers inside o'

your winkers, bringin' up all that talk abaout servitood an'

inalienable truck an' sech like, an' jest then a Militia gun goes

off; er your wheels hit, an' -  waal, you're only another horse ez

can't be trusted.  I've been  there time an' again.  Boys - fer I've

seen you all bought er broke - on my solemn repitation fer a

three-minute clip, I ain't  givin' you no bran-mash o' my own fixin'.

I'm tellin' you my  experiences, an' I've had ez heavy a load an'

ez high a check's any horse here.  I wuz born with a splint on my

near fore ez big's a walnut, an' the cussed, three-cornered

Hambletonian temper that sours up an' curdles daown ez you git

older.  I've favoured my splint; even little Rick he don't know what

it's cost me to keep my end up sometimes; an' I've fit my temper in

stall an' harness, hitched up an' at pasture, till the sweat trickled

off my hooves, an' they thought I wuz off condition, an' drenched  me."

"When my affliction came," said Tweezy, gently, "I was very near to

losin' my manners.  Allow me to extend to you my sympathy,  suh."

Rick said nothing, but he looked at Rod curiously.  Rick is a

sunny-tempered child who never bears malice, and I don't think he

quite understood.  He gets his temper from his mother, as a horse


"I've been there too, Rod," said Tedda.  "Open confession's good

for the soul, an' all Monroe County knows I've had my experriences."

"But if you will excuse me, suh, that pusson" - Tweezy looked

unspeakable things at the yellow horse - "that pusson who has

insulted our intelligences comes from Kansas.  An' what a ho'se

of his position, an' Kansas at that, says cannot, by any stretch of

the halter, concern gentlemen of our position.  There's no shadow

of equal'ty, suh, not even for one kick.  He's beneath our contempt."

"Let him talk," said Marcus.  "It's always interestin' to know what

another horse thinks.  It don't tech us."

"An' he talks so, too," said Tuck.  "I've never heard anythin' so

smart for a long time."

Again Rod stuck out his jaws sidewise, and went on slowly, as

though he were slugging on a plain bit at the end of a thirty-mile


 "I want all you here ter understand thet ther ain't no Kansas, ner

no Kentucky, ner yet no Vermont, in our business.  There's jest two

kind o' horse in the United States - them ez can an' will do their

work after bein' properly broke an' handled, an' them as won't.

I'm sick an' tired o' this everlastin' tail-switchin' an' wickerin'

abaout one State er another.  A horse kin be proud o' his State, an'

swap lies abaout it in stall or when he's hitched to a block, ef he

keers to put in fly-time that way; but he hain't no right to let

that pride o' hisn interfere with his  work, ner to make it an

excuse fer claimin' he's different.  That's colts' talk, an' don't

you fergit it, Tweezy.  An', Marcus, you remember that hem' a

philosopher, an' anxious to save trouble, - fer you ate,- don't

excuse you from jumpin' with all your feet on a slack-jawed, crazy

clay-bank like Boney here.  It's leavin' 'em alone that gives 'em

their chance to ruin colts an' kill folks.  An', Tuck, waal, you're

a mare anyways - but when a horse comes along an' covers up all his

talk o' killin' with  ripplin' brooks, an wavin grass, an' eight

quarts of oats a day free, after killn' his man, don't you be run

away with by his  yap.  You're too young an' too nervous."

"I'll - I'll have nervous prostration sure ef there's a fight here,"

said Tuck, who saw what was in Rod's eye; "I'm - I'm that sympathetic

I'd run away clear to next caounty."

"Yep; I know that kind o' sympathy.  Jest lasts long enough to start

a fuss, an' then lights aout to make new trouble.  I hain't  been

ten years in harness fer nuthin'.  Naow, we're goin' to keep school

with Boney fer a spell."

"Say, look a-here, you ain't goin' to hurt me, are you?  Remember,

I belong to a man in town," cried the yellow horse, uneasily.

Muldoon kept behind him so that he could not run away.

"I know it.  There must be some pore delooded fool in this State

hez a right to the loose end o' your hitchin'-strap.  I'm blame

sorry fer him, but he shall hev his rights when we're through with

you," said Rod.

If it's all the same, gentlemen, I'd ruther change pasture.  Guess

I'll do it now."

"'Can't always have your 'druthers.  'Guess you won't," said Rod.

"But look a-here.  All of you ain't so blame unfriendly to a

stranger.  S'pose we count noses."

"What in Vermont fer?" said Rod, putting up his eyebrows.  The

idea of settling a question by counting noses is the very last

thing that ever enters the head of a well-broken horse.

"To see how many's on my side.  Here's Miss Tuck, anyway; an'

Colonel Tweezy yonder's neutral; an' Judge Marcus, an' I guess the

Reverend [the yellow horse meant the Deacon] might see that I had

my rights.  He's the likeliest-lookin' Trotter I've ever set eyes

on.  Pshaw.  Boys.  You ain't goin' to pound me, be you?  Why,

we've gone round in pasture, all colts together,  this month o'

Sundays, hain't we, as friendly as could be.  There ain't a horse

alive I don't care who he is - has a higher  opinion o' you, Mr.

Rod, than I have.  Let's do it fair an' true an' above the exe.

Let's count noses same's they do in  Kansas."  Here he dropped his

voice a little and turned to Marcus: "Say, Judge, there's some green

food I know, back o' the brook, no one hain't touched yet.  After

this little fracas is  fixed up, you an' me'll make up a party an'

'tend to it.

Marcus  did not answer for a long time, then he said:  "There's a

pup up to the haouse 'bout eight weeks old.  He'll yap till he gits

a lickin', an' when he sees it comin' he lies on his back, an'

yowls.  But he don't go through no cirkituous nose-countin' first.

I've seen a noo light sence Rod spoke.  You'll better stand up to

what's served.  I'm goin' to philosophise all over your carcass."

I'm goin' to do yer up in brown paper," said Muldoon.  "I can fit

you on apologies."

"Hold on.  Ef we all biffed you now, these same men you've been so

dead anxious to kill 'u'd call us off.  'Guess we'll wait till they

go back to the haouse, an' you'll have time to think cool an' quiet,"

said Rod.

 "Have you no respec' whatever fer the dignity o' our common

horsehood?" the yellow horse squealed.

"Nary respec' onless the horse kin do something.  America's paved

with the kind er horse you are -jist plain yaller-dog horse -

waitin' ter be whipped inter shape.  We call 'em yearlings an'

colts when they're young.  When they're aged we pound 'em - in

this pastur'.  Horse, sonny, is what you start from.  We know all

about horse here, an' he ain't any high-toned, pure souled child

o' nature.  Horse, plain horse, same ez you, is chock-full o'

tricks, an' meannesses, an' cussednesses, an' shirkin's, an'

monkey-shines, which he's took over from his sire an' his dam,

an' thickened up with his own special fancy in the way o' goin'

crooked.  Thet's horse, an' thet's about his dignity an' the size

of his soul 'fore he's been broke an' rawhided a piece.  Now we

ain't goin' to give ornery unswitched horse, that hain't done

nawthin' wuth a quart of oats sence he wuz foaled, pet names that

would be good enough fer Nancy Hanks, or Alix, or Directum,  who

hev.  Don't you try to back off acrost them rocks.  Wait where

you are!  Ef I let my Hambletonian temper git the better o' me I'd

frazzle you out finer than rye-straw inside o' three minutes, you

woman-scarin', kid-killin', dash-breakin', unbroke, unshod,

ungaited, pastur'-hoggin', saw-backed, shark-mouthed,

hair-trunk-thrown-in-in-trade son of a bronco an' a sewin'-machine!"

" I think we'd better get home," I said to my companion, when Rod

had finished; and we climbed into the coupe, Tedda whinnying, as we

bumped over the ledges: "Well, I'm dreffle sorry I can't stay fer

the sociable; but I hope an' trust my friends'll take a  ticket fer


"Bet your natchul!" said Muldoon, cheerfully, and the horses

scattered before us, trotting into the ravine.

Next morning we sent back to the livery-stable what was left of the

yellow horse.  It seemed tired, but anxious to go.


It was her first voyage, and though she was but a cargo-steamer

of twenty-five hundred tons, she was the very best of her kind,

the outcome of forty years of experiments and improvements in

framework and machinery; and her designers and owner thought as

much of her as though she had been the Lucania.  Any one can make

a floating hotel that will pay expenses, if he puts enough money

into the saloon, and charges for private baths, suites of rooms,

and such like; but in these days of competition and low freights

every square inch of a cargo-boat must be built for cheapness,

great hold-capacity, and a certain steady speed.  This boat was,

perhaps, two hundred and forty feet long and thirty-two feet

wide, with arrangements that enabled her to carry cattle on her

main and sheep on her upper deck if she wanted to; but her great

glory was the amount of cargo that she could store away in her

holds.  Her owners - they were a very well known Scotch firm -

came round with her from the north, where she had been launched

and christened and fitted, to Liverpool, where she was to take

cargo for New York; and the owner's daughter, Miss Frazier, went

to and fro on the clean decks, admiring the new paint and the

brass work, and the patent winches, and particularly the strong,

straight bow, over which she had cracked a bottle of champagne

when she named the steamer the Dimbula.  It was a beautiful

September afternoon, and the boat in all her newness - she was

painted lead-colour with a red funnel - looked very fine indeed.

Her house-flag was flying, and her whistle from time to time

acknowledged the salutes of friendly boats, who saw that she was

new to the High and Narrow Seas and wished to make her welcome.

"And now," said Miss Frazier, delightedly, to the captain, "she's

a real ship, isn't she?  It seems only the other day father gave

the order for her, and now - and now - isn't she a beauty!"  The

girl was proud of the firm, and talked as though she were the

controlling partner.

"Oh, she's no so bad," the skipper replied cautiously.  "But I'm

sayin' that it takes more than christenin' to mak' a ship.  In

the nature o' things, Miss Frazier, if ye follow me, she's just

irons and rivets and plates put into the form of a ship.  She has

to find herself yet."

"I thought father said she was exceptionally well found."

"So she is, said the skipper, with a laugh.  "But it's this way wi'

ships, Miss Frazier.  She's all here, but the parrts of her have

not learned to work together yet.  They've had no chance."

"The engines are working beautifully.  I can hear them."

"Yes, indeed.  But there's more than engines to a ship.  Every

inch of her, ye'll understand, has to be livened up and made to

work wi' its neighbour - sweetenin' her, we call it, technically."

"And how will you do it?" the girl asked.

"We can no more than drive and steer her and so forth; but if we

have rough weather this trip - it's likely - she'll learn the

rest by heart!  For a ship, ye'll obsairve, Miss Frazier, is in

no sense a reegid body closed at both ends.  She's a highly

complex structure o' various an' conflictin' strains, wi' tissues

that must give an' tak' accordin' to her personal modulus of

elasteecity."  Mr.  Buchanan, the chief engineer, was coming towards

them.  "I'm sayin' to Miss Frazier, here, that our little Dimbula

has to be sweetened yet, and nothin' but a gale will do it.  How's

all wi' your engines, Buck?"

"Well enough - true by plumb an' rule, o' course; but there's no

spontaneeity yet."  He turned to the girl.  "Take my word, Miss

Frazier, and maybe ye'll comprehend later; even after a pretty

girl's christened a ship it does not follow that there's such a

thing as a ship under the men that work her."

"I was sayin' the very same, Mr.  Buchanan," the skipper interrupted.

"That's more metaphysical than I can follow," said Miss Frazier,


"Why so?  Ye're good Scotch, an' - I knew your mother's father,

he was fra' Dumfries - ye've a vested right in metapheesics, Miss

Frazier, just as ye have in the Dimbula," the engineer said.

"Eh, well, we must go down to the deep watters, an' earn Miss

Frazier her deevidends.  Will you not come to my cabin for tea?"

said the skipper.  "We'll be in dock the night, and when you're

goin' back to Glasgie ye can think of us loadin' her down an'

drivin' her forth - all for your sake."

In the next few days they stowed some four thousand tons dead-weight

into the Dimbula, and took her out from Liverpool.  As soon as she

met the lift of the open water, she naturally began to talk.  If

you lay your ear to the side of the cabin, the next time you are

in a steamer, you will hear hundreds of little voices in every

direction, thrilling and buzzing, and whispering and popping, and

gurgling and sobbing and squeaking exactly like a telephone in a

thunder-storm.  Wooden ships shriek and growl and grunt, but iron

vessels throb and quiver through all their hundreds of ribs and

thousands of rivets.  The Dimbula was very strongly built, and

every piece of her had a letter or a number, or both, to describe

it; and every piece had been hammered, or forged, or rolled, or

punched by man, and had lived in the roar and rattle of the shipyard

for months.  Therefore, every piece had its own separate voice, in

exact proportion to the amount of trouble spent upon it.  Cast-iron,

as a rule, says very little; but mild steel plates and wrought-iron,

and ribs and beams that have been much bent and welded and riveted,

talk continuously.  Their conversation, of course, is not half as

wise as our human talk, because they are all, though they do not

know it, bound down one to the other in a black darkness, where

they cannot tell what is happening near them, nor what will overtake

them next.

As soon as she had cleared the Irish coast, a sullen, grey-headed

old wave of the Atlantic climbed leisurely over her straight bows,

and sat down on the steam-capstan used for hauling up the anchor.

Now the capstan and the engine that drove it had been newly painted

red and green; besides which, nobody likes being ducked.

"Don't you do that again," the capstan sputtered through the

teeth of his cogs.  "Hi! Where's the fellow gone?"

The wave had slouched overside with a plop and a chuckle; but

"Plenty more where he came from," said a brother-wave, and went

through and over the capstan, who was bolted firmly to an iron

plate on the iron deck-beams below.

"Can't you keep still up there?" said the deckbeams.  "What's the

matter with you?  One minute you weigh twice as much as you ought

to, and the next you don't!"

"It isn't my fault," said the capstan.  "There's a green brute

outside that comes and hits me on the head."

"Tell that to the shipwrights.  You've been in position for months

and you've never wriggled like this before.  If you aren't careful

you'll strain us."

"Talking of strain," said a low, rasping, unpleasant voice, are

any of you fellows - you deck-beams, we mean - aware that those

exceedingly ugly knees of yours happen to be riveted into our

structure - ours?"

"Who might you be?" the deck-beams inquired.

"Oh, nobody in particular," was the answer.  "We're only the port

and starboard upper-deck stringers; and if you persist in heaving

and hiking like this, we shall be reluctantly compelled to take


Now the stringers of the ship are long iron girders, so to speak,

that run lengthways from stern to bow.  They keep the iron frames

(what are called ribs in a wooden ship) in place, and also help

to hold the ends of the deck-beams, which go from side to side of

the ship.  Stringers always consider themselves most important,

because they are so long.

"You will take steps - will you?"  This was a long echoing

rumble.  It came from the frames - scores and scores of them,

each one about eighteen inches  distant from the next, and each

riveted to the stringers in four places.  "We think you will have

a certain amount of trouble in that"; and thousands and thousands

of the little rivets that held everything together whispered: "You

Will!  You will!  Stop quivering and be quiet.  Hold on, brethren!

Hold on!  Hot Punches!  What's that?"

Rivets have no teeth, so they cannot chatter with fright; but they

did their best as a fluttering jar swept along the ship from stern

to bow, and she shook like a rat in a terrier's mouth.

An unusually severe pitch, for the sea was rising, had lifted the

big throbbing screw nearly to the surface, and it was spinning

round in a kind of soda-water - half sea and half air - going

much faster than was proper, because there was no deep water for

it to work in.  As it sank again, the engines - and they were

triple expansion, three cylinders in a row - snorted through all

their three pistons.  "Was that a joke, you fellow outside?  It's

an uncommonly poor one.  How are we to do our work if you fly off

the handle that way?"

"I didn't fly off the handle," said the screw, twirling huskily

at the end of the screw-shaft.  "If I had, you'd have been

scrap-iron by this time.  The sea dropped away from under me, and

I had nothing to catch on to.  That's all."

That's all, d'you call it?" said the thrust-block, whose business

it is to take the push of the screw; for if a screw had nothing to

hold it back it would crawl right into the engine-room.  (It is

the holding back of the screwing action that gives the drive to a

ship.)  "I know I do my work deep down and out of sight, but I warn

you I expect justice.  All I ask for is bare justice.  Why can't

you push steadily and evenly, instead of whizzing like a whirligig,

and making me hot under all my collars?"  The thrust-block had six

collars, each faced with brass, and he did not wish to get them


All the bearings that supported the fifty feet of screw-shaft as

it ran to the stern whispered: "Justice - give us justice."

"I can only give you what I can get," the screw answered.  "Look

out! It's coming again!"

He rose with a roar as the Dimbula plunged, and "whack - flack -

whack - whack" went the engines, furiously, for they had little

to check them.

"I'm the noblest outcome of human ingenuity - Mr.  Buchanan says

so," squealed the high-pressure cylinder.  "This is simply

ridiculous!" The piston went up savagely, and choked, for half

the steam behind it was mixed with dirty water.  "Help!  Oiler!

Fitter!  Stoker!  Help I'm choking," it gasped.  "Never in the

history of maritime invention has such a calamity over-taken one

so young and strong.  And if I go, who's to drive the ship?"

"Hush! oh, hush!" whispered the Steam, who, of course, had been

to sea many times before.  He used to spend his leisure ashore in

a cloud, or a gutter, or a flower-pot, or a thunder-storm, or

anywhere else where water was needed.  "That's only a little

priming, a little carrying-over, as they call it.  It'll happen

all night, on and off.  I don't say it's nice, but it's the best

we can do under the circumstances."

"What difference can circumstances make?  I'm here to do my work

- on clean, dry steam.  Blow circumstances!" the cylinder roared.

"The circumstances will attend to the blowing.  I've worked on the

North Atlantic run a good many times - it's going to be rough

before morning."

"It isn't distressingly calm now," said the extra strong frames -

they were called web-frames - in the engine-room.  "There's an

upward thrust that we don't understand, and there's a twist that

is very bad for our brackets and diamond-plates, and there's a

sort of west-northwesterly pull, that follows the twist,  which

seriously annoys us.  We mention this because we happened to cost

a good deal of money, and we feel sure that the owner would not

approve of our being treated in this frivolous way."

I'm afraid the matter is out of owner's hands for the present,"

said the Steam, slipping into the condenser.  "You're left to

your own devices till the weather betters."

"I wouldn't mind the weather," said a flat bass voice below;

"it's this confounded cargo that's breaking my heart.  I'm the

garboard-strake, and I'm twice as thick as most of the others,

and I ought to know something."

The garboard-strake is the lowest plate in the bottom of a ship,

and the Dimbula's garboard-strake was nearly three-quarters of an

inch mild steel.

"The sea pushes me up in a way I should never have expected," the

strake grunted, "and the cargo pushes me down, and, between the

two, I don't know what I'm supposed to do."

"When in doubt, hold on," rumbled the Steam, making head in the


"Yes; but there's only dark, and cold, and hurry, down here; and

how do I know whether the other plates are doing their duty?

Those bulwark-plates up above, I've heard, ain't more than

five-sixteenths of an inch thick - scandalous, I call it."

"I agree with you," said a huge web-frame, by the main cargo-hatch.

He was deeper and thicker than all the others, and curved half-way

across the ship in the shape of half an arch, to support the deck

where deck-beams would have been in the way of cargo coming up and

down.  "I work entirely unsupported, and I observe that I am the

sole strength of this vessel, so far as my vision extends.  The

responsibility, I assure you, is enormous.  I believe the

money-value of the cargo is over one hundred and fifty thousand

pounds.  Think of that!"

"And every pound of it is dependent on my personal exertions."

Here spoke a sea-valve that communicated directly with the water

outside, and was seated not very far from the garboard-strake.

"I rejoice to think that I am a Prince-Hyde Valve, with best Para

rubber facings.  Five patents cover me - I mention this without

pride - five separate and several patents, each one finer than

the other.  At present I am screwed fast.  Should I open, you

would immediately be swamped.  This is incontrovertible!"

Patent things always use the longest words they can.  It is a

trick that they pick up from their inventors.

"That's news," said a big centrifugal bilge-pump.  "I had an idea

that you were employed to clean decks and things with.  At least,

I've used you for that more than once.  I forget the precise number,

in thousands, of gallons which I am guaranteed to throw per hour;

but I assure you, my complaining friends, that there is not the

least danger.  I alone am capable of clearing any water that may

find its way here.  By my Biggest Deliveries, we pitched then!"

The sea was getting up in workmanlike style.  It was a dead westerly

gale, blown from under a ragged opening of green sky, narrowed on

all sides by fat, grey clouds; and the wind bit like pincers as it

fretted the spray into lacework on the flanks of the waves.

"I tell you what it is," the foremast telephoned down its

wire-stays.  "I'm up here, and I can take a dispassionate view

of things.  There's an organised conspiracy against us.  I'm

sure of it, because every single one of these waves is heading

directly for our bows.  The whole sea is concerned in it - and

so's the wind.  It's awful!"

"What's awful?" said a wave, drowning the capstan for the

hundredth time.

"This organised conspiracy on your part," the capstan gurgled,

taking his cue from the mast.  "Organised bubbles and spindrift!

There has been a depression in the Gulf of Mexico.  Excuse me!"

He leaped overside; but his friends took up the tale one after


"Which has advanced - "That wave hove green water over the funnel.

"As far as Cape Hatteras - "  He drenched the bridge.

"And is now going out to sea - to sea - to sea!"  The third went

out in three surges, making a clean sweep of a boat, which turned

bottom up and sank in the darkening troughs alongside, while the

broken falls whipped the davits.

"That's all there is to it," seethed the white water roaring through

the scuppers.  "There's no animus in our proceedings.  We're only

meteorological corollaries."

"Is it going to get any worse?" said the bow-anchor chained down

to the deck, where he could only breathe once in five minutes.

"Not knowing, can't say.  Wind may blow a bit by midnight.

Thanks awfully.  Good-bye."

The wave that spoke so politely had travelled some distance aft,

and found itself all mixed up on the deck amidships, which was a

well-deck sunk between high bulwarks.  One of the bulwark-plates,

which was hung on hinges to open outward, had swung out, and

passed the bulk of the water back to the sea again with a clean


"Evidently that's what I'm made for," said the plate, closing

again with a sputter of pride.  "Oh, no, you don't, my friend!"

The top of a wave was trying to get in from the outside, but as

the plate did not open in that direction, the defeated water

spurted back.

"Not bad for five-sixteenths of an inch," said the bulwark-plate.

"My work, I see, is laid down for the night"; and it began opening

and shutting, as it was designed to do, with the motion of the ship.

"We are not what you might call idle," groaned all the frames

together, as the Dimbula climbed a big wave, lay on her side at

the top, and shot into the next hollow, twisting in the descent.

A huge swell pushed up exactly under her middle, and her bow and

stern hung free with nothing to support them.  Then one joking

wave caught her up at the bow, and another at the stern, while

the rest of the water slunk away from under her just to see how

she would like it; so she was held up at her two ends only, and

the weight of the cargo and the machinery fell on the groaning

iron keels and bilge-stringers.

"Ease off!  Ease off; there!" roared the garboard-strake.  "I want

one-eighth of an inch fair play.  D' you hear me, you rivets!"

"Ease off! Ease off!" cried the bilge-stringers.  "Don't hold us

so tight to the frames!"

"Ease off!" grunted the deck-beams, as the Dimbula rolled

fearfully.  "You've cramped our knees into the stringers, and we

can't move.  Ease off; you flat-headed little nuisances."

Then two converging seas hit the bows, one on each side, and fell

away in torrents of streaming thunder.

"Ease off!" shouted the forward collision-bulkhead.  "I want to

crumple up, but I'm stiffened in every direction.  Ease off; you

dirty little forge-filings.  Let me breathe!"

All the hundreds of plates that are riveted to the frames, and

make the outside skin of every steamer, echoed the call, for

each plate wanted to shift and creep a little, and each plate,

according to its position, complained against the rivets.

"We can't help it! We can't help it!" they murmured in reply.

"We're put here to hold you, and we're going to do it; you never

pull us twice in the same direction.  If you'd say what you were

going to do next, we'd try to meet your views.

"As far as I could feel," said the upper-deck planking, and that

was four inches thick, "every single iron near me was pushing or

pulling in opposite directions.  Now, what's the sense of that?

My friends, let us all pull together."

"Pull any way you please," roared the funnel, "so long as you

don't try your experiments on me.  I need fourteen wire-ropes,

all pulling in different directions, to hold me steady.  Isn't

that so?"

We believe you, my boy!" whistled the funnel-stays through their

clinched teeth, as they twanged in the wind from the top of the

funnel to the deck.

"Nonsense!  We must all pull together," the decks repeated.  "Pull


"Very good," said the stringers; "then stop pushing sideways when

you get wet.  Be content to run gracefully fore and aft, and curve

in at the ends as we do."

"No - no curves at the end.  A very slight workmanlike curve from

side to side, with a good grip at each knee, and little pieces

welded on," said the deck-beams.

"Fiddle!" cried the iron pillars of the deep, dark hold.  "Who

ever heard of curves?  Stand up straight; be a perfectly round

column, and carry tons of good solid weight - like that!  There!"

A big sea smashed on the deck above, and the pillars stiffened

themselves to the load.

"Straight up and down is not bad," said the frames, who ran that

way in the sides of the ship, "but you must also expand yourselves

sideways.  Expansion is the law of life, children.  Open out! open


"Come back!" said the deck-beams, savagely, as the upward heave

of the sea made the frames try to open.  "Come back to your bearings,

you slack-jawed irons!"

"Rigidity!  Rigidity!  Rigidity!" thumped the engines.  "Absolute,

unvarying rigidity - rigidity!"

"You see!" whined the rivets, in chorus.  "No two of you will ever

pull alike, and - and you blame it all on us.  We only know how to

go through a plate and bite down on both sides so that it can't,

and mustn't, and sha'n't move."

"I've got one fraction of an inch play, at any rate," said the

garboard-strake, triumphantly.  So he had, and all the bottom of

the ship felt the easier for it.

"Then we're no good," sobbed the bottom rivets.  "We were ordered

- we were ordered - never to give; and we've given, and the sea

will come in, and we'll all go to the bottom together!  First

we're blamed for everything unpleasant, and now we haven't the

consolation of having done our work."

"Don't say I told you," whispered the Steam, consolingly; "but,

between  you and me and the last cloud I came from, it was bound

to happen sooner or later.  You had to give a fraction, and you've

given without knowing it.  Now, hold on, as before."

"What's the use?" a few hundred rivets chattered.  "We've given -

we've given; and the sooner we confess that we can't keep the ship

together, and go off our little heads, the easier it will be.  No

rivet forged can stand this strain."

"No one rivet was ever meant to.  Share it among you," the Steam


"The others can have my share.  I'm going to pull out," said a rivet

in one of the forward plates.

"If you go, others will follow," hissed the Steam.  "There's

nothing so contagious in a boat as rivets going.  Why, I knew a

little chap like you - he was an eighth of an inch fatter, though

 - on a steamer - to be sure, she was only twelve hundred tons,

now I come to think of it in exactly the same place as you are.

He pulled out in a bit of a bobble of a sea, not half as bad as

this, and he started all his friends on the same butt-strap, and

the plates opened like a furnace door, and I had to climb into

the nearest fog-bank, while the boat went down."

"Now that's peculiarly disgraceful," said the rivet.  "Fatter than

me, was he, and in a steamer not half our tonnage?  Reedy little

peg!  I blush for the family, sir."  He settled himself more firmly

than ever in his place, and the Steam chuckled.

"You see," he went on, quite gravely, " a rivet, and especially a

rivet in your position, is really the one indispensable part of

the ship."

The Steam did not say that be had whispered the very same thing

to every single piece of iron aboard.  There is no sense in telling

too much.

And all that while the little Dimbula pitched and chopped, and

swung and slewed, and lay down as though she were going to die,

and got up as though she had been stung, and threw her nose

round and round in circles half a dozen times as she dipped, for

the gale was at its worst.  It was inky black, in spite of the

tearing white froth on the waves, and, to top everything, the

rain began to fall in sheets, so that you could not see your hand

before your face.  This did not make much difference to the

ironwork below, but it troubled the foremast a good deal.

"Now it's all finished," he said dismally.  "The conspiracy is too

strong for us.  There is nothing left but to - "

"Hurraar!  Brrrraaah!  Brrrrrrp!" roared the Steam through the

fog-horn, till the decks quivered.  "Don't be frightened, below.

It's only me, just throwing out a few words, in case any one

happens to be rolling round to-night."

"You don't mean to say there's any one except us on the sea in

such weather?" said the funnel, in a husky snuffle.

"Scores of 'em," said the Steam, clearing its throat.  "Rrrrrraaa!

Brraaaaa!  Prrrrp!  It's a trifle windy up here; and, Great

Boilers! how it rains!"

"We're drowning," said the scuppers.  They had been doing nothing

else all night, but this steady thrash of rain above them seemed

to be the end of the world.

"That's all right.  We'll be easier in an hour or two.  First the

wind and then the rain.  Soon you may make sail again!  Grrraaaaaah!

Drrrraaaa!  Drrrp!  I have a notion that the sea is going down

already.  If it does you'll learn something about rolling.  We've

only pitched till now.  By the way, aren't you chaps in the hold a

little easier than you were?"

There was just as much groaning and straining as ever, but it was

not so loud or squeaky in tone; and when the ship quivered she

did not jar stiffly, like a poker hit on the floor, but gave

with a supple little waggle, like a perfectly balanced golf-club.

"We have made a most amazing discovery," said the stringers, one

after another.  "A discovery that entirely changes the situation.

We have found, for the first time in the history of ship-building,

that the inward pull of the deck-beams and the outward thrust of

the frames locks us, as it were, more closely in our places, and

enables us to endure a strain which is entirely without parallel

in the records of marine architecture."

The Steam turned a laugh quickly into a roar up the fog-horn.

"What  massive intellects you great stringers have," he said

softly, when he had finished.

"We also," began the deck-beams, "are discoverers and geniuses.

We are of opinion that the support of the hold-pillars materially

helps us.  We find that we lock up on them when we are subjected

to a heavy and singular weight of sea above."

Here the Dimbula shot down a hollow, lying almost on her side;

righting at the bottom with a wrench and a spasm.

"In these cases - are you aware of this, Steam? - the plating at

the bows, and particularly at the stern - we would also mention

the floors beneath us - help us to resist any tendency to spring.

"The frames spoke, in the solemn awed voice which people use when

they have just come across something entirely new for the very

first time.

"I'm only a poor puffy little flutterer," said the Steam, "but I

have to stand a good deal of pressure in my business.  It's all

tremendously interesting.  Tell us some more.  You fellows are so


"Watch us and you'll see," said the bow-plates, proudly.  "Ready,

behind there!  Here's the father and mother of waves coming!  Sit

tight, rivets all!"  A great sluicing comber thundered by, but

through the scuffle and confusion the Steam could hear the low,

quick cries of the ironwork as the various strains took them -

cries like these: "Easy, now - easy!  Now push for all your

strength!  Hold out!  Give a fraction!  Hold up!  Pull in!  Shove

crossways!  Mind the strain at the ends!  Grip, now!  Bite tight!

Let the water get away from under - and there she goes!"

The wave raced off into the darkness, shouting, "Not bad, that,

if it's your first run!" and the drenched and ducked ship throbbed

to the beat of the engines inside her.  All three cylinders were

white with the salt spray that had come down through the engine-room

hatch; there was white fur on the canvas-bound steam-pipes, and

even the bright-work deep below was speckled and soiled; but the

cylinders had learned to make the most of steam that was half water,

and were pounding along cheerfully.

"How's the noblest outcome of human ingenuity hitting it?" said

the Steam, as he whirled through the engine-room.

"Nothing for nothing in this world of woe," the cylinders answered,

as though they had been working for centuries, "and precious little

for seventy-five pounds head.  We've made two knots this last hour

and a quarter!  Rather humiliating for eight hundred horse-power,

isn't it?"

"Well, it's better than drifting astern, at any rate.  You seem

rather less - how shall I put it - stiff in the back than you


"If you'd been hammered as we've been this night, you wouldn't be

stiff - iff - iff; either.  Theoreti - retti - retti - cally, of

course, rigidity is the thing.  Purrr - purr - practically, there

has to be a little give and take.  We found that out by working on

our sides for five minutes at a stretch - chch - chh.  How's the


"Sea's going down fast," said the Steam.

"Good business," said the high-pressure cylinder.  "Whack her up,

boys.  They've given us five pounds more steam"; and he began

humming the first bars of "Said the young Obadiah to the old

Obadiah," which, as you may have noticed, is a pet tune among

engines not built for high speed.  Racing-liners with twin-screws

sing "The Turkish Patrol" and the overture to the "Bronze Horse,"

and "Madame Angot," till something goes wrong, and then they

render Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette," with variations.

"You'll learn a song of your own some fine day," said the Steam,

as he flew up the fog-horn for one last bellow.

Next day the sky cleared and the sea dropped a little, and the

Dimbula began to roll from side to side till every inch of iron

in her was sick and giddy.  But luckily they did not all feel ill

at the same time: otherwise she would have opened out like a wet

paper box.

The Steam whistled warnings as he went about his business: it is

in this short, quick roll and tumble that follows a heavy sea that

most of the accidents happen, for then everything thinks that the

worst is over and goes off guard.  So he orated and chattered till

the beams and frames and floors and stringers and things had

learned how to lock down and lock up on one another, and endure

this new kind of strain.

They found ample time to practise, for they were sixteen days at

sea, and it was foul weather till within a hundred miles of New

York.  The Dimbula picked up her pilot, and came in covered with

salt and red rust.  Her funnel was dirty-grey from top to bottom;

two boats had been carried away; three copper ventilators looked

like hats after a fight with the police; the bridge had a dimple

in the middle of it; the house that covered the steam steering-gear

was split as with hatchets; there was a bill for small repairs in

the engine-room almost as long as the screw-shaft; the forward

cargo-hatch fell into bucket-staves when they raised the iron

cross-bars; and the steam-capstan had been badly wrenched on its

bed.  Altogether, as the skipper said, it was "a pretty general


"But she's soupled," he said to Mr.  Buchanan.  "For all her

dead-weight she rode like a yacht.  Ye mind that last blow off

the Banks - I am proud of her, Buck."

"It's vera good," said the chief engineer, looking along the

dishevelled decks.  "Now, a man judgin' superfeecially would say

we were a wreck, but we know otherwise - by experience."

Naturally everything in the Dimbula fairly stiffened with pride,

and the foremast and the forward collision-bulkhead, who are

pushing creatures, begged the Steam to warn the Port of New York

of their arrival.  "Tell those big boats all about us," they said.

"They seem to take us quite as a matter of course."

It was a glorious, clear, dead calm morning, and in single file,

with less than half a mile between each, their bands playing and

their tugboats shouting and waving handkerchiefs, were the Majestic,

the Paris, the Touraine, the Servia, the Kaiser Wilhelm II, and

the Werkendam, all statelily going out to sea.  As the Dimbula

shifted her helm to give the great boats clear way, the Steam

(who knows far too much to mind making an exhibition of himself

now and then) shouted:

Oyez!  Oyez!  Oyez!  Princes, Dukes, and Barons of the High Seas!

Know ye by these presents, we are the Dimbula, fifteen days nine

hours from Liverpool, having crossed the Atlantic with four thousand

ton of cargo for the first time in our career!  We have not

foundered.  We are here.  'Eer!  'Eer!  We are not disabled.  But

we have had a time wholly unparalleled in the annals of ship-building!

Our decks were swept!  We pitched; we rolled!  We thought we were

going to die!  Hi!  Hi!  But we didn't.  We wish to give notice that

we have come to New York all the way across the Atlantic, through the

worst weather in the world; and we are the Dimbula!  We are - arr

- ha - ha - ha-r-r-r!"

The beautiful line of boats swept by as steadily as the procession

of the Seasons.  The Dimbula heard the Majestic say, "Hmph!" and

the Paris grunted, "How!" and the Touraine said, "Oui!" with a

little coquettish flicker of steam; and the Servia said, "Haw!" and

the Kaiser and the Werkendam said, "Hoch!" Dutch fashion - and that

was absolutely all.

"I did my best," said the Steam, gravely, "but I don't think they

were much impressed with us, somehow.  Do you?"

"It's simply disgusting," said the bow-plates.  "They might have

seen what we've been through.  There isn't a ship on the sea that

has suffered as we have - is there, now?"

"Well, I wouldn't go so far as that," said the Steam, "because

I've worked on some of those boats, and sent them through

weather quite as bad as the fortnight that we've had, in six

days; and some of them are a little over ten thousand tons, I

believe.  Now I've seen the Majestic, for instance, ducked from

her bows to her funnel; and I've helped the Arizona, I think she

was, to back off an iceberg she met with one dark night; and I

had to run out of the Paris's engine-room, one day, because

there was thirty foot of water in it.  Of course, I don't deny - "

The Steam shut off suddenly, as a tugboat, loaded with a political

club and a brass band, that had been to see a New York Senator off

to Europe, crossed their bows, going to Hoboken.  There was a

long silence that reached, without a break, from the cut-water to

the propeller-blades of the Dimbula.

Then a new, big voice said slowly and thickly, as though the

owner had just waked up: "It's my conviction that I have made a

fool of myself."

The Steam knew what had happened at once; for when a ship finds

herself all the talking of the separate pieces ceases and melts

into one voice, which is the soul of the ship.

"Who are you?" he said, with a laugh.

"I am the Dimbula, of course.  I've never been anything else

except that - and a fool!"

The tugboat, which was doing its very best to be run down, got

away just in time; its band playing clashily and brassily a

popular but impolite air:

          In the days of old Rameses - are you on?

          In the days of old Rameses - are you on?

          In the days of old Rameses,

          That story had paresis,

          Are you on - are you on - are you on?

"Well, I'm glad you've found yourself," said the Steam.  "To tell

the truth, I was a little tired of talking to all those ribs and

stringers.  Here's Quarantine.  After that we'll go to our wharf

and clean up a little, and - next month we'll do it all over again."


Some people will tell you that if there were but a single loaf of

bread in all India it would be divided equally between the Plowdens,

the Trevors, the Beadons, and the Rivett-Carnacs.  That is only one

way of saying that certain families serve India generation after

generation, as dolphins follow in line across the open sea.

Let us take a small and obscure case.  There has been at least one

representative of the Devonshire Chinns in or near Central India

since the days of Lieutenant-Fireworker Humphrey Chinn, of the

Bombay European Regiment, who assisted at the capture of

Seringapatam in 1799.  Alfred Ellis Chinn, Humphrey's younger

brother, commanded a regiment of Bombay grenadiers from 1804 to

1813, when he saw some mixed fighting; and in 1834 John Chinn of

the same family - we will call him John Chinn the First - came to

light as a level-headed administrator in time of trouble at a

place called Mundesur.  He died young, but left his mark on the

new country, and the Honourable the Board of Directors of the

Honourable the East India Company embodied his virtues in a

stately resolution, and paid for the expenses of his tomb among

the Satpura hills.

He was succeeded by his son, Lionel Chinn, who left the little

old Devonshire home just in time to be severely wounded in the

Mutiny.  He spent his working life within a hundred and fifty miles

of John Chinn's grave, and rose to the command of a regiment of

small, wild hill-men, most of whom had known his father.  His son

John was born in the small thatched-roofed, mud-walled cantonment,

which is even to-day eighty miles from the nearest railway, in the

heart of a scrubby, tigerish country.  Colonel Lionel Chinn served

thirty years and retired.  In the Canal his steamer passed the

outward-bound troop-ship, carrying his son eastward to the family


The Chinns are luckier than most folk, because they know exactly

what they must do.  A clever Chinn passes for the Bombay Civil

Service, and gets away to Central India, where everybody is glad

to see him.  A dull Chinn enters the Police Department or the Woods

and Forest, and sooner or later he, too, appears in Central India,

and that is what gave rise to the saying, "Central India is

inhabited by Bhils, Mairs, and Chinns, all very much alike."  The

breed is small-boned, dark, and silent, and the stupidest of them

are good shots.  John Chinn the Second was rather clever, but as

the eldest son he entered the army, according to Chinn tradition.

His duty was to abide in his father's regiment for the term of his

natural life, though the corps was one which most men would have

paid heavily to avoid.  They were irregulars, small, dark, and

blackish, clothed in rifle-green with black-leather trimmings;

and friends called them the "Wuddars," which means a race of

low-caste people who dig up rats to eat.  But the Wuddars did not

resent it.  They were the only Wuddars, and their points of pride

were these:

Firstly, they had fewer English officers than any native regiment.

Secondly, their subalterns were not mounted on parade, as is the

general rule, but walked at the head of their men.  A man who can

hold his own with the Wuddars at their quickstep must be sound in

wind and limb.  Thirdly, they were the most pukka shikarries

(out-and-out hunters) in all India.  Fourthly-up to one-hundredthly

 - they were the Wuddars - Chinn's Irregular Bhil Levies of the

old days, but now, henceforward and for ever, the Wuddars.

No Englishman entered their mess except for love or through family

usage.  The officers talked to their soldiers in a tongue not two

hundred white folk in India understood; and the men were their

children, all drawn from the Bhils, who are, perhaps, the strangest

of the many strange races in India.  They were, and at heart are,

wild men, furtive, shy, full of untold superstitions.  The races

whom we call natives of the country found the Bhil in possession of

the land when they first broke into that part of the world thousands

of years ago.  The books call them Pre-Aryan, Aboriginal, Dravidian,

and so forth; and, in other words, that is what the Bhils call

themselves.  When a Rajput chief whose bards can sing his pedigree

backwards for twelve hundred years is set on the throne, his

investiture is not complete till he has been marked on the forehead

with blood from the veins of a Bhil.  The Rajputs say the ceremony

has no meaning, but the Bhil knows that it is the last, last shadow

of his old rights as the long-ago owner of the soil.

Centuries of oppression and massacre made the Bhil a cruel and

half-crazy thief and cattle-stealer, and when the English came he

seemed to be almost as open to civilisation as the tigers of his

own jungles.  But John Chinn the First, father of Lionel,

grandfather of our John, went into his country, lived with him,

learned his language, shot the deer that stole his poor crops, and

won his confidence, so that some Bhils learned to plough and sow,

while others were coaxed into the Company's service to police

their friends.

When they understood that standing in line did not mean instant

execution, they accepted soldiering as a cumbrous but amusing kind

of sport, and were zealous to keep the wild Bhils under control.

That was the thin edge of the wedge.  John Chinn the First gave

them written promises that, if they were good from a certain date,

the Government would overlook previous offences; and since John

Chinn was never known to break his word - he promised once to hang

a Bhil locally esteemed invulnerable, and hanged him in front of

his tribe for seven proved murders - the Bhils settled down as

steadily as they knew how.  It was slow, unseen work, of the sort

that is being done all over India to-day; and though John Chinn's

only reward came, as I have said, in the shape of a grave at

Government expense, the little people of the hills never forgot him.

Colonel Lionel Chinn knew and loved them, too, and they were very

fairly civilised, for Bhils, before his service ended.  Many of

them could hardly be distinguished from low-caste Hindoo farmers;

but in the south, where John Chinn the First was buried, the

wildest still clung to the Satpura ranges, cherishing a legend

that some day Jan Chinn, as they called him, would return to his

own.  In the mean time they mistrusted the white man and his ways.

The least excitement would stampede them, plundering, at random,

and now and then killing; but if they were handled discreetly they

grieved like children, and promised never to do it again.

The Bhils of the regiment - the uniformed men - were virtuous in

many ways, but they needed humouring.  They felt bored and

homesick unless taken after tiger as beaters; and their

cold-blooded daring - all Wuddars shoot tigers on foot: it is

their caste-mark - made even the officers wonder.  They would

follow up a wounded tiger as unconcernedly as though it were a

sparrow with a broken wing; and this through a country full of

caves and rifts and pits, where a wild beast could hold a dozen

men at his mercy.  Now and then some little man was brought to

barracks with his head smashed in or his ribs torn away; but his

companions never learned caution; they contented themselves with

settling the tiger.

Young John Chinn was decanted at the verandah of the Wuddars'

lonely mess-house from the back seat of a two-wheeled cart, his

gun-cases cascading all round him.  The slender little, hookey-nosed

boy looked forlorn as a strayed goat when he slapped the white dust

off his knees, and the cart jolted down the glaring road.  But in

his heart he was contented.  After all, this was the place where

he had been born, and things were not much changed since he had

been sent to England, a child, fifteen years ago.

There were a few new buildings, but the air and the smell and the

sunshine were the same; and the little green men who crossed the

parade-ground looked very familiar.  Three weeks ago John Chinn

would have said he did not remember a word of the Bhil tongue, but

at the mess door he found his lips moving in sentences that he did

not understand - bits of old nursery rhymes, and tail-ends of such

orders as his father used to give the men.

The Colonel watched him come up the steps, and laughed.

"Look!" he said to the Major.  "No need to ask the young un's

breed.  He's a pukka Chinn.  'Might be his father in the Fifties

over again."

"'Hope he'll shoot as straight," said the Major.  "He's brought

enough ironmongery with him."

"'Wouldn't be a Chinn if he didn't.  Watch him blowin' his nose.

'Regular Chinn beak.  'Flourishes his handkerchief like his father.

It's the second edition - line for line."

"'Fairy tale, by Jove!" said the Major, peering through the slats

of the jalousies.  "If he's the lawful heir, he'll ....  Now

old Chinn could no more pass that chick without fiddling with it

than ...."

"His son!" said the Colonel, jumping up.

"Well, I be blowed!" said the Major.  The boy's eye had been

caught by a split-reed screen that hung on a slew between the

veranda pillars, and, mechanically, he had tweaked the edge to

set it level.  Old Chinn had sworn three times a day at that

screen for many years; he could never get it to his satisfaction.

His son entered the anteroom in the middle of a fivefold silence.

They made him welcome for his father's sake and, as they took stock

of him, for his own.  He was ridiculously like the portrait of the

Colonel on the wall, and when he had washed a little of the dust

from his throat he went to his quarters with the old man's short,

noiseless jungle-step.

"So much for heredity," said the Major.  "That comes of four

generations among the Bhils."

"And the men know it," said a Wing officer.  "They've been waiting

for this youth with their tongues hanging out.  I am persuaded

that, unless he absolutely beats 'em over the head, they'll lie

down by companies and worship him."

"Nothin' like havin' a father before you," said the Major.  "I'm

a parvenu with my chaps.  I've only been twenty years in the

regiment, and my revered parent he was a simple squire.  There's

no getting at the bottom of a Bhil's mind.  Now, why is the

superior bearer that young Chinn brought with him fleeing across

country with his bundle?"  He stepped into the verandah, and

shouted after the man - a typical new-joined subaltern's servant

who speaks English and cheats in proportion.

What is it?" he called.

Plenty bad man here.  I going, sar," was the reply.  "'Have taken

Sahib's keys, and say will shoot."

"Doocid lucid - doocid convincin'.  How those up-country thieves

can leg it!  He has been badly frightened by some one."  The Major

strolled to his quarters to dress for mess.

Young Chinn, walking like a man in a dream, had fetched a compass

round the entire cantonment before going to his own tiny cottage.

The captain's quarters, in which he had been born, delayed him for

a little; then he looked at the well on the parade-ground, where

he had sat of evenings with his nurse, and at the ten-by-fourteen

church, where the officers went to service if a chaplain of any

official creed happened to come along.  It seemed very small as

compared with the gigantic buildings he used to stare up at, but

it was the same place.

>From time to time he passed a knot of silent soldiers, who saluted.

They might have been the very men who had carried him on their

backs when he was in his first knickerbockers.  A faint light

burned in his room, and, as he entered, hands clasped his feet,

and a voice murmured from the floor.

"Who is it?" said young Chinn, not knowing he spoke in the Bhil


"I bore you in my arms, Sahib, when I was a strong man and you

were a small one - crying, crying, crying!  I am your servant,

as I was your father's before you.  We are all your servants."

Young Chinn could not trust himself to reply, and the voice went


"I have taken your keys from that fat foreigner, and sent him

away; and the studs are in the shirt for mess.  Who should know,

if I do not know?  And so the baby has become a man, and forgets

his nurse; but my nephew shall make a good servant, or I will

beat him twice a day."

Then there rose up, with a rattle, as straight as a Bhil arrow, a

little white-haired wizened ape of a man, with medals and orders

on his tunic, stammering, saluting, and trembling.  Behind him a

young and wiry Bhil, in uniform, was taking the trees out of

Chinn's mess-boots.

Chinn's eyes were full of tears.  The old man held out his keys.

"Foreigners are bad people.  He will never come back again.  We

are all servants of your father's son.  Has the Sahib forgotten

who took him to see the trapped tiger in the village across the

river, when his mother was so frightened and he was so brave?"

The scene came back to Chinn in great magic-lantern flashes.

"Bukta!" he cried; and all in a breath: "You promised nothing

should hurt me.  Is it Bukta?"

The man was at his feet a second time.  "He has not forgotten.  He

remembers his own people as his father remembered.  Now can I die.

But first I will live and show the Sahib how to kill tigers.  That

that yonder is my nephew.  If he is not a good servant, beat him

and send him to me, and I will surely kill him, for now the Sahib

is with his own people.  Ai, Jan haba - Jan haba!  My Jan haba!

I will stay here and see that this does his work well.  Take off

his boots, fool.  Sit down upon the bed, Sahib, and let me look.

It is Jan haba."

He pushed forward the hilt of his sword as a sign of service,

which is an honour paid only to viceroys, governors, generals,

or to little children whom one loves dearly.  Chinn touched the

hilt mechanically with three fingers, muttering he knew not what.

It happened to be the old answer of his childhood, when Bukta in

jest called him the little General Sahib.

The Major's quarters were opposite Chinn's, and when he heard his

servant gasp with surprise he looked across the room.  Then the

Major sat on the bed and whistled; for the spectacle of the

senior native commissioned officer of the regiment, an "unmixed"

Bhil, a Companion of the Order of British India, with thirty-five

years' spotless service in the army, and a rank among his own

people superior to that of many Bengal princelings, valeting the

last-joined subaltern, was a little too much for his nerves.

The throaty bugles blew the Mess-call that has a long legend

behind it.  First a few piercing notes like the shrieks of

beaters in a far-away cover, and next, large, full, and smooth,

the refrain of the wild song: "And oh, and oh, the green pulse

of Mundore - Mundore!"

"All little children were in bed when the Sahib heard that call

last," said Bukta, passing Chinn a clean handkerchief.  The call

brought back memories of his cot under the mosquito-netting, his

mother's kiss, and the sound of footsteps growing fainter as he

dropped asleep among his men.  So he hooked the dark collar of

his new mess-jacket, and went to dinner like a prince who has

newly inherited his father's crown.

Old Bukta swaggered forth curling his whiskers.  He knew his own

value, and no money and no rank within the gift of the Government

would have induced him to put studs in young officers' shirts, or

to hand them clean ties.  Yet, when he took off his uniform that

night, and squatted among his fellows for a quiet smoke, he told

them what he had done, and they said that he was entirely right.

Thereat Bukta propounded a theory which to a white mind would

have seemed raving insanity; but the whispering, level-headed

little men of war considered it from every point of view, and

thought that there might be a great deal in it.

At mess under the oil-lamps the talk turned as usual to the

unfailing subject of shikar - big game-shooting of every kind

and under all sorts of conditions.  Young Chinn opened his eyes

when he understood that each one of his companions had shot

several tigers in the Wuddar style - on foot, that is - making no

more of the business than if the brute had been a dog.

"In nine cases out of ten," said the Major, "a tiger is almost as

dangerous as a porcupine.  But the tenth time you come home feet


That set all talking, and long before midnight Chinn's brain was

in a whirl with stories of tigers - man-eaters and cattle-killers

each pursuing his own business as methodically as clerks in an

office; new tigers that had lately come into such-and-such a

district; and old, friendly beasts of great cunning, known by

nicknames in the mess-such as "Puggy," who was lazy, with huge

paws, and "Mrs. Malaprop," who turned up when you never expected

her, and made female noises.  Then they spoke of Bhil superstitions,

a wide and picturesque field, till young Chinn hinted that they

must be pulling his leg.

"'Deed, we aren't," said a man on his left.  "We know all about

you.  You're a Chinn and all that, and you've a sort of vested

right here; but if you don't believe what we're telling you, what

will you do when old Bukta begins his stories?  He knows about

ghost-tigers, and tigers that go to a hell of their own; and

tigers that walk on their hind feet; and your grandpapa's

riding-tiger, as well.  'Odd he hasn't spoken of that yet."

"You know you've an ancestor buried down Satpura way, don't you?"

said the Major, as Chinn smiled irresolutely.

"Of course I do," said Chinn, who had the chronicle of the Book

of Chinn by heart.  It lies in a worn old ledger on the Chinese

lacquer table behind the piano in the Devonshire home, and the

children are allowed to look  at it on Sundays.

"Well, I wasn't sure.  Your revered ancestor, my boy, according

to the Bhils, has a tiger of his own - a saddle-tiger that he

rides round the country whenever he feels inclined.  I don't call

it decent in an ex-Collector's ghost; but that is what the Southern

Bhils believe.  Even our men, who might be called moderately cool,

don't care to beat that country if they hear that Jan Chinn is

running about on his tiger.  It is supposed to be a clouded animal

 - not stripy, but blotchy, like a tortoise-shell tom-cat.  No

end of a brute, it is, and a sure sign of war or pestilence or

 - or something.  There's a nice family legend for you."

"What's the origin of it, d' you suppose?" said Chinn.

"Ask the Satpura Bhils.  Old Jan Chinn was a mighty hunter before

the Lord.  Perhaps it was the tiger's revenge, or perhaps he's

huntin' 'em still.  You must go to his tomb one of these days and

inquire.  Bukta will probably attend to that.  He was asking me

before you came whether by any ill-luck you had already bagged

your tiger.  If not, he is going to enter you under his own wing.

Of course, for you of all men it's imperative.  You'll have a

first-class time with Bukta."

The Major was not wrong.  Bukta kept an anxious eye on young Chinn

at drill, and it was noticeable that the first time the new officer

lifted up his voice in an order the whole line quivered.  Even the

Colonel was taken aback, for it might have been Lionel Chinn

returned from Devonshire with a new lease of life.  Bukta had

continued to develop his peculiar theory among his intimates, and

it was accepted as a matter of faith in the lines, since every

word and gesture on young Chinn's part so confirmed it.

The old man arranged early that his darling should wipe out the

reproach of not having shot a tiger; but he was not content to

take the first or any beast that happened to arrive.  In his own

villages he dispensed the high, low, and middle justice, and when

his people - naked and fluttered - came to him with word of a

beast marked down, he bade them send spies to the kills and the

watering-places, that he might be sure the quarry was such an one

as suited the dignity of such a man.

Three or four times the reckless trackers returned, most truthfully

saying that the beast was mangy, undersized - a tigress worn with

nursing, or a broken-toothed old male - and Bukta would curb young

Chinn's impatience.

At last, a noble animal was marked down - a ten-foot cattle-killer

with a huge roll of loose skin along the belly, glossy-hided,

full-frilled about the neck, whiskered, frisky, and young.  He

had slain a man in pure sport, they said.

"Let him be fed," quoth Bukta, and the villagers dutifully drove

out a cow to amuse him, that he might lie up near by.

Princes and potentates have taken ship to India and spent great

moneys for the mere glimpse of beasts one-half as fine as this

of Bukta's.

"It is not good," said he to the Colonel, when he asked for

shooting-leave, "that my Colonel's son who may be - that my

Colonel's son should lose his maidenhead on any small jungle

beast.  That may come after.  I have waited long for this which

is a tiger.  He has come in from the Mair country.  In seven days

we will return with the skin."

The mess gnashed their teeth enviously.  Bukta, had he chosen,

might have invited them all.  But he went out alone with Chinn,

two days in a shooting-cart and a day on foot, till they came to

a rocky, glary valley with a pool of good water in it.  It was a

parching day, and the boy very naturally stripped and went in for

a bathe, leaving Bukta by the clothes.  A white skin shows far

against brown jungle, and what Bukta beheld on Chinn's back and

right shoulder dragged him forward step by step with staring


"I'd forgotten it isn't decent to strip before a man of his

position," said Chinn, flouncing in the water.  "How the little

devil stares! What is it, Bukta?" "The Mark!" was the whispered


"It is nothing.  You know how it is with my people!" Chinn was

annoyed.  The dull-red birth-mark on his shoulder, something like

a conventionalised Tartar cloud, had slipped his memory or he

would not have bathed.  It occurred, so they said at home, in

alternate generations, appearing, curiously enough, eight or nine

years after birth, and, save that it was part of the Chinn

inheritance, would not be considered pretty.  He hurried ashore,

dressed again, and went on till they met two or three Bhils, who

promptly fell on their faces.  "My people," grunted Bukta, not

condescending to notice them.  "And so your people, Sahib.  When I

was a young man we were fewer, but not so weak.  Now we are many,

but poor stock.  As may be remembered.  How will you shoot him,

Sahib?  From a tree; from a shelter which my people shall build;

by day or by night?"

"On foot and in the daytime," said young Chinn.

"That was your custom, as I have heard," said Bukta to himself "I

will get news of him.  Then you and I will go to him.  I will

carry one gun.  You have yours.  There is no need of more.  What

tiger shall stand against thee?"

He was marked down by a little water-hole at the head of a ravine,

full-gorged and half asleep in the May sunlight.  He was walked up

like a partridge, and he turned to do battle for his life.  Bukta

made no motion to raise his rifle, but kept his eyes on Chinn, who

met the shattering roar of the charge with a single shot - it

seemed to him hours as he sighted - which tore through the throat,

smashing the backbone below the neck and between the shoulders.

The brute couched, choked, and fell, and before Chinn knew well

what had happened Bukta bade him stay still while he paced the

distance between his feet and the ringing jaws.

"Fifteen," said Bukta.  "Short paces.  No need for a second shot,

Sahib.  He bleeds cleanly where he lies, and we need not spoil

the skin.  I said there would be no need of these, but they came

- in case."

Suddenly the sides of the ravine were crowned with the heads of

Bukta's people - a force that could have blown the ribs out of

the beast had Chinn's shot failed; but their guns were hidden,

and they appeared as interested beaters, some five or six waiting

the word to skin.  Bukta watched the life fade from the wild eyes,

lifted one hand, and turned on his heel.

"No need to show that we care," said he.  "Now, after this, we can

kill what we choose.  Put out your hand, Sahib."

Chinn obeyed.  It was entirely steady, and Bukta nodded.  "That

also was  your custom.  My men skin quickly.  They will carry the

skin to cantonments.  Will the Sahib come to my poor village for

the night and, perhaps, forget  that I am his officer?"

"But those men - the beaters.  They have worked hard, and perhaps -"

"Oh, if they skin clumsily, we will skin them.  They are my people.

In the lines I am one thing.  Here I am another."

This was very true.  When Bukta doffed uniform and reverted to the

fragmentary dress of his own people, he left his civilisation of

drill in the next world.  That night, after a little talk with his

subjects, he devoted to an orgie; and a Bhil orgie is a thing not

to be safely written about.  Chinn, flushed with triumph, was in

the thick of it, but the meaning of the mysteries was hidden.

Wild folk came and pressed about his knees with offerings.  He

gave his flask to the elders of the village.  They grew eloquent,

and wreathed him about with flowers.  Gifts and loans, not all

seemly, were thrust upon him, and infernal music rolled and

maddened round red fires, while singers sang songs of the ancient

times, and danced peculiar dances.  The aboriginal liquors are

very potent, and Chinn was compelled to taste them often, but,

unless the stuff had been drugged, how came he to fall asleep

suddenly, and to waken late the next day - half a march from the


"The Sahib was very tired.  A little before dawn he went to sleep,"

Bukta explained.  "My people carried him here, and now it is time

we should go back to cantonments."

The voice, smooth and deferential, the step, steady and silent,

made it hard to believe that only a few hours before Bukta was

yelling and capering with naked fellow-devils of the scrub.

"My people were very pleased to see the Sahib.  They will never

forget.  When next the Sahib goes out recruiting, he will go to

my people, and they will give him as many men as we need."

Chinn kept his own counsel, except as to the shooting of the

tiger, and Bukta embroidered that tale with a shameless tongue.

The skin was certainly one of the finest ever hung up in the

mess, and the first of many.  When Bukta could not accompany his

boy on shooting-trips, he took care to put him in good hands,

and Chinn learned more of the mind and desire of the wild Bhil

in his marches and campings, by talks at twilight or at wayside

pools, than an uninstructed man could have come at in a


Presently his men in the regiment grew bold to speak of their

relatives - mostly in trouble - and to lay cases of tribal custom

before him.  They would say, squatting in his verandah at

twilight, after the easy, confidential style of the Wuddars,

that such-and-such a bachelor had run away with such-and-such a

wife at a far-off village.  Now, how many cows would Chinn Sahib

consider a just fine?  Or, again, if written order came from the

Government that a Bhil was to repair to a walled city of the

plains to give evidence in a law-court, would it be wise to

disregard that order?  On the other hand, if it were obeyed, would

the rash voyager return alive?

"But what have I to do with these things?" Chinn demanded of Bukta,

impatiently.  "I am a soldier.  I do not know the law."

"Hoo!  Law is for fools and white men.  Give them a large and

loud order, and they will abide by it.  Thou art their law."

"But wherefore?"

Every trace of expression left Bukta's countenance.  The idea might

have smitten him for the first time.  "How can I say?" he replied.

"Perhaps it is on account of the name.  A Bhil does not love

strange things.  Give them orders, Sahib-  two, three, four words

at a time such as they can carry away in their heads.  That is


Chinn gave orders then, valiantly, not realising that a word spoken

in haste before mess became the dread unappealable law of villages

beyond the smoky hills was, in truth, no less than the Law of Jan

Chinn the First, who, so the whispered legend ran, had come back

to earth, to oversee the third generation, in the body and bones

of his grandson.

There could be no sort of doubt in this matter.  All the Bhils

knew that Jan Chinn reincarnated had honoured Bukta's village

with his presence after slaying his first - in this life - tiger;

that he had eaten and drunk with the people, as he was used; and

- Bukta must have drugged Chinn's liquor very deeply - upon his

back and right shoulder all men had seen the same angry red

Flying Cloud that the high Gods had set on the flesh of Jan

Chinn the First when first he came to the Bhil.  As concerned the

foolish white world which has no eyes, he was a slim and young

officer in the Wuddars; but his own people knew he was Jan Chinn,

who had made the Bhil a man; and, believing, they hastened to

carry his words, careful never to alter them on the way.

Because the savage and the child who plays lonely games have one

horror of being laughed at or questioned, the little folk kept

their convictions to themselves; and the Colonel, who thought he

knew his regiment, never guessed that each one of the six hundred

quick-footed, beady-eyed rank-and-file, to attention beside their

rifles, believed serenely and unshakenly that the subaltern on the

left flank of the line was a demi-god twice born - tutelary deity

of their land and people.  The Earth-gods themselves had stamped

the incarnation, and who would dare to doubt the handiwork of the


Chinn, being practical above all things, saw that his family name

served him well in the lines and in camp.  His men gave no

trouble - one does not commit regimental offences with a god in

the chair of justice - and he was sure of the best beaters in the

district when he needed them.  They believed that the protection

of Jan Chinn the First cloaked them, and were bold in that belief

beyond the utmost daring of excited Bhils.

His quarters began to look like an amateur natural-history museum,

in spite of duplicate heads and horns and skulls that he sent home

to Devonshire.  The people, very humanly, learned the weak side of

their god.  It is true he was unbribable, but bird-skins,

butterflies, beetles, and, above all, news of big game pleased him.

 In other respects, too, he lived up to the Chinn tradition.  He

was fever-proof.  A night's sitting out over a tethered goat in a

damp valley, that would have filled the Major with a month's malaria,

had no effect on him.  He was, as they said, "salted before he was


Now in the autumn of his second year's service an uneasy rumour

crept out of the earth and ran about among the Bhils.  Chinn heard

nothing of it till a brother-officer said across the mess-table:

"Your revered ancestor's on the rampage in the Satpura country.

You'd better look him up."

"I don't want to be disrespectful, but I'm a little sick of my

revered ancestor.  Bukta talks of nothing else.  What's the old

boy supposed to be doing now?"

"Riding cross-country by moonlight on his processional tiger.

That's the story.  He's been seen by about two thousand Bhils,

skipping along the tops of the Satpuras, and scaring people to

death.  They believe it devoutly, and all the Satpura chaps are

worshipping away at his shrine - tomb, I mean - like good uns.  You

really ought to go down there.  Must be a queer thing to see your

grandfather treated as a god."

"What makes you think there's any truth in the tale?" said Chinn.

"Because all our men deny it.  They say they've never heard of

Chinn's tiger.  Now that's a manifest lie, because every Bhil has."

"There's only one thing you've overlooked," said the Colonel,

thoughtfully.  "When a local god reappears on earth, it's always

an excuse for trouble of some kind; and those Satpura Bhils are

about as wild as your grandfather left them, young un.  It means


"Meanin' they may go on the war-path?" said Chinn.

"'Can't say - as yet.  'Shouldn't be surprised a little bit."

"I haven't been told a syllable."

"Proves it all the more.  They are keeping something back."

"Bukta tells me everything, too, as a rule.  Now, why didn't he

tell me that?"

Chinn put the question directly to the old man that night, and

the answer surprised him.

"Why should I tell what is well known?  Yes, the Clouded Tiger is

out in the Satpura country."

"What do the wild Bhils think that it means?"

They do not know.  They wait.  Sahib, what is coming? Say only one

little word, and we will be content."

"We?  What have tales from the south, where the jungly Bhils live,

to do with drilled men?"

"When Jan Chinn wakes is no time for any Bhil to be quiet."

"But he has not waked, Bukta."

"Sahib" - the old man's eyes were full of tender reproof - "if he

does not wish to be seen, why does he go abroad in the moonlight?

We know he is awake, but we do not know what he desires.  Is it a

sign for all the Bhils, or one that concerns the Satpura folk alone?

Say one little word, Sahib, that I may carry it to the lines, and

send on to our villages.  Why does Jan Chinn ride out?  Who has done

wrong?  Is it pestilence?  Is it murrain?  Will our children die?

Is it a sword?  Remember, Sahib, we are thy people and thy servants,

and in this life I bore thee in my arms - not knowing."

"Bukta has evidently looked on the cup this evening," Chinn thought;

"but if I can do anything to soothe the old chap I must.  It's like

the Mutiny rumours on a small scale."

He dropped into a deep wicker chair, over which was thrown his

first tiger-skin, and his weight on the cushion flapped the clawed

paws over his shoulders.  He laid hold of them mechanically as he

spoke, drawing the painted hide, cloak-fashion, about him.

"Now will I tell the truth, Bukta," he said, leaning forward, the

dried muzzle on his shoulder, to invent a specious lie.

"I see that it is the truth," was the answer, in a shaking voice.

"Jan Chinn goes abroad among the Satpuras, riding on the Clouded

Tiger, ye say?  Be it so.  Therefore the sign of the wonder is for

the Satpura Bhils only, and does not touch the Bhils who plough

in the north and east, the Bhils of the Khandesh, or any others,

except the Satpura Bhils, who, as we know, are wild and foolish."

"It is, then, a sign for them.  Good or bad?"

"Beyond doubt, good.  For why should Jan Chinn make evil to those

whom he has made men?  The nights over yonder are hot; it is ill

to lie in one bed over-long without turning, and Jan Chinn would

look again upon his people.  So he rises, whistles his Clouded

Tiger, and goes abroad a little to breathe the cool air.  If the

Satpura Bhils kept to their villages, and did not wander after

dark, they would not see him.  Indeed, Bukta, it is no more than

that he would see the light again in his own country.  Send this

news south, and say that it is my word."

Bukta bowed to the floor.  "Good Heavens!" thought Chinn, "and

this blinking pagan is a first-class officer, and as straight as

a die!  I may as well round it off neatly."  He went on:

"If the Satpura Bhils ask the meaning of the sign, tell them that

Jan Chinn would see how they kept their old promises of good living.

Perhaps they have plundered; perhaps they mean to disobey the

orders of the Government; perhaps there is a dead man in the jungle;

and so Jan Chinn has come to see."

"Is he, then, angry?"

"Bah!  Am I ever angry with my Bhils?  I say angry words, and

threaten many things.  Thou knowest, Bukta.  I have seen thee smile

behind the hand.  I know, and thou knowest.  The Bhils are my

children.  I have said it many times."

"Ay.  We be thy children," said Bukta.

"And no otherwise is it with Jan Chinn, my father's father.  He

would see the land he loved and the people once again.  It is a

good ghost, Bukta.  I say it.  Go and tell them.  And I do hope

devoutly," he added, "that it will calm 'em down."  Flinging back

the tiger-skin, he rose with a long, unguarded yawn that showed

his well-kept teeth.

Bukta fled, to be received in the lines by a knot of panting


"It is true," said Bukta.  "He wrapped him-self in the skin, and

spoke from it.  He would see his own country again.  The sign is

not for us; and, indeed, he is a young man.  How should he lie

idle of nights?  He says his bed is too hot and the air is bad.

He goes to and fro for the love of night-running.  He has said it."

The grey-whiskered assembly shuddered.

"He says the Bhils are his children.  Ye know he does not lie.  He

has said it to me."

"But what of the Satpura Bhils?  What means the sign for them?"

"Nothing.  It is only night-running, as I have said.  He rides to

see if they obey the Government, as he taught them to do in his

first life."

"And what if they do not?"

"He did not say."

The light went out in Chinn's quarters.

"Look," said Bukta.  "Now he goes away.  None the less it is a

good ghost, as he has said.  How shall we fear Jan Chinn, who made

the Bhil a man?  His protection is on us; and ye know Jan Chinn

never broke a protection  spoken or written on paper.  When he is

older and has found him a wife he will lie in his bed till morning."

A commanding officer is generally aware of the regimental state of

mind a little before the men; and this is why the Colonel  said, a

few days later, that some one had been putting the Fear of God into

the Wuddars.  As he was the only person officially entitled to do

this, it distressed him to see such unanimous virtue.  "It's too

good to last," he said.  "I only wish I could find out what the

little chaps mean."

The explanation, as it seemed to him, came at the change of the

moon, when he received orders to hold himself in readiness to

"allay any possible excitement" among the Satpura Bhils, who were,

to put it mildly, uneasy because a paternal Government had sent

up against them a Mahratta State-educated vaccinator, with lancets,

lymph, and an officially registered calf.  In the language of

State, they had "manifested a strong objection to all prophylactic

measures," had "forcibly detained the vaccinator," and "were on

the point of neglecting or evading their tribal obligations."

"That means they are in a blue funk - same as they were at

census-time," said the Colonel; "and if we stampede them into

the hills we'll never catch 'em, in the first place, and, in the

second, they'll whoop off plundering till further orders.  'Wonder

who the God-forsaken idiot is who is trying to vaccinate a Bhil.

I knew trouble was coming.  One good thing is that they'll only

use local corps, and we can knock up something we'll call a

campaign, and let them down easy.  Fancy us potting our best

beaters because they don't want to be vaccinated!  They're only

crazy with fear."

"Don't you think, sir," said Chinn, the next day, "that perhaps

you could give me a fortnight's shooting-leave?"

"Desertion in the face of the enemy, by Jove!" The Colonel laughed.

"I might, but I'd have to antedate it a little, because we're

warned for service, as you might say.  However, we'll assume that

you applied for leave three days ago, and are now well on your way


"I'd like to take Bukta with me."

"Of course, yes.  I think that will be the best plan.  You've some

kind of hereditary influence with the little chaps, and they may

listen to you when a glimpse of our uniforms would drive them wild.

You've never been in that part of the world before, have you?  Take

care they don't send you to your family vault in your youth and

innocence.  I believe you'll be all right if you can get 'em to

listen to you."

"I think so, sir; but if - if they should accidentally put an -

make asses of 'emselves - they might, you know - I hope you'll

represent that they were only frightened.  There isn't an ounce of

real vice in 'em, and I should never forgive myself if any one of

 - of my name got them into trouble."

The Colonel nodded, but said nothing.

Chinn and Bukta departed at once.  Bukta did not say that, ever

since the official vaccinator had been dragged into the hills by

indignant Bhils, runner after runner had skulked up to the lines,

entreating, with forehead in the dust, that Jan Chinn should come

and explain this unknown horror that hung over his people.

The portent of the Clouded Tiger was now too clear.  Let Jan Chinn

comfort his own, for vain was the help of mortal man.  Bukta toned

down these beseechings to a simple request for Chinn's presence.

Nothing would have pleased the old man better than a rough-and-tumble

campaign against the Satpuras, whom he, as an "unmixed" Bhil,

despised; but he had a duty to all his nation as Jan Chinn's

interpreter; and he devoutly believed that forty plagues would fall

on his village if he tampered with that obligation.  Besides, Jan

Chinn knew all things, and he rode the Clouded Tiger.

They covered thirty miles a day on foot and pony, raising the blue

wall-like line of the Satpuras as swiftly as might be.  Bukta was

very silent.

They began the steep climb a little after noon, but it was near

sunset ere they reached the stone platform clinging to the side of

a rifted, jungle-covered hill, where Jan Chinn the First was laid,

as he had desired, that he might overlook his people.  All India

is full of neglected graves that date from the beginning of the

eighteenth century - tombs of forgotten colonels of corps long

since disbanded; mates of East India men who went on shooting

expeditions and never came back; factors, agents, writers, and

ensigns of the Honourable the East India Company by hundreds and

thousands and tens of thousands.  English folk forget quickly, but

natives have long memories, and if a man has done good in his life

it is remembered after his death.  The weathered marble four-square

tomb of Jan Chinn was hung about with wild flowers and nuts,

packets of wax and honey, bottles of native spirits, and infamous

cigars, with buffalo horns and plumes of dried grass.  At one end

was a rude clay image of a white man, in the old-fashioned top-hat,

riding on a bloated tiger.

Bukta salamed reverently as they approached.  Chinn bared his head

and began to pick out the blurred inscription.  So far as he could

read it ran thus - word for word, and letter for letter:

              To the Memory of JOHN CHINN, Esq.

                  Late Collector of............

        ....ithout Bloodshed or...error of Authority

      Employ.only..cans of Conciliat...and Confiden.

              accomplished the...tire Subjection...

                a Lawless and Predatory Peop...

          ....taching them to...ish Government

              by a Conquest over....Minds

         The most perma...and rational Mode of Domini..

           ...Governor General and Counc...engal

              have ordered thi.....erected

          ....arted this Life Aug.  19, 184..Ag...

On the other side of the grave were ancient verses, also very worn.

As much as Chinn could decipher said:

                            ....the savage band

      Forsook their Haunts and Command

      ....mended..rais check for spoil. Hamlets prove his gene....toil.

      Humanit...survey......ights restor..

      A Nation..ield..subdued without a Sword.

For some little time he leaned on the tomb thinking of this dead

man of his own blood, and of the house in Devonshire; then,

nodding to the plains: "Yes; it's a big work all of it  even my

little share.  He must have been worth knowing....  Bukta, where

are my people?"

"Not here, Sahib.  No man comes here except in full sun.  They

wait above.  Let us climb and see."

But Chinn, remembering the first law of Oriental diplomacy, in an

even voice answered: "I have come this far only because the Satpura

folk are foolish, and dared not visit our lines.  Now bid them wait

on me here.  I am not a servant, but the master of Bhils."

"I go - I go," clucked the old man.  Night was falling, and at any

moment Jan Chinn might whistle up his dreaded steed from the

darkening scrub.

Now for the first time in a long life Bukta disobeyed a lawful

command and deserted his leader; for he did not come back, but

pressed to the flat table-top of the hill, and called softly.  Men

stirred all about him - little trembling men with bows and arrows

who had watched the two since noon.

"Where is he?" whispered one.

"At his own place.  He bids you come," said Bukta.



"Rather let him loose the Clouded Tiger upon us.  We do not go."

"Nor I, though I bore him in my arms when he was a child in this

his life.  Wait here till the day."

"But surely he will be angry."

"He will be very angry, for he has nothing to eat.  But he has said

to me many times that the Bhils are his children.  By sunlight I

believe this, but - by moonlight I am not so sure.  What folly have

ye Satpura pigs compassed that ye should need him at all?"

"One came to us in the name of the Government with little

ghost-knives and a magic calf, meaning to turn us into cattle by

the cutting off of our arms.  We were greatly afraid, but we did

not kill the man.  He is here, bound - a black man; and we think

he comes from the west.  He said it was an order to cut us all

with knives - especially the women and the children.  We did not

hear that it was an order, so we were afraid, and kept to our

hills.  Some of our men have taken ponies and bullocks from the

plains, and others pots and cloths and ear-rings."

"Are any slain?"

"By our men? Not yet.  But the young men are blown to and fro by

many rumours like flames upon a hill.  I sent runners asking for

Jan Chinn lest worse should come to us.  It was this fear that he

foretold by the sign of the Clouded Tiger.

He says it is otherwise," said Bukta; and he repeated, with

amplifications, all that young Chinn had told him at the conference

of the wicker chair.

"Think you," said the questioner, at last, "that the Government

will lay hands on us?"

"Not I," Bukta rejoined.  "Jan Chinn will give an order, and ye

will obey.  The rest is between the Government and Jan Chinn.  I

myself know something of the ghost-knives and the scratching.  It

is a charm against the Smallpox.  But how it is done I cannot tell.

Nor need that concern you."

"If he stands by us and before the anger of the Government we will

most strictly obey Jan Chinn, except - except we do not go down to

that place to-night."

They could hear young Chinn below them shouting for Bukta; but they

cowered and sat still, expecting the Clouded Tiger.  The tomb had

been holy ground for nearly half a century.  If Jan Chinn chose to

sleep there, who had better right?  But they would not come within

eyeshot of the place till broad day.

At first Chinn was exceedingly angry, till it occurred to him that

Bukta most probably had a reason (which, indeed, he had), and his

own dignity might suffer if he yelled without answer.  He propped

himself against the foot of the grave, and, alternately dozing and

smoking, came through the warm night proud that he was a lawful,

legitimate, fever-proof Chinn.

He prepared his plan of action much as his grandfather would have

done; and when Bukta appeared in the morning with a most liberal

supply of food, said nothing of the overnight desertion.  Bukta

would have been relieved by an outburst of human anger; but Chinn

finished his victual leisurely, and a cheroot, ere he made any


They are very much afraid," said Bukta, who was not too bold

himself.  "It remains only to give orders.  They said they will

obey if thou wilt only stand between them and the Government."

"That I know," said Chinn, strolling slowly to the table-land.  A

few of the elder men stood in an irregular semicircle in an open

glade; but the ruck of people - women and children  were hidden

in the thicket.  They had no desire to face the first anger of Jan

Chinn the First.

Seating himself on a fragment of split rock, he smoked his cheroot

to the butt, hearing men breathe hard all about him.  Then he

cried, so suddenly that they jumped:

"Bring the man that was bound!"

A scuffle and a cry were followed by the appearance of a Hindoo

vaccinator, quaking with fear, bound hand and foot, as the Bhils

of old were accustomed to bind their human sacrifices.  He was

pushed cautiously before the presence; but young Chinn did not

look at him.

"I said - the man that was bound.  Is it a jest to bring me one

tied like a buffalo?  Since when could the Bhil bind folk at his

pleasure?  Cut!"

Half a dozen hasty knives cut away the thongs, and the man

crawled to Chinn, who pocketed his case of lancets and tubes of

lymph.  Then, sweeping the semicircle with one comprehensive

forefinger, and in the voice of compliment, he said, clearly and

distinctly: " Pigs!

"Ai!" whispered Bukta.  "Now he speaks.  Woe to foolish people!"

"I have come on foot from my house" (the assembly shuddered) "to

make clear a matter which any other Satpura Bhil would have seen

with both eyes from a distance.  Ye know the Smallpox who pits

and scars your children so that they look like wasp-combs.  It is

an order of the Government that whoso is scratched on the arm with

these little knives which I hold up is charmed against her.  All

Sahibs are thus charmed, and very many Hindoos.  This is the mark

of the charm.  Look!"

He rolled back his sleeve to the armpit and showed the white scars

of the vaccination-mark on his white skin.  "Come, all, and look."

A few daring spirits came up, and nodded their heads wisely.  There

was certainly a mark, and they knew well what other dread marks

were hidden by the shirt.  Merciful was Jan Chinn, that then and

there proclaimed his godhead!

"Now all these things the man whom ye bound told you."

"I did - a hundred times; but they answered with blows," groaned

the operator, chafing his wrists and ankles.

"But, being pigs, ye did not believe; and so came I here to save

you, first from Smallpox, next from a great folly of fear, and

lastly, it may be, from the rope and the jail.  It is no gain to

me; it is no pleasure to me: but for the sake of that one who is

yonder, who made the Bhil a man" - he pointed down the hill - "

I, who am of his blood, the son of his son, come to turn your

people.  And I speak the truth, as did Jan Chinn."

The crowd murmured reverently, and men stole out of the thicket

by twos and threes to join it.  There was no anger in their god's


"These are my orders.  (Heaven send they'll take 'em, but I seem

to have impressed 'em so far!)  I myself will stay among you while

this man scratches your arms with the knives, after the order of

the Government.  In three, or it may be five or seven, days, your

arms will swell and itch and burn.  That is the power of Smallpox

fighting in your base blood against the orders of the Government

I will therefore stay among you till I see that Smallpox is

conquered, and I will not go away till the men and the women and

the little children show me upon their arms such marks as I have

even now showed you.  I bring with me two very good guns, and a

man whose name is known among beasts and men.  We will hunt

together, I and he and your young men, and the others shall eat

and lie still.  This is my order."

There was a long pause while victory hung in the balance.  A

white-haired old sinner, standing on one uneasy leg, piped up:

"There are ponies and some few bullocks and other things for

which we need a kowl [protection].  They were not taken in the

way of trade."

The battle was won, and John Chinn drew a breath of relief.  The

young Bhils had been raiding, but if taken swiftly all could be

put straight.

"I will write a kowl so soon as the ponies, the bullocks, and the

other things are counted before me and sent back whence they came.

But first we will put the Government mark on such as have not been

visited by Smallpox."  In an undertone, to the vaccinator: "If you

show you are afraid you'll never see Poona again, my friend."

"There is not sufficient ample supply of vaccination for all this

population," said the man.  "They destroyed the offeecial calf."

They won't know the difference.  Scrape 'em and give me a couple

of lancets; I'll attend to the elders."

The aged diplomat who had demanded protection was the first victim.

He fell to Chinn's hand and dared not cry out.  As soon as he was

freed he dragged up a companion, and held him fast, and the crisis

became, as it were, a child's sport; for the vaccinated chased the

unvaccinated to treatment, vowing that all the tribe must suffer

equally.  The women shrieked, and the children ran howling; but

Chinn laughed, and waved the pink-tipped lancet.

"It is an honour," he cried.  "Tell them, Bukta, how great an honour

it is that I myself mark them.  Nay, I cannot mark every one - the

Hindoo must also do his work - but I will touch all marks that he

makes, so there will be an equal virtue in them.  Thus do the

Rajputs stick pigs.  Ho, brother with one eye!  Catch that girl and

bring her to me.  She need not run away yet, for she is not married,

and I do not seek her in marriage.  She will not come?  Then she

shall be shamed by her little brother, a fat boy, a bold boy.  He

puts out his arm like a soldier.  Look!  He does not flinch at the

blood.  Some day he shall be in my regiment.  And now, mother of

many, we will lightly touch thee, for Smallpox has been before us

here.  It is a true thing, indeed, that this charm breaks the power

of Mata.  There will be no more pitted faces among the Satpuras,

and so ye can ask many cows for each maid to be wed."

And so on and so on - quick-poured showman's patter, sauced in

the Bhil hunting-proverbs and tales of their own brand of coarse

humour till the lancets were blunted and both operators worn out.

But, nature being the same the world over, the unvaccinated grew

jealous of their marked comrades, and came near to blows about

it.  Then Chinn declared himself a court of justice, no longer a

medical board, and made formal inquiry into the late robberies.

"We are the thieves of Mahadeo," said the Bhils, simply.  "It is

our fate, and we were frightened.  When we are frightened we always


Simply and directly as children, they gave in the tale of the

plunder, all but two bullocks and some spirits that had gone

amissing (these Chinn promised to make good out of his own pocket),

and ten ringleaders were despatched to the lowlands with a

wonderful document, written on the leaf of a note-book, and

addressed to an Assistant District Superintendent of Police.  There

was warm calamity in that note, as Jan Chinn warned them, but

anything was better than loss of liberty.

Armed with this protection, the repentant raiders went down-hill.

They had no desire whatever to meet Mr. Dundas Fawne of the Police,

aged twenty-two, and of a cheerful countenance, nor did they wish

to revisit the scene of their robberies.  Steering a middle course,

they ran into the camp of the one Government chaplain allowed to

the various irregular corps through a district of some fifteen

thousand square miles, and stood before him in a cloud of dust.  He

was by way of being a priest, they knew, and, what was more to the

point, a good sportsman who paid his beaters generously.

When he read Chinn's note he laughed, which they deemed a lucky

omen, till he called up policemen, who tethered the ponies and the

bullocks by the piled house-gear, and laid stern hands upon three

of that smiling band of the thieves of Mahadeo.  The chaplain

himself addressed them magisterially with a riding-whip.  That was

painful, but Jan Chinn had prophesied it.  They submitted, but

would not give up the written protection, fearing the jail.  On

their way back they met Mr. D. Fawne, who had heard about the

robberies, and was not pleased.

"Certainly," said the eldest of the gang, when the second

interview was at an end, "certainly Jan Chinn's protection has

saved us our liberty, but it is as though there were many beatings

in one small piece of paper.  Put it away."

One climbed into a tree, and stuck the letter into a cleft forty

feet from the ground, where it could do no harm.  Warmed, sore,

but happy, the ten returned to Jan Chinn next day, where he sat

among uneasy Bhils, all looking at their right arms, and all

bound under terror of their god's disfavour not to scratch.

"It was a good kowl," said the leader.  "First the chaplain, who

laughed, took away our plunder, and beat three of us, as was

promised.  Next, we meet Fawne Sahib, who frowned, and asked for

the plunder.  We spoke the truth, and so he beat us all, one

after another, and called us chosen names.  He then gave us these

two bundles" - they set down a bottle of whisky and a box of

cheroots -" and we came away.  The kowl is left in a tree, because

its virtue is that so soon as we show it to a Sahib we are beaten."

"But for that kowl" said Jan Chinn, sternly, "ye would all have

been marching to jail with a policeman on either side.  Ye come

now to serve as beaters for me.  These people are unhappy, and we

will go hunting till they are well.  To-night we will make a feast."

It is written in the chronicles of the Satpura Bhils, together

with many other matters not fit for print, that through five days,

after the day that he had put his mark upon them, Jan Chinn the

First hunted for his people; and on the five nights of those days

the tribe was gloriously and entirely drunk.  Jan Chinn bought

country spirits of an awful strength, and slew wild pig and deer

beyond counting, so that if any fell sick they might have two good


Between head- and stomach-aches they found no time to think of

their arms, but followed Jan Chinn obediently through the jungles,

and with each day's returning confidence men, women, and children

stole away to their villages as the little army passed by.  They

carried news that it was good and right to be scratched with

ghost-knives; that Jan Chinn was indeed reincarnated as a god of

free food and drink, and that of all nations the Satpura Bhils

stood first in his favour, if they would only refrain from

scratching.  Henceforward that kindly demi-god would be connected

in their minds with great gorgings and the vaccine and lancets of

a paternal Government.

"And to-morrow I go back to my home," said Jan Chinn to his

faithful few, whom neither spirits, overeating, nor swollen glands

could conquer.  It is hard for children and savages to behave

reverently at all times to the idols of their make-belief; and

they had frolicked excessively with Jan Chinn.  But the reference

to his home cast a gloom on the people.

"And the Sahib will not come again?" said he who had been vaccinated


"That is to be seen," answered Chinn, warily.

"Nay, but come as a white man - come as a young man whom we know

and love; for, as thou alone knowest, we are a weak people.  If

we again saw thy - thy horse -"  They were picking up their courage.

"I have no horse.  I came on foot with Bukta, yonder.  What is


"Thou knowest - the thing that thou hast chosen for a night-horse."

 The little men squirmed in fear and awe.

"Night-horses?  Bukta, what is this last tale of children?"

Bukta had been a silent leader in Chinn's presence since the night

of his desertion, and was grateful for a chance-flung question.

They know, Sahib," he whispered.  "It is the Clouded Tiger.  That

that comes from the place where thou didst once sleep.  It is thy

horse - as it has been these three generations."

"My horse! That was a dream of the Bhils."

"It is no dream.  Do dreams leave the tracks of broad pugs on

earth?  Why make two faces before thy people?  They know of the

night-ridings, and they - and they - "

"Are afraid, and would have them cease."

Bukta nodded.  "If thou hast no further need of him.  He is thy


"The thing leaves a trail, then?" said Chinn.

"We have seen it.  It is like a village road under the tomb."

"Can ye find and follow it for me?"

"By daylight - if one comes with us, and, above all, stands near


"I will stand close, and we will see to it that Jan Chinn does

not ride any more."

The Bhils shouted the last words again and again.

>From Chinn's point of view the stalk was nothing more than an

ordinary one - down-hill, through split and crannied rocks, unsafe,

perhaps, if a man did not keep his wits by him, but no worse than

twenty others he had undertaken.  Yet his men - they refused

absolutely to beat, and would only trail - dripped sweat at every

move.  They showed the marks of enormous pugs that ran, always

down-hill, to a few hundred feet below Jan Chinn's tomb, and

disappeared in a narrow-mouthed cave.  It was an insolently open

road, a domestic highway, beaten without thought of concealment.

"The beggar might be paying rent and taxes," Chinn muttered ere

he asked whether his friend's taste ran to cattle or man.

"Cattle," was the answer.  "Two heifers a week.  We drive them for

him at the foot of the hill.  It is his custom.  If we did not, he

might seek us."

"Blackmail and piracy," said Chinn.  "I can't say I fancy going

into the cave after him.  What's to be done?"

The Bhils fell back as Chinn lodged himself behind a rock with

his rifle ready.  Tigers, he knew, were shy beasts, but one who

had been long cattle-fed in this sumptuous style might prove


"He speaks!" some one whispered from the rear.  "He knows, too."

"Well, of all the infernal cheek!" said Chinn.  There was an angry

growl from the cave - a direct challenge.

"Come out, then," Chinn shouted.  "Come out of that.  Let's have a

look at you."  The brute knew well enough that there was some

connection between brown nude Bhils and his weekly allowance; but

the white helmet in the sunlight annoyed him, and he did not approve

of the voice that broke his rest.  Lazily as a gorged snake, he

dragged himself out of the cave, and stood yawning and blinking at

the entrance.  The sunlight fell upon his flat right side, and

Chinn wondered.  Never had he seen a tiger marked after this fashion.

Except for his head, which was staringly barred, he was dappled -

not striped, but dappled like a child's rocking-horse in rich shades

of smoky black on red gold.  That portion of his belly and throat

which should have been white was orange, and his tail and paws were


He looked leisurely for some ten seconds, and then deliberately

lowered his head, his chin dropped and drawn in, staring intently

at the man.  The effect of this was to throw forward the round

arch of his skull, with two broad bands across it, while below the

bands glared the unwinking eyes; so that, head on, as he stood, he

showed something like a diabolically scowling pantomime-mask.  It

was a piece of natural mesmerism that he had practised many times

on his quarry, and though Chinn was by no means a terrified heifer,

he stood for a while, held by the extraordinary oddity of the

attack.  The head - the body seemed to have been packed away behind

it - the ferocious, skull-like head, crept nearer to the switching

of an angry tail-tip in the grass.  Left and right the Bhils had

scattered to let John Chinn subdue his own horse.

"My word!" he thought.  "He's trying to frighten me!" and fired

between the saucer-like eyes, leaping aside upon the shot.

A big coughing mass, reeking of carrion, bounded past him up the

hill, and he followed discreetly.  The tiger made no attempt to

turn into the jungle; he was hunting for sight and breath - nose

up, mouth open, the tremendous fore-legs scattering the gravel in


Scuppered!" said John Chinn, watching the flight.  "Now if he was

a partridge he'd tower.  Lungs must be full of blood."

The brute had jerked himself over a boulder and fallen out of

sight the other side.  John Chinn looked over with a ready barrel.

But the red trail led straight as an arrow even to his grandfather's

tomb, and there, among the smashed spirit-bottles and the fragments

of the mud image, the life left, with  a flurry and a grunt.

"If my worthy ancestor could see that," said John Chinn, "he'd

have been proud of me.  Eyes, lower jaw, and lungs.  A very nice

shot."  He whistled for Bukta as he drew the tape over the

stiffening bulk.

"Ten - six - eight - by Jove!  It's nearly eleven - call it eleven.

Fore-arm, twenty-four - five - seven and a half.  A short tail, too:

three feet one.  But what a skin!  Oh, Bukta!  Bukta!  The men with

the knives swiftly."

"Is he beyond question dead?" said an awe-stricken voice behind a


"That was not the way I killed my first tiger," said Chinn.  "I

did not think that Bukta would run.  I had no second gun."

"It - it is the Clouded Tiger," said Bukta, un-heeding the taunt.

"He is dead."

Whether all the Bhils, vaccinated and unvaccinated, of the

Satpuras had lain by to see the kill, Chinn could not say; but

the whole hill's flank rustled with little men, shouting,

singing, and stamping.  And yet, till he had made the first cut

in the splendid skin, not a man would take a knife; and, when the

shadows fell, they ran from the red-stained tomb, and no persuasion

would bring them back till dawn.  So Chinn spent a second night in

the open, guarding the carcass from jackals, and thinking about his


He returned to the lowlands to the triumphal chant of an escorting

army three hundred strong, the Mahratta vaccinator close at his

elbow, and the rudely dried skin a trophy before him.  When that

army suddenly and noiselessly disappeared, as quail in high corn,

he argued he was near civilisation, and a turn in the road brought

him upon the camp of a wing of his own corps.  He left the skin on

a cart-tail for the world to see, and sought the Colonel.

"They're perfectly right," he explained earnestly.  "There isn't

an ounce of vice in 'em.  They were only frightened.  I've

vaccinated the whole boiling, and they like it awfully.  What are

- what are we doing here, sir?"

"That's what I'm trying to find out," said the Colonel.  "I don't

know yet whether we're a piece of a brigade or a police force.

However, I think we'll call ourselves a police force.  How did you

manage to get a Bhil vaccinated?"

"Well, sir," said Chinn, " I've been thinking it over, and, as far

as I can make out, I've got a sort of hereditary influence over 'em."

"So I know, or I wouldn't have sent you; but what, exactly?"

"It's rather rummy.  It seems, from what I can make out, that I'm

my own grandfather reincarnated, and I've been disturbing the

peace of the country by riding a pad-tiger of nights.  If I hadn't

done that, I don't think they'd have objected to the vaccination;

but the two together were more than they could stand.  And so, sir,

I've vaccinated 'em, and shot my tiger-horse as a sort o' proof of

good faith.  You never saw such a skin in your life."

The Colonel tugged his moustache thought-fully.  "Now, how the

deuce," said he, "am I to include that in my report?"

Indeed, the official version of the Bhils' anti-vaccination

stampede said nothing about Lieutenant John Chinn, his godship.

But Bukta knew, and the corps knew, and every Bhil in the Satpura

hills knew.

And now Bukta is zealous that John Chinn shall swiftly be wedded

and impart his powers to a son; for if the Chinn succession fails,

and the little Bhils are left to their own imaginings, there will

be fresh trouble in the Satpuras.


All supplies very bad and dear, and there are no facilities for

even the smallest repairs.  - Sailing Directions.

Her nationality was British, but you will not find her house-flag

in the list of our mercantile marine.  She was a nine-hundred-ton,

iron, schooner-rigged, screw cargo-boat, differing externally in

no way from any other tramp of the sea.  But it is with steamers

as it is with men.  There are those who will for a consideration

sail extremely close to the wind; and, in the present state of a

fallen world, such people and such steamers have their use.  From

the hour that the Aglaia first entered the Clyde - new, shiny, and

innocent, with a quart of cheap champagne trickling down her

cut-water - Fate and her owner, who was also her captain, decreed

that she should deal with embarrassed crowned heads, fleeing

Presidents, financiers of over-extended ability, women to whom

change of air was imperative, and the lesser law-breaking Powers.

Her career led her sometimes into the Admiralty Courts, where the

sworn statements of her skipper filled his brethren with envy. The

mariner cannot tell or act a lie in the face of the sea, or

mis-lead a tempest; but, as lawyers have discovered, he makes up

for chances withheld when he returns to shore, an affidavit in

either hand.

The Aglaia figured with distinction in the great Mackinaw

salvage-case.  It was her first slip from virtue, and she learned

how to change her name, but not her heart, and to run across the

sea.  As the Guiding Light she was very badly wanted in a South

American port for the little matter of entering harbour at full

speed, colliding with a coal-hulk and the State's only man-of-war,

just as that man-of-war was going to coal.  She put to sea without

explanations, though three forts fired at her for half an hour.

As the Julia M'Gregor she had been concerned in picking up from a

raft certain gentlemen who should have stayed in Noumea, but who

preferred making themselves vastly unpleasant to authority in

quite another quarter of the world; and as the Shah-in-Shah she

had been overtaken on the high seas, indecently full of munitions

of war, by the cruiser of an agitated Power at issue with its

neighbour.  That time she was very nearly sunk, and her riddled

hull gave eminent lawyers of two countries great profit.  After a

season she reappeared as the Martin Hunt painted a dull slate-colour,

with pure saffron funnel, and boats of robin's-egg blue, engaging

in the Odessa trade till she was invited (and the invitation could

not well be disregarded) to keep away from Black Sea ports


She had ridden through many waves of depression.  Freights might

drop out of sight, Seamen's Unions throw spanners and nuts at

certificated masters, or stevedores combine till cargo perished

on the dock-head; but the boat of many names came and went, busy,

alert, and inconspicuous always.  Her skipper made no complaint of

hard times, and port officers observed that her crew signed and

signed again with the regularity of Atlantic liner boatswains.  Her

name she changed as occasion called; her well-paid crew never; and

a large percentage of the profits of her voyages was spent with an

open hand on her engine-room.  She never troubled the underwriters,

and very seldom stopped to talk with a signal-station, for her

business was urgent and private.

But an end came to her tradings, and she perished in this manner.

Deep peace brooded over Europe, Asia, Africa, America, Australasia,

and Polynesia.  The Powers dealt together more or less honestly;

banks paid their depositors to the hour; diamonds of price came

safely to the hands of their owners; Republics rested content with

their Dictators; diplomats found no one whose presence in the least

incommoded them; monarchs lived openly with their lawfully wedded

wives.  It was as though the whole earth had put on its best Sunday

bib and tucker; and business was very bad for the Martin Hunt.  The

great, virtuous calm engulfed her, slate sides, yellow funnel, and

all, but cast up in another hemisphere the steam whaler Haliotis,

black and rusty, with a manure-coloured funnel, a litter of dingy

white boats, and an enormous stove, or furnace, for boiling blubber

on her forward well-deck.  There could be no doubt that her trip

was successful, for she lay at several ports not too well known,

and the smoke of her trying-out insulted the beaches.

Anon she departed, at the speed of the average London four-wheeler,

and entered a semi-inland sea, warm, still, and blue, which is,

perhaps, the most strictly preserved water in the world.  There she

stayed for a certain time, and the great stars of those mild skies

beheld her playing puss-in-the-corner among islands where whales

are never found.  All that while she smelt abominably, and the

smell, though fishy, was not whalesome.  One evening calamity

descended upon her from the island of Pygang-Watai, and she fled,

while her crew jeered at a fat black-and-brown gunboat puffing far

behind.  They knew to the last revolution the capacity of every

boat, on those seas, that they were anxious to avoid.  A British

ship with a good conscience does not, as a rule, flee from the

man-of-war of a foreign Power, and it is also considered a breach

of etiquette to stop and search British ships at sea.  These things

the skipper of the Haliotis did not pause to prove, but held on at

an inspiriting eleven knots an hour till nightfall.  One thing only

he overlooked.

The Power that kept an expensive steam-patrol moving up and down

those waters (they had dodged the two regular ships of the station

with an ease that bred contempt) had newly brought up a third and

a fourteen-knot boat with a clean bottom to help the work; and that

was why the Haliotis, driving hard from the east to the west, found

herself at daylight in such a position that she could not help

seeing an arrangement of four flags, a mile and a half behind, which

read:  "Heave to, or take the consequences!"

She had her choice, and she took it.  The end came when, presuming

on her lighter draught, she tried to draw away northward over a

friendly shoal.  The shell that arrived by way of the Chief

Engineer's cabin was some five inches in diameter, with a practice,

not a bursting, charge.  It had been intended to cross her bows,

and that was why it knocked the framed portrait of the Chief

Engineer's wife - and she was a very pretty girl - on to the floor,

splintered his wash-hand stand, crossed the alleyway into the

engine-room, and striking on a grating, dropped directly in front

of the forward engine, where it burst, neatly fracturing both the

bolts that held the connecting-rod to the forward crank.

What follows is worth consideration.  The forward engine had no more

work to do.  Its released piston-rod, therefore, drove up fiercely,

with nothing to check it, and started most of the nuts of the

cylinder-cover.  It came down again, the full weight of the steam

behind it, and the foot of the disconnected connecting-rod, useless

as the leg of a man with a sprained ankle, flung out to the right

and struck the starboard, or right-hand, cast-iron supporting-column

of the forward engine, cracking it clean through about six inches

above the base, and wedging the upper portion outwards three inches

towards the ship's side.  There the connecting-rod jammed.  Meantime,

the after-engine, being as yet unembarrassed, went on with its work,

and in so doing brought round at its next revolution the crank of

the forward engine, which smote the already jammed connecting-rod,

bending it and therewith the piston-rod cross-head - the big

cross-piece that slides up and down so smoothly.

The cross-head jammed sideways in the guides, and, in addition to

putting further pressure on the already broken starboard

supporting-column, cracked the port, or left-hand, supporting-column

in two or three places.  There being nothing more that could be

made to move, the engines brought up, all standing, with a hiccup

that seemed to lift the Haliotis a foot out of the water; and the

engine-room staff, opening every steam outlet that they could find

in the confusion, arrived on deck somewhat scalded, but calm.  There

was a sound below of things happening - a rushing, clicking, purring,

grunting, rattling noise that did not last for more than a minute.

It was the machinery adjusting itself, on the spur of the moment,

to a hundred altered conditions.  Mr.  Wardrop, one foot on the

upper grating, inclined his ear sideways, and groaned.  You cannot

stop engines working at twelve knots an hour in three seconds

without disorganising them.  The Haliotis slid forward in a cloud

of steam, shrieking like a wounded horse.  There was nothing more

to do.  The five-inch shell with a reduced charge had settled the

situation.  And when you are full, all three holds, of strictly

preserved pearls; when you have cleaned out the Tanna Bank, the

Sea-Horse Bank, and four other banks from one end to the other

of the Amanala Sea - when you have ripped out the very heart of

a rich Government monopoly so that five years will not repair your

wrong-doings - you must smile and take what is in store.  But the

skipper reflected, as a launch put out from the man-of-war, that

he had been bombarded on the high seas, with the British flag -

several of them - picturesquely disposed above him, and tried to

find comfort from the thought.

Where," said the stolid naval lieutenant hoisting himself aboard,

"where are those dam' pearls?"

They were there beyond evasion.  No affidavit could do away with

the fearful smell of decayed oysters, the diving-dresses, and the

shell-littered hatches.  They were there to the value of seventy

thousand pounds, more or less; and every pound poached.

The man-of-war was annoyed; for she had used up many tons of coal,

she had strained her tubes, and, worse than all, her officers and

crew had been hurried.  Every one on the Haliotis was arrested and

rearrested several times, as each officer came aboard; then they

were told by what they esteemed to be the equivalent of a

midshipman that they were to consider themselves prisoners, and

finally were put under arrest.

It's not the least good," said the skipper, suavely.  "You'd much

better send us a tow - "

"Be still - you are arrest!" was the reply.

"Where the devil do you expect we are going to escape to?"  We're

helpless.  You've got to tow us into somewhere, and explain why

you fired on us.  Mr. Wardrop, we're helpless, aren't we?"

"Ruined from end to end," said the man of machinery.  "If she rolls,

the forward cylinder will come down and go through her bottom.  Both

columns are clean cut through.  There's nothing to hold anything up."

The council of war clanked off to see if Mr. Wardrop's words were

true.  He warned them that it was as much as a man's life was worth

to enter the engine-room, and they contented themselves with a

distant inspection through the thinning steam.  The Haliotis lifted

to the long, easy swell, and the starboard supporting-column ground

a trifle, as a man grits his teeth under the knife.  The forward

cylinder was depending on that unknown force men call the pertinacity

of materials, which now and then balances that other heartbreaking

power, the perversity of inanimate things.

"You see!" said Mr.  Wardrop, hurrying them away.  "The engines

aren't worth their price as old iron."

"We tow," was the answer.  "Afterwards we shall confiscate."

The man-of-war was short-handed, and did not see the necessity

for putting a prize-crew aboard the Haliotis.  So she sent one

sublieutenant, whom the skipper kept very drunk, for he did not

wish to make the tow too easy, and, moreover, he had an

inconspicuous little rope hanging from the stem of his ship.

Then they began to tow at an average speed of four knots an hour.

The Haliotis was very hard to move, and the gunnery-lieutenant,

who had fired the five-inch shell, had leisure to think upon

consequences.  Mr. Wardrop was the busy man.  He borrowed all the

crew to shore up the cylinders with spars and blocks from the

bottom and sides of the ship.  It was a day's risky work; but

anything was better than drowning at the end of a tow-rope; and

if the forward cylinder had fallen, it would have made its way to

the sea-bed, and taken the Haliotis after.

"Where are we going to, and how long will they tow us?" he asked

of the skipper.

"God knows! and this prize-lieutenant's drunk.  What do you think

you can do?"

"There's just the bare chance," Mr. Wardrop whispered, though no

one was within hearing -"there's just the bare chance o' repairin'

her, if a man knew how.  They've twisted the very guts out of her,

bringing her up with that jerk; but I'm saying that, with time

and patience, there's just the chance o' making steam yet.  We

could do it."

The skipper's eye brightened.  "Do you mean," he began, "that she

is any good?"

"Oh, no," said Mr.  Wardrop.  "She'll need three thousand pounds in

repairs, at the lowest, if she's to take the sea again, an' that

apart from any injury to her structure.  She's like a man fallen

down five pair o' stairs.  We can't tell for months what has

happened; but we know she'll never be good again without a new

inside.  Ye should see the condenser-tubes an' the steam connections

to the donkey, for two things only.  I'm not afraid of them repairin'

her.  I'm afraid of them stealin' things."

"They've fired on us.  They'll have to explain that."

"Our reputation's not good enough to ask for explanations.  Let's

take what we have and be thankful.  Ye would not have consuls

remembern' the Guidin' Light, an' the Shah-in-Shah, an' the Aglaia,

at this most alarmin' crisis.  We've been no better than pirates

these ten years.  Under Providence we're no worse than thieves now.

We've much to be thankful for - if we e'er get back to her."

"Make it your own way, then," said the skipper.  "If there's the

least chance - "

"I'll leave none," said Mr.  Wardrop - "none that they'll dare to

take.  Keep her heavy on the tow, for we need time."

The skipper never interfered with the affairs of the engine-room,

and Mr. Wardrop - an artist in his profession - turned to and

composed a work terrible and forbidding.  His background was the

dark-grained sides of the engine-room; his material the metals

of power and strength, helped out with spars, baulks, and ropes.

The man-of-war towed sullenly and viciously.  The Haliotis behind

her hummed like a hive before swarming.  With extra and totally

unneeded spars her crew blocked up the space round the forward

engine till it resembled a statue in its scaffolding, and the

butts of the shores interfered with every view that a dispassionate

eye might wish to take.  And that the dispassionate mind might be

swiftly shaken out of its calm, the well-sunk bolts of the shores

were wrapped round untidily with loose ends of ropes, giving a

studied effect of most dangerous insecurity.  Next, Mr. Wardrop

took up a collection from the after-engine, which, as you will

remember, had not been affected in the general wreck.  The cylinder

escape-valve he abolished with a flogging-hammer.  It is difficult

in far-off ports to come by such valves, unless, like Mr. Wardrop,

you keep duplicates in store.  At the same time men took off the

nuts of two of the great holding-down bolts that serve to keep the

engines in place on their solid bed.  An engine violently arrested

in mid-career may easily jerk off the nut of a holding-down bolt,

and this accident looked very natural.

Passing along the tunnel, he removed several shaft coupling-bolts

and -nuts, scattering other and ancient pieces of iron underfoot.

Cylinder-bolts he cut off to the number of six from the after-engine

cylinder, so that it might match its neighbour, and stuffed the

bilge - and feed-pumps with cotton-waste.  Then he made up a neat

bundle of the various odds and ends that he had gathered from the

engines - little things like nuts and valve-spindles, all carefully

tallowed - and retired with them under the floor of the engine-room,

where he sighed, being fat, as he passed from manhole to manhole of

the double bottom, and in a fairly dry submarine compartment hid

them.  Any engineer, particularly in an unfriendly port, has a

right to keep his spare stores where he chooses; and the foot of

one of the cylinder shores blocked all entrance into the regular

store-room, even if that had not been already closed with steel

wedges.  In conclusion, he disconnected the after-engine, laid

piston and connecting-rod, carefully tallowed, where it would be

most inconvenient to the casual visitor, took out three of the

eight collars of the thrust-block, hid them where only he could find

them again, filled the boilers by hand, wedged the sliding doors

of the coal-bunkers, and rested from his labours.  The engine-room

was a cemetery, and it did not need the contents of the ash-lift

through the skylight to make it any worse.

He invited the skipper to look at the completed work.

Saw ye ever such a forsaken wreck as that?" said he, proudly.

"It almost frights me to go under those shores.  Now, what d' you

think they'll do to us?"

"Wait till we see," said the skipper.  "It'll be bad enough when

it comes."

He was not wrong.  The pleasant days of towing ended all too soon,

though the Haliotis trailed behind her a heavily weighted jib

stayed out into the shape of a pocket; and Mr. Wardrop was no

longer an artist of imagination, but one of seven-and-twenty

prisoners in a prison full of insects.  The man-of-war had towed

them to the nearest port, not to the headquarters of the colony,

and when Mr. Wardrop saw the dismal little harbour, with its

ragged line of Chinese junks, its one crazy tug, and the

boat-building shed that, under the charge of a philosophical

Malay, represented a dockyard, he sighed and shook his head.

"I did well," he said.  "This is the habitation o' wreckers an'

thieves.  We're at the uttermost ends of the earth.  Think you

they'll ever know in England?"

"Doesn't look like it," said the skipper.

They were marched ashore with what they stood up in, under a

generous escort, and were judged according to the customs of the

country, which, though excellent, are a little out of date.

There were the pearls; there were the poachers; and there sat a

small but hot Governor.  He consulted for a while, and then

things began to move with speed, for he did not wish to keep a

hungry crew at large on the beach, and the man-of-war had gone

up the coast.  With a wave of his hand - a stroke of the pen was

not necessary - he consigned them to the black gang-tana, the

back-country, and the hand of the Law removed them from his sight

and the knowledge of men.  They were marched into the palms, and

the back-country swallowed them up - all the crew of the Haliotis.

Deep peace continued to brood over Europe, Asia, Africa, America,

Australasia, and Polynesia.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

It was the firing that did it.  They should have kept their

counsel; but when a few thousand foreigners are bursting with joy

over the fact that a ship under the British flag has been fired at

on the high seas, news travels quickly; and when it came out that

the pearl-stealing crew had not been allowed access to their consul

(there was no consul within a few hundred miles of that lonely port)

even the friendliest of Powers has a right to ask questions.  The

great heart of the British public was beating furiously on account

of the performance of a notorious race-horse, and had not a throb

to waste on distant accidents; but somewhere deep in the hull of

the ship of State there is machinery which more or less accurately

takes charge of foreign affairs.  That machinery began to revolve,

and who so shocked and surprised as the Power that had captured the

Haliotis?  It explained that colonial governors and far-away

men-of-war were difficult to control, and promised that it would

most certainly make an example both of the Governor and the vessel.

As for the crew reported to be pressed into military service in

tropical climes, it would produce them as soon as possible, and it

would apologise, if necessary.  Now, no apologies were needed.

When one nation apologises to another, millions of amateurs who

have no earthly concern with the difficulty hurl themselves into

the strife and embarrass the trained specialist.  It was requested

that the crew be found, if they were still alive - they had been

eight months beyond knowledge - and it was promised that all

would be forgotten.

The little Governor of the little port was pleased with himself.

Seven-and-twenty white men made a very compact force to throw

away on a war that had neither beginning nor end - a jungle and

stockade fight that flickered and smouldered through the wet hot

years in the hills a hundred miles away, and was the heritage of

every wearied official.  He had, he thought, deserved well of his

country; and if only some one would buy the unhappy Haliotis,

moored in the harbour below his verandah, his cup would be full.

He looked at the neatly silvered lamps that he had taken from her

cabins, and thought of much that might be turned to account.  But

his countrymen in that moist climate had no spirit.  They would

peep into the silent engine-room, and shake their heads.  Even

the men-of-war would not tow her further up the coast, where the

Governor believed that she could be repaired.  She was a bad

bargain; but her cabin carpets were undeniably beautiful, and his

wife approved of her mirrors.

Three hours later cables were bursting round him like shells, for,

though he knew it not, he was being offered as a sacrifice by the

nether to the upper millstone, and his superiors had no regard for

his feelings.  He had, said the cables, grossly exceeded his power,

and failed to report on events.  He would, therefore - at this he

cast himself back in his hammock - produce the crew of the Haliotis.

He would send for them, and, if that failed, he would put his

dignity on a pony and fetch them himself.  He had no conceivable

right to make pearl-poachers serve in any war.  He would be held


Next morning the cables wished to know whether he had found the

crew of the Haliotis.  They were to be found, freed and fed - he

was to feed them - till such time as they could be sent to the

nearest English port in a man-of-war.  If you abuse a man long

enough in great words flashed over the sea-beds, things happen.

The Governor sent inland swiftly for his prisoners, who were also

soldiers; and never was a militia regiment more anxious to reduce

its strength.  No power short of death could make these mad men

wear the uniform of their service.  They would not fight, except

with their fellows, and it was for that reason the regiment had

not gone to war, but stayed in a stockade, reasoning with the new

troops.  The autumn campaign had been a fiasco, but here were the

Englishmen.  All the regiment marched back to guard them, and the

hairy enemy, armed with blow-pipes, rejoiced in the forest.  Five

of the crew had died, but there lined up on the Governor's verandah

two-and-twenty men marked about the legs with the scars of

leech-bites.  A few of them wore fringes that had once been trousers;

the others used loin-cloths of gay patterns; and they existed

beautifully but simply in the Governor's verandah, and when he came

out they sang at him.  When you have lost seventy thousand pounds'

worth of pearls, your pay, your ship, and all your clothes, and have

lived in bondage for five months beyond the faintest pretences of

civilisation, you know what true independence means, for you become

the happiest of created things - natural man.

The Governor told the crew that they were evil, and they asked for

food.  When he saw how they ate, and when he remembered that none of

the pearl patrol-boats were expected for two months, he sighed.  But

the crew of the Haliotis lay down in the verandah, and said that

they were pensioners of the Governor's bounty.  A grey-bearded man,

fat and bald-headed, his one garment a green-and-yellow loin-cloth,

saw the Haliotis in the harbour, and bellowed for joy.  The men

crowded to the verandah-rail, kicking aside the long cane chairs.

They pointed,  gesticulated, and argued freely, without shame.  The

militia regiment sat down in the Governor's garden.  The Governor

retired to his hammock - it was as easy to be killed lying as

standing - and his women squeaked from the shuttered rooms.

"She sold?" said the grey-bearded man, pointing to the Haliotis.

He was Mr. Wardrop.

"No good," said the Governor, shaking his head.  "No one come buy."

"He's taken my lamps, though," said the skipper.  He wore one leg

of a pair of trousers, and his eye wandered along the verandah.

The Governor quailed.  There were cuddy camp-stools and the skipper's

writing-table in plain sight.

"They've cleaned her out, o' course," said Mr. Wardrop.  "They

would.  We'll go aboard and take an inventory.  See!" He waved his

hands over the harbour.  "We - live - there - now.  Sorry?"

The Governor smiled a smile of relief.

"He's glad of that," said one of the crew, reflectively.  "I

shouldn't wonder."

They flocked down to the harbour-front, the militia regiment

clattering behind, and embarked themselves in what they found -

it happened to be the Governor's boat.  Then they disappeared over

the bulwarks of the Haliotis, and the Governor prayed that they

might find occupation inside.

Mr. Wardrop's first bound took him to the engine-room; and when

the others were patting the well-remembered decks, they heard him

giving God thanks that things were as he had left them.  The

wrecked engines stood over his head untouched; no inexpert hand

had meddled with his shores; the steel wedges of the store-room

were rusted home; and, best of all, the hundred and sixty tons of

good Australian coal in the bunkers had not diminished.

"I don't understand it," said Mr.  Wardrop.  "Any Malay knows the

use o' copper.  They ought to have cut away the pipes.  And with

Chinese junks coming here, too.  It's a special interposition o'


"You think so," said the skipper, from above.  "There's only been

one thief here, and he's cleaned her out of all my things, anyhow."

Here the skipper spoke less than the truth, for under the planking

of his cabin, only to be reached by a chisel, lay a little money

which never drew any interest - his sheet-anchor to windward.  It

was all in clean sovereigns that pass current the world over, and

might have amounted to more than a hundred pounds.

"He's left me alone.  Let's thank God," repeated Mr. Wardrop.

"He's taken everything else; look!"

The Haliotis, except as to her engine-room, had been systematically

and scientifically gutted from one end to the other, and there was

strong evidence that an unclean guard had camped in the skipper's

cabin to regulate that plunder.  She lacked glass, plate, crockery,

cutlery, mattresses, cuddy carpets and chairs, all boats, and her

copper ventilators.  These things had been removed, with her sails

and as much of the wire rigging as would not imperil the safety of

the masts.

"He must have sold those," said the skipper.  "The other things are

in  his house, I suppose."

Every fitting that could be pried or screwed out was gone.  Port,

starboard, and masthead lights; teak gratings; sliding sashes of

the deckhouse; the captain's chest of drawers, with charts and

chart-table; photographs, brackets, and looking-glasses; cabin

doors; rubber cuddy mats; hatch-irons; half the funnel-stays;

cork fenders; carpenter's grindstone and tool-chest; holystones,

swabs, squeegees; all cabin and pantry lamps; galley-fittings en

bloc; flags and  flag-locker; clocks, chronometers; the forward

compass and the ship's bell and belfry, were among the missing.

There were great scarred marks on the deck-planking over which

the cargo-derricks had been hauled.  One must have fallen by the

way, for the bulwark-rails were smashed and bent and the

side-plates bruised.

"It's the Governor," said the skipper  "He's been selling her on

the instalment plan."

"Let's go up with spanners and shovels, and kill 'em all," shouted

the crew.  "Let's drown him, and keep the woman!"

"Then we'll be shot by that black-and-tan regiment - our regiment.

What's the trouble ashore?  They've camped our regiment on the beach."

"We're cut off; that's all.  Go and see what they want," said Mr.

Wardrop.  "You've the trousers."

In his simple way the Governor was a strategist.  He did not desire

that the crew of the Haliotis should come ashore again, either

singly or in detachments, and he proposed to turn their steamer into

a convict-hulk.  They would wait - he explained this from the quay

to the skipper in the barge - and they would continue to wait till

the man-of-war came along, exactly where they were.  If one of them

set foot ashore, the entire regiment would open fire, and he would

not scruple to use the two cannon of the town.  Meantime food would

be sent daily in a boat under an armed escort.  The skipper, bare

to the waist, and rowing, could only grind his teeth; and the

Governor improved the occasion, and revenged himself for the bitter

words in the cables, by saying what he thought of the morals and

manners of the crew.  The barge returned to the Haliotis in silence,

and the skipper climbed aboard, white on the cheek-bones and blue

about the nostrils.

"I knew it," said Mr. Wardrop; "and they won't give us good food,

either.  We shall have bananas morning, noon, and night, an' a man

can't work on  fruit.  We know that."

Then the skipper cursed Mr. Wardrop for importing frivolous

side-issues into the conversation; and the crew cursed one another,

and the Haliotis, the voyage, and all that they knew or could bring

to mind.  They sat down in silence on the empty decks, and their

eyes burned in their heads.  The green harbour water chuckled at

them overside.  They looked at the palm-fringed hills inland, at

the white houses above the harbour road, at the single tier of

native craft by the quay, at the stolid soldiery sitting round the

two cannon, and, last of all, at the blue bar of the horizon.  Mr.

Wardrop was buried in thought, and scratched imaginary lines with

his untrimmed finger-nails on the planking.

"I make no promise," he said, at last, "for I can't say what may

or may not have happened to them.  But here's the ship, and here's


There was a little scornful laughter at this, and Mr.  Wardrop

knitted his brows.  He recalled that in the days when be wore

trousers he had been Chief Engineer  of the Haliotis.

"Harland, Mackesy, Noble, Hay, Naughton, Fink, O'Hara, Trumbull."

"Here, sir!"  The instinct of obedience waked to answer the

roll-call of the engine-room.


They rose and went.

"Captain, I'll trouble you for the rest of the men as I want them.

We'll get my stores out, and clear away the shores we don't need,

and then we'll patch her up.  My men will remember that they're in

the Haliotis, - under me."

He went into the engine-room, and the others stared.  They were

used to the accidents of the sea, but this was beyond their

experience.  None who had seen the engine-room believed that

anything short of new engines from end to end could stir the

Haliotis from her moorings.

The engine-room stores were unearthed, and Mr. Wardrop's face, red

with the filth of the bilges and the exertion of travelling on his

stomach, lit with joy.  The spare gear of the Haliotis had been

unusually complete, and two-and-twenty men, armed with screw-jacks,

differential blocks, tackle, vices, and a forge or so, can look

Kismet between the eyes without winking.  The crew were ordered to

replace the holding-down and shaft-bearing bolts, and return the

collars of the thrust-block.  When they had finished, Mr. Wardrop

delivered a lecture on repairing compound engines without the aid

of the shops, and the men sat about on the cold machinery.  The

cross-head jammed in the guides leered at them drunkenly, but

offered no help.  They ran their fingers hopelessly into the cracks

of the starboard supporting-column, and picked at the ends of the

ropes round the shores, while Mr. Wardrop's voice rose and fell

echoing, till the quick tropic night closed down over the

engine-room skylight.

Next morning the work of reconstruction began.  It has been

explained that the foot of the connecting-rod was forced against

the foot of the starboard supporting-column, which it had cracked

through and driven outward towards the ship's skin.  To all

appearance the job was more than hopeless, for rod and column

seemed to have been welded into one.  But herein Providence

smiled on them for one moment to hearten them through the weary

weeks ahead.  The second engineer - more reckless than resourceful

- struck at random with a cold chisel into the cast-iron of the

column, and a greasy, grey flake of metal flew from under the

imprisoned foot of the connecting-rod, while the rod itself fell

away slowly, and brought up with a thunderous clang somewhere in

the dark of the crank-pit.  The guides-plates above were still

jammed fast in the guides, but the first blow had been struck.

They spent the rest of the day grooming the donkey-engine, which

stood immediately forward of the engine-room hatch.  Its tarpaulin,

of course, had been stolen, and eight warm months had not improved

the working parts.  Further, the last dying hiccup of the Haliotis

seemed - or it might have been the Malay from the boat-house - to

have lifted the thing bodily on its bolts, and set it down

inaccurately as regarded its steam connections.

"If we only had one single cargo-derrick!" Mr. Wardrop sighed.  "We

can take the cylinder-cover off by hand, if we sweat; but to get

the rod out o' the piston's not possible unless we use steam.  Well,

there'll be steam the morn, if there's nothing else.  She'll fizzle!"

Next morning men from the shore saw the Haliotis through a cloud,

for it was as though the deck smoked.  Her crew were chasing steam

through the shaken and leaky pipes to its work in the forward

donkey-engine; and where oakum failed to plug a crack, they stripped

off their loin-cloths for lapping, and swore, half-boiled and

mother-naked.  The donkey-engine worked - at a price - the price of

constant attention and furious stoking - worked long enough to allow

a wire-rope (it was made up of a funnel and a foremast-stay) to be

led into the engine-room and made fast on the cylinder-cover of the

forward engine.  That rose easily enough, and was hauled through the

skylight and on to the deck, many hands assisting the doubtful steam.

Then came the tug of war, for it was necessary to get to the piston

and the jammed piston-rod.  They removed two of the piston junk-ring

studs, screwed in two strong iron eye-bolts by way of handles,

doubled the wire-rope, and set half a dozen men to smite with an

extemporised battering-ram at the end of the piston-rod, where it

peered through the piston, while the donkey-engine hauled upwards

on the piston itself.  After four hours of this furious work, the

piston-rod suddenly slipped, and the piston rose with a jerk,

knocking one or two men over into the engine-room.  But when Mr.

Wardrop declared that the piston had not split, they cheered, and

thought nothing of their wounds; and the donkey-engine was hastily

stopped; its boiler was nothing to tamper with.

And day by day their supplies reached them by boat.  The skipper

humbled himself once more before the Governor, and as a concession

had leave to get drinking-water from the Malay boat-builder on the

quay.  It was not good drinking-water, but the Malay was anxious

to supply anything in his power, if he were paid for it.

Now when the jaws of the forward engine stood, as it were, stripped

and empty, they began to wedge up the shores of the cylinder itself.

That work alone filled the better part of three days - warm and

sticky days, when the hands slipped and sweat ran into the eyes.

When the last wedge was hammered home there was no longer an ounce

of weight on the supporting-columns; and Mr. Wardrop rummaged the

ship for boiler-plate three-quarters of an inch thick, where he

could find it.  There was not much available, but what there was

was more than beaten gold to him.  In one desperate forenoon the

entire crew, naked and lean, haled back, more or less into place,

the starboard supporting-column, which, as you remember, was cracked

clean through.  Mr. Wardrop found them asleep where they had

finished the work, and gave them a day's rest, smiling upon them

as a father while he drew chalk-marks about the cracks.  They woke

to new and more trying labour; for over each one of those cracks a

plate of three-quarter-inch boiler-iron was to be worked hot, the

rivet-holes being drilled by hand.  All that time they were fed on

fruits, chiefly bananas, with some sago.

Those were the days when men swooned over the ratchet-drill and the

hand-forge, and where they fell they had leave to lie unless their

bodies were in the way of their fellows' feet.  And so, patch upon

patch, and a patch over all, the starboard supporting-column was

clouted; but when they thought all was secure, Mr. Wardrop decreed

that the noble patchwork would never support working engines; at

the best, it could only hold the guide-bars approximately true.

he deadweight of the cylinders must be borne by vertical struts;

and, therefore, a gang would repair to the bows, and take out, with

files, the big bow-anchor davits, each of which was some three

inches in diameter.  They threw hot coals at Wardrop, and threatened

to kill him, those who did not weep (they were ready to weep on the

least provocation); but he hit them with iron bars heated at the

end, and they limped forward, and the davits came with them when

they returned.  They slept sixteen hours on the strength of it, and

in three days two struts were in place, bolted from the foot of

the starboard supporting-column to the under side of the cylinder.

There remained now the port, or condenser-column, which, though not

so badly cracked as its fellow, had also been strengthened in four

places with boiler-plate patches, but needed struts.  They took

away the main stanchions of the bridge for that work, and, crazy

with toil, did not see till all was in place that the rounded

bars of iron must be flattened from top to bottom to allow the

air-pump levers to clear them.  It was Wardrop's oversight, and he

wept bitterly before the men as he gave the order to unbolt the

struts and flatten them with hammer and the flame.  Now the broken

engine was underpinned firmly, and they took away the wooden

shores from under the cylinders, and gave them to the robbed

bridge, thanking God for even half a day's work on gentle, kindly

wood instead of the iron that had entered into their souls.  Eight

months in the back-country among the leeches, at a temperature of

84 degrees moist, is very bad for the nerves.

They had kept the hardest work to the last, as boys save Latin

prose, and, worn though they were, Mr. Wardrop did not dare to

give them rest.  The piston-rod and connecting-rod were to be

straightened, and this was a job for a regular dockyard with every

appliance.  They fell to it, cheered by a little chalk showing of

work done and time consumed which Mr.  Wardrop wrote up on the

engine-room bulkhead.  Fifteen days had gone - fifteen days of

killing labour - and there was hope before them.

It is curious that no man knows how the rods were straightened.

The crew of the Haliotis remember that week very dimly, as a

fever patient remembers the delirium of a long night.  There were

fires everywhere, they say; the whole ship was one consuming

furnace, and the hammers were never still.  Now, there could not

have been more than one fire at the most, for Mr. Wardrop

distinctly recalls that no straightening was done except under

his own eye.  They remember, too, that for many years voices gave

orders which they obeyed with their bodies, but their minds were

abroad on all the seas.  It seems to them that they stood through

days and nights slowly sliding a bar backwards and forwards

through a white glow that was part of the ship.  They remember an

intolerable noise in their burning heads from the walls of the

stoke-hole, and they remember being savagely beaten by men whose

eyes seemed asleep.  When their shift was over they would draw

straight lines in the air, anxiously and repeatedly, and would

question one another in their sleep, crying, "Is she straight?"

At last - they do not remember whether this was by day or by

night - Mr. Wardrop began to dance clumsily, and wept the while;

and they too danced and wept, and went to sleep twitching all

over; and when they woke, men said that the rods were straightened,

and no one did any work for two days, but lay on the decks and ate

fruit.  Mr.  Wardrop would go below from time to time, and pat the

two rods where they lay, and they heard him singing hymns.

Then his trouble of mind went from him, and at the end of the third

day's idleness he made a drawing in chalk upon the deck, with

letters of the alphabet at the angles.  He pointed out that, though

the piston-rod was  more or less straight, the piston-rod cross-head

 - the thing that had been jammed sideways in the guides - had been

badly strained, and had cracked the lower end of the piston-rod.

He was going to forge and shrink a wrought-iron collar on the neck

of the piston-rod where it joined the cross-head, and from the

collar he would bolt a Y-shaped piece of iron whose lower arms

should be bolted into the cross-head.  If anything more were needed,

they could use up the last of the boiler-plate.

So the forges were lit again, and men burned their bodies, but

hardly felt the pain.  The finished connection was not beautiful,

but it seemed strong enough - at least, as strong as the rest of

the machinery; and with that job their labours came to an end.

All that remained was to connect up the engines, and to get food

and water.  The skipper and four men dealt with the Malay

boat-builder by night chiefly; it was no time to haggle over the

price of sago and dried fish.  The others stayed aboard and

replaced piston, piston-rod, cylinder-cover, cross-head, and bolts,

with the aid of the faithful donkey-engine.  The cylinder-cover

was hardly steam-proof, and the eye of science might have seen in

the connecting-rod a flexure something like that of a

Christmas-tree candle which has melted and been straightened by

hand over a stove, but, as Mr.  Wardrop said, "She didn't hit


As soon as the last bolt was in place, men tumbled over one

another in their anxiety to get to the hand starting-gear, the

wheel and worm, by which some engines can be moved when there is

no steam aboard.  They nearly wrenched off the wheel, but it was

evident to the blindest eye that the engines stirred.  They did

not revolve in their orbits with any enthusiasm, as good machines

should; indeed, they groaned not a little; but they moved over

and came to rest in a way which proved that they still recognised

man's hand.  Then Mr.  Wardrop sent his slaves into the darker

bowels of the engine-room and the stoke-hole, and followed them

with a flare-lamp.  The boilers were sound, but would take no harm

from a little scaling and cleaning.  Mr. Wardrop would not have

any one over-zealous, for he feared what the next stroke of the

tool might show.  "The less we know about her now," said he, "the

better for us all, I'm thinkin'.  Ye'll understand me when I say

that this is in no sense regular engineerin'."

As his raiment, when he spoke, was his grey beard and uncut hair,

they believed him.  They did not ask too much of what they met,

but polished and tallowed and scraped it to a false brilliancy.

"A lick of paint would make me easier in my mind," said Mr.

Wardrop, plaintively.  "I know half the condenser-tubes are

started; and the propeller-shaftin''s God knows how far out of

the true, and we'll need a new air-pump, an' the main-steam

leaks like a sieve, and there's worse each way I look; but -

paint's like clothes to a man, 'an ours is near all gone."

The skipper unearthed some stale ropy paint of the loathsome

green that they used for the galleys of sailing-ships, and Mr.

Wardrop spread it abroad lavishly to give the engines


His own was returning day by day, for he wore his loin-cloth

continuously; but the crew, having worked under orders, did not

feel as he did.  The completed work satisfied Mr. Wardrop.  He

would at the last have made shift to run to Singapore, and gone

home without vengeance taken to show his engines to his brethren

in the craft; but the others and the captain forbade him.  They

had not yet recovered their self-respect.

"It would be safer to make what ye might call a trial trip, but

beggars mustn't be choosers; an if the engines will go over to the

hand-gear, the probability - I'm only saying it's a probability -

the chance is that they'll hold up when we put steam on her."

"How long will you take to get steam?" said the skipper.

"God knows!  Four hours - a day - half a week.  If I can raise

sixty pound I'll not complain."

"Be sure of her first; we can't afford to go out half a mile, and

break down."

"My soul and body, man, we're one continuous breakdown, fore an'

aft! We might fetch Singapore, though."

"We'll break down at Pygang-Watai, where we can do good," was the

answer, in a voice that did not allow argument.  "She's my boat,

and - I've had eight  months to think in."

No man saw the Haliotis depart, though many heard her.  She left

at two in the morning, having cut her moorings, and it was none

of her crew's pleasure that the engines should strike up a

thundering half-seas-over chanty that echoed among the hills.

Mr. Wardrop wiped away a tear as he listened to the new song.

"She's gibberin' -  she's just gibberin'," he whimpered.  "Yon's

the  voice of a maniac.

And if engines have any soul, as their masters believe, he was

quite right.  There were outcries and clamours, sobs and bursts of

chattering laughter, silences where the trained ear yearned for the

clear note, and torturing reduplications where there should have

been one deep voice.  Down the screw-shaft ran murmurs and warnings,

while a heart-diseased flutter without told that the propeller

needed re-keying.

"How does she make it?" said the skipper.

"She moves, but - but she's breakin' my heart.  The sooner we're

at Pygang-Watai, the better.  She's mad, and we're waking the town."

"Is she at all near safe?"

"What do I care how safe she is?  She's mad.  Hear that, now!  To

be sure, nothing's hittin' anything, and the bearin's are fairly

cool, but - can ye not hear?"

"If she goes," said the skipper, "I don't care a curse.  And she's

my boat, too."

She went, trailing a fathom of weed behind her.  From a slow two

knots an hour she crawled up to a triumphant four.  Anything

beyond that made the struts quiver dangerously, and filled the

engine-room with steam.  Morning showed her out of sight of land,

and there was a visible ripple under her bows; but she complained

bitterly in her bowels, and, as though the noise had called it,

there shot along across the purple sea a swift, dark proa,

hawk-like and curious, which presently ranged alongside and wished

to know if the Haliotis were helpless.  Ships, even the steamers

of the white men, had been known to break down in those waters,

and the honest Malay and Javanese traders would sometimes aid them

in their own peculiar way.  But this ship was not full of lady

passengers and well-dressed officers.  Men, white, naked and savage,

swarmed down her sides - some with red-hot iron bars, and others

with large hammers - threw themselves upon those innocent inquiring

strangers, and, before any man could say what had happened, were

in full possession of the proa, while the lawful owners bobbed in

the water overside.  Half an hour later the proa's cargo of sago

and trepang, as well as a doubtful-minded compass, was in the

Haliotis.  The two huge triangular mat sails, with their

seventy-foot yards and booms, had followed the cargo, and were

being fitted to the stripped masts of the steamer.

They rose, they swelled, they filled, and the empty steamer visibly

laid over as the wind took them.  They gave her nearly three knots

an hour, and what better could men ask?  But if she had been forlorn

before, this new purchase made her horrible to see.  Imagine a

respectable charwoman in the tights of a ballet-dancer rolling drunk

along the streets, and you will come to some faint notion of the

appearance of that nine-hundred-ton, well-decked, once schooner-rigged

cargo-boat as she staggered under her new help, shouting and raving

across the deep.  With steam and sail that marvellous voyage

continued; and the bright-eyed crew looked over the rail, desolate,

unkempt, unshorn, shamelessly clothed  beyond the decencies.

At the end of the third week she sighted the island of Pygang-Watai,

whose harbour is the turning-point of a pearl sea-patrol.  Here the

gun-boats stay for a week ere they retrace their line.  There is no

village at Pygang-Watai; only a stream of water, some palms, and a

harbour safe to rest in till the first violence of the southeast

monsoon has blown itself out.

They opened up the low coral beach, with its mound of whitewashed

coal ready for supply, the deserted huts for the sailors, and the

flagless flagstaff.

Next day there was no Haliotis - only a little proa rocking in

the warm rain at the mouth of the harbour, whose crew watched

with hungry eyes the smoke of a gunboat on the horizon.

Months afterwards there were a few lines in an English newspaper

to the effect that some gunboat of some foreign Power had broken

her back at the mouth of some far-away harbour by running at full

speed into a sunken wreck.



                  I have done one braver thing

                   Than all the worthies did;

                  And yet a braver thence doth spring,

                   Which is to keep that hid.

                                       The Undertaking.

"Is it officially declared yet?"

They've gone as far as to admit 'extreme local scarcity,' and they've

started relief-works in one or two districts, the paper says."

"That means it will be declared as soon as they can make sure of the

men and the rolling-stock.  'Shouldn't wonder if it were as bad as

the '78 Famine."

"'Can't be," said Scott, turning a little in the long cane chair.

"We've had fifteen-anna crops in the north, and Bombay and Bengal

report more than they know what to do with.  They'll be able to

check it before it gets out of hand.  It will only be local."

Martyn picked the "Pioneer" from the table, read through the

telegrams once more, and put up his feet on the chair-rests.  It

was a hot, dark, breathless evening, heavy with the smell of the

newly watered Mall.  The flowers in the Club gardens were dead and

black on their stalks, the little lotus-pond was a circle of caked

mud, and the tamarisk-trees were white with the dust of weeks.

Most of the men were at the band-stand in the public gardens - from

the Club verandah you could hear the native Police band hammering

stale waltzes - or on the polo-ground, or in the high-walled

fives-court, hotter than a Dutch oven.  Half a dozen grooms,

squatted at the heads of their ponies, waited their masters' return.

>From time to time a man would ride at a foot-pace into the Club

compound, and listlessly loaf over to the whitewashed barracks

beside the main building.  These were supposed to be chambers.  Men

lived in them, meeting the same white faces night after night at

dinner, and drawing out their office-work till the latest possible

hour, that they might escape that doleful company.

"What are you going to do?." said Martyn, with a yawn.  "Let's

have a swim before dinner."

"'Water's hot.  I was at the bath to-day."

"Play you game o' billiards - fifty up."

"It's a hundred and five in the hall now.  Sit still and don't be

so abominably energetic."

A grunting camel swung up to the porch, his badged and belted

rider fumbling a leather pouch.

"Kubber-kargaz-ki-yektraaa," the man whined, handing down the

newspaper extra - a slip printed on one side only, and damp from

the press.  It was pinned up on the green-baize board, between

notices of ponies for sale and fox-terriers missing.

Martyn rose lazily, read it, and whistled.  "It's declared!" he

cried.  "One, two, three - eight districts go under the operations

of the Famine Code ek dum.  They've put Jimmy Hawkins in charge."

"Good business!" said Scott, with the first sign of interest he

had shown.  "When in doubt hire a Punjabi.  I worked under Jimmy

when I first came out and he belonged to the Punjab.  He has more

bundobust than most men."

"Jimmy's a Jubilee Knight now," said Martyn.  "He's a good chap,

even though he is a thrice-born civilian and went to the

Benighted Presidency.  What unholy names these Madras districts

rejoice in - all ungas or rungas or pillays or polliums!"

A dog-cart drove up in the dusk, and a man entered, mopping his

head.  He was editor of the one daily paper at the capital of a

Province of twenty-five million natives and a few hundred white

men: as his staff was limited to himself and one assistant, his

office-hours ran variously from ten to twenty a day.

"Hi, Raines; you're supposed to know everything," said Martyn,

stopping him.  "How's this Madras 'scarcity' going to turn out?"

"No one knows as yet. There's a message as long as your arm coming

in on the telephone.  I've left my cub to fill it out.  Madras has

owned she can't manage it alone, and Jimmy seems to have a free

hand in getting all the men he needs.  Arbuthnot's warned to hold

himself in readiness."

"'Badger' Arbuthnot?"

"The Peshawur chap.  Yes: and the Pi wires that Ellis and Clay

have been moved from the Northwest already, and they've taken

half a dozen Bombay men, too.  It's pukka famine, by the looks

of it."

"They're nearer the scene of action than we are; but if it comes

to indenting on the Punjab this early, there's more in this than

meets the eye," said Martyn.

"Here to-day and gone to-morrow.  'Didn't come to stay for ever,"

said Scott, dropping one of Marryat's novels, and rising to his

feet.  "Martyn, your sister's waiting for you."

A rough grey horse was backing and shifting at the edge of the

verandah, where the light of a kerosene lamp fell on a brown-calico

habit and a white face under a grey-felt hat.

"Right, O!" said Martyn.  "I'm ready.  Better come and dine with

us, if you've nothing to do, Scott.  William, is there any dinner

in the house?"

"I'll go home and see," was the rider's answer.  "You can drive

him over - at eight, remember."

Scott moved leisurely to his room, and changed into the evening-dress

of the season and the country: spotless white linen from head to

foot, with a broad silk cummerbund.  Dinner at the Martyns' was a

decided improvement on the goat-mutton, twiney-tough fowl, and

tinned entrees of the Club.  But it was a great pity that Martyn

could not afford to send his sister to the hills for the hot weather.

As an Acting District Superintendent of Police, Martyn drew the

magnificent pay of six hundred depreciated silver rupees a month,

and his little four-roomed bungalow said just as much.  There were

the usual blue-and-white-striped jail-made rugs on the uneven floor;

the usual glass-studded Amritsar phulkaris draped on nails driven

into the flaking whitewash of the walls; the usual half-dozen chairs

that did not match, picked up at sales of dead men's effects; and

the usual streaks of black grease where the leather punka-thong ran

through the wall.  It was as though everything had been unpacked

the night before to be repacked next morning.  Not a door in the

house was true on its hinges.  The little windows, fifteen feet up,

were darkened with wasp-nests, and lizards hunted flies between the

beams of the wood-ceiled roof.  But all this was part of Scott's

life.  Thus did people live who had such an income; and in a land

where each man's pay, age, and position are printed in a book, that

all may read, it is hardly worth while to play at pretence in word

or deed.  Scott counted eight years' service in the Irrigation

Department, and drew eight hundred rupees a month, on the

understanding that if he served the State faithfully for another

twenty-two years he could retire on a pension of some four hundred

rupees a month.  His working-life, which had been spent chiefly

under canvas or in temporary shelters where a man could sleep, eat,

and write letters, was bound up with the opening and guarding of

irrigation canals, the handling of two or three thousand workmen of

all castes and creeds, and the payment of vast sums of coined silver.

He had finished that spring, not without credit, the last section

of the great Mosuhl Canal, and - much against his will, for he

hated office-work - had been sent in to serve during the hot

weather on the accounts and supply side of the Department, with

sole charge of the sweltering sub-office at the capital of the

Province.  Martyn knew this; William, his sister, knew it; and

everybody knew it.  Scott knew, too, as well as the rest of the

world, that Miss Martyn had come out to India four years ago to

keep house for her brother, who, as every one knew, had borrowed

the money to pay for her passage, and that she ought, as all the

world said, to have married at once.  In stead of this, she had

refused some half a dozen subalterns, a Civilian twenty years her

senior, one Major, and a man in the Indian Medical Department.

This, too, was common property.  She had "stayed down three hot

weathers," as the saying is, because her brother was in debt and

could not afford the expense of her keep at even a cheap

hill-station.  Therefore her face was white as bone, and in the

centre of her forehead was a big silvery scar about the size of a

shilling - the mark of a Delhi sore, which is the same as a

"Bagdad date."  This comes from drinking bad water, and slowly

eats into the flesh till it is ripe enough to be burned out.

None the less William had enjoyed herself hugely in her four years.

Twice she had been nearly drowned while fording a river; once she

had been run away with on a camel; had witnessed a midnight attack

of thieves on her brother's camp; had seen justice administered,

with long sticks, in the open under trees; could speak Urdu and

even rough Punjabi with a fluency that was envied by her seniors;

had entirely fallen out of the habit of writing to her aunts in

England, or cutting the pages of the English magazines; had been

through a very bad cholera year, seeing sights unfit to be told;

and had wound up her experiences by six weeks of typhoid fever,

during which her head had been shaved and hoped to keep her

twenty-third birthday that September.  It is conceivable that the

aunts would not have approved of a girl who never set foot on the

ground if a horse were within hail; who rode to dances with a shawl

thrown over her skirt; who wore her hair cropped and curling all

over her head; who answered indifferently to the name of William

or Bill; whose speech was heavy with the flowers of the vernacular;

who could act in amateur theatricals, play on the banjo, rule eight

servants and two horses, their accounts and their diseases, and

look men slowly and deliberately between the eyes - even after they

had proposed to her and been rejected.

"I like men who do things," she had confided to a man in the

Educational Department, who was teaching the sons of cloth-merchants

and dyers the beauty of Wordsworth's "Excursion" in annotated

cram-books; and when he grew poetical, William explained that she

"didn't understand poetry very much; it made her head ache," and

another broken heart took refuge at the Club.  But it was all

William's fault.  She delighted in hearing men talk of their own

work, and that is the most fatal way of bringing a man to your feet.

Scott had known her for some three years, meeting her, as a rule,

under canvass, when his camp and her brother's joined for a day

on the edge of the Indian Desert.  He had danced with her several

times at the big Christmas gatherings, when as many as five hundred

white people came in to the station; and had always a great respect

for her housekeeping and her dinners.

She looked more like a boy than ever when, the meal ended, she

sat, rolling cigarettes, her low forehead puckered beneath the

dark curls as she twiddled the papers and stuck out her rounded

chin when the tobacco stayed in place, or, with a gesture as

true as a school-boy's throwing a stone, tossed the finished

article across the room to Martyn, who caught it with one hand,

and continued his talk with Scott.  It was all "shop," - canals

and the policing of canals; the sins of villagers who stole more

water than they had paid for, and the grosser sin of native

constables who connived at the thefts; of the transplanting

bodily of villages to newly irrigated ground, and of the coming

fight with the desert in the south when the Provincial funds

should warrant the opening of the long-surveyed Luni Protective

Canal System.  And Scott spoke openly of his great desire to be

put on one particular section of the work where he knew the land

and the people; and Martyn sighed for a billet in the Himalayan

foot-hills, and said his mind of his superiors, and William

rolled cigarettes and said nothing, but smiled gravely on her

brother because he was happy.

At ten Scott's horse came to the door, and the evening was ended.

The lights of the two low bungalows in which the daily paper was

printed showed bright across the road.  It was too early to try

to find sleep, and Scott drifted over to the editor.  Raines,

stripped to the waist like a sailor at a gun, lay half asleep in

a long chair, waiting for night telegrams.  He had a theory that

if a man did not stay by his work all day and most of the night he

laid himself open to fever: so he ate and slept among his files.

"Can you do it?" be said drowsily.  "I didn't mean to bring you


"About what?  I've been dining at the Martyns'."

"The Madras famine, of course.  Martyn's warned, too.  They're

taking men where they can find 'em.  I sent a note to you at the

Club just now, asking if you could do us a letter once a week from

the south - between two and three columns, say.  Nothing sensational,

of course, but just plain facts about who is doing what, and so

forth.  Our regular rates - ten rupees a column."

"'Sorry, but it's out of my line," Scott answered, staring absently

at the map of India on the wall.  "It's rough on Martyn - very.

'Wonder what he'll do with his sister?  'Wonder what the deuce

they'll do with me?  I've no famine experience.  This is the first

I've heard of it.  Am I ordered?"

"Oh, yes.  Here's the wire.  They'll put you on to relief-works,"

Raines said, "with a horde of Madrassis dying like flies; one

native apothecary and half a pint of cholera-mixture among the

ten thousand of you.  It comes of your being idle for the moment.

Every man who isn't doing two men's work seems to have been called

upon.  Hawkins evidently believes in Punjabis.  It's going to be

quite as bad as anything they have had in the last ten years."

"It's all in the day's work, worse luck.  I suppose I shall get my

orders officially some time to-morrow.  I'm awfully glad I happened

to drop in.  Better go and pack my kit now.  Who relieves me here

 - do you know?"

Raines turned over a sheaf of telegrams.  "McEuan," said he, "from


Scott chuckled.  "He thought he was going to be cool all summer.

He'll be very sick about this.  Well, no good talking.  'Night."

Two hours later, Scott, with a clear conscience, laid himself

down to rest on a string cot in a bare room.  Two worn bullock

trunks, a leather water-bottle, a tin ice-box, and his pet saddle

sewed up in sacking were piled at the door, and the Club secretary's

receipt for last month's bill was under his pillow.  His orders

came next morning, and with them an unofficial telegram from Sir

James Hawkins; who was not in the habit of forgetting good men when

he had once met them, bidding him report himself with all speed at

some unpronounceable place fifteen hundred miles to the south, for

the famine was sore in the land, and white men were needed.

A pink and fattish youth arrived in the red-hot noonday, whimpering

a little at fate and famines, which never allowed any one three

months' peace.  He was Scott's successor - another cog in the

machinery, moved forward behind his fellow whose services, as the

official announcement ran, "were placed at the disposal of the

Madras Government for famine duty until further orders."  Scott

handed over the funds in his charge, showed him the coolest corner

in the office, warned him against excess of zeal, and, as twilight

fell, departed from the Club in a hired carriage, with his faithful

body-servant, Faiz Ullah, and a mound of disordered baggage atop,

to catch the southern mail at the loopholed and bastioned

railway-station.  The heat from the thick brick walls struck him

across the face as if it had been a hot towel; and he reflected that

there were at least five nights and four days of this travel before

him.  Faiz Ullah, used to the chances of service, plunged into the

crowd on the stone platform, while Scott, a black cheroot between

his teeth, waited till his compartment should be set away.  A dozen

native policemen, with their rifles and bundles, shouldered into

the press of Punjabi farmers, Sikh craftsmen, and greasy-locked

Afreedee pedlars, escorting with all pomp Martyn's uniform-case,

water-bottles, ice-box, and bedding-roll.  They saw Faiz Ullah's

lifted hand, and steered for it.

"My Sahib and your Sahib," said Faiz Ullah to Martyn's man, "will

travel together.  Thou and I, O brother, will thus secure the

servants' places close by; and because of our masters' authority

none will dare to disturb us."

When Faiz Ullah reported all things ready, Scott settled down at

full length, coatless and bootless, on the broad leather-covered

bunk.  The heat under the iron-arched roof of the station might

have been anything over a hundred degrees.  At the last moment

Martyn entered, dripping.

"Don't swear," said Scott, lazily; "it's too late to change your

carriage; and we'll divide the ice."

"What are you doing here?" said the police-man.

"I'm lent to the Madras Government, same as you.  By Jove, it's a

bender of a night!  Are you taking any of your men down?"

"A dozen.  I suppose I shall have to superintend relief

distributions.  'Didn't know you were under orders too."

"I didn't till after I left you last night.  Raines had the news

first.  My orders came this morning.  McEuan relieved me at four,

and I got off at once.  'Shouldn't wonder if it wouldn't be a

good thing - this famine - if we come through it alive."

"Jimmy ought to put you and me to work together," said Martyn;

and then, after a pause:  "My sister's here."

"Good business," said Scott, heartily.  "Going to get off at Umballa,

I suppose, and go up to Simla.  Who'll she stay with there?"

"No-o; that's just the trouble of it.  She's going down with me."

Scott sat bolt upright under the oil-lamps as the train jolted

past Tarn-Taran.  "What!  You don't mean you couldn't afford -"

"'Tain't that.  I'd have scraped up the money somehow."

"You might have come to me, to begin with," said Scott, stiffly;

"we aren't altogether strangers."

"Well, you needn't be stuffy about it.  I might, but - you don't

know my sister.  I've been explaining and exhorting and all the

rest of it all day - lost my temper since seven this morning,

and haven't got it back yet - but she wouldn't hear of any

compromise.  A woman's entitled to travel with her husband if she

wants to; and William says she's on the same footing.  You see,

we've been together all our lives, more or less, since my people

died.  It isn't as if she were an ordinary sister."

"All the sisters I've ever heard of would have stayed where they

were well off."

She's as clever as a man, confound - Martyn went on.  "She broke

up the bungalow over my head while I was talking at her.  'Settled

the whole thing in three hours - servants, horses, and all.  I

didn't get my orders till nine."

"Jimmy Hawkins won't be pleased," said Scott "A famine's no place

for a woman."

"Mrs. Jim - I mean Lady Jim's in camp with him.  At any rate, she

says she will look after my sister.  William wired down to her on

her own responsibility, asking if she could come, and knocked the

ground from under me by showing me her answer."

Scott laughed aloud.  "If she can do that she can take care of

herself, and Mrs. Jim won't let her run into any mischief.  There

aren't many women, sisters or wives, who would walk into a famine

with their eyes open.  It isn't as if she didn't know what these

things mean.  She was through the Jalo cholera last year."

The train stopped at Amritsar, and Scott went back to the ladies'

compartment, immediately behind their carriage.  William, with a

cloth riding-cap on her curls, nodded affably.

"Come in and have some tea," she said.  "'Best thing in the world

for heat-apoplexy."

"Do I look as if I were going to have heat-apoplexy?"

"'Never can tell," said William, wisely.  "It's always best to be


She had arranged her compartment with the knowledge of an old

campaigner.  A felt-covered water-bottle hung in the draught of

one of the shuttered windows; a tea-set of Russian china, packed

in a wadded basket, stood on the seat; and a travelling

spirit-lamp was clamped against the woodwork above it.

William served them generously, in large cups, hot tea, which

saves the veins of the neck from swelling inopportunely on a hot

night.  It was characteristic of the girl that, her plan of action

once settled, she asked for no comments on it.  Life among men who

had a great deal of work to do, and very little time to do it in,

had taught her the wisdom of effacing, as well as of fending for,

herself.  She did not by word or deed suggest that she would be

useful, comforting, or beautiful in their travels, but continued

about her business serenely: put the cups back without clatter when

tea was ended, and made cigarettes for her guests.

"This time last night," said Scott, "we didn't expect - er - this

kind of thing, did we?"

"I've learned to expect anything," said William.  "You know, in

our service, we live at the end of the telegraph; but, of course,

this ought to be a good thing for us all, departmentally - if we


"It knocks us out of the running in our own Province," Scott

replied, with equal gravity.  "I hoped to be put on the Luni

Protective Works this cold weather, but there's no saying how

long the famine may keep us."

"Hardly beyond October, I should think," said Martyn.  "It will be

ended, one way or the other, then."

"And we've nearly a week of this," said William.  "Sha'n't we be

dusty when it's over?"

For a night and a day they knew their surroundings, and for a

night and a day, skirting the edge of the great Indian Desert on

a narrow-gauge railway, they remembered how in the days of their

apprenticeship they had come by that road from Bombay.  Then the

languages in which the names of the stations were written changed,

and they launched south into a foreign land, where the very smells

were new.  Many long and heavily laden grain-trains were in front

of them, and they could feel the hand of Jimmy Hawkins from far off.

They waited in extemporised sidings while processions of empty

trucks returned to the north, and were coupled on to slow, crawling

trains, and dropped at midnight, Heaven knew where; but it was

furiously hot, and they walked to and fro among sacks, and dogs

howled.  Then they came to an India more strange to them than to

the untravelled Englishman - the flat, red India of palm-tree,

palmyra-palm, and rice - the India of the picture-books, of "Little

Harry and His Bearer" - all dead and dry in the baking heat.  They

had left the incessant passenger-traffic of the north and west far

and far behind them.  Here the people crawled to the side of the

train, holding their little ones in their arms; and a loaded truck

would be left behind, the men and women clustering round it like

ants by spilled honey.  Once in the twilight they saw on a dusty

plain a regiment of little brown men, each bearing a body over his

shoulder; and when the train stopped to leave yet another truck,

they perceived that the burdens were not corpses, but only

foodless folk picked up beside dead oxen by a corps of Irregular

troops.  Now they met more white men, here one and there two, whose

tents stood close to the line, and who came armed with written

authorities and angry words to cut off a truck.  They were too busy

to do more than nod at Scott and Martyn, and stare curiously at

William, who could do nothing except make tea, and watch how her

men staved off the rush of wailing, walking skeletons, putting them

down three at a time in heaps, with their own hands uncoupling the

marked trucks, or taking receipts from the hollow-eyed, weary white

men, who spoke another argot than theirs.  They ran out of ice, out

of soda-water, and out of tea; for they were six days and seven

nights on the road, and it seemed to them like seven times seven


At last, in a dry, hot dawn, in a land of death, lit by long red

fires of railway-sleepers, where they were burning the dead, they

came to their destination, and were met by Jim Hawkins, the Head of

the Famine, unshaven, unwashed, but cheery, and entirely in command

of affairs.

Martyn, he decreed then and there, was to live on trains till

further orders; was to go back with empty trucks, filling them with

starving people as he found them, and dropping them at a famine-camp

on the edge of the Eight Districts.  He would pick up supplies and

return, and his constables would guard the loaded grain-cars, also

picking up people, and would drop them at a camp a hundred miles

south.  Scott - Hawkins was very glad to see Scott again - would

that same hour take charge of a convoy of bullock-carts, and would

go south, feeding as he went, to yet another famine-camp, where he

would leave his starving - there would he no lack of starving on the

route - and wait for orders by telegraph.  Generally, Scott was in

all small things to act as he thought best.

William bit her under lip.  There was no one in the wide world like

her one brother, but Martyn's orders gave him no discretion.

She came out on the platform, masked with dust from head to foot,

a horse-shoe wrinkle on her forehead, put here by much thinking

during the past week, but as self-possessed as ever.  Mrs. Jim -

who should have been Lady Jim but that no one remembered the

title - took possession of her with a little gasp.

"Oh, I'm so glad you're here," she almost sobbed.  "You oughtn't

to, of course, but there - there isn't another woman in the

place, and we must help each other, you know; and we've all the

wretched people and the little babies they are selling."

"I've seen some," said William.

"Isn't it ghastly? I've bought twenty; they're in our camp; but

won't you have something to eat first?  We've more than ten people

can do here; and I've got a horse for you.  Oh, I'm so glad you've

come, dear.  You're a Punjabi, too, you know."

"Steady, Lizzie," said Hawkins, over his shoulder.  "We'll look

after you, Miss Martyn.  'Sorry I can't ask you to breakfast,

Martyn.  You'll have to eat as you go.  Leave two of your men to

help Scott.  These poor devils can't stand up to load carts.

Saunders" (this to the engine-driver, who was half asleep in the

cab), "back down and get those empties away.  You've 'line clear'

to Anundrapillay; they'll give you orders north of that.  Scott,

load up your carts from that B. P. P. truck, and be off as soon

as you can.  The Eurasian in the pink shirt is your interpreter

and guide.  You'll find an apothecary of sorts tied to the yoke of

the second wagon.  He's been trying to bolt; you'll have to look

after him.  Lizzie, drive Miss Martyn to camp, and tell them to

send the red horse down here for me."

Scott, with Faiz Ullah and two policemen, was already busied with

the carts, backing them up to the truck and unbolting the sideboards

quietly, while the others pitched in the bags of millet and wheat.

Hawkins watched him for as long as it took to fill one cart.

"That's a good man," he said.  "If all goes well I shall work him

hard."  This was Jim Hawkins's notion of the highest compliment one

human being could pay another.

An hour later Scott was under way; the apothecary threatening him

with the penalties of the law for that he, a member of the

Subordinate Medical Department, had been coerced and bound against

his will and all laws governing the liberty of the subject; the

pink-shirted Eurasian begging leave to see his mother, who happened

to be dying some three miles away: "Only verree, verree short leave

of absence, and will presently return, sar -"; the two constables,

armed with staves, bringing up the rear; and Faiz Ullah, a

Mohammedan's contempt for all Hindoos and foreigners in every line

of his face, explaining to the drivers that though Scott Sahib was

a man to be feared on all fours, he, Faiz Ullah, was Authority


The procession creaked past Hawkins's camp - three stained tents

under a clump of dead trees, behind them the famine-shed, where

a crowd of hopeless ones tossed their arms around the cooking-kettles.

"'Wish to Heaven William had kept out of it," said Scott to himself,

after a glance.  "We'll have cholera, sure as a gun, when the Rains


But William seemed to have taken kindly to the operations of the

Famine Code, which, when famine is declared, supersede the workings

of the ordinary law.  Scott saw her, the centre of a mob of weeping

women, in a calico riding-habit, and a blue-grey felt hat with a

gold puggaree.

"I want fifty rupees, please.  I forgot to ask Jack before he went

away.  Can you lend it me?  It's for condensed-milk for the babies,"

said she.

Scott took the money from his belt, and handed it over without a

word.  "For goodness sake, take care of yourself," he said.

"Oh, I shall be all right.  We ought to get the milk in two days.

By the way, the orders are, I was to tell you, that you're to take

one of Sir Jim's horses.  There's a grey Cabuli here that I thought

would be just your style, so I've said you'd take him.  Was that


"That's awfully good of you.  We can't either of us talk much about

style, I am afraid."

Scott was in a weather-stained drill shooting-kit, very white at

the seams and a little frayed at the wrists.  William regarded him

thoughtfully, from his pith helmet to his greased ankle-boots.

"You look very nice, I think.  Are you sure you've everything

you'll need - quinine, chlorodyne, and so on?"

"'Think so," said Scott, patting three or four of his

shooting-pockets as he mounted and rode alongside his convoy.

"Good-bye," he cried.

"Good-bye, and good luck," said William.  "I'm awfully obliged for

the money." She turned on a spurred heel and disappeared into the

tent, while the carts pushed on past the famine-sheds, past the

roaring lines of the thick, fat fires, down to the baked Gehenna

of the South.


                  So let us melt and make no noise,

                   No tear-floods nor sigh-tempests move;

                 'Twere profanation of our joys

                   To tell the Laity our love.

                                              A Valediction.

It was punishing work, even though he travelled by night and camped

by day; but within the limits of his vision there was no man whom

Scott could call master.  He was as free as Jimmy Hawkins - freer,

in fact, for the Government held the Head of the Famine tied neatly

to a telegraph-wire, and if Jimmy had ever regarded telegrams

seriously, the death-rate of that famine would have been much higher

than it was.

At the end of a few days' crawling Scott learned something of the

size of the India which he served, and it astonished him.  His

carts, as you know, were loaded with wheat, millet, and barley,

good food-grains needing only a little grinding.  But the people

to whom he brought the life-giving stuffs were rice-eaters.  They

could hull rice in their mortars, but they knew nothing of the

heavy stone querns of the North, and less of the material that

the white man convoyed so laboriously.  They clamoured for rice -

unhusked paddy, such as they were accustomed to - and, when they

found that there was none, broke away weeping from the sides of

the cart.  What was the use of these strange hard grains that

choked their throats?  They would die.  And then and there very

many of them kept their word.  Others took their allowance, and

bartered enough millet to feed a man through a week for a few

handfuls of rotten rice saved by some less unfortunate.  A few put

their share into the rice-mortars, pounded it, and made a paste

with foul water; but they were very few.  Scott understood dimly

that many people in the India of the South ate rice, as a rule,

but he had spent his service in a grain Province, had seldom seen

rice in the blade or ear, and least of all would have believed

that in time of deadly need men could die at arm's length of

plenty, sooner than touch food they did not know.  In vain the

interpreters interpreted; in vain his two policemen showed in

vigorous pantomime what should be done.  The starving crept away

to their bark and weeds, grubs, leaves, and clay, and left the

open sacks untouched.  But sometimes the women laid their phantoms

of children at Scott's feet, looking back as they staggered away.

Faiz Ullah opined it was the will of God that these foreigners

should die, and it remained only to give orders to burn the dead.

None the less there was no reason why the Sahib should lack his

comforts, and Faiz Ullah, a campaigner of experience, had picked

up a few lean goats and had added them to the procession.  That

they might give milk for the morning meal, he was feeding them on

the good grain that these imbeciles rejected.  "Yes," said Faiz

Ullah; "if the Sahib thought fit, a little milk might be given to

some of the babies"; but, as the Sahib well knew, babies were cheap,

and, for his own part, Faiz Ullah held that there was no Government

order as to babies.  Scott spoke forcefully to Faiz Ullah and the

two policemen, and bade them capture goats where they could find

them.  This they most joyfully did, for it was a recreation, and

many ownerless goats were driven in.  Once fed, the poor brutes

were willing enough to follow the carts, and a few days' good food

 - food such as human beings died for lack of - set them in milk


"But I am no goatherd," said Faiz Ullah.  "It is against my izzat

[my honour]."

"When we cross the Bias River again we will talk of izzat," Scott

replied.  "Till that day thou and the policemen shall be sweepers

to the camp, if I give the order."

"Thus, then, it is done," grunted Faiz Ullah, "if the Sahib will

have it so"; and he showed how a goat should be milked, while

Scott stood over him.

"Now we will feed them," said Scott; "twice a day we will feed

them"; and he bowed his back to the milking, and took a horrible


When you have to keep connection unbroken between a restless

mother of kids and a baby who is at the point of death, you

suffer in all your system.  But the babies were fed.  Each morning

and evening Scott would solemnly lift them out one by one from

their nest of gunny-bags under the cart-tilts.  There were always

many who could do no more than breathe, and the milk was dropped

into their toothless mouths drop by drop, with due pauses when

they choked.  Each morning, too, the goats were fed; and since

they would straggle without a leader, and since the natives were

hirelings, Scott was forced to give up riding, and pace slowly at

the head of his flocks, accommodating his step to their weaknesses.

All this was sufficiently absurd, and he felt the absurdity keenly;

but at least he was saving life, and when the women saw that their

children did not die, they made shift to eat a little of the

strange foods, and crawled after the carts, blessing the master

of the goats.

"Give the women something to live for," said Scott to himself, as

he sneezed in the dust of a hundred little feet, "and they'll

hang on somehow.  This beats William's condensed-milk trick all to

pieces.  I shall never live it down, though."

He reached his destination very slowly, found that a rice-ship

had come in from Burmah, and that stores of paddy were available;

found also an overworked Englishman in charge of the shed, and,

loading the carts, set back to cover the ground he had already

passed.  He left some of the children and half his goats at the

famine-shed.  For this he was not thanked by the Englishman, who

had already more stray babies than he knew what to do with.

Scott's back was suppled to stooping now, and he went on with his

wayside ministrations in addition to distributing the paddy.  More

babies and more goats were added unto him; but now some of the

babies wore rags, and beads round their wrists or necks.  "That"

said the interpreter, as though Scott did not know, "signifies

that their mothers hope in eventual contingency to resume them


The sooner, the better," said Scott; but at the same time he

marked, with the pride of ownership, how this or that little

Ramasawmy was putting on flesh like a bantam.  As the paddy-carts

were emptied he headed for Hawkins's camp by the railway, timing

his arrival to fit in with the dinner-hour, for it was long since

he had eaten at a cloth.  He had no desire to make any dramatic

entry, but an accident of the sunset ordered it that when he had

taken off his helmet to get the evening breeze, the low light

should fall across his forehead, and he could not see what was

before him; while one waiting at the tent door beheld with new

eyes a young man, beautiful as Paris, a god in a halo of golden

dust, walking slowly at the head of his flocks, while at his knee

ran small naked Cupids.  But she laughed - William, in a

slate-coloured blouse, laughed consumedly till Scott, putting the

best face he could upon the matter, halted his armies and bade her

admire the kindergarten.  It was an unseemly sight, but the

proprieties had been left ages ago, with the tea-party at Amritsar

Station, fifteen hundred miles to the north.

"They are coming on nicely," said William.  "We've only

five-and-twenty here now.  The women are beginning to take them

away again."

"Are you in charge of the babies, then?"

"Yes - Mrs. Jim and I.  We didn't think of goats, though.  We've

been trying condensed-milk and water."

"Any losses?"

More than I care to think of;" said William, with a shudder.

"And you?"

Scott said nothing.  There had been many little burials along his

route - one cannot burn a dead baby - many mothers who had wept

when they did not find again the children they had trusted to the

care of the Government.

Then Hawkins came out carrying a razor, at which Scott looked

hungrily, for he had a beard that he did not love.  And when they

sat down to dinner in the tent he told his tale in few words, as

it might have been an official report.  Mrs. Jim snuffled from

time to time, and Jim bowed his head judicially; but William's

grey eyes were on the clean-shaven face, and it was to her that

Scott seemed to appeal.

"Good for the Pauper Province!" said William, her chin on her hand,

as she leaned forward among the wine~glasses.  Her cheeks had

fallen in, and the scar on her forehead was more prominent than

ever, but the well-turned neck rose roundly as a column from the

ruffle of the blouse which was the accepted evening-dress in camp.

"It was awfully absurd at times," said Scott.  "You see, I didn't

know much about milking or babies.  They'll chaff my head off, if

the tale goes up North."

"Let 'em," said William, haughtily.  "We've all done coolie-work

since we came.  I know Jack has."  This was to Hawkins's address,

and the big man smiled blandly.

"Your brother's a highly efficient officer, William," said he,

"and I've done him the honour of treating him as he deserves.

Remember, I write the confidential reports."

"Then you must say that William's worth her weight in gold," said

Mrs. Jim.  "I don't know what we should have done without her.  She

has been everything to us."  She dropped her hand upon William's,

which was rough with much handling of reins, and William patted

it softly.  Jim beamed on the company.  Things were going well with

his world.  Three of his more grossly incompetent men had died,

and their places had been filled by their betters.  Every day

brought the Rains nearer.  They had put out the famine in five of

the Eight Districts, and, after all, the death-rate had not been

too heavy - things considered.  He looked Scott over carefully, as

an ogre looks over a man, and rejoiced in his thews and iron-hard


"He's just the least bit in the world tucked up," said Jim to

himself, "but he can do two men's work yet."  Then he was aware

that Mrs. Jim was telegraphing to him, and according to the

domestic code the message ran: "A clear case.  Look at them!"

He looked and listened.  All that William was saying was: "What

can you expect of a country where they call a bhistee [a

water-carrier] a tunni-cutch?" and all that Scott answered was:

"I shall be glad to get back to the Club.  Save me a dance at the

Christmas Ball, won't you?"

"It's a far cry from here to the Lawrence Hall," said Jim.  "Better

turn in early, Scott.  It's paddy-carts to-morrow; you'll begin

loading at five."

"Aren't you going to give Mr. Scott a single day's rest?"

"'Wish I could, Lizzie, but I'm afraid I can't.  As long as he can

stand up we must use him."

"Well, I've had one Europe evening, at least.  By Jove, I'd nearly

forgotten!  What do I do about those babies of mine?"

"Leave them here," said William -" we are in charge of that - and

as many goats as you can spare.  I must learn how to milk now."

"If you care to get up early enough to-morrow I'll show you.  I

have to milk, you see.  Half of 'em have beads and things round

their necks.  You must be careful not to take 'em off; in case the

mothers turn up."

"You forget I've had some experience here."

"I hope to goodness you won't overdo."  Scott's voice was


"I'll take care of her," said Mrs. Jim, telegraphing hundred-word

messages as she carried William off; while Jim gave Scott his

orders for the coming campaign.  It was very late - nearly nine


"Jim, you're a brute," said his wife, that night; and the Head of

the Famine chuckled.

"Not a bit of it, dear.  I remember doing the first Jandiala

Settlement for the sake of a girl in a crinoline, and she was

slender, Lizzie.  I've never done as good a piece of work since.

He'll work like a demon."

"But you might have given him one day."

"And let things come to a head now?  No, dear; it's their happiest


"I don't believe either of the darlings know what's the matter with

them.  Isn't it beautiful?  Isn't it lovely?"

"Getting up at three to learn to milk, bless her heart!  Oh, ye

Gods, why must we grow old and fat?"

"She's a darling.  She has done more work under me -"

"Under you?  The day after she came she was in charge and you were

her subordinate.  You've stayed there ever since; she manages you

almost as well as you manage me."

"She doesn't, and that's why I love her.  She's as direct as a

man - as her brother."

"Her brother's weaker than she is.  He's always to me for orders;

but he's honest, and a glutton for work.  I confess I'm rather

fond of William, and if I had a daughter -"

The talk ended.  Far away in the Derajat was a child's grave more

than twenty years old, and neither Jim nor his wife spoke of it

any more.

All the same, you're responsible," Jim added, a moment's silence.

"Bless 'em!" said Mrs.  Jim, sleepily.

Before the stars paled, Scott, who slept in an empty cart, waked

and went about his work in silence; it seemed at that hour unkind

to rouse Faiz Ullah and the interpreter.  His head being close to

the ground, he did not hear William till she stood over him in the

dingy old riding-habit, her eyes still heavy with sleep, a cup of

tea and a piece of toast in her hands.  There was a baby on the

ground, squirming on a piece of blanket, and a six-year-old child

peered over Scott's shoulder.

"Hai, you little rip," said Scott, "how the deuce do you expect to

get your rations if you aren't quiet?"

A cool white hand steadied the brat, who forthwith choked as the

milk gurgled into his mouth.

"'Mornin'," said the milker.  "You've no notion how these little

fellows can wriggle."

"Oh, yes, I have."  She whispered, because the world was asleep.

"Only I feed them with a spoon or a rag.  Yours are fatter than

mine.  And you've been doing this day after day?" The voice was

almost lost.

"Yes; it was absurd.  Now you try," he said, giving place to the

girl.  "Look out!  A goat's not a cow."

The goat protested against the amateur, and there was a scuffle,

in which Scott snatched up the baby.  Then it was all to do over

again, and William laughed softly and merrily.  She managed,

however, to feed two babies, and a third.

"Don't the little beggars take it well?" said Scott.  "I trained


They were very busy and interested, when lo! it was broad daylight,

and before they knew, the camp was awake, and they kneeled among

the goats, surprised by the day, both flushed to the temples.  Yet

all the round world rolling up out of the darkness might have heard

and seen all that had passed between them.

"Oh," said William, unsteadily, snatching up the tea and toast, "I

had this made for you.  It's stone-cold now.  I thought you mightn't

have anything ready so early.  'Better not drink it.  It's - it's


"That's awfully kind of you.  It's just right.  It's awfully good

of you, really.  I'll leave my kids and goats with you and Mrs.

Jim, and, of course, any one in camp can show you about the


"Of course," said William; and she grew pinker and pinker and

statelier and more stately, as she strode back to her tent,

fanning herself with the saucer.

There were shrill lamentations through the camp when the elder

children saw their nurse move off without them.  Faiz Ullah unbent

so far as to jest with the policemen, and Scott turned purple with

shame because Hawkins, already in the saddle, roared.

A child escaped from the care of Mrs. Jim, and, running like a

rabbit, clung to Scott's boot, William pursuing with long, easy


"I will not go - I will not go!" shrieked the child, twining his

feet round Scott's ankle.  They will kill me here.  I do not know

these people."

"I say," said Scott, in broken Tamil, "I say, she will do you no

harm.  Go with her and be well fed."

"Come!" said William, panting, with a wrathful glance at Scott,

who stood helpless and, as it were, hamstrung.

"Go back," said Scott quickly to William.  I'll send the little

chap over in a minute."

The tone of authority had its effect, but in a way Scott did not

exactly intend.  The boy loosened his grasp, and said with

gravity: "I did not know the woman was thine.  I will go."  Then

he cried to his companions, a mob of three-, four-, and

five-year-olds waiting on the success of his venture ere they

stampeded:  "Go back and eat.  It is our man's woman.  She will

obey his orders."

Jim collapsed where he sat; Faiz Ullah and the two policemen

grinned; and Scott's orders to the cartmen flew like hail.

"That is the custom of the Sahibs when truth is told in their

presence," said Faiz Ullah.  "The time comes that I must seek new

service.  Young wives, especially such as speak our language and

have knowledge of the ways of the Police, make great trouble for

honest butlers in the matter of weekly accounts."

What William thought of it all she did not say, but when her

brother, ten days later, came to camp for orders, and heard of

Scott's performances, he said, laughing: "Well, that settles it.

He'll be Bakri Scott to the end of his days."  (Bakri in the

Northern vernacular, means a goat.)  "What a lark!  I'd have given

a month's pay to have seen him nursing famine babies.  I fed some

with conjee [rice-water], but that was all right."

"It's perfectly disgusting," said his sister, with blazing eyes.

"A man does something like - like that - and all you other men

think of is to give him an absurd nickname, and then you laugh

and think it's funny."

"Ah," said Mrs. Jim, sympathetically.

"Well, you can't talk, William.  You christened little Miss Demby

the Button-quail, last cold weather; you know you did.  India's

the land of nicknames."

"That's different," William replied.  "She was only a girl, and

she hadn't done anything except walk like a quail, and she does.

But it isn't fair to make fun of a man."

"Scott won't care," said Martyn.  "You can't get a rise out of old

Scotty.  I've been trying for eight years, and you've only known

him for three.  How does he look?"

"He looks very well," said William, and went away with a flushed

cheek.  "Bakri Scott, indeed!"  Then she laughed to herself, for

she knew her country.  "But it will he Bakri all the same"; and

she repeated it under her breath several times slowly,

whispering it into favour.

When he returned to his duties on the railway, Martyn spread the

name far and wide among his associates, so that Scott met it as

he led his paddy-carts to war.  The natives believed it to be

some English title of honour, and the cart-drivers used it in

all simplicity till Faiz Ullah, who did not approve of foreign

japes, broke their heads.  There was very little time for milking

now, except at the big camps, where Jim had extended Scott's

idea and was feeding large flocks on the useless northern grains.

Sufficient paddy had come now into the Eight Districts to hold

the people safe, if it were only distributed quickly, and for that

purpose no one was better than the big Canal officer, who never

lost his temper, never gave an unnecessary order, and never

questioned an order given.  Scott pressed on, saving his cattle,

washing their galled necks daily, so that no time should be lost

on the road; reported himself with his rice at the minor

famine-sheds, unloaded, and went back light by forced night-march

to the next distributing centre, to find Hawkins's unvarying

telegram:  "Do it again."  And he did it again and again, and yet

again, while Jim Hawkins, fifty miles away, marked off on a big

map the tracks of his wheels gridironing the stricken lands.

Others did well - Hawkins reported at the end they all did well

 - but Scott was the most excellent, for he kept good coined

rupees by him, settled for his own cart-repairs on the spot, and

ran to meet all sorts of unconsidered extras, trusting to be

recouped later on.  Theoretically, the Government should have

paid for every shoe and linchpin, for every hand employed in the

loading; but Government vouchers cash themselves slowly, and

intelligent and efficient clerks write at great length, contesting

unauthorised expenditures of eight annas.  The man who wants to

make his work a success must draw on his own bank-account of money

or other things as he goes.

"I told you he'd work," said Jimmy to his wife, at the end of six

weeks.  "He's been in sole charge of a couple of thousand men up

north, on the Mosuhl Canal, for a year; but he gives less trouble

than young Martyn with his ten constables; and I'm morally certain

 - only Government doesn't recognise moral obligations - he's spent

about half his pay to grease his wheels.  Look at this, Lizzie, for

one week's work!  Forty miles in two days with twelve carts; two

days' halt building a famine-shed for young Rogers.  (Rogers ought

to have built it himself, the idiot!)  Then forty miles back again,

loading six carts on the way, and distributing all Sunday.  Then in

the evening he pitches in a twenty-page Demi-Official to me, saying

the people where he is might be 'advantageously employed on

relief-work,' and suggesting that he put 'em to work on some

broken-down old reservoir he's discovered, so as to have a good

water-supply when the Rains break.  'Thinks he can cauk the dam

in a fortnight.  Look at his marginal sketches - aren't they

clear and good?  I knew he was pukka, but I didn't know he was

as pukka as this."

"I must show these to William," said Mrs.  Jim.  "The child's

wearing herself out among the babies."

"Not more than you are, dear.  Well, another two months ought to

see us out of the wood.  I'm sorry it's not in my power to

recommend you for a V. C."

William sat late in her tent that night, reading through page

after page of the square handwriting, patting the sketches of

proposed repairs to the reservoir, and wrinkling her eyebrows

over the columns of figures of estimated water-supply.  "And he

finds time to do all this," she cried to herself, "and - well, I

also was present.  I've saved one or two babies.

She dreamed for the twentieth time of the god in the golden dust,

and woke refreshed to feed loathsome black children, scores of them,

wastrels picked up by the wayside, their bones almost breaking their

skin, terrible and covered with sores.

Scott was not allowed to leave his cart-work, but his letter was

duly forwarded to the Government, and he had the consolation,

not rare in India, of knowing that another man was reaping where

he had sown.  That also was discipline profitable to the soul.

"He's much too good to waste on canals," said Jimmy.  "Any one can

oversee coolies.  You needn't be angry, William; he can - but I

need my pearl among bullock-drivers, and I've transferred him to

the Khanda district, where he'll have it all to do over again.  He

should be marching now.

"He's not a coolie," said William, furiously.  "He ought to be

doing his regulation work."

"He's the best man in his service, and that's saying a good deal;

but if you must use razors to cut grindstones, why, I prefer the

best cutlery."

"Isn't it almost time we saw him again?" said Mrs. Jim.  "I'm sure

the poor boy hasn't had a respectable meal for a month.  He probably

sits on a cart and eats sardines with his fingers."

"All in good time, dear.  Duty before decency - wasn't it Mr.

Chucks said that?"

"No; it was Midshipman Easy," William laughed.  "I sometimes

wonder how it will feel to dance or listen to a band again, or

sit under a roof.  I can't believe I ever wore a ball-frock in my


"One minute," said Mrs. Jim, who was thinking.  "If he goes to

Khanda, he passes within five miles of us.  Of course he'll ride


"Oh, no, he won't," said William.

"How do you know, dear?"

"It will take him off his work.  He won't have time."

"He'll make it," said Mrs.  Jim, with a twinkle.

 "It depends on his own judgment.  There's absolutely no reason

why he shouldn't, if he thinks fit," said Jim.

"He won't see fit," William replied, without sorrow or emotion.

"It wouldn't be him if he did."

"One certainly gets to know people rather well in times like these,"

said Jim, drily; but William's face was serene as ever, and even

as she prophesied, Scott did not appear.

The Rains fell at last, late, but heavily; and the dry, gashed

earth was red mud, and servants killed snakes in the camp, where

every one was weather-bound for a fortnight - all except Hawkins,

who took horse and plashed about in the wet, rejoicing.  Now the

Government decreed that seed-grain should be distributed to the

people, as well as advances of money for the purchase of new oxen;

and the white men were doubly worked for this new duty, while

William skipped from brick to brick laid down on the trampled mud,

and dosed her charges with warming medicines that made them rub

their little round stomachs; and the milch goats throve on the

rank grass.  There was never a word from Scott in the Khanda

district, away to the southeast, except the regular telegraphic

report to Hawkins.  The rude country roads had disappeared; his

drivers were half mutinous; one of Martyn's loaned policemen had

died of cholera; and Scott was taking thirty grains of quinine a

day to fight the fever that comes with the rain: but those were

things Scott did not consider necessary to report.  He was, as

usual, working from a base of supplies on a railway line, to cover

a circle of fifteen miles radius, and since full loads were

impossible, he took quarter-loads, and toiled four times as hard

by consequence; for he did not choose to risk an epidemic which

might have grown uncontrollable by assembling villagers in

thousands at the relief-sheds.  It was cheaper to take Government

bullocks, work them to death, and leave them to the crows in the

wayside sloughs.

That was the time when eight years of clean living and hard condition

told, though a man's head were ringing like a bell from the cinchona,

and the earth swayed under his feet when he stood and under his bed

when he slept.  If Hawkins had seen fit to make him a bullock-driver,

that, he thought, was entirely Hawkins's own affair.  There were men

in the North who would know what he had done; men of thirty years'

service in his own department who would say that it was "not half

bad"; and above, immeasurably above, all men of all grades, there

was William in the thick of the fight, who would approve because she

understood.  He had so trained his mind that it would hold fast to

the mechanical routine of the day, though his own voice sounded

strange in his own ears, and his hands, when he wrote, grew large

as pillows or small as peas at the end of his wrists.  That

steadfastness bore his body to the telegraph-office at the

railway-station, and dictated a telegram to Hawkins saying that

the Khanda district was, in his judgment, now safe, and he "waited

further orders."

The Madrassee telegraph-clerk did not approve of a large, gaunt

man falling over him in a dead faint, not so much because of the

weight as because of the names and blows that Faiz Ullah dealt

him when he found the body rolled under a bench.  Then Faiz Ullah

took blankets, quilts, and coverlets where he found them, and lay

down under them at his master's side, and bound his arms with a

tent-rope, and filled him with a horrible stew of herbs, and set

the policeman to fight him when he wished to escape from the

intolerable heat of his coverings, and shut the door of the

telegraph-office to keep out the curious for two nights and one

day; and when a light engine came down the line, and Hawkins

kicked in the door, Scott hailed him weakly but in a natural

voice, and Faiz Ullah stood back and took all the credit.

"For two nights, Heaven-born, he was pagal" said Faiz Ullah.  "Look

at my nose, and consider the eye of the policeman.  He beat us with

his bound hands; but we sat upon him, Heaven-born, and though his

words were tez, we sweated him.  Heaven-born, never has been such

a sweat!  He is weaker now than a child; but the fever has gone out

of him, by the grace of God.  There remains only my nose and the eye

of the constabeel.  Sahib, shall I ask for my dismissal because my

Sahib has beaten me?"  And Faiz Ullah laid his long thin hand

carefully on Scott's chest to be sure that the fever was all gone,

ere he went out to open tinned soups and discourage such as laughed

at his swelled nose.

"The district's all right," Scott whispered.  "It doesn't make any

difference.  You got my wire?"  I shall be fit in a week.  'Can't

understand how it happened.  I shall be fit in a few days."

"You're coming into camp with us," said Hawkins.

"But look here - but -"

"It's all over except the shouting.  We sha'n't need you Punjabis

any more.  On my honour, we sha'n't.  Martyn goes back in a few

weeks; Arbuthnot's returned already; Ellis and Clay are putting

the last touches to a new feeder-line the Government's built as

relief-work.  Morten's dead - he was a Bengal man, though; you

wouldn't know him.  'Pon my word, you and Will - Miss Martyn -

seem to have come through it as well as anybody."

"Oh, how is she, by-the-way"."  The voice went up and down as he


"Going strong when I left her.  The Roman Catholic Missions are

adopting the unclaimed babies to turn them into little priests;

the Basil Mission is taking some, and the mothers are taking the

rest.  You should hear the little beggars howl when they're sent

away from William.  She's pulled down a bit, but so are we all.

Now, when do you suppose you'll be able to move?"

"I can't come into camp in this state.  I won't," he replied


"Well, you are rather a sight, but from what I gathered there it

seemed to me they'd be glad to see you under any conditions.  I'll

look over your work here, if you like, for a couple of days, and

you can pull yourself together while Faiz Ullah feeds you up."

Scott could walk dizzily by the time Hawkins's inspection was

ended, and he flushed all over when Jim said of his work that it

was "not half bad," and volunteered, further, that he had considered

Scott his right-hand man through the famine, and would feel it his

duty to say as much officially.

So they came back by rail to the old camp; but there were no crowds

near it; the long fires in the trenches were dead and black, and

the famine-sheds were almost empty.

"You see!" said Jim.  "There isn't much more to do.  'Better ride

up and see the wife.  They've pitched a tent for you.  Dinner's at

seven.  I've some work here."

Riding at a foot-pace, Faiz Ullah by his stirrup, Scott came to

William in the brown-calico riding-habit, sitting at the

dining-tent door, her hands in her lap, white as ashes, thin and

worn, with no lustre in her hair.  There did not seem to be any

Mrs. Jim on the horizon, and all that William could say was: "My

word, how pulled down you look!"

"I've had a touch of fever.  You don't look very well yourself."

"Oh, I'm fit enough.  We've stamped it out.  I suppose you know?"

Scott nodded.  "We shall all be returned in a few weeks.  Hawkins

told me."

"Before Christmas, Mrs. Jim says.  Sha'n't you be glad to go back?

I can smell the wood-smoke already"; William sniffed.  "We shall

be in time for all the Christmas doings.  I don't suppose even the

Punjab Government would be base enough to transfer Jack till the

new year?"

"It seems hundreds of years ago - the Punjab and all that - doesn't

it?  Are you glad you came?"

"Now it's all over, yes.  It has been ghastly here, though.  You

know we had to sit still and do nothing, and Sir Jim was away so


"Do nothing! How did you get on with the milking?"

"I managed it somehow - after you taught me.  'Remember?"

Then the talk stopped with an almost audible jar.  Still no Mrs.


"That reminds me, I owe you fifty rupees for the condensed-milk.

I thought perhaps you'd be coming here when you were transferred

to the Khanda district, and I could pay you then; but you


"I passed within five miles of the camp, but it was in the middle

of a march, you see, and the carts were breaking down every few

minutes, and I couldn't get 'em over the ground till ten o'clock

that night.  I wanted to come awfully.  You knew I did, didn't you?"

"I - believe - I - did," said William, facing him with level eyes.

She was no longer white."

"Did you understand?"

"Why you didn't ride in?  Of course I did."


"Because you couldn't, of course.  I knew that."

"Did you care?"

"If you had come in - but I knew you wouldn't - but if you had, I

should have cared a great deal.  You know I should."

"Thank God I didn't!  Oh, but I wanted to!  I couldn't trust myself

to ride in front of the carts, because I kept edging 'em over

here, don't you know?"

"I knew you wouldn't," said William, contentedly.  "Here's your


Scott bent forward and kissed the hand that held the greasy

notes.  Its fellow patted him awkwardly but very tenderly on the


"And you knew, too, didn't you?" said William, in a new voice.

"No, on my honour, I didn't.  I hadn't the - the cheek to expect

anything of the kind, except ...  I say, were you out riding

anywhere the day I passed by to Khanda?"

William nodded, and smiled after the manner of an angel surprised

in a good deed.

"Then it was just a speck I saw of your habit in the -"

"Palm-grove on the Southern cart-road.  I saw your helmet when you

came up from the mullah by the temple - just enough to be sure

that you were all right.  D' you care?"

This time Scott did not kiss her hand, for they were in the dusk

of the dining-tent, and, because William's knees were trembling

under her, she had to sit down in the nearest chair, where she wept

long and happily, her head on her arms; and when Scott imagined

that it would be well to comfort her, she needing nothing of the

kind, she ran to her own tent; and Scott went out into the world,

and smiled upon it largely and idiotically.  But when Faiz Ullah

brought him a drink, he found it necessary to support one hand

with the other, or the good whisky and soda would have been spilled

abroad.  There are fevers and fevers.

But it was worse - much worse - the strained, eye-shirking talk at

dinner till the servants had withdrawn, and worst of all when Mrs.

Jim, who had been on the edge of weeping from the soup down, kissed

Scott and William, and they drank one whole bottle of champagne,

hot, because there was no ice, and Scott and William sat outside the

tent in the starlight till Mrs. Jim drove them in for fear of more


Apropos of these things and some others William said: "Being engaged

is abominable, because, you see, one has no official position.  We

must be thankful we've lots of things to do."

"Things to do!" said Jim, when that was reported to him.  "They're

neither of them any good any more.  I can't get five hours' work a

day out of Scott.  He's in the clouds half the time."

"Oh, but they're so beautiful to watch, Jimmy.  It will break my

heart when they go.  Can't you do anything for him?"

"I've given the Government the impression - at least, I hope I have

 - that he personally conducted the entire famine.  But all he wants

is to get on to the Luni Canal Works, and William's just as bad.

Have you ever heard 'em talking of barrage and aprons and

waste-water?  It's their style of spooning, I suppose."

Mrs.  Jim smiled tenderly.  "Ah, that's in the intervals - bless


And so Love ran about the camp unrebuked in broad daylight, while

men picked up the pieces and put them neatly away of the Famine in

the Eight Districts.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Morning brought the penetrating chill of the Northern December, the

layers of wood-smoke, the dusty grey-blue of the tamarisks, the

domes of ruined tombs, and all the smell of the white Northern

plains, as the mail-train ran on to the mile-long Sutlej Bridge.

William, wrapped in a poshteen - a silk-embroidered sheepskin jacket

trimmed with rough astrakhan - looked out with moist eyes and

nostrils that dilated joyously.  The South of pagodas and palm-trees,

the overpopulated Hindu South, was done with.  Here was the land she

knew and loved, and before her lay the good life she understood,

among folk of her own caste and mind.

They were picking them up at almost every station now - men and

women coming in for the Christmas Week, with racquets, with bundles

of polo-sticks, with dear and bruised cricket-bats, with fox-terriers

and saddles.  The greater part of them wore jackets like William's,

for the Northern cold is as little to be trifled with as the Northern

heat.  And William was among them and of them, her hands deep in her

pockets, her collar turned up over her ears, stamping her feet on

the platforms as she walked up and down to get warm, visiting from

carriage to carriage and everywhere being congratulated.  Scott was

with the bachelors at the far end of the train, where they chaffed

him mercilessly about feeding babies and milking goats; but from

time to time he would stroll up to William's window, and murmur:

"Good enough, isn't it?" and William would answer with sighs of pure

delight:  "Good enough, indeed."  The large open names of the home

towns were good to listen to.  Umballa, Ludianah, Phillour, Jullundur,

they rang like the coming marriage-bells in her ears, and William

felt deeply and truly sorry for all strangers and outsiders -

visitors, tourists, and those fresh-caught for the service of the


It was a glorious return, and when the bachelors gave the Christmas

Ball, William was, unofficially, you might say, the chief and

honoured guest among the Stewards, who could make things very

pleasant for their friends.  She and Scott danced nearly all the

dances together, and sat out the rest in the big dark gallery

overlooking the superb teak floor, where the uniforms blazed, and

the spurs clinked, and the new frocks and four hundred dancers went

round and round till the draped flags on the pillars flapped and

bellied to the whirl of it.

About midnight half a dozen men who did not care for dancing came

over from the Club to play "Waits," and that was a surprise the

Stewards had arranged - before any one knew what had happened,

the band stopped, and hidden voices broke into "Good King

Wenceslaus," and William in the gallery hummed and beat time with

her foot:

             "Mark my footsteps well, my page,

                Tread thou in them boldly.

              Thou shalt feel the winter's rage

                Freeze thy blood less coldly!"

"Oh, I hope they are going to give us another!  Isn't it pretty,

coming out of the dark in that way?  Look - look down.  There's

Mrs.  Gregory wiping her eyes!"

"It's like Home, rather," said Scott.  "I remember -"

"Hsh!  Listen! - dear."  And it began again:

             "When shepherds watched their flocks by night -"

"A-h-h!" said William, drawing closer to Scott.

              "All seated on the ground,

               The Angel of the Lord came down,

               And glory shone around.

              'Fear not,' said he (for mighty dread

               Had seized their troubled mind);

              'Glad tidings of great joy I bring

               To you and all mankind.'"

This time it was William that wiped her eyes.


A locomotive is, next to a marine engine, the most sensitive thing

man ever made; and No.  .007, besides being sensitive, was new.  The

red paint was hardly dry on his spotless bumper-bar, his headlight

shone like a fireman's helmet, and his cab might have been a

hard-wood-finish parlour.  They had run him into the round-house

after his trial - he had said good-bye to his best friend in the

shops, the overhead travelling-crane - the big world was just

outside; and the other locos were taking stock of him.  He looked

at the semicircle of bold, unwinking headlights, heard the low purr

and mutter of the steam mounting in the gauges - scornful hisses of

contempt as a slack valve lifted a little - and would have given a

month's oil for leave to crawl through his own driving-wheels into

the brick ash-pit beneath him.  .007 was an eight-wheeled "American"

loco,     slightly different from others of his type, and as he stood

he was worth ten thousand dollars on the Company's books.  But if

you had bought him at his own valuation, after half an hour's waiting

in the darkish, echoing round-house, you would have saved exactly

nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars and ninety-eight


A heavy Mogul freight, with a short cow-catcher and a fire-box that

came down within three inches of the rail, began the impolite game,

speaking to a Pittsburgh Consolidation, who was visiting.

"Where did this thing blow in from?" he asked, with a dreamy puff

of light steam.

"it's all I can do to keep track of our makes," was the answer,

"without lookin' after your back-numbers.  Guess it's something Peter

Cooper left over when he died."

.007 quivered; his steam was getting up, but he held his tongue.

Even a hand-car knows what sort of locomotive it was that Peter

Cooper experimented upon in the far-away Thirties.  It carried its

coal and water in two apple-barrels, and was not much bigger than

a bicycle.

Then up and spoke a small, newish switching-engine, with a little

step in front of his bumper-timber, and his wheels so close together

that he looked like a broncho getting ready to buck.

"Something's wrong with the road when a Pennsylvania gravelpusher

tells us anything about our stock, I think.  That kid's all right.

Eustis designed him, and Eustis designed me.  Ain't that good enough?"

.007 could have carried the switching-loco round the yard in his

tender, but he felt grateful for even this little word of consolation.

"We don't use hand-cars on  the Pennsylvania," said the Consolidation.

"That - er - peanut-stand is old enough and ugly enough to speak for


"He hasn't bin spoken to yet.  He's bin spoke at.  Hain't ye any

manners on the Pennsylvania?" said the switching-loco.

"You ought to be in the yard, Poney," said the Mogul, severely.

"We're all long-haulers here."

"That's what you think," the little fellow replied.  "You'll know

more 'fore the night's out.  I've bin down to Track 17, and the

freight there - oh, Christmas!"

"I've trouble enough in my own division," said a lean, light suburban

loco with very shiny brake-shoes.  "My commuters wouldn't rest till

they got a parlourcar.  They've hitched it back of all, and it hauls

worsen a snow-plough.  I'll snap her off someday sure, and then

they'll blame every one except their foolselves.  They'll be askin'

me to haul a vestibuled next!"

"They made you in New Jersey, didn't they?" said Poney.  "Thought so.

Commuters and truck-wagons ain't any sweet haulin', but I tell you

they're a heap better 'n cuttin' out refrigerator-cars or oil-tanks.

Why, I've hauled -"

"Haul!  You?" said the Mogul, contemptuously.  "It's all you can do

to bunt a cold-storage car up the yard.  Now, I - " he paused a

little to let the words sink in - "I handle the Flying Freight

 - e-leven cars worth just anything you please to mention.  On the

stroke of eleven I pull out; and I'm timed for thirty-five an hour.

Costly-perishable-fragile-immediate - that's me!  Suburban traffic's

only but one degree better than switching.  Express freight's what


"Well, I ain't given to blowing, as a rule," began the Pittsburgh


"No?  You was sent in here because you grunted on the grade," Poney


"Where I grunt, you'd lie down, Poney: but, as I was saying, I don't

blow much.  Notwithstandin', if you want to see freight that is

freight moved lively, you should see me warbling through the

Alleghanies with thirty-seven ore-cars behind me, and my brakemen

fightin' tramps so's they can't attend to my tooter.  I have to do

all the holdin' back then, and, though I say it, I've never had a

load get away from me yet.  No, sir.  Haulin's's one thing, but

judgment and discretion's another.  You want judgment in my


"Ah!  But - but are you not paralysed by a sense of your overwhelming

responsibilities?" said a curious, husky voice from a corner.

"Who's that?" .007 whispered to the Jersey commuter.

"Compound-experiment-N.G.  She's bin switchin' in the B. & A. yards

for six months, when she wasn't in the shops.  She's economical (I

call it mean) in her coal, but she takes it out in repairs.  Ahem!

I presume you found Boston somewhat isolated, madam, after your New

York season?"

"I am never so well occupied as when I am alone."  The Compound

seemed to be talking from half-way up her smoke-stack.

"Sure," said the irreverent Poney, under his breath.  "They don't

hanker after her any in the yard."

"But, with my constitution and temperament - my work lies in Boston

 - I find your outrecuidance - "

"Outer which?" said the Mogul freight.  "Simple cylinders are good

enough for me."

"Perhaps I should have said faroucherie," hissed the Compound.

"I don't hold with any make of papier-mache wheel," the Mogul


The Compound sighed pityingly, and said no more.

"Git 'em all shapes in this world, don't ye?" said Poney.  "that's

Mass'chusetts all over.  They half start, an' then they stick on a

dead-centre, an' blame it all on other folk's ways o' treatin' them.

Talkin' o' Boston, Comanche told me, last night, he had a hot-box

just beyond the Newtons, Friday.  That was why, he says, the

Accommodation was held up.  Made out no end of a tale, Comanche did."

"If I'd heard that in the shops, with my boiler out for repairs, I'd

know 't was one o' Comanche's lies," the New Jersey commuter snapped.

"Hot-box!  Him!  What happened was they'd put an extra car on, and

he just lay down on the grade and squealed.  They had to send 127 to

help him through.  Made it out a hotbox, did he?  Time before that

he said he was ditched!  Looked me square in the headlight and told

me that as cool as - as a water-tank in a cold wave.  Hot-box!  You

ask 127 about Comanche's hot-box.  Why, Comanche he was side-tracked,

and 127 (he was just about as mad as they make 'em on account o'

being called out at ten o'clock at night) took hold and snapped her

into Boston in seventeen minutes.  Hot-box!  Hot fraud! that's what

Comanche is."

Then .007 put both drivers and his pilot into it, as the saying is,

for he asked what sort of thing a hot-box might be?

"Paint my bell sky-blue!" said Poney, the switcher.  "Make me a

surface-railroad loco with a hard-wood skirtin'-board round my wheels.

Break me up and cast me into five-cent sidewalk-fakirs' mechanical

toys!  Here's an eight-wheel coupled 'American' don't know what a

hot-box is!  Never heard of an emergency-stop either, did ye?  Don't

know what ye carry jack-screws for?  You're too innocent to be left

alone with your own tender.  Oh, you - you flatcar!"

There was a roar of escaping steam before any one could answer, and

.007 nearly blistered his paint off with pure mortification.

"A hot-box," began the Compound, picking and choosing her words as

though they were coal, "a hotbox is the penalty exacted from

inexperience by haste.  Ahem!"

"Hot-box!" said the Jersey Suburban.  "It's the price you pay for

going on the tear.  It's years since I've had one.  It's a disease

that don't attack shorthaulers, as a rule."

"We never have hot-boxes on the Pennsylvania," said the Consolidation.

"They get 'em in New York - same as nervous prostration."

"Ah, go home on a ferry-boat," said the Mogul.  "You think because

you use worse grades than our road 'u'd allow, you're a kind of

Alleghany angel.  Now, I'll tell you what you ...  Here's my folk.

Well, I can't stop.  See you later, perhaps."

He rolled forward majestically to the turn-table, and swung like

a man-of-war in a tideway, till he picked up his track.  "But as

for you, you pea-green swiveling' coffee-pot (this to .007'), you

go out and learn something before you associate with those who've

made more mileage in a week than you'll roll up in a year.

Costly-perishable-fragile-immediate-that's me!  S' long."

"Split my tubes if that's actin' polite to a new member o' the

Brotherhood," said Poney.  "There wasn't any call to trample on ye

like that.  But manners was left out when Moguls was made.  Keep

up your fire, kid, an' burn your own smoke.  'Guess we'll all be

wanted in a minute."

Men were talking rather excitedly in the roundhouse.  One man, in

a dingy jersey, said that he hadn't any locomotives to waste on the

yard.  Another man, with a piece of crumpled paper in his hand, said

that the yard-master said that he was to say that if the other man

said anything, he (the other man) was to shut his head.  Then the

other man waved his arms, and wanted to know if he was expected to

keep locomotives in his hip-pocket.  Then a man in a black Prince

Albert, without a collar, came up dripping, for it was a hot August

night, and said that what he said went; and between the three of

them the locomotives began to go, too - first the Compound; then

the Consolidation; then .007.

Now, deep down in his fire-box, .007 had cherished a hope that as

soon as his trial was done, he would be led forth with songs and

shoutings, and attached to a green-and-chocolate vestibuled flyer,

under charge of a bold and noble engineer, who would pat him on his

back, and weep over him, and call him his Arab steed.  (The boys in

the shops where he was built used to read wonderful stories of

railroad life, and .007 expected things to happen as he had heard.)

But there did not seem to be many vestibuled fliers in the roaring,

rumbling, electric-lighted yards, and his engineer only said:

"Now, what sort of a fool-sort of an injector has Eustis loaded on

to this rig this time?"  And he put the lever over with an angry

snap, crying: "Am I supposed to switch with this thing, hey?"

The collarless man mopped his head, and replied that, in the present

state of the yard and freight and a few other things, the engineer

would switch and keep on switching till the cows came home.  .007

pushed out gingerly, his heart in his headlight, so nervous that the

clang of his own bell almost made him jump the track.  Lanterns

waved, or danced up and down, before and behind him; and on every

side, six tracks deep, sliding backward and forward, with clashings

of couplers and squeals of hand-brakes, were cars - more cars than

.007 had dreamed of.  There were oil-cars, and hay-cars, and

stock-cars full of lowing beasts, and ore-cars, and potato-cars with

stovepipe-ends sticking out in the middle; cold-storage and

refrigerator cars dripping ice water on the tracks; ventilated

fruit- and milk-cars; flatcars with truck-wagons full of market-stuff;

flat-cars loaded with reapers and binders, all red and green and

gilt under the sizzling electric lights; flat-cars piled high with

strong-scented hides, pleasant hemlock-plank, or bundles of shingles;

flat-cars creaking to the weight of thirty-ton castings, angle-irons,

and rivet-boxes for some new bridge; and hundreds and hundreds and

hundreds of box-cars loaded, locked, and chalked.  Men - hot and

angry - crawled among and between and under the thousand wheels; men

took flying jumps through his cab, when he halted for a moment; men

sat on his pilot as he went forward, and on his tender as he

returned; and regiments of men ran along the tops of the box-cars

beside him, screwing down brakes, waving their arms, and crying

curious things.

He was pushed forward a foot at a time; whirled backward, his rear

drivers clinking and clanking, a quarter of a mile; jerked into a

switch (yard-switches are very stubby and unaccommodating), bunted

into a Red D, or Merchant's Transport car, and, with no hint or

knowledge of the weight behind him, started up anew.  When his load

was fairly on the move, three or four cars would be cut off, and

.007 would bound forward, only to be held hiccupping on the brake.

Then he would wait a few minutes, watching the whirled lanterns,

deafened with the clang of the bells, giddy with the vision of the

sliding cars, his brake-pump panting forty to the minute, his front

coupler lying sideways on his cow-catcher, like a tired dog's tongue

in his mouth, and the whole of him covered with half-burnt coal-dust.

"'Tisn't so easy switching with a straight-backed tender," said his

little friend of the round-house, bustling by at a trot.  "But

you're comin' on pretty fair.  'Ever seen a flyin' switch?  No?

Then watch me."

Poney was in charge of a dozen heavy flat-cars.  Suddenly he shot

away from them with a sharp "Whutt !"  A switch opened in the shadows

ahead; he turned up it like a rabbit as it snapped behind him, and

the long line of twelve-foot-high lumber jolted on into the arms of

a full-sized road-loco, who acknowledged receipt with a dry howl.

"My man's reckoned the smartest in the yard at that trick," he said,

returning.  "Gives me cold shivers when another fool tries it,

though.  That's where my short wheel-base comes in.  Like as not

you'd have your tender scraped off if you tried it."

.007 had no ambitions that way, and said so.

"No?  Of course this ain't your regular business, but say, don't you

think it's interestin'?  Have you seen the yard-master?  Well, he's

the greatest man on earth, an' don't you forget it.  When are we

through?  Why, kid, it's always like this, day an' night - Sundays

an' week-days.  See that thirty-car freight slidin' in four, no,

five tracks off?  She's all mixed freight, sent here to be sorted out

into straight trains.  That's why we're cuttin' out the cars one by

one."  He gave a vigorous push to a west-bound car as he spoke, and

started back with a little snort of surprise, for the car was an old

friend - an M. T. K. box-car.

"Jack my drivers, but it's Homeless Kate!  Why, Kate, ain't there

no gettin' you back to your friends?  There's forty chasers out for

you from your road, if there's one.  Who's holdin' you now?"

"Wish I knew," whimpered Homeless Kate.  "I belong in Topeka, but

I've bin to Cedar Rapids; I've bin to Winnipeg; I've bin to Newport

News; I've bin all down the old Atlanta and West Point; an' I've bin

to Buffalo.  Maybe I'll fetch up at Haverstraw.  I've only bin out

ten months, but I'm homesick - I'm just achin' homesick."

"Try Chicago, Katie," said the switching-loco; and the battered old

car lumbered down the track, jolting: "I want to be in Kansas when

the sunflowers bloom."

"'Yard's full o' Homeless Kates an' Wanderin' Willies," he explained

to .007.  "I knew an old Fitchburg flat-car out seventeen months; an'

one of ours was gone fifteen 'fore ever we got track of her.  Dunno

quite how our men fix it.  'Swap around, I guess.  Anyway, I've done

my duty.  She's on her way to Kansas, via Chicago; but I'll lay my

next boilerful she'll be held there to wait consignee's convenience,

and sent back to us with wheat in the fall."

Just then the Pittsburgh Consolidation passed, at the head of a

dozen cars.

"I'm goin' home," he said proudly.

"Can't get all them twelve on to the flat.  Break 'em in half,

Dutchy!" cried Poney.  But it was .007 who was backed down to the

last six cars, and he nearly blew up with surprise when he found

himself pushing them on to a huge ferry-boat.  He had never seen

deep water before, and shivered as the flat drew away and left his

bogies within six inches of the black, shiny tide.

After this he was hurried to the freight-house, where he saw the

yard-master, a smallish, white-faced man in shirt, trousers, and

slippers, looking down upon a sea of trucks, a mob of bawling

truckmen, and squadrons of backing, turning, sweating,

spark-striking horses.

"That's shippers' carts loadin' on to the receivin' trucks," said

the small engine, reverently.  "But he don't care.  He lets 'em cuss.

He's the Czar-King-Boss!  He says 'Please,' and then they kneel down

an' pray.  There's three or four strings o' today's freight to be

pulled before he can attend to them.  When he waves his hand that

way, things happen."

A string of loaded cars slid out down the track, and a string of

empties took their place.  Bales, crates, boxes, jars, carboys,

frails, cases, and packages flew into them from the freight-house

as though the cars had been magnets and they iron filings.

"Ki-yah!" shrieked little Poney.  "Ain't it great?"

A purple-faced truckman shouldered his way to the yard-master, and

shook his fist under his nose.  The yard-master never looked up

from his bundle of freight receipts.  He crooked his forefinger

slightly, and a tall young man in a red shirt, lounging carelessly

beside him, hit the truckman under the left ear, so that he dropped,

quivering and clucking, on a hay-bale.

"Eleven, seven, ninety-seven, L. Y. S.; fourteen ought ought three;

nineteen thirteen; one one four; seventeen ought twenty-one M. B.;

and the ten westbound.  All straight except the two last.  Cut 'em

off at the junction.  An' that's all right.  Pull that string."

The yard-master, with mild blue eyes, looked out over the howling

truckmen at the waters in the moonlight beyond, and hummed:

                 "All things bright and beautiful,

                  All creatures great and small,

                  All things wise and wonderful,

                  The Lawd Gawd He made all!"

.007 moved out the cars and delivered them to the regular

road-engine.  He had never felt quite so limp in his life before.

"Curious, ain't it?" said Poney, puffing, on the next track.  "You

an' me, if we got that man under our bumpers, we'd work him into

red waste an' not know what we'd done; but-up there - with the steam

hummin' in his boiler that awful quiet way ... "

"I know," said .007.  "Makes me feel as if I'd dropped my Fire an'

was getting cold.  He is the greatest man on earth."

They were at the far north end of the yard now, under a switchtower,

looking down on the four-track way of the main traffic.  The Boston

Compound was to haul .007's string to some far-away northern

junction over an indifferent road-bed, and she mourned aloud for the

ninety-six pound rails of the B. & A.

"You're young; you're young," she coughed.  "You don't realise your


"Yes, he does," said Poney, sharply; "but he don't lie down under

'em."  Then, with aside-spurt of steam, exactly like a tough

spitting: "There ain't more than fifteen thousand dollars' worth o'

freight behind her anyway, and she goes on as if 't were a hundred

thousand - same as the Mogul's.  Excuse me, madam, but you've the

track ....  She's stuck on a dead-centre again - bein' specially

designed not to."

The Compound crawled across the tracks on a long slant, groaning

horribly at each switch, and moving like a cow in a snow-drift.

There was a little pause along the yard after her tail-lights had

disappeared; switches locked crisply, and every one seemed to be


"Now I'll show you something worth," said Poney.  "When the Purple

Emperor ain't on time, it's about time to amend the Constitution.

The first stroke of twelve is - "

"Boom!" went the clock in the big yard-tower, and far away .007 heard

a full, vibrating " Yah!  Yah!  Yah!"  A headlight twinkled on the

horizon like a star, grew an overpowering blaze, and whooped up the

humming track to the roaring music of a happy giant's song:

  "With a michnai - ghignai - shtingal!  Yah!  Yah!  Yah!

   Ein - zwei - drei - Mutter!  Yah!  Yah!  Yah!

        She climb upon der shteeple,

        Und she frighten all der people.

   Singin' michnai - ghignai - shtingal!  Yah!  Yah!"

The last defiant "yah! yah!" was delivered a mile and a half beyond

the passenger-depot; but .007 had caught one glimpse of the superb

six-wheel-coupled racing-locomotive, who hauled the pride and glory

of the road - the gilt-edged Purple Emperor, the millionaires'

south-bound express, laying the miles over his shoulder as a man

peels a shaving from a soft board.  The rest was a blur of maroon

enamel, a bar of white light from the electrics in the cars, and

a flicker of nickel-plated hand-rail on the rear platform.

"Ooh!" said .007.

"Seventy-five miles an hour these five miles.  Baths, I've heard;

barber's shop; ticker; and a library and the, rest to match.  Yes,

sir; seventy-five an hour!  But he'll talk to you in the round-house

just as democratic as I would.  And I - cuss my wheel-base! - I'd

kick clean off the track at half his gait.  He's the Master of our

Lodge.  Cleans up at our house.  I'll introdooce you some day.  He's

worth knowin'!  There ain't many can sing that song, either."

.007 was too full of emotions to answer.  He did not hear a raging

of telephone-bells in the switch-tower, nor the man, as he leaned

out and called to .007's engineer: "Got any steam?"

"'Nough to run her a hundred mile out o' this, if I could," said

the engineer, who belonged to the open road and hated switching.

"Then get.  The Flying Freight's ditched forty mile out, with fifty

rod o' track ploughed up.  No; no one's hurt, but both tracks are

blocked.  Lucky the wreckin'-car an' derrick are this end of the

yard.  Crew 'll be along in a minute.  Hurry! You've the track."

" Well, I could jest kick my little sawed-off self," said Poney, as

.007 was backed, with a bang, on to a grim and grimy car like a

caboose, but full of tools - a flatcar and a derrick behind it.

"Some folks are one thing, and some are another; but you're in luck,

kid.  They push a wrecking-car.  Now, don't get rattled.  Your

wheel-base will keep you on the track, and there ain't any curves

worth mentionin'.  Oh, say!  Comanche told me there's one section

o' sawedged track that's liable to jounce ye a little.  Fifteen an'

a half out, after the grade at Jackson's crossin'.  You'll know it

by a farmhouse an' a windmill an' five maples in the dooryard.

Windmill's west o' the maples.  An' there's an eighty-foot iron

bridge in the middle o' that section with no guard-rails.  See you

later.  Luck! "

Before he knew well what had happened, .007 was flying up the track

into the dumb, dark world.  Then fears of the night beset him.  He

 remembered all he had ever heard of landslides, rain-piled boulders,

blown trees, and strayed cattle, all that the Boston Compound had

ever said of responsibility, and a great deal more that came out of

his own head.  With a very quavering voice he whistled for his first

grade-crossing (an event in the life of a locomotive), and his

nerves were in no way restored by the sight of a frantic horse and

a white-faced man in a buggy less than a yard from his right

shoulder.  Then he was sure he would jump the track; felt his

flanges mounting the rail at every curve; knew that his first grade

would make him lie down even as Comanche had done at the Newtons.

He whirled down the grade to Jackson's crossing, saw the windmill

west of the maples, felt the badly laid rails spring under him, and

sweated big drops all over his boiler.  At each jarring bump he

believed an axle had smashed, and he took the eighty-foot bridge

without the guard-rail like a hunted cat on the top of a fence.

Then a wet leaf stuck against the glass of his headlight and threw

a flying shadow on the track, so that he thought it was some little

dancing animal that would feel soft if he ran over it; and anything

soft underfoot frightens a locomotive as it does an elephant.  But

the men behind seemed quite calm.  The wrecking-crew were climbing

carelessly from the caboose to the tender - even jesting with the

engineer, for he heard a shuffling of feet among the coal, and the

snatch of a song, something like this:

   "Oh, the Empire State must learn to wait,

    And the Cannon-ball go hang!

    When the West-bound's ditched, and the tool-car's hitched,

    And it's 'way for the Breakdown Gang (Tare-ra!)

    'Way for the Breakdown Gang!"

"Say!  Eustis knew what he was doin' when he designed this rig.

She's a hummer.  New, too."

"Snff!  Phew!  She is new.  That ain't paint.  that's - "

A burning pain shot through .007's right rear driver - a crippling,

stinging pain.

"This," said .007, as he flew, "is a hot-box.  Now I know what it

means.  I shall go to pieces, I guess.  My first road-run, too!"

"Het a bit, ain't she?" the fireman ventured to suggest to the


"She'll hold for all we want of her.  We're 'most there.  Guess you

chaps back had better climb into your car," said the engineer, his

hand on the brake lever.  "I've seen men snapped off -"

But the crew fled back with laughter.  They had no wish to be jerked

on to the track.  The engineer half turned his wrist, and .007 found

his drivers pinned firm.

"Now it's come!" said .007, as he yelled aloud, and slid like a

sleigh.  For the moment he fancied that he would jerk bodily from

off his underpinning.

"That must be the emergency-stop that Poney guyed me about," he

gasped, as soon as he could think.  "Hot-box-emergency-stop.  They

both hurt; but now I can talk back in the round-house."

He was halted, all hissing hot, a few feet in the rear of what

doctors would call a compound-comminuted car.  His engineer was

kneeling down among his drivers, but he did not call .007 his "Arab

steed," nor cry over him, as the engineers did in the newspapers.

He just bad worded .007, and pulled yards of charred cotton-waste

from about the axles, and hoped he might some day catch the idiot

who had packed it.  Nobody else attended to him, for Evans, the

Mogul's engineer, a little cut about the head, but very angry, was

exhibiting, by lantern-light, the mangled corpse of a slim blue pig.

"T were n't even a decent-sized hog," he said.  "'T were a shote."

"Dangerousest beasts they are," said one of the crew.  "Get under

the pilot an' sort o' twiddle ye off the track, don't they?  "

"Don't they?" roared Evans, who was a red-headed Welshman.  "You

talk as if I was ditched by a hog every fool-day o' the week.  I

ain't friends with all the cussed half-fed shotes in the State o'

New York.  No, indeed!  Yes, this is him - an' look what he's done!"

It was not a bad night's work for one stray piglet.  The Flying

Freight seemed to have flown in every direction, for the Mogul had

mounted the rails and run diagonally a few hundred feet from right

to left, taking with him such cars as cared to follow.  Some did

not.  They broke their couplers and lay down, while rear cars

frolicked over them.  In that game, they had ploughed up and removed

and twisted a good deal of the left-hand track.  The Mogul himself

had waddled into a corn-field, and there he knelt - fantastic wreaths

of green twisted round his crankpins; his pilot covered with solid

clods of field, on which corn nodded drunkenly; his fire put out

with dirt (Evans had done that as soon as he recovered his senses);

and his broken headlight half full of half-burnt moths.  His tender

had thrown coal all over him, and he looked like a disreputable

buffalo who had tried to wallow in a general store.  For there lay

scattered over the landscape, from the burst cars, type-writers,

sewing-machines, bicycles in crates, a consignment of silver-plated

imported harness, French dresses and gloves, a dozen finely moulded

hard-wood mantels, a fifteen-foot naphtha-launch, with a solid brass

bedstead crumpled around her bows, a case of telescopes and

microscopes, two coffins, a case of very best candies, some

gilt-edged dairy produce, butter and eggs in an omelette, a broken

box of expensive toys, and a few hundred other luxuries.  A camp of

tramps hurried up from nowhere, and generously volunteered to help

the crew.  So the brakemen, armed with coupler-pins, walked up and

down on one side, and the freight-conductor and the fireman patrolled

the other with their hands in their hip-pockets.  A long-bearded man

came out of a house beyond the corn-field, and told Evans that if

the accident had happened a little later in the year, all his corn

would have been burned, and accused Evans of carelessness.  Then he

ran away, for Evans was at his heels shrieking: "'T was his hog done

it - his hog done it!  Let me kill him!  Let me kill him!"  Then

the wrecking-crew laughed; and the farmer put his head out of a

window and said that Evans was no gentleman.

But .007 was very sober.  He had never seen a wreck before, and it

frightened him.  The crew still laughed, but they worked at the same

time; and .007 forgot horror in amazement at the way they handled

the Mogul freight.  They dug round him with spades; they put ties

in front of his wheels, and jack-screws under him; they embraced

him with the derrick-chain and tickled him with crowbars; while

.007 was hitched on to wrecked cars and backed away till the knot

broke or the cars rolled clear of the track.  By dawn thirty or

forty men were at work, replacing and ramming down the ties,

gauging the rails and spiking them.  By daylight all cars who could

move had gone on in charge of another loco; the track was freed for

traffic; and .007 had hauled the old Mogul over a small pavement of

ties, inch by inch, till his flanges bit the rail once more, and he

settled down with a clank.  But his spirit was broken, and his nerve

was gone.

"'T weren't even a hog," he repeated dolefully; "'t were a shote;

and you - you of all of 'em - had to help me on."

"But how in the whole long road did it happen?" asked .007, sizzling

with curiosity.

"Happen! It didn't happen!  It just come!  I sailed right on top of

him around that last curve - thought he was a skunk.  Yes; he was

all as little as that.  He hadn't more 'n squealed once 'fore I felt

my bogies lift (he'd rolled right under the pilot), and I couldn't

catch the track again to save me.  Swivelled clean off, I was.  Then

I felt him sling himself along, all greasy, under my left leadin'

driver, and, oh, Boilers! that mounted the rail.  I heard my flanges

zippin' along the ties, an' the next I knew I was playin' 'Sally,

Sally Waters' in the corn, my tender shuckin' coal through my cab,

an' old man Evans lyin' still an' bleedin' in front o' me.  Shook?

There ain't a stay or a bolt or a rivet in me that ain't sprung to

glory somewhere,"

"Umm!" said .007.  "What d' you reckon you weigh?"

"Without these lumps o' dirt I'm all of a hundred thousand pound."

"And the shote?"

"Eighty.  Call him a hundred pound at the outside.  He's worth about

four 'n' a half dollars.  Ain't it awful?  Ain't it enough to give

you nervous prostration?  Ain't it paralysin'?  Why, I come just

around that curve - " and the Mogul told the tale again, for he was

very badly shaken.

"Well, it's all in the day's run, I guess," said .007, soothingly;

"an' - an' a corn-field's pretty soft fallin'."

"If it had bin a sixty-foot bridge, an' I could ha' slid off into

deep water an' blown up an' killed both men, same as others have

done, I wouldn't ha' cared; but to be ditched by a shote - an' you

to help me out - in a corn-field - an' an old hayseed in his

nightgown cussin' me like as if I was a sick truck-horse! ... Oh,

it's awful!  Don't call me Mogul!  I'm a sewin'-machine.  they'll

guy my sand-box off in the yard."

And .007, his hot-box cooled and his experience vastly enlarged,

hauled the Mogul freight slowly to the roundhouse.

"Hello, old man!  Bin out all night, hain't ye?" said the

irrepressible Poney, who had just come off duty.  "Well, I must say

you look it.  Costly-perishable-fragile-immediate - that's you!  Go

to the shops, take them vine-leaves out o' your hair, an' git 'em

to play the hose on you."

"Leave him alone, Poney, " said .007 severely, as he was swung on

the turn-table, "or I'll - "

"'Didn't know the old granger was any special friend o' yours, kid.

He wasn't over-civil to you last time I saw him."

"I know it; but I've seen a wreck since then, and it has about scared

the paint off me.  I'm not going to guy anyone as long as I steam -

not when they're new to the business an' anxious to learn.  And I'm

not goin' to guy the old Mogul either, though I did find him wreathed

around with roastin'-ears.  'T was a little bit of a shote - not a

hog - just a shote, Poney - no bigger'n a lump of anthracite - I saw

it - that made all the mess.  Anybody can be ditched, I guess."

"Found that out already, have you?  Well, that's a good beginnin'."

It was the Purple Emperor, with his high, tight, plate-glass cab and

green velvet cushion, waiting to be cleaned for his next day's fly.

"Let me make you two gen'lemen acquainted," said Poney.  "This is

our Purple Emperor, kid, whom you were admirin' and, I may say,

envyin' last night.  This is a new brother, worshipful sir, with

most of his mileage ahead of him, but, so far as a serving-brother

can, I'll answer for him.'

"'Happy to meet you," said the Purple Emperor, with a glance round

the crowded round-house.  "I guess there are enough of us here to

form a full meetin'.  Ahem!  By virtue of the authority vested in

me as Head of the Road, I hereby declare and pronounce No. .007 a

full and accepted Brother of the Amalgamated Brotherhood of

Locomotives, and as such entitled to all shop, switch, track, tank,

and round-house privileges throughout my jurisdiction, in the Degree

of Superior Flier, it bein' well known and credibly reported to me

that our Brother has covered forty-one miles in thirty-nine minutes

and a half on an errand of mercy to the afflicted.  At a convenient

time, I myself will communicate to you the Song and Signal of this

Degree whereby you may be recognised in the darkest night.  Take

your stall, newly entered Brother among Locomotives! "

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Now, in the darkest night, even as the Purple Emperor said, if you

will stand on the bridge across the freightyard, looking down upon

the four-track way, at 2:30 A. M., neither before nor after, when

the White Moth, that takes the overflow from the Purple Emperor,

tears south with her seven vestibuled cream-white cars, you will

hear, as the yard-clock makes the half-hour, a far-away sound like

the bass of a violoncello, and then, a hundred feet to each word

    "With a michnai - ghignai - shtingal!  Yah!  Yah!  Yah!

     Ein - zwei - drei - Mutter!  Yah!  Yah!  Yah!

           She climb upon der shteeple,

           Und she frighten all der people,

     Singin' michnai - ghignai - shtingal!  Yah!  Yah!"

That is .007 covering his one hundred and fifty-six miles in two

hundred and twenty-one minutes.


They had good reason to be proud, and better reason to be afraid,

all twelve of them; for though they had fought their way, game by

game, up the teams entered for the polo tournament, they were

meeting theArchangels that afternoon in the final match; and the

Archangels men were playing with half a dozen ponies apiece.  As

the game was divided into six quarters of eight minutes each, that

meant a fresh pony after every halt.  The Skidars' team, even

supposing there were no accidents, could only supply one pony for

every other change; and two to one is heavy odds.  Again, as Shiraz,

the grey Syrian, pointed out, they were meeting the pink and pick

of the polo-ponies of Upper India, ponies that had cost from a

thousand rupees each, while they themselves were a cheap lot

gathered, often from country-carts, by their masters, who belonged

to a poor but honest native infantry regiment.

"Money means pace and weight," said Shiraz, rubbing his black-silk

nose dolefully along his neat-fitting boot, "and by the maxims of

the game as I know it - "

"Ah, but we aren't playing the maxims," said The Maltese Cat.  "We're

playing the game; and we've the great advantage of knowing the game.

Just think a stride, Shiraz!  We've pulled up from bottom to second

place in two weeks against all those fellows on the ground here.

That's because we play with our heads as well as our feet."

"It makes me feel undersized and unhappy all the same," said Kittiwynk,

a mouse-coloured mare with a red brow-band and the cleanest pair of

legs that ever an aged pony owned.  "They've twice our style, these


Kittiwynk looked at the gathering and sighed.  The hard, dusty

polo-ground was lined with thousands of soldiers, black and white,

not counting hundreds and hundreds of carriages and drags and

dogcarts, and ladies with brilliant-coloured parasols, and officers

in uniform and out of it, and crowds of natives behind them; and

orderlies on camels, who had halted to watch the game, instead of

carrying letters up and down the station; and native horse-dealers

running about on thin-eared Biluchi mares, looking for a chance to

sell a few first-class polo-ponies.  Then there were the ponies of

thirty teams that had entered for the Upper India Free-for-All Cup

 - nearly every pony of worth and dignity, from Mhow to Peshawar,

from Allahabad to Multan; prize ponies, Arabs, Syrian, Barb,

country-bred, Deccanee, Waziri, and Kabul ponies of every colour

and shape and temper that you could imagine.  Some of them were in

mat-roofed stables, close to the polo-ground, but most were under

saddle, while their masters, who had been defeated in the earlier

games, trotted in and out and told the world exactly how the game

should be played.

It was a glorious sight, and the come and go of the little, quick

hooves, and the incessant salutations of ponies that had met before

on other polo-grounds or race-courses were enough to drive a

four-footed thing wild.

But the Skidars' team were careful not to know their neighbours,

though half the ponies on the ground were anxious to scrape

acquaintance with the little fellows that had come from the North,

and, so far, had swept the board.

"Let's see," said a soft gold-coloured Arab, who had been playing

very badly the day before, to The Maltese Cat; "didn't we meet in

Abdul Rahman's stable in Bombay, four seasons ago?  I won the

Paikpattan Cup next season, you may remember?"

"Not me," said The Maltese Cat, politely.  "I was at Malta then,

pulling a vegetable-cart.  I don't race.  I play the game."

"Oh! " said the Arab, cocking his tail and swaggering off.

"Keep yourselves to yourselves," said The Maltese Cat to his

companions.  "We don't want to rub noses with all those goose-rumped

half-breeds of Upper India.  When we've won this Cup they'll give

their shoes to know us."

"We sha'n't win the Cup," said Shiraz.  "How do you feel?"

"Stale as last night's feed when a muskrat has run over it," said

Polaris, a rather heavy-shouldered grey; and the rest of the team

agreed with him.

"The sooner you forget that the better," said The Maltese Cat,

cheerfully.  "They've finished tiffin in the big tent.  We shall be

wanted now.  If your saddles are not comfy, kick.  If your bits

aren't easy, rear, and let the saises know whether your boots are


Each pony had his sais, his groom, who lived and ate and slept with

the animal, and had betted a good deal more than he could afford on

the result of the game.  There was no chance of anything going wrong,

but to make sure, each sais was shampooing the legs of his pony to

the last minute.  Behind the saises sat as many of the Skidars'

regiment as had leave to attend the match - about half the native

officers, and a hundred or two dark, black-bearded men with the

regimental pipers nervously fingering the big, beribboned bagpipes.

The Skidars were what they call a Pioneer regiment, and the bagpipes

made the national music of half their men.  The native officers held

bundles of polo-sticks, long cane-handled mallets, and as the grand

stand filled after lunch they arranged themselves by ones and twos

at different points round the ground, so that if a stick were broken

the player would not have far to ride for a new one.  An impatient

British Cavalry Band struck up "If you want to know the time, ask a

p'leeceman!" and the two umpires in light dust-coats danced out on

two little excited ponies.  The four players of the Archangels' team

followed, and the sight of their beautiful mounts made Shiraz groan


"Wait till we know," said The Maltese Cat.  "Two of 'em are playing

in blinkers, and that means they can't see to get out of the way

of their own side, or they may shy at the umpires' ponies.  They've

all got white web-reins that are sure to stretch or slip!"

"And," said Kittiwynk, dancing to take the stiffness out of her,

"they carry their whips in their hands instead of on their wrists.


"True enough.  No man can manage his stick and his reins and his

whip that way," said The Maltese Cat.  "I've fallen over every

square yard of the Malta ground, and I ought to know."

He quivered his little, flea-bitten withers just to show how

satisfied he felt; but his heart was not so light.  Ever since he

had drifted into India on a troop-ship, taken, with an old rifle,

as part payment for a racing debt, The Maltese Cat had played and

preached polo to the Skidars' team on the Skidars' stony pologround.

Now a polo-pony is like a poet.  If he is born with a love for the

game, he can be made.  The Maltese Cat knew that bamboos grew

solely in order that poloballs might be turned from their roots,

that grain was given to ponies to keep them in hard condition, and

that ponies were shod to prevent them slipping on a turn.  But,

besides all these things, he knew every trick and device of the

finest game in the world, and for two seasons had been teaching

the others all he knew or guessed.

"Remember," he said for the hundredth time, as the riders came up,

"you must play together, and you must play with your heads.  Whatever

happens, follow the ball.  Who goes out first?"

Kittiwynk, Shiraz, Polaris, and a short high little bay fellow with

tremendous hocks and no withers worth speaking of (he was called

Corks) were being girthed up, and the soldiers in the background

stared with all their eyes.

"I want you men to keep quiet," said Lutyens, the captain of the

team, "and especially not to blow your pipes."

"Not if we win, Captain Sahib?" asked the piper.

"If we win you can do what you please," said Lutyens, with a smile,

as he slipped the loop of his stick over his wrist, and wheeled to

canter to his place.  The Archangels' ponies were a little bit above

themselves on account of the many-coloured crowd so close to the

ground.  Their riders were excellent players, but they were a team

of crack players instead of a crack team; and that made all the

difference in the world.  They honestly meant to play together, but

it is very hard for four men, each the best of the team he is picked

from, to remember that in polo no brilliancy in hitting or riding

makes up for playing alone.  Their captain shouted his orders to

them by name, and it is a curious thing that if you call his name

aloud in public after an Englishman you make him hot and fretty.

Lutyens said nothing to his men, because it had all been said before.

He pulled up Shiraz, for he was playing "back," to guard the goal.

Powell on Polaris was half-back, and Macnamara and Hughes on Corks

and Kittiwynk were forwards.  The tough, bamboo ball was set in the

middle of the ground, one hundred and fifty yards from the ends,

and Hughes crossed sticks, heads up, with the Captain of the

Archangels, who saw fit to play forward; that is a place from which

you cannot easily control your team.  The little click as the

cane-shafts met was heard all over the ground, and then Hughes made

some sort of quick wrist-stroke that just dribbled the ball a

few yards.  Kittiwynk knew that stroke of old, and followed as a

cat follows a mouse.  While the Captain of the Archangels was

wrenching his pony round, Hughes struck with all his strength, and

next instant Kittiwynk was away, Corks following close behind her,

their little feet pattering like raindrops on glass.

" Pull out to the left," said Kittiwynk between her teeth; "it's

coming your way, Corks!"

The back and half-back of the Archangels were tearing down on her

just as she was within reach of the ball.  Hughes leaned forward

with a loose rein, and cut it away to the left almost under

Kittiwynk's foot, and it hopped and skipped off to Corks, who saw

that, if he was not quick it would run beyond the boundaries.  That

long bouncing drive gave the Archangels time to wheel and send

three men across the ground to head off Corks.  Kittiwynk stayed

where she was; for she knew the game.  Corks was on the ball half

a fraction of a second before the others came up, and Macnamara,

with a backhanded stroke, sent it back across the ground to Hughes,

who saw the way clear to the Archangels' goal, and smacked the

ball in before any one quite knew what had happened.

"That's luck," said Corks, as they changed ends.  "A goal in three

minutes for three hits, and no riding to speak of."

"'Don't know," said Polaris.  "We've made 'em angry too soon.

Shouldn't wonder if they tried to rush us off our feet next time."

"Keep the ball hanging, then," said Shiraz.  "That wears out every

pony that is not used to it."

Next time there was no easy galloping across the ground.  All the

Archangels closed up as one man, but there they stayed, for Corks,

Kittiwynk, and Polaris were somewhere on the top of the ball,

marking time among the rattling sticks, while Shiraz circled about

outside, waiting for a chance.

"We can do this all day," said Polaris, ramming his quarters into

the side of another pony.  "Where do you think you're shoving to?"

"I'll - I'll be driven in an ekka if I know," was the gasping reply,

"and I'd give a week's feed to get my blinkers off.  I can't see


"The dust is rather bad.  Whew!  That was one for my off-hock.

Where's the ball, Corks?"

"Under my tail.  At least, the man's looking for it there!  This is

beautiful.  They can't use their sticks, and it's driving 'em wild.

Give old Blinkers a push and then he'll go over."

"Here, don't touch me!  I can't see.  I'll - I'll back out, I think,"

said the pony in blinkers, who knew that if you can't see all round

your head, you cannot prop yourself against the shock.

Corks was watching the ball where it lay in the dust, close to his

near fore-leg, with Macnamara's shortened stick tap-tapping it from

time to time.  Kittiwynk was edging her way out of the scrimmage,

whisking her stump of a tail with nervous excitement.

"Ho!  They've got it," she snorted.  "Let me out!" and she galloped

like a rifle-bullet just behind a tall lanky pony of the Archangels,

whose rider was swinging up his stick for a stroke.

"Not to-day, thank you," said Hughes, as the blow slid off his

raised stick, and Kittiwynk laid her shoulder to the tall pony's

quarters, and shoved him aside just as Lutyens on Shiraz sent the

ball where it had come from, and the tall pony went skating and

slipping away to the left.  Kittiwynk, seeing that Polaris had

joined Corks in the chase for the ball up the ground, dropped into

Polaris' place, and then "time" was called.

The Skidars' ponies wasted no time in kicking or fuming.  They knew

that each minute's rest meant so much gain, and trotted off to the

rails, and their saises began to scrape and blanket and rub them at


"Whew!" said Corks, stiffening up to get all the tickle of the big

vulcanite scraper.  "If we were playing pony for pony, we would bend

those Archangels double in half an hour.  But they'll bring up fresh

ones and fresh ones and fresh ones after that - you see."

"Who cares?" said Polaris.  "We've drawn first blood.  Is my hock


"Looks puffy," said Corks.  "You must have had rather a wipe.  Don't

let it stiffen.  You 'll be wanted again in half an hour."

What's the game like?" said The Maltese Cat.

"'Ground's like your shoe, except where they put too much water on

it," said Kittiwynk.  "Then it's slippery.  Don't play in the centre.

There's a bog there.  I don't know how their next four are going to

behave, but we kept the ball hanging, and made 'em lather for

nothing.  Who goes out?  Two Arabs and a couple of country-breds!

That's bad.  What a comfort it is to wash your mouth out!"

Kitty was talking with a neck of a lather-covered soda-water bottle

between her teeth, and trying to look over her withers at the same

time.  This gave her a very coquettish air.

"What's bad?" said Grey Dawn, giving to the girth and admiring his

well-set shoulders.

"You Arabs can't gallop fast enough to keep yourselves warm - that's

what Kitty means," said Polaris, limping to show that his hock

needed attention.  "Are you playing back, Grey Dawn?"

"'Looks like it," said Grey Dawn, as Lutyens swung himself up.

Powell mounted The Rabbit, a plain bay country-bred much like Corks,

but with mulish ears.  Macnamara took Faiz-Ullah, a handy,

short-backed little red Arab with a long tail, and Hughes mounted

Benami, an old and sullen brown beast, who stood over in front more

than a polo-pony should.

"Benami looks like business," said Shiraz.  "How's your temper, Ben?"

The old campaigner hobbled off without answering, and The Maltese

Cat looked at the new Archangel ponies prancing about on the ground.

They were four beautiful blacks, and they saddled big enough and

strong enough to eat the Skidars' team and gallop away with the meal

inside them.

"Blinkers again," said The Maltese Cat.  "Good enough!"

"They're chargers-cavalry chargers!" said Kittiwynk, indignantly.

"They'll never see thirteen-three again."

"They've all been fairly measured, and they've all got their

certificates," said The Maltese Cat, " or they wouldn't be here.

We must take things as they come along, and keep your eyes on the


The game began, but this time the Skidars were penned to their own

end of the ground, and the watching ponies did not approve of that.

"Faiz-Ullah is shirking - as usual," said Polaris, with a scornful


"Faiz-Ullah is eating whip," said Corks.  They could hear the

leather-thonged polo-quirt lacing the little fellow's well-rounded

barrel.  Then The Rabbit's shrill neigh came across the ground.

"I can't do all the work," he cried, desperately.

"Play the game - don't talk," The Maltese Cat whickered; and all

the ponies wriggled with excitement, and the soldiers and the grooms

gripped the railings and shouted.  A black pony with blinkers had

singled out old Benami, and was interfering with him in every

possible way.  They could see Benami shaking his head up and down,

and flapping his under lip.

"There'll be a fall in a minute, " said Polaris.  "Benami is getting


The game flickered up and down between goal-post and goal-post, and

the black ponies were getting more confident as they felt they had

the legs of the others.  The ball was hit out of a little scrimmage,

and Benami and The Rabbit followed it, Faiz-Ullah only too glad to

be quiet for an instant.

The blinkered black pony came up like a hawk, with two of his own

side behind him, and Benami's eye glittered as he raced.  The

question was which pony should make way for the other, for each

rider was perfectly willing to risk a fall in a good cause.  The

black, who had been driven nearly crazy by his blinkers, trusted

to his weight and his temper; but Benami knew how to apply his

weight and how to keep his temper.  They met, and there was a cloud

of dust.  The black was lying on his side, all the breath knocked

out of his body.  The Rabbit was a hundred yards up the ground with

the ball, and Benami was sitting down.  He had slid nearly ten yards

on his tail, but he had had his revenge, and sat cracking his

nostrils till the black pony rose.

"That's what you get for interfering.  Do you want any more?" said

Benami, and he plunged into the game.  Nothing was done that quarter,

because Faiz-Ullah would not gallop, though Macnamara beat him

whenever he could spare a second.  The fall of the black pony had

impressed his companions tremendously, and so the Archangels could

not profit by Faiz-Ullah's bad behaviour.

But as The Maltese Cat said when "time" was called, and the four

came back blowing and dripping, Faiz-Ullah ought to have been kicked

all round Umballa.  If he did not behave better next time The

Maltese Cat promised to pull out his Arab tail by the roots and

 - eat it.

There was no time to talk, for the third four were ordered out.

The third quarter of a game is generally the hottest, for each side

thinks that the others must be pumped; and most of the winning play

in a game is made about that time.

Lutyens took over The Maltese Cat with a pat and a hug, for Lutyens

valued him more than anything else in the world; Powell had Shikast,

a little grey rat with no pedigree and no manners outside polo;

Macnamara mounted Bamboo, the largest of the team; and Hughes

Who's Who, alias The Animal.  He was supposed to have Australian

blood in his veins, but he looked like a clothes-horse, and you

could whack his legs with an iron crow-bar without hurting him.

They went out to meet the very flower of the Archangels' team; and

when Who's Who saw their elegantly booted legs and their beautiful

satin skins, he grinned a grin through his light, well-worn bridle.

"My word!" said Who's Who.  "We must give 'em a little football.

These gentlemen need a rubbing down."

"No biting," said The Maltese Cat, warningly; for once or twice in

his career Who's Who had been known to forget himself in that way.

"Who said anything about biting?  I'm not playing tiddly-winks.

I'm playing the game."

The Archangels came down like a wolf on the fold, for they were

tired of football, and they wanted polo.  They got it more and more.

Just after the game began, Lutyens hit a ball that was coming towards

him rapidly, and it rolled in the air, as a ball sometimes will, with

the whirl of a frightened partridge.  Shikast heard, but could not

see it for the minute, though he looked everywhere and up into the

air as The Maltese Cat had taught him.  When he saw it ahead and

overhead he went forward with Powell as fast as he could put foot to

ground.  It was then that Powell, a quiet and level-headed man, as

a rule, became inspired, and played a stroke that sometimes comes

off successfully after long practice.  He took his stick in both

hands, and, standing up in his stirrups, swiped at the ball in the

air, Munipore fashion.  There was one second of paralysed

astonishment, and then all four sides of the ground went up in a

yell of applause and delight as the ball flew true (you could see

the amazed Archangels ducking in their saddles to dodge the line of

flight, and looking at it with open mouths), and the regimental pipes

of the Skidars squealed from the railings as long as the pipers had

breath.  Shikast heard the stroke; but he heard the head of the

stick fly off at the same time.  Nine hundred and ninety-nine ponies

out of a thousand would have gone tearing on after the ball with a

useless player pulling at their heads; but Powell knew him, and he

knew Powell; and the instant he felt Powell's right leg shift a

trifle on the saddle-flap, he headed to the boundary, where a

native officer was frantically waving a new stick.  Before the

shouts had ended, Powell was armed again.

Once before in his life The Maltese Cat had heard that very same

stroke played off his own back, and had profited by the confusion

it wrought.  This time he acted on experience, and leaving Bamboo

to guard the goal in case of accidents, came through the others like

a flash, head and tail low - Lutyens standing up to ease him - swept

on and on before the other side knew what was the matter, and nearly

pitched on his head between the Archangels' goal-post as Lutyens

kicked the ball in after a straight scurry of a hundred and fifty

yards.  If there was one thing more than another upon which The

Maltese Cat prided himself, it was on this quick, streaking kind of

run half across the ground.  He did not believe in taking balls

round the field unless you were clearly overmatched.  After this

they gave the Archangels five-minuted football; and an expensive

fast pony hates football because it rumples his temper.  Who's Who

showed himself even better than Polaris in this game.  He did not

permit any wriggling away, but bored joyfully into the scrimmage as

if he had his nose in a feed-box and was looking for something nice.

Little Shikast jumped on the ball the minute it got clear, and

every time an Archangel pony followed it, he found Shikast standing

over it, asking what was the matter.

"If we can live through this quarter," said The Maltese Cat, "I

sha'n't care.  Don't take it out of yourselves.  Let them do the


So the ponies, as their riders explained afterwards, "shut-up."

The Archangels kept them tied fast in front of their goal, but it

cost the Archangels' ponies all that was left of their tempers; and

ponies began to kick, and men began to repeat compliments, and they

chopped at the legs of Who's Who, and he set his teeth and stayed

where he was, and the dust stood up like a tree over the scrimmage

until that hot quarter ended.

They found the ponies very excited and confident when they went to

their saises; and The Maltese Cat had to warn them that the worst

of the game was coming.

"Now we are all going in for the second time," said he, "and they

are trotting out fresh ponies.  You think you can gallop, but you'll

find you can't; and then you'll be sorry."

"But two goals to nothing is a halter-long lead," said Kittiwynk,


"How long does it take to get a goal?" The Maltese Cat answered.

"For pity's sake, don't run away with a notion that the game is

half-won just because we happen to be in luck now!  They'll ride

you into the grand stand, if they can; you must not give 'em a

chance.  Follow the ball."

"Football, as usual?" said Polaris.  "My hock's half as big as a


"Don't let them have a look at the ball, if you can help it.  Now

leave me alone.  I must get all the rest I can before the last


He hung down his head and let all his muscles go slack, Shikast,

Bamboo, and Who's Who copying his example.

"Better not watch the game," he said.  "We aren't playing, and we

shall only take it out of ourselves if we grow anxious.  Look at

the ground and pretend it's fly-time."

They did their best, but it was hard advice to follow.  The hooves

were drumming and the sticks were rattling all up and down the

ground, and yells of applause from the English troops told that

the Archangels were pressing the Skidars hard.  The native soldiers

behind the ponies groaned and grunted, and said things in undertones,

and presently they heard a long-drawn shout and a clatter of hurrahs!

"One to the Archangels," said Shikast, without raising his head.

"Time's nearly up.  Oh, my sire and dam!"

"Faiz-Ullah," said The Maltese Cat, "if you don't play to the last

nail in your shoes this time, I'll kick you on the ground before all

the other ponies."

"I'll do my best when my time comes," said the little Arab, sturdily.

The saises looked at each other gravely as they rubbed their ponies'

legs.  This was the time when long purses began to tell, and

everybody knew it.  Kittiwynk and the others came back, the sweat

dripping over their hooves and their tails telling sad stories.

"They're better than we are," said Shiraz.  "I knew how it would be."

"Shut your big head," said The Maltese Cat; "we've one goal to the

good yet."

"Yes; but it's two Arabs and two country-breds to play now," said

Corks.  "Faiz-Ullah, remember!"  He spoke in a biting voice.

As Lutyens mounted Grey Dawn he looked at his men, and they did not

look pretty.  They were covered with dust and sweat in streaks.

Their yellow boots were almost black, their wrists were red and

lumpy, and their eyes seemed two inches deep in their heads; but

the expression in the eyes was satisfactory.

"Did you take anything at tiffin?" said Lutyens; and the team shook

their heads.  They were too dry to talk.

"All right.  The Archangels did.  They are worse pumped than we are."

"They've got the better ponies," said Powell.  "I sha'n't be sorry

when this business is over."

That fifth quarter was a painful one in every way.  Faiz-Ullah

played like a little red demon, and The Rabbit seemed to be

everywhere at once, and Benami rode straight at anything and

everything that came in his way; while the umpires on their ponies

wheeled like gulls outside the shifting game.  But the Archangels

had the better mounts, - they had kept their racers till late in

the game, - and never allowed the Skidars to play football.  They

hit the ball up and down the width of the ground till Benami and

the rest were outpaced.  Then they went forward, and time and again

Lutyens and Grey Dawn were just, and only just, able to send the

ball away with a long, spitting backhander.  Grey Dawn forgot that

he was an Arab; and turned from grey to blue as he galloped.  Indeed,

he forgot too well, for he did not keep his eyes on the ground as

an Arab should, but stuck out his nose and scuttled for the dear

honour of the game.  They had watered the ground once or twice

between the quarters, and a careless waterman had emptied the last

of his skinful all in one place near the Skidars' goal.  It was

close to the end of the play, and for the tenth time Grey Dawn was

bolting after the ball, when his near hind-foot slipped on the

greasy mud, and he rolled over and over, pitching Lutyens just clear

of the goal-post; and the triumphant Archangels made their goal.

Then "time" was called-two goals all; but Lutyens had to be helped

up, and Grey Dawn rose with his near hind-leg strained somewhere.

"What's the damage?" said Powell, his arm around Lutyens.

"Collar-bone, of course," said Lutyens, between his teeth.  It was

the third time he had broken it in two years, and it hurt him.

Powell and the others whistled.

"Game's up," said Hughes.

"Hold on.  We've five good minutes yet, and it isn't my right hand.

We 'll stick it out."

"I say," said the Captain of the Archangels, trotting up, "are you

hurt, Lutyens?  We'll wait if you care to put in a substitute.  I

wish - I mean - the fact is, you fellows deserve this game if any

team does.  'Wish we could give you a man, or some of our ponies -

or something."

"You 're awfully good, but we'll play it to a finish, I think."

The Captain of the Archangels stared for a little.  "That's not half

bad," he said, and went back to his own side, while Lutyens borrowed

a scarf from one of his native officers and made a sling of it.  Then

an Archangel galloped up with a big bath-sponge, and advised Lutyens

to put it under his armpit to ease his shoulder, and between them

they tied up his left arm scientifically; and one of the native

officers leaped forward with four long glasses that fizzed and bubbled.

The team looked at Lutyens piteously, and he nodded.  It was the

last quarter, and nothing would matter after that.  They drank out the

dark golden drink, and wiped their moustaches, and things looked more


The Maltese Cat had put his nose into the front of Lutyens' shirt

and was trying to say how sorry he was.

"He knows," said Lutyens, proudly.  "The beggar knows.  I've played

him without a bridle before now - for fun."

"It's no fun now," said Powell.  "But we haven't a decent substitute."

"No," said Lutyens.  "It's the last quarter, and we've got to make

our goal and win.  I'll trust The Cat."

"If you fall this time, you'll suffer a little," said Macnamara.

"I'll trust The Cat," said Lutyens.

"You hear that?" said The Maltese Cat, proudly, to the others.

"It's worth while playing polo for ten years to have that said of

you.  Now then, my sons, come along.  We'll kick up a little bit,

just to show the Archangels this team haven't suffered."

And, sure enough, as they went on to the ground, The Maltese Cat,

after satisfying himself that Lutyens was home in the saddle,

kicked out three or four times, and Lutyens laughed.  The reins

were caught up anyhow in the tips of his strapped left hand, and

he never pretended to rely on them.  He knew The Cat would answer

to the least pressure of the leg, and by way of showing off - for

his shoulder hurt him very much - he bent the little fellow in a

close figure-of-eight in and out between the goal-posts.  There

was a roar from the native officers and men, who dearly loved a

piece of dugabashi (horse-trick work), as they called it, and the

pipes very quietly and scornfully droned out the first bars of a

common bazaar tune called "Freshly Fresh and Newly New," just as

a warning to the other regiments that the Skidars were fit.  All

the natives laughed.

"And now," said The Maltese Cat, as they took their place, "remember

that this is the last quarter, and follow the ball!"

"Don't need to be told," said Who's Who.

"Let me go on.  All those people on all four sides will begin to

crowd in - just as they did at Malta.  You'll hear people calling

out, and moving forward and being pushed back; and that is going to

make the Archangel ponies very unhappy.  But if a ball is struck

to the boundary, you go after it, and let the people get out of

your way.  I went over the pole of a four-in-hand once, and picked

a game out of the dust by it.  Back me up when I run, and follow

the ball."

There was a sort of an all-round sound of sympathy and wonder as

the last quarter opened, and then there began exactly what The

Maltese Cat had foreseen.  People crowded in close to the boundaries,

and the Archangels' ponies kept looking sideways at the narrowing

space.  If you know how a man feels to be cramped at tennis - not

because he wants to run out of the court, but because he likes to

know that he can at a pinch - you will guess how ponies must feel

when they are playing in a box of human beings.

"I'll bend some of those men if I can get away," said Who's Who, as

he rocketed behind the ball; and Bamboo nodded without speaking.

They were playing the last ounce in them, and The Maltese Cat had

left the goal undefended to join them.  Lutyens gave him every order

that he could to bring him back, but this was the first time in his

career that the little wise grey had ever played polo on his own

responsibility, and he was going to make the most of it.

"What are you doing here?" said Hughes, as The Cat crossed in front

of him and rode off an Archangel.

"The Cat's in charge - mind the goal!" shouted Lutyens, and bowing

forward hit the ball full, and followed on, forcing the Archangels

towards their own goal.

"No football," said The Maltese Cat.  "Keep the ball by the

boundaries and cramp 'em.  Play open order, and drive 'em to the


Across and across the ground in big diagonals flew the ball, and

whenever it came to a flying rush and a stroke close to the

boundaries the Archangel ponies moved stiffly.  They did not

care to go headlong at a wall of men and carriages, though if

the ground had been open they could have turned on a sixpence.

"Wriggle her up the sides," said The Cat.  "Keep her close to the

crowd.  They hate the carriages.  Shikast, keep her up this side."

Shikast and Powell lay left and right behind the uneasy scuffle of

an open scrimmage, and every time the ball was hit away Shikast

galloped on it at such an angle that Powell was forced to hit it

towards the boundary; and when the crowd had been driven away from

that side, Lutyens would send the ball over to the other, and

Shikast would slide desperately after it till his friends came

down to help.  It was billiards, and no football, this time -

billiards in a corner pocket; and the cues were not well chalked.

"If they get us out in the middle of the ground they'll walk away

from us.  Dribble her along the sides," cried The Maltese Cat.

So they dribbled all along the boundary, where a pony could not come

on their right-hand side; and the Archangels were furious, and the

umpires had to neglect the game to shout at the people to get back,

and several blundering mounted policemen tried to restore order,

all close to the scrimmage, and the nerves of the Archangels'

ponies stretched and broke like cob-webs.

Five or six times an Archangel hit the ball up into the middle of

the ground, and each time the watchful Shikast gave Powell his

chance to send it back, and after each return, when the dust had

settled, men could see that the Skidars had gained a few yards.

Every now and again there were shouts of "Side!  Off side!" from

the spectators; but the teams were too busy to care, and the

umpires had all they could do to keep their maddened ponies clear

of the scuffle.

At last Lutyens missed a short easy stroke, and the Skidars had to

fly back helter-skelter to protect their own goal, Shikast leading.

Powell stopped the ball with a backhander when it was not fifty

yards from the goalposts, and Shikast spun round with a wrench that

nearly hoisted Powell out of his saddle.

"Now's our last chance," said The Cat, wheeling like a cockchafer

on a pin.  "We've got to ride it out.  Come along."

Lutyens felt the little chap take a deep breath, and, as it were,

crouch under his rider.  The ball was hopping towards the right-hand

boundary, an Archangel riding for it with both spurs and a whip;

but neither spur nor whip would make his pony stretch himself as

he neared the crowd.  The Maltese Cat glided under his very nose,

picking up his hind legs sharp, for there was not a foot to spare

between his quarters and the other pony's bit.  It was as neat an

exhibition as fancy figure-skating.  Lutyens hit with all the

strength he had left, but the stick slipped a little in his hand,

and the ball flew off to the left instead of keeping close to the

boundary.  Who's Who was far across the ground, thinking hard as

he galloped.  He repeated stride for stride The Cat's manoeuvres

with another Archangel pony, nipping the ball away from under his

bridle, and clearing his opponent by half a fraction of an inch,

for Who's Who was clumsy behind.  Then he drove away towards the

right as The Maltese Cat came up from the left; and Bamboo held a

middle course exactly between them.  The three were making a sort

of Government-broad-arrow-shaped attack; and there was only the

Archangels' back to guard the goal; but immediately behind them

were three Archangels racing all they knew, and mixed up with

them was Powell sending Shikast along on what he felt was their

last hope.  It takes a very good man to stand up to the rush of

seven crazy ponies in the last quarters of a Cup game, when men

are riding with their necks for sale, and the ponies are delirious.

The Archangels' back missed his stroke and pulled aside just in

time to let the rush go by.  Bamboo and Who's Who shortened

stride to give The Cat room, and Lutyens got the goal with a clean,

smooth, smacking stroke that was heard all over the field.  But

there was no stopping the ponies.  They poured through the goalposts

in one mixed mob, winners and losers together, for the pace had been

terrific.  The Maltese Cat knew by experience what would happen,

and, to save Lutyens, turned to the right with one last effort, that

strained a back-sinew beyond hope of repair.  As he did so he heard

the right-hand goalpost crack as a pony cannoned into it - crack,

splinter and fall like a mast.  It had been sawed three parts

through in case of accidents, but it upset the pony nevertheless,

and he blundered into another, who blundered into the left-hand

post, and then there was confusion and dust and wood.  Bamboo was

lying on the ground, seeing stars; an Archangel pony rolled beside

him, breathless and angry; Shikast had sat down dog-fashion to

avoid falling over the others, and was sliding along on his little

bobtail in a cloud of dust; and Powell was sitting on the ground,

hammering with his stick and trying to cheer.  All the others were

shouting at the top of what was left of their voices, and the men

who had been spilt were shouting too.  As soon as the people saw

no one was hurt, ten thousand native and English shouted and clapped

and yelled, and before any one could stop them the pipers of the

Skidars broke on to the ground, with all the native officers and

men behind them, and marched up and down, playing a wild Northern

tune called "Zakhme Began," and through the insolent blaring of

the pipes and the high-pitched native yells you could hear the

Archangels' band hammering, "For they are all jolly good fellows,"

and then reproachfully to the losing team, "Ooh, Kafoozalum!

Kafoozalum!  Kafoozalum!"

Besides all these things and many more, there was a

Commander-in-chief, and an Inspector-General of Cavalry, and the

principal veterinary officer of all India standing on the top of a

regimental coach, yelling like school-boys; and brigadiers and

colonels and commissioners, and hundreds of pretty ladies joined

the chorus.  But The Maltese Cat stood with his head down,

wondering how many legs were left to him; and Lutyens watched the

men and ponies pick themselves out of the wreck of the two

goal-posts, and he patted The Maltese Cat very tenderly.

" I say," said the Captain of the Archangels, spitting a pebble out

of his mouth, "will you take three thousand for that pony - as he


"No thank you.  I've an idea he's saved my life," said Lutyens,

getting off and lying down at full length.  Both teams were on the

ground too, waving their boots in the air, and coughing and drawing

deep breaths, as the saises ran up to take away the ponies, and an

officious water-carrier sprinkled the players with dirty water till

they sat up.

"My aunt!" said Powell, rubbing his back, and looking at the stumps

of the goal-posts, "That was a game!"

They played it over again, every stroke of it, that night at the

big dinner, when the Free-for-All Cup was filled and passed down

the table, and emptied and filled again, and everybody made most

eloquent speeches.  About two in the morning, when there might have

been some singing, a wise little, plain little, grey little head

looked in through the open door.

"Hurrah!  Bring him in," said the Archangels; and his sais, who was

very happy indeed, patted The Maltese Cat on the flank, and he limped

in to the blaze of light and the glittering uniforms, looking for

Lutyens.  He was used to messes, and men's bedrooms, and places

where ponies are not usually encouraged, and in his youth had jumped

on and off a mess-table for a bet.  So he behaved himself very

politely, and ate bread dipped in salt, and was petted all round the

table, moving gingerly; and they drank his health, because he had

done more to win the Cup than any man or horse on the ground.

That was glory and honour enough for the rest of his days, and The

Maltese Cat did not complain much when the veterinary surgeon said

that he would be no good for polo any more.  When Lutyens married,

his wife did not allow him to play, so he was forced to be an

umpire; and his pony on these occasions was a flea-bitten grey with

a neat polo-tail, lame all round, but desperately quick on his feet,

and, as everybody knew, Past Pluperfect Prestissimo Player of the



If you remember my improper friend Brugglesmith, you will also bear

in mind his friend McPhee, Chief Engineer of the Breslau, whose

dingey Brugglesmith tried to steal.  His apologies for the

performances of Brugglesmith may one day be told in their proper

place: the tale before us concerns McPhee.  He was never a racing

engineer, and took special pride in saying as much before the

Liverpool men; but he had a thirty-two years' knowledge of machinery

and the humours of ships.  One side of his face had been wrecked

through the bursting of a pressure-gauge in the days when men knew

less than they do now, and his nose rose grandly out of the wreck,

like a club in a public riot.  There were cuts and lumps on his

head, and he would guide your forefinger through his short

iron-grey hair and tell you how he had come by his trade-marks.  He

owned all sorts of certificates of extra-competency, and at the

bottom of his cabin chest of drawers, where he kept the photograph

of his wife, were two or three Royal Humane Society medals for

saving lives at sea.  Professionally - it was different when crazy

steerage-passengers jumped overboard - professionally, McPhee does

not approve of saving life at sea, and he has often told me that a

new Hell awaits stokers and trimmers who sign for a strong man's

pay and fall sick the second day out.  He believes in throwing boots

at fourth and fifth engineers when they wake him up at night with

word that a bearing is redhot, all because a lamp's glare is

reflected red from the twirling metal.  He believes that there are

only two poets in the world; one being Robert Burns, of course,

and the other Gerald Massey.  When he has time for novels he reads

Wilkie Collins and Charles Reade chiefly the latter - and knows

whole pages of "Very Hard Cash" by heart.  In the saloon his table

is next to the captain's, and he drinks only water while his

engines work.

He was good to me when we first met, because I did not ask questions,

and believed in Charles Reade as a most shamefully neglected author.

Later he approved of my writings to the extent of one pamphlet of

twenty-four pages that I wrote for Holdock, Steiner & Chase, owners

of the line, when they bought some ventilating patent and fitted it

to the cabins of the Breslau, Spandau, and Koltzau.  The purser of

the Breslau recommended me to Holdock's secretary for the job; and

Holdock, who is a Wesleyan Methodist, invited me to his house, and

gave me dinner with the governess when the others had finished, and

placed the plans and specifications in my hand, and I wrote the

pamphlet that same afternoon.  It was called "Comfort in the Cabin,"

and brought me seven pound ten, cash down - an important sum of

money in those days; and the governess, who was teaching Master

John Holdock his scales, told me that Mrs. Holdock had told her to

keep an eye on me, in case I went away with coats from the hat-rack.

McPhee liked that pamphlet enormously, for it was composed in the

Bouverie-Byzantine style, with baroque and rococo embellishments;

and afterwards he introduced me to Mrs. McPhee, who succeeded Dinah

in my heart; for Dinah was half a world away, and it is wholesome

and antiseptic to love such a woman as Janet McPhee.  They lived in

a little twelve-pound house, close to the shipping.  When McPhee

was away Mrs. McPhee read the Lloyds column in the papers, and

called on the wives of senior engineers of equal social standing.

Once or twice, too, Mrs. Holdock visited Mrs. McPhee in a brougham

with celluloid fittings, and I have reason to believe that, after

she had played owner's wife long enough, they talked scandal.  The

Holdocks lived in an old-fashioned house with a big brick garden

not a mile from the McPhees, for they stayed by their money as their

money stayed by them; and in summer you met their brougham solemnly

junketing by Theydon Bois or Loughton.  But I was Mrs. McPhee's

friend, for she allowed me to convoy her westward, sometimes, to

theatres where she sobbed or laughed or shivered with a simple

heart; and she introduced me to a new world of doctors' wives,

captains' wives, and engineers' wives, whose whole talk and thought

centred in and about ships and lines of ships you have never heard

of.  There were sailing-ships, with stewards and mahogany and maple

saloons, trading to Australia, taking cargoes of consumptives and

hopeless drunkards for whom a sea-voyage was recommended; there were

frowzy little West African boats, full of rats and cockroaches,

where men died anywhere but in their bunks; there were Brazilian

boats whose cabins could be hired for merchandise, that went out

loaded nearly awash; there were Zanzibar and Mauritius steamers and

wonderful reconstructed boats that plied to the other tide of Borneo.

These were loved and known, for they earned our bread and a little

butter, and we despised the big Atlantic boats, and made fun of the

P. & O. and Orient liners, and swore by our respective owners -

Wesleyan, Baptist, or Presbyterian, as the case might be.

I had only just come back to England when Mrs. McPhee invited me to

dinner at three o'clock in the afternoon, and the notepaper was

almost bridal in its scented creaminess.  When I reached the house

I saw that there were new curtains in the window that must have cost

forty-five shillings a pair; and as Mrs. McPhee drew me into the

little marble-papered hall, she looked at me keenly, and cried:

"Have ye not heard?   What d' ye think o' the hatrack?"

Now, that hat-rack was oak-thirty shillings, at least.  McPhee came

down-stairs with a sober foot - he steps as lightly as a cat, for

all his weight, when he is at sea - and shook hands in a new and

awful manner - a parody of old Holdock's style when he says good-bye

to his skippers.  I perceived at once that a legacy had come to him,

but I held my peace, though Mrs. McPhee begged me every thirty

seconds to eat a great deal and say nothing.  It was rather a mad

sort of meal, because McPhee and his wife took hold of hands like

little children (they always do after voyages), and nodded and

winked and choked and gurgled, and hardly ate a mouthful.

A female servant came in and waited; though Mrs. McPhee had told me

time and again that she would thank no one to do her housework

while she had her health.  But this was a servant with a cap, and

I saw Mrs. McPhee swell and swell under her garance-coloured gown.

There is no small free-board to Janet McPhee, nor is garance any

subdued tint; and with all this unexplained pride and glory in the

air I felt like watching fireworks without knowing the festival.

When the maid had removed the cloth she brought a pineapple that

would have cost half a guinea at that season (only McPhee has his

own way of getting such things, and a Canton china bowl of dried

lichis, and a glass plate of preserved ginger, and a small jar of

sacred and Imperial chow-chow that perfumed the room.  McPhee gets

it from a Dutchman in Java, and I think he doctors it with

liqueurs.  But the crown of the feast was some Madeira of the kind

you can only come by if you know the wine and the man.  A little

maize-wrapped fig of clotted Madeira cigars went with the wine, and

the rest was a pale blue smoky silence; Janet, in her splendour,

smiling on us two, and patting McPhee's hand.

"We'll drink," said McPhee, slowly, rubbing his chin, "to the eternal

damnation o' Holdock, Steiner & Chase."

Of course I answered "Amen," though I had made seven pound ten

shillings out of the firm.  McPhee's enemies were mine, and I was

drinking his Madeira.

"Ye've heard nothing?" said Janet.  "Not a word, not a whisper?"

"Not a word, nor a whisper.  On my word, I have not."

"Tell him, Mac," said she; and that is another proof of Janet's

goodness and wifely love.  A smaller woman would have babbled first,

but Janet is five feet nine in her stockings.

"We're rich," said McPhee.  I shook hands all round.

"We're damned rich," he added.  I shook hands all round a second


"I'll go to sea no more - unless - there's no sayin' - a private

yacht, maybe - wi' a small an' handy auxiliary."

"It's not enough for that," said Janet.  "We're fair rich -

well-to-do, but no more.  A new gown for church, and one for the

theatre.  We'll have it made west."

"How much is it?  " I asked.

"Twenty-five thousand pounds."  I drew a long breath.  "An' I've

been earnin' twenty-five an' twenty pound a month!"

The last words came away with a roar, as though the wide world was

conspiring to beat him down.

"All this time I'm waiting," I said.  "I know nothing since last

September.  Was it left you?"

They laughed aloud together.  "It was left," said McPhee, choking.

" Ou, ay, it was left.  That's vara good.  Of course it was left.

Janet, d' ye note that?   It was left.  Now if you'd put that in your

pamphlet it would have been vara jocose.  It was left."  He slapped

his thigh and roared till the wine quivered in the decanter.

The Scotch are a great people, but they are apt to hang over a joke

too long, particularly when no one can see the point but themselves.

"When I rewrite my pamphlet I'll put it in, McPhee.  Only I must

know something more first."

McPhee thought for the length of half a cigar, while Janet caught

my eye and led it round the room to one new thing after another -

the new vine-pattern carpet, the new chiming rustic clock between

the models of the Colombo outrigger-boats, the new inlaid sideboard

with a purple cut-glass flower-stand, the fender of gilt and brass,

and last, the new black-and-gold piano.

"In October o' last year the Board sacked me," began McPhee.  "In

October o' last year the Breslau came in for winter overhaul.  She'd

been runnin' eight months - two hunder an' forty days - an' I was

three days makin' up my indents, when she went to dry-dock.  All

told, mark you, it was this side o' three hunder pound - to be

preceese, two hunder an' eighty-six pound four shillings.  There's

not another man could ha' nursed the Breslau for eight months to

that tune.  Never again - never again!  They may send their boats to

the bottom, for aught I care."

"There's no need," said Janet, softly.  "We're done wi' Holdock,

Steiner & Chase."

"It's irritatin', Janet, it's just irritatin'.  I ha' been justified

from first to last, as the world knows, but - but I canna forgie 'em.

Ay, wisdom is justified o' her children; an' any other man than me

wad ha' made the indent eight hunder.  Hay was our skipper - ye'll

have met him.  They shifted him to the Torgau, an' bade me wait for

the Breslau under young Bannister.  Ye'll obsairve there'd been a

new election on the Board.  I heard the shares were sellin' hither

an' yon, an' the major part of the Board was new to me.  The old

Board would ne'er ha' done it.  They trusted me.  But the new Board

were all for reorganisation.  Young Steiner - Steiner's son - the

Jew, was at the bottom of it, an' they did not think it worth their

while to send me word.  The first I knew - an' I was Chief Engineer

 - was the notice of the line's winter sailin's, and the Breslau

timed for sixteen days between port an' port!  Sixteen days, man!

She's a good boat, but eighteen is her summer time, mark you.

Sixteen was sheer flytin', kitin' nonsense, an' so I told young


"We've got to make it,' he said.  'Ye should not ha' sent in a three

hunder pound indent.'

"Do they look for their boats to be run on air?' I said.  'The

Board's daft.'

"'E'en tell 'em so,' he says.  'I'm a married man, an' my fourth's

on the ways now, she says.'"

"A boy - wi' red hair," Janet put in.  Her own hair is the splendid

red-gold that goes with a creamy complexion.

"My word, I was an angry man that day!  Forbye I was fond o' the old

Breslau, I looked for a little consideration from the Board after

twenty years' service.  There was Board-meetin' on Wednesday, an' I

slept overnight in the engine-room, takin' figures to support my

case.  Well, I put it fair and square before them all.  'Gentlemen,'

I said, 'I've run the Breslau eight seasons, an' I believe there's

no fault to find wi' my wark.  But if ye haud to this' - I waggled

the advertisement at 'em -'this that I've never heard of it till I

read it at breakfast, I do assure you on my professional reputation,

she can never do it.  That is to say, she can for a while, but at

a risk no thinkin' man would run.'

"'What the deil d' ye suppose we pass your indents for?' says old

Holdock.  'Man, we're spendin' money like watter.'

"'I'll leave it in the Board's hands,' I said, 'if two hunder an'

eighty-seven pound is anything beyond right and reason for eight

months.'  I might ha' saved my breath, for the Board was new since

the last election, an' there they sat, the damned deevidend-huntin'

ship-chandlers, deaf as the adders o' Scripture.

"'We must keep faith wi' the public,' said young Steiner.

"'Keep faith wi' the Breslau, then,' I said.  'She's served you well,

an' your father before you.  She'll need her bottom restiffenin',

an' new bed-plates, an' turnin' out the forward boilers, an'

re-turnin' all three cylinders, an' refacin' all guides, to begin

with.  It's a three months' job.'

"'Because one employee is afraid?  'says young Steiner.  'Maybe a

piano in the Chief Engineer's cabin would be more to the point.'

"I crushed my cap in my hands, an' thanked God we'd no bairns an'

a bit put by.

"'Understand, gentlemen,' I said.  'If the Breslau is made a

sixteen-day boat, ye'll find another engineer.'

"'Bannister makes no objection,' said Holdock.

"'I'm speakin' for myself,' I said.  'Bannister has bairns.  'An'

then I lost my temper.  'Ye can run her into Hell an' out again if

ye pay pilotage,' I said, 'but ye run without me.'

"'That's insolence,' said young Steiner.

"'At your pleasure,' I said, turnin' to go.

"'Ye can consider yourself dismissed.  We must preserve discipline

among our employees,' said old Holdock, an' he looked round to see

that the Board was with him.  They knew nothin' - God forgie 'em -

an' they nodded me out o' the line after twenty years - after twenty


"I went out an' sat down by the hall porter to get my wits again.

I'm thinkin' I swore at the Board.  Then auld McRimmon - o'

McNaughten & McRimmon - came, oot o' his office, that's on the same

floor, an' looked at me, proppin' up one eyelid wi' his forefinger.

Ye know they call him the Blind Deevil, forbye he onythin' but blind,

an' no deevil in his dealin's wi' me - McRimmon o' the Black Bird Line.

"'What's here, Mister McPhee?  ' said he.

"I was past prayin' for by then.  'A Chief Engineer sacked after

twenty years' service because he'll not risk the Breslau on the new

timin', an' be damned to ye, McRimmon,' I said.

"The auld man sucked in his lips an' whistled.  'AH,' said he, 'the

new timin'.  I see!'  He doddered into the Board-room I'd just left,

an' the Dandie-dog that is just his blind man's leader stayed wi'

me.  That was providential.  In a minute he was back again.  'Ye've

cast your bread on the watter, McPhee, an' be damned to you,' he

says.  'Whaur's my dog?  My word, is he on your knee?  There's more

discernment in a dog than a Jew.  What garred ye curse your Board,

McPhee?  It's expensive.'

"'They'll pay more for the Breslau,' I said.  'Get off my knee, ye

smotherin' beast.'

"'Bearin's hot, eh?' said McRimmon.  'It's thirty year since a man

daur curse me to my face.  Time was I'd ha' cast ye doon the

stairway for that.'

"'Forgie's all!' I said.  He was wearin' to eighty, as I knew.  'I

was wrong, McRimmon; but when a man's shown the door for doin' his

plain duty he's not always ceevil.'

"'So I hear,' says McRimmon.  'Ha' ye ony objection to a tramp

freighter?  It's only fifteen a month, but they say the Blind Deevil

feeds a man better than others.  She's my Kite.  Come ben.  Ye can

thank Dandie, here.  I'm no used to thanks.  An' noo,' says he, 'what

possessed ye to throw up your berth wi' Holdock?'

"'The new timin',' said I.  'The Breslau will not stand it.'

"'Hoot, oot,' said he.  'Ye might ha' crammed her a little - enough

to show ye were drivin' her - an' brought her in twa days behind.

What's easier than to say ye slowed for bearin's, eh?  All my men

do it, and - I believe 'em.'

"'McRimmon,' says I, 'what's her virginity to a lassie?'

"He puckered his dry face an' twisted in his chair.  'The warld an'

a',' says he.  'My God, the vara warld an' a' (But what ha' you or

me to do wi' virginity, this late along?'

"'This,' I said.  'There's just one thing that each one of us in his

trade or profession will not do for ony consideration whatever.  If

I run to time I run to time barrio' always the risks o' the high

seas.  Less than that, under God, I have not done.  More than that,

by God, I will not do!  There's no trick o' the trade I'm not

acquaint wi' -'

"'So I've heard,' says McRimmon, dry as a biscuit.

"'But yon matter o' fair rennin"s just my Shekinah, ye'll understand.

I daurna tamper wi' that.  Nursing weak engines is fair craftsmanship;

but what the Board ask is cheatin', wi' the risk o' manslaughter

addeetional.' Ye'll note I know my business.

"There was some more talk, an' next week I went aboard the Kite,

twenty-five hunder ton, simple compound, a Black Bird tramp.  The

deeper she rode, the better she'd steam.  I've snapped as much as

eleven out of her, but eight point three was her fair normal.  Good

food forward an' better aft, all indents passed wi'out marginal

remarks, the best coal, new donkeys, and good crews.  There was

nothin' the old man would not do, except paint.  That was his

deeficulty.  Ye could no more draw paint than his last teeth from

him.  He'd come down to dock, an' his boats a scandal all along the

watter, an' he'd whine an' cry an' say they looked all he could

desire.  Every owner has his non plus ultra, I've obsairved.  Paint

was McRimmon's.  But you could get round his engines without riskin'

your life, an', for all his blindness, I've seen him reject five

flawed intermediates, one after the other, on a nod from me; an'

his cattle-fittin's were guaranteed for North Atlantic winter

weather.  Ye ken what that means?  McRimmon an' the Black Bird Line,

God bless him!

"Oh, I forgot to say she would lie down an' fill her forward deck

green, an' snore away into a twenty-knot gale forty-five to the

minute, three an' a half knots an hour, the engines runnin' sweet

an' true as a bairn breathin' in its sleep.  Bell was skipper; an'

forbye there's no love lost between crews an' owners, we were fond

o' the auld Blind Deevil an' his dog, an' I'm thinkin' he liked us.

He was worth the windy side o' twa million sterlin', an' no friend

to his own blood-kin.  Money's an awfu' thing - overmuch - for a

lonely man.

I'd taken her out twice, there an' back again, when word came o'

the Breslau's breakdown, just as I prophesied.  Calder was her

engineer - he's not fit to run a tug down the Solent - and he

fairly lifted the engines off the bed-plates, an' they fell down

in heaps, by what I heard.  So she filled from the after

stuffin'-box to the after bulkhead, an' lay star-gazing, with

seventy-nine squealin' passengers in the saloon, till the

Camaralzaman o' Ramsey & Gold's Cartagena line gave her a tow to

the tune o' five thousand seven hunder an' forty pound, wi' costs

in the Admiralty Court.  She was helpless, ye'll understand, an' in

no case to meet ony weather.  Five thousand seven hunder an' forty

pounds, with costs, an' exclusive o' new engines!  They'd ha' done

better to ha' kept me on the old timin'.

"But, even so, the new Board were all for retrenchment.  Young

Steiner, the Jew, was at the bottom of it.  They sacked men right

an' left, that would not eat the dirt the Board gave 'em.  They cut

down repairs; they fed crews wi' leavin's an' scrapin's; and,

reversin', McRimmon's practice, they hid their defeeciencies wi'

paint an' cheap gildin'.  Quem Deus vult perrdere prrius dementat,

ye remember.

"In January we went to dry-dock, an' in the next dock lay the Grotkau,

their big freighter that was the Dolabella o' Piegan, Piegan & Walsh's

line in '84 - a Clyde-built iron boat, a flat-bottomed,

pigeon-breasted, under-engined, bull-nosed bitch of a five thousand

ton freighter, that would neither steer, nor steam, nor stop when ye

asked her.  Whiles she'd attend to her helm, whiles she'd take charge,

whiles she'd wait to scratch herself, an' whiles she'd buttock into

a dockhead.  But Holdock and Steiner had bought her cheap, and

painted her all over like the Hoor o' Babylon, an' we called her the

Hoor for short."  (By the way, McPhee kept to that name throughout

the rest of his tale; so you must read accordingly.)  "I went to

see young Bannister - he had to take what the Board gave him, an'

he an' Calder were shifted together from the Breslau to this

abortion - an' talkin' to him I went into the dock under her.  Her

plates were pitted till the men that were paint, paint, paintin'

her laughed at it.  But the warst was at the last.  She'd a great

clumsy iron twelve-foot Thresher propeller - Aitcheson designed the

Kites' - and just on the tail o' the shaft, behind the boss, was a

red weepin' crack ye could ha' put a penknife to.  Man, it was an

awful crack!

"'When d' ye ship a new tail-shaft?' I said to Bannister.

"He knew what I meant.  'Oh, yon's a superfeecial flaw,' says he,

not lookin' at me.

"'Superfeecial Gehenna!' I said.  'Ye'll not take her oot wi' a

solution o' continuity that like.'

"'They'll putty it up this evening,' he said.  'I'm a married man,

an' - ye used to know the Board.'

"I e'en said what was gied me in that hour.  Ye know how a drydock

echoes.  I saw young Steiner standin' listenin' above me, an', man,

he used language provocative of a breach o' the peace.  I was a spy

and a disgraced employ, an' a corrupter o' young Bannister's morals,

an' he'd prosecute me for libel.  He went away when I ran up the

steps - I'd ha' thrown him into the dock if I'd caught him - an'

there I met McRimmon, wi' Dandie pullin' on the chain, guidin' the

auld man among the railway lines.

"'McPhee,' said he, 'ye're no paid to fight Holdock, Steiner, Chase

& Company, Limited, when ye meet.  What's wrong between you?'

"'No more than a tail-shaft rotten as a kail-stump.  For ony sakes

go an' look, McRimmon.  It's a comedietta.'

"'I'm feared o' yon conversational Hebrew,' said he.  'Whaur's the

flaw, an' what like?'

"'A seven-inch crack just behind the boss.  There's no power on earth

will fend it just jarrin' off.'


"'That's beyon' my knowledge,' I said.

"'So it is; so it is,' said McRimmon.  'We've all oor leemitations.

Ye're certain it was a crack?'

"'Man, it's a crevasse,' I said, for there were no words to describe

the magnitude of it.  'An' young Bannister's sayin' it's no more

than a superfeecial flaw!'

"'Weell, I tak' it oor business is to mind oor business.  If ye've

ony friends aboard her, McPhee, why not bid them to a bit dinner at


"'I was thinkin' o' tea in the cuddy,' I said.  'Engineers o' tramp

freighters cannot afford hotel prices.'

"'Na!  na!' says the auld man, whimperin'.  'Not the cuddy.  They'll

laugh at my Kite, for she's no plastered with paint like the Hoor.

Bid them to Radley's, McPhee, an' send me the bill.  Thank Dandie,

here, man.  I'm no used to thanks.'  Then he turned him round.  (I

was just thinkin' the vara same thing.)  'Mister McPhee,' said he,

'this is not senile dementia.'

"'Preserve 's!' I said, clean jumped oot o' mysel'.  'I was but

thinkin' you're fey, McRimmon.'

"Dod, the auld deevil laughed till he nigh sat down on Dandie.

'Send me the bill,' says he.  'I'm long past champagne, but tell me

how it tastes the morn.'

"Bell and I bid young Bannister and Calder to dinner at Radley's.

They'll have no laughin' an' singin' there, but we took a private

room - like yacht-owners fra' Cowes."

McPhee grinned all over, and lay back to think.

"And then?" said I.

"We were no drunk in ony preceese sense o' the word, but Radley's

showed me the dead men.  There were six magnums o' dry champagne an'

maybe a bottle o' whisky."

"Do you mean to tell me that you four got away with a magnum and a

half a piece, besides whisky " I demanded.

McPhee looked down upon me from between his shoulders with toleration.

"Man, we were not settin' down to drink," he said.  "They no more

than made us wutty.  To be sure, young Bannister laid his head on

the table an' greeted like a bairn, an' Calder was all for callin'

on Steiner at two in the morn an' painting him galley-green; but

they'd been drinkin' the afternoon.  Lord, how they twa cursed the

Board, an' the Grotkau, an' the tail-shaft, an' the engines, an' a'!

They didna talk o' superfeecial flaws that night.  I mind young

Bannister an' Calder shakin' hands on a bond to be revenged on the

Board at ony reasonable cost this side o' losing their certificates.

Now mark ye how false economy ruins business.  The Board fed them

like swine (I have good reason to know it), an' I've obsairved wi'

my ain people that if ye touch his stomach ye wauken the deil in a

Scot.  Men will tak' a dredger across the Atlantic if they 're well

fed, an' fetch her somewhere on the broadside o' the Americas; but

bad food's bad service the warld over.

"The bill went to McRimmon, an' he said no more to me till the

week-end, when I was at him for more paint, for we'd heard the Kite

was chartered Liverpool-side.  'Bide whaur ye're put,' said the

Blind Deevil.  'Man, do ye wash in champagne?  The Kite's no leavin'

here till I gie the order, an' - how am I to waste paint onher, wi'

the Lammergeyer docked for who knows how long an' a'?'

"She was our big freighter - McIntyre was engineer - an' I knew she'd

come from overhaul not three months.  That morn I met McRimmon's

head-clerk - ye'll not know him - fair bitin' his nails off wi'


"'The auld man's gone gyte,' says he.  'He's withdrawn the Lammergeyer.'

"'Maybe he has reasons,' says I.

"'Reasons! He's daft!'

"'He'll no be daft till he begins to paint,' I said.

"'That's just what he's done - and South American freights higher

than we'll live to see them again.  He's laid her up to paint her -

to paint her - to paint her!' says the little clerk, dancin' like a

hen on a hot plate.  'Five thousand ton o' potential freight rottin'

in drydock, man; an' he dolin' the paint out in quarter-pound tins,

for it cuts him to the heart, mad though he is.  An' the Grotkau -

the Grotkau of all conceivable bottoms - soaking up every pound that

should be ours at Liverpool!'

"I was staggered wi' this folly - considerin' the dinner at Radley's

in connection wi' the same.

"Ye may well stare, McPhee,' says the head-clerk.  'There's engines,

an' rollin' stock, an' iron bridgesd' ye know what freights are noo?

an' pianos, an' millinery, an' fancy Brazil cargo o' every species

pourin' into the Grotkau - the Grotkau o' the Jerusalem firm - and

the Lammergeyer's bein' painted!'

"Losh, I thought he'd drop dead wi' the fits.

"I could say no more than 'Obey orders, if ye break owners,' but on

the Kite we believed McRimmon was mad; an' McIntyre of the Lammergeyer

was for lockin' him up by some patent legal process he'd found in a

book o' maritime law.  An' a' that week South American freights rose

an' rose.  It was sinfu'!

"Syne Bell got orders to tak' the Kite round to Liverpool in

water-ballast, and McRimmon came to bid's good-bye, yammerin' an'

whinin' o'er the acres o' paint he'd lavished on the Lammergeyer.

"'I look to you to retrieve it,' says he.  'I look to you to

reimburse me!  'Fore God, why are ye not cast off?  Are ye dawdlin'

in dock for a purpose?'

"'What odds, McRimmon?' says Bell.  'We'll be a day behind the fair

at Liverpool.  The Grotkau's got all the freight that might ha' been

ours an' the Lammergeyer's.'  McRimmon laughed an' chuckled - the

pairfect eemage o' senile dementia.  Ye ken his eyebrows wark up an'

down like a gorilla's.

"'Ye're under sealed orders,' said he, tee-heein' an' scratchin'

himself.  'Yon's they' - to be opened seriatim.

"Says Bell, shufflin' the envelopes when the auld man had gone

ashore: 'We're to creep round a' the south coast, standin' in for

orders  his weather, too.  There's no question o' his lunacy now.'

"Well, we buttocked the auld Kite along - vara bad weather we made

 - standin' in all alongside for telegraphic orders, which are the

curse o' skippers.  Syne we made over to Holyhead, an' Bell opened

the last envelope for the last instructions.  I was wi' him in the

cuddy, an' he threw it over to me, cryin': 'Did ye ever know the

like, Mac?'

"I'll no say what McRimmon had written, but he was far from mad.

There was a sou'wester brewin' when we made the mouth o' the Mersey,

a bitter cold morn wi' a grey-green sea and a grey-green sky -

Liverpool weather, as they say; an' there we lay choppin', an' the

crew swore.  Ye canna keep secrets aboard ship.  They thought

McRimmon was mad, too.

"Syne we saw the Grotkau rollin' oot on the top o' flood, deep an'

double deep, wi' her new-painted funnel an' her new-painted boats

an' a'.  She looked her name, an', moreover, she coughed like it.

Calder tauld me at Radley's what ailed his engines, but my own ear

would ha' told me twa mile awa', by the beat o' them.  Round we

came, plungin' an' squatterin' in her wake, an' the wind cut wi'

good promise o' more to come.  By six it blew hard but clear, an'

before the middle watch it was a sou'wester in airnest.

"'She'll edge into Ireland, this gait,' says Bell.  I was with him

on the bridge, watchin' the Grotkau's port light.  Ye canna see

green so far as red, or we'd ha' kept to leeward.  We'd no

passengers to consider, an' (all eyes being on the Grotkau) we fair

walked into a liner rampin' home to Liverpool.  Or, to be preceese,

Bell no more than twisted the Kite oot from under her bows, and

there was a little damnin' betwix' the twa bridges. "Noo a

passenger" - McPhee regarded me benignantly -"wad ha' told the

papers that as soon as he got to the Customs.  We stuck to the

Grotkau's tail that night an' the next twa days - she slowed down

to five knot by my reckonin' and we lapped along the weary way to

the Fastnet."

"But you don't go by the Fastnet to get to any South American port,

do you?" I said.

"We do not.  We prefer to go as direct as may be.  But we were

followin' the Grotkau, an' she'd no walk into that gale for ony

consideration.  Knowin' what I did to her discredit, I couldna blame

young Bannister.  It was warkin' up to a North Atlantic winter gale,

snow an' sleet an' a perishin' wind.  Eh, it was like the Deil

walkin' abroad o' the surface o' the deep, whuppin' off the top

o' the waves before he made up his mind.  They'd bore up against

it so far, but the minute she was clear o' the Skelligs she fair

tucked up her skirts an' ran for it by Dunmore Head.  Wow, she


"'She'll be makin' Smerwick,' says Bell.

"She'd ha' tried for Ventry by noo if she meant that,' I said.

"'They'll roll the funnel oot o' her, this gait,' says Bell.  'Why

canna Bannister keep her head to sea?'

"It's the tail-shaft.  Ony rollin''s better than pitchin' wi'

superfeecial cracks in the tail-shaft.  Calder knows that much,' I


"'It's ill wark retreevin' steamers this weather,' said Bell.  His

beard and whiskers were frozen to his oilskin, an' the spray was

white on the weather side of him.  Pairfect North Atlantic winter


"One by one the sea raxed away our three boats, an' the davits were

crumpled like ram's horns.

"'Yon's bad,' said Bell, at the last.  'Ye canna pass a hawser wi'oot

a boat.'  Bell was a vara judeecious man - for an Aberdonian.

"I'm not one that fashes himself for eventualities outside the

engine-room, so I e'en slipped down betwixt waves to see how the

Kite fared.  Man, she's the best geared boat of her class that ever

left Clyde! Kinloch, my second, knew her as well as I did.  I found

him dryin' his socks on the main-steam, an' combin' his whiskers wi'

the comb Janet gied me last year, for the warld an' a' as though we

were in port.  I tried the feed, speered into the stoke-hole,

thumbed all bearin's, spat on the thrust for luck, gied 'em my

blessin', an' took Kinloch's socks before I went up to the bridge


"Then Bell handed me the wheel, an' went below to warm himself.

When he came up my gloves were frozen to the spokes an' the ice

clicked over my eyelids.  Pairfect North Atlantic winter weather,

as I was sayin'.

"The gale blew out by night, but we lay in smotherin' cross-seas

that made the auld Kite chatter from stem to stern.  I slowed to

thirty-four, I mind - no, thirty-seven.  There was a long swell the

morn, an' the Grotkau was headin' into it west awa'.

"'She'll win to Rio yet, tail-shaft or no tail-shaft,' says Bell.

"'Last night shook her,' I said.  'She'll jar it off yet, mark my


"We were then, maybe, a hunder and fifty mile westsou'west o' Slyne

Head, by dead reckonin'.  Next day we made a hunder an' thirty -

ye'll note we were not racin-boats - an' the day after a hunder an'

sixty-one, an' that made us, we'll say, Eighteen an' a bittock west,

an' maybe Fifty-one an' a bittock north, crossin' all the North

Atlantic liner lanes on the long slant, always in sight o' the

Grotkau, creepin' up by night and fallin' awa' by day.  After the

gale it was cold weather wi' dark nights.

"I was in the engine-room on Friday night, just before the middle

watch, when Bell whustled down the tube: 'She's done it'; an' up I


"The Grotkau was just a fair distance south, an' one by one she ran

up the three red lights in a vertical line - the sign of a steamer

not under control.

"'Yon's a tow for us,' said Bell, lickin' his chops.  'She'll be

worth more than the Breslau.  We'll go down to her, McPhee!'

"'Bide a while,' I said.  'The seas fair throng wi' ships here.'

"'Reason why,' said Bell.  'It's a fortune gaun beggin'.  What d'

ye think, man?'

"'Gie her till daylight.  She knows we're here.  If Bannister needs

help he'll loose a rocket.'

"'Wha told ye Bannister's need?  We'll ha' some rag-an'-bone tramp

snappin' her up under oor nose,' said he; an' he put the wheel over.

We were goin' slow.

"'Bannister wad like better to go home on a liner an' eat in the

saloon.  Mind ye what they said o' Holdock & Steiner's food that

night at Radley's?  Keep her awa', man - keep her awa'.  A tow's a

tow, but a derelict's big salvage.'

"'E-eh! 'said Bell.  'Yon's an inshot o' yours, Mac.  I love ye like

a brother.  We'll bide whaur we are till daylight'; an' he kept her


"Syne up went a rocket forward, an' twa on the bridge, an' a blue

light aft.  Syne a tar-barrel forward again.

"'She's sinkin',' said Bell.  'It's all gaun, an' I'll get no more

than a pair o' night-glasses for pickin' up young Bannister - the


"' Fair an' soft again,' I said.  'She's signallin' to the south

of us.  Bannister knows as well as I that one rocket would bring

the Breslau.  He'll no be wastin' fireworks for nothin'.  Hear her


"The Grotkau whustled an' whustled for five minutes, an' then there

were more fireworks - a regular exhibeetion.

"'That's no for men in the regular trade,' says Bell.  'Ye're right,

Mac.  That's for a cuddy full o' passengers.'  He blinked through

the night-glasses when it lay a bit thick to southward.

"'What d' ye make of it?' I said.

"'Liner,' he says.  'Yon's her rocket.  Ou, ay; they've waukened

the gold-strapped skipper, an' - noo they've waukened the passengers.

They're turnin' on the electrics, cabin by cabin.  Yon's anither

rocket! They're comin' up to help the perishin' in deep watters.'

"'Gie me the glass,' I said.  But Bell danced on the bridge, clean

dementit.  'Mails-mails-mails!' said he.  'Under contract wi' the

Government for the due conveyance o' the mails; an' as such, Mac,

yell note, she may rescue life at sea, but she canna tow! - she

canna tow!  Yon's her night-signal.  She'll be up in half an hour!'

"'Gowk!' I said, 'an' we blazin' here wi' all oor lights.  Oh, Bell,

ye're a fool!'

"He tumbled off the bridge forward, an' I tumbled aft, an' before

ye could wink our lights were oot, the engine-room hatch was covered,

an' we lay pitch-dark, watchin' the lights o' the liner come up that

the Grotkau'd been signallin' to.  Twenty knot an hour she came,

every cabin lighted, an' her boats swung awa'.  It was grandly done,

an' in the inside of an hour.  She stopped like Mrs. Holdock's

machine; down went the gangway, down went the boats, an' in ten

minutes we heard the passengers cheerin', an' awa' she fled.

"'They'll tell o' this all the days they live,' said Bell.  'A

rescue at sea by night, as pretty as a play.  Young Bannister an'

Calder will be drinkin' in the saloon, an' six months hence the

Board o' Trade 'll gie the skipper a pair o' binoculars.  It's

vara philanthropic all round.'

"We'll lay by till day - ye may think we waited for it wi' sore

eyes an' there sat the Grotkau, her nose a bit cocked, just leerin'

at us.  She looked paifectly ridiculous.

"'She'll be fillin' aft,' says Bell; 'for why is she down by the

stern?  The tail-shaft's punched a hole in her, an' - we 've no

boats.  There's three hunder thousand pound sterlin', at a

conservative estimate, droonin' before our eyes.  What's to do?'

An' his bearin's got hot again in a minute: he was an incontinent


"'Run her as near as ye daur,' I said.  'Gie me a jacket an' a

lifeline, an' I'll swum for it.'  There was a bit lump of a sea,

an' it was cold in the wind - vara cold; but they'd gone overside

like passengers, young Bannister an' Calder an' a', leaving the

gangway down on the lee-side.  It would ha' been a flyin' in the

face o' manifest Providence to overlook the invitation.  We were

within fifty yards o' her while Kinloch was garmin' me all over wi'

oil behind the galley; an' as we ran past I went outboard for the

salvage o' three hunder thousand pound.  Man, it was perishin'

cold, but I'd done my job judgmatically, an' came scrapin' all

along her side slap on to the lower gratin' o' the gangway.  No

one more astonished than me, I assure ye.  Before I'd caught my

breath I'd skinned both my knees on the gratin', an' was climbin'

up before she rolled again.  I made my line fast to the rail, an'

squattered aft to young Bannister's cabin, whaaur I dried me wi'

everything in his bunk, an' put on every conceivable sort o' rig

I found till the blood was circulatin'.  Three pair drawers, I mind

I found - to begin upon - an' I needed them all.  It was the

coldest cold I remember in all my experience.

"Syne I went aft to the engine-room.  The Grotkau sat on her own

tail, as they say.  She was vara shortshafted, an' her gear was all

aft.  There was four or five foot o' water in the engine-room

slummockin' to and fro, black an' greasy; maybe there was six foot.

The stoke-hold doors were screwed home, an' the stoke-hold was tight

enough, but for a minute the mess in the engine-room deceived me.

Only for a minute, though, an' that was because I was not, in a

manner o' speakin', as calm as ordinar'.  I looked again to mak'

sure.  'T was just black wi' bilge: dead watter that must ha' come

in fortuitously, ye ken."

"McPhee, I'm only a passenger," I said, "but you don't persuade me

that six foot o' water can come into an engine-room fortuitously."

"Who's tryin' to persuade one way or the other?" McPhee retorted.

"I'm statin' the facts o' the case - the simple, natural facts.  Six

or seven foot o' dead watter in the engine-room is a vara depressin'

sight if ye think there's like to be more comin'; but I did not

consider that such was likely, and so, yell note, I was not


"That's all very well, but I want to know about the water," I said.

"I've told ye.  There was six feet or more there, wi' Calder's cap

floatin' on top."

"Where did it come from?"

"Weel, in the confusion o' things after the propeller had dropped

off an' the engines were racin' an' a', it's vara possible that

Calder might ha' lost it off his head an' no troubled himself to

pick it up again.  I remember seem' that cap on him at Southampton."

"I don't want to know about the cap.  I'm asking where the water

came from and what it was doing there, and why you were so certain

that it wasn't a leak, McPhee?"

"For good reason-for good an' sufficient reason."

"Give it to me, then."

"Weel, it's a reason that does not properly concern myself only.

To be preceese, I'm of opinion that it was due, the watter, in part

to an error o' judgment in another man.  We can a' mak' mistakes."

"Oh, I beg your pardon?"

"I got me to the rail again, an', 'What's wrang?' said Bell, hailin'.

"'She'll do,' I said.  'Send's o'er a hawser, an' a man to steer.

I'll pull him in by the life-line.'

"I could see heads bobbin' back an' forth, an' a whuff or two o'

strong words.  Then Bell said: 'They'll not trust themselves - one

of 'em - in this waiter - except Kinloch, an' I'll no spare him.'

"'The more salvage to me, then,' I said.  'I'll make shift solo.'

"Says one dock-rat, at this: 'D' ye think she's safe?'

"'I'll guarantee ye nothing,' I said, 'except maybe a hammerin' for

keepin' me this long.'

"Then he sings out: 'There's no more than one lifebelt, an' they

canna find it, or I'd come.'

"'Throw him over, the Jezebel,' I said, for I was oot o' patience;

an' they took haud o' that volunteer before he knew what was in

store, and hove him over, in the bight of my life-line.  So I e'en

hauled him upon the sag of it, hand over fist - a vara welcome

recruit when I'd tilted the salt watter oot of him: for, by the

way, he could na swim.

"Syne they bent a twa-inch rope to the life-line, an' a hawser to

that, an' I led the rope o'er the drum of a hand-winch forward, an'

we sweated the hawser inboard an' made it fast to the Grotkau's


"Bell brought the Kite so close I feared she'd roll in an' do the

Grotkau's plates a mischief.  He hove anither life-line to me, an'

went astern, an' we had all the weary winch work to do again wi' a

second hawser.  For all that, Bell was right: we'd along tow before

us, an' though Providence had helped us that far, there was no

sense in leavin' too much to its keepin'.  When the second hawser

was fast, I was wet wi' sweat, an' I cried Bell to tak' up his

slack an' go home.  The other man was by way o' helpin' the work wi'

askin' for drinks, but I e'en told him he must hand reef an' steer,

beginnin' with steerin', for I was goin' to turn in.  He steered -

oh, ay, he steered, in a manner o' speakin'.  At the least, he

grippit the spokes an' twiddled 'em an' looked wise, but I doubt if

the Hoor ever felt it.  I turned in there an' then, to young

Bannister's bunk, an' slept past expression.  I waukened ragin' wi'

hunger, a fair lump o' sea runnin', the Kite snorin' awa' four knots

an hour; an' the Grotkau slappin' her nose under, an' yawin' an'

standin' over at discretion.  She was a most disgracefu' tow.  But

the shameful thing of all was the food.  I raxed me a meal fra

galley-shelves an' pantries an' lazareetes an' cubby-holes that I

would not ha' gied to the mate of a Cardiff collier; an' ye ken we

say a Cardiff mate will eat clinkers to save waste.  I'm sayin' it

was simply vile!  The crew had written what they thought of it on

the new paint o' the fo'c'sle, but I had not a decent soul wi' me

to complain on.  There was nothin' for me to do save watch the

hawsers an' the Kite's tail squatterin' down in white watter when

she lifted to a sea; so I got steam on the after donkey-pump, an'

pumped oot the engine-room.  There's no sense in leavin' waiter

loose in a ship.  When she was dry, I went doun the shaft-tunnel,

an' found she was leakin' a little through the stuffin'box, but

nothin' to make wark.  The propeller had e'en jarred off, as I knew

it must, an' Calder had been waitin' for it to go wi' his hand on

the gear.  He told me as much when I met him ashore.  There was

nothin' started or strained.  It had just slipped awa' to the bed o'

the Atlantic as easy as a man dyin' wi' due warning - a most

providential business for all concerned.  Syne I took stock o' the

Grotkau's upper works.  Her boats had been smashed on the davits, an'

here an' there was the rail missin', an' a ventilator or two had

fetched awa', an' the bridge-rails were bent by the seas; but her

hatches were tight, and she'd taken no sort of harm.  Dod, I came

to hate her like a human bein', for I was eight weary days aboard,

starvin' - ay, starvin' - within a cable's length o' plenty.  All

day I laid in the bunk reading the' Woman-Hater,' the grandest book

Charlie Reade ever wrote, an' pickin' a toothful here an' there.

It was weary, weary work.  Eight days, man, I was aboard the Grotkau,

an' not one full meal did I make.  Sma' blame her crew would not

stay by her.  The other man?  Oh I warked him wi' a vengeance to

keep him warm.

"It came on to blow when we fetched soundin's, an' that kept me

standin' by the hawsers, lashed to the capstan, breathin' twixt

green seas.  I near died o' cauld an' hunger, for the Grotkau towed

like a barge, an' Bell howkit her along through or over.  It was

vara thick up-Channel, too.  We were standin' in to make some sort

o' light, an' we near walked over twa three fishin'-boats, an' they

cried us we were overclose to Falmouth.  Then we were near cut down

by a drunken foreign fruiter that was blunderin' between us an' the

shore, and it got thicker an' thicker that night, an' I could feel

by the tow Bell did not know whaur he was.  Losh, we knew in the

morn, for the wind blew the fog oot like a candle, an' the sun came

clear; and as surely as McRimmon gied me my cheque, the shadow o'

the Eddystone lay across our tow-rope!  We were that near - ay, we

were that near!  Bell fetched the Kite round with the jerk that

came close to tearin' the bitts out o' the Grotkau, an' I mind I

thanked my Maker in young Bannister's cabin when we were inside

Plymouth breakwater.

"The first to come aboard was McRimmon, wi' Dandie.  Did I tell you

our orders were to take anything we found into Plymouth?  The auld

deil had just come down overnight, puttin' two an' two together from

what Calder had told him when the liner landed the Grotkau's men.

He had preceesely hit oor time.  I'd hailed Bell for something to

eat, an' he sent it o'er in the same boat wi' McRimmon, when the

auld man came to me.  He grinned an' slapped his legs and worked

his eyebrows the while I ate.

"'How do Holdock, Steiner & Chase feed their men?' said he.

"'Ye can see,' I said, knockin' the top off another beer-bottle.

'I did not sign to be starved, McRimmon.'

"'Nor to swum, either,' said he, for Bell had tauld him how I

carried the line aboard.  'Well, I'm thinkin' you'll be no loser.

What freight could we ha' put into the Lammergeyer would equal

salvage on four hunder thousand pounds - hull an' cargo?  Eh,

McPhee?  This cuts the liver out o' Holdock, Steiner, Chase &

Company, Limited.  Eh, McPhee?  An' I'm sufferin' from senile

dementia now?  Eh, MCPhee?  An' I'm not daft, am I, till I begin

to paint the Lammergeyer?  Eh, McPhee?  Ye may weel lift your leg,

Dandie!  I ha' the laugh o' them all.  Ye found watter in the


"'To speak wi'oot prejudice,' I said, ' there was some watter.'

"'They thought she was sinkin' after the propeller went.  She filled

wi' extraordinary rapeedity.  Calder said it grieved him an'

Bannister to abandon her.'

"I thought o' the dinner at Radley's, an' what like o' food I'd

eaten for eight days.

"'It would grieve them sore,' I said.

"'But the crew would not hear o' stayin' and workin' her back under

canvas.  They're gaun up an' down sayin' they'd ha' starved first.'

"'They'd ha' starved if they'd stayed,' said I.

"'I tak' it, fra Calder's account, there was a mutiny a'most.'

"'Ye know more than I, McRimmon' I said.  'Speakin' wi'oot prejudice,

for we're all in the same boat, who opened the bilgecock?'

"'Oh, that's it - is it?' said the auld man, an' I could see he was

surprised.  'A bilge-cock, ye say?'

"'I believe it was a bilge-cock.  They were all shut when I came

aboard, but some one had flooded the engine-room eight feet over all,

and shut it off with the worm-an'-wheel gear from the second gratin'


"'Losh!' said McRimmon.  'The ineequity o' man's beyond belief.

But it's awfu' discreditable to Holdock, Steiner & Chase, if that

came oot in court.'

"'It's just my own curiosity,' I said.

"'Aweel, Dandie's afflicted wi' the same disease.  Dandie, strive

against curiosity, for it brings a little dog into traps an'

suchlike.  Whaur was the Kite when yon painted liner took off the

Grotkau's people?'

"'Just there or thereabouts,' I said.

"'An' which o' you twa thought to cover your lights?' said he,


"'Dandle,' I said to the dog, 'we must both strive against curiosity.

It's an unremunerative business.  What's our chance o' salvage,


"He laughed till he choked.  'Tak' what I gie you, McPhee, an' be

content,' he said.  'Lord, how a man wastes time when he gets old.

Get aboard the Kite, mon, as soon as ye can.  I've clean forgot

there's a Baltic charter yammerin' for you at London.  That'll be

your last voyage, I'm thinkin', excep' by way o' pleasure.'

"Steiner's men were comin' aboard to take charge an' tow her round,

an' I passed young Steiner in a boat as I went to the Kite.  He

looked down his nose; but McRimmon pipes up: 'Here's the man ye owe

the Grotkau to - at a price, Steiner - at a price!  Let me introduce

Mr. McPhee to you.  Maybe ye've met before; but ye've vara little

luck in keepin' your men - ashore or afloat!'

"Young Steiner looked angry enough to eat him as he chuckled an'

whustled in his dry old throat.

"'Ye've not got your award yet,' Steiner says.

"'Na, na,' says the auld man, in a screech ye could hear to the Hoe,

'but I've twa million sterlin', an' no bairns, ye Judeeas Apella,

if ye mean to fight; an' I'll match ye p'und for p'und till the last

p'und's oot.  Ye ken me, Steiner!  I'm McRimmon o' McNaughten &


"'Dod,' he said betwix' his teeth, sittin' back in the boat, 'I've

waited fourteen year to break that Jewfirm, an' God be thankit I'll

do it now.'

"The Kite was in the Baltic while the auld man was warkin' his warks,

but I know the assessors valued the Grotkau, all told, at over three

hunder and sixty thousand - her manifest was a treat o' richness -

an' McRimmon got a third for salvin' an abandoned ship.  Ye see,

there's vast deeference between towin' a ship wi' men on her an'

pickin' up a derelict - a vast deeference - in pounds sterlin'.

Moreover, twa three o' the Grotkau's crew were burnin' to testify

about food, an' there was a note o' Calder to the Board, in regard

to the tail-shaft, that would ha' been vara damagin' if it had come

into court.  They knew better than to fight.

"Syne the Kite came back, an' McRimmon paid off me an' Bell

personally, an' the rest of the crew pro rata, I believe it's ca'ed.

My share - oor share, I should say - was just twenty-five thousand

pound sterlin'."

At this point Janet jumped up and kissed him.

"Five-and-twenty thousand pound sterlin'.  Noo, I'm fra the North,

and I'm not the like to fling money awa' rashly, but I'd gie six

months' pay - one hunder an' twenty pounds - to know who flooded

the engine-room of the Grotkau.  I'm fairly well acquaint wi'

McRimmon's eediosyncrasies, and he'd no hand in it.  It was not

Calder, for I've asked him, an' he wanted to fight me.  It would

be in the highest degree unprofessional o' Calder - not fightin',

but openin' bilge-cocks - but for a while I thought it was him.  Ay,

I judged it might be him - under temptation."

"What's your theory?" I demanded.

"Weel, I'm inclined to think it was one o' those singular providences

that remind us we're in the hands o' Higher Powers." .

"It couldn't open and shut itself?"

"I did not mean that; but some half-starvin' oiler or, maybe, trimmer

must ha' opened it awhile to mak' sure o' leavin' the Grotkau.  It's

a demoralisin' thing to see an engine-room flood up after any

accident to the gear - demoralisin' and deceptive both.  Aweel, the

man got what he wanted, for they went aboard the liner cryin' that

the Grotkau was sinkin'.  But it's curious to think o' the

consequences.  In a' human probability, he's bein' damned in heaps

at the present moment aboard another tramp freighter; an' here am

I, wi' five-an'-twenty thousand pound invested, resolute to go to

sea no more - providential's the preceese word - except as a

passenger, ye'll understand, Janet."

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

McPhee kept his word.  He and Janet went for a voyage as passengers

in the first-class saloon.  They paid seventy pounds for their

berths; and Janet found a very sick woman in the second-class

saloon, so that for sixteen days she lived below, and chatted with

the stewardesses at the foot of the second-saloon stairs while her

patient slept.  McPhee was a passenger for exactly twenty-four

hours.  Then the engineers' mess - where the oilcloth tables are -

joyfully took him to its bosom, and for the rest of the voyage that

company was richer by the unpaid services of a highly certificated



Before he was thirty, he discovered that there was no one to play

with him.  Though the wealth of three toilsome generations stood to

his account, though his tastes in the matter of books, bindings,

rugs, swords, bronzes, lacquer, pictures, plate, statuary, horses,

conservatories, and agriculture were educated and catholic, the

public opinion of his country wanted to know why he did not go to

office daily, as his father had before him.

So he fled, and they howled behind him that he was an unpatriotic

Anglomaniac, born to consume fruits, one totally lacking in public

spirit.  He wore an eyeglass; he had built a wall round his country

house, with a high gate that shut, instead of inviting America to

sit on his flower-beds; he ordered his clothes from England; and

the press of his abiding city cursed him, from his eye-glass to his

trousers, for two consecutive days.

When he rose to light again, it was where nothing less than the

tents of an invading army in Piccadilly would make any difference

to anybody.  If he had money and leisure, England stood ready to

give him all that money and leisure could buy.  That price paid,

she would ask no questions.  He took his cheque-book and accumulated

things - warily at first, for he remembered that in America things

own the man.  To his delight, he discovered that in England he

could put his belongings under his feet; for classes, ranks, and

denominations of people rose, as it were, from the earth, and

silently and discreetly took charge of his possessions.  They had

been born and bred for that sole purpose - servants of the

cheque-book.  When that was at an end they would depart as

mysteriously as they had come.

The impenetrability of this regulated life irritated him, and he

strove to learn something of the human side of these people.  He

retired baffled, to be trained by his menials.  In America, the

native demoralises the English servant.  In England, the servant

educates the master.  Wilton Sargent strove to learn all they taught

as ardently as his father had striven to wreck, before capture, the

railways of his native land; and it must have been some touch of

the old bandit railway blood that bade him buy, for a song, Holt

Hangars, whose forty-acre lawn, as every one knows, sweeps down in

velvet to the quadruple tracks of the Great Buchonian Railway.  Their

trains flew by almost continuously, with a bee-like drone in the day

and a flutter of strong wings at night.  The son of Merton Sargent

had good right to be interested in them.  He owned controlling

interests in several thousand miles of track, - not permanent way,

 - built on altogether different plans, where locomotives eternally

whistled for grade-crossings, and parlor-cars of fabulous expense

and unrestful design skated round curves that the Great Buchonian

would have condemned as unsafe in a construction-line.  From the

edge of his lawn he could trace the chaired metals falling away,

rigid as a bowstring, into the valley of the Prest, studded with the

long perspective of the block signals, buttressed with stone, and

carried, high above all possible risk, on a forty-foot embankment.

Left to himself, he would have builded a private car, and kept it

at the nearest railway-station, Amberley Royal, five miles away.

But those into whose hands he had committed himself for his English

training had little knowledge of railways and less of private cars.

The one they knew was something that existed in the scheme of things

for their convenience.  The other they held to be "distinctly

American"; and, with the versatility of his race, Wilton Sargent had

set out to be just a little more English than the English.

He succeeded to admiration.  He learned not to redecorate Holt

Hangars, though he warmed it; to leave his guests alone; to refrain

from superfluous introductions; to abandon manners of which he had

great store, and to hold fast by manner which can after labour be

acquired.  He learned to let other people, hired for the purpose,

attend to the duties for which they were paid.  He learned - this

he got from a ditcher on the estate - that every man with whom he

came in contact had his decreed position in the fabric of the realm,

which position he would do well to consult.  Last mystery of all,

he learned to golf - well: and when an American knows the innermost

meaning of "Don't press, slow back, and keep your eye on the ball,"

he is, for practical purposes, denationalised.

His other education proceeded on the pleasantest lines.  Was he

interested in any conceivable thing in heaven above, or the earth

beneath, or the waters under the earth?  Forthwith appeared at his

table, guided by those safe hands into which he had fallen, the

very men who had best said, done, written, explored, excavated,

built, launched, created, or studied that one thing - herders of

books and prints in the British Museum; specialists in scarabs,

cartouches, and dynasties Egyptian; rovers and raiders from the

heart of unknown lands; toxicologists; orchid-hunters; monographers

on flint implements, carpets, prehistoric man, or early Renaissance

music.  They came, and they played with him.  They asked no

questions; they cared not so much as a pin who or what he was.  They

demanded only that he should be able to talk and listen courteously.

Their work was done elsewhere and out of his sight.

There were also women.

"Never," said Wilton Sargent to himself, "has an American seen

England as I'm seeing it"; and he thought, blushing beneath the

bedclothes, of the unregenerate and blatant days when he would steam

to office, down the Hudson, in his twelve-hundred-ton ocean-going

steam-yacht, and arrive, by gradations, at Bleecker Street, hanging

on to a leather strap between an Irish washerwoman and a German

anarchist.  If any of his guests had seen him then they would have

said: "How distinctly American!" and - Wilton did not care for that

tone.  He had schooled himself to an English walk, and, so long as

he did not raise it, an English voice.  He did not gesticulate with

his hands; he sat down on most of his enthusiasms, but he could not

rid himself of The Shibboleth.  He would ask for the Worcestershire

sauce: even Howard, his immaculate butler, could not break him of


It was decreed that he should complete his education in a wild and

wonderful manner, and, further, that I should be in at that death.

Wilton had more than once asked me to Holt Hangars, for the purpose

of showing how well the new life fitted him, and each time I had

declared it creaseless.  His third invitation was more informal

than the others, and he hinted of some matter in which he was

anxious for my sympathy or counsel, or both.  There is room for an

infinity of mistakes when a man begins to take liberties with his

nationality; and I went down expecting things.  A seven-foot

dog-cart and a groom in the black Holt Hangars livery met me at

Amberley Royal.  At Holt Hangars I was received by a person of

elegance and true reserve, and piloted to my luxurious chamber.

There were no other guests in the house, and this set me thinking.

Wilton came into my room about half an hour before dinner, and though

his face was masked with a drop-curtain of highly embroidered

indifference, I could see that he was not at ease.  In time, for he

was then almost as difficult to move as one of my own countrymen, I

extracted the tale - simple in its extravagance, extravagant in its

simplicity.  It seemed that Hackman of the British Museum had been

staying with him about ten days before, boasting of scarabs.  Hackman

has a way of carrying really priceless antiquities on his tie-ring

and in his trouser pockets.  Apparently, he had intercepted something

on its way to the Boulak Museum which, he said, was "a genuine

Amen-Hotepa queen's scarab of the Fourth Dynasty."  Now Wilton had

bought from Cassavetti, whose reputation is not above suspicion, a

scarab of much the same scarabeousness, and had left it in his London

chambers.  Hackman at a venture, but knowing Cassavetti, pronounced

it an imposition.  There was long discussion - savant versus

millionaire, one saying: " ut I know it cannot be"; and the other:

"But I can and will prove it."  Wilton found it necessary for his

soul's satisfaction to go up to town, then and there, - a forty-mile

run, - and bring back the scarab before dinner.  It was at this point

that he began to cut corners with disastrous results.  Amberley Royal

station being five miles away, and putting in of horses a matter of

time, Wilton had told Howard, the immaculate butler, to signal the

next train to stop; and Howard, who was more of a man of resource

than his master gave him credit for, had, with the red flag of the

ninth hole of the links which crossed the bottom of the lawn,

signalled vehemently to the first down-train; and it had stopped.

Here Wilton's account became confused.  He attempted, it seems, to

get into that highly indignant express, but a guard restrained him

with more or less force - hauled him, in fact, backyards from the

window of a locked carriage.  Wilton must have struck the gravel

with some vehemence, for the consequences, he admitted, were a free

fight on the line in which he lost his hat, and was at last dragged

into the guard's van and set down breathless.

He had pressed money upon the man, and very foolishly had explained

everything but his name.  This he clung to, for he had a vision of

tall head-lines in the New York papers, and well knew no son of

Merton Sargent could expect mercy that side the water.  The guard,

to Wilton's amazement, refused the money on the grounds that this

was a matter for the Company to attend to.  Wilton insisted on his

incognito, and, therefore, found two policemen waiting for him at

St. Botolph terminus.  When he expressed a wish to buy a new hat

and telegraph to his friends, both policemen with one voice warned

him that whatever he said would be used as evidence against him;

and this had impressed Wilton tremendously.

"They were so infernally polite," he said.  "If they had clubbed me

I wouldn't have cared; but it was, 'Step this way, sir,' and, 'Up

those stairs, please, sir,' till they jailed me - jailed me like a

common drunk, and I had to stay in a filthy little cubby-hole of a

cell all night."

"That comes of not giving your name and not wiring your lawyer," I

replied.  "What did you get?"

"Forty shillings, or a month," said Wilton, promptly, - "next morning

bright and early.  They were working us off, three a minute.  A girl

in a pink hat - she was brought in at three in the morning - got ten

days.  I suppose I was lucky.  I must have knocked his senses out of

the guard.  He told the old duck on the bench that I had told him I

was a sergeant in the army, and that I was gathering beetles on the

track.  That comes of trying to explain to an Englishman."

"And you?"

"Oh, I said nothing.  I wanted to get out.  I paid my fine, and

bought a new hat, and came up here before noon next morning.  There

were a lot of people in the house, and I told ' em I'd been

unavoidably detained, and then they began to recollect engagements

elsewhere.  Hackman must have seen the fight on the track and made

a story of it.  I suppose they thought it was distinctly American

 - confound 'em!  It's the only time in my life that I've ever

flagged a train, and I wouldn't have done it but for that scarab.

'T wouldn't hurt their old trains to be held up once in a while."

"Well, it's all over now," I said, choking a little.  "And your name

didn't get into the papers.  It is rather transatlantic when you

come to think of it."

"Over!" Wilton grunted savagely.  "It's only just begun.  That

trouble with the guard was just common, ordinary assault - merely

a little criminal business.  The flagging of the train is civil,

infernally civil, - and means something quite different.  They're

after me for that now."


"The Great Buchonian.  There was a man in court watching the case

on behalf of the Company.  I gave him my name in a quiet corner

before I bought my hat, and - come to dinner now; I'll show you the

results afterwards."  The telling of his wrongs had worked Wilton

Sargent into a very fine temper, and I do not think that my

conversation soothed him.  In the course of the dinner, prompted

by a devil of pure mischief, I dwelt with loving insistence on

certain smells and sounds of New York which go straight to the heart

of the native in foreign parts; and Wilton began to ask many

questions about his associates aforetime - men of the New York Yacht

Club, Storm King, or the Restigouche, owners of rivers, ranches,

and shipping in their playtime, lords of railways, kerosene, wheat,

and cattle in their offices.  When the green mint came, I gave him

a peculiarly oily and atrocious cigar, of the brand they sell in the

tessellated, electric-lighted, with expensive-pictures-of-the-nude

adorned bar of the Pandemonium, and Wilton chewed the end for

several minutes ere he lit it.  The butler left us alone, and the

chimney of the oak-panelled diningroom began to smoke.

"That's another!" said he, poking the fire savagely, and I knew

what he meant.  One cannot put steam-heat in houses where Queen

Elizabeth slept.  The steady beat of a night-mail, whirling down

the valley, recalled me to business.  "What about the Great

Buchonian?" I said.

"Come into my study.  That's all - as yet."

It was a pile of Seidlitz-powders-coloured correspondence, perhaps

nine inches high, and it looked very businesslike.

"You can go through it," said Wilton.  "Now I could take a chair

and a red flag and go into Hyde Park and say the most atrocious

things about your Queen, and preach anarchy and all that, y' know,

till I was hoarse, and no one would take any notice.  The Police

damn 'em! - would protect me if I got into trouble.  But for a

little thing like flagging a dirty little sawed-off train, -

running through my own grounds, too, - I get the whole British

Constitution down on me as if I sold bombs.  I don't understand it."

"No more does the Great Buchonian - apparently."  I was turning over

the letters.  "Here's the traffic superintendent writing that it's

utterly incomprehensible that any man should ...  Good heavens,

Wilton, you have done it!" I giggled, as I read on.

"What's funny now?" said my host.

"It seems that you, or Howard for you, stopped the three-forty

Northern down."

"I ought to know that!  They all had their knife into me, from the

engine-driver up."

"But it's the three-forty - the Induna - surely you've heard of

the Great Buchonian's Induna!"

"How the deuce am I to know one train from another?  They come along

about every two minutes."

"Quite so.  But this happens to be the Induna - the one train of

the whole line.  She's timed for fifty-seven miles an hour.  She was

put on early in the Sixties, and she has never been stopped - "

"I know!  Since William the Conqueror came over, or King Charles hid

in her smoke-stack.  You're as bad as the rest of these Britishers.

If she's been run all that while, it's time she was flagged once or


The American was beginning to ooze out all over Wilton, and his

small-boned hands were moving restlessly.

"Suppose you flagged the Empire State Express, or the Western Cyclone?"

"Suppose I did.  I know Otis Harvey - or used to.  I'd send him a wire,

and he'd understand it was a ground-hog case with me.  That's exactly

what I told this British fossil company here."

"Have you been answering their letters without legal advice, then?"

"Of course I have."

"Oh, my Sainted Country!  Go ahead, Wilton."

"I wrote 'em that I'd be very happy to see their president and

explain to him in three words all about it; but that wouldn't do.

'Seems their president must be a god.  He was too busy, and - well,

you can read for yourself - they wanted explanations.  The

stationmaster at Amberley Royal - and he grovels before me, as a

rule - wanted an explanation, and quick, too.  The head sachem at

St. Botolph's wanted three or four, and the Lord High Mukkamuk that

oils the locomotives wanted one every fine day.  I told 'em - I've

told hem about fifty times - I stopped their holy and sacred train

because I wanted to board her.  Did they think I wanted to feel

her pulse?"

"You didn't say that?"

"Feel her pulse'?  Of course not."

"No.  'Board her.'"

"What else could I say?"

"My dear Wilton, what is the use of Mrs. Sherborne, and the Clays,

and all that lot working over you for four years to make an

Englishman out of you, if the very first time you're rattled you go

back to the vernacular?"

"I'm through with Mrs. Sherborne and the rest of the crowd.  America's

good enough for me.  What ought I to have said?  'Please,' or 'thanks

awf'ly or how?"

There was no chance now of mistaking the man's nationality.  Speech,

gesture, and step, so carefully drilled into him, had gone away with

the borrowed mask of indifference.  It was a lawful son of the

Youngest People, whose predecessors were the Red Indian.  His voice

had risen to the high, throaty crow of his breed when they labour

under excitement.  His close-set eyes showed by turns unnecessary

fear, annoyance beyond reason, rapid and purposeless flights of

thought, the child's lust for immediate revenge, and the child's

pathetic bewilderment, who knocks his head against the bad, wicked

table.  And on the other side, I knew, stood the Company, as unable

as Wilton to understand.

"And I could buy their old road three times over," he muttered,

playing with a paper-knife, and moving restlessly to and fro.

"You didn't tell 'em that, I hope!"

There was no answer; but as I went through the letters, I felt that

Wilton must have told them many surprising things.  The Great

Buchonian had first asked for an explanation of the stoppage of

their Induna, and had found a certain levity in the explanation

tendered.  It then advised " Mr. W. Sargent" to refer his

solicitor to their solicitor, or whatever the legal phrase is.

"And you didn't?" I said, looking up.

"No.  They were treating me exactly as if I had been a kid playing

on the cable-tracks.  There was not the least necessity for any

solicitor.  Five minutes' quiet talk would have settled everything."

I returned to the correspondence.  The Great Buchonian regretted

that, owing to pressure of business, none of their directors could

accept Mr. W. Sargent's invitation to run down and discuss the

difficulty.  The Great Buchonian was careful to point out that no

animus underlay their action, nor was money their object.  Their

duty was to protect the interests of their line, and these interests

could not be protected if a precedent were established whereby any

of the Queen's subjects could stop a train in mid-career.  Again

(this was another branch of the correspondence, not more than five

heads of departments being concerned), the Company admitted that

there was some reasonable doubt as to the duties of express-trains

in all crises, and the matter was open to settlement by process of

law till an authoritative ruling was obtained - from the House of

Lords, if necessary.

"That broke me all up," said Wilton, who was reading over my

shoulder.  "I knew I'd struck the British Constitution at last.

The House of Lords - my Lord!  And, anyway, I'm not one of the

Queen's subjects."

"Why, I had a notion that you'd got yourself naturalised."

Wilton blushed hotly as he explained that very many things must

happen to the British Constitution ere he took out his papers.

"How does it all strike you?" he said.  "Isn't the Great Buchonian


"I don't know.  You've done something that no one ever thought of

doing before, and the Company don't know what to make of it.  I see

they offer to send down their solicitor and another official of the

Company to talk things over informally.  Then here's another letter

suggesting that you put up a fourteen-foot wall, crowned with

bottle-glass, at the bottom of the garden."

"Talk of British insolence!  The man who recommends that (he's

another bloated functionary) says that I shall 'derive great pleasure

from watching the wall going up day by day'!  Did you ever dream of

such gall?  I've offered 'em money enough to buy a new set of cars

and pension the driver for three generations; but that doesn't seem

to be what they want.  They expect me to go to the House of Lords

and get a ruling, and build walls between times.  Are they all stark,

raving mad?  One 'ud think I made a profession of flagging trains.

How in Tophet was I to know their old Induna from a waytrain?  I

took the first that came along, and I've been jailed and fined for

that once already."

"That was for slugging the guard."

"He had no right to haul me out when I was half-way through a window."

"What are you going to do about it?"

"Their lawyer and the other official (can't they trust their men

unless they send 'em in pairs?) are coming hereto-night.  I told 'em

I was busy, as a rule, till after dinner, but they might send along

the entire directorate if it eased 'em any."

Now, after-dinner visiting, for business or pleasure, is the custom

of the smaller American town, and not that of England, where the end

of the day is sacred to the owner, not the public.  Verily, Wilton

Sargent had hoisted the striped flag of rebellion!

"Isn't it time that the humour of the situation began to strike you,

Wilton?" I asked.

"Where's the humour of baiting an American citizen just because he

happens to be a millionaire - poor devil."  He was silent for a

little time, and then went on: "Of course.  Now I see!"  He spun

round and faced me excitedly.  "It's as plain as mud.  These ducks

are laying their pipes to skin me."

"They say explicitly they don't want money!"

"That's all a blind.  So's their addressing me as W. Sargent.  They

know well enough who I am.  They know I'm the old man's son.  Why

didn't I think of that before?"

"One minute, Wilton.  If you climbed to the top of the dome of St.

Paul's and offered a reward to any Englishman who could tell you who

or what Merton Sargent had been, there wouldn't be twenty men in all

London to claim it."

"That's their insular provincialism, then.  I don't care a cent.

The old man would have wrecked the Great Buchonian before breakfast

for a pipe-opener.  My God, I'll do it in dead earnest!  I'll show

'em that they can't bulldoze a foreigner for flagging one of their

little tinpot trains, and - I've spent fifty thousand a year here,

at least, for the last four years."

I was glad I was not his lawyer.  I re-read the correspondence,

notably the letter which recommended him - almost tenderly, I

fancied - to build a fourteen-foot brick wall at the end of his

garden, and half-way through it a thought struck me which filled

me with pure joy.

The footman ushered in two men, frock-coated, grey-trousered,

smooth-shaven, heavy of speech and gait.  It was nearly nine o'clock,

but they looked as newly come from a bath.  I could not understand

why the elder and taller of the pair glanced at me as though we had

an understanding; nor why he shook hands with an unEnglish warmth.

"This simplifies the situation," he said in an undertone, and, as I

stared, he whispered to his companion: "I fear I shall be of very

little service at present.  Perhaps Mr. Folsom had better talk over

the affair with Mr. Sargent."

"That is what I am here for," said Wilton.

The man of law smiled pleasantly, and said that he saw no reason

why the difficulty should not be arranged in two minutes' quiet

talk.  His air, as he sat down opposite Wilton, was soothing to the

last degree, and his companion drew me up-stage.  The mystery was

deepening, but I followed meekly, and heard Wilton say, with an

uneasy laugh:

"I've had insomnia over this affair, Mr. Folsom.  Let's settle it

one way or the other, for heaven's sake!"

"Ah!  Has he suffered much from this lately?" said my man, with a

preliminary cough.

"I really can't say," I replied.

"Then I suppose you have only lately taken charge here?"

"I came this evening.  I am not exactly in charge of anything."

"I see.  Merely to observe the course of events in case - "  He


" Exactly."  Observation, after all, is my trade.

He coughed again slightly, and came to business.

"Now, - I am asking solely for information's sake, - do you find

the delusions persistent?"

"Which delusions?"

"They are variable, then?  That is distinctly curious, because - but

do I understand that the type of the delusion varies?  For example,

Mr. Sargent believes that he can buy the Great Buchonian."

"Did he write you that?"

"He made the offer to the Company - on a half-sheet of note-paper.

Now, has he by chance gone to the other extreme, and believed that

he is in danger of becoming a pauper?  The curious economy in the

use of a half-sheet of paper shows that some idea of that kind might

have flashed through his mind, and the two delusions can coexist,

but it is not common.  As you must know, the delusion of vast wealth

 - the folly of grandeurs, I believe our friends the French call it -

is, as a rule, persistent, to the exclusion of all others."

Then I heard Wilton's best English voice at the end of the study:

"My dear sir, I have explained twenty times already, I wanted to get

that scarab in time for dinner.  Suppose you had left an important

legal document in the same way?"

"That touch of cunning is very significant," my fellow-practitioner

 - since he insisted on it - muttered.

"I am very happy, of course, to meet you; but if you had only sent

your president down to dinner here, I could have settled the thing

in half a minute.  Why, I could have bought the Buchonian from him

while your clerks were sending me this."  Wilton dropped his hand

heavily on the blue-and-white correspondence, and the lawyer started.

"But, speaking frankly," the lawyer replied, "it is, if I may say

so, perfectly inconceivable, even in the case of the most important

legal documents, that any one should stop the three-forty express

 - the Induna - Our Induna, my dear sir."

"Absolutely!" my companion echoed; then to me in a lower tone: "You

notice, again, the persistent delusion of wealth.  I was called in

when he wrote us that.  You can see it is utterly impossible for

the Company to continue to run their trains through the property of

a man who may at any moment fancy himself divinely commissioned to

stop all traffic.  If he had only referred us to his lawyer - but,

naturally, that he would not do, under the circumstances.  A pity

 - a great pity.  He is so young.  By the way, it is curious, is it

not, to note the absolute conviction in the voice of those who are

similarly afflicted, - heart-rending, I might say, and the inability

to follow a chain of connected thought."

"I can't see what you want," Wilton was saying to the lawyer.

"It need not be more than fourteen feet high - a really desirable

structure, and it would be possible to grow pear trees on the sunny

side."  The lawyer was speaking in an unprofessional voice.  "There

are few things pleasanter than to watch, so to say, one's own vine

and fig tree in full bearing.  Consider the profit and amusement you

would derive from it.  If you could see your way to doing this, we

could arrange all the details with your lawyer, and it is possible

that the Company might bear some of the cost.  I have put the matter,

I trust, in a nutshell.  If you, my dear sir, will interest yourself

in building that wall, and will kindly give us the name of your

lawyers, I dare assure you that you will hear no more from the Great


"But why am I to disfigure my lawn with a new brick wall?"

"Grey flint is extremely picturesque."

"Grey flint, then, if you put it that way.  Why the dickens must I

go building towers of Babylon just because I have held up one of

your trains-once?"

"The expression he used in his third letter was that he wished to

'board her,'" said my companion in my ear.  "That was very curious

 - a marine delusion impinging, as it were, upon a land one.  What

a marvellous world he must move in - and will before the curtain

falls.  So young, too - so very young!"

"Well, if you want the plain English of it, I'm damned if I go

wall-building to your orders.  You can fight it all along the line,

into the House of Lords and out again, and get your rulings by the

running foot if you like," said Wilton, hotly.  "Great heavens, man,

I only did it once!"

"We have at present no guarantee that you may not do it again; and,

with our traffic, we must, in justice to our passengers, demand

some form of guarantee.  It must not serve as a precedent.  All this

might have been saved if you had only referred us to your legal

representative."  The lawyer looked appealingly around the room.

The dead-lock was complete.

Wilton," I asked, "may I try my hand now?"

"Anything you like," said Wilton.  "It seems I can't talk English.

I won't build any wall, though."  He threw himself back in his


" Gentlemen," I said deliberately, for I perceived that the doctor's

mind would turn slowly, "Mr. Sargent has very large interests in the

chief railway systems of his own country."

"His own country?" said the lawyer.

"At that age?" said the doctor.

"Certainly.  He inherited them from his father, Mr. Sargent, who

was an American."

"And proud of it," said Wilton, as though he had been a Western

Senator let loose on the Continent for the first time.

"My dear sir," said the lawyer, half rising, "why did you not

acquaint the Company with this fact - this vital fact - early in

our correspondence?  We should have understood.  We should have

made allowances."

"Allowances be damned.  Am I a Red Indian or a lunatic?"

The two men looked guilty.

"If Mr. Sargent's friend had told us as much in the beginning,"

said the doctor, very severely, "much might have been saved."  Alas!

I had made a life's enemy of that doctor.

"I hadn't a chance," I replied.  "Now, of course, you can see that a

man who owns several thousand miles of line, as Mr. Sargent does,

would be apt to treat railways a shade more casually than other


"Of course; of course.  He is an American; that accounts.  Still,

it was the Induna; but I can quite understand that the customs of

our cousins across the water differ in these particulars from ours.

And do you always stop trains in this way in the States, Mr.


"I should if occasion ever arose; but I've never had to yet.  Are

you going to make an international complication of the business?"

"You need give yourself no further concern whatever in the matter.

We see that there is no likelihood of this action of yours

establishing a precedent, which was the only thing we were afraid

of.  Now that you understand that we cannot reconcile our system

to any sudden stoppages, we feel quite sure that - "

"I sha'n't be staying long enough to flag another train," Wilton

said pensively.

"You are returning, then, to our fellow-kinsmen across the-ah-big

pond, you call it?"

"No, sir.  The ocean - the North Atlantic Ocean.  It's three

thousand miles broad, and three miles deep in places.  I wish it

were ten thousand."

"I am not so fond of sea-travel myself; but I think it is every

Englishman's duty once in his life to study the great branch of

our Anglo-Saxon race across the ocean," said the lawyer.

"If ever you come over, and care to flag any train on my system,

I'll - I'll see you through," said Wilton.

"Thank you - ah, thank you.  You're very kind.  I'm sure I should

enjoy myself immensely."

"We have overlooked the fact," the doctor whispered to me, "that

your friend proposed to buy the Great Buchonian."

"He is worth anything from twenty to thirty million dollars - four

to five million pounds," I answered, knowing that it would be

hopeless to explain.

"Really!  That is enormous wealth.  But the Great Buchonian is not

in the market."

"Perhaps he does not want to buy it now."

"It would be impossible under any circumstances," said the doctor.

"How characteristic!" murmured the lawyer, reviewing matters in his

mind.  "I always understood from books that your countrymen were in

a hurry.  And so you would have gone forty miles to town and back

 - before dinner - to get a scarab?  How intensely American!  But

you talk exactly like an Englishman, Mr. Sargent."

"That is a fault that can be remedied.  There's only one question

I'd like to ask you.  You said it was inconceivable that any man

should stop a train on your road?"

"And so it is-absolutely inconceivable."

"Any sane man, that is?"

"That is what I meant, of course.  I mean, with excep - "

"Thank you."

The two men departed.  Wilton checked himself as he was about to

fill a pipe, took one of my cigars instead, and was silent for

fifteen minutes.

Then said he: "Have you got a list of the Southampton sailings on


Far away from the greystone wings, the dark cedars, the faultless

gravel drives, and the mint-sauce lawns of Holt Hangars runs a

river called the Hudson, whose unkempt banks are covered with the

palaces of those wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice.  Here, where

the hoot of the Haverstraw brick-barge-tug answers the howl of the

locomotive on either shore, you shall find, with a complete

installation of electric light, nickel-plated binnacles, and a

calliope attachment to her steam-whistle, the twelve-hundred-ton

ocean-going steam-yacht Columbia, lying at her private pier, to

take to his office, at an average speed of seventeen knots an

hour, - and the barges can look out for themselves, - Wilton Sargent,



   If the Red Slayer think he slays,

     Or if the slain think he is slain,

   They know not well the subtle ways

      I keep and pass and turn again.


It was the unreproducible slid r, as he said this was his "fy-ist"

visit to England, that told me he was a New-Yorker from New York;

and when, in the course of our long, lazy journey westward from

Waterloo, he enlarged upon the beauties of his city, I, professing

ignorance, said no word.  He had, amazed and delighted at the man's

civility, given the London porter a shilling for carrying his bag

nearly fifty yards; he had thoroughly investigated the first-class

lavatory compartment, which the London and Southwestern sometimes

supply without extra charge; and now, half-awed, half-contemptuous,

but wholly interested, he looked out upon the ordered English

landscape wrapped in its Sunday peace, while I watched the wonder

grow upon his face.  Why were the cars so short and stilted?  Why

had every other freight-car a tarpaulin drawn over it?  What wages

would an engineer get now?  Where was the swarming population of

England he had read so much about?  What was the rank of all those

men on tricycles along the roads?  When were we due at Plymouth

I told him all I knew, and very much that I did not.  He was going

to Plymouth to assist in a consultation upon a fellow-countryman

who had retired to a place called The Hoe - was that up-town or

down-town - to recover from nervous dyspepsia.  Yes, he himself

was a doctor by profession, and how any one in England could

retain any nervous disorder passed his comprehension.  Never had

he dreamed of an atmosphere so soothing.  Even the deep rumble of

London traffic was monastical by comparison with some cities he

could name; and the country - why, it was Paradise.  A continuance

of it, he confessed, would drive him mad; but for a few months it

was the most sumptuous rest-cure in his knowledge.

"I'll come over every year after this," he said, in a burst of

delight, as we ran between two ten-foot hedges of pink and white

may.  "It's seeing all the things I've ever read about.  Of course

it doesn't strike you that way.  I presume you belong here?  What

a finished land it is! It's arrived.  'Must have been born this

way.  Now, where I used to live - Hello I what's up?"

The train stopped in a blaze of sunshine at Framlynghame Admiral,

which is made up entirely of the name-board, two platforms, and an

overhead bridge, without even the usual siding.  I had never known

the slowest of locals stop here before; but on Sunday all things

are possible to the London and Southwestern.  One could hear the

drone of conversation along the carriages, and, scarcely less loud,

the drone of the bumblebees in the wallflowers up the bank.  My

companion thrust his head through the window and sniffed luxuriously.

"Where are we now?" said he.

"In Wiltshire," said I.

"Ah!  A man ought to be able to write novels with his left hand in

a country like this.  Well, well!  And so this is about Tess's

country, ain't it?  I feel just as if I were in a book.  Say, the

conduc -  the guard has something on his mind.  What's he getting


The splendid badged and belted guard was striding up the platform

at the regulation official pace, and in the regulation official

voice was saying at each door:

"Has any gentleman here a bottle of medicine?  A gentleman has taken

a bottle of poison (laudanum) by mistake."

Between each five paces he looked at an official telegram in his

hand, refreshed his memory, and said his say.  The dreamy look on

my companion's face - he had gone far away with Tess - passed with

the speed of a snap-shutter.  After the manner of his countrymen,

he had risen to the situation, jerked his bag down from the overhead

rail, opened it, and I heard the click of bottles.  "Find out where

the man is," he said briefly.  "I've got something here that will

fix him - if he can swallow still."

Swiftly I fled up the line of carriages in the wake of the guard.

There was clamour in a rear compartment - the voice of one bellowing

to be let out, and the feet of one who kicked.  With the tail of my

eye I saw the New York doctor hastening thither, bearing in his hand

a blue and brimming glass from the lavatory compartment.  The guard

I found scratching his head unofficially, by the engine, and

murmuring: "Well, I put a bottle of medicine off at Andover - I'm

sure I did."

"Better say it again, any'ow',' said the driver.  "Orders is orders.

Say it again."

Once more the guard paced back, I, anxious to attract his attention,

trotting at his heels.

"In a minute - in a minute, sir," he said, waving an arm capable of

starting all the traffic on the London and Southwestern Railway at

a wave.  "Has any gentleman here got a bottle of medicine?  A

gentleman has taken a bottle of poison (laudanum) by mistake."

"Where's the man?" I gasped.

"Woking.  'Ere's my orders."  He showed me the telegram, on which

were the words to be said.  "'E must have left 'is bottle in the

train, an' took another by mistake.  'E's been wirin' from Woking

awful, an', now I come to think of, it, I'm nearly sure I put a

bottle of medicine off at Andover."

"Then the man that took the poison isn't in the train?"

"Lord, no, sir.  No one didn't take poison that way.  'E took it

away with 'im, in 'is 'ands.  'E's wirin' from Wokin'.  My orders

was to ask everybody in the train, and I 'ave, an' we're four minutes

late now.  Are you comin' on, sir?  No?  Right be'ind!"

There is nothing, unless, perhaps, the English language, more

terrible than the workings of an English railway-line.  An instant

before it seemed as though we were going to spend all eternity at

Framlynghame Admiral, and now I was watching the tail of the train

disappear round the curve of the cutting.

But I was not alone.  On the one bench of the down platform sat the

largest navvy I have ever seen in my life, softened and made affable

(for he smiled generously) with liquor.  In his huge hands he nursed

an empty tumbler marked "L.S.W.R." - marked also, internally, with

streaks of blue-grey sediment.  Before him, a hand on his shoulder,

stood the doctor, and as I came within ear-shot, this is what I

heard him say: "Just you hold on to your patience for a minute or

two longer, and you'll be as right as ever you were in your life.

I'll stay with you till you're better."

"Lord!  I'm comfortable enough," said the navvy.  "Never felt better

in my life."

Turning to me, the doctor lowered his voice.  "He might have died

while that fool conduct-guard was saying his piece.  I've fixed him,

though.  The stuff's due in about five minutes, but there's a heap

to him.  I don't see how we can make him take exercise."

For the moment I felt as though seven pounds of crushed ice had been

neatly applied in the form of a compress to my lower stomach.

"How - how did you manage it?" I gasped.

"I asked him if he'd have a drink.  He was knocking spots out of

the car - strength of his constitution, I suppose.  He said he'd

go 'most anywhere for a drink, so I lured onto the platform, and

loaded him up.  'Cold-blooded people, you Britishers are.  That

train's gone, and no one seemed to care a cent."

"We've missed it," I said.

He looked at me curiously.

We'll get another before sundown, if that's your only trouble.  Say,

porter, when's the next train down?"

"Seven forty-five," said the one porter, and passed out through the

wicket-gate into the landscape.  It was then three-twenty of a hot

and sleepy afternoon.  The station was absolutely deserted.  The

navvy had closed his eyes, and now nodded.

"That's bad," said the doctor.  "The man, I mean, not the train.

We must make him walk somehowwalk up and down."

Swiftly as might be, I explained the delicacy of the situation, and

the doctor from New York turned a full bronze-green.  Then he swore

comprehensively at the entire fabric of our glorious Constitution,

cursing the English language, root, branch, and paradigm, through

its most obscure derivatives.  His coat and bag lay on the bench

next to the sleeper.  Thither he edged cautiously, and I saw

treachery in his eye.

What devil of delay possessed him to slip on his spring overcoat, I

cannot tell.  They say a slight noise rouses a sleeper more surely

than a heavy one, and scarcely had the doctor settled himself in his

sleeves than the giant waked and seized that silk-faced collar in a

hot right hand.  There was rage in his face-rage and the realisation

of new emotions.

"I'm - I'm not so comfortable as I were," he said from the deeps of

his interior.  "You'll wait along o' me, you will."  He breathed

heavily through shut lips.

Now, if there was one thing more than another upon which the doctor

had dwelt in his conversation with me, it was upon the essential

law-abidingness, not to say gentleness, of his much-misrepresented

country.  And yet (truly, it may have been no more than a button

that irked him) I saw his hand travel backwards to his right hip,

clutch at something, and come away empty.

"He won't kill you," I said.  "He'll probably sue you in court, if

I know my own people.  Better give him some money from time to time."

"If he keeps quiet till the stuff gets in its work," the doctor

answered, "I'm all right.  If he doesn't ... my name is Emory -

Julian B. Emory - 193 'Steenth Street, corner of Madison and - "

"I feel worse than I've ever felt," said the navvy, with suddenness.


The matter seemed to be so purely personal that I withdrew to a

strategic position on the overhead bridge, and, abiding in the exact

centre, looked on from afar.

I could see the white road that ran across the shoulder of Salisbury

Plain, unshaded for mile after mile, and a dot in the middle

distance, the back of the one porter returning to Framlynghame

Admiral, if such a place existed, till seven forty-five.  The bell

of a church invisible clanked softly.  There was a rustle in the

horse-chestnuts to the left of the line, and the sound of sheep

cropping close.

The peace of Nirvana lay upon the land, and, brooding in it, my

elbow on the warm iron girder of the footbridge (it is a

forty-shilling fine to cross by any other means), I perceived, as

never before, how the consequences of our acts run eternal through

time and through space.  If we impinge never so slightly upon the

life of a fellow-mortal, the touch of our personality, like the

ripple of a stone cast into a pond, widens and widens in unending

circles across the aeons, till the far-off Gods themselves cannot

say where action ceases.  Also, it was I who had silently set

before the doctor the tumbler of the first-class lavatory compartment

now speeding Plymouthward.  Yet I was, in spirit at least, a million

leagues removed from that unhappy man of another nationality, who

had chosen to thrust an inexpert finger into the workings of an

alien life.  The machinery was dragging him up and down the sunlit

platform.  The two men seemed to be learning polka-mazurkas together,

and the burden of their song, borne by one deep voice, was: "What

did you give me the drink for?"

I saw the flash of silver in the doctor's hand.  The navvy took it

and pocketed it with his left; but never for an instant did his

strong right leave the doctor's coat-collar, and as the crisis

approached, louder and louder rose his bull-like roar: "What did you

give me the drink for?"

They drifted under the great twelve-inch pinned timbers of the

foot-bridge towards the bench, and, I gathered, the time was very

near at hand.  The stuff was getting in its work.  Blue, white, and

blue again, rolled over the navvy's face in waves, till all settled

to one rich clay-bank yellow and - that fell which fell.

I thought of the blowing up of Hell Gate; of the geysers in the

Yellowstone Park; of Jonah and his whale: but the lively original,

as I watched it foreshortened from above, exceeded all these things.

He staggered to the bench, the heavy wooden seat cramped with iron

cramps into the enduring stone, and clung there with his left hand.

It quivered and shook, as a breakwater-pile quivers to the rush of

landward-racing seas; nor was there lacking when he caught his

breath, the "scream of a maddened beach dragged down by the tide."

His right hand was upon the doctor's collar, so that the two shook

to one paroxysm, pendulums vibrating together, while I, apart, shook

with them.

It was colossal-immense; but of certain manifestations the English

language stops short.  French only, the caryatid French of Victor

Hugo, would have described it; so I mourned while I laughed, hastily

shuffling and discarding inadequate adjectives.  The vehemence of

the shock spent itself, and the sufferer half fell, half knelt,

across the bench.  He was calling now upon God and his wife, huskily,

as the wounded bull calls upon the unscathed herd to stay.  Curiously

enough, he used no bad language: that had gone from him with the

rest.  The doctor exhibited gold.  It was taken and retained.  So,

too, was the grip on the coat-collar.

"If I could stand," boomed the giant, despairingly, "I'd smash you

 - you an' your drinks.  I'm dyin' - dyin' -dyin'!"

"That's what you think," said the doctor.  "You'll find it will do

you a lot of good"; and, making a virtue of a somewhat imperative

necessity, he added: "I'll stay by you.  If you'd let go of me a

minute I'd give you something that would settle you."

"You've settled me now, you damned anarchist.  Takin' the bread out

of the mouth of an English workin'man!  But I'll keep 'old of you

till I'm well or dead.  I never did you no 'arm.  S'pose I were a

little full.  They pumped me out once at Guy's with a stummick-pump.

I could see that, but I can't see this 'ere, an' it's killin' of me

by slow degrees."

"You'll be all right in half-an-hour.  What do you suppose I'd want

to kill you for?" said the doctor, who came of a logical breed.

"'Ow do I know?  Tell 'em in court.  You'll get seven years for

this, you body-snatcher.  That's what you are - a bloomin'

bodysnatcher.  There's justice, I tell you, in England; and my

Union'll prosecute, too.  We don't stand no tricks with people's

insides 'ere.  They give a woman ten years for a sight less than

this.  An' you'll 'ave to pay 'undreds an' 'undreds o' pounds,

besides a pension to the missus.  You'll see, you physickin'

furriner.  Where's your licence to do such?  You'll catch it,

I tell you!"

Then I observed what I have frequently observed before, that a man

who is but reasonably afraid of an altercation with an alien has a

most poignant dread of the operations of foreign law.  The doctor's

voice was flute-like in its exquisite politeness, as he answered:

"But I've given you a very great deal of money - fif-three pounds,

I think."

"An' what's three pound for poisonin' the likes o' me?  They told

me at Guy's I'd fetch twenty-cold-on the slates.  Ouh!  It's comin'


A second time he was cut down by the foot, as it were, and the

straining bench rocked to and fro as I averted my eyes.

It was the very point of perfection in the heart of an English

May-day.  The unseen tides of the air had turned, and all nature

was setting its face with the shadows of the horse-chestnuts

towards the peace of the coming night.  But there were hours yet,

I knew - long, long hours of the eternal English twilight - to

the ending of the day.  I was well content to be alive - to

abandon myself to the drift of Time and Fate; to absorb great peace

through my skin, and to love my country with the devotion that three

thousand miles of intervening sea bring to fullest flower.  And what

a garden of Eden it was, this fatted, clipped, and washen land!  A

man could camp in any open field with more sense of home and security

than the stateliest buildings of foreign cities could afford.  And

the joy was that it was all mine alienably - groomed hedgerow,

spotless road, decent greystone cottage, serried spinney, tasselled

copse, apple-bellied hawthorn, and well-grown tree.  A light puff

of wind - it scattered flakes of may over the gleaming rails - gave

me a faint whiff as it might have been of fresh cocoanut, and I

knew that the golden gorse was in bloom somewhere out of sight.

Linneeus had thanked God on his bended knees when he first saw a

field of it; and, by the way, the navvy was on his knees, too.  But

he was by no means praying.  He was purely disgustful.

The doctor was compelled to bend over him, his face towards the

back of the seat, and from what I had seen I supposed the navvy

was now dead.  If that were the case it would be time for me to go;

but I knew that so long as a man trusts himself to the current of

Circumstance, reaching out for and rejecting nothing that comes his

way, no harm can overtake him.  It is the contriver, the schemer,

who is caught by the Law, and never the philosopher.  I knew that

when the play was played, Destiny herself would move me on from the

corpse; and I felt very sorry for the doctor.

In the far distance, presumably upon the road that led to

Framlynghame Admiral, there appeared a vehicle and a horse - the

one ancient fly that almost every village can produce at need.  This

thing was advancing, unpaid by me, towards the station; would have

to pass along the deep-cut lane, below the railway-bridge, and come

out on the doctor's side.  I was in the centre of things, so all

sides were alike to me.  Here, then, was my machine from the machine.

When it arrived; something would happen, or something else.  For the

rest, I owned my deeply interested soul.

The doctor, by the seat, turned so far as his cramped position

allowed, his head over his left shoulder, and laid his right hand

upon his lips.  I threw back my hat and elevated my eyebrows in the

form of a question.  The doctor shut his eyes and nodded his head

slowly twice or thrice, beckoning me to come.  I descended

cautiously, and it was as the signs had told.  The navvy was asleep,

empty to the lowest notch; yet his hand clutched still the doctor's

collar, and at the lightest movement (the doctor was really very

cramped) tightened mechanically, as the hand of a sick woman tightens

on that of the watcher.  He had dropped, squatting almost upon his

heels, and, falling lower, had dragged the doctor over to the left.

The doctor thrust his right hand, which was free, into his pocket,

drew forth some keys, and shook his head.  The navvy gurgled in his

sleep.  Silently I dived into my pocket, took out one sovereign,

and held it up between finger and thumb.  Again the doctor shook

his head.  Money was not what was lacking to his peace.  His bag

had fallen from the seat to the ground.  He looked towards it, and

opened his mouth-O-shape.  The catch was not a difficult one, and

when I had mastered it, the doctor's right forefinger was sawing

the air.  With an immense caution, I extracted from the bag such a

knife as they use for cutting collops off legs.  The doctor frowned,

and with his first and second fingers imitated the action of

scissors.  Again I searched, and found a most diabolical pair of

cock-nosed shears, capable of vandyking the interiors of elephants.

The doctor then slowly lowered his left shoulder till the navvy's

right wrist was supported by the bench, pausing a moment as the

spent volcano rumbled anew.  Lower and lower the doctor sank,

kneeling now by the navvy's side, till his head was on a level

with, and just in front of, the great hairy fist, and - there was

no tension on the coat-collar.  Then light dawned on me.

Beginning a little to the right of the spinal column, I cut a huge

demilune out of his new spring overcoat, bringing it round as far

under his left side (which was the right side of the navvy) as I

dared.  Passing thence swiftly to the back of the seat, and reaching

between the splines, I sawed through the silk-faced front on the

left-hand side of the coat till the two cuts joined.

Cautiously as the box-turtle of his native heath, the doctor drew

away sideways and to the right, with the air of a frustrated burglar

coming out from under a bed, and stood up free, one black diagonal

shoulder projecting through the grey of his ruined overcoat.  I

returned the scissors to the bag, snapped the catch, and held all

out to him as the wheels of the fly rang hollow under the railway


It came at a footpace past the wicket-gate of the station, and the

doctor stopped it with a whisper.  It was going some five miles

across country to bring home from church some one, - I could not

catch the name, - because his own carriage-horses were lame.  Its

destination happened to be the one place in all the world that the

doctor was most burningly anxious to visit, and he promised the

driver untold gold to drive to some ancient flame of his - Helen

Blazes, she was called.

"Aren't you coming, too?" he said, bundling his overcoat into his


Now the fly had been so obviously sent to the doctor, and to no

one else, that I had no concern with it.  Our roads, I saw, divided,

and there was, further, a need upon me to laugh.

"I shall stay here," I said.  "It's a very pretty country."

"My God!" he murmured, as softly as he shut the door, and I felt

that it was a prayer.

Then he went out of my life, and I shaped my course for the

railway-bridge.  It was necessary to pass by the bench once more,

but the wicket was between us.  The departure of the fly had waked

the navvy.  He crawled on to the seat, and with malignant eyes

watched the driver flog down the road.

"The man inside o' that," he called, "'as poisoned me.  'E's a

body-snatcher.  'E's comin' back again when I'm cold.  'Ere's my


He waved his share of the overcoat, and I went my way, because I

was hungry.  Framlynghame Admiral village is a good two miles from

the station, and I waked the holy calm of the evening every step

of that way with shouts and yells, casting myself down in the

flank of the good green hedge when I was too weak to stand.  There

was an inn, - a blessed inn with a thatched roof, and peonies in

the garden,- and I ordered myself an upper chamber in which the

Foresters held their courts for the laughter was not all out of

me.  A bewildered woman brought me ham and eggs, and I leaned out

of the mullioned window, and laughed between mouthfuls.  I sat

long above the beer and the perfect smoke that followed, till the

lights changed in the quiet street, and I began to think of the

seven forty-five down, and all that world of the "Arabian Nights"

I had quitted.

Descending, I passed a giant in moleskins who filled the low-ceiled

tap-room.  Many empty plates stood before him, and beyond them a

fringe of the Framlynghame Admiralty, to whom he was unfolding a

wondrous tale of anarchy, of body-snatching, of bribery, and the

Valley of the Shadow from the which he was but newly risen.  And as

he talked he ate, and as he ate he drank, for there was much room

in him; and anon he paid royally, speaking of Justice and the Law,

before whom all Englishmen are equal, and all foreigners and

anarchists vermin and slime.

On my way to the station, he passed me with great strides, his head

high among the low-flying bats, his feet firm on the packed

road-metal, his fists clinched, and his breath coming sharply.  There

was a beautiful smell in the air - the smell of white dust, bruised

nettles, and smoke, that brings tears to the throat of a man who

sees his country but seldom - a smell like the echoes of the lost

talk of lovers; the infinitely suggestive odour of an immemorial

civilisation.  It was a perfect walk; and, lingering on every step,

I came to the station just as the one porter lighted the last of

a truckload of lamps, and set them back in the lamp-room, while he

dealt tickets to four or five of the population who, not contented

with their own peace, thought fit to travel.  It was no ticket that

the navvy seemed to need.  He was sitting on a bench, wrathfully

grinding a tumbler into fragments with his heel.  I abode in

obscurity at the end of the platform, interested as ever, thank

Heaven, in my surroundings.  There was a jar of wheels on the road.

The navvy rose as they approached, strode through the wicket, and

laid a hand upon a horse's bridle that brought the beast up on his

hireling hind legs.  It was the providential fly coming back, and

for a moment I wondered whether the doctor had been mad enough to

revisit his practice.

"Get away; you're drunk,"said the driver.

"I'm not," said the navvy.  "I've been waitin' 'ere hours and hours.

Come out, you beggar inside there!"

"Go on, driver," said a voice I did not know - a crisp, clear,

English voice.

"All right," said the navvy.  "You wouldn't 'ear me when I was

polite.  Now will you come?"

There was a chasm in the side of the fly, for he had wrenched the

door bodily off its hinges, and was feeling within purposefully.

A well-booted leg rewarded him, and there came out, not with delight,

hopping on one foot, a round and grey-haired Englishman, from whose

armpits dropped hymn-books, but from his mouth an altogether

different service of song.

"Come on, you bloomin' body-snatcher!  You thought I was dead, did

you?" roared the navvy.  And the respectable gentleman came

accordingly, inarticulate with rage.

"Ere's a man murderin' the Squire," the driver shouted, and fell

from his box upon the navvy's neck.

To do them justice, the people of Framlynghame Admiral, so many as

were on the platform, rallied to the call in the best spirit of

feudalism.  It was the one porter who beat the navvy on the nose

with a ticket-punch, but it was the three third-class tickets who

attached themselves to his legs and freed the captive.

"Send for a constable! lock him up! " said that man, adjusting his

collar; and unitedly they cast him into the lamp-room, and turned

the key, while the driver mourned over the wrecked fly.

Till then the navvy, whose only desire was justice, had kept his

temper nobly.  Then he went Berserk before our amazed eyes.  The

door of the lamp-room was generously constructed, and would not give

an inch, but the window he tore from its fastenings and hurled

outwards.  The one porter counted the damage in a loud voice, and

the others, arming themselves with agricultural implements from the

station garden, kept up a ceaseless winnowing before the window,

themselves backed close to the wall, and bade the prisoner think of

the gaol.  He answered little to the point, so far as they could

understand; but seeing that his exit was impeded, he took a lamp

and hurled it through the wrecked sash.  It fell on the metals and

went out.  With inconceivable velocity, the others, fifteen in all,

followed, looking like rockets in the gloom, and with the last (he

could have had no plan) the Berserk rage left him as the doctor's

deadly brewage waked up, under the stimulus of violent exercise and

a very full meal, to one last cataclysmal exhibition, and - we heard

the whistle of the seven forty-five down.

They were all acutely interested in as much of the wreck as they

could see, for the station smelt to Heaven of oil, and the engine

skittered over broken glass like a terrier in a cucumber-frame.

The guard had to hear of it, and the Squire had his version of the

brutal assault, and heads were out all along the carriages as I

found me a seat.

"What is the row?" said a young man, as I entered.  "'Man drunk?"

"Well, the symptoms, so far as my observation has gone, more

resemble those of Asiatic cholera than anything else," I answered,

slowly and judicially, that every word might carry weight in the

appointed scheme of things.  Up till then, you will observe, I had

taken no part in that war.

He was an Englishman, but he collected his belongings as swiftly

as had the American, ages before, and leaped upon the platform,

crying: "Can I be of any service?  I'm a doctor."

>From the lamp-room I heard a wearied voice wailing "Another bloomin'

doctor! "

And the seven forty-five carried me on, a step nearer to Eternity,

by the road that is worn and seamed and channelled with the

passions, and weaknesses, and warring interests of man who is

immortal and master of his fate.


   Girls and boys, come out to play

   The moon is shining as bright as day!

   Leave your supper and leave your sleep,

   And come with your playfellows out in the street!

   Up the ladder and down the wall-

A CHILD of three sat up in his crib and screamed at the top of his

voice, his fists clinched and his eyes full of terror.  At first

no one heard, for his nursery was in the west wing, and the nurse

was talking to a gardener among the laurels.  Then the housekeeper

passed that way, and hurried to soothe him.  He was her special

pet, and she disapproved of the nurse.

"What was it, then?  What was it, then?  There's nothing to frighten

him, Georgie dear."

"It was - it was a policeman!  He was on the Down -I saw him!  He

came in.  Jane said he would."

"Policemen don't come into houses, dearie.  Turn over, and take my


"I saw him - on the Down.  He came here.  Where is your hand, Harper?"

The housekeeper waited till the sobs changed to the regular breathing

of sleep before she stole out.

"Jane, what nonsense have you been telling Master Georgie about


"I haven't told him anything."

"You have.  He's been dreaming about them."

"We met Tisdall on Dowhead when we were in the donkey-cart this

morning.  P'r'aps that's what put it into his head."

"Oh!  Now you aren't going to frighten the child into fits with your

silly tales, and the master know nothing about it.  If ever I catch

you again," etc.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

A child of six was telling himself stories as he lay in bed.  It was

a new power, and he kept it a secret.  A month before it had occurred

to him to carry on a nursery tale left unfinished by his mother, and

he was delighted to find the tale as it came out of his own head

just as surprising as though he were listening to it "all new from

the beginning."  There was a prince in that tale, and he killed

dragons, but only for one night.  Ever afterwards Georgie dubbed

himself prince, pasha, giant-killer, and all the rest (you see, he

could not tell any one, for fear of being laughed at), and his tales

faded gradually into dreamland, where adventures were so many that

he could not recall the half of them.  They all began in the same

way, or, as Georgie explained to the shadows of the night-light,

there was "the same starting-off place" - a pile of brushwood

stacked somewhere near a beach; and round this pile Georgie found

himself running races with little boys and girls.  These ended,

ships ran high up the dry land and opened into cardboard boxes; or

gilt-and-green iron railings that surrounded beautiful gardens turned

all soft and could be walked through and overthrown so long as he

remembered it was only a dream.  He could never hold that knowledge

more than a few seconds ere things became real, and instead of

pushing down houses full of grown-up people (a just revenge), he sat

miserably upon gigantic door-steps trying to sing the

multiplication-table up to four times six.

The princess of his tales was a person of wonderful beauty (she came

from the old illustrated edition of Grimm, now out of print), and

as she always applauded Georgie's valour among the dragons and

buffaloes, he gave her the two finest names he had ever heard in his

life - Annie and Louise, pronounced "Annieanlouise."  When the dreams

swamped the stories, she would change into one of the little girls

round the brushwood-pile, still keeping her title and crown.  She

saw Georgie drown once in a dream-sea by the beach (it was the day

after he had been taken to bathe in a real sea by his nurse); and he

said as he sank: "Poor Annieanlouise!  She'll be sorry for me now!"

But "Annieanlouise," walking slowly on the beach, called, "'Ha! ha!'

said the duck, laughing," which to a waking mind might not seem to

bear on the situation.  It consoled Georgie at once, and must have

been some kind of spell, for it raised the bottom of the deep, and

he waded out with a twelve-inch flower-pot on each foot.  As he was

strictly forbidden to meddle with flower-pots in real life, he felt

triumphantly wicked.

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

The movements of the grown-ups, whom Georgie tolerated, but did not

pretend to understand, removed his world, when he was seven years

old, to a place called "Oxford-on-a-visit.  "Here were huge buildings

surrounded by vast prairies, with streets of infinite length, and,

above all, something called the "buttery," which Georgie was dying

to see, because he knew it must be greasy, and therefore delightful.

He perceived how correct were his judgments when his nurse led him

through a stone arch into the presence of an enormously fat man,

who asked him if he would like some, bread and cheese.  Georgie was

used to eat all round the clock, so he took what "buttery " gave him,

and would have taken some brown liquid called "auditale" but that

his nurse led him away to an afternoon performance of a thing called

"Pepper's Ghost."  This was intensely thrilling.  People's heads

came off and flew all over the stage, and skeletons danced bone by

bone, while Mr. Pepper himself, beyond question a man of the worst,

waved his arms and flapped a long gown, and in a deep bass voice

(Georgie had never heard a man sing before) told of his sorrows

unspeakable.  Some grown-up or other tried to explain that the

illusion was made with mirrors, and that there was no need to be

frightened.  Georgie did not know what illusions were, but he did

know that a mirror was the looking-glass with the ivory handle on

his mother's dressing-table.  Therefore the "grown-up" was "just

saying things" after the distressing custom of "grown-ups," and

Georgie cast about for amusement between scenes.  Next to him sat

a little girl dressed all in black, her hair combed off her forehead

exactly like the girl in the book called "Alice in Wonderland,

"which had been given him on his last birthday.  The little girl

looked at Georgie, and Georgie looked at her.  There seemed to be

no need of any further introduction.

"I've got a cut on my thumb," said he.  It was the first work of

his first real knife, a savage triangular hack, and he esteemed it

a most valuable possession.

"I'm tho thorry!" she lisped.  "Let me look pleathe."

"There's a di-ack-lum plaster on, but it's all raw under," Georgie

answered, complying.

"Dothent it hurt?" - her grey eyes were full of pity and interest.

"Awf'ly.  Perhaps it will give me lockjaw."

"It lookth very horrid.  I'm tho thorry!"  She put a forefinger to

his hand, and held her head sidewise for a better view.

Here the nurse turned, and shook him severely.  "You mustn't talk

to strange little girls, Master Georgie."

"She isn't strange.  She's very nice.  I like her, an' I've showed

her my new cut."

"The idea! You change places with me."

She moved him over, and shut out the little girl from his view,

while the grown-up behind renewed the futile explanations.

"I am not afraid, truly," said the boy, wriggling in despair; "but

why don't you go to sleep in the afternoons, same as Provost of


Georgie had been introduced to a grown-up of that name, who slept

in his presence without apology.  Georgie understood that he was

the most important grown-up in Oxford; hence he strove to gild his

rebuke with flatteries.  This grown-up did not seem to like it, but

he collapsed, and Georgie lay back in his seat, silent and enraptured.

Mr. Pepper was singing again, and the deep, ringing voice, the red

fire, and the misty, waving gown all seemed to be mixed up with the

little girl who had been so kind about his cut.  When the performance

was ended she nodded to Georgie, and Georgie nodded in return.  He

spoke no more than was necessary till bedtime, but meditated on new

colors and sounds and lights and music and things as far as he

understood them; the deep-mouthed agony of Mr. Pepper mingling with

the little girl's lisp.  That night he made a new tale, from which

he shamelessly removed the Rapunzel-Rapunzel-let-down-your-hair

princess, gold crown, Grimm edition, and all, and put a new

Annieanlouise in her place.  So it was perfectly right and natural

that when he came to the brushwood-pile he should find her waiting

for him, her hair combed off her forehead more like Alice in

Wonderland than ever, and the races and adventures began.

Ten years at an English public school do not encourage dreaming.

Georgie won his growth and chest measurement, and a few other

things which did not appear in the bills, under a system of cricket,

foot-ball, and paper-chases, from four to five days a week, which

provided for three lawful cuts of a ground-ash if any boy absented

himself from these entertainments.  He became a rumple-collared,

dusty-hatted fag of the Lower Third, and a light half-back at

Little Side foot-ball; was pushed and prodded through the slack

backwaters of the Lower Fourth, where the raffle of a school

generally accumulates; won his "second-fifteen" cap at foot-ball,

enjoyed the dignity of a study with two companions in it, and

began to look forward to office as a sub-prefect.  At last he

blossomed into full glory as head of the school, ex-officio captain

of the games; head of his house, where he and his lieutenants

preserved discipline and decency among seventy boys from twelve to

seventeen; general arbiter in the quarrels that spring up among

the touchy Sixth - and intimate friend and ally of the Head himself.

When he stepped forth in the black jersey, white knickers, and

black stockings of the First Fifteen, the new match-ball under his

arm, and his old and frayed cap at the back of his head, the small

fry of the lower forms stood apart and worshipped, and the "new caps"

of the team talked to him ostentatiously, that the world might see.

And so, in summer, when he came back to the pavilion after a slow

but eminently safe game, it mattered not whether he had made nothing

or, as once happened, a hundred and three, the school shouted just

the same, and women-folk who had come to look at the match looked

at Cottar - Cottar, major; "that's Cottar!"  Above all, he was

responsible for that thing called the tone of the school, and few

realise with what passionate devotion a certain type of boy throws

himself into this work.  Home was a faraway country, full of ponies

and fishing and shooting, and men-visitors who interfered with

one's plans; but school was the real world, where things of vital

importance happened, and crises arose that must be dealt with

promptly and quietly.  Not for nothing was it written, "Let the

Consuls look to it that the Republic takes no harm," and Georgie

was glad to be back in authority when the holidays ended.  Behind

him, but not too near, was the wise and temperate Head, now

suggesting the wisdom of the serpent, now counselling the mildness

of the dove; leading him on to see, more by half-hints than by any

direct word, how boys and men are all of a piece, and how he who

can handle the one will assuredly in time control the other.

For the rest, the school was not encouraged to dwell on its emotions,

but rather to keep in hard condition, to avoid false quantities,

and to enter the army direct, without the help of the expensive

London crammer, under whose roof young blood learns too much.

Cottar, major, went the way of hundreds before him.  The Head gave

him six months' final polish, taught him what kind of answers best

please a certain kind of examiners, and handed him over to the

properly constituted authorities, who passed him into Sandhurst.

Here he had sense enough to see that he was in the Lower Third once

more, and behaved with respect toward his seniors, till they in turn

respected him, and he was promoted to the rank of corporal, and sat

in authority over mixed peoples with all the vices of men and boys

combined.  His reward was another string of athletic cups, a

good-conduct sword, and, at last, Her Majesty's commission as a

subaltern in a first-class line regiment.  He did not know that

he bore with him from school and college a character worth much

fine gold, but was pleased to find his mess so kindly.  He had

plenty of money of his own; his training had set the public school

mask upon his face, and had taught him how many were the "things no

fellow can do."  By virtue of the same training he kept his pores

open and his mouth shut.

The regular working of the Empire shifted his world to India, where

he tasted utter loneliness in subaltern's quarters, - one room and

one bullock-trunk, - and, with his mess, learned the new life from

the beginning.  But there were horses in the land-ponies at

reasonable price; there was polo for such as could afford it; there

were the disreputable remnants of a pack of hounds; and Cottar

worried his way along without too much despair.  It dawned on him

that a regiment in India was nearer the chance of active service

than he had conceived, and that a man might as well study his

profession.  A major of the new school backed this idea with

enthusiasm, and he and Cottar accumulated a library of military

works, and read and argued and disputed far into the nights.  But

the adjutant said the old thing: "Get to know your men, young un,

and they 'll follow you anywhere.  That's all you want - know your

men."  Cottar thought he knew them fairly well at cricket and the

regimental sports, but he never realised the true inwardness of

them till he was sent off with a detachment of twenty to sit down

in a mud fort near a rushing river which was spanned by a bridge

of boats.  When the floods came they went forth and hunted strayed

pontoons along the banks.  Otherwise there was nothing to do, and

the men got drunk, gambled, and quarrelled.  They were a sickly

crew, for a junior subaltern is by custom saddled with the worst

men.  Cottar endured their rioting as long as he could, and then

sent down-country for a dozen pairs of boxing-gloves.

"I wouldn't blame you for fightin'," said he, "if you only knew how

to use your hands; but you don't.  Take these things, and I'll show

you."  The men appreciated his efforts.  Now, instead of blaspheming

and swearing at a comrade, and threatening to shoot him, they could

take him apart, and soothe themselves to exhaustion.  As one

explained whom Cottar found with a shut eye and a diamond-shaped

mouth spitting blood through an embrasure:  "We tried it with the

gloves, sir, for twenty minutes, and that done us no good, sir.

Then we took off the gloves and tried it that way for another twenty

minutes, same as you showed us, sir, an' that done us a world o'

good.  'T wasn't fightin', sir; there was a bet on."

Cottar dared not laugh, but he invited his men to other sports, such

as racing across country in shirt and trousers after a trail of

torn paper, and to single-stick in the evenings, till the native

population, who had a lust for sport in every form, wished to know

whether the white men understood wrestling.  They sent in an

ambassador, who took the soldiers by the neck and threw them about

the dust; and the entire command were all for this new game.  They

spent money on learning new falls and holds, which was better than

buying other doubtful commodities; and the peasantry grinned five

deep round the tournaments.

That detachment, who had gone up in bullock-carts, returned to

headquarters at an average rate of thirty miles a day, fair

heel-and-toe; no sick, no prisoners, and no court martials pending.

They scattered themselves among their friends, singing the praises

of their lieutenant and looking for causes of offense.

"How did you do it, young un?" the adjutant asked.

"Oh, I sweated the beef off 'em, and then I sweated some muscle on

to 'em.  It was rather a lark."

"If that's your way of lookin' at it, we can give you all the larks

you want.  Young Davies isn't feelin' quite fit, and he's next for

detachment duty.  Care to go for him?"

"'Sure he wouldn't mind?  I don't want to shove myself forward, you


"You needn't bother on Davies's account.  We'll give you the

sweepin's of the corps, and you can see what you can make of 'em."

"All right," said Cottar.  "It's better fun than loafin' about


"Rummy thing," said the adjutant, after Cottar had returned to his

wilderness with twenty other devils worse than the first.  "If

Cottar only knew it, half the women in the station would give their

eyes - confound 'em! - to have the young un in tow."

"That accounts for Mrs. Elery sayin' I was workin' my nice new boy

too hard," said a wing commander.

"Oh, yes; and 'Why doesn't he come to the bandstand in the evenings?'

and 'Can't I get him to make up a four at tennis with the Hammon

girls?'" the adjutant snorted.  "Look at young Davies makin' an ass

of himself over mutton-dressed-as-lamb old enough to be his mother!"

"No one can accuse young Cottar of runnin' after women, white or

black," the major replied thoughtfully.  "But, then, that's the kind

that generally goes the worst mucker in the end."

"Not Cottar.  I've only run across one of his muster before - a

fellow called Ingles, in South Africa.  He was just the same

hard trained, athletic-sports build of animal.  Always kept himself

in the pink of condition.  Didn't do him much good, though.  'Shot

at Wesselstroom the week before Majuba.  Wonder how the young un

will lick his detachment into shape."

Cottar turned up six weeks later, on foot, with his pupils.  He never

told his experiences, but the men spoke enthusiastically, and

fragments of it leaked back to the colonel through sergeants, batmen,

and the like.

There was great jealousy between the first and second detachments,

but the men united in adoring Cottar, and their way of showing it

was by sparing him all the trouble that men know how to make for an

unloved officer.  He sought popularity as little as he had sought

it at school, and therefore it came to him.  He favoured no one -

not even when the company sloven pulled the company cricket-match

out of the fire with an unexpected forty-three at the last moment.

There was very little getting round him, for he seemed to know by

instinct exactly when and where to head off a malingerer; but he

did not forget that the difference between a dazed and sulky junior

of the upper school and a bewildered, browbeaten lump of a private

fresh from the depot was very small indeed.  The sergeants, seeing

these things, told him secrets generally hid from young officers.

His words were quoted as barrack authority on bets in canteen and

at tea; and the veriest shrew of the corps, bursting with charges

against other women who had used the cooking-ranges out of turn,

forbore to speak when Cottar, as the regulations ordained, asked of

a morning if there were "any complaints."

"I'm full o' complaints," said Mrs. Corporal Morrison, "an' I'd kill

O'Halloran's fat sow of a wife any day, but ye know how it is.  'E

puts 'is head just inside the door, an' looks down 'is blessed nose

so bashful, an' 'e whispers, 'Any complaints'  Ye can't complain after

that.  I want to kiss him.  Some day I think I will.  Heigh-ho! she'll

be a lucky woman that gets Young Innocence.  See 'im now, girls.  Do

ye blame me?"

Cottar was cantering across to polo, and he looked a very

satisfactory figure of a man as he gave easily to the first excited

bucks of his pony, and slipped over a low mud wall to the

practice-ground.  There were more than Mrs. Corporal Morrison who

felt as she did.  But Cottar was busy for eleven hours of the day.

He did not care to have his tennis spoiled by petticoats in the

court; and after one long afternoon at a garden-party, he explained

to his major that this sort of thing was " futile priffle," and the

major laughed.  Theirs was not a married mess, except for the

colonel's wife, and Cottar stood in awe of the good lady.  She said

"my regiment," and the world knows what that means.  None the less

 when they wanted her to give away the prizes after a shooting-match,

and she refused because one of the prize-winners was married to a

girl who had made a jest of her behind her broad back, the mess

ordered Cottar to "tackle her," in his best calling-kit.  This he

did, simply and laboriously, and she gave way altogether.

"She only wanted to know the facts of the case," he explained.  "I

just told her, and she saw at once."

"Ye-es," said the adjutant.  "I expect that's what she did.  Comin'

to the Fusiliers' dance to-night, Galahad?"

"No, thanks.  I've got a fight on with the major."  The virtuous

apprentice sat up till midnight in the major's quarters, with a

stop-watch and a pair of compasses, shifting little painted

lead-blocks about a four-inch map.

Then he turned in and slept the sleep of innocence, which is full

of healthy dreams.  One peculiarity of his dreams he noticed at the

beginning of his second hot weather.  Two or three times a month

they duplicated or ran in series.  He would find himself sliding

into dreamland by the same road - a road that ran along a beach

near a pile of brushwood.  To the right lay the sea, sometimes at

full tide, sometimes withdrawn to the very horizon; but he knew it

for the same sea.  By that road he would travel over a swell of

rising ground covered with short, withered grass, into valleys of

wonder and unreason.  Beyond the ridge, which was crowned with some

sort of street-lamp, anything was possible; but up to the lamp it

seemed to him that he knew the road as well as he knew the

parade-ground.  He learned to look forward to the place; for, once

there, he was sure of a good night's rest, and Indian hot weather

can be rather trying.  First, shadowy under closing eyelids, would

come the outline of the brushwood-pile; next the white sand of the

beach-road, almost overhanging the black, changeful sea; then the

turn inland and uphill to the single light.  When he was unrestful

for any reason, he would tell himself how he was sure to get there

 - sure to get there - if he shut his eyes and surrendered to the

drift of things.  But one night after a foolishly hard hour's polo

(the thermometer was 94 in his quarters at ten o'clock), sleep

stood away from him altogether, though he did his best to find the

well-known road, the point where true sleep began.  At last he saw

the brushwood-pile, and hurried along to the ridge, for behind him

he felt was the wide-awake, sultry world.  He reached the lamp in

safety, tingling with drowsiness, when a policeman - a common

country policeman - sprang up before him and touched him on the

shoulder ere he could dive into the dim valley below.  He was

filled with terror, - the hopeless terror of dreams, - for the

policeman said, in the awful, distinct voice of dream-people, "I am

Policeman Day coming back from the City of Sleep.  You come with

me."  Georgie knew it was true - that just beyond him in the valley

lay the lights of the City of Sleep, where he would have been

sheltered, and that this Policeman-Thing had full power and

authority to head him back to miserable wakefulness.  He found

himself looking at the moonlight on the wall, dripping with fright;

and he never overcame that horror, though he met the Policeman

several times that hot weather, and his coming was the forerunner

of a bad night.

But other dreams-perfectly absurd ones-filled him with an

incommunicable delight.  All those that he remembered began by the

brushwood-pile.  For instance, he found a small clockwork steamer

(he had noticed it many nights before) lying by the sea-road, and

stepped into it, whereupon it moved with surpassing swiftness over

an absolutely level sea.  This was glorious, for he felt he was

exploring great matters; and it stopped by a lily carved in stone,

which, most naturally, floated on the water.  Seeing the lily was

labelled "Hong-Kong," Georgie said:  "Of course.  This is precisely

what I expected Hong-Kong would be like.  How magnificent!"

Thousands of miles farther on it halted at yet another stone lily,

labelled "Java."; and this, again, delighted him hugely, because he

knew that now he was at the world's end.  But the little boat ran

on and on till it lay in a deep fresh-water lock, the sides of

which were carven marble, green with moss.  Lilypads lay on the

water, and reeds arched above.  Some one moved among the reeds -

some one whom Georgie knew he had travelled to this world's end to

reach.  Therefore everything was entirely well with him.  He was

unspeakably happy, and vaulted over the ship's side to find this

person.  When his feet touched that still water, it changed, with

the rustle of unrolling maps, to nothing less than a sixth quarter

of the globe, beyond the most remote imagining of man - a place

where islands were coloured yellow and blue, their lettering strung

across their faces.  They gave on unknown seas, and Georgie's urgent

desire was to return swiftly across this floating atlas to known

bearings.  He told himself repeatedly that it was no good to hurry;

but still he hurried desperately, and the islands slipped and slid

under his feet; the straits yawned and widened, till he found

himself utterly lost in the world's fourth dimension, with no hope

of return.  Yet only a little distance away he could see the old

world with the rivers and mountain-chains marked according to the

Sandhurst rules of mapmaking.  Then that person for whom he had

come to the Lily Lock (that was its name) ran up across unexplored

territories, and showed him away.  They fled hand in hand till they

reached a road that spanned ravines, and ran along the edge of

precipices, and was tunnelled through mountains.  "This goes to our

brushwood-pile," said his companion; and all his trouble was at an

end.  He took a pony, because he understood that this was the

Thirty-Mile Ride and he must ride swiftly, and raced through the

clattering tunnels and round the curves, always downhill, till he

heard the sea to his left, and saw it raging under a full moon,

against sandy cliffs.  It was heavy going, but he recognised the

nature of the country, the dark-purple downs inland, and the bents

that whistled in the wind.  The road was eaten away in places, and

the sea lashed at him-black, foamless tongues of smooth and glossy

rollers; but he was sure that there was less danger from the sea

than from "Them," whoever "They" were, inland to his right.  He knew,

too, that he would be safe if he could reach the down with the lamp

on it.  This came as he expected: he saw the one light a mile ahead

along the beach, dismounted, turned to the right, walked quietly

over to the brushwood-pile, found the little steamer had returned

to the beach whence he had unmoored it, and - must have fallen

asleep, for he could remember no more.  "I'm gettin' the hang of

the geography of that place," he said to himself, as he shaved next

morning.  "I must have made some sort of circle.  Let's see.  The

Thirty-Mile Ride (now how the deuce did I know it was called the

Thirty-Mile, Ride?) joins the sea-road beyond the first down where

the lamp is.  And that atlas-country lies at the back of the

Thirty-Mile Ride, somewhere out to the right beyond the hills and

tunnels.  Rummy things, dreams.  'Wonder what makes mine fit into

each other so?"

He continued on his solid way through the recurring duties of the

seasons.  The regiment was shifted to another station, and he

enjoyed road-marching for two months, with a good deal of mixed

shooting thrown in, and when they reached their new cantonments

he became a member of the local Tent Club, and chased the mighty

boar on horseback with a short stabbing-spear.  There he met the

mahseer of the Poonch, beside whom the tarpon is as a herring, and

he who lands him can say that he is a fisherman.  This was as new

and as fascinating as the big-game shooting that fell to his portion,

when he had himself photographed for the mother's benefit, sitting

on the flank of his first tiger.

Then the adjutant was promoted, and Cottar rejoiced with him, for

he admired the adjutant greatly, and marvelled who might be big

enough to fill his place; so that he nearly collapsed when the

mantle fell on his own shoulders, and the colonel said a few sweet

things that made him blush.  An adjutant's position does not differ

materially from that of head of the school, and Cottar stood in the

same relation to the colonel as he had to his old Head in England.

Only, tempers wear out in hot weather, and things were said and done

that tried him sorely, and he made glorious blunders, from which the

regimental sergeant-major pulled him with a loyal soul and a shut

mouth.  Slovens and incompetents raged against him; the weak-minded

strove to lure him from the ways of justice; the small-minded - yea,

men whom Cottar believed would never do "things no fellow can do"

 - imputed motives mean and circuitous to actions that he had not

spent a thought upon; and he tasted injustice, and it made him very

sick.  But his consolation came on parade, when he looked down the

full companies, and reflected how few were in hospital or cells,

and wondered when the time would come to try the machine of his

love and labour.

But they needed and expected the whole of a man's working-day, and

maybe three or four hours of the night.  Curiously enough, he never

dreamed about the regiment as he was popularly supposed to.  The

mind, set free from the day's doings, generally ceased working

altogether, or, if it moved at all, carried him along the old

beach-road to the downs, the lamp-post, and, once in a while, to

terrible Policeman Day.  The second time that he returned to the

world's lost continent (this was a dream that repeated itself again

and again, with variations, on the same ground) he knew that if he

only sat still the person from the Lily Lock would help him, and he

was not disappointed.  Sometimes he was trapped in mines of vast

depth hollowed out of the heart of the world, where men in torment

chanted echoing songs; and he heard this person coming along through

the galleries, and everything was made safe and delightful.  They

met again in low-roofed Indian railway-carriages that halted in a

garden surrounded by gilt-and-green railings, where a mob of stony

white people, all unfriendly, sat at breakfast-tables covered with

roses, and separated Georgie from his companion, while underground

voices sang deep-voiced songs.  Georgie was filled with enormous

despair till they two met again.  They foregathered in the middle

of an endless, hot tropic night, and crept into a huge house that

stood, he knew, somewhere north of the railway-station where the

people ate among the roses.  It was surrounded with gardens, all

moist and dripping; and in one room, reached through leagues of

whitewashed passages, a Sick Thing lay in bed.  Now the least noise,

Georgie knew, would unchain some waiting horror, and his companion

knew it, too; but when their eyes met across the bed, Georgie was

disgusted to see that she was a child - a little girl in strapped

shoes, with her black hair combed back from her forehead.

"What disgraceful folly!" he thought.  "Now she could do nothing

whatever if Its head came off."

Then the Thing coughed, and the ceiling shattered down in plaster

on the mosquito-netting, and "They" rushed in from all quarters.

He dragged the child through the stifling garden, voices chanting

behind them, and they rode the Thirty-Mile Ride under whip and spur

along the sandy beach by the booming sea, till they came to the

downs, the lamp-post, and the brushwood-pile, which was safety.

Very often dreams would break up about them in this fashion, and

they would be separated, to endure awful adventures alone.  But the

most amusing times were when he and she had a clear understanding

that it was all make-believe, and walked through mile-wide roaring

rivers without even taking off their shoes, or set light to populous

cities to see how they would burn, and were rude as any children to

the vague shadows met in their rambles.  Later in the night they

were sure to suffer for this, either at the hands of the Railway

People eating among the roses, or in the tropic uplands at the far

end of the Thirty-Mile Ride.  Together, this did no much affright

them; but often Georgie would hear her shrill cry of "Boy!  Boy!"

half a world away, and hurry to her rescue before "They" maltreated


He and she explored the dark-purple downs as far inland from the

brushwood-pile as they dared, but that was always a dangerous matter.

The interior was filled with "Them," and "They" went about singing

in the hollows, and Georgie and she felt safer on or near the

seaboard.  So thoroughly had he come to know the place of his dreams

that even waking he accepted it as a real country, and made a rough

sketch of it.  He kept his own counsel, of course; but the

permanence of the land puzzled him.  His ordinary dreams were as

formless and as fleeting as any healthy dreams could be, but once at

the brushwood-pile he moved within known limits and could see where

he was going.  There were months at a time when nothing notable

crossed his sleep.  Then the dreams would come in a batch of five or

six, and next morning the map that he kept in his writing case would

be written up to date, for Georgie was a most methodical person.

There was, indeed, a danger - his seniors said so - of his developing

into a regular "Auntie Fuss" of an adjutant, and when an officer

once takes to old-maidism there is more hope for the virgin of

seventy than for him.

But fate sent the change that was needed, in the shape of a little

winter campaign on the Border, which, after the manner of little

campaigns, flashed out into a very ugly war; and Cottar's regiment

was chosen among the first.

"Now," said a major, "this'll shake the cobwebs out of us all -

especially you, Galahad; and we can see what your hen-with-one-chick

attitude has done for the regiment."

Cottar nearly wept with joy as the campaign went forward.  They

were fit - physically fit beyond the other troops; they were good

children in camp, wet or dry, fed or unfed; and they followed their

officers with the quick suppleness and trained obedience of a

first-class foot-ball fifteen.  They were cut off from their apology

for a base, and cheerfully cut their way back to it again; they

crowned and cleaned out hills full of the enemy with the precision

of well-broken dogs of chase; and in the hour of retreat, when,

hampered with the sick and wounded of the column, they were

persecuted down eleven miles of waterless valley, they, serving as

rearguard, covered themselves with a great glory in the eyes of

fellow-professionals.  Any regiment can advance, but few know how

to retreat with a sting in the tail.  Then they turned to made

roads, most often under fire, and dismantled some inconvenient mud

redoubts.  They were the last corps to be withdrawn when the

rubbish of the campaign was all swept up; and after a month in

standing camp, which tries morals severely, they departed to their

own place in column of fours, singing:

                "'E's goin' to do without 'em -

                   Don't want 'em any more;

                 'E's goin' to do without 'em,

                    As 'e's often done before.

                 'E's goin' to be a martyr

                    On a 'ighly novel plan,

                  An' all the boys and girls will say,

                  'Ow! what a nice young man-man-man!

                  Ow! what a nice young man!'"

There came out a "Gazette" in which Cottar found that he had been

behaving with "courage and coolness and discretion" in all his

capacities; that he had assisted the wounded under fire, and blown

in a gate, also under fire.  Net result, his captaincy and a

brevet majority, coupled with the Distinguished Service Order.

As to his wounded, he explained that they were both heavy men, whom

he could lift more easily than any one else.  "Otherwise, of course,

I should have sent out one of my men; and, of course, about that

gate business, we were safe the minute we were well under the walls."

But this did not prevent his men from cheering him furiously whenever

they saw him, or the mess from giving him a dinner on the eve of his

departure to England.  (A year's leave was among the things he had

"snaffled out of the campaign," I to use his own words.)  The doctor,

who had taken quite as much as was good for him, quoted poetry about

"a good blade carving the casques of men," and so on, and everybody

told Cottar that he was an excellent person; but when he rose to

make his maiden speech they shouted so that he was understood to say,

"It isn't any use tryin' to speak with you chaps rottin' me like

this.  Let's have some pool."

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   *

It is not unpleasant to spend eight-and-twenty days in an easy-going

steamer on warm waters, in the company of a woman who lets you see

that you are head and shoulders superior to the rest of the world,

even though that woman may be, and most often is, ten counted years

your senior.  P.O. boats are not lighted with the disgustful

particularity of Atlantic liners.  There is more phosphorescence at

the bows, and greater silence and darkness by the hand-steering

gear aft.

Awful things might have happened to Georgie but for the little fact

that he had never studied the first principles of the game he was

expected to play.  So when Mrs. Zuleika, at Aden, told him how

motherly an interest she felt in his welfare, medals, brevet, and

all, Georgie took her at the foot of the letter, and promptly talked

of his own mother, three hundred miles nearer each day, of his home,

and so forth, all the way up the Red Sea.  It was much easier than

he had supposed to converse with a woman for an hour at a time.

Then Mrs. Zuleika, turning from parental affection, spoke of love

in the abstract as a thing not unworthy of study, and in discreet

twilights after dinner demanded confidences.  Georgie would have

been delighted to supply them, but he had none, and did not know it

was his duty to manufacture them.  Mrs. Zuleika expressed surprise

and unbelief, and asked - those questions which deep asks of deep.

She learned all that was necessary to conviction, and, being very

much a woman, resumed (Georgie never knew that she had abandoned)

the motherly attitude.

"Do you know," she said, somewhere in the Mediterranean, "I think

you're the very dearest boy I have ever met in my life, and I'd like

you to remember me a little.  You will when you are older, but I

want you to remember me now.  You'll make some girl very happy."

"Oh!  Hope so," said Georgie, gravely; "but there's heaps of time

for marryin' an' all that sort of thing, ain't there?"

"That depends.  Here are your bean-bags for the Ladies' Competition.

I think I'm growing too old to care for these tamashas."

They were getting up sports, and Georgie was on the committee.  He

never noticed how perfectly the bags were sewn, but another woman

did, and smiled - once.  He liked Mrs. Zuleika greatly.  She was a

bit old, of course, but uncommonly nice.  There was no nonsense

about her.

A few nights after they passed Gibraltar his dream returned to him.

She who waited by the brushwood-pile was no longer a little girl,

but a woman with black hair that grew into a "widow's peak," combed

back from her forehead.  He knew her for the child in black, the

companion of the last six years, and, as it had been in the time of

the meetings on the Lost Continent, he was filled with delight

unspeakable.  "They," for some dreamland reason, were friendly or

had gone away that night, and the two flitted together over all

their country, from the brushwood-pile up the Thirty-Mile Ride,

till they saw the House of the Sick Thing, a pin-point in the

distance to the left; stamped through the Railway Waiting-room

where the roses lay on the spread breakfast-tables; and returned,

by the ford and the city they had once burned for sport, to the

great swells of the downs under the lamp-post.  Wherever they moved

a strong singing followed them underground, but this night there

was no panic.  All the land was empty except for themselves, and at

the last (they were sitting by the lamp-post hand in hand) she

turned and kissed him.  He woke with a start, staring at the waving

curtain of the cabin door; he could almost have sworn that the kiss

was real.

Next morning the ship was rolling in a Biscay sea, and people were

not happy; but as Georgie came to breakfast, shaven, tubbed, and

smelling of soap, several turned to look at him because of the light

in his eyes and the splendour of his countenance.

"Well, you look beastly fit," snapped a neighbour.  "Any one left

you a legacy in the middle of the Bay?"

Georgie reached for the curry, with a seraphic grin.  "I suppose

it's the gettin' so near home, and all that.  I do feel rather

festive this mornin.  'Rolls a bit, doesn't she?"

Mrs. Zuleika stayed in her cabin till the end of the voyage, when

she left without bidding him farewell, and wept passionately on the

dock-head for pure joy of meeting her children, who, she had often

said, were so like their father.

Georgie headed for his own country, wild with delight of his first

long furlough after the lean seasons.  Nothing was changed in that

orderly life, from the coachman who met him at the station to the

white peacock that stormed at the carriage from the stone wall above

the shaven lawns.  The house took toll of him with due regard to

precedence - first the mother; then the father; then the housekeeper,

who wept and praised God; then the butler, and so on down to the

under-keeper, who had been dogboy in Georgie's youth, and called

him "Master Georgie," and was reproved by the groom who had taught

Georgie to ride.

"Not a thing changed," he sighed contentedly, when the three of them

sat down to dinner in the late sunlight, while the rabbits crept out

upon the lawn below the cedars, and the big trout in the ponds by

the home paddock rose for their evening meal.

"Our changes are all over, dear," cooed the mother; "and now I am

getting used to your size and your tan (you're very brown, Georgie),

I see you haven't changed in the least.  You're exactly like the


The father beamed on this man after his own heart, - "youngest major

in the army, and should have had the V.C., sir," - and the butler

listened with his professional mask off when Master Georgie spoke

of war as it is waged to-day, and his father cross-questioned.

They went out on the terrace to smoke among the roses, and the shadow

of the old house lay long across the wonderful English foliage,

which is the only living green in the world.

"Perfect!  By Jove, it's perfect!"  Georgie was looking at the

round-bosomed woods beyond the home paddock, where the white pheasant

boxes were ranged; and the golden air was full of a hundred sacred

scents and sounds.  Georgie felt his father's arm tighten in his.

"It's not half bad - but hodie mihi, cras tibi, isn't it?  I suppose

you'll be turning up some fine day with a girl under your arm, if

you haven't one now, eh?"

"You can make your mind easy, sir.  I haven't one."

" Not in all these years?" said the mother.

"I hadn't time, mummy.  They keep a man pretty busy, these days, in

the service, and most of our mess are unmarried, too."

"But you must have met hundreds in society - at balls, and so on?"

"I'm like the Tenth, mummy: I don't dance."

"Don't dance!  What have you been doing with yourself, then - backing

other men's bills?" said the father.

"Oh, yes; I've done a little of that too; but you see, as things are

now, a man has all his work cut out for him to keep abreast of his

profession, and my days were always too full to let me lark about

half the night."

"Hmm!" - suspiciously.

"It's never too late to learn.  We ought to give some kind of

housewarming for the people about, now you've come back.  Unless you

want to go straight up to town, dear?"

"No.  I don't want anything better than this.  Let's sit still and

enjoy ourselves.  I suppose there will be something for me to ride

if I look for it?"

"Seeing I've been kept down to the old brown pair for the last six

weeks because all the others were being got ready for Master Georgie,

I should say there might be," the father chuckled.  "They're

reminding me in a hundred ways that I must take the second place now."


"The pater doesn't mean it, dear; but every one has been trying to

make your home-coming a success; and you do like it, don't you?"

"Perfect!  Perfect!  There's no place like England - when you 've

done your work."

"That's the proper way to look at it, my son."

And so up and down the flagged walk till their shadows grew long in

the moonlight, and the mother went indoors and played such songs as

a small boy once clamoured for, and the squat silver candlesticks

were brought in, and Georgie climbed to the two rooms in the west

wing that had been his nursery and his playroom in the beginning.

Then who should come to tuck him up for the night but the mother?

And she sat down on the bed, and they talked for a long hour, as

mother and son should, if there is to be any future for the Empire.

With a simple woman's deep guile she asked questions and suggested

answers that should have waked some sign in the face on the pillow,

and there was neither quiver of eyelid nor quickening of breath,

neither evasion nor delay in reply.  So she blessed him and kissed

him on the mouth, which is not always a mother's property, and said

something to her husband later, at which he laughed profane and

incredulous laughs.

All the establishment waited on Georgie next morning, from the

tallest six-year-old, "with a mouth like a kid glove, Master Georgie,"

to the under-keeper strolling carelessly along the horizon, Georgie's

pet rod in his hand, and "There's a four-pounder risin' below the

lasher.  You don't 'ave 'em in Injia, Mast-Major Georgie."  It was

all beautiful beyond telling, even though the mother insisted on

taking him out in the landau (the leather had the hot Sunday smell

of his youth) and showing him off to her friends at all the houses

for six miles round; and the pater bore him up to town and a lunch

at the club, where he introduced him, quite carelessly, to not less

than thirty ancient warriors whose sons were not the youngest majors

in the army and had not the D.S.O.  After that it was Georgie's turn;

and remembering his friends, he filled up the house with that kind

of officer who live in cheap lodgings at Southsea or Montpelier

Square, Brompton - good men all, but not well off.  The mother

perceived that they needed girls to play with; and as there was no

scarcity of girls, the house hummed like a dovecote in spring.  They

tore up the place for amateur theatricals; they disappeared in the

gardens when they ought to have been rehearsing; they swept off

every available horse and vehicle, especially the governess-cart and

the fat pony; they fell into the trout-ponds; they picnicked and

they tennised; and they sat on gates in the twilight, two by two,

and Georgie found that he was not in the least necessary to their


"My word!" said he, when he saw the last of their dear backs.  "They

told me they've enjoyed 'emselves, but they haven't done half the

things they said they would."

"I know they've enjoyed themselves - immensely," said the mother.

"You're a public benefactor, dear."

"Now we can be quiet again, can't we?"

"Oh, quite.  I've a very dear friend of mine that I want you to know.

She couldn't come with the house so full, because she's an invalid,

and she was away when you first came.  She's a Mrs. Lacy."

"Lacy!  I don't remember the name about here."

"No; they came after you went to India - from Oxford.  Her husband

died there, and she lost some money, I believe.  They bought The

Firs on the Bassett Road.  She's a very sweet woman, and we're very

fond of them both."

"She's a widow, didn't you say?"

"She has a daughter.  Surely I said so, dear?"

"Does she fall into trout-ponds, and gas and giggle, and 'Oh, Major

Cottah!' and all that sort of thing?"

"No, indeed.  She's a very quiet girl, and very musical.  She always

came over here with her music-books - composing, you know; and she

generally works all day, so you won't - "

"'Talking about Miriam?" said the pater, coming up.  The mother edged

toward him within elbow-reach.  There was no finesse about Georgie's

father.  "Oh, Miriam's a dear girl.  Plays beautifully.  Rides

beautifully, too.  She's a regular pet of the household.  Used to

call me - "  The elbow went home, and ignorant but obedient always,

the pater shut himself off.

"What used she to call you, sir?"

"All sorts of pet names.  I'm very fond of Miriam."

"Sounds Jewish - Miriam."

"Jew!  You'll be calling yourself a Jew next.  She's one of the

Herefordshire Lacys.  When her aunt dies - "  Again the elbow.

"Oh, you won't see anything of her, Georgie.  She's busy with her

music or her mother all day.  Besides, you're going up to town

tomorrow, aren't you?  I thought you said something about an

Institute meeting?" The mother spoke.

"Go up to town now!  What nonsense!"  Once more the pater was shut


"I had some idea of it, but I'm not quite sure," said the son of

the house.  Why did the mother try to get him away because a musical

girl and her invalid parent were expected?  He did not approve of

unknown females calling his father pet names.  He would observe these

pushing persons who had been only seven years in the county.

All of which the delighted mother read in his countenance, herself

keeping an air of sweet disinterestedness.

"They'll be here this evening for dinner.  I'm sending the carriage

over for them, and they won't stay more than a week."

"Perhaps I shall go up to town.  I don't quite know yet."  Georgie

moved away irresolutely.  There was a lecture at the United Services

Institute on the supply of ammunition in the field, and the one man

whose theories most irritated Major Cottar would deliver it.  A

heated discussion was sure to follow, and perhaps he might find

himself moved to speak.  He took his rod that afternoon and went

down to thrash it out among the trout.

"Good sport, dear!" said the mother, from the terrace.

"Fraid it won't be, mummy.  All those men from town, and the girls

particularly, have put every trout off his feed for weeks.  There

isn't one of 'em that cares for fishin' - really.  Fancy stampin'

and shoutin' on the bank, and tellin' every fish for half a mile

exactly what you're goin' to do, and then chuckin' a brute of a fly

at him!  By Jove, it would scare me if I was a trout!"

But things were not as bad as he had expected.  The black gnat was

on the water, and the water was strictly preserved.  A

three-quarter-pounder at the second cast set him for the campaign,

and he worked down-stream, crouching behind the reed and meadowsweet;

creeping between a hornbeam hedge and a foot-wide strip of bank,

where he could see the trout, but where they could not distinguish

him from the background; lying almost on his stomach to switch the

blue-upright sidewise through the checkered shadows of a gravelly

ripple under overarching trees.  But he had known every inch of the

water since he was four feet high.  The aged and astute between sunk

roots, with the large and fat that lay in the frothy scum below some

strong rush of water, sucking as lazily as carp, came to trouble in

their turn, at the hand that imitated so delicately the flicker and

wimple of an egg-dropping fly.  Consequently, Georgie found himself

five miles from home when he ought to have been dressing for dinner.

The housekeeper had taken good care that her boy should not go empty,

and before he changed to the white moth he sat down to excellent

claret with sandwiches of potted egg and things that adoring women

make and men never notice.  Then back, to surprise the otter grubbing

for fresh-water mussels, the rabbits on the edge of the beechwoods

foraging in the clover, and the policeman-like white owl stooping to

the little fieldmice, till the moon was strong, and he took his rod

apart, and went home through well-remembered gaps in the hedges.  He

fetched a compass round the house, for, though he might have broken

every law of the establishment every hour, the law of his boyhood

was unbreakable: after fishing you went in by the south garden

back-door, cleaned up in the outer scullery, and did not present

yourself to your elders and your betters till you had washed and


"Half-past ten, by Jove!  Well, we'll make the sport an excuse.  They

wouldn't want to see me the first evening, at any rate.  Gone to bed,

probably."  He skirted by the open French windows of the drawing-room.

"No, they haven't.  They look very comfy in there."

He could see his father in his own particular chair, the mother in

hers, and the back of a girl at the piano by the big potpourri-jar.

The gardens looked half divine in the moonlight, and he turned down

through the roses to finish his pipe.

A prelude-ended, and there floated out a voice of the kind that in

his childhood he used to call "creamy" a full, true contralto; and

this is the song that he heard, every syllable of it:

  Over the edge of the purple down,

        Where the single lamplight gleams,

  Know ye the road to the Merciful Town

        That is hard by the Sea of Dreams-

  Where the poor may lay their wrongs away,

        And the sick may forget to weep?

  But we - pity us!  Oh, pity us!

        We wakeful; ah, pity us! -

  We must go back with Policeman Day -

        Back from the City of Sleep!

  Weary they turn from the scroll and crown,

        Fetter and prayer and plough

  They that go up to the Merciful Town,

        For her gates are closing now.

  It is their right in the Baths of Night

        Body and soul to steep

  But we - pity us! ah, pity us!

        We wakeful; oh, pity us! -

  We must go back with Policeman Day -

        Back from the City of Sleep!

  Over the edge of the purple down,

        Ere the tender dreams begin,

  Look - we may look - at the Merciful Town,

        But we may not enter in !

  Outcasts all, from her guarded wall

        Back to our watch we creep:

  We - pity us! ah, pity us!

        We wakeful; oh, pity us! -

  We that go back with Policeman Day -

        Back from the City of Sleep

At the last echo he was aware that his mouth was dry and unknown

pulses were beating in the roof of it.  The housekeeper, who would

have it that he must have fallen in and caught a chill, was waiting

to catch him on the stairs, and, since he neither saw nor answered

her, carried a wild tale abroad that brought his mother knocking at

the door.

"Anything happened, dear?  Harper said she thought you weren't - "

"No; it's nothing.  I'm all right, mummy.  Please don't bother."

He did not recognise his own voice, but that was a small matter

beside what he was considering.  Obviously, most obviously, the

whole coincidence was crazy lunacy.  He proved it to the satisfaction

of Major George Cottar, who was going up to town to-morrow to hear a

lecture on the supply of ammunition in the field; and having so

proved it, the soul and brain and heart and body of Georgie cried

joyously: "That's the Lily Lock girl - the Lost Continent girl -

the Thirty-Mile Ride girl - the Brushwood girl!  I know her!"

He waked, stiff and cramped in his chair, to reconsider the situation

by sunlight, when it did not appear normal.  But a man must eat, and

he went to breakfast, his heart between his teeth, holding himself

severely in hand.

"Late, as usual," said the mother.  "'My boy, Miss Lacy."

A tall girl in black raised her eyes to his, and Georgie's life

training deserted him - just as soon as he realised that she did not

know.  He stared coolly and critically.  There was the abundant black

hair, growing in a widow's peak, turned back from the forehead, with

that peculiar ripple over the right ear; there were the grey eyes set

a little close together; the short upper lip, resolute chin, and the

known poise of the head.  There was also the small well-cut mouth

that had kissed him.

"Georgie - dear!" said the mother, amazedly, for Miriam was flushing

under the stare.

"I - I beg your pardon!" he gulped.  "I don't know whether the mother

has told you, but I'm rather an idiot at times, specially before I've

had my breakfast.  It's - it's a family failing.'  He turned to

explore among the hot-water dishes on the sideboard, rejoicing that

she did not know - she did not know.

His conversation for the rest of the meal was mildly insane, though

the mother thought she had never seen her boy look half so handsome.

How could any girl, least of all one of Miriam's discernment, forbear

to fall down and worship?  But deeply Miriam was displeased.  She

had never been stared at in that fashion before, and promptly retired

into her shell when Georgie announced that he had changed his mind

about going to town, and would stay to play with Miss Lacy if she

had nothing better to do.

"Oh, but don't let me throw you out.  I'm at work.  I've things to

do all the morning."

"What possessed Georgie to behave so oddly?" the mother sighed to

herself.  "Miriam's a bundle of feelings - like her mother."

"You compose - don't you?  Must be a fine thing to be able to do

that.  [" Pig-oh, pig!" thought Miriam.]  I think I heard you singin'

when I came in last night after fishin'.  All about a Sea of Dreams,

wasn't it?  [Miriam shuddered to the core of the soul that afflicted

her.]  Awfully pretty song.  How d' you think of such things?"

"You only composed the music, dear, didn't you?"

"The words too.  I'm sure of it," said Georgie, with a sparkling eye.

No; she did not know.

"Yeth; I wrote the words too."  Miriam spoke slowly, for she knew

she lisped when she was nervous.

"Now how could you tell, Georgie?" said the mother, as delighted as

though the youngest major in the army were ten years old, showing off

before company.

"I was sure of it, somehow.  Oh, there are heaps of things about me,

mummy, that you don't understand.  Looks as if it were goin' to be

a hot day - for England.  Would you care for a ride this afternoon,

Miss Lacy?  We can start out after tea, if you'd like it."

Miriam could not in decency refuse, but any woman might see she was

not filled with delight.

"That will be very nice, if you take the Bassett Road.  It will save

me sending Martin down to the village," said the mother, filling in


Like all good managers, the mother had her one weakness - a mania for

little strategies that should economise horses and vehicles.  Her

men-folk complained that she turned them into common carriers, and

there was a legend in the family that she had once said to the pater

on the morning of a meet: "If you should kill near Bassett, dear, and

if it isn't too late, would you mind just popping over and matching

me this?"

" I knew that was coming.  You'd never miss a chance, mother.  If

it's a fish or a trunk I won't." Georgie laughed.

"It's only a duck.  They can do it up very neatly at Mallett's,"

said the mother, simply.  "You won't mind, will you?  We'll have a

scratch dinner at nine, because it's so hot."

The long summer day dragged itself out for centuries; but at last

there was tea on the lawn, and Miriam appeared.

She was in the saddle before he could offer to help, with the clean

spring of the child who mounted the pony for the Thirty-Mile Ride.

The day held mercilessly, though Georgie got down thrice to look for

imaginary stones in Rufus's foot.  One cannot say even simple things

in broad light, and this that Georgie meditated was not simple.  So

he spoke seldom, and Miriam was divided between relief and scorn.

It annoyed her that the great hulking thing should know she had

written the words of the song overnight; for though a maiden may

sing her most secret fancies aloud, she does not care to have them

trampled over by the male Philistine.  They rode into the little

red-brick street of Bassett, and Georgie made untold fuss over the

disposition of that duck.  It must go in just such a package, and

be fastened to the saddle in just such a manner, though eight

o'clock had struck and they were miles from dinner.

"We must be quick!" said Miriam, bored and angry.

"There's no great hurry; but we can cut over Dowhead Down, and let

'em out on the grass.  That will save us half an hour."

The horses capered on the short, sweet-smelling turf, and the

delaying shadows gathered in the valley as they cantered over the

great dun down that overhangs Bassett and the Western coaching-road.

Insensibly the pace quickened without thought of mole-hills; Rufus,

gentleman that he was, waiting on Miriam's Dandy till they should

have cleared the rise.  Then down the two-mile slope they raced

together, the wind whistling in their ears, to the steady throb of

eight hoofs and the light click-click of the shifting bits.

"Oh, that was glorious!" Miriam cried, reining in.  "Dandy and I are

old friends, but I don't think we've ever gone better together."

"No; but you've gone quicker, once or twice."

"Really?.  When?"

Georgie moistened his lips.  "Don't you remember the Thirty-Mile

Ride - with me - when 'They' were after us - on the beach-road, with

the sea to the left - going toward the lamp-post on the downs?"

The girl gasped.  "What - what do you mean?" she said hysterically.

"The Thirty-Mile Ride, and - and all the rest of it."

"You mean - ?  I didn't sing anything about the Thirty-Mile Ride.

I know I didn't.  I have never told a living soul.'"

"You told about Policeman Day, and the lamp at the top of the downs,

and the City of Sleep.  It all joins on, you know - it's the same

country - and it was easy enough to see where you had been."

"Good God! - It joins on - of course it does; but - I have been -

you have been -  Oh, let's walk, please, or I shall fall off!"

Georgie ranged alongside, and laid a hand that shook below her

bridle-hand, pulling Dandy into a walk.  Miriam was sobbing as he

had seen a man sob under the touch of the bullet.

"It's all right - it's all right," he whispered feebly.  "Only -

only it's true, you know."

"True!  Am I mad?"

"Not unless I'm mad as well.  Do try to think a minute quietly.

How could any one conceivably know anything about the Thirty-Mile

Ride having anything to do with you, unless he had been there?"

"But where?  But where?  Tell me!"

"There - wherever it may be - in our country, I suppose.  Do you

remember the first time you rode it - the Thirty-Mile Ride, I

mean?  You must."

"It was all dreams - all dreams!"

"Yes, but tell, please; because I know."

"Let me think.  I - we were on no account to make any noise - on no

account to make any noise."  She was staring between Dandy's ears,

with eyes that did not see, and a suffocating heart.

"Because 'It' was dying in the big house?" Georgie went on, reining

in again.

"There was a garden with green-and-gilt railings - all hot.  Do you


"I ought to.  I was sitting on the other side of the bed before 'It'

coughed and 'They' came in."

"You!" - the deep voice was unnaturally full and strong, and the

girl's wide-opened eyes burned in the dusk as she stared him through

and through.  "Then you're the Boy - my Brushwood Boy, and I've known

you all my life!"

She fell forward on Dandy's neck.  Georgie forced himself out of the

weakness that was overmastering his limbs, and slid an arm round her

waist.  The head dropped on his shoulder, and he found himself with

parched lips saying things that up till then he believed existed

only in printed works of fiction.  Mercifully the horses were quiet.

She made no attempt to draw herself away when she recovered, but lay

still, whispering, "Of course you're the Boy, and I didn't know -

I didn't know."

"I knew last night; and when I saw you at breakfast - "

"Oh, that was why!  I wondered at the time.  You would, of course."

"I couldn't speak before this.  Keep your head where it is, dear.

It's all right now - all right now, isn't it?"

"But how was it I didn't know - after all these years and years?

I remember - oh, what lots of things I remember!"

"Tell me some.  I'll look after the horses."

"I remember waiting for you when the steamer came in.  Do you?"

"At the Lily Lock, beyond Hong-Kong and Java?"

"Do you call it that, too?"

"You told me it was when I was lost in the continent.  That was you

that showed me the way through the mountains?"

"When the islands slid?  It must have been, because you're the only

one I remember.  All the others were 'Them.'

"Awful brutes they were, too."

"I remember showing you the Thirty-Mile Ride the first time.  You

ride just as you used to - then.  You are you!"

"That's odd.  I thought that of you this afternoon.  Isn't it


"What does it all mean?  Why should you and I of the millions of

people in the world have this - this thing between us?  What does

it mean?  I'm frightened."

"This!" said Georgie.  The horses quickened their pace.  They thought

they had heard an order.  "Perhaps when we die we may find out more,

but it means this now."

There was no answer.  What could she say?  As the world went, they

had known each other rather less than eight and a half hours, but

the matter was one that did not concern the world.  There was a very

long silence, while the breath in their nostrils drew cold and sharp

as it might have been a fume of ether.

"That's the second," Georgie whispered.  "You remember, don't you?"

"It's not!" - furiously.  "It's not!"

"On the downs the other night-months ago.  You were just as you are

now, and we went over the country for miles and miles."

"It was all empty, too.  They had gone away.  Nobody frightened us.

I wonder why, Boy?"

"Oh, if you remember that, you must remember the rest.  Confess!"

"I remember lots of things, but I know I didn't.  I never have -

till just now."

"You did, dear."

"I know I didn't, because - oh, it's no use keeping anything back!

because I truthfully meant to."

"And truthfully did."

"No; meant to; but some one else came by."

"There wasn't any one else.  There never has been."

"There was - there always is.  It was another woman - out there -

on the sea.  I saw her.  It was the 26th of May.  I've got it written

down somewhere."

"Oh, you've kept a record of your dreams, too?  That's odd about

the other woman, because I happened to be on the sea just then."

"I was right.  How do I know what you've done when you were awake -

and I thought it was only you!"

"You never were more wrong in your life.  What a little temper

you've got!  Listen to me a minute, dear."  And Georgie, though he

knew it not, committed black perjury.  "It - it isn't the kind of

thing one says to any one, because they'd laugh; but on my word and

honour, darling, I've never been kissed by a living soul outside my

own people in all my life.  Don't laugh, dear.  I wouldn't tell any

one but you, but it's the solemn truth."

"I knew!  You are you.  Oh, I knew you'd come some day; but I didn't

know you were you in the least till you spoke."

"Then give me another."

"And you never cared or looked anywhere?  Why, all the round world

must have loved you from the very minute they saw you, Boy."

"They kept it to themselves if they did.  No; I never cared."

"And we shall be late for dinner - horribly late.  Oh, how can I

look at you in the light before your mother - and mine!"

"We'll play you're Miss Lacy till the proper time comes.  What's

the shortest limit for people to get engaged?  S'pose we have got

to go through all the fuss of an engagement, haven't we?"

"Oh, I don't want to talk about that.  It's so commonplace.  I've

thought of something that you don't know.  I'm sure of it.  What's

my name?"

Miri - no, it isn't, by Jove!  Wait half a second, and it'll come

back to me.  You aren't - you can't?  Why, those old tales - before

I went to school!  I've never thought of 'em from that day to this.

Are you the original, only Annieanlouise?"

"It was what you always called me ever since the beginning.  Oh!

We've turned into the avenue, and we must be an hour late."

"What does it matter?  The chain goes as far back as those days?

It must, of course - of course it must.  I've got to ride round with

this pestilent old bird-confound him!"

"'"Ha! ha!" said the duck, laughing'- do you remember that?"

"Yes, I do - flower-pots on my feet, and all.  We've been together

all this while; and I've got to say good bye to you till dinner.

Sure I'll see you at dinner-time?  Sure you won't sneak up to your

room, darling, and leave me all the evening?  Good-bye, dear -


"Good-bye, Boy, good-bye.  Mind the arch!  Don't let Rufus bolt into

his stables.  Good-bye.  Yes, I'll come down to dinner; but - what

shall I do when I see you in the light!"

End of The Project Gutenberg Etext The Day's Work [Vol. 1], by Kipling

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